Just Another Day in Paradise

We’ve had an unusually warm winter here in San Diego. In fact some days I’ve seen many Facebook posts bragging with photos of the temperature gauge in their car or an app from their smart phone… and lots of spontaneous beach days! Ah, the beach, a place full of adventure and endless sand for little ones. Many adults dread going to the beach because of the sand… but children can play in it for hours! Have you sat at a park and watched a baby who’s placed in the sandbox for the first time? Their curiosity of course leads them to put it straight in their mouth most of the time. And one handful is usually not enough! These moments are not only precious moments to sit and take in, but they offer as incredible learning opportunities for little ones. It seems that when a novel experience presents itself, a key (we’ll call it curiosity) unlocks the gateway to learning. Immediately their brain becomes thirsty for knowledge. These are the experiences I most loved in teaching my children a new sign. SAND is perhaps the epitome of this example.

I can distinctly remember the first time Kyle got to sit in the shade under a slide and enjoy the cool sand all around him. It dawned on me that I wasn’t sure of the sign for SAND and I turned to my husband thinking I’d lost one of these teachable moments. Instead he gave a quick response and said, “It probably looks something like how you sift sand through your hands.” Well, that was good enough for the moment to not be wasted and it looked vaguely familiar when he showed me his sign. I grew up in Minnesota, and although my mom is deaf, I just couldn’t picture the sign in my mind. I figured the least we could do is show Kyle the sign and if we needed to correct ourselves later, kids are quick studies and could easily adapt. Kyle was indeed curious about my going on and on about the sand and showing him the sign as well as playing with the sand through my fingers. He was not yet at the stage where he’s copy a sign after seeing it just one time, but I could see the wheels turning in his head.

While we have yet to make a winter’s run on the beach, we did recently go to Sea World where I took advantage of the bright scenery by their sand box to take a little video to teach you the sign for SAND. What other novel outdoor experience would unlock the gateway to learning a new sign for your baby?

Published on: March 07, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Joann Woolley

Joann Woolley is a Master Level Instructor in the Signing Time Academy. ASL is her first language (her mother is deaf) and her first sign was MILK. Both her fluency in ASL and understanding of ASL culture provide an insight to the language that opens the eyes of her students.

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