Lámh in Schools

Speech and Language therapists Aisling Becton, Lámh Schools Project Lead and Caroline Nolan, Schools Project Worker formed the Schools Team during 2019, 2020 and 2021. They created ideas for parents and teachers to learn and have fun with Lámh at home and at school, see below.

Check out Lámheen singing and signing the School Song, clicking the video at the side or end of this page, depending on the device you're using!

These activities designed by the Schools Team that can be used at school or at home:

Activity 8: Memory Game (click to follow link)

Step 1: Pick 3-5 objects or pictures your child knows the signs for. Put them in a line and rehearse aloud their name as you make their sign together. Repeat this a few times, as you would do when you are trying to remember a list of things. NB: Start with 1-3 things if your child is very young, if you think they might not remember more or you’ve never played it before.

Step 2: Get a towel and cover all the objects/pictures. Quickly take one away when they are covered.

Step 3: Now, remove the towel. Can your child remember what’s gone?

  • Yes?* - great- encourage them to say/sign it. Rehearse them all aloud again in the same original order. Repeat and take a different thing away.

No? – try to repeat aloud with signs your list in the order you had rehearsed it, leaving out the missing word. Does this help? Or Give a clue to help them remember it – it’s function, it’s colour etc *The aim is for success and a signed+/ spoken response. Consider if there are too many objects on the table? Or Was it a sign they were unsure of?

Step 4: Take turns so you get lots of signing going. Pretend you can’t remember – can they help you? Add new objects/ pictures as needed. Only add one new sign per list so as not to overload the child. Increase the number in your list when you know what your child can manage. If there’s too many things to remember you will lose their cooperation and it stops being fun. Play anywhere, anytime- clearing the table, with the contents of your handbag, with their toys etc.

Activity 7: Photo Albums (click to follow link)

Looking back at photos of fun days out, family trips and special occasions can cheer us all up and provide lots of great communication opportunities.

Step 1: All you need are your printed photos or photo albums. (You can decide to write a description underneath if it helps your child.) Make yourselves cosy and relaxed on the sofa- it really is more conducive to relaxed interaction.

Step 2: A good strategy for easy interaction is not a Q &A session. It can be very rewarding and less direct if you take turns to make comments about a photo. This leaves an open opportunity for your child to express what they want.

For example- “I like going to the beach”. Now wait. Waiting can be hard but sometimes your child may need time to formulate their thoughts and make their sentence.

Step 3: If your child is not forthcoming after a few trials- try open questions.

Open questions- start with a question word- what, where, who, when,why, how. Open questions – provide an opportunity for a longer response. For example; “Who came with us?”, “What did you do at the beach?” etc

Closed questions - on the other hand result in a Yes/No answer only. Avoid using closed questions when you are trying to encourage longer responses. Examples include “ Do you like going to the beach?” – yes/no.

“Will we go to the beach again?” - yes /no. “It’s nice at the beach, isn’t it?” – yes /no.

Step 4: Your next step to encourage signing is to offer choices. “Do you like going to the beach or playing in the garden?” Choices are great for demonstrating the signs needed and easing the load on your child for spontaneous expression.

Enjoy signing together!

Activity 6: Word Wheel (click to folliw link)

Step 1: Pick a topic of interest to your child. Draw a picture of it / stick on a photo of it / or write the word in the centre of the page. For example- “sunny”.

Step 2: Draw 5- 10 lines out like a wheel from your “Sun”. Take Turns talking and signing about anything you associate with sunny days. For example- shorts, sun-cream, sunglasses, ice-cream etc

Step 3: As you sign and say your associations, draw pictures of them /stick on photos / or write the words too.

Step 4: At the end you should have a full page of associated words which is a great way to develop word meanings and connections. You can encourage your child to tell others about their pictures later that day or re-visit them on a different day, as an opportunity to revise their signs or introduce some new ones. You can throw in silly suggestions and see if your child can spot one that doesn’t fit and discuss why- for example- a snowman.

Step 5: Always try to expand on what your child signs to you. If they sign “ice-cream”, you reply “I love ice-cream on a sunny day too”. Modelling sign combinations helps their language and sign development.

Activity 5: Hide and Find

Step 1: Pick your child’s favourite object for example their teddy, car, a treat – whatever will motivate them.

Step 2: Think about the “preposition” = place a word that you want to focus on. Examples: In, on, under . Develop these first. Then look at In front and behind **. These make a good contrasting pair. Later you can introduce **beside, then between.

Step 3: Think about your goal. Do you want to help your child to understand these place words or to use them in their expression- sign/or speech.

Helping their understanding: Tell your child where to look, do they follow your instruction? If they don’t understand a place word use it repeatedly. Let them get in the position, e.g. climb in the box. Then they put things in the box. Keep your place word constant till they know it and encourage their imitation of your sign.

Helping their use of words: They tell you or other family members where to look (using sign/or words). Can they express where something was hidden?

Step 4: You can build on this over time to include different place words. Keep the turns going as long as you have their interest. Use different rooms and objects. Go outside and hide things.

Step 5: Help your child to carry place words into everyday life e.g where are my keys? – in my bag. Where is the control box?- on the chair. Etc be silly and loose things. Create the opportunity for them to tell you where something is. Remember- communication has most meaning when the question is meaningful and functional. So rather than ask redundant questions e.g.“where does the milk go?” ask real questions for genuine information e.g. “Where did you put my phone?”

Activity 4: Choice Boards

When children can make choices, they are communicating their interests and needs. It’s empowering to make your own choice.

Step 1: Pick 3-6 activities you like to do with your child indoors. Collect pictures or objects to represent each choice. Stick them on a board or sheet. For example: bake, read a book, listen to music, dance, paint a picture, playdough. Maybe later make an outdoors activity board also.These will give you endless language and sign opportunities.

Step 2: Check that you know the sign for each activity. Let your child choose what they want to do that day by signing it to you and/or selecting the picture. Start with a choice of 3 activities. Repeat and reinforce any new signs before you expect your child to copy them or spontaneously use them.

Step 3: Once the activity is chosen by the child, try to use other signs to build their signing vocabulary around their favourite activity. Often the action words/verbs are the vital signs for combining signs. See below how often you can include “get” in your conversation- For example; If you are going to bake, you might revise the signs for “What will we get to make a cake?” “get a big bowl”, “get **a **big spoon”, “What’s next?”, “Careful, it’s hot” etc.

Step 4: When you are still learning signs try to note any sign you wish you knew or is important to your conversations. It’s often worth looking it up on the spot in your Lámh book or Lámh Signs Online. This really helps you to retain the sign and use it spontaneously.

Choice boards objects and pictures can also be used to make a visual schedule of what the plan might be for that morning or day. Remember: It’s always time to sign!

Activity 3: Bedtime Fun

Step 1: This activity is like charades using Lámh and great game to play at bed time. Get all your family dressed and ready for bed. Everyone piles onto the head of one bed. You nominate who will be first. (Best to let an adult be the first person so the children know what to do, until established). The adult goes to the end of the bed.

Step 2: The adult says: “Look at me” and they make one sign without saying the corresponding word. See who will be the first person to guess it? Whoever guesses it correctly moves to the end of the bed and the parent goes to the head of the bed with the rest of the family.

Step 3: Keep taking turns. Whoever goes to the end of the bed makes the sign. Use any random sign your family knows to encourage them to shout out when they see it signed. You may have to rig it at first, tell the others to wait if you really want one child in particular to guess or to take a turn making a sign.

Step 4: No one is allowed to make a sign that was used before! Tell them; “Not again” or “make a different sign”, “You have to think of a new sign”.

Have fun when you’re using Lámh together. This game is great for encouraging turn-taking, visual attention and signing - in your PJs!

Let's open up our Lámh Toolbox again!

We are all missing our loved ones as we do our bit by staying at home this Easter and it’s good to share how we feel. Let's open up our Lámh toolbox to see what things we can do at home:

  1. We can send a hug, a hello or an I love you with signs via a video call app, over the hedge to the neighbours (must be 2 meters) or even to our family member at home.
  2. Don't forget about the Feelings song or Hello song from our Lámh-a-Song DVDs, these might be good to learn or revisit.
  3. Interview your family or even your favourite teddy and see how they are, if you have a prop or ‘microphone’ for this, even better. It's good to remember that our ‘hello’ sign is also ‘how are you’.

Activity 2: Simon Says (Lámh Style)

Step 1: Get your family together in a big circle-inside or outside. Take turns signing and shouting out which action you all have to do. Everyone does the actions together. Lámh has signs for all these actions: climb, dance, dig, draw, drink, drive, fall, fight, go, grow, hug, jump, kick, knock, lie down, make, play, pour, pull, push, roll, run, sing, sleep, stop, sweep, swim, throw, stand up, wait, walk, wash……and more!

Step 2: Step it up a notch and add a number to your action, why not combine your signs!
Example: “ 2 jumps ” sign and say the number and the action word. Then as you do the action shout out “ jump 1, jump 2”.
Again, go around the circle so that everyone has a turn to give the instruction and the sign.

Step 3: Get Silly! Add details like throw in some fun actions. This is a great way to include more signs.
For example; walk like an elephant”, “ jump like a frog”, “swing like a monkey”, “ fly like a plane” “ roll like a sausage”.

Remember you can access Lámh Signs Online to check any of the signs needed for these activities. Lámh Signs Online is free to access until 31st May 2020.

Activity 1: Opposites

Step 1: Think about what opposites you want to sign. Check any signs in your Lámh book or Lámh online video library that you are not sure of before you start.

This is a good beginners list:

  • Big/Small

  • Open/Closed

  • Clean/Dirty

  • Wet/Dry

  • Hot/Cold

These are great signs to know and use because they are part of everyday! They are also 10 key signs for language development.

Step 2: How can you play?

  1. Get a box together of household objects that can help demonstrate each opposite- e.g. Big/small- Daddy’s shoe/ child’s own shoe, or a doll’s shoe, wooden spoon/ small spoon etc. Try to collect a few examples of each opposite pair.

  2. Use an opposites jigsaw.

  3. Print pictures of opposites – can they help you to think of something that’s “hot”. They can google pictures with you and pick their favourite. Again, try to get a few examples or each opposite pair to help their understanding of the concepts.

  4. Go around the house and take photos of objects that represent each opposite e.g. open /closed door, window, fridge, box, coat etc. Maybe they can take the photos on your phone/ tablet and be active in opening and closing things. Print and make and let your child stick them in to make a book.

The more you can involve your child in preparing and playing the above games, the more opportunities you have to teach /show the Lámh sign and create turns for them to sign in a meaningful way.

Step 3: As you pull out an object or turn over a picture you sign your target words e.g. “I got a dirty bowl”. “I want a clean book. Can you help me to find a clean bowl? “ Once you are confident your child knows the target try to combine 2-3 signs e.g. “ the window is open. Can you get the window is closed?

Step 4: Try to use these signs in as many real-life situations as you can. Children use more signs when they are with people who sign.

Remember: It’s always time to sign!

Open your Lámh toolbox!

As parents and teachers, you already know so much about Lámh and how it can be fun. The Lámh signs you know - and your children love - can be incorporated in to everyday activities and routines at home. If you need inspiration for signs, look at what you have already.

  1. You have probably attended a course; can you remember where your Lámh Sign Book is?

  2. Have you signed up for Lámh Signs Online?

  3. Pick a family sign of the day and off you go!

  4. I’ll start: How many times can you use the sign for 'dance' today?

  5. Your children’s favourite books are a good place to start adding in some Lámh signs. Gaeilge or English the signs are the same. Look over the book yourself first and decide on the sign/ signs that you are going to use while reading the book. Books which repeat a word or phrase are great places to start as you can use a sign over and over. Helpful hint: if you can rope in a brother or sister to hold the book and turn the pages, your hands will be free to sign. Find a comfy reading spot and go for it!

If you need a helping hand, call on a few familiar faces. Do you have a copy of the Lámh DVD(s) at home or have you checked out Lámh-a-Song on Vimeo?