Quarantine Special! Little Hands Signing Video Sessions Now Available!

Book an interactive session for your family or group and celebrate American Sign Language through stories, songs, and more – all while social distancing in the comfort of your own home!

Kathy MacMillan presents interactive theme-based classes that combine age-appropriate signs and activities with follow-up handouts and crafts sent electronically.

Where: Online via Zoom with link provided by presenter

When: Check my availability calendar and identify your preferred dates and times.

Who: For everyone! Program content will be tailored to age of participants. May also be presented as professional development for librarians and educators, with an additional focus on how to use this material with children.

Cost: 

  • 45-minute session for up to 10 participants: $60
  • 45-minute session for 11-50 participants: $100
  • 60-minute session for up to 10 participants: $75
  • 60-minute session for 11-50 participants: $130
  • Ask about pricing for longer sessions!

Choose from the following sessions:

  • First Signs
  • Baby’s Signing Day
  • Bathtime Signs
  • Bedtime Signs
  • Celebration Signs
  • Diaper and Potty Signs
  • Dress-Up Signs
  • Fall Signs
  • Family Signs
  • Farm Signs
  • Feelings Signs
  • Food Signs
  • In My Mailbox Signs
  • In My Neighborhood Signs
  • Let’s Move! Signs
  • Morning Signs
  • My Favorite Things Signs
  • Nice Play Signs
  • Opposites Signs
  • People Signs
  • Pet Signs
  • Playtime Signs
  • Safety Signs
  • School and Daycare Signs
  • Sign and Sign
  • Spring Signs
  • Summer Signs
  • Transportation Signs
  • Weather Signs
  • Winter Signs
  • Zoo Signs

Policies

Payment: Sessions will not be confirmed until payment is received. Payment may be made online via PayPal, Square, or Venmo.

Cancellations: Sessions cancelled with less than 24 hours notice for any reason will be billed in full.

Platform: Sessions will be conducted online via Zoom. Presenter is not responsible for technical difficulties at the receiving end. Other video platforms, such as Google Hangouts or Skype, may be used upon request.

Photos and Recording: Attendees may take as many still photos as they like during the session. Recording is not permitted without the express permission of the presenter and all attendees.

Interpreters: The presenter can present in either spoken English or American Sign Language. If an interpreter is needed, it is the responsibility of those booking the session to work out those logistics prior to the session.

Proceeding with contractual agreement implies acceptance of terms.

To book an appearance:

  • Check my availability calendar and identify your preferred dates and times.
  • Fill out the contact form here. Include your contact information, estimated number of program participants, and choices of dates/times.
  • I will check dates/times and reply to you with a confirmation.
  • Please read the policies above carefully. A cancellation fee will apply as described above.

 

Keeping Online Storytimes Engaging

With so many libraries closed to the public, it seems like everyone is offering online storytimes!  I was asked to share my tips for keeping online storytimes interactive, so here you go!
When presenting virtually where you can’t see your audience, it’s really hard to adjust your approach and pace when you are not getting any response, so it’s really important to remember the following. (And pro tip: sticky notes on the side of your monitor with reminders work really well!)
  1. Slow down. Even if it feels like you are already speaking slowly, slow it down. Most kids can’t listen as fast as we grownups like to talk.
  2. Make eye contact with the camera. Yes, this feels weird. It might help to put a stuffed animal or a picture of a favorite kiddo right above or next to the camera, so you can make eye contact with that.
  3. Allow time for responses. No, more time than that. More. In person, adults generally only give kids one second of silence before they fill it in for them. When you don’t have the kid in front of you, it’s tempting to just plow ahead. But seriously, give the kids time to answer, participate, copy the movement, whatever. Yes, you will feel like Dora the Explorer blinking at the camera in silence. That’s okay!  There’s a reason that developmentally appropriate kids’ shows use this tactic. It encourages a response and it allows kids of all different learning styles to take the information in.
  4. Use repetition to create more space for understanding. While repetition on its own is useful, because it reinforces information, it’s also useful because it allows kids (and parents) more time with the material. For example, when introducing an ASL sign, I always break it down and explain what I am doing as I show it multiple times. Kids may or may not be actually listening to what I am saying in that explanation, based on their learning style, but the time it takes to explain it keeps visual and auditory focus on the sign and allows everyone the time to learn it.
  5. Be explicit about how you want children (and grownups) to participate. Some kids will already be clapping their hands or hooting like owls or whatever, but some will need the storyteller to say it explicitly in the absence of the peer modeling of seeing others do it. And many grownups will need the extra push even more!
  6. Give grownups clear suggestions for how to tie storytime activities to everyday life with their children. This is something we do anyway, but now that many parents are their children’s exclusive language and literacy models, and many of them are overwhelmed, it’s important that we give them solid suggestions that show how easy it is to incorporate literacy into their daily routines.
  7. Learn from the pros!  Children’s TV shows have been incorporating these strategies for a long time. Mr. Rogers is of course the gold standard, but a modern one that I love is the Baltimore-based Danny Joe’s Treehouse, which incorporates a deep knowledge of child development with online engagement techniques.
  8. American Sign Language lends itself well to online storytimes, because it lends a visual and kinetic aspect to storytimes that can still be contained within the camera frame. For lots of resources on incorporating ASL into your storytimes, see my resource page for signing in storytime or the classroom.

(This post has been cross-posted to StorytimeStuff.net)

Click, bid, and support Deaf Camps, Inc.!

The Deaf Camps, Inc. 2020 Online Auction is open for bids through April 15! Lots of cool stuff for writers – including signed copies of my books, SHE SPOKE and NITA’S FIRST SIGNS (along with an adorable handmade Nita doll pictured below)! You can also find many handmade items,  gift certificates, event tickets, and more! All proceeds support Deaf Camps, Inc’s 2020 scholarship program.

Deaf Camps, Inc. is an organization close to my heart. I have been volunteering with this nonprofit since 2001. It is an entirely volunteer-run nonprofit whose mission is to create fun, safe, communication-rich camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing children and children learning American Sign Language. Please check it out, bid, and share widely!

 

 

Bid now at https://tinyurl.com/DCIauction2020!

More about Deaf Camps, Inc.:

deaf camps inc logoDeaf Camps, Inc. is an entirely volunteer-run non-profit organization dedicated to providing fun, safe, communication-rich camps that promote the physical, spiritual, and social development of Deaf/hard of hearing children and children learning American Sign Language.

 

 

The DCI Online Auction is run through CharityAuctionsToday.com. A credit card is required to register and bid.

 

Recommended Reading: SHOW ME A SIGN by Ann Clare LeZotte

I just finished reading an Advance Reader Copy of Show Me a Sign by Deaf author Ann Clare LeZotte, and I couldn’t wait to tell the world about it! The book comes out March 3, 2020 from Scholastic, but you can preorder it from IndieBound, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. More information and my complete gushing below!

Show Me a SignShow Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte
Summary: Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there – including Mary – are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage. But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary’s brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island’s prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a “live specimen” in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this penetrating and poignant novel that probes our perceptions of ability and disability.

The history of Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language has fascinated me ever since I first devoured Nora Groce’s seminal ethnography Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha’s Vineyard (Harvard University Press). Not only was MVSL one of the building blocks of American Sign Language, but the history of Martha’s Vineyard showed a wonderful example of what can happen when everyone has equal access to communication.

Ann Clare LeZotte brings the island community to life, and – no doubt because she is a Deaf ASL user herself – sidesteps the awkwardness that hearing authors often bring to showing signed interactions on the page. The result is a story that flows as naturally as the signs off the hands of deaf and hearing islanders alike – a story of a tight-knit community where everyone is valued, and the intrusion of the outside hearing world that only sees deaf islanders as specimens to study. LeZotte managed to incorporate lots of historical information – about the history of the island, about the early history of deaf education in America, about sign languages themselves – without ever letting the facts overwhelm the story and characters. What impressed me most, though, was the way the author wove in marginalized voices that, in most historical fiction like this, would have been overlooked – the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, the black freedmen on the island, the fact that the early schools for the deaf were segregated. This too, is done with a deft touch, as protagonist Mary reckons with the way the larger hearing world views her and her community, and learns how her own people have marginalized others. Anyone who dismisses this book as “niche” is missing out – in fact, it’s a big-hearted adventure and family story that will provoke reflections and discussions about intersectionality from writers and readers alike.

As an ASL interpreter, librarian, and book reviewer, I have reviewed a LOT of books about ASL and Deaf Culture over the years. There have been a lot of “well, at least now there’s a book on this topic….better than nothing, I guess.” So to have this book to recommend, that’s THIS good, AND by a Deaf author…all I can say is:

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom eCourse

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, March 2, 2020 and continuing for 6 weeks (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials.)

$250.00 (discounts available for ALA members and bulk registrations)

Click here to register.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this new 6-week eCourse, Sign Language expert Kathy MacMillan explores the benefits of signing with all children. In addition to learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary appropriate for use with children in library and classroom settings, you will also learn to teach stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

After participating in this eCourse, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of approximately 180 signs (introduced through video)
  • Create two storytime/classroom activities using the featured vocabulary that you can implement in your storytimes
  • Understand relevant aspects of child development and early literacy
  • Understand signing in a linguistic and cultural context

Feedback from past participants:

“One of the most well-organized and rewarding professional development courses I’ve taken.”

“Kathy is an amazing instructor. She made learning online very easy and comfortable. She replied quickly when students had questions and she responded with feedback with videos to help sign better.”

“I am amazed. It couldn’t have gone better. I came away learning many signs I can use and gained some helpful information for my storytimes.”

“The instructor was phenomenal, and I am already incorporating course work into everyday interactions in the library. Everything in the course is relevant and beneficial.”

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

The Great American Sign Language Mystery

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Homeschool Connection: The Great American Sign Language Mystery

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 1 PM

Lewes Public Library, 111 Adams Ave., Lewes, DE 19958

Where did American Sign Language come from? Flex your fingers and join in the hunt for clues as sign language detective Kathy MacMillan leads silly stories, songs, and more. Kathy is the author of Nita’s First Signs and Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together. Please register all attending this event, students and their accompanying adults at https://delawarelibraries.libcal.com/event/5237724

Homeschool Connection is the Lewes Public Library’s monthly program for K – 5th grade homeschool students. We host a variety of presenters on different topics, and include a library skills extension for each class. Check in the kids’ room for the schedule of presenters.

This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on DelawareScene.com.

 

 

 

 

Free Classroom Skype Visits for World Read Aloud Day!

World Read Aloud Day, founded by LitWorld, is an opportunity for people all around the globe to celebrate the joy of reading aloud and advocate for literacy as a fundamental human right that belongs to everyone. Check out the World Read Aloud Day homepage for free resources and activity guide! You can even sign up for a free classroom Skype visit with me or another author to celebrate World Read Aloud Day! (I can present in ASL or spoken English.)

 

I’m so excited that Nita’s First Signs and She Spoke: 14 Women Who Raised their Voices and Changed the World are featured in the Familius World Read Aloud Day Booklist!

 

 

Join in the Read Local Challenge!

It’s not to late to take the 2019/2020 Read Local Challenge, sponsored by the MD/DE/WV Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators!

Discover books by people who live in your own state – maybe even your own neighborhood! Our Read Local Challenge features traditionally-published authors and illustrators from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.

How to Join the Read Local Challenge:

Choose a challenge level, and start reading!

Read one book or two … or five … or every book in your selected challenge level (picture book, middle grade, or young adult). You can even take the ultimate challenge and read all 38 books!

Join in the state-by-state Reading Race!

Tell us which books you have read, individually or with a team. Our interactive map will update within 5-10 minutes to tell us which state has the most frequent readers. (If your whole team / family / class reads a book together, you get to count it once for each member of your team!) Then nominate a school or library near you to win a selection of signed books from us. One school / library in the winning state will win the grand prize!

Fill your Read Local Challenge Passport and redeem it for an amazing reward!

Pick up a Read Local Challenge Passport bookmark from your participating school, library, or bookstore. Fill the required number of passport spaces by reading books from our Read Local Challenge list, attending events to meet local authors and illustrators, visiting your library, and more.

Meet a local author or illustrator at one of our events!

Check out the Read Local Challenge events calendar to find us at our already-scheduled events. Or host one of our Read Local Parties and invite one of our authors or illustrators for a FREE, informal Q&A event either in-person or via Skype call.

Make it a competition!

Gather a group of friends together, or challenge your class (or even your whole school)! Teachers, Librarians, & Group Leaders: Request your FREE Read Local Challenge Starter Kit. You will receive Read Local Challenge posters, passport bookmarks, stickers, and small prizes such as postcards, buttons, etc. While supplies last, you will receive a FREE signed copy of a Read Local Challenge book. Who will win the grand prize in your challenge? It’s your challenge! You get to decide the rules!

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Skills: Start it off right with ASL eCourses for Librarians and Educators!

Registration is now open for upcoming sessions of my popular eCourses through the American Library Association!

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff eCourse begins January 13, 2020.

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse begins March 2, 2020.

Purchase both courses as a bundle and save! See below for more information about each course.

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, May 20, 2019 (6 weeks of lessons; Participants will have a total of 12 weeks to complete course materials)
Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.
Cost: $250.00 (discounts available for American Library Association members and bulk registrations)

 

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)
Click here to register.

American Sign Language (ASL) is an invaluable skill for library professionals. A basic grasp of ASL enhances your ability to serve deaf library users and opens up a new world of possibilities for storytime programs. It’s also a marketable professional skill that can translate to public service jobs beyond the library world. Ideal for those without previous experience, this eCourse taught by librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. MacMillan will place ASL within a linguistic and cultural context, aiding participants in improving library services.

Past attendees say:

“This course has been invaluable to me. I have spent countless hours reviewing all of the video, re-reading the lessons, and just generally trying to absorb as much knowledge as I could. The instructor was a gem in the way that she provided comprehensive answers to questions, feedback, tips and resources.”

“While I had taken ASL many years ago, this class has expanded my vocabulary and boosted my confidence in my abilities. I think it helped that this class specifically addressed situations I might encounter here at work.”

“This has been a great introduction to both the language and the culture!”

“This class was interesting, informative, and entertaining. It opened my eyes to a variety of ideas and concepts that can only make me a better librarian as well as a better person. I thought things were well organized and presented in an ordered and logical fashion, each lesson building on the one before.”

“Ms. MacMillan provided timely feedback to all responses, questions, and comments during the entire course. Her answers show the mastery of content knowledge and her response time shows how much she cares about her students and the topic she is teaching. This was one of the best online courses I have taken, and I will highly recommend this course to others.”

Register now for Basic ASL for Library Staff

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle


 

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, March 2, 2020 and continuing for 6 weeks (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials.)

$250.00 (discounts available for ALA members and bulk registrations)

Click here to register.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this new 6-week eCourse, Sign Language expert Kathy MacMillan explores the benefits of signing with all children. In addition to learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary appropriate for use with children in library and classroom settings, you will also learn to teach stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

After participating in this eCourse, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of approximately 180 signs (introduced through video)
  • Create two storytime/classroom activities using the featured vocabulary that you can implement in your storytimes
  • Understand relevant aspects of child development and early literacy
  • Understand signing in a linguistic and cultural context

Feedback from past participants:

“One of the most well-organized and rewarding professional development courses I’ve taken.”

“Kathy is an amazing instructor. She made learning online very easy and comfortable. She replied quickly when students had questions and she responded with feedback with videos to help sign better.”

“I am amazed. It couldn’t have gone better. I came away learning many signs I can use and gained some helpful information for my storytimes.”

“The instructor was phenomenal, and I am already incorporating course work into everyday interactions in the library. Everything in the course is relevant and beneficial.”

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle

In the Community: ASL Classes for Children and Adults at the Hearing and Speech Agency

Learn American Sign Language from a Deaf instructor at the Hearing and Speech Agency, a highly-respected Baltimore non-profit.

CLASSES OFFERED WINTER 2020

January 7 – March 10

EVENING CLASSES (Tuesdays 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.)
ASL 1, ASL 2, ASL 3, Conversational ASL, Children’s ASL

DAYTIME CLASSES
ASL 1 | Tuesdays 10:00 a.m. – Noon
ASL 2 | Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. – Noon

Adult ASL classes (10 weeks) are $150.
Course materials (book with DVD) are available and cost $85 (this is an optional workbook that includes two DVDs that give you additional practice at home between classes.
Children’s ASL classes are $100, no materials required. Parents may accompany a registered child during class for an additional $50.

For more information or to register, click here.


Program offerings featured in “In the Community” posts are not affiliated with Stories by Hand and are shared to spread the word about other ASL learning opportunities.