Sign Language Hands - 3rd Grade

This lesson is one of my favorites for 3rd grade -- it is difficult, but also very rewarding for the students. 

I came up with this lesson in my very first year of teaching as my class was coming in.  It was the time of year when snow storms, ice storms, and ridiculously cold days had chopped up our weeks and projects due to days off.  I was teaching my day like normal when BAM it hit me as my kids were walking in - I had no project for them.  Nothing.  Zip. They finished what everyone else was working on finishing -- my mind was reeling!  What on earth was I going to do with a classroom full of 3rd graders for art?!?!?  Then just as fast as I realized I had nothing BAM - an idea. 

I will have them write words in sign language.

I quickly went to the internet, found a sign language alphabet and printed off copies while the class was settling.  As my trustworthy student went to get the copies I explain to the class that this next project was going to be tough - that it might be frustrating.  I asked them if it was okay to be frustrated - they said, "Yes".  I asked if it was okay to give up - they said, "No".  I explained that I would help, but I wouldn't do it for them, and that sometimes they would have to wait for my help.

Once we covered that and students seemed in the right mind set I told them our plan was to draw letters using sign language to spell a word.  Most students became excited, a few winced, a few flashes of fear.  We went through the alphabet as a class - making each letter on our hand (this seemed to help those that winced and panicked).

Next, I did a demonstration where I drew some of the letters - thinking out loud while I looked at my hand and back to my paper.  I also did a couple where I only looked at the print out.

I reminded the kids that it might be harder than they expect, but to just keep trying!

- Pick a word between 4 and 6 letters.
- Draw the hands life size or bigger.
- No giving up.

I passed out papers and let the kids go.  The first day tends to be the most frustrating day, as it is harder than they expect.  The second day it is a lot easier for the kids and they tend to take off!  Make sure on the second day to review where the fingernails and wrinkles go, as many tend to get happy about putting them on.

When they are done with their drawing they come to me to approve - I make sure fingernails are in the correct locations.  Next, they outline with Sharpie.  If there is still time that day they look through magazines for letters to glue above each hand.

When these are complete the kids beam at their final project.  They are often very proud and ready to show them off!


Lisa said...

Love this idea for middle school next year. I've taught for 28 years and this is a logical next lesson to the introduction of drawing hands. Thanks for the idea....

Hazel Terry said...

I love this idea, I have pintrested it and I will also be sharing with my collegues C: