My daughter’s first word was “more”. She didn’t say it in the traditional way with her voice. Instead, she said it with her hands using American Sign Language. For eight weeks, my Zee sat in a play circle with other babies — ranging in age from 7 to 18 months — and learned to sign through songs and creative play with Laura Petersen of Finger Babble.
Now, I won’t quote you the research that says learning to sign helps improve parent-child relationships and reduces frustration. But I will say this: watching Zee become able to communicate, even a little, has made for plenty of smiley days. Plus, I’ve truly enjoyed learning another language.
Petersen’s class, held at the Educational Resource Center in Santa Cruz, combines the best aspects of a playgroup with loosely structured learning. She is holding a free demo class on Tuesday, March 16 from 9:15 to 10 a.m. in advance of her Spring session (April 20-June 8). The 8-week class costs $135 for new families, which includes DVDs.
For those who have already taken Finger Babble, Petersen is also doing a series of springtime field trips. Each includes an hour of songs, vocabulary and play relating to that week’s location.
The first takes place 10 a.m. March 17 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. The $12 session, not including the $2.50 museum entrance fee, will include animal, gardening and geography signs. Other field trips planned are Frederick Street Park (10 a.m. March 22), Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Laboratory (10 a.m. April 21) and Natural Bridges State Park (10 a.m. April 26).
In addition to Finger Babble, Touch Blue Sky holds two sign playgroups weekly at Jelli Beanz in Santa Cruz.
Now, if only I could figure out what Zee is trying to say when she pats both of her hands to her head while she’s eating. “Must wash hair” is my best guess.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Finger Babble Demo Class
WHEN: 9:15 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 16
WHERE: Educational Resource Center, 224 Walnut Ave # C, Santa Cruz
AGE RANGE: 7 to 24 months
MORE INFORMATION: www.fingerbabble.com