Deaf children play many of the same games as hearing children, including tag, skipping rope and board games. However, specially designed games give deaf children an advantage and teach them the alphabet, numbers and common words in American Sign Language (ASL). Caregivers can order these games online or design their own versions by making ASL playing cards and drawing game boards with sign language pictures on them.
Sign Language Puzzles
Sign language puzzles help deaf children learn ASL by including puzzle pieces with hand shapes on them. This teaches young signers their alphabet, numbers and common words. Another type of puzzle, the crossword puzzle, offers a straightforward way to teach children ASL finger-spelling by having clues with words spelt using the manual alphabet; children read the finger-spelling and write the word in English in the clue boxes to create the English word.
ASLingo is the ASL version of bingo. Bingo squares have ASL hand shapes of the numbers, so players must identify the sign language for each number as they play. Although Harris Communications, a seller of ASLingo and other games and products for the deaf, recommends that one person know ASL, as long as all players have knowledge of ASL numbers, the game should be a fun and effective way of practicing sign language.
To teach children the ASL alphabet and numbers, create cards with pictures of signs on them. Have children match the sign with the English letters. For a twist, create another set of cards with pictures of animals that start with those letters, and have children match the finger-spelling cards with the animal cards starting with that letter. If you prefer to buy a pre-made game, Finger Alphabet Lotto is a board game with matching for young children learning to sign.
Keep Quiet Reword Game
The Keep Quiet Reword Game is a game that teaches deaf children---and interested hearing persons---ASL finger-spelling. It uses alphabet cards with the English alphabet on one side and ASL signs on the other, plus wooden blocks and a timer. Players spell words using the manual alphabet, learning ASL finger-spelling as they go.
Deaf children enjoy many of the same games as hearing children, including freeze tag, hide and seek, skipping rope, bowling, board games and jigsaw puzzles. The key is to make these activities as visual as possible. Most board games for kids don't require speech to play, and as long as caregivers have a way of finding and beckoning their deaf children inside when needed, outdoor activities are just as fun for deaf children as they are for the hearing.
- Harris Communications: Games
- Harris Communications: ASLingo Game; Sep. 17, 2004
- Harris Communications: Finger Alphabet Lotto; Oct. 25, 2002
- University of Maine, Farmington: Assistive Technology Collection: Keep Quiet Reword Game; 2007
- West Virginia University: Strategies for Teaching Students with Hearing Impairments; Apr. 20, 2005