Sign Language For Kids: 25 Signs To Start With

sign language for kidsSign language is a language all its own, with its own grammar system and a rich history. When deciding on a new language to learn, or teach your children, enrolling them in a sign language course is a great choice, even if you don’t have any friends or family who are hearing impaired. Another reason a young person might learn sign language is if they’re the child of a deaf parent, or deaf parents, or – of course – if they are hearing impaired themselves. In this guide, we’ll go over some starter sign language for kids, including 25 beginner-level signs that a child can grasp easily and will need to use most often.

For more on American Sign Language, check out this introductory course on level 1 sign language.

Family Signs

Some of the earliest things children learn to say are references to their parents. Below, you’ll find a couple signs kids can use to discuss family members.

1. Mom

Spread the fingers of your right hand out like you’re denoting the number “five.” Bring it up to your face and double tap your thumb against your chin.

2. Dad

Mostly the same as the sign for “mom,” spread your fingers of your right hand out and bring it up to your face, but instead double tap your thumb against your forehead.

3. Brother

Point your index finger out, with the rest of your fingers folded inward. Do this for both hands, holding your left hand chest-level and pointing out. Tap the heel of your right hand against your forehead and then bring it down, still pointing, to the left hand.

4. Sister

Same as the sign for brother, only tap your right hand against your jaw instead of your temple.

5. Grandma

Sign for “mom,” by spreading your fingers out like indicating “five” and double tapping your chin with your thumb, then bring it out forward, making a small arch motion twice.

6. Grandpa

Sign for “dad,” again, by spreading your fingers out in a “five” shape, then double tap your thumb against your forehead, and move it outwards in two arches.

7. Aunt

Ball your right hand into a first, like you’re signing the letter A, then bring it up to your cheek and twist your wrist back and forth a few times.

8. Uncle

Point your index and middle fingers out, holding them together as though signing the letter U, then bring your hand up to the level of your temple and twist your hand a few times.

Colors

Learning the words and signs for colors is pretty straightforward. Find a list of some basic colors below. Check out this course for some tips on memorizing vocabulary.

9. Red

Put your index finger up to your upper lip, then flick it downwards to your neck, curling your finger inwards as you do so.

10. Orange

Ball your right hand into a loose fist, bring it up to your mouth and squeeze twice, as though you are squeezing an actual orange. This sign can apply to both the color and the fruit.

11. Yellow

Sign for the letter “Y” by folding in all of your fingers except for your pinky and thumb, then twist the sign twice about shoulder level.

12. Blue

Connect all your fingers together, with your thumb folded in, as if denoting the number four, then bring the sign up about shoulder level and wave it a couple times.

13. Green

Make a sign with your hand as if you’re holding something small between your index finger and your thumb, with the rest of your fingers folded in. Flick this sign forward a few times.

14. Brown

Flatten out your right hand with your thumb only slightly tucked inward, bring it up to your face and make a downward slicing motion against your cheek a couple times.

15. Black

With your right hand, point your index finger out and align it against your forehead, horizontally, then slide it outwards.

Questions

Kids are always asking questions about the nature of things. Below is a list of some of the most basic questions ever, and how to sign for each.

16. Who?

Bring your right hand up to your lips, and curl your index finger inward, making a curling motion a couple times, as if spraying something from a bottle

17. What?

The “what” gesture is one of those signs that feels just like body language. Just lift up both your hands, palm up, in a shrug-like motion.

18. When?

Hold your right index finger out, pointing upwards, then with your left hand, index finger also pointing out, twist it around as if hovering over your right hand, then touch the tips of your index fingers together.

19. Where?

Hold your index finger up, as if pointing up, bring your hand to the level of your collarbone, held out slightly, and wag your finger back and forth, as if scolding someone.

20. Why?

Bring your hand up to your forehead, as though saluting, with your fingers together, then bring it out and downwards into the sign for the letter “Y.”

Emotions

It’s always good for kids to communicate how they feel. Below are the signs for some basic feelings. You can learn more with an advanced sign language course. Consider this course on American Sign Language, level 1.

21. Happy

Put your hand out in a “five” sign, fingers together, and swat at the right side of your chest a few times, in a circular motion.

22. Sad

Cover your face with both hands, fingers out, and then bring them down slightly so they’re just below your eyes. Think of your hands as a waterfall of tears and motion as though they were flowing down your face.

23. Angry

Bring your hand up to your face as if grabbing something off of it, and pull, clawing your fingers.

Manners

Manners are one of the first things a parent should teach a kid, as soon as possible. Below are some of the most important words anyone – of any age – can know

24. Please

Rub your chest in a circular motion with your right hand, fingers out and connected.

25. Thank you

Put your right hand up to your lips, fingers touching, and then extend the hand outwards.

See this guide on learning sign language for more tips on how to get started. You might also find this guide on beginner sign language phrases, or this guide on sign language numbers useful.