Category: homeschool

Yes or No? A Sign Language Explanation – repost

Often I am asked how to sign YES and NO in sign language.  Indeed there are formal signs for these words, but, frankly the obvious choice is to shake your head YES or NO.


If one wants to learn how to sign YES, simply make the handshape S (as below). Then bob it up and down as if it is a head nodding the affirmative.

YES! Move your wrist up and down as if this fist is your head bobbing up and down to say YES!
YES! Move your wrist up and down as if this fist is your head bobbing up and down to say YES!


To make the sign for NO use the “N” manual alphabet handshake and close it to the “O” handshape.  Of course, adding the headshape NO is a bonus!


When you say NO but you mean WRONG.  Try this sign instead!

WRONG is made with the Y handshake to the chin
WRONG is made with the Y handshape to the chin


What if you are indecisive? 

The MAYBE sign is made with hands being alternated up and down. As if you are saying, “If not this one, then that one”.

MAYBE - alternate hands up and down
MAYBE – alternate hands up and down


And, when you see DOUBLE ZEROS, that means NOTHING, NO WAY and even in Spanish – NADA!



Double ZEROS - tend to be made near the head or chest area - depending on the context.
Double ZEROS – tend to be made near the head or chest area – depending on the context.

Happy Signing!


*** Please note that materials can now be found HERE at

Sign Language Instructional Lesson for Educators #1



Welcome to the Educators Lesson Plans for Signing Families!

The first lesson in learning sign language is actually talking to your students about Deafness and why some people may “talk with their hands”.

Great resources to set the groundwork for older students to talk about Deafness and

How to approach the topic of Deafness?  Preliminary assignments for students.

1- Ask your students if they have any experience within the Deaf community. You may be surprised to find out that some have quite a bit of knowledge.

2- Do any of your students have previous exposure to sign language. Perhaps they know signs such as MOMMY and DADDY or the alphabet / numbers?

3- Some students may benefit by being given the assignment of watching television with no sound or captions for 30 minutes. Can they follow the storyline?  (Older kids should be encouraged to watch a variety of shows, such as the news. Discussion points can include what was easier to follow?)

Second portion of this assignment can include asking students to watch television or videos WITH captions! Another discussion can be the value of closed captioning and the laws that enable closed captioning for equal access.



Preschool students: (These signs are ready for download on our GALLERY PAGE)







**Kindergarten age and up:

ALPHABET : VIDEO for learning:

NUMBERS 0-10: VIDEO for learning



Practice letters by first signing common objects and names.  2 letters. Then 3 letters. Then more.

Practice in front of mirrors.

Practice by spelling names of movies, books, famous people and family and friends.

How to reinforce learning creatively:

MANUAL ALPHABET:  Play games such as SCRABBLE, Hangman, Word Search, Crossword puzzles

NUMBERS:  Math problems, memorizing digit series, Sudoko, Battleship


1- Do all countries use the same sign language?  What country is American Sign Language most akin to?

2- Deaf people often learn to sign to communicate. Could sign language be a good communication method for non-deaf people and if so, which circumstances?

3- How do you think sign language can help you learn other subjects (such as spelling or math problems)?

HALFLING, a New YA Novel with Bonus Features: Book Club, Virtual and Homeschool Curriculum Options

Halfling (2016) by debut author, Donna Marie Robb

Donna Marie Robb is a writer who has a dream … actually, a whole lot of dreams! Her debut young adult fantasy novel, Halfling, chronicles the story of Remmi, a young girl who is vacillates between Dreamearth and Realearth.   As her story unfolds you realize that Robb wrote Remmi to be a strong protagonist who has experienced more in her few short years than most do in a lifetime.

As the story commences you learn that Remmi was orphaned as a child, so she thought. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she ends up in an unusual living situation where she is among “drones” who have been voided of thoughts.  Her life in slavery ends when she realizes that her skill-set includes a touch of magic.  As a clever and precocious teen, Remmi uses her new found abilities to escape and go forth to help others. Her story of survivorship grabbed me within the first two chapters. (And, robbed me of precious hours of sleep as I couldn’t put the book down!)

The story ebbs and flows between one “earth” to another – similar to other YA books such as The Giver or Harry Potter, where alternate realms help enhance the intrigue. While Halfling was written for the tween and teen audience, my husband and friends also became fast fans and thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner!

Plus, the animated video, created by the very talented Dara Blaker, gives Remmi a voice and makes reading Halfling even more enticing!


Meet the author, Donna Marie Robb

I have had the pleasure of knowing the author for many years.  Her ability to have insight in to the psyche of young adults’ is clearly evidenced by her writing of Halfling.  She also is a librarian who cares about the youth of our country and their education and attainment of literacy skills. That is why she decided to introduce a book club and a homeschool / virtual school curriculum as adjunct features to Halfling. 


View the Halfling Book Club page!

The book club allows students to expand the discussion regarding Halfling with fun and thought-provoking questions.  Also, they can engage with the author by using the contact form or comment section on the Book Club page. Check out the book club feature here.

About the Homeschool / Virtual School Curriculum

Coming soon will be a curriculum for home educated  / virtual schooled students. This will be a four to six -week literacy based guide to instruction with Halfling as the featured text.  Students will be able to delve in to the book, explore their own “dreams”, keep a journal and compare and contrast the themes of the book with current events.

Let the author know you are interested in the Homeschool Curriculum by filling out this contact form.  (And, ask in the comment section how you can get the book and curriculum for FREE – an offer that is time limited.)

Why Halfling is needed in OUR world

On a closing note,  as a School Psychologist I believe we need books like Halfling.  The character, Remmi, is likable but also a role model for tweens and teens.  She exemplifies what it is like to be a resilient child with a will to overcome all obstacles in her way – including evil and persecution.  I won’t give away the ending – but know that it is not predictable.

Halfling and the adventures of Remmi are easy on the budget. Kindle version is free for unlimited prime members, $2.99 for basic Kindle and $11.99 for paperback. All can be found here: AMAZON.

And, my hashtags for this book would be … #MustRead #FreshOriginalPremise






I am part of the social media team helping to promote this amazing author and Halfling. Trust me when I say it is my pleasure to represent such an amazing talent!




Can we fix our broken students and schools?


As I walk through the halls of the various schools I have visited in the past year I am engulfed with the sights and sounds of children singing in music class, speaking Spanish in their immersion classes, having mock trials as part of US History lessons and seeing students helping peers who have learning challenges.  And I smile – wide .

I also notice during my stroll through the halls of many schools a different “vibe”. That of students yelling at each other, often with vehement or disdain and teachers complaining of lack of resources and being asked to play the role of parent instead of teacher more times than not.

I am not smiling. Many times I feel unable to help and worse yet – hopeless.

I also see kids walking through the corridors void of expression because they are scared, feeling beyond tired, trying to keep a low profile from potential bullies or in need of respite from their home environment. So, I ask, how can we succeed at education when there is an underworld lurking in our schools which is far more complicated to handle then the lessons in the classroom? How can we expect children to be attentive and motivated to learn when their minds are elsewhere and their hearts are full of angst?

If our children come to school broken from life does that mean our schools also are broken?

Now I know that there are many, many wonderful things that happen in our learning institutions. I understand that there are many parents and community members who give much of their time and resources to help our children be the best students they can be in a nurturing and creative school environment. I also know that many students are struggling, parents are not able or willing to volunteer and that some of our communities are too unsafe to support neighborhood programs.  Unemployment, substance abuse and lack of education are not a recipe for success.  There are so many variables to take in to consideration.

Recently I was talking to a group of parents about this very subject. Many of them agreed that it is hard to teach children who are hungry and often scared about their current home or neighborhood situations. Some indicated that their own schools were failing their children. Not because they had difficult children or lived in areas of poverty, but, because the schools were often underfunded and on austerity budgets which left the tone of the building “stressed”. For a few of these parents the decision to home school came out of desperation for wanting a different kind of educational experience for their children.  These parents felt that their neighborhood schools were broken.

So, let us take a few minutes to share some ideas with the hopes that we can collectively start a debate about how to help our kids, our teachers, our schools and our neighborhoods.  Together we may be able to provide some “glue” and start fixing what is broken.

Your turn….

Catch A Rising Star! Today on 411 Voices Radio My Interview with Sarah Vonskamp, Tween Author of FILLY GIRLS!

Tween author, Sarah Voskamp

Today I had the privilege of interviewing two amazing young ladies, Abrielle Mullins, country singer and Sarah Voskamp, tween author of the book, FILLY GIRLS. 

Sarah Voskamp is only eleven years old but she has the writing talent of more seasoned authors.  Inspired by her friends to write a book about friendship and horses, her debut book FILLY GIRLS has sold more than two thousand copies.  She has appeared on television, radio and in print media.  Like Abrielle she credits her parents and friends as her support.  And the two also share a cautionary tale – stay true to yourself and be cautious of those who only want to be friends because of your life in the spotlight!


To learn more about Sarah visit her website:

Please refer to the last entry on this blog for tons of information about Abrielle Mullins

***Sarah has agreed to give a copy of FILLY GIRLS to one lucky winner!  Simply comment below or on my SIGNING FAMILIES Facebook page to be eligible to win!  Drawing will be held on September 30, 2011 an awarded by chosen number via




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