Creating a Language Rich
Environment using ASL Series #2

Jenning Prevatte, M.Ed.

In our previous Creating a Language Rich Environment with ASL blog, we spoke about using American Sign Language (ASL) to build vocabulary by integrating it with daily routines and rituals. American Sign Language is not just a language boost for children it is also a brain boost with increased brain development.  Research has vastly expanded our knowledge of early brain development.  We now understand how early experiences are influential to the wiring of the brain.  Early childhood is a crucial time for brain development, in the first three years of life, 90% of the brain is developed.  American Sign Language supports early brain development in the areas of communication, attention, bonding, and visuals.

A great strategy is to label the classroom with the
written word and the ASL sign 

So, what are more ways to incorporate ASL into your classroom? Another great strategy is to label the classroom with the written word and the ASL sign. This engages the visual cortex and enhances brain development. ASL provides an opportunity for a child-directed approach to learning.  As we know, children learn best through child-guided activities, where children are free to explore materials and acquire skills through their own experiences.  Labeling the classroom with a combination of written words and ASL signs provides a support tool for children to explore the materials while building their vocabulary. It is a win-win for everyone.  PLUS, filling the classroom environment with rich vocabulary and visual literacy supports all learners.

As an affiliate of Sprouting New Beginnings, I recommend their wonderful resources called ASL Classroom Labels. There are 3 volumes with over two hundred printable words. 

This resource can be downloaded at Teachers Pay Teachers

Want to learn more? View our continuing series about Creating Language Rich Environments with ASL where we will deepen the understanding of building language and literacy bridges using ASL. 

PLUS, sign up for our eLearning course, Using ASL in the Classroom