The following is a sponsored review of Once Upon a Sign by DawnSignPress. I received the product free and was compensated for my time. As always, opinions are honest and 100% my own. I am committed to sharing only quality products with my readers!
I’ve heard it said that if you really want to learn a second language, you should immerse yourself in it, and not just the classroom-ready materials, but native speakers organically communicating with one another. That is exactly the kind of experience that you can expect from the DawnSignPress DVD series, Once Upon A Sign.
Once Upon A Sign productions are modernized retellings of classic fairy tales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Jack and the Beanstalk. The performances are entirely in American Sign Language by an all-deaf cast (with English dubbing.) Check out this preview:
Learning a Second Language Through Literature
Given my new-found interest in Charlotte Mason, I was delighted to find a product that teaches a skill, such as a second language, through literature. Not just any literature either, but classic children’s tales. While the stories have been re-written to include modern themes, enough remains true to the original to feel familiar. Since my boys already know the story that is being told, they can focus on other parts of the performance including the signs themselves.
We also have some previous knowledge of ASL, so the familiarity with both plot and signing vocabulary allowed my older viewers to notice the subtle nuances of the language. An upper-elementary student can begin to see the grammar of ASL by watching and mimicking the actors. Learning vocabulary and grammar through repeated use of words is the essence of any good Charlotte Mason or classical education.
Deaf Culture Immersion
In other ASL products designed for children, there is a startling lack of deaf adults teaching the language. One of the greatest and unique things about this series are the actors. These are people who have spoken ASL their entire lives. It is their native language and their culture. You can really feel the power of communication shine through them.
ASL is more than just knowing the signs for the words. That is the basics. That is vocabulary. I know a few words in Spanish, but if you plop me in the middle of Mexico, I’m going to have a real hard time figuring out how to get around. Like any language, ASL has grammar. It is visible through these performances that facial expression, body position, the movement and speed of the sign, and the order of the signs all have a great impact on what is being said.
Multi-Level Learning for All Ages
These videos are designed for a young audience (~ages 3-8), but I was concerned that my toddler and preschooler would be frightened of the stories, especially given the expressive nature of the actors. There was no need for concern though as the stories have been re-worked and interpreted to be fun with a happy ending. Little ones will benefit from these features:
Short Length (<30min)
Family Friendly Storytelling
Signs Repeated for Retention
Specific Instruction in Common and Fun Signs
Colorful Animated Settings and Vibrant Costumes
As I mentioned above, an older student can begin to understand the real mechanics of the language and move beyond simple vocabulary building. This is possible because the stories include:
Normal Conversational Pacing
Broad Range of Vocabulary
Repetition of Signs Using Different Expressions
Personalized Speaking of Signs by Multiple Individuals
Currently DawnSignPress offers four DVDs with at least two more coming soon. And at only $15.95 each, they make an affordable addition to your library or a wonderful gift. You can also follow DawnSignPress at the addresses below for announcements of new products, as well as general information regarding ASL and Deaf Culture.
Maybe you have a child that is moving past the level of baby signing and still has a growing fascination with this form of communication. Perhaps you have a child that is considering ASL as a second language. These DVDs are a fun and inexpensive way to step into the world of Deaf Culture and test the waters. We really enjoyed them.
This has been a sponsored review of Once Upon a Sign by DawnSignPress. I received the product for free as well as compensation for my time. I was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions and experiences are my own.
Please see my full legal disclosures for more details.