SignSpell is a new initiative to improve children’s communication, spelling and literacy in Key Stages 1 and 2. It uses aspects of British Sign Language (BSL) to teach children new physical and practical ways to remember words and spelling.
SignSpell is brought to life following the adventures of friendly aliens Zip, Pella and Statz. Teachers and parents can join in the fun so that adults and children learn BSL together. With lesson plans, digital storybooks, activities and flashcards in our online learning hub, you don’t need any prior sign language knowledge to get started.
“SignSpell is a very interesting approach. Signing / fingerspelling make sharing stories with an adult a more active experience, which fits in well with this age group. In addition, it extends their understanding of communication and gives them another route to remembering how to read and spell words."
Dr Rona Tutt OBE
How does British Sign Language boost children’s communication?
According to Jean Gross CBE, 6% of children leave primary school aged 11 with literacy levels of a 7 year old – or less. It is well researched and documented that a significant minority of children are failing to achieve the expected level at Key Stage 2.
Many teachers are discovering that sign language is an effective learning tool for all pupils. They report that children are interested in sign language and tend to acquire it easily.
Key benefits of BSL in the classroom:
- Supports extension of vocabulary when learning to read
- Improves motor skills
- Promotes faster learning through attentiveness and fascination
- Broadens communication tools and encourages inclusion
- Removes barriers when spoken language is inappropriate or impossible
- Facilitates communication with deaf peers
- Provides communication tool for children whose first language is not English
“As tools to ‘extend communication skills through the use of British Sign Language’, SignSpell had a powerful impact on the intended age range who were motivated, engaged and fascinated by the concept of ‘another language’ and wanted to learn more."
EDS, the Learning Organisation
SignSpell: An inclusive resource for teachers
SignSpell has been designed to help teachers make their lessons more inclusive for all pupils. We understand that you often face time constraints, spending cut pressures and lack of suitable resources for planning inclusive lessons.
SignSpell is an easy way to:
- Widen the range of communication and literacy skills taught
- Focus on the needs and interests of individuals
- Offer stimulating reading media
- Provide high levels of engagement with reading
“With resource constraints in mind, SignSpell covers a wide range of learning / teaching skills. Whilst the signs are not phonic based, it complemented the teaching of phonics which also includes actions, as well as the retention of spellings and overall communication / literacy development."
Katharine Whitehouse, Director - Rainton Education Ltd
What does SignSpell include?
The SignSpell system covers everything you need to deliver SignSpell lessons to primary children of all ages and abilities. It include 2 introductory and 12 themed lessons: lesson plans, digital storybooks, printable activities and flashcards. In addition, there is a series of video clips which bring to life signed words and phrases.
Find out more
This course has been developed by Signature, a nationally recognised body which promotes excellence in communication with deaf and deaf blind people. The organisation has sponsored the development of SignSpell, with specialist educational practitioners to encourage inclusive learning and in recognition of the weight of evidence demonstrating enhanced results in literacy. They have recently formed a partnership with Action on Hearing Loss.