Saturday, November 16, 2013

ASL Rhyme and Rhythmic Songs: FOR-FOR?


    When sitting in a workshop a few weeks ago watching Rosa Lee Timm explaining about the importance of creating ASL songs that consist rhyme and rhythm, it dawned on me that we have not created enough "Nursery ASL Rhymes" and "ASL Children's Songs" (such as Mother Goose/Fairy tales/Fables) adapted for Deaf children even for any signing children. I am not talking about translating from the spoken version of nursery rhymes, fairy tale related songs and mother goose songs/stories, but creating ASL version of its own that can include the use of a variety of genres such as handshapes, location, movement, palm orientation, ABC story, number story, etc. incorporating the use of rhyme and rhythm. It also includes the use of space, repetition and drum beats.

Rhyme and rhythm need to be incorporated in ASL songs based on fairy tales/mother goose nursery rhymes giving the Deaf children a sense of spatial structures and patterns. Young ASL users process the flow of information when viewing the ASL Songs/ASL Mother Goose stories (of its own) that they are able to grasp the meaning and concepts of the message more efficiently. They also develop a greater understanding of space that includes reference, patterns, and rhythm. Exposing ASL Songs/Mother Goose stories with rhythm and rhymes to young Deaf children allow them to build a strong foundation of poetry and literature in ASL. In addition, it will lead them to become better readers and writers as well.

It is crucial to engage young Deaf signers in ASL songs that they are able to re-chant and internalize the language and make their own. Historically, Deaf children who don't have enough opportunity to "play with language and developing ASL phonemic awareness" tend to struggle more in academic performances. The use of drum usually engages them to follow the beats with repetition more effectively.

I've witnessed how Deaf children have taken with delight in the visual images and strong rhythmic character of ASL own version of nursery rhymes. Visual imagery and the rhythms indeed have a powerful effect on cognition.

For younger students (Birth to Kindergarten), I would use a shorter version and use more repetition. It is important for them to not to be overwhelmed and get lost so restricting the beats is crucial. It will allow them to memorize the rhymes and rhythm effortlessly where they can internalize the grammatical structure (or syntax) of language in their long-term memory. Viewing the parameters of ASL in nursery rhymes/songs that the children have first memorized supports self-monitoring behavior. It is crucial for educators and parents engage their children in memorizing ASL nursery rhymes. It will accelerate both language and literacy development.

Rhymes and rhythm in ASL songs invite movement and dramatic interpretation, allowing children to personalize meaning and build language concepts and vocabulary. This is especially vital for children acquiring English as a second language. While it is visible for every culture having its own "nursery rhymes", it is applicable to Deaf culture to have its own. I have created several videos and it is has been a fun experience to develop these ASL rhyme and rhythmic songs. Just play with language with Deaf children and you will see its rewards!

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The Three Little Pigs ASL Rhythmic and Rhyme Song



Version #1 in English translation:

The first little pig went there, then the second little pig went over there, and finally the third little pig went elsewhere.
The first little pig built a house there, then the second little pig built a house over there, and finally the third little pig built a house elsewhere.
The first little pig has a house there, then the second little pig has a house over there and finally the third little pig has a house elsewhere.
The wolf came to the first pig's house, then the wolf came to the second pig's house, and finally the wolf came to the third pig's house.
The wolf huffed at the first pig's house, then the wolf huffed at the second pig's house, and finally the wolf huffed at the third pig's house.
The wolf puffed at the first pig's house, then the wolf puffed at the second pig's house, and finally the wolf puffed at the third pig's house.
The first little pig's house collapsed, then the second little pig's house collapsed,  but the third little pig's house had stayed still.

Version #2 in English translation:

The first pig built a house,
the wolf huffed and puffed,
then the house collapsed.
The second pig built a house,
the wolf huffed and puffed,
then the house collasped.
The third pig built a house,
the wolf huffed and puffed,
but the house stayed still.

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This was my first ASL song as developed from Rosa Lee Timm's workshop with the help of the participants.  Classifier handshapes are used to describe the turkey based on location (upper head, lower head, chest area, arms, and in the air using 2-1 beats.

The Turkey ASL Location Song

 

English translation:

The turkey has a snood
and a beak.
The turkey has a wattle
and a belly.
The turkey has feathers all over its wings
and a pair of claws!
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Rhyming is used with "B/B-bent" handshape only with rhythmic beats (using drum beats) talking about Thanksgiving. The song concept talks about getting together for Thanksgiving. I've developed this song with young Deaf children and we had a ball putting this song together allowing them create, play and entertain together.     

ASL Song- 
Thanksgiving, Oh Thanksgiving!    
 


English translation:

It is Thanksgiving, oh Thanksgiving!
Plans are in place,
Cooking and cooking
Mmm, it smells so good!

Inviting and welcoming
the children and adults,
greetings and greetings
Now, come on in!

Bringing and sharing
Pieces of pies
eating and eating
Boy, we are so full!

Chatting and talking 
with joy and happiness.
Cleaning and cleaning
Finally, we get to rest!

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Here is a link that shows more samples of ASL songs.


Hope you've enjoyed these! Happy Thanksgiving!

11/21/2013 Update:

Just thought it would be a good way to call this ASL R & R as in ASL Rhyme and Rhythm Song genre.

12/08/2013 Update:

Thanks to an invaluable feedback by a parent of two Deaf children; it was suggested to have the ASL songs translated into English rather than into ASL gloss. Translating into English would never be 100 percent of what it meant in ASL, but it is much more comprehensible to those who are English users. Cheers!