We have had some fun experiences with American Sign Language games in the classroom. Here are some of our favorites:
Sign Language Telephone Game
Remember the game “Telephone” from grade school? Well, with this game, you sign it instead of say it. So, everyone lines up or forms a circle without looking at each other. The first person taps person #2 on the shoulder and signs something to him or her. Then, person #2 signs it to person #3, and so on. Make sure the people further along in the line don’t see! When the sign gets to the last person, you see how much it’s changed! You can also do this by drawing on each others’ backs. Great fun!
Animal Memory Game
Everyone forms a circle and picks an animal. Then, you go around the circle and everyone signs their animal. The person starting the game (person #1) starts by signing another person’s animal sign. The person whose animal sign person #1 signed (person #2) then signs another person’s animal sign. So, not only do you have to remember your animal sign, you have to remember the animal signs of the other people in the circle! This is a great way to build animal vocabulary!
This is great for teaching the alphabet and numbers. You just play Bingo and instead of shouting the letter and numbers, you sign them!
I totally made the name of this game up. We played this in one of my first ASL classes. It’s great practice for facial expressions! Everyone gets into a circle and chooses their favorite sign. Then, the leader says a feeling, like sad, happy, excited, scared, etc. Everyone in the circle then signs their sign while showing this feeling. I chose the word SODA-POP. Imagine how funny that was when I signed it sadly!
Share the Fun!
You can also find some sign language computer games on this website: Lyric’s Sign Language Games.
And here are a few awesome board-type ASL games that we found:
Favorite Games from Other Visitors
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
Hand Shape Game
I learned this game at a Silent Weekend when I was in the interpreter program. Lots of fun!
Have the class get into groups of 2 or 3, and hand each …
SIGNO is a sign language game like Bingo except that the headings are handshapes. I have a template which students take and fill in with 5 handshapes …
Memory, Mother May I, and Finger Bridge
I am taking intro to sign in school and we play a few sign language games that are a lot of fun.
Memory – At the beginning of the game everyone …
This is played just like the game of telephone but you use signs instead of talking. You have the students line up in equal groups, at least 5-6 people …
If you like telephone you would will like this game. Instructions: 1st (2) lines. Then explain that the person in front of you will turn and tap the person …
Most teachers already know this one. In fact, I am sure I learned it when I was a newbie student myself.
1. Set up the board, powerpoint, overhead, …
Vocabulary Blackboard Game
Divide group into 3 and line up right angle to blackboard
Vocab cards (scattered upside down on table at left of Line 1) are selected in turns, signed …
by Andrea (Tulare, california)
What you do is sign an animal sign, like SEAL. Then, the next person signs SEAL and then another animal sign, like RABBIT. The next person would then sign SEAL, RABBIT, and another animal sign. You keep going around the room, repeating all of the animals that have been signed in the correct order and adding a new one. If you are new to ASL, then you might want to write down what has been signed already. This game can be for 2 or more players. With two players, the players would go back and forth signing what has been signed already plus another sign until someone messes up.
I am going on vacation.
by Robbie (Pasadena)
Group play. You start with “I am going on vacation, I will take…” then the next player signs the same thing and adds on what they take etc. This is a great way to build vocabulary and check how students are signing their vocabulary. You can change where you are going if you like smiles.
Colors and Cones
by Leslie (Springfield MA USA)
After teaching common colors, I set out 12 cones that are colored, around the room. The children run and pick a color cone to stand next to. In a baggie I have the words and my daughter picks a word, she signs it, and whoever is standing next to that color, is out! Sometimes more than one child is standing next to that color cone, then they are all out. After that, they rotate a run to a different, cone, or they may choose to stay where they are. We pick another color and sign it, if they are standing now at that unfortunate color, they are out and so forth, till only one child is standing. Then they win a prize!
by R. La Puma (California)
Form 2 groups of 2. One person from each group is the signer, and one person is the writer. Have the writers leave the room, and then decide (for both groups) on a word, for example, “MONKEY”. Then bring the writers back into the room and have them go to a whiteboard with their partner. The signers, as fast as they can, fingerspell the word to their partner, who writes it on the board. The first group to have the finished word on the board wins.
Pass it on
by Sharon Denniston (Great Falls, MT)
Start with “holding” an object i.e. apple. Interact with it i.e. shine it on your shirt. Take a bite wipe the juice off of your face etc. pass it to the next person and he has to take it with a different handshape to show holding a different object i.e. a hammer, a toothbrush, a barrel etc. and he interacts with his chosen object until someone guesses what it is continue until everyone has a turn. Good for working with size and shape classifiers.
by Jane Dews (Billings, Montana)
I lead an after school sign language club made up of hearing students in grades k-6. The group’s favorite activity to date was our scavenger hunt. I used a fingerspelling font to type the names of items that students were to find in the school building. I paired the youngest students with an older student. The young kids could tell each letter, but needed a reader to figure out the words. Once they deciphered the list of items, they were turned loose in the school to find and bring back each item. I typed an answer key for a volunteer to make sure the students brought back the correct items. They had to take the items back to their proper place and then they could exchange lists with another pair of students.
by Nicole (Atlanta, GA)
Set up four students as the seasons in the four corners of your room. We played with clothing. So, if you sign BOOTS, have a remaining student walk to the appropriate season for that clothing. If you sign FLIP-FLOPS, do the same. Each student should be addressed a different type of clothing!
by Anna (Colorado)
Great for preschool lesson: Put a variety of objects in a bag. Good for teaching colors (crayons or markers), animals (plastic toys), school supplies, money, people/appearance (doll, action figures). You get the idea. Have children come up one by one, remove an object from the bag, then show the class the object. Teach the whole group the sign. Repeat with all the children.
Actions and colors
I played this with 3rd and 4th graders. After teaching colors and action words (run, walk, jump, hop, crawl, etc.) put different colored paper around a large open space (such as a gym or outside). The paper should be visible. Students have to watch the instructions signed by the teacher and then do that action while going to the specified color. For example: Run to blue.
The students stand up in a circle. One student stands in the middle and walks around pointing to one student in the circle at a time. The student being pointed to needs to quickly put their hands up to their nose like an elephant trunk while the students to the left and right need to put their hands up to the student’s ears. This makes an “elephant”. If any of the students make a mistake, then they’re out.
ASL Sentence Slam
by Barb (Colorado)
Helps with Vocabulary, Fingerspelling, English-to-ASL grammar & Class Spirit.
FIRST: Make a pile of vocabulary cards from sturdy paper (I used colorful card stock, half a page for each word/sign). Split class into teams – at least 2 with any number of players. Deal the cards evenly, 10 at a time to each team, keeping cards face-down. One player on each team is the “scribe.” On GO, flip your pile over and start arranging and moving cards into correct ASL sentences, around as the scribe (The team must be able to sign them!)
Our rules: 1.No more than (1) 2-word sentence for your team (1 pt only). 2. You can fingerspell only ONE word in a sentence if its needed to make sense. 3. 2 pts for 3-4 word sentences, 5 pts for 4+ word sentences. 10 pt-bonus to team with most sentences! We times it to 3 minutes, but 5 is fun also.
Each team take turns signing their sentences to the other, who must read & voice it. We laugh a lot at the funny sentences that turn up, like “My sorry dog not-come!” Team with most points wins, but everyone has FUN!
What is Your Favorite Sign Language Game? Share the Fun!
Have you played any fun sign language games? Share them with us in the comments below!
Sign language games are such a fun way to learn ASL! If any sign language games have helped you learn while having fun–share your favorite!