After I talked about signing with Peeper in my 10 month letter to her, I received the following comment:
It is so much fun to hear about your signing adventures with your daughter! Please send me your mailing address so Baby Signs, Inc. can send your daughter a video that is designed to teach signs to babies her age. And we’ll include a Video Dictionary DVD for you and your partner, too. It’s got 150 ASL signs and 35 Baby-friendly signs on it.
Director of MarketingBaby Signs, Inc.
How cool is that?
The offer was unconditional, she did not ask for a review on the blog, or even a mention, but it does seem only fair to tell you about it and let you know what I thought of them, since she sent us about $35 worth of free stuff!
The DVDs arrived yesterday, and Peeper and watched them immediately.
The DVD that they sent us is “My Pets Signs” which retails for $14.99 and teaches the signs for cat, dog, bunny, bird, turtle and fish.
(Note – According to the brochure they sent, there’s also a “My Animal Signs” which teaches cat, dog, monkey, bird, turtle and fish. So, just a heads-up that you probably don’t need to buy both of those!)
If I’d been buying just one DVD, I probably would have picked “My Mealtime Signs” to start off with, but hey, free DVD, shut up and enjoy it!
We also received the Baby Signs DVD Dictionary, which retails for $19.99, and demonstrates almost 200 ASL and baby-friendly signs.
I have to start by saying that we’re not too keen on the idea of Peeper watching TV, even kids DVDs, and we’re hoping to avoid it as long as possible (we no longer have Cable TV, actually), so I did feel a little guilty about using a DVD to teach her signs, but I figured that watching it with her a few times is very different from having the TV on all the time, or plopping her down in front of it all the time.
I think it’s a good thing that we feel that way, because I found myself enjoying it way too much when she was so engaged with this DVD, so I think that I will have to be very careful to avoid falling into the habit of letting the TV babysit!
(Feel free to refer back to this post and laugh at me in a year or two when we’ve got Dora and The Wiggles on autorepeat.)
All that said, let’s talk about the “My Pets Signs” DVD!
As I said above, Peeper was very interested and it kept her quite engaged. It reminded me a lot of the Baby Einstein videos that we’ve seen during her echocardiograms, in terms of the sound effects and puppets and such. I suppose that’s what babies like!
The video stars “Beebo” the Baby Signs bear, and “The Diaper Doodles,” a group of slightly creepy signing computer animated toddlers, and the Baby Signs Monkey, whom I thought was some sort of dragon or dinosaur until I heard “monkey” on my second viewing.
Come to think of it, Beebo’s a bit creepy, too – he’s a person in a bear suit, signing with gloved hands. The think that struck me as odd was what he does with his mouth. Maybe he’s trying to smile, but the way the bear-head works, it comes out as a rather smart-ass sneer.
Speaking of hands, it really bothered me that the Diaper Doodles only have four fingers (including the thumb!) on each hand, especially given that their whole purpose is to use their hands to show us signs. Does the technology not exist to create CGI pinkies?
Okay, getting past the weird stuff. . . .
There are five segments to the video, one for each sign that’s taught. In each segment, the sign is presented and reinforced in a variety of ways – Beebo signs it, and a Diaper Doodle signs it, the monkey is dressed up as the animal, and there are a couple of little scenes with the animal, some of which specifically reinforce the characteristic of the animal that the sign depicts.
For example, a Diaper Doodle is drawing a cat, but he “forgets” the whiskers, and has to go back and add them. I suppose this gets the baby thinking about “whiskers” – and the sign for “cat” is to “draw” the whiskers coming out of your face with two fingers.
The part that I liked the best was in each segment when the narrator says, “Hey, let’s all sign ‘cat!'” and then they show about ten different babies and toddlers doing the sign.
As a parent, watching for my ten-month-old to make the sign, it was very helpful to see a number of variations on the theme, and to realize how approximate her version of the sign might be, and still be quite “acceptable.” I hope that will make it easier for me to spot these signs when she does them!
We watched the whole video yesterday afternoon, and then rewatched “cat” and “dog” later in the evening.
Today, when we went to the “pooch plunge” at an area swimming pool, where there were scores of dogs swimming and running around, I think that Peeper was signing “dog” with just a bit of prompting.
It’s hard to say, since the sign is just patting your thigh, like you’re calling a dog, which is a pretty natural movement for a baby, but it seemed pretty deliberate to me.
This DVD came at a perfect time for us, just as Peeper’s caught on to the basic concept behind signing, but before she’s actually got many signs.
I hope that after watching it a few times, she’ll start picking up on the other signs, or at least start signing “dog” and “cat” reliably, since we actually have a couple of each in our family.
After watching this one, I would consider getting other Baby Signs DVDs for her, but I doubt we’ll spend the money on them. I might put a couple on her Christmas wish list, but will wait and see how she’s doing. She might already have those signs in her vocabulary by then.
You can learn more about Baby Signs products and classes at http://www.babysigns.com/.