Songs are a great medium with which to incorporate signing, and the combination of words, music and hand motions promote memory retention. There are many songs that use actions that are not actually sign language – examples include:

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • I’m a Little Teapot
  • Where is Thumbkin
  • Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes
  • Wheels on the Bus
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It
  • All the Fish are Swimming in the Water

It’s a great sampling of fun, interactive songs, but since this post is about sign language, I’m going to focus on songs that can incorporate one sign per verse, preferably at the end of the sentence. It was once held that children learned nouns first, but when the idea was studied in Korea and the children had learned verbs, they learned that it is the word at the end of the sentence that a child most easily picks up. It is the last words spoken that often become a child’s first words (source, Nurtureshock).

I picked up some baby sign language books that recommended some songs and nursery rhymes, but most didn’t have the sentence structure I was looking for with the sign at the end of the sentence. So then I looked to nursery rhymes, but I realized so many ended with nonsense words (Miss Muffet and your tuffet, I’m looking at you). So good old “Old Macdonald” it is. You can just focus on the animals, or you can add the fingerspelling for E-I-E-I-O as well.


 images courtesy of

 images courtesy of