I LOVE using sign language in the library. We begin each and every class Kindergarten-5th grade by learning and practicing some sign language. Our students really enjoy it and I bet yours will too.
Resources: Signing Savvy is the website I use most often. I always prefer a video when learning a sign so I can watch exactly what is happening. After a few, you'll have to skip past ads, but the quality of the videos is well worth it to me.
(Optional) You may want to check at any community colleges close to you. They often have sign language classes and it can be very helpful to get feedback on your signing.
Introduction to Students: I keep it pretty simple - "We're going to learn another language - one we can do with our hands! It stretches our brains and allows us to work with letters and words in a different way!"
Sequence: K-5 we all start with some basic library-related signs so we all have the same base of knowledge.
- Book, Library, Read, Title, Author, Illustrator
After that we split between K-2 and 3-5.
K-2: So that I can keep my head on straight, we all learn the same sign each week in each of these grades. The topic changes every quarter or semester. Here's a rundown of our last two years:
Year 1: Animals, Opposites, Everyday Signs (please, thank you, sorry, help, etc.)
Year 2: Weather, Colors
3-5: After our library signs, we learn (or review for 4/5) the sign language alphabet about two letters at a time. We then go forward AND backward through all the letters we know - ex. A B C D E F G H, H G F E D C B A. It's another good brain-stretching opportunity!
I then spend a few weeks asking them to spell words to their table partners, which leads up to 3rd graders teaching the class to spell their name (I write their name on the board so everyone can see how it's spelled). 4th and 5th graders get to choose the word or words they teach the class to spell (again I write the word so everyone can see how it's spelled.
Signing a really nice way to start class that immediately involves EVERY student. Perhaps it will work at your school too!