The Early Education ASL Program through CSDB Outreach Programs was delighted to have SKI-HI Institute provide a 3-day training in August 2023 to 9 participants, who reside throughout Colorado.
Early Literacy Event-Platteville-Gilcrest Fire Station
Sixteen families with children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, under the age of 5 years, met at the Platteville-Gilcrest Fire Station for a very fun Early Literacy event through CSDB Outreach. The highlight was exploring the fire trucks and ambulance and interacting with a fireman in his full gear!
Early Literacy-Northern Colorado
The Northern Colorado Early Literacy program hosted many families, who have children who are Deaf or hard of hearing, recently. Families enjoyed a story, music and movement and other fun activities.
Literacy Events-Pikes Peak
Families from across the Front Range Urban Corridor jumped, danced, played through music and movement activities during the Literacy Events at Pikes Peak Library 21C in Colorado Springs, GymStarz Elite in Johnstown and Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver during the month of February.
All Things ASL
Through a collaboration with the School for the Deaf, the CSDB Outreach Programs are currently offering a total of 9 evening ASL classes each week for a total of 78 community participants and 17 family members of current CSDB on-campus students.
Little Language Learners Kick Off the Winter Session
The Little Language Learners bilingual toddler playgroup kicks off the winter session on Friday, January 13, 2023. The toddlers love our new space and equipment! We use songs to get our wiggles out and the Hands Land ASL program to learn ASL rhymes and rhythms. We paint pictures, create with playdough, cut and hole punch, match pictures and learn new vocabulary words each week. We have a sensory table for new textures, a light table with changing colors, a little literacy library and a dramatic play center to activate our little minds.
The ”Coffee and Conversations” parent portion of LLL is a lively and supportive place to discuss weekly triumphs and seek feedback with challenges. Parents learn potty training basics, language patterns and rhythms to help with daily schedules and predictability. We laugh hard and lift each other up all while taking a breather with a hot cup of coffee.
It is the MOST FUN to watch these ‘littles’ grow and learn!
Music, Movement, Stories and Education!
The children who attended the recent Northern Colorado Early Literacy event were all smiles; so fun to see so many little fingers signing, voices singing and all communicating with each other! Jami Fries, Director of @coloradohandsandvoices joined us to share information about supports and resources available to families through Hands and Voices. It was wonderful to see parents, children, and professionals all connecting with each other!
We look forward to the next event in February to bring Northern Colorado Families back together again!
Outreach Fall Festival
Recently, Outreach Programs hosted a Fall Festival for families with young children, who are blind or visually impaired, in our newly renovated toddler room on campus. Six families with a total of eight children attended and engaged in fall-themed literacy, art, and music activities. Children enjoyed a variety of opportunities for exploratory play, while families developed and extended meaningful connections around shared experiences. One parent commented: “We brought our 16-month-old toddler, who is blind, to the Fall Festival event at CSDB, and it was one of the first times that we've felt like a normal family with a normal kiddo. It's refreshing to be able to go to an event that is relevant to your child and where he is at developmentally and with his visual impairment. It's also invaluable to be around families who "get it." We loved the creativity and thought that went into the event, and you could tell our kiddo did, too. We look forward to more events that we can take our little one to and get to know the campus and other families who have similar experiences. Thank you!”
The Little Language Learners (LLL) bilingual toddler playgroup is off to a great start. We have 8 families for our fall session and we are loving our new toddler space and equipment! Our first two themes have been focused on learning our body parts and learning about our feelings. We have read the books, “Here Are My Hands” and “The Feeling Flower” to help us identify parts of ourselves and how we are feeling. We use songs to get our wiggles out and the Hands Land ASL program to lean ASL rhymes and rhythms. We have been painting pictures of our bodies, making faces with playdough, cutting and hole punching, matching pictures and learning new vocabulary words each week. We have a sensory table for new textures, a light table with changing colors, a little literacy library and a dramatic play center to activate our little minds.
The ”Coffee and Conversations” parent portion of LLL has been a lively and supportive place to discuss weekly triumphs and seek feedback with challenges. We have learned potty training basics, new related vocabulary and learned about language patterns and rhythms to help with daily schedules and predictability. We have laughed hard and lifted each other up all while taking a breather with a hot cup of coffee.
This group is the MOST FUN and good for the soul. Stop in on Friday mornings and play with us.
Written by Abby Killam, LLL Teacher
October Early Literacy Events
Come Play With Us!
Come play with us!
A play group for families with children, ages 18 months to 3 years old, who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
· Weekly opportunities to promote and balance your child’s language development in both American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English.
· Play-based approach to support implementing ASL and spoken English into your everyday activities and routines.
· Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind – Check in with a photo id at the front administration building.
· Children who are deaf and hard of hearing, ages 18 months to 3 years old, and a parent or caregiver.
Coffee and Snacks will be provided!
9:30 am to 11:30 am
Friday, September 9
Friday, September 16
Friday, September 23
Friday, September 30 - No LLL
Friday, October 7
Friday, October 14
Friday, October 21
Friday, October 28
Friday, November 4
Friday, November 11
Friday, November 18
Abby Killam and Jennifer McLellan
Once Upon a Sign
Once Upon a Sign By Jennifer McLellan, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind Outreach Programs
Storytime in American Sign Language and spoken English bond the Deaf and Hearing communities, giving children the answers to the biggest questions of language and life. Stories define us, shape us, and create us.
Storytime through ASL helps children expand listening skills and comprehension. It also increases their ASL proficiency.
Larissa Powers, Pikes Peak Library District Librarian in Colorado Springs, notes the positive feedback the program has received.
We love this program! We come every month!
We couldn't find a library offering anything like this in our state, so we attend virtually every month, from New York.
“Feedback like this is what drives our collaboration between the Pikes Peak Library District and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind as we continue to offer our monthly "Once Upon a Sign: ASL Storytimes,” says Powers. Our goal: Offer a fun and exciting early literacy experience for deaf and hearing families alike, and to build a foundation for lifelong ASL learning and early literacy.
The program features bright and colorful books chosen for their vocabulary, their engagement potential, and how much we enjoy them! Families who join learn new signs related to the stories, wiggle and move their bodies, and see their favorite stories signed by a Deaf role model. At the core of the program is attention to the fundamentals of early literacy and engaging children to learn and grow in multiple languages at once. Families who attend ASL Storytime can take away new ways to communicate together as they say "See you later, Alligator".
Parent and attendee Britni Day shared what the program means to her family and relates it to her life experience.
“Sieben, acht, neun, zehn,” I repeated after my elementary school teacher. I learned to count and do math in German before English, as I was enrolled in a German immersion school from first through 6 th grade. Reading books and playing games had a lasting effect on my life. I see this as I seek out people of different cultures, continue to use my language skills, and spend time with new people as they share their language and culture with me. I had always hoped for these experiences for my children but never dreamed we would be so beautifully thrust into learning American Sign Language (ASL) when our daughter was born hard of hearing. Each touch point with ASL and the wonderful people who speak it draws us into this community that has become so precious to us. One of those touchpoints is the Once Upon A Sign program from the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind (CSDB) and the Pikes Peak Library District.
Coming into the room, I already know that getting my four kids back into the car when it’s time to head home will not be easy. They know we are here to see our Deaf teacher share a story, but they are in for so much more. My shy one lingers in the wagon. Friendly faces greet us while signing “hello,” and the rest of the event draws them in until each child is signing with new friends — both kids and adults. We are guided into a welcoming atmosphere by Deaf role models where play happens but learning is hidden just beneath the surface. As they play and watch the story being read each inhales the language in its most natural form, mastering the art of being patient. They are training their minds to notice the differences and similarities in people and to celebrate them. I see them bonding not only with each other but also with the amazing role models who are giving graciously of their time. My shy child gets out of her comfort zone of the wagon and flourishes because of those who see her and meet her where she is. She starts to sign despite her insecurity.
Each interaction creates stories that will be retold and cherished during the car ride home. My children will show me the new signs they learned and “help” me if I’m “wrong.” Learning to sign isn’t just something mom and the Deaf instructor made up. For our hard of hearing child, these touchpoints are critical for her to thrive as she learns to navigate her world. She won’t learn it without seeing ASL repeatedly in different settings. But as she sees more deaf and hearing people sign, she has become more comfortable. These reading events give her that opportunity.
On the way home, I reflect on our journey. My daughter has learned that she is not alone. Her hearing sisters have learned how to care for her and engage with her even when she can’t hear them in the ruckus and chaos of the room. They learned to sign with her and our baby as they have seen so beautifully modeled for them at the library. Watching different people sign helps them to see the “accents” of the language. Confidence is acquired. Relationships are built. You can’t help but be drawn in by the language, by the environment, by the people. These events and this community show them that their fears or misconceptions are worth overcoming. As I think back to sitting in that room, watching deaf and hearing people conversing together, I am reminded of the history of Martha’s Vineyard. And I wonder if I’m gently brushing up against what it would have been like for those 200+ years there where deaf and hearing people lived and communicated without barriers. My children came with curiosity but left the Once Upon A Sign event with so much more.”
Editor’s note: McLellan is the Colorado Shared Reading Project Liaison, Literacy and Language Instructor Consultant, and Early Literacy Lead with the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. She thanks Parent Britni Day and librarian Larissa Powers for contributing to the article.
Wednesdays in the Park, an Outreach program, brings families of young children, who are Deaf/HH or Blind/VI, together with CSDB staff and role models for learning and fun!
[Video is audio described, captioned and has background music.]
Wednesdays in the Park
For many of us, summertime means parks, picnics, and gatherings. For families and Deaf and Hard of Hearing or Blind and Visually Impaired children, Wednesdays in the Park, hosted by the CSDB Outreach programs, is special! Families and children get the chance to enjoy their time in the parks and meet other friends who have Deaf and Hard of Hearing or Blind and Visually Impaired children.
ASL Community Classes
Did you know CSDB offers community ASL classes? ASL classes are held for the community and individuals interested in learning American Sign Language (ASL) basics. Click the link for more info!
Deaf Safari Day at the Denver Zoo!
More than 1,500 families, adults and children who are Deaf explored the zoo and visited vendor booths, including the CSDB booth! 5 staff from Outreach and The School for the Deaf represented CSDB to share information and connect with families! The excitement for being back in person, and at this event was overwhelming! We look forward to the next event!!
Outreach Workshops for Families
CSDB received a grant from Colorado Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (COEHDI) to provide four workshops to professionals who work with families who have children who are deaf and hard of hearing, birth to age 3. Early Intervention providers have indicated a desire for “more in depth knowledge” for topics related to mental health, communication with families, research to application, and communication options. We worked with a variety of presenters to attempt to meet this need: Heather Abraham provided a workshop on Foundational Coaching Tools, Dr Leala Holcomb and Michael Higgins with Hands Land provided a workshop on ASL Play, Kimberly Sanzo provided a workshop on Evidence Based ASL-English Early Language Intervention, and we finished the year with Holding Space with Jessica Dallman, Elizabeth Seelger, and Leigh Hardin.
Sixty-eight unique providers participated in these workshops, three via zoom, and one in-person! It was an honor to receive this grant, and we are confident providers took multiple nuggets away to be able to apply to practice and programs!
Grand Junction Community Event
Grand Junction here we come!
Outreach is loading up the van and traveling to GJ. Outreach Programs in collaboration with Mesa County School District 51 is hosting a community event on May 21, 2022 at the Eureka! McConnell Science Museum. Participants can visit the museum, enjoy story time, and related literacy activities. Role models who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing will be present along with Deaf or Hard of Hearing resources. Mesa County School District will provide lunch for the event.