Animal signs are a delight to learn, as they are often iconic. In this chapter, you have the opportunity to apply the classifiers that you have just learned and combine them with this new group of sign vocabulary. After studying the new vocabulary, you will be able to use classifiers as an enhancer, giving you a wonderful way to show movement. As an example, you can combine the classifier for animal movement (a bent “V” hand) with the animal sign for “lion.” This combination of a classifier and a sign demonstrates that the lion is moving. When you use this classifier slowly, you can suggest the appearance of a lion crouching. Add the sign for “tree,” which you will also find in this chapter. Now, simply pluralize tree by signing it multiple times. Voila! You have just added a jungle.
Children love animal signs. The following is a fun variation for “bunny:” Place your thumbs on either side of your head, fingers together and bent downward. This handshape represents a bunny with floppy ears.
ANIMAL: Place the fingertips of both hands on your chest and rock the hands back and forth, imitating an animal breathing.
LION: Pull the “claw” hand back over your head, imitating a lion's enormous mane.
TIGER: Use both “claw” hands placed on both sides of your cheeks and draw them apart several times, imitating a tiger's stripes.
RABB IT: Place the “three” hands on both sides of your head, palms facing back. Flick your fingers and thumb repeatedly, imitating the ears. The “flat” hand held in the same position can be used for very young children. Variation: Use the “H” hands, cross wrists, palms facing in, in front of your chest. Flick your fingers repeatedly.
BEAR: Use “claw” hands and cross your arms on your chest, moving the hands to imitate clawing.
CAT: Pull both “F” hands from the corners of your mouth to the sides, imitating a cat's whiskers.
COW: Place the thumb of both “Y” hands at your temple and twist, imitating the cow's horns. Good signers use two hands for children which adds strong visuals to stories and use just one hand with adults Note: Make this sign with two hands and it will add animation.
HORSE: Place the “H” hands, palms forward, on your head and flick your fingers.
BIRD: Open and close your index finger and thumb at the side of your mouth, representing a small beak.
NOte: Signing bird, duck, and goose can be an adventure in learning sizes for a young child. Sign a small beak for a bird, medium beak for duck, and a large beak for goose. To sign “duck,” open and close your index finger, middle finger, and thumb at the side of your mouth, representing a medium-size beak. To sign “goose,” open and close your thumb and all fingers at the side of your mouth, representing a large beak.
SKUNK: Place the “K” hand at the bridge of your nose and pull back over your head, imitating the white stripe on a skunk.
WOLF: Place a slightly open hand over your nose and pull down, while closing your hand, to the end, imitating the long nose of a wolf.
RACCOON: Place both “V” hands, palms inward, at your eyes, and pull out to the sides, closing your fingers, imitating the mask of a raccoon.
DEER: Place the thumbs of both “open five” hands at your temples, imitating antlers. To sign “moose,” make the sign for “deer” and pull out the “open five” hands away from the side of the head, imitating the large antlers on a moose.
SQUIRREL/CHIPMUNK: Use both “bent V” hands, palms facing together. Tap fingertips and knuckles multiple times, imitating the squirrel's gnawing.
SNAKE: To sign “snake,” move the bent “V” hand forward in a winding movement, imitating a snake.
NOte: When you are out on nature walks, there is a possibility that you might be carrying a pair of binoculars. The sign for “binoculars” is a natural, gestural sign; just place both “O” hands on the eyes and twist back and forth. When you form the sign for “binoculars,” you also are signing “owl.”
DINOSAUR: Hold your right arm vertical, palm facing left. Rest your elbow on the back of the fingertips of your left horizontal arm. Use the flattened “O” hand and pivot your wrist back and forth slowly, imitating the swaying head of a dinosaur.
FROG: Place your closed fist under your chin, flick open your index and middle fingers, imitating the frog's throat.
BUG: Place the tip of your thumb on the tip of your nose and wiggle the bent index and middle fingers, imitating antennae on a bug.
SPIDER: To sign “spider,” cross both “open five” hands at the wrist and wiggle your fingers while moving forward, imitating a spider crawling.
TURTLE: Place the “A” hand, palm facing left, under the “curved” left hand. Move the thumb of your “A” hand back and forth under the left curved hand, imitating the head of a turtle inside its shell.
To sign “sea turtle,” place the right fist on top of the left fist and extend both thumbs. Rotate both thumbs simultaneously, imitating a sea turtle swimming.
To sign “manta ray,” place the right “flat” hand on top of the left “flat” hand, extend thumbs and move them back and forth, while moving hands forward in a slight wavy motion.