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CBE teacher uses sign language to help with literacy

Sign language and songs are just a few of the tools Elysa Morin uses to help her Grade 1 class learn

Grade 1 teacher Elysa Morin uses sign language, textiles (like gel bags and salt plates), and dance parties to help her students learn and retain information.

Elizabeth Cameron / For Metro

Grade 1 teacher Elysa Morin uses sign language, textiles (like gel bags and salt plates), and dance parties to help her students learn and retain information.

Grade 1 teacher Elysa Morin’s class at Prince of Wales School is learning their letters— in two languages. 

Morin, who has been teaching Grade 1 for six years now, said she thinks children learn best when they’re moving their bodies. She thought sign language would help her kids learn their letters, the sounds they make and would make it fun along the way.

“I love to make learning really kinesthetic and tactile and movement based,” she said. “Today we were practicing printing and reinforcing letter sounds when we do that.”

And, it appears to be working. Morin’s class is eager to learn their sign language letters, eager to spell their names and eager to sing the “vowel bat” song.

“It’s fun,” said Grade 1 student, Finn. “I like it because it helps me learn my letters and their sounds.”

Morin said both of her parents are music teachers, which has helped her develop many of her teaching methods. 

“When you’re body is moving you remember things a lot better, and sign language helps us reinforce letter sounds and names that way,” she said. 

Morin said the kids in her class are really embracing the use of sign language in their classroom. They use sign language to tell Morin when they need to go to the bathroom, get water and to practice spelling their names.

Grade 1 student, Ryleigh Stephens, practices her spelling with sign language.

Elizabeth Cameron / For Metro

Grade 1 student, Ryleigh Stephens, practices her spelling with sign language.

“I want them to know there are many ways to communicate,” she said. “Grade 1’s are naturally the most enthusiastic, delightful people in the world and they’re just loving it and they eat it up whenever they get to move and bring a little playfulness into their learning their so receptive.” 

And, parents are noticing, too. 

“Their parents tell me they take it home and they teach them too, which I love to hear,” said Morin.

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