Our family has been learning American Sign Language for about five years. Because we were so disappointed in the quality of ASL videos geared toward children, we stopped using them and began learning signs exclusively through books and ASL dictionaries. That has all changed since we were given the opportunity to do this review. The Signing Time! DVDs are, bar none, the best videos I have used for learning ASL.
All the videos feature Leah (a deaf child) and Alex (her cousin, who can hear), along with Leah's mom, Rachel Coleman, who demonstrates each sign. Tons of live-action footage of other children signing shows viewers that just as we all speak with different accents, signs can be used slightly differently and still means the same thing. Technically geared toward children ages 0-5, these videos are a good education for adults as well.
Volume 1: My First Signs starts babies and toddlers with 18 typical "first words" signs, such as animals (bird, dog, fish), parents, and the most basic of food signs like "eat", "milk" and "water". Volume 2: Playtime Signs teaches 30 more signs, including signs for toys (train, doll, bike, bear), signs to meet physical needs (hurt, bath, potty), and even signs for good manners (please, thank you, and taking turns). Volume 3: Everyday Signs introduces another 29 signs including foods (cookie, apple, cracker), opposites (wet/dry, day/night) and emotions (happy/sad, laugh/cry). The CD Signing Time Songs includes the 11 songs from the entire set of videos, including the lovely "adult" songs "Show Me A Sign" and "The Good". Each video is about 30 minutes long. The DVDs include a sign review from previous volumes and a special sign explanation.
I do not lightly call these videos "the best" I've seen. My daughter has been signing since she was a year old and while we aren't fluent (YET!), the Signing Time videos are the one resource that have enthralled our entire family and taught each of us quickly and easily. Rebekah is three and a half and has full hearing, but Leah and Alex are her favorite imaginary playmates. Every morning she gets up and heads to the playroom to turn on the Signing Time CD in her little CD player. When she wants to watch one DVD, she wants to watch them all...in one sitting. Even Mrs. Coleman has made a huge impression on her; upon seeing a woman in a store that looked like her, Rebekah remarked, "That looks just like Leah's mommy!"
Learning ASL has long been a goal and joy for our family. I have also recommended this series to my best friends, fellow homeschoolers, public school teachers, parents of autistic children and even my hairstylist! The Signing Time videos have offered us a fantastic resource and we are all looking forward to more "Alex and Leah shows", as my daughter calls them.