skip to content
Primary navigation

Professionals for DHH Families: ASL Rhyme & Rhythm Transcript

[Title slide appears with the following text: “For Professionals Working with Families with DHH Children: Language and Literacy Strategies ASL Rhyme & Rhythm (State of Minnesota logo) Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing”]

[Leala Holcomb appears and begins to sign.]

>> Leala: We have two strategies for using ASL rhyme and rhythm. The first is through improvisation - that is, be creative and play around with signs. Be silly! For example - C-A-T, as in a cat. Be creative and play around with the sign for cat. Let’s see - (Leala signs in a sing-song manner) cat, cat, claws prowling forward, cat, cat, C-A-T, cat, cat. This is a creative way of having fun with the signs that families can use at any time. Whenever a sign pops up, play with it - use fingerspelling to reinforce the sign, and have fun with it. The second strategy for ASL rhyme and rhythm is a tad more formal. It contains linguistic information with a set pattern involved. For instance, using the same handshape, or the same movement, using regional signs, incorporating facial expressions. Instead of being improvised at the moment, this type is created beforehand with a lot of thought put into it. Families can learn from those songs and copy, signing along. Both strategies are great, and I encourage families to utilize both approaches. Here’s an example of what it would look like, using rhyme and rhythm.  

[Leala is replaced by a video. In the video, a parent and a child are sitting on the floor facing each other. The parent is signing to the child, and the child is watching and copying the sign and fingerspelling for ‘horse’.]

>> Parent: Ready? Let’s sing a song! 

>> Child: Sing! 

>> Both Parent and Child: H-O-R-S-E. Horse, horse, H-O-R-S-E, horse, horse! 

>> Parent: Yeah! 

[Leala reappears and continues to sign.]

>> Leala (continued): We will model how you as a specialist, can help a family practice this strategy. I will take on the role of a professional working with a hearing family. Watch, and consider how you would interact with this type of family. 

[Leala is replaced by a video. In the video, Leala sits at a table with a different parent from the previous video. She explains how to use a strategy to sign with their child. An iPad stands propped on the table in front of them and Leala points to it occasionally.]

>> Leala: That’s cute, right? 

>> Parent (nodding): Yes. 

>> Leala: We just watched a mother singing through signing and playing. We see that the child is eagerly participating and signing along. You can do the same. You can play with it. Look for signs that have a similar rhyme or rhythm. How? Let’s see - okay, the handshape - for instance, a horse. (shows handshape) . What are other signs that have a similar handshape? Ah - cute! Funny too. We can play with those. Horse-horse, funny-funny, cute-cute. Use the same rhythm. Want to give it a try? 

[Parent looks at the iPad screen and signs]

>> Parent: Horse-horse… cute… 

[Slide with text appears: “Pause Video: Practice what you would say to families.”]

[Leala reappears and continues to sign.]

>> Leala (continued) You can practice with families by using different activities to practice using rhymes and rhythm all day. 

[End credits: 

“Created by 

Debbie Golos, PhD 

Associate Professor & Coordinator of the Deaf Education Teacher Preparation Program 

University of Minnesota

Leala Holcomb, PhD 

Early Childhood Education Specialist

Brynn Roemen, MEd 

Instructor in the Department of Educational Psychology 

University of Minnesota

Damon Timm

Video Production


Leala Holcomb


Haruna Matsumoto


Oceana Matsumoto


Special thanks to Peters Pictures and Hands Land for permission to incorporate their material in this series and to Stanley Matsumoto and Aaron Waheed for additional filming.”]

[End credits:

(State of Minnesota logo)

“This webinar series was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $360,725 with zero percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

“Produced by the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing.”]

back to top