Handshape games and activites

The handshape game helps students review ASL signs and build their vocabulary. Below is a few of some ideas for sign language games and activities related to the handshapes to use in sign language classes.

A set of signs for one handshape

In an ASL classroom, split students into groups of 3 or 4 students. Set a limited time (5 minutes up to 10 minutes of your choice, depending on your class time). Pick one particular handshape for this session -- handshape "A", for example.

Each team throws in as many ASL signs with the dominant handshape "A" as possible, such as GIRL, EVERYDAY, WITH, etc. Have one person in each group write down the list of words on a piece of paper. Explain a rule that the handshape must be dominant-handed, not passive part in each two-handed ASL sign.

For an advanced or more challening level, you can be more specific with the thumb part -- open "A" as in GIRL and NOT or alphabetical letter "A" as in PATIENT and ATTITUDE.

Use the light switch or your hand to start the game. Roam around and disqualify any incorrect signs such as "S" handshape (the difference in a thumb) in a signed word.

To stop the game, turn off and on the light or gently tap on the table. Have each team count how many words they could think of. Congratulate the winner(s).

Western handshape shoot out

Have each student from two teams stand in front of you. The players must come up an ASL word based on the handshape you pick. The player who responds with the ASL sign faster earns a point for the team. Then continue with the next pairs.

ASLphabet Turn-taking

In a horseshoe or circle of students, the first student sign based on the first ASL handshape in the chart (see below), then next student sign continues with the next handshape, and so on.

Use the chart below or other source of your choice and project it on the screen for the students to see.