Forest Arts Centre (FAC) in Walsall, held a special ‘Sing and Sign Day’ for KS1 and KS2 pupils from local schools to celebrate National Sing Up Day.
FAC are fortunate to have two of only nine ‘Using Makaton with Singing’ tutors in the UK, trained by The Makaton Charity and Sing Up in 2011. Bev Cullen and Liz George drew on their respective backgrounds as SEN and vocal specialists to create an exciting opportunity for children from mainstream and special schools to come together to celebrate their love of singing in a completely inclusive event.
The children, from eight different schools, were a mix of mainstream and special schools. Some had experience of using Makaton, others were complete beginners. They learned seven songs, along with relevant Makaton signs and symbols. By the end of each session, children (and teachers!) had learnt approximately 50 signs, plus the alphabet and some numbers.
Teachers were impressed at how quickly the children learned the signs, and that through using the signs, they were able to learn the songs quicker than usual.
Teachers were also able to observe how using Makaton with Singing can act as a common thread between language and communication needs as some pupils had Speech and Language difficulties, others had English as an additional language.
One school has already organised a Makaton Taster Workshop for all their staff as they are interested in finding out how they can use Makaton to assist their children with various aspects of literacy including vocabulary development and sentence structure.
We think the benefits of signing and singing encourage many of the same developmental processes:
Our Singing and Signing event enabled all the children to participate in something meaningful, stimulating and fun. Some children signed the songs very simply, some sang, and some used a mixture of the two. It was a privilege to see children with a cross-section of needs and abilities come together, signing and singing and feeling extremely good about themselves. It doesn’t get much better than that!