Snack is by far the most popular part of my local book clubs. We now have a guessing game at each meeting where the kids try to guess what food item from the book they read is the one I brought to the meeting. For some books, that is a long list of possibilities! Others, like WONDERSTRUCK, are more challenging. I am sure the first guess at this meeting will be sandwiches, like the ones Jamie brought to Ben in the museum. Not very exciting. So, in this case, we need to get creative!
While searching for ideas, we came across a super fun snack–ASL fingerspelling cookies! They are easy to make and are a fun way to explore the fingerspelling alphabet that Jaime teaches Ben in the book. Here are some hints and tips to making the cookies:
- If you have a cake store in your area, you may get lucky and find a hand-shaped cookie cutter there. I ordered this one through Amazon. Be sure to check the little “More Buying Options” box on the right to see what price + shipping combo is least expensive for you.
- Without a cookie cutter, you could trace your kids’ hands on the rolled out dough and cut out with a knife before shaping. Or pat out a lump for the palm/wrist and make the fingers out of patted down dough snakes.
- Some of the letters were harder to shape, such as P and Q. J and Z depend on motion, so they aren’t included in the photo of the cookies.
- For ease, I used refrigerated cookie dough. As an experiment, I tried the store brand and the more expensive name brand, following the respective baking instructions. I found the store brand worked better because it held its shape in the oven. If you make homemade dough, it works best with a recipe that doesn’t puff up or spread too much while baking.
Whether making the cookies with your kids at home or bringing a bunch to a book club meeting, these are sure to be a hit. Don’t forget to bring the printable manual alphabet to your meeting so kids can figure out what letter they are eating!
For more fun with this same subject (or if cookie making won’t fit on the day’s agenda), have kids trace and cut out the shape of their own hand on paper. Make as many hand shapes as letters in their name then fold and tape each into a name fingerspell work of art! Here are a few tips on cutting out the letters:
- Cut out an open-finger “5″ hand for most letters
- A & B: fingers together but thumb separate
- H & U: index and middle finger together
- L: thumb way out to the side
- C & X: fingers bend in these letters, but don’t meet up with other fingers
- Z & J: involve movement, so look at a fingerspell chart and get ideas how they do those letters
- M & N: make the thumb more straight out to the side and longer to reach between the fingers
- Finally, using paper with contrasting colors on opposite sides (like origami paper, wrapping paper, or sandwiching two colors together when cutting the hand shapes) helps highlight the different shapes better.
Other countries use other forms of fingerspelling, such as the two-handed fingerspelling alphabet used in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. If you live where ASL isn’t the native sign language, adapt the activity for your own version of fingerspelling. The two-handed alphabet might be a little more complicated, but it should still work! Learn more about the history of sign language and deaf culture on the on the WONDERSTRUCK website.
As always, we’d love feedback from you or photos of your own creations! Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.