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It's Time to Sign!

What is Makaton?


Makaton is the sign and symbol language used in the CBeebies show, Something Special. Makaton is designed to support spoken language – signs are used with speech, in spoken word order to help children and adults to communicate. Using signs can help children who have no speech (either because they have communication difficulties or are very young) or whose speech is unclear.


Many children’s understanding develops ahead of their speech. This can leave them feeling frustrated as they might know what they want but not be able to express it, which can lead to tantrums.

Using signing can help empower them to express what they want to say and alleviate frustration.

Symbols can be used to support communication in many different ways. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to sign.


How to use Makaton

  • Use the sign or symbol for the important word in the sentence
  • Remember to speak and sign at the same time
  • Use clear, short sentences
  • Remember to make eye contact and use facial expression, body language and gestures
  • Use real objects and mime to give reference and meaning
  • You may need to guide your child’s hands to help them to make the sign
  • Reward any attempt at communication and use the sign and symbol for ‘Good’ to give praise


In Reception, we use Makaton signs to support our learning in all areas of the curriculum. Signs help us to learn new vocabulary and to remember daily routines. In the classroom we use Mrs Tumble's spotty bag and the Tumble Tap to create new signs.