Makaton is the sign and symbol language used in the CBeebies show, Something Special.
Makaton is designed to support spoken language - signs, symbols and speech are used to help children and adults to communicate.
Signs are used, with speech, in spoken word order. Using signs can help children who have no speech or whose speech is unclear.
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.
Makaton is very flexible and can be used to:
- share thoughts, choice and emotions
- label real objects, pictures, photos and places
- take part in games and songs
- listen to, read and tell stories
- create recipes, menus and shopping lists
- write letters and messages
- help people find their way around public buildings
Who can Makaton help?
Makaton can help children and adults who have difficulty with:
- communicating what they want, think or how they feel
- making themselves understood
- paying attention
- listening to and understanding speech
- remembering sequencing
Makaton is a visual way to develop communication skills which helps stimulate sounds and words. This visual way of communicating in turn helps to encourage language development, i.e. putting words together. Makaton helps understanding, giving the child or adult an extra visual clue.
Makaton signs help convey meaning, because the signs give an extra clue when speaking, for example ‘Hello’ and ‘Drink’. The signs used in Makaton are from British Sign Language (BSL) which is the language of the deaf community in Britain.
Makaton symbols help learning. A Makaton symbol is a simple black and white drawing which shows the meaning of a word. Symbols are lasting and permanent. Symbols give a child or adult more time to take in information.
The Makaton Charity exists to ensure that everyone living with learning or communication difficulties has the tools and resources they need to communicate.
The Makaton charity:
- provides training to parents, carers, and professionals, via our nationwide network of licensed tutors and trainers
- develops and produces printed and electronic resources - from nursery rhyme DVDs to vocabulary books and electronic collections of signs and symbols for computer use
- works with others to make their information accessible - e.g. translating materials using Makaton symbols
- provides advice and support to families and professionals - e.g. the charity has a free family advisory service
- works in partnership to influence society and empower people. The charity has worked with organisations such as The National Portrait Gallery and the BBC to promote communication and use Makaton so that more children can take part.
How to make a magic moment
Play a shopping game together. Gather together a collection of toys, books or clothes and take turns to go shopping to buy things using Makaton to help. A real basket makes this game even more fun - as can using real fruit and vegetables!
How CBeebies can help
Have you seen Something Special and Mr Tumble on CBeebies? You too can learn to use Makaton like Justin and Mr Tumble.
If you haven’t watched the show, why not a get a flavour of it by visiting the Something Special web pages on the CBeebies website? There are lots of printable sheets which are a great way for your child to learn the Makaton signs for key words. Each word is written out and also represented by a photo, picture and sign image. And there are also Something Special games, songs, video clips and stories, a recipe for a Mr Tumble cake and printable colouring-in sheets for your child to enjoy.
Watch Something Special, visit the Something Special website, and contact The Makaton Charity to find out about Makaton training in your area.