Signing Time!

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Signing Time!
Signing Time Logo.png
GenreChildren's television series
Created byRachel Coleman
Emilie Brown
Directed byDamian Dayton
StarringRachel Coleman
Liam Coleman
Alex Brown
Aaron de Azevedo
Voices ofClara Poulsen
Alex Brown
Zachary Brown
Theme music composerRachel Coleman
Opening themeSigning Time! Theme
ComposersRachel Coleman
Lex de Azevedo
Country of originUnited States
Original languagesEnglish
ASL (vocabulary only)
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes26 (list of episodes)
Production locationsSalt Lake City, Utah
Running time28–30 minutes
DistributorAmerican Public Television
Original networkPBS
Picture formatNTSC (480i)
HDTV (1080i)
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseMay 1, 2002 (2002-05-01) [1] –
July 1, 2008 (2008-07-01)
Related showsBaby Signing Time!
Practice Time!
External links

Signing Time! is an American television program targeted towards children aged one through eight that teaches American Sign Language. It is filmed in the United States and was created by sisters Emilie Brown and Rachel Coleman, the latter of whom hosts the series. Between the years 2002 and 2008, it was aired by American Public Television in many cities across the US.[2] Signing Time! is produced and distributed by Two Little Hands Productions,[3] which is located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Signing Time’s multi-sensory approach encourages learning through three senses — visual, auditory and kinesthetic — and reaches children with diverse learning styles and abilities by encouraging interaction through signing, singing, speaking and dancing.

The series teaches signs for common words, questions, phrases, movements, colors, sports, days of the week, everyday objects, and common activities.[4]

The segments for the show aired as a interstital for PBS Kids Sprout's Musical Mornings with Coo block from 2007 to 2009. The insterstitals still air on SproutOnDemand from 2010 to 2013.

Currently, Signing Time! interstitial music videos can be seen on Nick Jr.[5][6] As of October 4, 2010, public television stations were allowed to show the series for the next two years.[7][needs update].

History and conception[edit]

In 1996, Rachel Coleman had a daughter, Leah. When their daughter was 14 months old it was discovered that she had been deaf since she was born. Subsequently she was taught sign language, first with Signing Exact English (SEE),[8] then with American Sign Language (ASL), so that they could learn to communicate. Coleman noticed that within six months, Leah's sign language vocabulary surpassed the vocabulary of hearing children her same age.[9]

The logo for Two Little Hands Productions
The Two Little Hands Productions logo

Coleman and her sister Emilie created a visual video for hearing children's learn ASL, and started Two Little Hands Productions, their production company. A foundation, Signing Time! Foundation, also exists to teach ASL.[10] The foundation is dedicated to making sign language fun and accessible to all children, and to furthering Rachel's advocacy. Through the Signing Time foundation, Rachel is a keynote speaker at speaking engagements where she shares her message, journey, and experiences. To help children like Rachel's daughter who were diagnosed with hearing loss, the foundation offers an initiative where it delivers, free of charge, an online ASL curriculum called SignIt to those children's families.


Signing Time![edit]

Coleman hosts the show, with her daughter Leah and nephew Alex also starring to provide support. In My First Signs, it was not originally planned for her to be in the videos, but she was added to demonstrate the signs because Alex and Leah could not consistently sign clearly enough to teach viewers the signs.[11]

The second season introduced a new format that includes new signs and more original music. Each program addresses a single theme, marked by a theme song, which is introduced verse by verse. In addition, new segments “ABC Time,” “Counting Time,” “Game Time,” “Story Time,” and “Hopping/Moving Time” explore the episode theme or other skills in a playful way.

Signing Time! Sentences is a three episode mini-series released in 2015 and 2016 geared toward older children and teens. In it Alex & Leah, both now in their late teens, return with Rachel to teach viewers the basics of American Sign Language grammar.

Baby Signing Time![edit]

Baby Signing Time! is a sister series to Signing Time! It started in 2005 and is geared towards children aged 2 and younger; it is similar to the early volumes of Signing Time where the signs are introduced one at a time. It is much more musical than regular Signing Time and teaches basic ASL signs for a baby's needs and environment. Coleman hosts this series as well, but instead of having a real Alex and Leah on the show, Alex, Leah, and Hopkins are featured as animated babies.[12]

Signing Time on public television[edit]

The Signing Time Foundation funded the airing of Signing Time on public television stations around the country from January 1, 2006 to September 30, 2008. Signing Time began airing on public television stations nationwide in 2006 and went from being relatively unknown to having over 80% national cumulative carriage. It was the only show on national television teaching children to sign. Public television does not pay for programming, and in order to keep Signing Time on public television, the Signing Time Foundation was expected to produce and deliver 13 episodes annually, which would have totaled an annual cost of approximately 1.5 million dollarsUS , something that Signing Time's production company could not afford.[13][14]

As of October 4, 2010, public television stations were given the right to air Signing Time! for the next two years.[7][needs update]


  • Rachel Coleman as Rachel, the host of the Signing Time! series. She has spent much of her adult life in the entertainment industry. While performing with her band We the Living, Rachel’s 14-month-old, Liam, was diagnosed as having a profound hearing impairment. “When I realized my daughter was deaf, I could not find a way to rationalize spending hours working on my music. My priorities changed. I put down my guitar and picked up sign language.”
  • Liam Coleman as Leah, one of the main children in the show. Liam is the inspiration behind the creation of Signing Time! Diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 14 months old. Liam is now 23. In fourth grade, they garnered national attention for winning first place in their school spelling bee.[4] Liam received a cochlear implant in January 2004.[15]
  • Alex Brown as Alex, one of the main children in the show. Brown appeared in the first episode of Signing Time! before his third birthday. He learned to sign as a baby so that he could communicate with his deaf cousin, Leah.[16] A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Alex has also lived in Virginia and California.[4]
  • Aaron de Azevedo as Hopkins, a cartoon frog.[17] Originally named ‘Twerp’ (a play on the nickname ‘Terp,’ for interpreter). Hopkins is now Alex and Leah's little green animated sidekick who loves to swim, paint, lift large pieces of fruit, and eat unsuspecting flies. He is named after Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, who in 1817 established the first free American school for the deaf and hearing-impaired.[18]



Season Episodes Originally aired (U.S. dates)
Season premiere Season finale
1 13 May 1, 2002 March 26, 2006
2 13 August 31, 2007 July 1, 2008

Home media[edit]

  • Baby Signing Time! – 4 volumes
  • Practice Time – 2 volumes – Level 1: ABCs and Level 1: 123s
  • Story Time Volume 1
  • Sing and Sign: Favorite Songs from Volumes 1-6
  • Signing Time Classroom Edition: This series consists of lesson plans and previously released material from the Signing Time series organized by topic for easier use in the classroom.
  • Bible Fun: A set that consists of previously released material, along with a teachers' guide, resource CD, and online videos.
  • Potty Time: A potty training video sold as a set with an audio CD. A "Potty Time" watch with a "potty reminder" alarm is also available as part of a different set.
  • Signing Time Christmas: 2 DVD and 1-CD set published in 2014. Brings back Alex and Leah as teenagers.
  • Signing Time Sentences: First volume released December 2015. Volumes 2 & 3 released in 2016.

Other items include printed materials such as board books and flash cards, Signing Time! clothing, and Signing Time! music CDs.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations for Signing Time!
Year Award Category Nominee Result / Refs[19]
2004 Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Notable Children's Videos Signing Time Series One, Volume 3: Everyday Signs Won[a][20]
2007 Parents' Choice Award DVD Signing Time! Practice Time ABCs Approved[b][21]
2008 35th Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series Rachel Coleman, Signing Time! Nominated[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The ALSC has a list of Notable Children's Videos, so more than one video can be listed.
  2. ^ This video won an Approved seal on the Parents' Choice Award among the six types of awards: Classic, Gold, Silver, Recommended, Approved, and "Fun Stuff"


  1. ^ "Signing Time!". American Public Television. Archived from the original on 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  2. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 2008-02-13. Archived from the original on 2008-02-13. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  3. ^ "Two Little Hands Productions". Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  4. ^ a b c "Signing Time! Season Two". American Public Television. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  5. ^ Signing Time! Blog. "Learn Sign Language » Nick Jr. Airs Signing Time Interstitial Music Series Beginning Dec. 9, 2009". Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  6. ^ "Say It Two Ways | Signing Time | Nick Jr. | Kids Sign Language". Nick Jr. 2011-12-04. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  7. ^ a b Coleman, Rachel (2010-10-04). "We Are BACK!". Rachel Coleman. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  8. ^ de Azevedo Coleman, Rachel. "Word Order." Signing Time! Volume 4: Family, Feelings, and Fun. 2004. DVD. Two Little Hands Productions, 2004.
  9. ^ de Azevedo Coleman, Rachel. A Sign of the Times. 2005. Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur's Soul: Advice & Inspiration for Fulfilling Dreams. By Jack Canfield, et al. Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 2006. 167-169.
  10. ^ "Mission — Signing Time Foundation". Archived from the original on 2012-04-08. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
  11. ^ Coleman, Rachel (4 Feb 2006). "The evolution of Signing Time". Archived from the original on 24 Feb 2012.
  12. ^ "Preemies Today, Vol. 3 Issue 3" (PDF). May 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  13. ^ Signing Time Foundation. "Operation Ghana". Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  14. ^ Coleman, Rachel (2008-11-13). "Signing Time is No Longer on Public TV". Archived from the original on 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  15. ^ "Cochlear Implant - A New Study". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  16. ^ Brown, Alex; Coleman, Leah (2011). "Interview with Alex and Leah, part 2" (Interview). 4:40 minutes in. Archived from the original on 2016-08-04. Retrieved 19 January 2012. The type of sports I like are more like swimming, scootering, skateboarding, and one that's called parkour...
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Signing Time! Fact Sheet". American Public Television. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  19. ^ "Awards". Signing Time. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Signing Time! Practice Time ABCs". Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  22. ^ The Envelope April 30, 2008 (2008-04-30). "Daytime Emmy nominations". Retrieved 2012-04-02.

External links[edit]