Signing Time!

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Signing Time!
Signing Time Logo.png
Genre Children's television series
Created by Rachel Coleman
Emilie Brown
Directed by Damian Dayton
Starring Rachel Coleman
Leah Coleman
Alex Brown
Aaron de Azevedo
Voices of Clara Poulsen
Alex Brown
Zachary Brown
Theme music composer Rachel Coleman
Opening theme Signing Time! Theme
Composer(s) Rachel Coleman
Lex de Azevedo
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
ASL (vocabulary only)
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 26 (list of episodes)
Running time 28–30 minutes
Distributor American Public Television
Original network PBS
Original release January 1, 2006 (2006-01-01) [1] – January 19, 2008 (2008-01-19)
Related shows Baby Signing Time!
Practice Time!
External links

Signing Time! is a 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 2006 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.

Throughout the series, Coleman, her daughter Leah, Leah's cousin Alex, and Hopkins, an animated frog, teach ASL vocabulary-building signs. The series teaches signs for common words, questions, phrases, movements, colors, sports, days of the week, everyday objects, and common activities.[4]

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]. As of January 2016, the series is available on the streaming provider Netflix.

History and conception[edit]

In 1996, Rachel Coleman had a daughter, whom she named Leah. When Leah was 14 months old, Coleman and her husband, Aaron, discovered that Leah had been deaf since she was born. Afterward, the couple began to teach Leah sign language, first with Signing Exact English (SEE),[8] then with American Sign Language (ASL), so that they could learn to communicate. Rachel noticed that within six months, Leah's sign language vocabulary far surpassed the vocabulary of hearing children her same age.[9] Rachel's sister Emilie Brown and her husband Derek had been teaching Leah's newborn cousin, Alex, how to sign, and he learned it quickly as well.

A few years later, Rachel had a second daughter. Lucy was born 8 weeks premature, with spina bifida and cerebral palsy. Doctors worried that, due to her cerebral palsy, Lucy would never be able to speak or use sign language to communicate with her deaf sister, but after production of the first volume, Lucy began to sign, and later, to speak. Rachel then realized that signing could be beneficial to all children.[10]

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

Rachel and Emilie decided to create a visual video for hearing children so that ASL could be made accessible to all children, and together created Two Little Hands Productions, their production company. The project has turned into a massive success, spawning a successful television run and much merchandise. A foundation, Signing Time! Foundation, also exists. It is a foundation for children with and without disabilities whose mission is to make sign language available to all children and to "create programs and opportunities designed to dissolve the barriers that exist for children with disabilities."[11]


Signing Time![edit]

Rachel hosts the show herself, with her daughter Leah and nephew Alex also starring to provide support. In My First Signs, it was not originally planned for Rachel to be in the videos, but she was added to demonstrate the signs because Alex and Leah (then 3 and 4, respectively) could not consistently sign clearly enough to teach viewers the signs.[12] In the earlier episodes, Rachel was reluctant to sing and sign at the same time since it causes some problems for those who want true ASL, but customers responded, wanting more songs and wanting to learn signs from them.[12]

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. These segments employ teaching methods such as mnemonics, songs, stories and games, appealing to diverse learning styles and abilities by encouraging interaction through signing, singing, speaking and dancing.[4]

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.[13]

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 dollars, something that Signing Time's small production company, Two Little Hands Productions, could not afford.[14][15] However, Rachel has stated that she would love to be able to put Signing Time back on television.[15]

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 daughter Leah, 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.” Rachel’s second daughter, Lucy, underwent fetal surgery for spina bifida and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Lucy now communicates with both speech and sign language. After years of musical silence, Rachel has picked up that guitar again, writing and performing all of the songs for Signing Time!. In addition to starring in Signing Time!, Rachel is also a popular singer, performer, and speaker, and has performed for hundreds of thousands of children all across the country.[4]
  • Leah Coleman as Leah, one of the main kids in the show. Leah is the inspiration behind the creation of Signing Time! Diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 14 months old, she began learning American Sign Language (ASL) as fast as her parents could learn it and teach it to her. Leah could sign full sentences long before her ‘hearing’ peers could even speak, and as a result, her parents say she never threw a tantrum. Leah is now 19. In fourth grade, she garnered national attention for winning first place in her school spelling bee. Her favorite food is sushi. She loves being in Signing Time! with her cousin Alex, and teaching ASL to other children.[4] Leah received a cochlear implant in January 2004.[16]
  • Alex Brown as Alex, one of the main kids in the show. Brown appeared in the very 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. He is a budding singer, percussionist, and pianist. He is also a traceur.[17] A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Alex has also lived in Virginia and California.[4]
  • Aaron de Azevedo as Hopkins, a cartoon frog.[18] Originally named ‘Twerp’ (a play on the nickname ‘Terp, for interpreter), Hopkins was supposed to be Leah’s ‘voice’ and appear as a gift from Grandma and Grandpa. However, since Leah’s speech began to improve, partially due to a cochlear implant,[16] 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.[19]

List of episodes[edit]

Signing Time! episodes[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired (U.S. dates) DVD and/or VHS release dates
Season premiere Season finale
1 13 January 1, 2006 March 26, 2006 May 2002[20] - March 2006[21]
2 13 October 1, 2007 January 19, 2008 September 2007[22] - April 2008[23] (last known)

All numbers are in the order that the volumes were released from the Signing Time![24] official website.

Signing Time! Baby Signing Time! DVDs[edit]

  • Baby Signing Time! Volume 1: It's Baby Signing Time
  • Baby Signing Time! Volume 2: Here I Go
  • Baby Signing Time! Volume 3: A New Day
  • Baby Signing Time! Volume 4: Let's Be Friends

Signing Time! Practice Time! DVDs[edit]

Practice Time is an interactive DVD that is designed to help viewers practice their fingerspelling and number skills.

  • Level 1 ABCs
  • 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. Series currently under production.

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

Discontinued products[edit]

  • Signing Time! VHS Series


Emmy Award Nomination - Rachel Coleman, host of Signing Time, was nominated for the "Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series," for the 35th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmys.[25]

Parents' Choice - The show was nominated for the Parents' Choice Awards.[26]

National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA)[27]

Media coverage[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Signing Time!". American Public Television. 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 d e "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. ^ Campbell, Carolyn. "Signs of Love." Ladies' Home Journal Aug. 2003: 58-60. Signing Time! Two Little Hands Productions, LLC. 22 Mar. 2008 <>.
  11. ^ "Mission — Signing Time Foundation". Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  12. ^ a b de Azevedo Coleman, Rachel. "The evolution of Signing Time." Online posting. 4 Feb. 2006. 22 Mar. 2008 <>.
  13. ^ "Preemies Today, Vol. 3 Issue 3" (PDF). May 2005. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  14. ^ Signing Time Foundation. "Operation Ghana". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  15. ^ a b Coleman, Rachel (2008-11-13). "Signing Time is No Longer on Public TV". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  16. ^ a b "Cochlear Implant - A New Study". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  17. ^ Brown, Alex; Coleman, Leah (2011). Interview with Alex and Leah, part 2. (Interview). 4:40 minutes in. Retrieved 19 January 2012. The type of sports I like are more like swimming, scootering, skateboarding, and one that's called parkour... 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Signing Time! Fact Sheet". American Public Television. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "products for infants, toddlers and young children". Signing Time. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  25. ^ The Envelope April 30, 2008 (2008-04-30). "Daytime Emmy nominations". Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  26. ^ "Signing Time! Practice Time ABCs". Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  27. ^ "Awards". Signing Time. Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f "Articles - Signing Time! News - Media Coverage". Signing Time. Retrieved 2012-01-20. 

External links[edit]