Animal signs are usually highly motivating for babies and toddlers so you should find teaching them easy. I would recommend starting with animals that you can experience firsthand such as pets, DOGS or CATS, BIRDS, in the backyard, SQUIRRELS, BUTTERFLY, BUGS, SPIDERS, and maybe even FROGS or RABBITS, HORSES and COWS, if you live in the country and so forth. Being able to see the animal in person makes the experience much more vivid that seeing photographs in two dimension. However, even if you don’t have real animals handy, then absolutely use images, either from books, magazines, online, or on television. When teaching a sign for an animal, my favourite thing to do is find a still image first from a book and then search out a video online to reinforce the idea. I then look up sound effects to really make the experience memorable. You’d be surprised what you can find for free online with a few simple key strokes.
Your baby has an excellent ability to generalize across many situations, so use whatever props you have. Even stuffed animals like teddy BEARS, or figurines of SNAKES, CROCODILLES and so forth can be great teaching aids. A trip to the zoo is something all parents should strive for, especially for babies that take to animals, but that doesn’t mean going to the pet store is any less fun to a baby. At the zoo you are guaranteed to see more exotic animals like ELEPHANTS, LIONS, GIRAFFES, KANGAROOS and MONKEYS, whereas the pet store will have SNAKES, RABBITS and FISH as well as other animals previously mentioned.
Above: Baby signing PEACOCK, CHICKEN, CAT, DEER, FOX, APE, BUG, SNAKE, SEAL, TURTLE, RACCOON, FISH, BEE, MOOSE, OWL, COW, DOLPHIN, DOG, LION, HORSE, FROG, MONKEY, ELEPHANT, CAMEL, BUFFALO, SQUIRREL, BUTTERFLY, HIPPO, GIRAFFE, KANGAROO, KOALA, PENGUIN, PIG, DINOSAUR, MOUSE, TIGER, BEAR, SPIDER, RABBIT, ZEBRA, SHEEP, SKUNK and SNAIL.
Whenever teaching animal signs try to involve as many senses as possible and this includes making the various sounds they make. Don’t worry about being perfect, your baby won’t care! My son did a pretty excellent ELEPHANT sound when he was 15 months old after copying Mom and Dad do their imitation! If possible, have your baby touch or stroke the animal to make the experience real