Ten Signs of the Month

Tyler Odum, Dedicated Writer

What comes to your mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Welcome to the first installment of the “10 Signs of the Month” article. This month, we will focus on Thanksgiving-related signs. We’ll also get to hear from Ms. Snyder, a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at Westlake.  She helped me with the signs for this month. Follow along and learn some fun new signs!

I sat down with Ms. Snyder, via Google Meet, to learn a little about her and her job. She also helped me learn some signs related to Thanksgiving and some other information about Deafness.

Questions for Ms. Snyder:

~ What is your job:

Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH).

This is Ms. Snyder. Photo courtesy of Ms. Kaehny.

We had a great conversation about Deaf culture and the physical loss of hearing. More to come in a future article.

~ What do you do for your job:

I teach Language Arts for D/HH  students,  and support other teachers with their teaching. “I don’t interpret, but I ‘modify’ the learning.”

One example she gave was English idioms. Many of her students use ASL as their first language and English as their second language. Idioms are phrases that are not literal but are well known to English users. They can get a little confusing for non-English users though. Let’s take “I’m going to head out”, for example. English users know this phrase means “I’m going to leave”, but for a non-English user it can be confusing. Her job is to help students learn how to interpret these phrases correctly by explaining the meaning behind the idiom and rewording it. Fun Fact: ASL has its own set of Idioms!

~ How long have you been involved with the Deaf community:

“I earned my Bachelor’s Degree (BA) in Deaf Education from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois [in 1994] and my Masters Degree (MA) in Deaf Education from The University of Northern Colorado [in 1998].”

~ Why did you get involved in the Deaf/Signing Community:

“It’s what I’ve known I’ve wanted to do since I was eight years old.”

~ Do you know any other Thanksgiving signs (I asked this one after we had discussed the list below):

Native Americans: (Rub the back of your wrist in a circle, don’t rub with palm.)

Pumpkin: (Flick the back of your wrist like you’re testing the ripeness of a melon)

~ What is your favorite sign this time of year:

Autumn: It’s full of happy memories for me: (brush your elbow off repeatedly, imagine leaves falling from a tree)

I’d like to thank Ms. Snyder for taking the time to sit down with me and teach me about her job and these signs.

Here are the signs you’ve been waiting for:

Thanksgiving: There are two signs, depending on your traditions (religious tradition: THANK move towards heaven, secular: TURKEY – see below)

Religious Tradition:


Turkey: ( “G” pointing down, wiggle it in front of your throat, imagine a Turkey’s wattle)

Stuffing: (this one is fingerspelled)

Mashed potato: (Mashed = mime smashing your hand into your fist gently and repeatedly, Potato = use your bent first and second fingers to make the “eyes” of the potato- which you make with your other fist)

Corn: (mime eating around the cob – your pointer finger)

Pie: (mime cutting the pie in fourths)

Feast: (noun: FOOD + LARGE PILE, verb: EAT++)




Grateful/Thankful: because ASL is a conceptual language and these two English words have the same concept behind them, the sign is the same. (2 handed THANK YOU++)

Pilgrim: (mime the white bib outline)


BONUS: Ms. Snyder’s favorite sign related to Thanksgiving: Family

Family: (2 “F” circle out as though you are reaching out to pull your family in for a hug)

Thank you for joining me with “10 Signs of the Month”! Come back next month for Winter Holiday themed signs!