Signs for Meals and Snacks

By Carol Garboden Murray

Lately, I have really enjoyed sharing lunch with the preschoolers.  We have a great cook here at our child care program, and meals are served family style. The smell of our child care is usually something wonderful such as baked bread, roasted vegetables, or homemade pasta sauce.

Meals offer many meaningful learning opportunities. Children engage in interactions and practice social skills as they share meals together. They also work on independence and motor development as they learn to pour their own milk and pass the pasta to their peers. Meals and snacks are the perfect place to teach signs to young children. The easiest and most basic signs to use everyday at every meal are signs such as more and please. Teaching and encouraging these signs during meal times really helps create a calm peaceful friendly climate.

To sign more:

(Tap finger tips together repeatedly)

To sign please:

(Place open hand on chest and rub in circular motion)

Because children are asking to know more and more signs, we’ve included several sign-language dictionaries in our preschool library, and we’ve also made a sign language poster (with photos of the children), which we hang right next to the meal/snack table. This has been a fun activity based on the children’s natural interest to know and learn more signs. They are so proud to be featured in the classroom poster.


This post was contributed by Carol Garboden Murray. Carol is the author of the award-winning book Simple Signing with Young Children. She has been working with children and families for many years in infant, toddler and preschool education and early intervention. She is currently the director of child care services at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Connect with Carol at or via email at

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