Makaton- Activity & Resource Ideas to get you Started!

1Story Sacks –story sacks are easily put together and have lots of multi-modal opportunities. Sticking Symbol labels into the books and using hand drawn symbols on key words cards also compliment use of signs.

Makaton Packs for various popular stories are available for around £1.50 upwards: Click here 

2What’s in the bag? –  take it in turns to bring out an object and sign what it is, a multi-modal opportunity to bring objects signs and symbols together. Great activity for introducing new vocabulary.  Using themed bags can help to generalise category vocab, e.g. for beach topic use a beach bag, for food use a lunch box/bag. This also gives opportunity to ask what might be next.

3 Puppets –puppets can be used in a variety of ways. Ideas include using them to sing and sign the “hello” song, and using puppets to talk about emotions. A good way  to teach signs and symbols for “happy”, “sad”, “angry” and “scared.”

4Weather bingo – In addition to a ‘what’s the weather today?’ chart you can use a simple set of weather bingo cards.

‘I hear thunder’ is a great song to end the activity on!

A weather pack of signs an symbols can be purchased for £3.05 from the Makaton Charity: click here 

5Singing – from Nursery Rhymes to Pop Songs! Singing hands DVD’s are a fun way to engage children with singing and signing, look out for a new ‘Pop songs’ DVD. Why not start a Makaton choir and hold “X Factor” or “Britain’s got Talent” Competitions.

6Memory and Sequencing Games – ‘ I went to the shops and bought …..’  first child adds one item, the next repeats previous item and then add their own and so it continues. Shop can be substituted with other ideas such as school, ‘I went to school and I …..’ This is a fun way to teach signs and symbols for school activities that can then be incorporated into a visual timetable. Resources available in this fabulous ‘Going to School’ packA functional pack full of useful signs and symbols to support the daily routine of school.

7Free Resources – Don’t forget there are free resources on the Makaton website to support a variety of activities and topics click here and set up a user ID & Passcode to proceed to free resources

Check out Alice using the free downloadable fishing game resource here!:


Download these activities as a one page document here 

Using Technology with  Makaton Signs and Symbols

aIf you are supporting a Makaton User then at some stage you will need to look up a sign or symbol, or translate text or songs. This is a brief look at what is available to help with this.

Computer based resources

The Makaton Charity have made collections of Signs and Symbols available in a CD/USB format from their shop.

Purchasing these give you permissions to produce resources within your setting in support of your Makaton User(s). You do not have permissions to make these resources commercially available to a wider audience without permissions from The Makaton Charity. If in doubt call someone at Makaton to ask on 01276 606760.

The collections are available to purchase in the Makaton shop here:

2Collection 2: The entry level/lowest cost option is Collection 2, which currently at just under £100 contains all the sign and symbol graphics for the Core Vocabulary, National Curriculum, and Animals, Transport & Vehicles vocabularies. Complete Word List can be found here

1The Collection 2017: The Highest Cost at just over £300, this is a USB Stick with all the signs and symbols from the Core and Topic Vocabularies (except Sex Education) and from other published resources. Once purchased ( as a single licence) you then usually get an annual upgrade option to add in any new resources which typically costs around £50.

Also available: There are around 7 other CD resources available ranging from £6.99-£51.50 covering specific topic vocabulary such as SRE/PHSE, Bereavement. There is also a  CD covering  only the Core Vocabulary.


3GREAT VALUE TIP: At £25.75 the Signage for Schools and Colleges CD with 98 Makaton symbols to help you to create signage and wayfinding resources for school and college sites is great value, and useful to those looking to become a Makaton friendly environment.


Once you have decided which CD meets your needs and made your purchase they are relatively easy to use.

The loaded CD can be accessed and used as a reference for signs or symbols. Using windows explorer is it easy to type in a concept and the relevant materials will be filtered, see example below:


Once you have a concept you wish to use you can drag it into the relevant application, e.g. Word, PowerPoint etc. This is straightforward, but can be time consuming if making lots of resources. So once you are feeling that the demand of dragging files into PowerPoint , resizing and positioning in various sized boxes , adding text etc then it may be time to invest in a more efficient solution.

There are a few PC Packages that can be used with The Makaton Charity CD/USB resources.

Here at IT Matters we use two different packages for producing Makaton resources:

Imprint 3

At £179 for a single license, this package allows you to insert Makaton Symbols and Signs by simply typing the text in. It works a little bit like PowerPoint, in that you are working within the frame of one page, you can add new pages but there is no scrolling text across pages.

This application comes with many easy to use templates, making it quick and easy to produce flashcards, visual timetables, instructions etc. Its very user friendly making it easy to insert rows, columns , change font and image size , etc.



Once you have selected the template that best suits your needs you can then use the Symbol or Sign wordlists.


Its then just a matter of  typing the word and the appropriate image populates the frame.


There are how to videos available here:



The application is £149 and works in 2 ways, you can write a document or use an environment.

We use this app mainly to write documents as linking to the Makaton sings or symbols you have a writing/translation tool. The layout is similar to Word in that the text scrolls across pages.

Say you have a song you want to translate into signs to teach, then you can simply copy the song lyrics on-line and then paste into the document.

The appropriate signs will populate into the document – as always though you will then need to review and correct the text in order to have the correct signs for the context of the writing, and also remove none key words and grammatical text.

If you were using this as a tool for reading at a high signing level (including grammar) then you would leave these in.

Here is an example of before and after review of a songs lyrics pasted into a SymWriter document.



Using an environment provides a very different functionality, it allows you to create writing environments for individual Makaton users to support their communication and/or writing.


Again there is a video to illustrate functionality available/how to here:

IT Matters provide training services on how to use these applications specifically with Makaton Symbols and Signs. For more information contact or call on 07500 016544