Activities for Teaching Handshape

Here are two Auslan activities to help learn words in handshapes. 


  • Children stand in a circle
  • The teacher or leader choose a handshape for the first child to come up with a sign based on this handshape
  • The next child is to come up with another sign based on the same handshape 
  • Signs cannot be used more than once

This is a great opportunity to teach specific handshapes commonly used in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and assess student knowledge of HOLMEs for each sign.

FOR OLDER CHILDREN: If children are familiar with HOLMEs (Handshape, Orientation, Location, Movement, Expression): have students in a circle and challenge them to either copy the previous sign’s Handshape, Orientation, Location, Movement or Expression.

If the first child signs PEOPLE, the next child may choose another sign with the same handshape, and sign THINK, BOY, or PINK.  Or they can choose to use the same location and sign  SISTER, or same orientation and sign GIRL.


  • Using the handshape flashcards, give children 2 minutes to write as many signs as possible related to that sign
  • Winners will have the most words for that handshape.