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Makaton and Special iApps

Makaton Symbols are now available with the Special iApps Membership


What is Makaton?

Makaton is a unique language programme which uses signs, speech and symbols together to support communication and spoken language. As language develops, new signs and symbols are added. Makaton's use has evolved over the years to support people of all ages in a variety of ways to improve their communication, education and everyday life. Over 100,000 children and adults use Makaton daily as it can be tailored to the individual’s needs by using a mix of speech, signs and symbols.

Makaton is increasingly being used in Early Years education to encourage any child to develop communication skills and comprehension, speech and understanding of phonics, meaning it is not exclusive for those with communication problems or learning difficulties. It allows very young children to use gestures to communicate, reducing their frustrations before they go on to develop language skills, as well as children with English as an Additional Language (EAL).

Many children watch Mr Tumble in Something Special on CBeebies, as well as Singing Hands, which are fun ways to learn Makaton. There are many resources available both on the Makaton website and in books, apps, and free downloadable resources. Makaton is not just for children, as many adults use signs and symbols throughout their lives.

Makaton Symbols in the Special iApps Membership

The Makaton Symbols are black and white drawings associated with a sign and word or words. To access them you must have a membership to both Special iApps and Makaton.

There are three Makaton Membership levels:

  • Free
  • Standard
  • Premium

Makaton Symbol add-ons are currently provided Special Words Plus, Special Stories Plus and Special Spelling Plus. These resources are grouped according to your Makaton Membership level and the ones that you can access therefore depend on your current membership level. Makaton is a living language as it always evolving, so you may notice that some word lists change over time.

To download and use Makaton resources in any of our apps you will need to know your Makaton username and Makaton Membership ID (six digits). For more details, including how to find these, please refer to our FAQs.

Take a look at our Makaton Videos and our blog for help on downloading and using our Makaton Symbol add-ons.

Free Membership

There are 3 resources available which have symbols taken from all membership levels as examples. All are based on a one-word/one-symbol level. These are available to all levels of Makaton Membership.

  • Special iApps Default Words - based on the Special Words default profile word list which includes over 90 symbols on a one-word level of vocabulary that children first learn to understand, speak or sign. The list includes words used for early communication and features Makaton Symbols for nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions.
  • Early Years Symbol Vocabulary​ - 12 Makaton Symbols including mummy, daddy, hello, goodbye, drink, eat, naughty, good, no, yes, home and sleep.
  • High Frequency Words​ - 13 high frequency words learned by children (a, and, he, I, in, is, it, my, that, the, was, went, went, with). Using Makaton Symbols to support learning High Frequency words is ideal as these words commonly aren't pictorial but there are existing Makaton Symbols that represent these tricky words.


Standard Membership

These resources relate to 450 concepts covering the essentials of everyday life. These are downloadable by Standard and Premium Members. There are over 20 add-ons available to download into Special Words Plus which cover:

  • Communication - symbols and word lists to support everyday communication including colours, questions, greetings and emotions, food and drink, and toys.
  • Numeracy - learn maths language, money symbols and numbers 1-10.
  • People - word lists featuring people who help us and family members.
  • Places - features symbols and word lists used around the home, garden, at the farm, birthday party, health care, school and work, town and transport.
  • Signing for Babies and Families (MSBF) - includes MSBF Training Sessions 1 to 6.


Premium Membership

With the Makaton Premium Membership there are over 10,000 concepts with the option to use over 160 downloadable add-ons to use in Special Words Plus. Premium Members will have access to all other word lists from the Free and Standard Membership levels as well as Makaton Symbol vocabulary with additional concepts including:

  • Animal
  • Colours
  • Food and Drink
  • Geography
  • Places and Events
  • School and Work
  • Surface and Position
  • Money

More coming soon …

The Makaton Charity

We have made these resources available in collaboration with The Makaton Charity and Makaton Ambassadors. A special thank you to everybody at The Makaton Charity and Makaton Ambassadors: Amica Coleman, Amanda Glennon and Kerry Cawley who were involved in the creation of these resources.

You can read more information about The Makaton Charity and browse a range of resources to support communication and learning on their website.

Join the Special iApps Membership

You can become a Special iApps member today with a free 14 day trial by signing up below:

Join the Special iApps Membership

Have an Idea for a Resource?

We have many more resources coming soon. If there is a particular resource you would like to see, or think some of our existing resources need enhancements or updates, we'd love to hear from you. Send us your ideas to support@specialiapps.org.