Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum


Welcome back to Spanish Language Learning Week on MommyMaestra!

Today’s resource is a complete curriculum that is suitable for families, homeschoolers, and certified teachers.

Sonrisas Spanish School is a complete preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum. Created by Blue and Brooks Lindner, two Spanish teachers with 30 collective years of experience, Sonrisas is a comprehensive, research-based, standards-based, and carefully crafted program. It is influenced by three particular methodologies: the Total Physical Response (TPR), the Natural Approach (NA), and the Waldorf foreign language approach. Both the TPR and NA methods are based on ESL techniques. The Waldorf approach places strong emphasis on learning the culture associated with the language, making the learning process very personal and authentic.

As a Latina mom, I SO appreciate the way culture is a large portion of the Sonrisas curriculum. In my mind, it is almost impossible to teach a language without teaching the culture and traditions that go with it. I don’t want my children to just learn a language, I want them to appreciate their heritage and the people behind the words.


I think this curriculum is a fabulous resource for families (and teachers). The Level I Curriculum is a two-year program that includes one Teacher’s Guide and two CDs; one with Spanish songs, poems and chants for children to accompany the lessons, and the other with cultural songs. Arranged and sung by Brooks & Blue, I was happy to discover many songs from my own childhood. But the greatest surprise was to hear Las Posadas! (Okay, I was sold on this program right there.)

The Teacher’s Guide is divided into two parts. Part One is an introduction to the curriculum where you’ll learn:

• Strategies on how to use and teach the curriculum effectively,
• An explanation of the methodologies behind it (same ones I mentioned above),
• Understanding and using both the standards for foreign language learning and the Theory of Multiple Intelligences,
• And lastly, a fascinating article on the Neurology of the Bilingual Brain.

Part Two is made up of the actual lesson plans. There are 35 in all. And in the back are song lists, reproducibles, assessment rubrics, an art supply list, the history behind El Grito (the event that sparked the fight for Mexico’s Independence), a simple play to celebrate Las Posadas (Yay!), and a short history of the Battle of Puebla.

The lessons are designed to be taught over two days (you can stretch it out for a whole week depending on how much time you wish to devote to the lessons), and each one comes with:
  • An Overview(for the teacher) this is where I learn what the objective of the lesson is and what my kids (students) should learn.
  • Circle Time During this portion my kids do activities, sing songs, dance, or play games to learn key vocabulary. The CDs are used heavily during this time.
  • Story Time I really love that the program has a heavy literature component to it. Each lesson comes with a list of book suggestions that reinforce the concepts being learned. *Parents/Teachers have the option of purchasing a Storybook Set to accompany the curriculum.
  • Art Time Ah! Now this is so much fun for the kids. Each lesson includes a related art project. This might be my kids’ favorite part!
Lastly, for school teachers, each lesson includes a Home Report, which is simply a printable that teachers can send home to the parents keeping them up to date with what their child is learning in class and how they can support the lessons at home.

The curriculum really focuses on interactive learning and "that language learners benefit more from encountering vocabulary in rich, engaging contexts rather than from trying to learn them from repetitive exercises such as worksheets or flashcards." They shy away from memorization, but focus instead on the internalization of the words and their meaning.

This curriculum retails for $189.00. For more information or to preview a lesson, check out the Sonrisas website and Facebook page.

So if you are looking for a literature-rich and interactive Spanish curriculum that is low on frills and heavy on substance, then perhaps Sonrisas is the answer for your family.

If you have any questions about the program, leave a comment below or contact me and I’ll get you an answer.

Con mucho cariño…

Disclosure: I contacted Sonrisas Spanish School and asked for a sample of their program. They sent me the Level I Curriculum free of charge for this review. All opinions expressed above are my own.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you Monica for such a wonderful review of our program. You really took the time to understand what we offer and how valuable it is to young Spanish learners. Anyone that is interested in finding out more about Sonrisas, do not hesitate to contact us at info@sonrisasspanishschool.com or (970) 264-9288

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    1. Thank you, Brooks, for being so willing to share this program with my readers! I really do love it.

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  2. I have seen this and always wondered if anyone has used this. Would it be good to use as a parent who does not know spanish but, would like to teach it to their children? Is there a good way to know how to pronounce the words right?

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    1. Kami, that's a good question. My first response is that, no, the parent should really know the language to carry out the lessons. That said, it occurs to me that this is where an online program like PetraLingua might come in handy as a supplementary tool, because you can click on the words to hear the correct pronunciation.

      Let me ask Brooks and see what he says...

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    2. Kami, I get asked this question a lot. Our curriculum is primarily designed for teachers that are proficient in Spanish. We recommend that the teacher use the target language at least 90% of the time in class. For parents that are not fluent, I suggest partnering with someone who is fluent to implement the lessons, maybe a relative or friend or other parent.

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  3. Is it all Mexican culture discussed or does it cover other Latino cultures? We struggle with the fact that our kids are Mexican American, being raised by a gringa and puertorriqueño living in PR (thinking of moving to Guatemala!) so we really want to embrace a variety of Latino cultures!

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    1. Mama Loca, In Sonrisas Level I (which is our beginner curriculum), we really only touch on Mexican culture, mainly with the holidays. In the Sonrisas Cultural Curriculum (which is meant as a supplement to Level I or Level II), we have lessons that pertain to Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Mexican American themes.

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  4. I have a little background in Spanish (1 year in college), so I understand the basics of grammer and that's about it! Would this curriculum still work for us? My kids are 4 & 8, so it would be a family learning project :-)

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    1. Hi, Suzanne! If you have a little bit of Spanish instruction that would be great. The CD's will help you with pronunciation anyway, so yes, I think this might work well for you!

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    2. Hi Suzanne, I think your main concern is your level of proficiency speaking Spanish. As I have mentioned previously we recommend that the lessons be taught using Spanish at least 90% of the time. The lesson procedure pages help with this as they give you directions for what to say in Spanish throughout the lesson, but ultimately it is your comfort level with using Spanish to teach. Let me know if you need more information. I would be happy to talk to you. brooks@sonrisasspanishschool.com

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  5. Last year was my first year teaching Spanish to elementary students and it was the first year that the school offered a Spanish program. I teach grades K-5 (and sometimes Pre-K) and I am interested in ordering this program for my students. I heard somewhere that this curriculum is aimed toward preschoolers and Kindergartners. Is this true? Last year we covered lots of vocabulary, so I'm wondering if this curriculum be beneficial to my students. In your opinion, is this something that I could use with all of my students? I'd like to ask our principal to purchase Sonrisas, however do you feel it to be beneficial to 1-5 graders with and previous Spanish exposure?

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  6. No, Charlise.

    This program is great for kids in Pre-K through 5th grade. And because there is such a heavy emphasis on literature and culture, I think it would work very well with students who have had previous exposure to Spanish.

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  7. I would love to win this curriculum. I am looking into starting a before school Spanish program at my children's school and prefer to use a set curriculum.

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  8. My Son Knows the Spanish language Well and we are just trying to teach him to read and write. Will this be a good program for that or am I looking in the wrong place?

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    1. Hi, Yilian.

      If you are looking to teach your son to be literate, you might prefer to look here: http://www.mommymaestra.com/search/label/Reading%20in%20Spanish

      Lectura para niños has a great curriculum, also Hagamos Caminos, maybe. It depends on how old your child is, but look through all the posts in the link above and you'll find a lot of resources. When you get down to the bottom click on Older Posts for additional resources.

      Good luck!

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