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.


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