1Overview & Method

What distinguishes Risas y Sonrisas from other Spanish curriculums for elementary school?

Risas y Sonrisas is a unique and truly complete elementary Spanish curriculum. Developed by a native Spanish speaker, it gives proper attention to Spanish reading skills, correct pronunciation, and practical conversation.\

Our award-winning curriculum:

    • Taps into students’ natural language-learning ability to teach them real-world Spanish skills rather than just scattered vocabulary words.
    • Is full of original songs, illustrations, games, skits, and activities that keep students engaged and minimize teacher prep time.
    • Reaches students in their preferred learning style (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) to make learning Spanish fun for everyone.
    • Includes detailed lesson plans that are also extremely adaptable to the needs of each group.
    • Gets kids moving and engaged! Encourages students to actively participate and use their imagination and creativity.
    • Provides all the tools you need to customize the curriculum to your classroom. Never go to class empty-handed again!

Plus!

  • We show you all of our materials on the website so you know exactly what you’re getting when you order anything from us
  • We offer complete classroom packages as well as the ability to purchase all our products individually.
  • We strive to keep elementary Spanish education affordable and have the best value in the industry!

Check out our YouTube channel to hear some of our songs and see our program in action in actual classrooms. And like us on Facebook to get useful teaching tips, fun game ideas, information on discounts, and much more.

 

What are the goals of the Risas y Sonrisas program?

Our first goal is to give students a love for Spanish that they carry with them throughout their lives. We want to show children that learning another language is a fun and exciting adventure!

We also want to empower students to put what they learn into practice. Our program teaches vocabulary, but also gives that vocabulary a real, conversational context. We want students to take charge of their words, ask questions, and have real interactions in the language they’re learning.

Finally, we want to teach students Spanish reading skills and proper pronunciation. Because Spanish is a phonetic language, students who acquire these skills can read and say any word in Spanish, which gives them confidence and ability to keep practicing, speaking, and learning!

 

Why do you combine American Sign Language with Spanish?

Language teachers are always making gestures and body movements to express words and stay in the target language. Why not use another language to introduce words easier? Using American Sign Language while singing the songs helps students learn vocabulary faster by connecting physical movements to the new Spanish words. Instead of singing passively, the students engage their hands and actively learn the vocabulary. This is similar to the Total Physical Response method and also engages students’ kinesthetic intelligence.

ASL is optional and the program can be taught without this element, but we strongly recommend you give it a try. Experiment and find out how students respond with and without ASL and do what works best for your class!

2Curriculum & Content

Is Risas y Sonrisas a Total Immersion program? Do you only speak Spanish in the classroom?

True Total Immersion requires several hours of a Spanish-only environment every single day. For almost all elementary-school-level Spanish classes, afterschool programs, and homeschool groups, this is simply not feasible.

Risas y Sonrisas adapts the spirit of Total Immersion to the realities of one or two class meetings per week. Our program is 90% immersion and 10% dual-language. When first introducing the vocabulary in each unit, we use English to help students make an initial connection to the Spanish word and avoid early frustration. As soon as that connection is made, the English disappears and students are immersed in the new Spanish vocabulary.

 

How much time does it take to complete the Risas y Sonrisas curriculum? How many lessons are included?

Both the Spanish School Program and the Homeschool Program include approximately 96 hours of Spanish instruction divided into 4 modules of 24 lessons each.

On its own, each module covers one full year of Spanish instruction at 1 meeting per week and one semester of Spanish instruction at 2 meetings per week.

Although Risas y Sonrisas can easily be taught on its own, we strongly recommend bringing additional books, videos, cultural activities, and games and materials from other sources into the classroom. This gives students more chances to practice and can greatly extend the time of instruction of the program. Our Teacher’s Manual includes lots of ideas for additional practice. Also check out our YouTube and Facebook for all kinds of great tips and information!

 

What do students learn in your program?

Risas y Sonrisas focuses on correct pronunciation, reading skills, vocabulary, and practical conversation. In the first unit, students learn correct Spanish pronunciation. After that, each vocabulary unit introduces a set of new words with a song, reinforces those words with games and activities, and closes with a set of Q&A that gives the new vocabulary context and meaning.

Simple grammar concepts like masculine/feminine nouns, personal pronouns, and verb conjugation are introduced gradually and in an easy-to-understand way. As they move through the course, students learn to build picture sentences in the past, present, and future tenses.

 

Are the workbooks divided by level?

Our curriculum follows the workbooks sequentially 1-4, but the order can easily be switched around according to what you want to teach your students. For instance, if you prefer to introduce Verbs earlier, you can choose to teach this theme before Body. We do recommend beginning with pronunciation skills and other basic themes (Colors, Numbers). This vocabulary can be easily combined with other themes and practiced with the Q&A: What color is the house? How many ears does a cow have?

Most of the materials in the program are not grade-level specific. A language is acquired by the amount of exposure, not by the age of the student. Young children are just as capable of acquiring new vocabulary as older students. The main difference is that they can’t read, and they have a shorter attention span for some activities. Our curriculum is geared towards children who can read and write. However, teachers only need to skip the sections that require reading skills to modify the curriculum for the younger students and emerging readers.

For schools or districts that need over 500 workbooks, we can customize the the themes in the workbooks according to your curriculum needs.

 

Does the program include assessments?

Assessments are not included as a specific part of the curriculum, but we give you all the tools you need to design your own assessments. The Teacher’s Manual includes ideas for assessing your students. For example, you can make make a vocabulary or conversation quiz using the Picture & Color-Coded Word Cards, the Q&A flashcards, or the Online Program.

We encourage instructors to rely less on formal assessment and instead “assess” their students by simply interacting with them, playing games, and observing where they excel and where they need more practice.

 

How many vocabulary words are covered in the program?

The program includes original illustrations for over 500 vocabulary words, and also includes hundreds of other words that do not have an accompanying illustrations, but which form an integral part of the songs, Q&A, and skits.

Also, there are 10 extra vocabulary words at the end of each of the 14 themes. These are for students who are more advanced and are interested in learning additional vocabulary on their own.

Finally, there are about 200 cognate words included in the program. Cognates give students a set of easy vocabulary and are also great for practicing correct pronunciation.

The vocabulary and practical phrases that students master in our program give them a solid base to have simple conversations. They will feel confident and will want to continue advancing their Spanish skills.

3Teaching & Planning

Do I need to speak Spanish, be specially certified, or have previous experience teaching children in order to teach with your program?

Having previous experience speaking Spanish always helps, but it is not necessary to teach with Risas y Sonrisas. However, it is very important for instructors to have good Spanish pronunciation, since your students will hear and imitate your accent. If you don’t speak Spanish already, use the Online Program or Pronunciation CD to demonstrate correct pronunciation and learn right along with your students!

Because Risas y Sonrisas is an extremely interactive program, it’s also important to enjoy teaching with music, games, and other interactive materials. Your students respond to your energy, and it’s important to keep them moving, engaged, and having fun.

Special certification is not necessary, though some schools do require it. The Risas y Sonrisas curriculum is used by everyone from non-Spanish-speaking parent volunteers to professionally-certified Spanish instructors!

 

Are lesson plans included with the curriculum?

Complete lesson plans are included with both the School Program and the Homeschool Program with detailed lesson-by-lesson recommendations for teaching with Risas y Sonrisas.

These lesson plans are designed to be both comprehensive and very flexible. Once you understand how our method works, you will be able to mix and match games, activities, and even vocabulary themes to adapt to the unique needs and abilities of your students!

 

What materials do you recommend for students?

The School Program includes one Student Book and one Set of Activity Workbooks for teacher reference. It also includes a one-year Instructor License to the Online Program with access to all digital content content and a classroom management dashboard.

Depending on your budget, we highly recommend that you purchase Student Logins for each of your students. This gives them access to the entire Online Program with all our original songs, fun games, Q&A, and skit videos. With the Dashboard, the teacher can monitor student activity and control which themes and activities are available for different classes. Students can access the Online Program on any phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

Even if it’s not feasible to purchase a  Student Book for each student each year, we recommend you purchase a single set for the classroom and use them year after year with different groups of students.

To give students extra writing practice opportunities, we also recommend the Activity Workbooks, especially if the students can write and read, usually 2nd through 5th grade.

Finally, the Cognate Folder is a beautiful folder with 160 colorful illustrations of easy  vocabulary words in 14 different categories. Besides being useful for saving handouts, it is a convenient place to find easy-to-learn words that you can mix in with the Q&A for extra practice and variation.

 

Can I make copies of the program materials for students?

All Risas y Sonrisas materials are copyrighted. Please do not make copies of any of our materials for any purpose.

The School Program and the Homeschool Program each come with downloadable and printable Blackline Masters. Feel free to reproduce these materials and distribute them among your students. This is the only exception.

4Purchasing & Shipping

What kind of discount do you offer for large volume purchases?

Our basic volume discount is to give 10% off when you buy 5 or more of the same item, 15% when you buy 20 or more, and 20% when you buy 50 or more.

Additional discounts may be available for very large orders. Please call us and speak to a curriculum specialist to find out more!

 

What is your return policy?

All of our products come with a 30-day satisfaction money-back guarantee.

If, for whatever reason, our curriculum and materials don’t meet your expectations, please give us some feedback. We’re more than happy to help troubleshoot any issues you might have.

If you decide within 30 days of purchase not to continue teaching with Risas y Sonrisas, please call (512) 219-0225 or send us an email and provide the reason for your return. Once we have received the returned product in resalable condition, you will be refunded your purchase price minus the S&H charges.

 

How long will it take shipped materials to reach me?

We typically ship all physical materials within 1-2 business days of purchase. Within the continental United States, materials should arrive within 5-7 business days. Please contact us for more information about international shipping.

 

Where can I view my order status or tracking information?

We ship with either UPS or USPS depending on your location. When we post your materials, you will receive a tracking number by email that lets you track your shipment.

 

Are there any special instructions if I’m buying materials on behalf of someone else?

We often receive purchase orders from charter or homeschool groups that are purchasing the program on behalf of their members. In this case, please make sure to communicate to us the email address of both the person placing the order and the person who will be receiving the materials or access to the Online Program.

5Online Program

What is the benefit of the Online Program?

The Online Program covers all of our curriculum in an easy-to-access, interactive, engaging platform. It provides students another way to access the content in the program and encourages multi-modal repetition.

All of our original songs are included in the Online Program. They are presented in three different ways: Sign & Sing Videos, Animated Song Videos, and Song & Lyrics Videos. The Online Program also includes fun games, Q&A practice, and skit videos that allow students to reinforce and master the vocabulary learned in the songs.

With the Online Program, you can instantly access all these digital resources in one places and seamlessly integrate them with the printed materials for a full blended learning experience!

 

What is the benefit of adding Individual Student Logins to my Online Program license? How do I add them?

Adding Individual Student Logins to your Instructor License unlocks powerful classroom management tools. You can set which themes and activities your students can access as well as see their performance and improvement on all activities. Additionally, your students can use their login credentials to access the Online Program from home, allowing you to assign homework and give them extra practice!

To add Individual Student Logins, please call us at (512) 219-0225 or email us at info@spanishforkids.com.

 

How long does the Online Program license last?

Instructor Licenses to the Online Program are available for 10 or 12 months. Student logins are available for the same lengths of time and expire at the same time as the Instructor License they are connected to.

Discounts may be available for purchases of Online Program licenses lasting longer than a year. Please contact us at (512) 219-0225 or info@spanishforkids.com for more information.

 

Does the Online Program work on all devices? Is there an app?

The Online Program works on all desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones, and interactive whiteboards–any device connected to the internet.

There is not currently an app. However, the Online Program is easy to access with one click from any commonly-used internet browser.