Risas y Sonrisas is a unique and truly complete elementary Spanish curriculum!
Developed by a native Spanish speaker with proper attention given to Spanish reading skills and correct pronunciation
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!
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.
With no additional materials, 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.
Each Exploratory Program includes approximately half of the total curriculum and is designed to cover the same number of weeks at half the frequency of classes.
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!
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.
For a full list of the units, games, songs, Q&A, and other activities, see the School Program Content page.
It’s 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 can help, but is not necessary. In many schools, Spanish-speaking parent volunteers have set up after-school Spanish programs that use the Risas y Sonrisas curriculum.
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.
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?
For schools or districts that need over 500 workbooks, we can customize the the themes in the workbooks according to your curriculum needs.
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.
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.
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!
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..
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.
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!
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.