Sonrisas Spanish Blog

SunMeet Katy Harris

Katy Harris began teaching kindergarten in 1993 in Steamboat Springs, CO after attending the University of Arizona and receiving her degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish and an endorsement in bilingual education. In 2005 Katy took a break from teaching to raise her two boys. During this time she tutored and taught Spanish to a homeschool co-op group of elementary through middle school students. When she returned to teaching in the public schools in 2012, she taught reading intervention and then landed a job teaching Spanish at Soda Creek Elementary School in Steamboat. Katy teaches grades K-5th , seeing almost 600 students once per week for fifty minutes as part of the Specials team. In her first year teaching Spanish, she traveled to the different classrooms with a cart, which was very challenging. She is now fortunate to have her own classroom where she creates a lively and immersive Spanish environment. Soda Creek Elementary recently received the John Irwin School of Excellence award given by the Colorado Department of Education.

 

BookHow Sonrisas Spanish is Effective for Katy

Katy uses Sonrisas Level I and Level II for her K-3rd grade students, and she adapts content from those lessons for her 4th and 5th graders. She recently purchased Sonrisas Level III and is planning on diving in with that for her older students. Katy loves the literature that accompanies the lessons, and she feels that the storybooks really help her connect with her students. She says that the literature helps them to stay grounded in their Spanish—especially when she has only a limited amount of time with them. She also appreciates how the storybooks in the lessons are effective at helping students retain language concepts. In short, Katy thinks that the Sonrisas lessons really stick with her students.

 

lightbulb4Teaching Tips from Katy

A common practice for Katy is to have students hold on to the art projects from the lessons so that she can use them for review. She’ll have students write phrases, vocabulary, and questions from the lessons on their art projects and then review with them—often times holding on to them for weeks—before sending them home. Katy’s 1st-5th grade students have composition books in which they glue many of the art projects and write key phrases and vocabulary. Katy will then use these for review throughout the year. This also provides her students with a nice portfolio-like product that they can use for reading and review and that they can show to parents at the end of the year.

In her classroom, Katy sets up a variety of different stations for her students where they can practice their Spanish through reading, writing, games, and interacting with the many visuals in the room. Her younger students do an activity where they “write around the room”—they search for words from the various classroom visuals and write them on white boards. Katy also mentions that she likes to keep her students moving.

 

heart4What Inspires Katy

Katy loves the subject she teaches and believes that learning languages is fascinating. She likes that she gets to have a lot of fun with her job, and she enjoys singing, acting, and being dramatic. She loves the energy of working with children and having the opportunity to learn alongside them. She feels that teaching elementary Spanish is a great profession because she gets to grow and learn more every day. Katy really enjoys that she is able to help kids realize that learning Spanish is an attainable goal.

Circle TimeIf you would like to connect with Katy, you can do so by emailing her at kharris@ssk12.org.

 

Sonrisas Feature Teacher celebrates teachers who are using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum and tells their stories. If you know someone who would be a good candidate for a Sonrisas Feature Teacher, email us at info@sonrisasspanish.com.

spanish storybookIf you’re looking for a great preschool Spanish curriculum for your child, there’s no better place to start than in your very own home. Spanish storybooks are a great place to begin. And the earlier, the better! Your child’s ability to pronounce unfamiliar sounds is much more enhanced before the age of six.

Not sure where to look for the perfect Spanish story book sets? Here’s a short list of great Spanish storybooks for you to read with your child.

La Cenicienta

Written by Chilean poet and Noble Prize winner Gabriela Mistral, this story recounts the fantastic tale of Cinderella, in Spanish of course! The book uses meter and rhyme to tell the story, which may make it easier for your child to comprehend at a young age.

Frida

Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic Hispanic women in history for both her artistic and personal accomplishments. This beautifully illustrated book by Jonah Winter gives you and your child a glimpse into the colorful and surreal artistic life of a Latina legend.

Juegos Tradicionales

Juegos Tradicionales was written by Maria Angelica Ovalle and illustrates 34 of the most popular games played by children in Latin America. Not only is this a great way to start teaching Spanish in the home, it’s an excellent way to help your child get a look at a completely new culture and even learn a few games that you can play together.

ABeCedario de Plantas

If you and your child are interested in learning about nature, then this is the book for you. Not only does author Yanitzia Canetti cover a wide variety of flora in this book, but there’s even a glossary in the back to help you learn as you go. In addition, the book is filled with beautiful visuals to further aid the learning and reading process.

Learning a new language can be tough, but if you start at home and with simple things like Spanish story book sets, you and your child should be well on the way to making easy learning of Spanish.

spanish curriculum lessons for preschoolersDid you know that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world? There are over 387 million native speakers, which means that more people speak Spanish as a first language than English!

With that many people speaking Spanish, it makes sense to learn it as a second language. But even more than understanding a large portion of the world’s population, there are other hidden benefits of learning Spanish.

Job Opportunities
Just as speaking French or German opens up job opportunities to work in different countries, so does Spanish. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave America to get a job teaching Spanish or translating for people. In addition, you’ll be able to create more contacts with people you may have ordinarily never spoken with. The contacts you make could be extremely valuable in your future career.

Improved Cognitive Function
Recent research has shown that children who learn a second language at a young age through Spanish curriculum lessons for preschoolers have improved cognitive function over their peers. Improvements in attention span, problem solving, and interpersonal communication have all been observed in children who learn second languages at a young age. This isn’t specific to Spanish alone, but Spanish is certainly one of the most popular second languages for students to learn.

Easier to Learn at a Young Age
Children are naturals at acquiring language skills from a young age, so the earlier you decide to teach your child a second language, the better. Spanish storybook sets and Spanish curriculum lessons for preschool students are all available and have proven to be extremely helpful tools in language education.

Cultural Appreciation
The best way to learn about different cultures is to immerse yourself in them. The first step in that immersion is learning the language. If you want your child to learn more about Hispanic culture, then preschool Spanish lessons are a great way to start.

Don’t let your child miss out on all of the benefits of learning a second language, especially if Spanish is your first choice.

spanish curriculum for kidsThe earlier you introduce your child to a foreign language, the better. Most experts recommend starting before the age of 10, and some recommend starting as early as the age of five. Despite the fact that children are naturally acquiring language skills for the first few years of their life, learning a foreign language can still be challenging, especially if you don’t have an effective Spanish curriculum for kids.

To help make learning Spanish more effective and playful, here are a few tips to help you create a better Spanish curriculum for kids.

Games
When you think of making something fun, games are probably the first things that come to mind. So it makes sense that turning Spanish learning into a game could make a child more engaged. Spanish for preschoolers can be tough because they’re easily distracted, but games can help keep the mind from wandering.

Movies
Movies are wonderful tools to help encourage learning and make it entertaining at the same time. Most children’s cartoons have a simple narration of actions and thoughts, which can help them learn languages and new words. At the end of the movie, you can offer a short quiz and perhaps a prize to make learning more rewarding for the kids.

Songs
What Spanish curriculum for children is complete without a song? If you play an instrument, even better. Activities like singing can help foster feelings of community, and melodies are often great ways to help children remember words and phrases.

Stories
When in doubt, the best way to help children learn is to learn with them through stories. Spanish story book sets are a great addition to any classroom, and an even better addition to learning at home. Humans have been telling each other stories since the dawn of time, both to entertain and to educate. There’s a reason children like to be read to before bedtime. Incorporate a few Spanish story books into your nighttime or classroom routine.

Learning a foreign language might be a challenge, for kids and grownups, but using these tools will help you create a more effective and fun Spanish curriculum for kids.

spanish curriculum lessons for preschoolersLearning a language can be difficult, even during a child’s first eight years in which they’re naturally acquiring language skills every day. Despite the difficulties, learning a second language can be extremely beneficial to your child for the rest of their life.

If you’re dedicated to helping your child learn a second language that could very well help them later in life, here are a few tips to make the process easier for both of you.

Sign up for a Class

The first step is to actually sign your child up for a class. It can be online or in person, but Spanish curriculum lessons for preschoolers are important if you want to make the language learning process easier for your child. Spanish curriculum for kids is often simplistic, so if you want them to learn from the comfort of your home, that’s perfectly okay. In some cases, it may even make the learning process easier.

Informal Lessons are Even Better

If you or your child have a friend who speaks fluent Spanish, invite them over! Informal Spanish for preschoolers often takes place in a more comfortable setting than a classroom. Above all else, this is a great way to build social skills and enhance what your child has already learned in the classroom.

Bilingual Bedtime Stories

One of the most effective ways to reinforce Spanish curriculum lessons is to incorporate them into everyday activities. Stories, in particular, are a great way to really reinforce what your child has already learned. If you can make it a fun activity, like reading a book and having your child identify pictures that match the Spanish words, even better. Spanish curriculum lessons for preschoolers already cover the basics, but if you want those lessons to stick, then you should work to include the language in your own home.

The most important lesson to remember here is that you should be learning alongside your child. In order for them to have the most formative learning experience possible, you should make an attempt to show your child that they’re not the only one learning new things.

spanish storybook setWith the advancements in technology and travel within the past few decades, more and more Americans are traveling to different foreign countries. Because of this, the world is becoming more connected than ever before.

Learning a language — especially at a young age — brings many benefits to a young learner that will impact them for the rest of their lives. Here are the top four reasons you should introduce your child to a foreign language as soon as you can.

Improved Linguistics Skills

Children are sponges, and easily absorb everything in their environment. This is especially true with languages. If children are exposed at a young age, they will learn much easier and have an increased fluency than if they learned later in life. Children as young as three years old are developmentally mature enough to acquire a foreign language fairly easily, rapidly, and without accent. Plus, a child who speaks a second language will be able to learn a third language faster!

Cognitive Benefits

A few cognitive benefits that come with learning a second language include:

  1. Better problem solving skills
  2. Increased critical thinking skills
  3. Increased creativity
  4. Increased memory
  5. The ability to better multi-task

High Academic Performance

Bilingual students across the nation have repeatedly scored higher on standardized test scores, along with math and science. Considering the fact that language and science utilize both sides of the brain, a foreign language will enhance your child’s mental flexibility.

Well Rounded

Every parent wants their child to be well rounded, and nothing will help them become more culturally enriched than learning another language. Becoming fluent in a language will be able to open doors both socially and provide a level of competition in the workforce as they grow older.

If you are thinking about having your child learn a foreign language, consider enrolling them in preschool Spanish curriculum lessons. This curriculum includes utilizing Spanish storybook sets, which can help your child learn in a way that they can understand from a young age. Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the entire world, and the benefits your child will receive from this language are endless.

Looking to start your child off slowly into the world of foreign languages? Contact Sonrisas Spanish School to get your Spanish storybook sets today.

spanish curriculum lessonsYoung children who have the opportunity to take Spanish curriculum lessons have so many advantages. It’s unfortunate that not every child is encouraged to learn a second language at a young age, as it can provide numerous benefits that will last a lifetime. Spanish for preschoolers might seem too difficult for them at first, but with effective Spanish curriculum lessons, your child will learn quickly and be on track for a much better life.

Not only that, but because the language center of toddlers’ brains is growing so fast, they can actually learn languages faster than adults!

Here are a few benefits of how learning a second language through Spanish curriculum lessons can help your child.

They’ll Make More Friends in School

There are more than 50 million people in the U.S. who are either bilingual or speak Spanish as their primary language. If your child learns the wonderful language at an early age, they will be able to interact and converse with anyone who speaks Spanish. This will provide them an opportunity to be friends with all different types of people. This certainly doesn’t have to stop once they leave preschool. Your child will be able to connect with so many more people throughout his or her life and will be a much better person for it.

Have a Much Better Worldview

In a better world, there would be fewer barriers and walls between us, not more. Unfortunately, some close minded people are offended when they have to “Press One for English” and will never open their minds to learning a new language. This is especially true with all the hate that is spewing from political and social “leaders” in this country.

Teach your son or daughter a better way. Finding effective Spanish for preschoolers curriculums can truly open a child’s mind. Help them both speak another language fluently and also see the world in a better, more tolerant point of view.

On Track for a Better Career

On average, bilingual employees earn 20% more per hour than their monolingual counterparts. By the time your children are entering the workforce, that number could even be significantly higher. Another added benefit of learning a second language is that once a child can do so, it’s actually even easier for them to learn a third and fourth language. Doing this can really make your child standout when applying for jobs, and they will thank you for it.

For effective in school and homeschool Spanish curriculum for kids, contact the Sonrisas Spanish School today!

preschool spanish curriculumAs the end of October rapidly approaches, so too does the Mexican holiday of Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. An old Mexican tradition, the Day of the Dead is when people take the time to honor family and friends who have died. The holiday is usually celebrated on the first or second of November and celebrated by more and more people every year since it is a joyful, colorful, and beautiful holiday.

At schools, celebrating holidays from around the world is a great way to familiarize your class with cultures, traditions, and diversity. It is a particularly great way to encourage the application of language skills, if the kids are taking Spanish curriculum lessons or are on a language learning track. Learning a second language has many benefits (for instance, Spanish is the official language of 21 different countries, making it a very helpful language to know).

But, language cannot be divorced from culture, which is why it’s a great idea to encourage the celebration of important holidays in Spanish cultures. La Dia de Los Muertos offers a perfect example for a preschool Spanish curriculum because it is so colorful and unique. Check out some ways your can celebrate the Day of the Dead with your elementary or preschool Spanish class.

Create Altars
Have your students cut out flowers and paper candles to make their own beautiful altars for pets, grandparents, or other family members who have passed. Those who may not have experienced such a loss can make an altar for a famous Spanish figure, like Frida Kahlo or Cesar Chavez.

Have a Feast
Use the holiday as an excuse to feast! Make or bring in traditional Mexican foods, like guacamole, mole sauces, tamales, and more. Don’t forget Calaveras, Mexican sugar skulls, either. Eating together is a great chance to practice social and food vocabulary and familiarize your students with Mexican culture.

Decorate
Get festive and have your students decorate the whole classroom with bright and colorful flags, posters, and banners for the holiday. Make flowers of paper and tissue paper, or hang up lights.

Reading Spanish story books and singing songs are other great ways to get your students involved with the holiday! Celebrating the Day of the Dead is a perfect and fun way to get your students more involved in a preschool Spanish curriculum!

SunMeet Irene Quinonez

Irene holds both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree in education from Arizona State University with a minor in Spanish. After a thirty-year career as a teacher and curriculum specialist in the Mesa Unified School District, she retired and went into the mortgage business for nine years. Irene was approached by the principal at Christ the King Catholic School in Mesa, Arizona about teaching Spanish, and she accepted. She is in her sixth year of teaching there, and she teaches eleven different classes in grades K-8. When Irene started teaching Spanish, she noted that the school did not have any teaching materials that were appropriate for young children. She knew they needed something exciting, special, and engaging.

BookHow Sonrisas Spanish is Effective for Irene

The Sonrisas Spanish curriculum helped reaffirm for Irene that she was going in the right direction and teaching what children needed to be taught. Because of the time frame of her classes, Irene uses the teacher’s manual to pick and choose activities that work well with her classes. She loves using the songs in her classes and appreciates how they keep her students engaged. Her students love the songs on the Sonrisas CD so much that they often sing them completely on their own. Irene tells the story of the kindergarten teacher taking her children on a field trip to the Phoenix Zoo. When the children saw the elephants, they began singing the song “Un elefante” (track #7 on the Sonrisas CD) to the elephants in their enclosure! Needless to say, the kindergarten teacher as well as visitors were surprised to hear the children singing in Spanish. Irene also utilizes the storybooks not just with her younger students, but across the grade levels.

lightbulb4Teaching Tips from Irene

Irene’s advice to teachers is to start slowly and realize that you do not have to teach your students everything right away. It is more important to take the time to determine what your students’ needs are and then do what you have to do to meet those needs. In regard to native speakers in Spanish class, Irene believes that we need to assess where they are and move forward from there. She recognizes that while many of them know how to speak Spanish, they do not know how to read or write Spanish, and they have much to gain from Spanish class.

Irene also offers this idea for teaching colors. Cover some food boxes and cans with colored paper. Then you can do a variety of the following:

  • Put the items in a grocery bag. Unpack the grocery bag, one at a time, and ask children to give you the name of the color.
  • Set out the colored items. Select one student to choose an item. Let that child say the name of the color in English. Another child then gives the Spanish word for that color.
  • Have students pack up the grocery bag. As they put each item in the bag, have them say the name of the color in Spanish.

 

heart4What Inspires Irene

Irene is inspired by being with children and seeing the love they have for learning. She enjoys hearing stories from her students about them being in their community—for example in a restaurant—and then telling her that they heard Spanish and were able to understand it. She is also rewarded by the love her students show her and the opportunity to give it back.

Circle TimeIf you would like to connect with Irene, you can visit her teacher page on the Christ the King School website or email her at iquinonez@ctk-catholic.org.

 

Sonrisas Feature Teacher celebrates teachers who are using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum and tells their stories. If you know someone who would be a good candidate for a Sonrisas Feature Teacher, email us at info@sonrisasspanish.com.

spanish curriculumThere is no doubt that early language learning is in the best interest for children — after all, between the ages of 8 and 12, kids lose the ability to hear and reproduce new sounds in the same way that they did when they were younger. This makes language acquisition much harder later in life. And if there is one language that would be helpful for your kids to have under their belts, it is Spanish.

At the same time, preschool Spanish lessons might not captivate every child’s attention, even with engaging Spanish story books and a well thought out Spanish curriculum for kids. Check out these ideas for adding some variety to that curriculum and keeping Spanish learning engaging for kids:

Tell The Story of Their Favorite Characters
Nothing is as sure to get a kid’s attention as their favorite cartoon or book character. Show them that their fictional friends exist in Spanish, too! By reading familiar stories or watching beloved shows in a different language, kids might gain a new taste for learning.

Compose a Song or Rhyming Poem
Let the kids be the writers of their own songs or rhyming poems. Instead of just learning to listen and read, they will learn to apply the vocabulary and grammar they’re learning to tell a story or a joke.

Let The Kids Be The Teacher
Let every child teach a small segment of the day’s lesson, or lead an overview for the class. They’ll get a chance to show how much they’ve learned and will be so excited to address the whole class.

Skype With a Native Speaker
Call a native Spanish speaker on Skype to talk to the whole class. They will be so excited to understand and be understood, not to mention the thrill of talking to someone across the country or continent!

Play Games
Of course, every strong Spanish curriculum should draw heavily on games as a learning device. From dancing and acting to matching and memory games, the kids will soon forget that they are at school.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and use local history, songs, and field trips to make learning Spanish an immersive and interesting experience!