20+ Resources 4 Making the Most of Your Spanish Class

Reading materials and mini-units for exploring a wide range of themes for Spanish class: comprehensible, compelling, and creative. 

"Novels aren't the only way to deliver "comprehensible input" in a compelling way." 
I am a big fan of reading in class. This has been my practice for the last 14 years as a teacher, even before I knew it was big a thing. Working as an International Baccalaureate teacher, I had to be creative and resourceful in piecing together comprehensible yet intellectually provocative materials. The collection of activities below presents a wide range of resources that I have garnered from TPT or have created myself in order to make the curriculum more robust, language and thinking skills-centered. Take a peak, as they say in Latin America: Mire sin compromiso!

The first section features non-fiction informational texts that have deepened my students' understanding of several cultural phenomena. My mantra is "why wait for students to get to higher levels of Spanish class, to have to debate complex topics?" Give it to them now, at their level. And I stand by this approach. Some of my most interesting conversations have taken place in at the basic Spanish level. I would venture even further to say that these topics are what propelled students' desire to deepened their language skills because they had so much more that they wanted to share. The resources below captures this goal. They have been tested by my student others!  I have included the name and website of other teacher authors whose resources have enriched my curriculum. Thank you for reading and I hope you find a diamond in the rough that is perfect for your class. There are freebies spread throughout in different sections. Look for the "freebie" designation. 

Level- up Activities that Increase Perspective-Taking and Reflection in the Target Language, Level 2+

These 23 three activities provide a question inventory, writing tasks related to technology, visual activities (with real adds), and stories from the trenches of teens discussing their like or dislike of using technology in the class. The debate at the end invites students to take sides, read tweets and determine if technology should be used in school. Activities are grouped and building on each other. 

Get the Free Tech Starter here 

The identity resource provides three core reading activities, each focusing on a different aspect of identity. Each article is accompanied by vocabulary, pre-reading and post-reading questions. This can be used as a station activity or groups can each be assigned a reading and present it to the class. There is also a link to a video and questions exploring the topic of Trans identity in Argentina- really great video.

Download this free resource for students to talk about identity! Click here!
Mochilando por América Latina 

The activities below, I used for introducing countries and practicing the verb "Ser." I found some gems on TPT that made my life easy!

Hispanic Flags Activity 
This activity was great for teaching colors, the verb ser, gender and noun agreement while learning about Latin America countries and flags.

Notable Hispanic People Cards  (Freebie)- Killing two birds with one stone-Bring together culture and the language. 

Try this fun and energizing activity for your Spanish class. I did with my students in the beginning of the year. Click here for the lesson and additional video material for the first week of class. In a nutshell, students take on the identity of the person on the card. They walk around introducing themselves asking: 

  • ¿Cómo te llamas? 
  • ¿De dónde eres? 
I have used this two years consecutively and it has been a hit. It is very thorough. My students do the research and then they present in a circle, which is their interpersonal speaking assessment. 

This game is very fun and reinforces geographical knowledge. 

Resources for Teaching on Spain- History, and Culture (Spanish 1+) 
Franco, Picasso, and Guernica: La Guerra Civil (Spanish 1+)
Why wait until students are in the higher levels for them to learn vital aspects of history? This resources, which I created as a prelude to Agentes Secretos, informs students about the Spanish Dictator Franco and his political nemesis, Picasso. There are tons of activities for building up to the reading and processing it.

Bull-fighting controversy: Debate (Spanish 1+)

Culture and controversy! This activity includes the perspective of two students who are passionate about their views on the Running of the Bulls. This is activity is designed with Common Core principles in mind, in which students read and make inferences from what was said. A challenging or "Digging Deeper" activity is included with a writing prompt. 
Inquiry-based activities and cultural readings on Spain (25 activities)
This is comprehensible input meets PBLL unit features reading about Spain (the readings can be obtained separately by clicking on the link below). This resource has reading, interview questions, comprehension questions and a mini-inquiry-based project that eventually led to a presentation on a region in Spanish. All materials are included.  I am presenting on this unit at two conferences this upcoming year. 
A little cultural FVR for the history buffs? 

This is resources features reading about Spain. Students learn about the Moors, Romans, Visigoths, Geography and Linguistic Diversity of Spain.  This resource contains vocabulary activities and comprehension questions to guide students. 

Health Units and Reflexive verbs 
La vida sana- reading and activities on healthy lifestyle- Spanish 1+ (Freebie)
Featuring healthy food and reflexive verbs, this freebie focuses on the health habits of one teen who interviews the other... at the end of the interview they realize that they like the same things, so he asks her on a date. Why not have fun with it right? 
Reflexive verbs reading and activities - 11 activities (Spanish 1+) 
La vida sana resource features an article on the importance of sleep among teens. There are some interesting scientific bits in here but the article is comprehensible and capitalizes on cognates and basic vocabulary structures. It features a note-taking activity, reading, questions, and writing.

What do teens love? To share their opinions! This activity give them that freedom. Teen advice column. Complex problems and only your teens can solve! 

Click here to see the preview!

School Unit Add-ons, Grammar Practice & Communicative Activites 

These 7 activities focus on the verb "Gustar" features two speed-dating activities whereby students ask other students about their likes and dislikes. There is a video segment with Rafael Nadal in addition to another video on the verb Gustar featuring a young girl from Colombia.  Scaffolding, listening, and comprehension included.

Contextualized Grammar Reading Picks

Reading about School text and questions  (by Megan R)- I have used this quick read as part of my stations' activity for Spanish 1. Some years I have used it as an assessment. 

La vuelta al cole activity
La Vuelta al Cole as it is known colloquially in many Latin American countries is the perfect way to review class vocabulary, school supplies and present tense verbs. Through this dialogue, students are not only exposed to school-related vocabulary, but also the reality of schooling in other countries. This short story/dialogue has a very heart warming ending that seeks to teach students about valuing their education!
Audience- this story is ideal novice-mid Spanish 1 students or those who are familiar with verb conjugations (glossary included for story). 
Mostly -AR verbs, Ir, Tener, Estar, etc. 

What's included in this resource? 
1. Two totally comprehensible Infographics about "Papelerías" in Latin America. 

2. Comprehension questions for both visuals 

(One of the infographics features Affirmative Tú Mandatos")

3. Dialogue/ short story- my students acted this out in class. The premise of the story is two middle-class girls from Colombia who buy their supplies in a typical Papelería. One girl is very "empollona" and the other one does not like to go to class. They talk about school, boys and then at the end, the story, they both do something extraordinary! The theme is "la educación es importante."

4. Comprehension questions and glossary for the story. 

Using Film to Facilitate Acquisition 

This resource features 7 activities to prepare students for watching the 8-minute clip of El almuerzo, a Colombian Film.  The link below has information about the clip and activities that help students to deepen their understanding of what was taking place. 

Freebies for teaching Film 

This activity is loosely based on Movietalk. I used this with my Spanish I students, to practice the preterite and imperfect structures. Many scaffolding activities are included as well as the script I used for asking questions about the movie. 

Film vocabulary, movie summaries and questions activity. This activity can be a great companion to your film unit, substitute lesson or in-class cultural activity. 

This resource features links to Spanish series/ trailers and vocabulary activities aligned to those trailers. I used this for teaching/ reviewing the subjunctive with my Spanish IV class. 

This story is dedicated to anyone who has ever had a crush...

Click here for Amazon

Synopsis: Carlos hates Spanish class with a passion but finds the will to survive when he lays eyes on Jessica. She is the reason he "tolerates" his boring class. However, his secret crush is compromised when his teacher decides to “shake things up a bit” in class. A simple writing assignment turns out to be a lethal injection to his social life and by extension his chances with Jessica. First, his nosy teacher tries to “set him up with Jessica,” this plan immediately backfires. Then, the unthinkable happens and Carlos is stunned. This turns into one of the most embarrassing moments in his life. But all is not lost. If Carlos plays his cards right, he could have a winning hand.   Carlos invites you to come along on this adventure into "La clase de confesiones" where…"todos tienen una confesión," even the teacher!

Language:  Mostly present tense 

The confessions don't stop there, part 2 is chock full with even more confessions! (Most of part 1 is summarized here...more confessiones and more fun!).

La clase de confesiones Part 2: La bella mentira (Spanish 1+)

Carlos is having a bad day, and it's about to get worse. He leaves Spanish class utterly embarrassed.  He had no idea that the teacher was going to partner him up with Jessica, the girl he actually writes about in his class essay. Adding insult to injury, the teacher reads his essay in front of the class, even the mean-spirited things he wrote about his teacher. After running into a few more problems in math class, he is faced with the big showdown in the lunchroom. Now, Carlos is between *"la espada y la pared." However, a short story in Spanish class may hold the key to all of his problems, and may ultimately lead to his biggest confession of all.  Find out in part 2! 

Spanish FVR Printable Stories and Mini Novels by Spanishplans.org  

Compelling, comprehensible and convenient!

Author's note: These stories are from our MovieTalk and TPRS Story products. Instead of the entire lesson, we are offering them as readings to be a part of your classroom library, such a Free Voluntary Reading program (FVR). Each reading comes with a glossary of all the words from the story. These stories were written for novice level students. See the description for the number of total words in the story and the number of unique words.

Available on TPT 

Check out more amazing resources by Spanishplans.org. Click here for their website:


Me muero por María 

(Spanish 1+)

This short comedy will have your students in stitches! Relatable characters, funny situations and a kid who just can't get a break, makes this story endearing. This story is ideal for Spanish levels 1 and 2.  It is mostly told in the present tense, with a spattering of the past tense. Me muero por María   comes with a glossary and activities sheets for processing the story and practicing vocabulary and grammar. Read the summary below. 

The big dance is just two weeks ago and Patricio is freaking out. He does not have a date to the party. All the girls are either taken or have had some little run-ins with the “law.” He sets his sights on María, the girl he is dying to go on a date with. But he has a problem: he is awfully shy. “Entre la espada y la pared,” he turns to the only two people who can help him: his best friend Rodrigo, el doctor del amor, and his mom! Needless to say that their philosophies on relationships differ widely, which puts our friend Patricio in a bind. However, things take an interesting turn when his buddy and “wing-man” “inadvertently” spills the beans his crush; now Patricio has to “close the deal.” Patricio embarks on uncharted territory and runs into “unforeseen obstacles” in trying to get a date with María. In a weird twist of events, he gets the surprise of his life, where the expression “Me muero por María” becomes almost literal!

Language:  Mostly present tense, stem-changing verbs 
Themes: Relationships,  Friendship,
Vocabulary: Sports, Food, School 

La espía huérfana by Andrew Snider (New book)

Click here to view on Amazon 

I just purchased my copy of this book for my FVR library. The premise is so compelling. 
La espía huérfana by Andrew Snider 
After the tragic death of her parents, Violeta struggles to adjust to her new life in San Diego. Her life takes an intriguing turn when she receives a mysterious letter warning that she is in grave danger. When she learns that one of the world's most wanted criminals has escaped from prison and is looking for her, it will take more than courage to survive. This book was written for Spanish language learners and contains a glossary of over 250 words to help keep the text compelling and comprehensible

Author's note: La espía huérfana is written mostly in the present tense, but it does not shelter grammar. There are instances of "advanced" grammar so beginners can begin to see the language in a more complete context. To keep this text engaging and comprehensible for all learners, La espía huérfana includes a gloss of vocabulary considered "likely unfamiliar". 

Andrew Snider is an author and an avid blogger. His website http://readtospeakspanish.com/ features shorts stories, ideas, and materials for engaging and improving reading in Spanish. 

La vida loca de Marta by Andrew Snider 
La vida loca de Marta is a brief novel written for late beginner or intermediate students of Spanish. It is written almost entirely in present tense and is at a good reading level for most students in Spanish two or above. 

Description: Marta is a single mother who is trying to do it all. She has two kids, is working as a secretary in a law office, and is taking classes at a local college, all while her family is thousands of miles away in Mexico. Will Marta be able to balance everything when she meets a great guy?

Why I love this book? It is refreshingly real and connects to the lives of so many of my students!

Click this link to view on Amazon 

Andrew Snider is an author and an avid blogger. His website http://readtospeakspanish.com/ features shorts stories, ideas, and materials for engaging and improving reading in Spanish. 

Casi Me Mata El Celular  Spanish 2/3 (Preterite, Imperfect, some subjunctive) Federico and his friends learn that technology can prove to be deadly when abused. While hanging out at their favorite hideout in the abandoned building in an up-and-coming part of town, they stumble upon an uncanny situation. In an effort to satisfy their curiosity, they witness something will change their lives forever. Now the boys have to try to make it out of this situation, alive.

Casi me mata el celular http://amzn.to/2ydNkix

Superburguesas by Mike Peto 

Click here to view it on Amazon 

This is another CI hit that I have added to my library. Very compelling and funny!

This easy to read short novel in Spanish is designed for learners who want learn Spanish the fun way-- by reading interesting stories. Check out Superburguesas!

Enter into Rodney's World 

Rodney is a smart high school student who has to pay for his own AP tests. Everybody else he knows has parents who actually pay for things, but he has to work at a hamburger restaurant to earn enough for his exam fees. Of course, Rodney doesn't take the job too seriously. He would rather spend the time studying, so he devises a plan to make sure there are never any customers to interrupt him. Nobody comes to the hamburger joint where the employee never washes his hands... well, almost nobody. Two days later, when Rodney is being pursued by a ruthless drug trafficker, he barely has time to regret his unsanitary ways. The entire story is a little over 4200 words, or 60 pages. It is written at the level of my Spanish 2 students: mostly in the present tense but with a spattering of advanced grammar when needed. Don't worry about either the grammar or the vocabulary; anything even slightly complicated is translated at the bottom of the page. There is also a complete glossary at the end of the book so that this story is 100% comprehensible to all readers.

Check out Mike's website here, a repository of activities and strategies for language acquisition instruction. 

La Fiesta Inolvidable (Spanish 2+) New Short Story/ Teacher's materials included!

What teen hasn't tried to throw a party while their parents were gone? Well, Antonio almost gets away with the big party if not for a few loose ends. Check out the synopsis below: 

Antonio dreams about throwing the biggest party ever when he finally gets his big break: his parents are taking a short trip to take care of some “family business.”  Armed with the advice of his friend and teen blogger, Lucas, a.k.a. el parrandero (party animal), his weekend fiesta is destined to be unforgettable. Antonio follows Lucas’ five rules of “fiestas inolvidables” and everything is smooth sailing. Even better, Antonio’s love interest shows up; now the pressure is on. Everyone is having a blast when a few unexpected obstacles arise. Antonio has to think quick and then problem-solves in order to have the best party ever. However, will his skills be enough?  Find out in La fiesta inolvidable… a night to remember! His parents wil never forget either...especially his mom (¡pobrecita!).
Language: Preterite, Imperfect and some subjunctive
Themes: Relationships, Love, Friendship, Family, Travel and House related vocabulary  

These novels tell a tantalizing tale of intricate teen relationships and secrets,  will hook your students from the first page.Your students go on an adventurous ride, deepen their language skills while they solve dark mysteries that lie at the heart of the series: Las apariencias

Click below for the two-story bundle...an intriguing novel that a bit of "spice" to Spanish class!

Click here for TPT version of the novel  (Teaching Materials included)

El secreto (Print and Read)

 Camilo, one of the sweetest and gentleman-like boys in Buena Vista is hiding a big secret; and it won’t be long until his girlfriend finds out. She sets out to spy on her once romantic poem-writing boyfriend. Between poor grades, his erratic behavior, and her parents’ divorce, Salomé feels like she is going to implode. Her new discovery of a “chica” who is “colada” with her boyfriend puts her over the edge even más. Seeking help and sanity, she decides to visit a popular town psychiatrist; he forces her to change her perspective, and with that comes a cost. His advice ultimately leads her to discover a much greater truth about Camilo, and its inches deeper than she originally thought. She goes on a quest for truth but then gets more than she bargained for, and Camilo isn’t the only one with a secret. Every chapter is a twisty rollercoaster that abruptly stops at a cliffhanger, right before it pushes you over the edge. 

Algunas relaciones no son convenientes

Themes: Relationship- problems, Loyalty, Honesty, Deception  

Structures: Preterite/Imperfect

Sprinkling of the subjunctive tenses 

Click here for the preview 

La revelación (part 2 of 'El secreto')

The second installment in the series el sups the stakes for all the players involved. “Las cartas están sobre la mesa” as Salomé (Camilo’s girlfriend) holds all the players hostage to their secrets. Through a series of clever maneuvers, Camilo (Juan’s best friend) and Liliana (Juan’s girlfriend) are still able to evade the truth; but the time is running out. Situational “close calls, will put readers’ “pelos de punta” especially when Juan confronts Camilo on his secretive behavior text messages found on his phone. Liliana adds to her personal drama when she discovers a secret belonging to one of Camilo's parents; this secret is the just tip of the iceberg. 

Themes: Relationship- problems, Loyalty, Honesty, Deception  

Structures: Preterite/Imperfect

Liliana se siente entre la espada y la pared

La Nueva Alumna (Spanish 3+)  -Freebie - Activities included!- 

La Nueva Alumna is a fictionalized account of Vicky’s journey to the prestigious boarding school: El Internado. It gives a bit of a back story highlighting her working class roots, and her major crush on Iván, another pivotal character from the series. This story was originally written as a cloze text practice of language structures such as the present and past subjunctive and the preterite and imperfect. Said formative assessment was administered to students after viewing episode 5 of El Internado when it became clear that Vicky was colada con Iván. The story presents a mix of narration and dialogue, which could be easily acted out in class or in groups!

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