A country study can begin with location. Find Spain on a world map. What continent includes Spain? Can students identify any of Spain’s neighboring countries? Note how close Spain is to Africa — this has been important in the history of Spain.
While you’re thinking about Spain’s location, you might also consider New Spain, the colonies Spain used to own in the Americas. We might think of Spain as a small country now, but during the Age of Exploration it was a major world power. Notice how much of the United States used to belong to Spain, and think about how many countries still speak Spanish today.
This is a good time to introduce some Spanish words. If you have Spanish-speaking students or a Spanish teacher, ask them to present some basic words and phrases.
If not, here are some good online resources:
- Bilingual Kidspot has free Spanish lessons for children, geared toward home use but usable in the classroom, too.
- The Spanish Experiment
Note that Spanish spoken in different parts of the world sounds different, just as English from the United Kingdom or Jamaica sounds different from English spoken in the United States. Remind students that different varieties of a language arise naturally as populations are separated, and one is not better or more “real” than another.
Set up your classroom library with a few good books about Spain!
Check out our lesson plans for some of these books:
The history of Spain is fascinating and unusual. Many different groups of people have inhabited what is now Spain, including prehistoric people such as the Cro-Magnons, Greeks and Romans, Germanic tribes like the Visigoths, people from the Islamic world, and the people we now know as Spaniards.
Spanish explorers roamed the world during the Great Age of Exploration, when Spain opened new lands to the people in Europe. Spanish language and culture is still found all over the world.
Check out a timeline of Spanish history. Help students decide which events should be included in your classroom timeline.
We have some lesson plans that are connected with Spain:
Spain is the site of Altamira, one of the most important prehistoric art sites in the world.
Have students look at the paintings of the Altamira cave and notice the colors used, the composition of the paintings, and the style used. Challenge students to create their own artworks inspired by the prehistoric art. The video below has instructions based on the Altamira cave!
An artist named Antonio Gaudi has created stunning mosaics as well as fantastical architecture in Spain. Have students admire the photos below and do further research if possible. Then use colored paper scraps to create mosaic artworks.
Use our Spanish Music Lesson Plan to explore the music of Spain.