NOV-Sastre1La hija del sastre by Carrie Toth and Carol Gaab is a great read for level 3 and 4 students! I personally really love teaching this novel as the anchor text for a large unit about the Spanish Civil War in Spanish 4. Fluency Matters offers a great teacher’s guide for La hija del sastre, and in addition to the guide we wanted to also share a blog post where we can periodically share new online resources with you. Since the internet is always evolving and changing, please let us know if you find any new resources that our teachers would enjoy. Likewise, if you notice that a link becomes unavailable in the future, let us know so that we can find a new one to replace it. We hope you will bookmark this post and use it along with your teacher’s guide as a living resource for the novel La hija del sastre!

The teacher’s guide for La hija del sastre is aligned with research concerning reading strategies.

Good readers:

  • Predict
  • Make connections between:

a)the text and themselves,

b)the text and other texts, and

c)the text and the world around them

  • Visualize what they read
  • Reread
  • Use contextual clues to decipher unknown vocabulary

There are plenty of activities to help students become better readers. Instill an interest in the topic, and steer students into conversations in the target language about the events and the characters in the novel, both before and during the reading of the chapters. Ensure students know the essential vocabulary before reading the chapter.

More time should be spent on pre-reading activities than on post-reading activities.

Slide Shows provide information and pictures of Spain and of the people and events of the Spanish Civil War. These will help the text come alive as students see pictures showing the reality of what they are reading about in the novel and background readings.

Topics in the Teacher’s Guide:

This novel is based on the experiences of a fictional family but demonstrates the issues that faced many Spanish families not only during the war but throughout Franco’s dictatorship as well. 

This novel has many very rich grammatical and cultural topics that would fit into and enhance any level three-four curriculum:

  1. The Spanish Civil War
  2. The dictatorship of Francisco Franco
  3. Daily life of a family in opposition of Franco
  4. The use of the imperfect subjunctive
  5. Expressing more complex emotions
  6. Political exile
  7. Comparisons and connections within cultures

Online Resources:

Check out our Pinterest board for La hija del sastre!

Chapter 2

Watch this YouTube video with your class and discuss the point of view of the creator. Please preview the video in order to determine if the photographs are too graphic for your students. There are many good pictures from the Spanish Civil War but some are of victims of the war.

Possible unfamiliar vocabulary: chusma- mob, corromper- corrupt, cruento- bloody, derrotados- defeated

Example: “¿Qué significa ‘un pueblo hasta entonces explotado? ¿Según el video, los fascistas fueron explotados o los republicanos?”

Chapter 3

Read the biography of Francisco Franco at

The Teacher’s Guide contains a question and answer sheet related to this information! After students have had the opportunity to read for the requested details, discuss the answers as a class.

Chapter 4

Show the video “La Declaración de los Derechos Humanos” from The video is a great pace for an upper level language classroom and you can use it as a jumping off point for discussion about the idea of Human Rights. The Teacher’s Guide contains an activity for this video.

Chapter 5

Connect this lesson to other disciplines by having students do an internet search for the ranks of the Spanish army in the 1930s in comparison to the ranks of the US army in the 1930s. The insignia and shoulder ornamentation are different so the students can discuss their titles or the style of insignia they wear. Skim the Wikipedia entry to find the insignia.

Carrie Toth wrote this blog post about teaching Chapter 5.

Chapter 7

The Falange, a group of soldiers belonging to Franco’s fascist army sought to create an anthem to counter the popularity of the national anthem of the Second Republic. The lyrics of the song Cara al Sol are thought to have been written by Falangist leader, José Primo de Rivera. The execution of Primo de Rivera helped the song gain popularity among Spanish nationals. Consider sharing the lyrics of the song or one of the videos below with your class as you compare the desire for an anthem with the importance of theme songs in today’s society. (Search YouTube for “Cara al sol.”)

Or choose to compare Cara al Sol with the anthem of the Republic, El Himno de Riego. (If you show the film Butterfly along with your Civil War study, the students will recognize this song when Moncho’s family is singing it in the park.) (Search YouTube for “Himno de riego.”)

Carrie Toth wrote this blog post about teaching Chapter 7.

Chapter 10

YouTube videos offer students the opportunity to see a variety of photographs and/or video from the Civil War era. Choose one video to show. The video can be used as writing or speaking prompt. Have students pay close attention to the images as they listen to the narrative. When they are done, discuss what they remember about the pictures in the video. After students have discussed the images you may choose to have them write about what they saw.

Chapter 11

Toledo, Spain is famous for its steel and the students might be interested to learn more about Spanish swords. Use the slide show or have students research steel from Toledo.
In English:
or in Spanish:

Ignacio is told to return to his apartment in Chapter 11. An apartment in Spain is much different than an apartment in the United States. Have students compare and contrast.


Chapter 12

Introduce students to the painting Guernica by Picasso using the activity in the Teacher’s Guide. The worksheet contains a picture of Guernica taken in the Reina Sofía museum. You may choose to find a picture online of the entire painting. After discussing the painting as a class, use the video of Guernica 3D at: or to give them a closer look at the painting. You might also have them watch this report about the bombing of Guernica to give them a historical background for the painting. or

Chapter 14

The peseta

Chapter 15

Students can use the website Fakebook to create a Facebook page for either Ignacio or Emilia. They should include all information they know about the character from the novel: relationship status, current city, etc. They may make up things that they don’t know, like birthdate, but they should be believable. If Emilia was 17 in 1938, she can’t have been born in 1997!

Culminating Project idea


This blog post was written by Kristy Placido

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