Carmen Sandiego: Spanish Class Activities

Foreign language teachers, you might be wondering, “Why should—and how can—I bring Carmen Sandiego into my class?” Carmen’s travels around the globe in the course of foiling VILE’s evil plans will spur students to use their language skills. We’ve pulled together a few free lesson plans below that you can use specifically with your Spanish classes!

These Spanish language classroom activities, developed for students in Grades 6–12, provide teaching suggestions that cover real-world culture, geography, and art, plus opportunities to talk and write about the show’s plot and characters. Students are also encouraged to get creative by writing scenes and alternative endings to an episode, or creating research-based presentations about places in the Spanish-speaking world Carmen may travel to protect cultural artifacts. 

Who Am I? / ¿Quién soy?

Use this activity after viewing Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego, season 1, episode 1, parts 1 and 2: “Becoming Carmen Sandiego”

Students write descriptions of the professors and Carmen’s classmates in Spanish. Then they work with a partner to guess each other’s character.

  1. Students choose one or two characters to describe, such as a teacher or classmate. Descriptions should include physical and personality traits as well as other aspects that would help to capture a character’s likeness.
  2. In pairs, students take turns describing and guessing until all characters are revealed.
Questions and Answers / Preguntas y Respuestas

Use this activity after viewing Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego, season 1, episode 4: “The Fishy Doubloon Caper”

Using the facts about Ecuador presented in the episode, have half of the class write questions that would elicit the answers while the other half writes the answers.

  1. Ask students to name some of the facts about Quito and Ecuador presented in the episode (location, altitude, exports, what the equator is, what the ocho escudos doubloon is and what book it was mentioned in, etc.).
  2. Divide the students into question or answer writers. Students should write either the answer or the question for all of the topics. If they write a question, they must know the answer and vice versa.
  3. Have students read their questions aloud for their classmates to answer.
  4. To expand the activity, you may also wish to add in key points from the episode as a topic of questions and answers.
Tell Me More / Dime más

Use this activity after viewing Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego, season 1, episode 6: “The Opera in the Outback Caper”

Before class, find a variety of images of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Australian Outback. Print out or project the images. A good source is the park’s website: parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru/, which contains many amazing photographs.

  1. Show the images one at a time.
  2. Have the class describe in Spanish what they see.
  3. Ask students to comment on what they saw. Did they find anything unusual or surprising in the images?
Poster / Póster

Use this activity after viewing Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego, season 1, episode 7: “The Chasing Paper Caper”

Students create a poster describing the Magna Carta or another one of VILE’s stolen objects.

  1. Tell students that they will be making missing item posters for the Magna Carta or another one of VILE’s stolen objects, such as a Vermeer painting, a gold doubloon, or the Eye of Vishnu diamond. Each poster should include a sketch of the missing object, a detailed description in Spanish of what it looks like, and an explanation of why it’s valuable.
  2. If needed, allow students to do further research about the items they chose.
Origami / Origami

Use this activity after viewing Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego, season 1, episode 7: “The Chasing Paper Caper”

The VILE operative Paper Star is an origami expert. Have students learn how to make a simple origami figure and then tell a partner in Spanish how to make the same figure. You might want to provide related vocabulary words, such as cortar, doblar, desdoblar, doblez, pliegue, and so on.

  1. Have students find a simple origami figure and use a resource in Spanish to learn how to make it. They might read an article with images or watch a video.
  2. Students practice making the figure and then come up with step-by-step directions in Spanish that they can use while showing their partner how to make the figure.
  3. Display the figures around the class.
Next Adventures / Las próximas aventuras

Use this activity after viewing Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego, season 1, episode 9: “The French Connection Caper” 

Students write a journal entry as Zack or Ivy about where Carmen might take them next.

  1. As the season ends, it looks like there are more adventures in store for Carmen, Zack, and Ivy. As a class, brainstorm a list of other places that Carmen’s pursuit of VILE could take them. Have students compile a list of those place names in Spanish.
  2. Have students write a journal entry from Zack’s or Ivy’s point of view about where they hope they might travel next and what they might see and experience there. Support less advanced students by providing sentence starters, such as “Me gustaría ir a…” and “Me gustaría ver…”.

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Use Carmen Sandiego to help inspire your students to love learning languages, history, culture, geography, and more with all of HMH’s free classroom resources! 

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