Educational Travel Lesson Plans

The Spanish Royal Family: Past and Present



In this lesson, students will use an actual family tree of the Spanish Royal Family to practice family vocabulary in the target language, then construct a family tree of their own using proper pedigree symbols.



Grade Level



60 minutes

Tour Links

  • Palacio Real, Madrid

Essential Questions

  • How are family relationships expressed in Spanish?


  • Kings of Spain Family Tree Handout (double-sided)
  • Práctica: Vocabulario – La familia real española Worksheet
  • Spanish Royal Family Name Tag Stickers
  • ¡Celebridades!: Un árbol genealógico Worksheet

Key Terms

  • la abuela grandmother
  • el abuelo grandfather
  • el árbol genealógico family tree
  • la bisabuela great-grandmother
  • el bisabuelo great-grandfather
  • la cuñada sister-in-law
  • el cuñado brother-in-law
  • la esposa wife
  • el esposo husband
  • los gemelos twins
  • la hermana sister
  • la hermanastra stepsister
  • el hermanastro stepbrother
  • el hermano brother
  • la hija daughter
  • la hijastra stepdaughter
  • el hijastro stepson
  • el hijo son
  • la madrastra stepmother
  • la madre (mamá) mother
  • mayor older
  • menor younger
  • la nieta granddaughter
  • el nieto grandson
  • la nuera daughter-in-law
  • el padrastro stepfather
  • el padre (papá) father
  • la prima cousin (female)
  • el primo cousin (male)
  • la sobrina niece
  • el sobrino nephew
  • la suegra mother-in-law
  • el suegro father-in-law
  • la tía aunt
  • el tío uncle
  • el yerno son-in-law



In 1469, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon married, uniting the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon from then on.  “The Catholic Monarchs”, as they would one day be known as, would go on to reconquer the Iberian Peninsula, leading to the creation of the Kingdom of Spain.

Imperial Spain would survive for centuries, through wars and religious persecutions, up until the Spanish Civil War in 1936.  In 1939, Generalísimo Francisco Franco would emerge the victor, establishing himself as dictator of Spain.

On November 20, 1975, the reign of Franco finally came to an end with his death.  Two days after, Juan Carlos I of Bourbon, named the next head of state in 1969 by Franco himself, became King of Spain.  The new king, being from the House of Bourbon, was a direct descendent of previous Spanish monarchs.  With this change of power would come the eventual transition of Spain from an authoritarian dictatorship to a constitutional monarchy.  This transition would end with the enactment of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.  Spain would join the ranks of other modern day constitutional monarchies, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark. 

The Spanish Royal Family officially consists of the present king, the queen consort, their children with their spouses, and their grandchildren.

In this lesson, students will use an actual family tree of the Spanish Royal Family to practice family vocabulary in the target language, then construct a family tree of their own using proper pedigree symbols.

educational tour image
  1. Students will identify how members of the Spanish Royal Family are related using family vocabulary.
  2. Students will formulate grammatically correct sentences using family vocabulary.
  3. Students will construct a family tree using proper pedigree symbols.

To view resource web pages, download the lesson plan PDF above.

I. Anticipatory Set (5 min)

  • The British Royal Family is frequently featured in American news programs.  However, we rarely hear news regarding the royal families of other countries.  Today, we are going to use family vocabulary as we learn about the Spanish Royal Family.  What do we already know about this family?  Who are the members of the family?  Where do they live?  How much political power do they have?  Brainstorm as a class.
  • Like most royalty, the Spanish Royal Family owns a number of palaces, including Zarzuela Palace and the Palace of La Almudaina.  Although they do not live there, the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family is the Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid).

II. Body of Lesson (50 min)

  • The Spanish Royal Family consists of the present king, his wife the queen, their children (with spouses), and their grandchildren.  Review family vocabulary as a class or with a partner.
  • Review: How to read a family tree.  With a partner, complete the Práctica: Vocabulario – La familia real española worksheet using the Kings of Spain Family Tree reference page.  Review and correct on the board as a class.
  • ¿Quién soy? Activity: Hand out name tag stickers to each student, and have them stick the tag to the forehead of the person sitting next to them.  On each name tag is written the name of a member of the Spanish Royal Family.  No students should know which name is on their forehead- the object of the game is to find out.  Set the students up in two circles- an inner circle and an outer circle- facing each other.  To find out which family member they are, students must ask the person in front of them a question in Spanish using family vocabulary.  For example- ¿Soy un bisabuelo?  ¿Tengo una hermana menor?  As each question is answered, the student may cross off which family members they are not on their family tree handout.  For instance, if they are not a great-grandfather, any family member that is a great-grandfather may be crossed out.  A student may ask one question to each student.  After each pair of students have asked their question, the students in the inner circle will rotate and the exercise will begin with a new set of student pairs.  Once a student correctly guesses their name, they will sit down in their seat.  After all students have guessed their names, everyone will be in their seats.
  • How to Draw a Family Tree Notes: Review the symbols used to make a graphic representation of a family tree.  See the ¡Celebridades!: Un árbol genealógico handout.  Draw an example family tree on the board using the names of students in the classroom.
  • My Family Tree Partner Activity: Leave the notes on the board.  All students should break off into pairs and take out a piece of scrap paper.  Student A will explain their family tree in Spanish, starting with their grandparents and working down.  As they explain each relationship, Student B will draw it with family tree symbols on their scrap paper, making sure to label each symbol with the corresponding family member’s name.  After Student A is done, he or she will check Student B’s work, then the two will switch roles.

III. Closure (5 min)

  • Homework: ¡Celebridades!: Un árbol genealógico
  • Review worksheet and directions with class before dismissal.


On tour: Palacio Real, Madrid

Enter the Palacio Real, the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family at the city of Madrid. Although the Royal Family does not actually live there (it is only used for state ceremonies and tourism purposes), the palace has been in the hands of monarchs for hundreds of years. Explore the palace, and listen carefully to your tour guide. Have any Spanish monarchs left their mark on the building and its structure or decorations? Find ten examples.


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