A blacksmith and his wife meet a metallic dragon who wants to have its wings mended. The blacksmith is concerned about being killed by the dragon. After having chained it up, nobody in town, especially the mayor and the neighbourhood, recognizes his merit in saving the town from the dragon, and the blacksmith turns the dragon into a tourist attraction, which he gets rich off. Years later, the blacksmith’s son lives through a similar situation with the dragon. However, he is in command of the situation thanks to his own father’s experience. Specifically, he tries to achieve two things: strategies on how to prevent the town from being attacked again by the dragon, and some reward and recognition from the neighborhood for having saved the town from the dragon.

This story is suitable to work on the different ways of using reported speech, such as: “They told him that ...he was the one who should do everything”, “There is a giant coming for you. He says he wants to kill you”, “It required him to mend its right wing”, and “It commanded him to inspect the damaged wing”. There are also performatives like: “I just want to warn you to be careful”. Part of the text has the communicative function of persuasion. Therefore, it is also suited for students to learn the most common structures and/or phrases that are appropriate for negotiating. In this sense, the story is suited to work on different strategies using the English language which can be effective for real life and transportable to other domains. These words have all been defined in the text: composure / forge / remains / take responsibility for / entrust / menial / turn to someone / deprive someone of something / burst into tears / cellar / spiral staircase / dare to / by mere chance / make someone's blood run cold / purr / pebbles / have mercy on someone / screw / chain somebody up / fetch / lay / howl / leave someone alone / growl / nothing comes from it / laurel crown / lock up / polish someone off / set someone free / bludgeon / gobble up / unchained / hold a meeting / appoint someone something / current / summon / think something over / let alone / settle an issue / quince paste / egg yolk / custard / play a trick on someone / rust / tame / a token of appreciation / depths / curl up / turn into.

Conceptually, it is a simple story. However, the vocabulary is not always easy and there are a few long and complex structures that are common in B1. There are sensitive areas with definitions and examples for around 50 words which are potentially unfamiliar.

There is a balance between tasks to be carried out at home or collaboratively in class. Others could be undertaken partly at home (preparation, searching on the Web, etc.) and then shared in small groups or with the whole classroom. The story provides an opportunity for classroom discussion on transversal skills, particularly, on interpersonal communication and negotiation (for example, the attitude that is recommended when negotiating), which can be contextualized in remote times or brought to the present. In that sense, it could be of interest to have a discussion about which linguistic and communicative strategies are necessary to negotiate (but also persuade or influence others) and also the testimony of great historical characters who have become significant in modern society.

There are several themes that could be reflected on / discussed before reading this story:
  • Negotiation. Are you a good negotiator in your family, group of friends, at school? What skills do you think are needed to become one?
  • Ethical and social values. How is it possible to recognise an honest person? Do you agree that some people in power look after their own interests more than those of the community they serve?

As mentioned above, this story is adequate for addressing themes directly related to History, Latin and Greek. It could be interesting to ask the corresponding teachers for support and collaboration so that the content of the enriched text and some of the annotations therein are properly explained in these subjects according to their different perspectives.


Un herrero muy pobre encuentra un dragón de hierro en el sótano del castillo abandonado donde vive con su mujer y su bebé. Tras recomponerle el ala derecha a petición del dragón, el herrero encuentra la manera de ir engañándole para que este no se coma a la población, hasta que tiempo después consiguen que sea muy útil para la ciudad. ¿Se puede domesticar a un dragón?

Este cuento, al igual que otros de la colección (como “Veraneo estropeado”), puede utilizarse para abordar temas como la transformación social a través de profesiones en desuso. Podemos encontrar también multitud de expresiones castellanas no tan comunes para los niños de hoy y algunas que ya no son tan utilizadas, pudiendo servir para abordar los cambios históricos.
Desde el punto de vista literario, el cuento hace hincapié en la ironía, ridiculizando en cierta medida a seres mitológicos y fantásticos como el dragón. También se alude a mitos como el de Hércules luchando con la Hidra.

Actividades creativas relacionadas con el contexto histórico, orientadas a concienciar sobre los cambios históricos y culturales que tienen que ver con la transformación social, como por ejemplo la transformación de profesiones, de hábitos y de costumbres gastronómicas. Actividades de escritura creativa. Actividades de lectura crítica que ayudan a ampliar conocimientos culturales y artísticos, acercando la mitología, la historia del arte o la tradición literaria al lector.

Definición de las siguientes expresiones, palabras o grafías: fragua, pasar recibo, había dado en flor, hacer labor, dar una prenda, llamarse Andana, poner el grito en el cielo, hojalatero, clava.

Text, intertextuality and context: Activity to scaffold reading comprehension and notes on intertextual and historical or cultural contextual information.
Creativity: Activity to enhance imagination and fantasy.
Collaboration: Activity to be undertaken totally or partially in a group.
Critical capacity: Activity to promote explicit learning through analysis and critical reasoning.
Oral comprehension: Activity for the acquisition of oral receptive skills.
Gamification and digital skills: Activity to promote gamified and technology-based learning through exercises and small interactive games with the computer.
Oral interpersonal communication: Activity to improve oral production and interaction.
Didactic guidelines for the English teacher: Table with a summary of the story and recommendations for the use of the tool in the classroom.
Audio: Listening of the enriched audio embedded in each page.
Comprensión lectora y contexto Explicación de información contextual, histórica o cultural, difícil para el lector actual.

Creatividad Propuestas para trabajar la imaginación, la fantasía y la sensibilidad a partir de la lectura.

Trabajo colaborativo y emocional Propuestas de actividades para desarrollar el trabajo en grupo y el conocimiento de las emociones.

Capacidad crítica e intertextualidad Anotaciones que promueven el pensamiento crítico y la profundización en el conocimiento de las estrategias literarias.

Actividades auditivas Anotaciones orientadas a desarrollar la recepción auditiva, utilizando la dimensión oral del lenguaje, los sonidos y la música.

Elementos interactivos (Puzles, galerías de imágenes, ejercicios, etc.) Anotaciones que han requerido algún tipo de programación especial orientadas a fomentar la lectura activa.

Audio Pista de audio del cuento por página.

What’s the name given to the process of sleeping through the winter in the animal kingdom? Why do some animals do that? How do they manage to survive? Do they wake up to eat and drink?

Talk to others about this and look for the answers to these questions if necessary.

Do you think that humans and snakes hibernate?


Una ciudad de libros

Comprensión lectora y contexto Explicación de información contextual, histórica o cultural, difícil para el lector actual.
Creatividad Propuestas para trabajar la creatividad a partir de la lectura.
Trabajo colaborativo y emocional Propuestas de actividades para desarrollar el trabajo en grupo y el conocimiento de las emociones.
Capacidad crítica e intertextualidad Anotaciones que promueven el pensamiento crítico y la profundización en el conocimiento de las estrategias literarias
Comprensión sonora Ejercicios que trabajan la comprensión auditiva (para la versión en inglés).
Elementos interactivos (Puzles, galerías de imágenes, ejercicios, etc.) Anotaciones que han requerido algún tipo de programación especial
Icono audio Se utiliza este icono para escuchar el audio incrustado por página en la versión en inglés y en la bilingüe.

"La compostura del dragón"

Este relato es una adaptación del cuento de Edith Nesbit “The Dragon Tamers”, de la colección The Book of Dragons (1901). Es el sexto cuento del libro ilustrado por H.R. Millar y H. Granville Fell. Hay más cuentos de este libro de dragones en nuestra colección como el que da título al volumen de Calleja “Plaga de Dragones” o “El grumete y la isla encantada”.

The English version of this book is a translation from Plaga de Dragones, a story collection which was published by Saturnino Calleja in 1923. This translation was undertaken collaboratively as part of a crowd translation project which took place at the Spanish distance learning university UNED in 2016, involving translation teachers and students. During the translation process, we tried to reach a balance between being faithful to the Spanish text and bringing it into the 21st century for the enjoyment and learning of modern readers. We feel that the stories are still relevant to you these days and trust that you will find the cultural contrast interesting.

The text has been enriched with a number of annotations including audio, term explanations, and various proposals for activities, which are mainly aimed at young non-native English speakers.

Juan el herrero

Aunque el hierro es un material indispensable para nuestra sociedad, y lo encontramos en la construcción de nuestras ciudades, en vigas, puentes, también en muebles, rejas, o incluso en los objetos más cotidianos, como tuercas, clavos o sartenes, ahora es común que todas estas cosas que hace un herrero de manera artesanal se fabriquen a nivel industrial. Como no queremos que te vayas sin conocer a algún herrero importante, te presentamos al dios romano Vulcano, que utilizaba un volcán como fragua para calentar el hierro y fabricar las armas de los dioses. Aquí lo tienes en el famoso cuadro de Velázquez, La fragua de Vulcano, de 1630.


A contagious illness that causes red spots on the skin and high temperature. Children have it more frequently than adults unless they are vaccinated.

Example: Tommy didn’t go to school when he had measles.


The seed of certain plants which are eaten as a vegetable in stews, soups, salads, or as a side dish.

Example: The smell of the bean stew was delicious.


A person who provides care for somebody else’s children as a paid service.

Example: The nanny told the children a story at bedtime.

Three Wise Men

According to the Christian tradition, the Three Wise Men, Kings or Magi were distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, guided by a star, bearing gifts. They are common figures in Christmas nativity sets, next to the Holy Family and the shepherds.

Example: The names of the Three Wise Men were Melchior, Gaspar and Balthassar.


A chest or piece of furniture for writing with drawers (boxes that slide in and out and are used to hold things). It can have a top that locks with a key and opens upwards.

Example: The old wooden bureau contained old secret documents.


A group of sheep, goats, or birds.

Example: Shepherds take care of their flock.


Why do you think that Rosie and Fabian’s mother doesn’t let them open the two drawers? Try and guess the reason!

We are sure that you know what a bureau is and what it is for. Can you name up to five things that you would typically find in the drawers of a bureau and five things that you would never ever find there?

If you read the text properly, you will notice the word “mayor” does not mean “bigger”. These words are false friends, since the first word does not mean the same in Spanish. There are many false friends in English which sometimes make difficult the understanding of a text.

Can you guess the meaning of these false friends?

carpet / realize / embarrassed / casualty / actual

It could be fun to organize a False Friends contest with your group, where one asks the meaning of a false friend to the rest and the person who guesses the highest number of meanings wins.


We are sure that you know what a bureau is and what it is for. Can you name up to five things that you would typically find in the drawers of a bureau and five things that you would never ever find there?

We are sure that you know what a bureau is and what it is for. Can you name up to five things that you would typically find in the drawers of a bureau and five things that you would never ever find there?

Imagine that you need John’s services to build a dragon’s cage.

Write him a semiformal letter to ask him for information related to his services (price, materials, quality, date of delivery, etc.). Remember to date the letter, add a suitable header, organize the letter in paragraphs, and sign it at the end after saying goodbye.

Shepherds use herding dogs to help them with their work. Dogs help shepherds to control the flock, find lost animals and keep predators away.

Do you know what dog breeds are commonly used for herding?



Listen to this recording of another story and answer the questions below:

Which story does this fragment belong to? Do you know what's happening in the story you just listened to?


Now that yoy have read the whole story of the Shepherd and the snakes, read this brief comic strip of "Little Nemo" by Winsor McCay (1869-1934)

Do you think there are similarities between the stories? Working with a partner, write down as much coincidences as you find.

People in ancient times thought dragons were real... maybe because they found dinosaur fossils?

Imagine you wake up one day and a dragon has moved to your neighbourhood. What would you do? Would you try to get rid of it or would you encourage it to stay? Would you send it abroad or would you lock it up in a high security prison or in a zoo?

Draw a comic strip with the different steps you would take. If you show it to your group, you can use the conditional form, as in: "As can be seen in this comic strip, if a dragon moved to my neighbourhood, I will...".

Try to cook a new dessert with other partners and the help of an adult.

Why don't we all have a taste? You can divide it in small portions and bring it to the classroom the next day so that others can taste it. A small treat to finish this yummy story!

You may use recipes from the Internet, from web pages like: "www.pequerecetas.com". Good luck!

Quince paste and bacon made of egg yolk and syrup custard are not common desserts in Spain. There are many other desserts that you can enjoy in this country. For example, egg custard; creme brulee, where the caramelized sugar is slightly burnt and forms a crusty surface; and rice pudding, with milk and cinnamon.

Which is your favourite dessert? Write an original recipe, with your secret tricks that make it special. Use your own words but don't forget to express the cooking steps in the imperative, as in: "Peel 2 big red apples. Cut them in thin slices...".

Giants have been common in many folk tales since ancient times. One of the most famous giants in folk history was called Polyphemus. Do you know anything about the story of Polyphemus and Odysseus Find out!?

As you have read, Johnny managed to deceive the dragon and chain it up. Did you notice if the dragon had been deceived before in the story?


Most of the castles in Europe have a prison or dungeon to lock up outlaws.

The prison could also be used for other purposes. For example, after the death of Edward IV of England, his sons were locked up in the Tower of London by their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in order to keep the throne for himself. Since then, nobody knew anything about the sons of Edward IV.

In the story, the mayor opened a public fund to celebrate John's victory. However, they spent the money on a party focussed on glorifying the mayor. Is this fair? If you were the mayor of John's town, how would you have spent the money?

Giants are beings of human appearance but enormous size and strength. They are common in mythology and legends of many different cultures.

Giants are always depicted as peasants with very rustic appearance and manners. Imagine what giants would look like nowadays and describe them briefly.

This old snake seems to be the king of the other snakes. Many kings in fantastic stories must have done great achievements to be worthy of their position. Can you imagine what this old snake has down to deserve the throne?

Write the story of the old snake's past. Include the place and circumstances of its birth, which obstacles and enemies it encountered and defeated, and its path to the throne.

Let's be careful with our prejudices. The snake in your story does not have to be wicked if you don't want to!

La fragua

Una fragua es un “fogón” o una estructura que sirve para hacer fuego y calentar el hierro en él, pero aquí se refiere al propio taller del herrero que contiene una fragua dentro.

En pasar recibo

Un recibo es un documento que sirve para comprobar que se ha pagado algo. En este caso, como el castillo está abandonado, Juan y su familia viven en él sin que nadie les reclame dinero por ello. Por eso, la frase “nadie se ocupaba en pasar recibo” significa que nadie les alquilaba el castillo ni les pedía nada a cambio por vivir en él.

Había dado en la flor

“Dar en la flor” es una expresión que significa tener la costumbre de decir o hacer algo. Aquí se usa para explicar que el bebé tenía la costumbre de no dejarles dormir porque lloraba por las noches.

Su mujer hacía labor

“Hacer labor”, en este caso, se refiere a hacer un trabajo con hilo, a mano o a máquina, como puede ser bordar, coser o tejer. Es una de las actividades a las que tradicionalmente se han dedicado las mujeres.

Una lata llena de guijarros

Los guijarros son piedras o rocas muy pulidas por el tiempo y la erosión. Se pueden encontrar en la mayoría de sitios. En el cuento dicen que el dragón al moverse sonaba como una lata llena de guijarros ¿Cómo te imaginas tú eso? Escoge un objeto familiar e intenta describir su sonido en un papel nombrando sonidos parecidos pero poco comunes. Luego pide a alguien que adivine cuál es el objeto que has escogido. ¡A ver si lo descubren!

Que le compusiera el ala derecha

Esta frase tan sencilla significa que el dragón le pide a Juan que le arregle el ala metálica. Fíjate que esta frase da título al cuento en español “La compostura del dragón”.


“Alimaña” es una manera despectiva de referirse a un animal que es horroroso o dañino y produce repulsión. Si te fijas, esta alimaña es muy peculiar porque además es metálica. En el cuento, al dragón le faltan tornillos, sus alas están compuestas por placas metálicas, es pesado y hace ruido de “lata llena de guijarros”. Con esta descripción más que un dragón parece un robot destartalado ¿Cómo te imaginas tú a una alimaña? ¿Puedes dibujarla?

En esta colección también aparecen otros animales mecánicos o criaturas artificiales, ¿te acuerdas de alguno? Te damos una pista: en el cuento de "Una ciudad de libros", por ejemplo, aparecía algún ratón mecánico. A ver si los encuentras.

Dar una prenda

¿Sabes qué significa “dar una prenda”? Es dejar algo a cambio de otra cosa, como en custodia. Es una garantía para que el otro se fíe de que volverás a buscarlo.

Llamarse Andana

“Llamarse Andana” es una expresión que significa librarse de un castigo o un deber u obligación, también es retractarse de algo dicho o prometido. Aquí se utiliza simplemente para explicar que el alcalde y los demás se excusan y evitan auxiliar a Juan el herrero que ha acudido en busca de ayuda.

¿Habías oído alguna vez esta expresión? Quizá no la conozcas, pero hubo un tiempo en el que era una especie de ley por la cual una persona se podía acoger a la protección de la Iglesia eludiendo la justicia, algo así como cuando alguien pide asilo diplomático hoy en día en algún país o embajada.

En este cuento en concreto podemos encontrar multitud de expresiones castellanas. Te proponemos un pequeño juego: aquí tienes algunas expresiones, a ver si aciertas su significado.

Llegar y besar el santo
Miel sobre hojuelas
Que si quieres arroz Catalina
Seguir en sus trece

Puso el grito en el cielo

Seguro que has oído en alguna ocasión la expresión “poner el grito en el cielo”. Este tipo de expresiones se siguen utilizando a menudo. En este caso significa protestar por algo con indignación y muchas veces alzando la voz.

Corona de laurel

La corona de laurel (una especie de diadema hecha de ramas de laurel) era una distinción que se le otorgaba como premio en honor al dios Apolo a personas destacadas en algún campo como la poesía o las artes en la antigua Grecia.

Posteriormente en Roma se utilizaba como símbolo de triunfo y de gloria relacionadas con las victoria en la guerra. En el cuento, al pobre Juan sólo le queda el símbolo de la corona de laurel pues el resto de la recompensa y el dinero se lo acaba gastando el alcalde en fiestas que sirven para homenajearse a sí mismo ¿Crees que es una buena actitud para un alcalde?


La de hojalatero, al igual que el herrero, también es una profesión o que ha caído en desuso. El hojalatero era el que fabricaba y arreglaba toda clase de utensilios producidos con este metal como aceiteras, tapones, latas o juguetes.

En otros cuentos de esta colección también han salido otras profesiones que quizás no te suenen tanto. ¿Recuerdas lo que hace un sillero, un pregonero, un vinatero, un sereno, un barquillero, un telefonista o un acomodador? Aquí te dejamos unas cuantas imágenes de felicitaciones de Navidad tradicionales de distintos oficios que tampoco son muy comunes hoy en día:


Una clava es una especie de palo de madera, como una porra o maza, más grueso por el extremo superior y más fino por la empuñadura. Es el arma característica del valiente y fuerte héroe de la mitología grecolatina Hércules (o Heracles). Con ella, además, se enfrentó en el segundo de sus doce trabajos a la Hidra, una bestia monstruosa parecida al dragón, que tenía alas, cuerpo de serpiente y muchas cabezas.

El gigante aquí también pega al dragón con su clava. ¿No te parece irónica la coincidencia? Te dejamos una pequeña galería de imágenes que representan esta conocida escena.

Consintió en que le encadenaran, y así quedó resuelta la cuestión.

En este cuento acaban venciendo al dragón a través de la inteligencia y la astucia. Juanito consigue engañar a un dragón muy poco fiero y un poco comodón; acaba encadenándole, como su padre, gracias a su ingenio.

En el mundo animal parece reinar la ley del más fuerte, pero a veces la intención y la inteligencia son suficientes para conseguir mucho más. Este ha sido el tema de muchas fábulas y cuentos. Aquí puedes escuchar el ejemplo del famoso cuento de El Gato con botas, en el que el gato hace uso de su inteligencia para ir consiguiendo hazañas y lograr vencer a un ogro.

Carne de membrillo y tocino de cielo

La carne de membrillo es un dulce tradicional hecho a base de membrillo y azúcar. En el norte de España se suele servir como postre acompañado de queso. El tocino de cielo es un postre hecho con yema de huevo y azúcar y de un color amarillo intenso.

Si no conocías estos postres, pregunta a los mayores de la familia si los han probado y cuáles son sus favoritos. ¿Os animáis a hacerlos juntos?

Fue el descendiente de todos los gatos actuales

¿Te lo esperabas? Este Dragón desde el principio era muy casero y parecía que estaba muy a gusto en los sótanos del castillo, tanto que ha perdido su coraza metálica y se ha convertido en un gatito que toma leche y pan. Ahora ya puedes contarle la historia de dónde vienen los gatos a todos cuando tengas la oportunidad. ¡Quizás no sepan que en realidad son familia de los dragones más perezosos!


El sifón es una botella de un litro que muchas veces contenía una especie de gaseosa.


Hablar – o aquí gritar – al unísono quiere decir que todos gritan lo mismo a la vez.


El sacristán es la persona que ayuda al cura, y se encarga de cuidar y limpiar la iglesia.

Los transportes

Se da por sabido que lo que le pide el cura al sacristán es que enganche el caballo al carro para llevar a los niños a casa. Actualmente, uno de los mayores problemas de las grandes ciudades es la cantidad de coches que hay en ellas. ¡Es difícil aparcar y hay grandes atascos! Casi todas las familias ahora tienen un coche para desplazarse pero antiguamente había muy pocos coches y antes aún, no había automóviles, sino coches tirados por caballos. Investiga en Internet y coméntalo con tus abuelos u otras personas mayores ¿Ellos tenían coche? ¿Cómo se desplazaban cuando eran jóvenes?

Ilustración de sir John Tenniel (1820-1914), para la novela original de Alicia en el País de las Maravillas (1865), de Lewis Carroll.

El sueño del vuelo

¿Has soñado alguna vez con volar? ¿Cómo fue la sensación en tu sueño?
Y si no lo has soñado nunca, ¿cómo te lo imaginas? ¡Dibuja tu sueño o el vuelo más alocado y mágico que te imagines!

El final del cuento

¿Te parece justo para Eufemia y Enrique el final del cuento? Piensa sobre por qué los adultos no agradecen a los niños su hazaña e imagina un final diferente para el cuento. Puedes poner por escrito ese final aquí.


¿Cómo eran los juguetes de tus padres y abuelos? Pregúntales si tuvieron algunos de estos.


Something that is made, sent out, or published.

Example: The man sold all his old issues of comics from when he was a child.

The crying baby was annoying the dragon and it decided to give the baby to his mother.

Imagine that you are in charge of a baby and he starts crying. What would you do? Write down three ideas based on what you know and the experiences you have. Share them with your group and select the most imaginative and/or effective one.


Imagine you and your partners are members of the city Council during the plague of dragons in the story. Each one of you must choose a role from the following list and start a discussion:

  1. Mayor: S/he wants to eliminate he plague but without harming anybody and without destroying any buildings or property.
  2. Militar advisor: S/he wants to eliminate the plague no matter what to ensure that the main objective is reached.
  3. Scientific advisor: S/he doesn't want to eliminate the plague in order study the dragons and protect the people at the same time.

Rosie and Fabian use a six-sided puzzle to make a castle. Each side contains a beautiful picture. Go to the webpage of a famous museum and select six paintings that you like, each one corresponding to the following famous painters:

  1. Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 15th century)
  2. Peter Paul Rubens (German, 17th century)
  3. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 17th century)
  4. Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 19th century)
  5. Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 20th century)
  6. Salvador Dali (Spanish, 20th century)


A weapon that consists of a knife attached to the front end of a rifle.

Example: Bayonets were used in close fighting long ago.


A heavy sword with one sharp curved edge.

Example: My grandfather has a sabre on the wall from the Mexican war.


Shepherds entertain themselves in many different ways. What do you think the shepherd in the story is doing in the picture below? Do you know who painted it?



A plank; a flat, cut piece of wood.

Example: The child fixed small wheels to the board and then jumped on it.


Alquicel: Es una palabra que viene del árabe y se refiere a un tipo de vestidura a modo de capa, que normalmente era blanca y de lana.

Si quieres conocer qué otras palabras son de origen árabe, utiliza el diccionario e investiga: ¿Son de origen árabe estas palabras: “alcohol”, “almohada”, “aleta”, “alcázar”, “alcaldía”, “alhelí” y “altura”?


A grey metal which is very heavy.

Example: That shield is made of lead to protect the doctor against radiation.


The gathering of ripe crops or plants grown on a farm.

Example: Summer is the time of year when the farmers harvest their wheat.

Rebecca at the well

A story from the Bible which narrates how a woman called Rebecca was chosen to be Isaac’s wife by his father’s servant because she was by a particular well and said and did what he was expecting, which he interpreted to be a sign of God.

Daoiz and Velarde

Two Spanish captains who raised against French Napoleonic occupation and rule, and fought in a famous and decisive battle which took place in Madrid on May 2nd 1808.

By heart

Using the memory.

Example: The child learnt the song by heart for the festival.


A famous Spanish legal dictionary written by lawyer Marcelo Martínez Alcubilla in the 19th century.

Divine Comedy

A long narrative poem by 14th century Italian author Dante Alighieri. It is considered to be one of the greatest works of world literature.

Blacksmithery has been part of most human cultures since Neolithic times. Traditionally, blacksmiths worked 'soft' metals with a hammer and an anvil, after softening them in an oven or recipient at a high temperature. In modern times, the tools have changed and improved greatly.

Working with a partner, imagine that one of you is John and the other one is John's wife. John has arrived home and told the story to his wife. John thinks they should get rid of the dragon, but his wife thinks they should set it free.

Before starting the discussion, write down three arguments to defend your position and at least two disadvantages of your opponent's.

This word is the female form of "shepherd". As you can see, it is the same word but with the sufix "-ess". You can find other examples of this use in words like "countess" and "heiress".

Also, there are other more common ways to refer to professionals who are women. For example, what do you call a woman who is a doctor?

A she-doctor


A female doctor




La ciudad en la biblioteca, en la ciudad en la biblioteca

Los escritores utilizan muchos trucos para hacer sus historias interesantes. En este caso, la autora hace que los juguetes y los espacios de juego que construyen los niños cobren vida y se hagan reales dentro de la historia. ¿Conoces otros cuentos en los que ocurra hacen algo parecido?

Aquí tienes un ejemplo muy famoso:

El soldadito de plomo

Ran out of

To use up the entire amount of something.

Example: It was such a hot day that we ran out of drinks.


Manuel Rivadeneyra (1805-1872) fue un editor e impresor español que desde 1846 trató de reunir las obras clásicas de la literatura española en una colección que se llamó la Biblioteca de Autores Españoles.

El ratón mecánico

Otro truco para hacer una buena historia es jugar con los narradores y el origen del cuento. Nuestro narrador ha escuchado la historia que acabamos de leer de uno de los personajes del cuento. ¿No es un poco raro? ¿Te fiarías tú de lo que cuente un ratón mecánico?

Inventa una historia con un narrador poco fiable ¡pero divertido!

The wizard is described as a fierce man, but in the book's illustration you can see that he doesn't seem to be too fierce. How do you imagine a man "terrible as a wild beast" and with "three eyes"?

Draw your own version of the fierce wizard of the story. You can add other elements like warts or long hair. Just follow the information in the story and your own imagination!


Make a list of places related to the different types of weather mentioned in this paragraph. For example, you can relate Egypt with the sun and England with the rain. Think of other examples from other continents too.

How can a dragon have missing screws? In the case of humans, it is common to have implants and protheses to fix physical problems.

Wood, due to its moldability and lightness, was a popular material. Metal was used too when resistance was important. Here you can see a prosthetic toe from ancient Egypt:

Nowadays, technology has advanced and there are new metal alloys that can help to create prosthetic limbs. Furthermore, 3D printing has opened new possibilities in the field of prosthetic limbs.

What a messy situation! It looks like a bloody battle is about to start in the middle of Rosie and Fabian’s library! Luckily, the monkey and the mouse are sensible and have an idea to put a stop to all this nonsense.

How would the monkey or the mouse persuade them not to fight? Elaborate a small speech of reconciliation as one of them. First, write it down and then rehearse it orally.

All throughout this story there are two scenarios: a real one in Rosie and Fabian’s library and an imaginary one in a medieval city which is about to become a battlefield… which is inside the library! Where are the children right now: still in the battlefield or back in the library?


A long, loose, outer garment without sleeves that is used as a coat, to protect the wearer from the cold.

Example: The wizard had a purple cloak with stars on it.


North African Muslims.

Example: In the Middle Ages the Moors introduced many new scientific techniques to Spain and the rest of Europe.

Wheeled Board

A plank with wheels underneath. It can be a skateboard, which is a flat, short, narrow board that has four wheels on the bottom and is used for practising a sport.

Example: It is more fun to stand on your skateboard than to sit on it.


A famous Spanish editor who lived in the 19th century, who published many Spanish works and collections with high quality.

Listen again to this sentence. Do you feel something peculiar in the narrator's intonation? What do you think the narrator is trying to express with her intonation?


As we have just read, a dragon has suddenly appeared in the blacksmith's cellar. How do you think it arrived there?


The giant and the dragon are about to start a fight. Work with a partner: one of you will be giant, who wants to destroy the city, and the other one will be the dragon, who wants to defend it.

Think of three arguments to defend your position. Then, argue with your partner using fragments like: "Have you thought about ... ?", "It could be better if ..." or "I'm convinced that...". Use the expression that is more adequate depending on whether you want to sound stronger or more conciliatory.

Once you have reached an agreement, make a summary of the debate, preferably with your partner, and present it to the rest of the group. Use reported speech for your summary, with fragments like the following: "First, the dragon said that... Then, the giant replied that... The dragon noted that... but the giant reminded it that...". Be careful with the coherence of the different verbal tenses that you use for this summary.

Johnny and his friends collaborate to make their town a better place to live in.

Think of what you would change in the town where you live to make it better. Present these opinions to the group and then the ideas you have to solve these problems.

This is the end of the story. Rosie and Fabian are sick in bed. In their feverish sleep, they have a nightmare about being judged in court for having been disobedient and reckless. Distribute the roles at court among the members of your group:

  • The accused (Rosie and Fabian)
  • The witnesses (the Moors and the Spanish soldiers and chiefs)
  • The prosecutor (the monkey on the wheeled board)
  • The defendant (the mechanical mouse)
  • The magistrates (Rosie and Fabian’s parents)

Try to follow the main norms in a real court situation (respect to the magistrates’ indications, turn taking, etc.) and come out with a sentence.

Don’t forget to finish the role play by waking Rosie and Fabian up at the end!


Calm, self-control.

Example: She managed to keep her composure during the difficult test.


A place, a workshop where a blacksmith makes things out of metal.

Example: In his forge, the blacksmith had lots of hammers and other tools.


Parts left; the rest.

Example: There are no remains of the sandwich. You were really hungry!

Took responsibility for (take responsibility for)

To be in charge, in command.

Example: I'll take responsibility for paying for the broken window since it was my idea to kick the ball that way.

Entrusted (entrust)

To give someone the responsibility for doing something.

Example: They entrusted me with collecting the money for the field trip.


A task that takes very little skill or talent.

Example: I think it is relaxing to do menial work like, for example, doing the washing up by hand.

Blade of grass

One single piece of grass.

Example: There was a drop of water hanging from a blade of grass.

Turn to him (turn to someone)

Go to someone for help.

Example: Students can always turn to their teachers when they have doubts.

Depriving his parents of (deprive someone of something)

To take something away from someone that is necessary for them.

Example: During the Civil War, many children were deprived of proper food.

Burst into tears

Suddenly start crying.

Example: The baby always bursts into tears whenever he is tired or hungry.


A room underneath the house, usually to keep food and drinks cool and fresh.

Example: He went down to the cellar to get a new bottle of wine.

Spiral staircase

Stairs that turn around as you climb them.

Example: The princess lived at the top of a tall tower and you had to climb a long spiral staircase to get there.

Dared to (dare to)

To have the courage to do something.

Example: Because I am a bit shy, I did not dare to ask the teacher my question in class, so I waited until after the other students had left.

By mere chance

Only accidentally.

Example: By mere chance, I met an old friend in the supermarket yesterday.

Made their blood run cold (make someone's blood run cold)

An expression that means that you become very scared by something.

Example: On our way home at night, we heard a terrible scream that made our blood run cold.

Purring (purr)

The sound that cats make when they are happy.

Example: The cat was purring happily while I was petting her.


A small round stone.

Example: She likes collecting pebbles from the beach.

Have mercy on (someone)

To show forgiveness; to be nice to someone who did something wrong.

Example: The teacher had mercy on the student and gave him a second chance to give the right answer.


A long, round, thin piece of metal with a pointy end that is used to fix two pieces together.

Example: The carpenter put all the parts of the wardrobe together with screws.

Chain you up (chain somebody up)

To tie something or someone with a series of metal rings.

Example: The lion must be chained up so that it cannot attack us.

Listen to John asking for mercy. Do you feel something different in the narrator's intonation while talking as John? What do you think the narrator is trying to express with her intonation?



To go and get something or someone.

Example: Could you fetch me my coat?

Laid (lay)

To put down.

Example: The hen laid an egg in its nest.


To scream or cry very loudly.

Example: There is a popular belief that wolves howl at the moon.

Leaves me alone (leave someone alone)

To not interact with someone; to stay away from someone.

Example: Go away! Leave me alone!

Growled (growl)

To make a deep, angry sound in your throat.

Example: The lion growled loudly.

Nothing would come from it (nothing comes from it)

Nothing happens as a result of trying something.

Example: The prisoners tried their best to escape, but nothing came from it.


A magician, a person who practices magic.

Example: Merlin, the wizard, was king Arthur's advisor and tutor.

Laurel crown

A crown made of laurel leaves.

Example: The winner of the competition received a laurel crown as a sign of honour and victory.

Locked up (lock up)

To shut a place so that nobody can get in or out.

Example: I was locked up in the lift for five minutes.

Polish him off (polish someone off)

To kill or defeat.

Example: Water pollution can polish off all forms of sea life if we don't take any action.

Set the dragon free (set someone free)

To liberate someone.

Example: We rescued a bird with a broken wing, and when it was fit again, we set it free in the forest.


A type of weapon; a big stick with a heavy end used to hit people in the Middle Ages.

Example: The knights hit each other with their bludgeons during the fight.

Gobble up

To eat something very quickly.

Example: I was very hungry and gobbled up my dinner in five minutes.

Unchained (unchain)

Not tied by a series of linked metal rings anymore; free.

Example: When they discovered that the prisoner was innocent, he was immediately unchained.

Held a meeting (hold a meeting)

To organize an assembly.

Example: At the end of each term, teachers hold a meeting to discuss the students' attitude and exam results.

Appoint him mayor (appoint someone something)

To assign someone a role or a job.

Example: The teacher appointed me the representative of the class.


Now, at this time.

Example: Who is the current king of Spain? Felipe VI.

Summoned (summon)

To call; to make someone come to you.

Example: The king summoned his best knights to discuss the plan.

Thought it over (think something over)

To think about something for a while.

Example: I'm not sure; I'll have to think it over.

Let alone

Especially not.

Example: I can't run as fast as my dog, let alone as fast as a leopard.

Issue was settled (settle an issue)

To finish a problem by finding the solution.

Example: There was a problem in class today, but the teacher quickly settled the issue, and we continued with the lesson.

Quince paste

A sweet, thick jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit.

Example: My mum makes quince paste and we eat it with cheese for dessert.

Egg yolk

The yellow part of the egg.

Example: Separate the egg yolk from the egg white.


A yellowish dessert or sweet sauce made with milk and eggs.

Example: I love apple tart with hot custard.

Played a trick on (play a trick on someone)

To confuse someone without them noticing.

Example: At Fools' Day, the children amused themselves by playing tricks on their friends.


To become covered in rust (a red-brown coating of oxide that is formed on iron over time).

Example: This is an old bike that we found at the bottom of the river. Can you see all the rust?


Not wild; used to living with people; not dangerous.

Example: The animals we have at home (dogs, cats, birds) are all tame.

A token of its appreciation (a token of appreciation)

A sign or gesture that shows that you are grateful for something.

Example: As a token of appreciation for a very nice dinner, my friends bought me a bouquet of flowers.


The deepest part of something.

Example: Gold and oil come from the depths of the Earth.

Curled up (curl up)

To lie down as if in a little ball, with your back curved and your arms and legs close to your body.

Example: Cats like to curl up in front of a warm fire.

Turn into

To change into something else.

Example: The wizard turned the boy into a mouse.

Kept your nose out of
(keep your nose out of)

A place (in the ground or in a church) where people are buried when they are dead.

An expression, not to interfere in someone else's matters.

Not to get involved in something that is not yours; to tell someone to respect our privacy.

Example: Keep your nose out of my diary! It's private.


To involve, to have to do with something or someone.

Example: What I write in my diary does not concern you!


Happy, content.

Example: He was pleased with his grades this term.