Pedagogical File

Pedagogical File : Don Quixote
The pedagogical file accompanies the ebook. It is intended for teachers, trainers, cultural workers and speech therapists. It aims to facilitate the design of workshops to discover the digital books of the Bibliodos project.

Table of Contents


‘Don Quixote’ is, by far, recognised as the most influential and celebrated novel in Spanish Literature. The book has been translated in more than 60 languages, and is still being printed, centuries later. It has brought some of the most important literary debates since the 18th century. The personas of Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza are familiar to more people than most other imaginary characters (source). Furthermore, the tale is regarded as critical in the birth of the novel genre in literary history (source).  

The author : Miguel de Cervantes  

Miguel de Cervantes (born in 1547, died in 1616 in Madrid) was a Spanish novelist, playwright and poet. He is most famous for writing in 1605 the first part of ‘Don Quixote’, a parodic tale of chivalry novels. Born to a relatively poor family, Cervantes left Spain in 1569, after rumours of his involvement in an illegal duel. The following years, he joined the Spanish army to fight against Turkish sea military, then later in Tunis, Sardinia, Naples, etc. On his return to Spain, his ship was captured by pirates, and him and his brother were sold into slavery in Algiers. It would take 5 years for his family to gather the ransom money. During his captivity, he made 4 escape attempts and freed numerous slaves. His audacity and bravery were one of the reasons why his treatment was fair; Hassan Pacha, his captor, was impressed by his efforts. His adventurous youth is said to have inspired the plot of Don Quixote, drawing elements from the author’s life.  

Once returned, he decided to lead a quiet and uneventful life. He struggled to find employment for a long period of time, and was finally hired as a ‘commissary of provision’ or more commonly known as a ‘tax collector’ for the ‘Invincible Armada’. There, he travelled throughout Spain to repossess corn and oil from rural communities. His working relations with peasants gave him the inspiration behind the character Sancho Panza, the squire of Don Quixote.  

After the gruesome defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1580, he travelled to Sevilla, in search of employment. Over the next few decades, he struggled to secure employment, but kept a hand in literature. He wrote various plays, won poetry awards, and even got commissioned for some. By the early 1600’s, Cervantes faced financial difficulties and spent a few years in jail where he began to work on Don Quixote. By 1604, he completed his piece and sold the rights of his story to a publisher, Francisco de Robles. The book was published in 1605 and was an immediate success. Cervantes, however, did not make any consequent profit, having sold the rights of his book. He spent the next 10 years of his life as a writer, producing plays and short novels, though none were as successful as Don Quixote. He also wrote the second part of the novel in 1615. He died in 1616, with a clear head. (sources 1, 2, 3, 4)

The literary work: Don Quixote de la Mancha 

The literary genre 

Don Quixote is often considered to be the first ‘modern novel’, establishing the genre and therefore influencing all that followed. It is a parody of romantic chivalry stories. Within the novel genre, it can be categorized as a comic novel, but also a Picaresque novel. ‘Picaresque’ comes from the term ‘Picaro’ which signifies ‘rogue’. It is a style of prose fiction which depicts the adventures of ‘roguish’ heroes, hereby, Don Quixote. Despite being deeply rooted in his personal experiences and observation of his time and society, Don Quixote is a work of fiction.  

The European dimension (inspiration, literary current, posterity) 

Cervantes tried his hand in nearly all the literary genres popular at the time. He enjoyed writing poetry but was not so successful. He also wrote several plays which were tolerated but pale comparison of his contemporaries. His speciality lied in narrative novels, inspired from his life, but also the settings of the country he lived in. The might and downfall of the Spanish forces greatly influenced his tale. 

The list of work influenced by Don Quixote is long. There has been direct adaptation of the work, whether it is through plays, poems, operas, etc. but also an array of work influenced by just chapters of the stories, specific characters or general themes. Shakespeare himself was inspired by Cardenio’s love and dismay story. There is more than four dozen literary works drawing direct inspiration in the work of Cervantes.  

In the music fields, a series of opera and ballet have been created around the famous Don Quixote. In the visual department, Don Quixote has also inspired many around the globe. The fame of the novel even went as far as Japan, with an anime called: ‘Don Quixote: Takes of La Mancha’ produced in 1980 by the Ashi Production.  

Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Gustave Doré, any numerous other artists, painters and illustrators were inspired by Don Quixote’s adventure.  

The main questions/problems of the time addressed 

Cervantes situates Don Quixote’s character in his current time, rural Spain in the sixteen hundreds. He mentions real places, actual cities and cultural monuments. He also refers to current political affairs of the time (Spain’s conflict with the Moors,…) as well as various issues such as religion, and socio-economics. He strongly criticizes the class structure in Spain, as the concept of ‘nobility’ was considered more important than education of the lower classes. We can see such criticism in the characters played by the Duke and Duchess, arrogant and malicious versus the wise and thoughtfulness of the common folk of Sancho and his wife.  

The eBook: Don Quixote de la Mancha 

The gallery of characters 

  • Don Quixote de la Mancha: The novel’s hero. His real name is Alonso Quixano, he is 50 years old. Honest, dignified, proud and idealistic, he loses his grip on reality after reading too many books of chivalry, and decides to become an errant knight. He is seen as a ridiculous yet lovable man who has just lost his wits.  
  • Sancho Panza: A peasant labourer who accompanies the hero. He is faithful to Don Quixote but cowardly and greedy. He travels on a mule. He is also surprisingly wise and insightful.   
  • Rocinante: An old and tired slow horse who is Don Quixote’s ride.  
  • Dulcinea del Toboso: The muse of Don Quixote. She is not a physical character that appears in the book, but rather the inspiration and driving force of Don Quixote’s efforts.   
  • The Duke and Duchess: Cruel, bored, and arrogant, the Duke and Duchess host Don Quixote and Sancho for a while. They play games on them.  
  • Samson Carrasco: A student from Don Quixote’s village. He is proud and self-important. He tricks Don Quixote into fighting him to try and convince him to stop his chivalry adventures. He dresses up as a knight.
  • The priest and The Barber: Friends of Don Quixote, they do not approve of his errant adventures. They plot on multiple occasions to get him home.  
  • Cardenio: Young man who is broken in love with Lucinda who married Fernando. He goes a little mad but ends up with his love.   
  • Lucinda: Love interest of Cardenio. She was forced to marry Fernando, which Cardenio doesn’t know.  
  • Fernando: Lucinda’s husband who also promised to marry Dorothe. He and Cardenio were friends but he betrayed him.  
  • Dorothe: Young girl who searches for Fernando, who broke a promise to her. She helps Don Quixote’s friends to play the ‘Princess of Micomicone’ to trick Don Quixote into coming home.  


The story of Don Quixote takes place in Spain and starts in the region of La Mancha. He will take 3 trips throughout his journey, for a total of almost 780km. La Mancha is an arid, deserted, and monotonous region, with high summer heatwaves which shows a complete contrast with classical chivalry novels that are usually green and luscious.  

The duo also goes through the Sierra Morena which is a mountain range stretching over 450km in central Spain. In the Spanish culture and tradition, the Sierra Morena has a strong legendary atmosphere, with stories of bandits and thieves. Don Quixote then goes to Barcelona, major city in Spain, where he sees the sea for the first time.  

Iconography in the ebook 

Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was a French artist, illustrator, caricaturist and sculptor who was behind the, probably most famous, illustrations of Don Quixote. He created more than 200 illustrations for this novel (source). His work in the 1860’s, is said to have influenced the way Don Quixote’s physical looks is portrayed today by stage and film directors. He is famous for other illustration work such as Rabelais, Balzac, Dante, but also Lord Byron and Edgar Allan Poe. In 1866, he illustrated (wood carving) a version of the Bible that was a great success (source).

The reading workshop 


Activity:  A Knight and his squire  

Entry activity in eBook 


  • Extracts from Don Quixote’s numerous movie/series adaptations (movie, series, operas, soundtrack, etc), 
  • Cardboard or A3 sheet,  
  • Markers, pens and pencils,  
  • An image of a knight and his squire from the internet,  
  • An image of Don Quixote and Sancho from Dore’s illustrations.   
Terms and Conditions


Before the session: 

  • Prepare the projector and the different movie shorts that were selected to introduce the era.  
  • Distribute the cardboard or A3 sheets and markers to the participants.  

In the workshop:  

  • Play the various video extracts and shorts from the Don Quixote adaptation to the classroom.  
  • Break students into smaller groups.  
  • Ask participants to illustrate (for non-writers level students), or describe in words the different characteristics (costumes, clothes, atmosphere, etc) of the period they observed in the extracts. Bear in mind that the answers might vary depending on the cultural origins or the participants.  
  • Get involved with the groups to help participants formulate their ideas and explain their vision of the period.  
  • Then, focus on key vocabulary that could be useful for future reading, such as ‘knight’, ‘castle’, ‘horse’ etc. Name the words for non-reading/writing audience, and write the key words for stronger groups. You can leave the keywords on the board during the activity as an option. 
  • Then, present the image of the knight and his squire and the image of Don Quixote and Sancho side by side. Gather the first impressions the participants have when they see both images. What makes Don Quixote and Sancho different from the other knight and squire?  
  • For little or non-speaking audience, allow them to point out the differences directly on the photos if they do not have the vocabulary, the teacher can then name the characteristics.  

This activity can be based solely on finding the differences between classic images of the medieval period, and that of Dore’s illustration of Don Quixote, in a form of “find the 7 differences” game. Print several images of knights, horses, castles, shields, etc. and find the relevant correlated images in Dore’s illustration. Then, place them side by side, and ask the participants to find the differences. Students with little to no speaking skills will be able to pin point the difference, and stronger students will have to explain their thinking.  


Activity 1A knight’s journey 

Preparation activity for global understanding 


  • A large map of Spain with the main cities and areas. The map should ideally look authentic to the time of the book and have the key places of the books as well as others non-related ones,  
  • Different labels (with images for non and little readers) with means of transportation (horse, mule, on foot, boat, carriage, but also car, bus, planes etc…), 
  • Different labels (with images for non and little readers) with locations in the story (an inn, the forest, a castle, but also a casino, the jungle, etc).  
Terms and Conditions

Before the session: 

  • Prepare and distribute the maps and the series of labels to each group of students.  
  • Hand out the various stickers with the means of transportation. 

In the workshop:  

This activity takes place before the first reading of the eBook.  

  • Split your students into small groups depending on the classroom size. Hand out the map of Spain and give them some time to study the map.  
  • Ask your students to imagine the journey of Don Quixote and Sancho throughout Spain. They can use the pen to draw the direction and link the cities and places. Then ask them to identify which means of transport they used. At this point, the labels will be especially relevant for students with little to no speaking skills. Then ask them to use the location labels throughout their itinerary.  
  • As the historical timing of the location was set in the previous activity (medieval period), students will discuss why they think one mean of transport and location is more appropriate than others. For example, why a carriage fits the medieval time better than a car. 
  • Encourage groups to share their itinerary and why they picked that specific mode of transportation and location. Allow for discussion and comments.   
  • There are no right or wrong answers, as students do not know yet which way the protagonists will go.  

Activity 2: Don Quixote’s portrait 

Global understanding activity 


  • Large portrait of Don Quixote,  
  • For L1 and L2 groups, key images of the moments where Don Quixote displays his madness, 
  • A3 sheets, pens and pencils. 
Terms and Conditions

Before the session: 

  • Print the portrait of Don Quixote. The image should be taken from Doré’s illustration.  
  • Distribute the A3 sheets and tools to the different groups. 

In the workshop:  

This activity takes place after the reading of the first part of the eBook. Give the instructions beforehand. 

  • Before the reading, show the portrait of Don Quixote (the first image of the eBook is best) and ask the students to brainstorm key words and ideas based on the image. What does the image makes them think of? The teacher can gather the answer (on the board for reading audience). If the learners have little to no speaking skills, ask the students to point what they see in the image that intrigues them, and the teacher can name what they are pointing at.  
  • Then, explain to the group the purpose of this first reading, discovering who is Don Quixote and what makes him so special.  
  • Provide time for participants to read Part I of the eBooks, focusing on the Don Quixote’s behaviour. This reading is done, initially, without audio for levels 1 and 2. 
  • Split the group into sub-group, and engage the discussion. What did they understand from the introduction? Who is Don Quixote? Who is Sancho? What happens with the windmills? Depending on your classroom’s level, structure your questions appropriately. 
  • Allow some time for a second reading, with the support of the audio for level 1 and 2 this time.  
  • Then, write on the board (or ask for little and non-readers) some questions such as: ‘Is Don Quixote a knight?’ and ask the classroom to share their opinion.  
  • For students with L1 or L2 levels, allow them to use the images of the eBook to justify their reasoning.  
  • For groups with stronger comprehension skills, ask participants to place Don Quixote’s persona within the medieval context of the 16th century. The point here is to facilitate an exchange surrounding specific cultural aspects of European medieval history. Focus on the ideas of chivalry, fighting, marriage… 

Activity 3Cardenio and the Duke 

Fine tuning activity 


  • Images of the characters in the ‘Cardenio arc’ of the eBook. 
  • Images of the characters in the ‘Duke and Duchess arc’ of the eBook.   
Terms and Conditions


Before the session: 

  • Show the pictures with a projector or distribute them amongst participants.  

In the workshop:  
This activity takes place after the reading of the second and third part of the eBook. Give out the instructions and group structure beforehand.  

  • Divide the classroom in two. Half of the students will work on Part II and the other half on Part III. Participants will have to focus on specific events and characters of the story.  
  • Allow time for Group A to read Part II of the eBooks, focusing on the events that led to meeting Cardenio and his friends. Group B will focus on Part III, the Duke and Duchess arc. This reading is done, initially, without audio for levels 1 and 2. 
  • Once the reading is complete, give them some time, in groups to discuss what they remember from the reading, gathering information and sharing with their partners. Then, ask students to explain the relations between the characters, their roles in each other’s live. Who is Cardenio to Don Quixote? Who is Lucinda to Dorothe? How are the Duke and Duchess? Who is Samson Carrosco? There are clear links between these characters, and here, students will be able to discuss them.  
  • For students with little to no speaking skills, use the images and ask the students to connect them together to show the links.  

Note: Do not print a series of images on one side, then names on the others. Linking and connecting is not DYS friendly. Rather, let the participant arrange the images however feels more comfortable.  

  • Then, ask the students to place the character in the specific location where they were found (the forest, an inn, the castle, etc). Again, lower level students can draw rather than write or talk. Remember to use Activity 1 to help structure the journey.  
  • A second reading, with audio played for level 1 and 2 can take place once students have shared some ideas. Allow time for Group A to read Group B and vice versa.  
  • Third, focus on the character’s actions. What makes these characters interesting? How are they with Don Quixote?  
  • Reinforce the previous observation by inviting everyone to share their understanding of the characters’ relations and the key moments of the story with the classroom. Students with little to no speaking skills can use the image to support their answers.  

Activity 4Is this real life? 

Fine tuning activity 


  • Paper, colour pens and pencils,  
  • A list of adjectives, some describing Don Quixote, some not at all. For groups with lower reading levels, prepare emojis or images.  

Before the session: 

  • Prepare the different written support for each group.  

In the workshop:  

This activity is done before the reading of Part four and the ending of the story. Give instructions beforehand.  

  • Before the reading of the last chapter, gather predictions from the students, as to how the story will end. Will Don Quixote become a real knight? Will he finally meet Dulcinea? Will he win against the knight?  
  • Break students into groups, and ask them to draw/illustrate what they think the end of the story will be like. They can focus on an a specific character, a specific mission, a guess etc.  
  • Take some time to present the artwork to the rest of the classroom to reinforce the atmosphere.  
  • Then, allow some time for reading Part 4 of the eBook. This reading can be done with the audio for Lv1 and Lv2 directly.  
  • Now that the participants know how the story ends, first ask them which group was closest to the truth?  
  • Then, depending on the classroom level, turn back to the previous activities, where students got to know Don Quixote and his friends. What makes him so special? Is the idea of him as a knight reinforced? Discuss with the participants.  
  • Allow time for a second reading if needed.  
  • Once the reading is finished, use the key adjectives to finish the portrait of Don Quixote. Depending on the classroom levels, you can ask questions such as ‘How is don Quixote?’ or distribute the list to the participants and ask them to justify their choice.  
  • Finally, broaden the conversation. For higher level students, ask them how Don Quixote differs from regular knights? How are medieval stories usually told? For lower level students, ask them directly what is a knight to them? What makes a knight?  
  • Then you can discuss the idea of knight of moderns times, what is their fight today? How are they similar to that of Don Quixote? Is justice still real?  

To go further with cross-culturality 

Depending on the classroom’s background, it would be interesting to see if they can think of a modern Don Quixote’s dream from their own country. Don Quixote’s goal is justice above all, however absurd and unrealistic the goal is. If the students cannot think of ones, think about big themes such as climate change, equality etc. Are those Don Quixotesque ?   


Activity: And then he said…  

Activity to enhance the reading experience 


  • Costumes of knights and peasants, as well as various accessories such as swords, brooms, hats, …  

Before the session: 

  • Create a working space for your students. They will have to work in group, and then present their project, so move the desks around the room to facilitate collaboration.  

In the workshop:  

  • Divide the students into pairs
  • Explain to the participants the activity: They will have to imagine and play out a conversation between Don Quixote, the knight and Sancho, the squire, in our modern times. The pair can pick any contemporary subjects that requires justice. 
  • The dialogue should not be too long but should hold some key characteristics of the characters (vocabulary, posture, etc…). It should also use some specifics of Don Quixote such as : ‘a magician changes…’ or ‘the castle and inn’ dilemma. Write the key idiomes on the board, or tell them for audience with little to no reading skills.  
  • Give students time to write their dialogue, engage with each other, distribute the roles amongst themselves and decide on their costumes.  
  • Participants will have various levels of spoken and written skills depending on their level. Do not hesitate to tell (for non or small readers) and to write keywords on the board to provide guiding help to the classroom.  
  • Then, ask each pair to play out the dialogue they have imagined in front of the classroom. Because of the comical aspect of the story, these dialogues might not be too serious nor proper, encourage your students! This will allow for further development in speaking skills but also confidence.  

The importance of the activity at this stage is the production. If the classroom does not feel confident in their acting ability, pair the participants to write (for readers and writers) a dialogue and eventually read it instead of acting it. If the group has different level participants, create heterogeneous groups so that some can tell the story, while others write it. The various costumes and props will therefore not be needed, but students will be able to focus on their production and writing skills. If students in a groups have SLDs, allow for more flexibility of the dialogues, with speech bubbles rather than text writing, various structures etc.