Brain Breaks Part 6: Selfies and Manniquen Challenges

In my opinion, the most successful CI teachers stay on top of current trends in their student’s worlds. We know who our student population follows on Twitter and Instagram. We know whose concerts they’d love to go to. We know what they do on their weekends and in their free time, we know what sports teams they follow and who their favorite celebrities are. One thing that is popular amongst almost all student populations, is the culture of selfies. Lately, the Mannequin Challenge trend has also been very popular across the U.S. and the world.

Both of these Brain Breaks can be short and sweet. Your students will also LOVE you for doing them! I always use MY phone or device. I will explain why later.


Selfie Brain Break

Have your cell phone ready somewhere that it is easily accessible during class. When you feel that it is time for a Brain Break, grab your phone FIRST, quickly get it into camera mode and select the reverse camera so it is pointing towards you (I love that you can just swipe the camera symbol up on most phones so you don’t even have to go through the trouble of unlocking it first). Tell your students (while your arm is already outstretched) in the target language to  stand up and tell them to quickly group together behind you. They will already know what you’re doing. If you have a large class, take a few steps forward from the group so you can fit everyone in, or you can stand on a chair and have your students all behind you. Take a photo and have them sit down! As easy as that! 10-20 seconds! Don’t spend time explaining.. They don’t need an explanation! If you want to extend it, tell them (again, in the target language) to be sad, or silly, or mad, and just keep taking photos. THEN have them sit down. Remember, the purpose of a Brain Break is to break the rigor for a minute by getting students up and moving. Don’t make it too long, and keep it novel and exciting. Maybe introduce the “faces” after you’ve done a few regular selfies and you need to make it novel again.

Do you have a student that REALLY doesn’t want to be in the photo?? Tell them to think of creative ways to hide their face, OR have them take it FOR you! (Be VERY careful with this one. When you have VERY self-conscious middle school girls, if you give one an out, they will ALL want out. Keep it fun and casual and don’t make a big deal about it if there is hesitation and they won’t)


Mannequin Challenge

If you are not familiar with the Mannequin Challenge, please take a minute to go to YouTube and type it in the search bar. There are, I am sure, hundreds of thousands of videos there by now. You can do the Mannequin Challenge wherever you are and at ANY point of your instruction. I have done them before during embedded readings and story reconstructions, and other times during Running Dictations. Whatever you are doing, when you feel it is time for a Brain Break, tell the students you want them to either:

  • Option 1: Freeze right where they are for a Mannequin Challenge


  • Option 2: Tell them they have exactly 10 seconds to SAFELY find a position that is SCHOOL appropriate for a Mannequin Challenge

The first time I did these Brain Breaks I gave the instructions in English to be fast, but every time after that I have used Spanish without a problem.

Count backwards in the TL from 10 if you give them option two, and if you give them option one count backwards from 5. Then, start filming. Walk around the students and film them frozen and silent. I choose NOT to add the music because I don’t want to spend the extra time, but you can, or you could add music in your TL in the background. Do this for 20-60 seconds. Immediately afterwards instruct the students to get back to what they were doing or you should jump straight back into giving input again.

The first time you do it, they will ask to see it right away. Tell them no, but that they will see it later.

Here is an example of option 1 -7th grade (I will write a blog about what we were doing ASAP)

Here is an example of option 2- 6th grade (Again, I will write about this activity ASAP):


There are several different ways you can use your selfies and mannequin challenges after recording them for your Brain Break.

Selfie uses:

  • Keep all your selfies and use them in a slide show for the class at the end of the year and show them how much older they look at the end of the year compared to the beginning
  • Use them in your Newsletters to inform parents of the “happenings” in your room
  • Use a Screen shot or snapshot tool to crop out faces of students and use them in PowerPoints to retell stories or retell PQA. Engagement will be THROUGH THE ROOOOOOF!
  • Make a collage at the end of the year and print one for each of your students with a thank you note on the back telling the kiddos how AWESOME it was to have them in your class this  year
  • If you teach elementary and you have kids for multiple years in a row, save these in Google Drive and bring them up in future years. This one was from last year (fall) and I showed these kids recently (now half way through 6th grade and they were amazed at how little they looked.
  • Frame them and put them up around your room. It helps build your classroom community and culture.img_5685

Mannequin Challenge uses:

  • Bring the video up and  use it to do a Movie Talk, WITH YOUR OWN STUDENTS AS THE SUBJECTS! HOW ENGAGING IS THAT?!?!! I know….
  • Show two different Mannequin Challenges (from different classes) and compare the two in the Target Language
  • Play a Mannequin Challenge (from any class) and have the students do a quick write about it (in the Target Language)


I hope this gives you some great ideas!

Until next time,

Happy Teaching!


La Maestra Loca xoxoxox



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