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Freeze Frame is a fun, interactive way to review a story by assigning to students to groups that create physical depictions of scenes from a story (short film, class story, novel, etc.) in ‘freeze frame’ vignettes.

Freeze Frame is a no-prep activity to use post-reading to boost comprehension

If you've been to a TPRS training in the last few years, it's likely that you are familiar with the "Freeze Frame" activity. It often appears in Teacher's Guides from Wayside Publishing, and many of my favorite bloggers have shared their versions of the activity over the past few years (read Freeze Frame descriptions from Bryan Kandel, Dustin Williamson, Cynthia Hitz, and Michele Whaley). 

CC 2006 Katherine


  1. Select 8-10 scenes from a story or text that would be interesting to depict in a “freeze frame” vignette.
  2. Divide the class into groups. The groups should contain the number of characters needed to depict the scenes plus one additional student. (3 characters in most scenes = 4 students per group).
  3. Read one of the scenes aloud to the class. Give the groups between 30 seconds and one minute to create their vignette depicting that scene. The extra student in the group should play the role of the director, arranging his/her groupmates to form a beautiful frozen moment.
  4. After the scene is set, call time.
  5. Have the director snap a photo of his/her group and send it to you (the teacher) to project and discuss with the class later. If this is not a realistic possibility, then you can un-freeze all but two groups and have the ‘thawed’ students look at the two groups that are still frozen. Compare and contrast the two groups’ depictions of the scene at hand.
  6. Un-freeze all groups, have them choose a new director/photographer, and give them a new scene. Repeat the process for as many scenes as you have prepared.


GUESS THE SCENE: Have just one group of students depict each of the scenes in front of the class. Show the scene description to that group of students, but keep it a secret from the class. The class must observe the actors and guess which scene is being depicted.

TEAM FREEZE FRAME: Divide the class into two teams. Bring up a set of student actors and a director from each team. Show the scene description to the directors, but do not show it to the actors or the other team members. The director must physically manipulate the actors’ bodies to form the freeze frame vignette. The director can only give physical commands in the target language, like “Move your leg”, “Raise your right arm”, etc. Each actor in the group has one opportunity to guess which scene they are forming (if there are three actors in each group, that team can have three guesses total.) The first team that guesses the scene correctly earns a point. The team members that are not participating in the creation of the vignette can shout out suggestions to the actors as to which scene the actors should guess, but a guess only becomes official when an actor says it. Once a team runs out of guesses or the other team correctly guesses the scene before it, that team cannot earn a point.


But what to do with all of the photographed scenes that you've collected? Use them to generate more comprehensible input and provide opportunities for output, of course! Here are a few ideas...please add yours in the comments section below!

  • Project them to the class and describe them--circling target structures, checking for comprehension, and personalizing, of course! (See this how-to page if you are unfamiliar with any of those strategies.)
  • Print out a sheet of wallet-sized prints for each student or pairs of students and have students sequence them based on the story, then re-tell the story by writing or speaking descriptions for each one.
  • Play "Pick the pic" (or use it as an assessment).
  • Distribute one of the images to pairs of students, and have them write an alternate story explaining what is going on in the picture (an explanation that is different than what actually happened in the story but still makes sense based on that image alone).
  • Print out copies and give one to each student. Students need to form a human timeline by describing their scene to their classmates--but they can't ever show the picture until the timeline is complete!
  • Form groups of four students and give each student a different image. Then, have students try to find similarities between the scenes being depicted by playing Team Windows.

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