Incorporating selfies and self portraits with Frida Kahlo unit


I have been a big fan of Frida Kahlo for a long time. I love her story, her sass, her perseverance, and her nonconformity! This year seemed to be my year for Frida, because not only is my latest book Frida Kahlo: Una biografía (a novice-level biography written in Spanish), but also we are very fortunate that the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit exhibit is currently at the Detroit Institute of Arts through July!

My students have read my new book and visited the DIA exhibit, and it was time for us to get serious about discussing art!

The first point I wanted to discuss was the SELFIE. I created a little survey about selfies for my students to complete (available now as part of the Frida Kahlo Teacher’s Resource Guide) to find out their tendencies and opinions on the topic. Second, I had students get into groups and do a “chalk talk” on big paper with markers about what a person should consider when trying to take a great selfie (una selfie) Then, we watched a youtube video about “5 bright tips para tomar la selfie perfecta.” I had my students add to their previous brainstorming so that it included new information from the video. We then discussed the tips. The funniest one was “el fondo” (the background). One student said if their is a mirror in the background make sure you have pants on! Great tip, right?

Following this, we talked about self-portraits, the selfie being one form of autorretrato. We looked at 3-4 paintings by Frida Kahlo and discussed her colors, clothes, facial expressions, objects shown in the painting, backgrounds, and what time period the painting might have come from in her life. I then allowed the students some time in small groups to discuss several additional paintings using the same ideas.


We created our own self-portraits!

About a week ahead of time, I took photos of each kid using my iphone. I told them they could make any face or pose they wanted. After I took all the photos, I uploaded them into my google drive through my phone.

Next, I opened powerpoint on my laptop. I went to INSERT –> PHOTO ALBUM and selected the photos I wanted.

Then, I clicked the photo. Under the “corrections” menu, I sharpened 50%. Then under “color” menu I made it black and white. Back to the corrections menu I then adjusted Brightness +40%, Contrast -40%. This is TIME CONSUMING but I got a good system going and it went smoothly.

You start with Photo May 04, 12 25 28 PM and end up with Slide1.jpg.

I had purchased some nice paper with a bit of texture. Kind of a “toothy” cardstock. My art teacher gave me advice on this. I printed all of the images using the copy machine onto the nice paper.

Then, I gave the students a day of art time. I purchased a nice set of oil pastels, and also provided mirrors, colored pencils, rulers, markers, tissue paper, scissors, etc.


1. Paper must be covered completely with color

2. Must have a background

3. Must depict 3-5 objects that represent you in some way.

Photo May 13, 12 38 37 PM  Photo May 13, 12 38 30 PM


Tomorrow we will have an “art gallery” speaking assessment. I will post again about that!

Check out my pinterest board of all things Frida!






Photo May 13, 2 34 41 PMPhoto May 13, 2 34 27 PM Photo May 13, 2 34 54 PM Photo May 13, 2 35 07 PM Photo May 13, 2 35 23 PM



  1. This year I am teaching with novels for the first time (#nOOb). I am loving teaching with your novel Frida Kahlo. Our Spanish III clases have used your idea for the autorretratos. Today my students wrote an email to an imaginary friend telling the friend about what we are studying in class and what the items in their autorretrato represent. It is an interpersonal writing assessment. However, my colleague and I would like to incorporate a speaking task (not presentational) with the autorretratos as well. Logistics of grading seems more daunting than creating the task. Does anyone have any ideas. My biggest class has 24 students.

  2. Hi Kristy! Thanks for this idea! I need help! ¿Por favor? I inserted a selfie into PowerPoint. (as in Microsoft Presentation Powerpoint). Where is the “corrections” menu? I was able to make the photo black and white. I was able to adjust the brightness and contrast to 40%. I don’t know where to find the corrections menu. I am planning to do this activity soon. My students are already very excited about doing this when we complete the novel Frida Kahlo. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Hi, Kristy. I have just started following your blog and have been very inspired! You are doing some really amazing things! I am planning to do the Frida/selfie art project and plan to do a speaking assessment after using it. I would love to hear what you ended up doing for your assessment. Thanks!!

  4. Kristy – I just got done with our projects and owe you a HUGE THANK YOU. The kids loved it and they are fantastic. My level 5 students did a “Soy Yo” unit where we talked about each person being different (Esteman: De Otra Planeta; Bomba Estereo: Soy Yo; Frida; the cultural concept of “pelo malo”) and this was their culminating presentational assessment.

  5. I am transitioning to a PBL school, and I have been on the search for a novice level book that ties to real world themes. This book sounds perfect. When do you think it will be available?

  6. This is great. I love Frida and her story so much. Can’t wait for the release of the book. The selfie project is awesome.

  7. I am sooooo excited about this project and even more excited that I have found your blog!!! Thank you!! I have sooo much to learn as I teach. I love Spanish but I never experienced a class in middle/high school and sometimes find it difficult to bring it to their level.

  8. Yay, Kiristy! I can’t wait to read the new book. I’ve been wanting to do something Frida-ish with my 1’s and 2’s but *obvi* haven’t gotten my act together to actually get it together.. Looks like you’ve done steps 1-99 for me. Gracias!

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