Emojis have taken the Internet by storm. While their overuse may make you cringe, they’re a big part of the language your students speak. We say, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” By embracing emojis and making them a part of your teaching, you can start to speak your students’ language and make your classroom a little more fun.
Reading and Writing with Emojis
Rebus stories are texts where key words and phrases are replaced with images. Create your own rebus stories using emojis to represent some of the words or have students create their own rebus stories using emojis. As students read through the stories they can build their vocabulary and comprehension skills as they decode what each emoji means. Here’s a cute rebus story for you to use as an example.
Instead of giving students a traditional writing prompt, give them a prompt written entirely in emojis. If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of putting emojis together, websites such as the Random Emoji Generator will provide random prompts for you. We’ve also created a short emoji prompts worksheet you can use as a fun activity with students.
Can you imagine what Shakespeare would look like written in emojis? Test students’ understanding of texts in creative ways by having them translate key scenes or quotes from novels into emoji-filled sentences. The idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds. In fact, a group of writers already translated Moby Dick into emojis, but we bet your students can do it better.
You can also turn the tables and translate some of your students’ messages and comments using emojis into plain English. This will help your students see how they can use different forms of words and other styles of communication to convey a similar message. It also serves as a great lesson on the difference between formal and informal language.
When students read a text, you encourage them to annotate the text by highlighting and writing notes in the margins. When students read texts on the computer or tablet, why not have them annotate with emojis? These little faces and other images can help students quickly note their feelings on different sections of the text and give them a simple way to locate important points later on.
A popular game shows players four pictures and has them guess the word all of the pictures have in common. Use emojis to create a similar game using your students’ vocabulary words. For example, a snowman, snowflake, Christmas tree, and set of skis may be used for the word “winter” or a trophy, sunglasses smiley face, star, and exclamation point may lead students to the word “stellar”.
The Common Core State Standards discuss how language changes over time. Talk with students about how emojis are part of a changing language. Hold a formal discussion where students share the pros and cons of emoji use and the effect they have on society or use this worksheet to get students to think about the changes on their own. You can also talk about changes to emojis and what emojis need to be added or taken away.
Math and Science with Emojis
Pictographs are graphs that use pictures to represent information. Instead of using traditional clip art or hand-drawn pictures, students can use emojis to create their own pictographs to represent data. Each emoji will represent a different unit.
Spice up traditional word problems by incorporating emojis. You can use emojis to replace key words and phrases, similar to how you would use them in a rebus story. Emojis can also represent numbers in problems. For example, if heart+heart=10, then how much does one heart represent?
Illustrating a Process
Few scientific videos are more entertaining than Bill Nye’s explanation of evolution using emojis. Like Bill Nye, your students can create their own videos or diagrams using emojis to illustrate different parts of a scientific processes. Or you can just incorporate Bill Nye’s series of emoji videos into your teaching.
GE Emoji Science
Another emoji resource to use in your teaching is GE Emoji Science. This Periodic Table ditches the chemical symbols in favor of emojis. Clicking on an emoji will open up an engaging explanation of a scientific concept for kids.
Emoji puzzles help build critical thinking and logic skills in students. To build an emoji puzzle, create a set of emojis related to a particular concept. This Can You Solve These Emoji Puzzles? video uses movie names and other pop culture references, but you can do the same for scientific principles, theories, or famous people and events in history.
Social and Emotional Learning with Emojis
Recognizing and Expressing Emotions
Emojis help kids learn how to recognize and express emotions. Have kids use their faces to recreate emojis or imagine what sound each emoji would make. Teachers who work with kids who struggle emotionally may also find that allowing them to express themselves through emotions rather than orally may help break down communication barriers.
Some kids have trouble communicating with regular language, but they may not have as much trouble communicating with a secret code. Encourage kids to use emojis to write out messages, and then attempt to decode the messages they create.
Emojis can be a simple way to track student behavior. Keep a chart of student names and regularly add emojis to log student behaviors throughout the day. Make these logs accessible to students so they can see how they’re doing. Encourage them to get all smiley faces or decrease the number of angry faces as they go throughout the day.
And when you need to get our your own emotions, don’t forget to check out We Are Teachers Emojis of Teaching to help you express yourself.
What are some of your favorite ways to use emojis in the classroom?