Emoji Emotions | Facing History & Ourselves
A student looks down at their paper with a pen in hand. A smiling emoji is in the foreground.
Activity

Emoji Emotions

Students use emojis to practice sharing what they are feeling while building empathy for their classmates.

Subject

  • Advisory
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies

Grade

6–12

Language

English — US

Published

Updated

Overview

About Emoji Emotions

In this activity, students use emojis to name and communicate what they are feeling and to build empathy by listening to others share their emotions.

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Procedure

Steps for Implementation

  1. Project a slide or create an emotions chart with emojis that represent a wide range of feelings. Take into account representation (race, ethnicity, gender, ability) when choosing the emoticons. Title each emoji or invite students to name the emotion for each one.
  2. Model the activity by pointing to the emoji that represents how you are feeling and explain what might be causing you to feel this way.
  3. Invite each student to choose an emoji that describes what they are feeling or draw a new one if none of the choices resonate with them.
  4. Ask students to write a quick journal response to explain how the emoji reflects what they are feeling. 
  5. Debrief in groups of three and have students brainstorm strategies or words of encouragement that might help peers who are not feeling positive emotions.

Variations

Share your screen to project a Google Slide or Doc with emojis that reflect a range of emotions. Take into account representation (race, ethnicity, gender, ability) when choosing the emoticons and give each one a title. Students will use the chat window to participate, so model the activity by sharing the emoji that represents how you are feeling (or its name, if your platform does not support emojis) in the chat. Explain verbally or in writing why you chose your emoji and what is impacting your feelings. Then ask each student to do the same. 

Time permitting, debrief in breakout rooms, by having students raise their (virtual) hand to speak, or by asking students to write in the chat window. Ask them to brainstorm strategies or words of encouragement that might help other students who are not feeling positive emotions.

Alternatively, you can use Padlet instead of the chat box for this routine. Students create a post by typing their name in the title bar, uploading their emoji, and writing a brief reflection that explains their choice. 

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Facing History & Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.

Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif