Social Awareness

Family Resources on Emojis: Such Characters!

Project and Purpose

The use of emojis has grown, students will consider their place in writing and communication.

Essential Questions

Is the use of emojis a sign of future communication or a temporary cultural fad?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed the uses of emojis. In class students learned the history of emojis and the advantages of using emojis across cultures and languages. Individually or in groups students developed a presentation where they created or used emojis to convey a message.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

There are many ways besides spoken or written words to communicate with others. In this lesson students developed presentations using emojis to convey a message and assessed how well they communicated with others using emojis with (or instead of) words.

Conversation notes:
For more information about the history of emojis check out this article at the emoji website:
For background on Shigetaka Kurita, the original developer of the emoji, his Wikipedia site is:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after viewing the lesson video and participating in class activities.

What choices has Travis made for his future? Do you think he has a good plan? Why or why not?

What are your options when you finish high school? What resources will be necessary to make your ideas work? Why do you think so?

What are some things you can do now to learn more about what interests you have? Are there part-time jobs or community experiences that could help you learn more about your interests?

Who are some people that could provide support or insight into your future career choices? Why would these people be helpful?

School to Home Resources on Emojis: Such Characters!


Lesson Plan

Interactive Reflections and Lesson Plans often cover broader themes than the competency named. All CWK stories are multi-faceted and are meant to prompt deep conversation.



1. Begin by asking students what they think of when you say the word “emoji.” Class could begin by googling Shigetaka Kurita, who created the first emoji, or share the following information about Kurita and emoji history.

Facts about emoji history:
Emoji is the Japanese term for picture word. These “picture characters” or pictographs are standardized and built into [most Japanese] handheld technology.

  • The first emoji was created in 1998 or 1999 in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita, who was part of the team working on NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode mobile Internet platform.
  • Shigetaka Kurita used manga, Chinese characters, and street signs to create symbols to convey emotions and thoughts that would be usable by anyone and emotionally neutral to users, symbols that would not stir “strong likes or dislikes.” (Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2014)
  • Emojis are used internationally as their meaning translates across languages and cultures.
  • Emoji’s differ from emoticons (see below).
  • A single picture message can be the size of hundreds if not thousands of text messages.

What’s an emoticon?
Emoticon is a compound word for emotion + icon and is a group of characters used to represent an emotion. They are usually little smiley faces that are preprogrammed onto phones.

What’s an emoji?
Emoji is Japanese for “picture word.” Emoji are often pictographs—images of things such as faces, weather, emotions, or activities. Emoji are now considered a set of predefined pictures with meanings that a smartphone user can choose to include in texts and email messages.


2. Share the emoji chart with the class and ask students for their translations of each and when it is appropriate to use them.

3. Compare and contrast an emoji or emoticon with other forms of expression such as paintings, poetry, photography, and human interaction (a hug, a kiss, a snicker). How does each make you feel? What makes you feel better, a smiley face emoji or a real smile on your best friend’s or a parent’s face? Why? When is one more appropriate than the other? Why?

4. Emojis have become such an integral part of texting conversations and expression that it is challenging to imagine a world without them. What would online conversation be like without emojis?

5. Many people predicted that the emoji would not last, but they have and continue to grow in variety and usage. For example, in 2013, the Emoji version of Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick, was accepted into the United States Library of Congress, and many other classics have followed, including all 66 books of the King James Version of the Bible . Penguin Books publishes OMG Shakespeare, condensed versions of the Bard’s plays using emojis and “Whatsapp-esque messages.” (Independent, June 12, 2015) Plans are in the making for an entire social network called “emojili” written using only emojis. Do any of these examples feel appropriate to you? Why or why not?

6. Next, tell students that they will create a project based on using emojis to communicate. They may choose among the following:

  • Design an original emoji and write a descriptive paragraph about it. Use the drawing tools on Google Draw or Google Docs or other app that supports original creations. You also have the choice to draw the emoji freehand. Your paragraph should explain the symbolism, the design process, and the artistic choices made to create a clearly understood emoji.
  • Translate a poem, the lyrics to a song, or a children’s book into emojis.
  • Write a paper persuading a literary scholar that emoji translations of classic books are legitimate works of art/literature OR deeply disrespectful fads to the authors and the literary world.
  • A topic of your own choosing.

7. Set a timeframe and due date for completion. On the due date have students share their work with each other.


Ask students to discuss the essential question: Is the use of emojis a sign of future communication or a temporary cultural fad? Explain your answer.

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