Emojis Activities: the digital language of emotion

Emojis are defined as a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc. in electronic communication. With face-to-face interactions, emotions are expressed through the speaker's tone of voice and through body language such as hand gestures and posture. In this digital age, plain text messages do not convey the speaker's emotions which can lead to miscommunication. Adding an emoji can provide additional input on what the speaker is feeling.


A message from a friend: "I tripped and hit my head on my desk."  Adding the smiling face with tears of joy emoji indicates that the speaker might be laughing at her own clumsiness.

Screenshot of text message with, "I tripped and hit my head on a desk. smiling face with tears of joy emoji."

The same sentence with a bandaged, sad face emoji and a sad/worry face emoji might indicate that the speaker was hurt.

Screenshot of text, "I tripped and hit my head on a desk. sad face with bandage emoji and sad/worry face emoji."

Social Skills

A student who is visually impaired may miss subtle social skills due to his vision loss. Emojis - which are incredibly popular with students and very motivating - can be used to teach social skills. When using a screen reader, such as VoiceOver on an iOS device, the screen reader will define each face emojisby naming the emotion or action. 

Emoji Activities

Send your student a text with two easy emojis, such as the smiling face and the sad face. Ask the student to listen to the screen reader's name/description of each emoji. Ask your student to make those facial expressions and then describe his facial expressions. Talk about when you would use those faces. Repeat the activity: send two more emojis such as the embarrassed emoji and the surprised face emoji. Pick more emjois with increasingly challenging emotions. Use a series of face emojis with hands, such as the thinking emoji, face with hand-over-mouth and rosy cheeks emoji, facing screaming in fear emoji.

Ask the student to explore the available emojis and pick three emoji faces that he is not familiar with. Ask him to find an emoji face that best describes his personality.

If appropriate, create a tactile version of the emoji.

Be sure to describe the emojis, the correlating real life expressions and discuss scenarios of when people might use these expressions. Tie in additional body language, such as nervous foot tapping, appropriate personal space, eye contact, etc. and what each of these mean.

Discuss recent emotional situations that the student has been in or been aware of. Start with happy situations! Ask the student to identify recent situations where a peer or family member displayed emotions. Pair the physical emotion (body language, tone, facial expression) with the corresponding emoji.

Role play different scenarios and have the student act out different parts.

Emotional Scavenger Hunt Activity

People 'watching' is fun! Sit and relax in a busy area where there are many people, such as the playground, cafeteria, classroom, hallway, etc. Observe people and interactions between people. Can you find a person/situation for each of the emotions listed on the Scavenger Hunt document? Be sure to use all your detective skills!

See attached scavenger hunter document. Note: The emoji images have alt text descriptions.

Create your own scavenger hunt document with emojis that are most appropriate for your student. Be sure to add alt text descriptions to the images!

To add an alt text description 

Right click on the desired image and select Add Alt Text. In the popup menu, under alt text, use the standard screen reader description for that image. You can easily find the standard screen reader description by opening a text message on your smar phone, then open the emoji font page. Turn on your screen reader (VoiceOver or TalkBack) and drag your finger across the emojis to hear the standard screen reader description.