creating with emoji

Yesterday, I wrote about my day using only 57 different emoji. I loved reading all the comments of people who said they still totally “got” it, or followed most of it despite the lack of words. Prompted by mom, and her awesome post about why literacy includes both words AND pictures (and, yes, emoji!) I wanted to share some more about my process creating my post.

I actually started by writing this post on my phone, to have easier access to the emoji keyboard. (If you haven’t yet learned how to find the emoji keyboard on your phone, directions are here.) I used the WordPress App on my phone to type in all the emojis I wanted, going moment by moment and finding just the right little picture to describe what I did or how I felt.

Reading over the emoji and turning them into a story requires a lot more imagination, inferring and close reading than simply describing my day with words. But there’s no real mystery to reading emojis, no secret information teenagers have that adults don’t get. Take a look at this line from my story yesterday:

📺 🏠🃏 👀🕞🕟🕠🕡  😳

Each picture essentially represents one word or concept. I watched House of Cards on TV. Four hours went by. Embarrassing!

Or this line from the end explaining that school was starting again tomorrow:

🔜 🏫 📚 ✏️

I could even use emoji to show my inner thoughts watching the UVA vs Syracuse basketball game:

⓵🙌 👏 ⛹ 😄 🔛 🔝 🚨

⓶😊 😬 🤔 😟 😡 😱  ⌛️🆘  😰 🚨


The Hoos clearly did NOT have a good second half.

I chose to put each new “sentence” on a different line to make them easier to follow.

If you don’t have a phone or device with an emoji keyboard, there is a way for you to access emojis on your desktop!! On Macbooks, you can open the full emoji keyboard along with some dingbat symbols by going to Edit > Emoji & Symbols. This can be a bit tedious though because you have to reopen the menu after every symbol you select. Through a little research, I discovered a Google Chrome Emoji Keyboard PlugIn you can install to a Chrome browser which, after a little bit of experimentation, seems very useful! The other fun thing about these emoji keyboards vs. the one on my phone is that you can see the descriptions of the pictures.

Emoji is based on a system called Unicode, which is basically a code that tells your computer to show an emoji. Each code is linked to a description like “face with tears of joy” 😂  “man and woman holding hands” 👫  or “sparkling heart” 💖  When you use emoji on your phone, you don’t get to see these descriptions so you have to make guesses about what each one means, which sometimes leads to a different interpretation than what is in the description. One popular example of misinterpretation of an emoji is this girl: 💁. She is commonly used by texters after a sassy or sarcastic remark, because she’s often interpreted to be flipping her hair or brushing off her shoulders. The Unicode actually describes her as an “Information Desk Person” making a gesture as if to say, “How may I help you?” (See more surprising emoji meanings here!) What I think is really fun is deciphering all these possible shades of meaning, and how one image can mean several things whether it’s intentional or not!!

After making my emoji post and talking with other teachers about it, I am so excited about the potential power of emoji as a literacy and teaching tool that all kids can easily access! My friend Hannah told me she showed my story to her 5th graders and asked them to write what they think happened. I shared with her this Random Emoji Generator to also use as a potential writing prompt. I saw examples of people telling favorite fairy tales or writing Rebus Stories using emoji. Try this quiz to guess the children’s book on their emoji descriptions! There are so many exciting and fun things to do with these tools!

One of my favorite things about my post from yesterday happened after I posted it to our school’s Third Grade KidBlog. I got so many comments from students saying they wanted to make their own! I can’t wait to see what creative ways they use emoji to tell their stories.

👍 😍 📚 📝 🆒 🙌



Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

12 thoughts on “creating with emoji

  1. Ahh you know we’re all teachers because I thought about doing the same thing with my group of students today!! Totally agree with emojis being used at a literary device !


  2. This post is full of great resources. I learned so much. Usually I am just happy with the french fry emoji, who knew there were so many more possibilities.

    Thanks for the education and the ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hang in there! I also find it difficult to do any kind of formatting of my posts using the wordpress app, so if I have to use my phone, I’ll often save as a draft, and then open in on my computer later to publish… But, I LOVE using the app on my phone to read and make comments on posts of blogs that I follow!!


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