Emoji Theology with our Confirmation Class
Last night we tried something new with our confirmation class: emoji theology.
It was inspired by the brilliant Twitter account @emojitheology, which communicates Bible stories and religious ideas through emoji—those little pictures we include in text messages. Here are some examples of those awesome tweets:
⯑ ⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑ ⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑ ⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑ #FieryFurnace— Emoji Theology (@theomoji) July 30, 2014
⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑ ⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑⯑ #FeedingTheMultitude— Emoji Theology (@theomoji) July 18, 2014
In order to do this with our class, we had to find a way to print off emoji. A blog post by Nelson Aguilar was super helpful. Basically, you need to get the emoji pictures files then, as he writes, “In your printer settings, make sure to select Scale to Fit, then choose Print Entire Image to get the emoji to print in full-size. If you want to make it even bigger, you can select Scale instead and enter in a percentage number.” We printed each one on 8.5x11” paper.
I’ll save you some steps by giving you:
- A Dropbox file with the emoji.
- A PowerPoint with some of those tweets, so you can give examples before you jump in to the project with the class.
Our lesson tonight was the Sixth Commandment: Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery. We looked at Martin Luther’s explanation of that Commandment in the Small Catechism: “We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.” Our discussion focused on what it meant to be faithful not only to spouses, but family, friends, and our neighbor—and the ways we love and honor…but also disrespect others.
With that background, we jumped in. We gave each group about 50 emoji and asked them to represent/interpret the commandment, Luther’s explanation, or something just from their imagination and pin them up on some room dividers we have in our fellowship hall. After they were done, each group explained what they had done. The whole thing took about 30 minutes.
Here are the groups laying them out, figuring out which emoji to use:
Here are the final products:
The kids absolutely loved the project.
Here are two big reasons I think it worked:
- It was interactive and collaborative learning. They spent a full half-hour focused on how to interpret and communicate the ideas we discussed, and had a ton of fun.
- It used a visual language they already use everyday—but it didn’t require everyone to have a smartphone. (See more on visual languages in a blog post I wrote for the Instutite for Youth Ministry at Princeton.)
It was a great night. We’ll definitely be doing emoji theology again.