Then we began talking about popular things in our culture today - which of course lead to talk of iPods, iPads, video games, Instagram, Facebook, texting, and a slew of other apps I'm sure I'm not cool enough to know about. It hits hard when you don't even know what your students are talking about - I used to know it all!
I explained that emojis are also a great example of contemporary pop art because they are super recognizable and relevant to the tech-savvy time we live in.
Then we looked at a few different (emotion) emojis and talked about what they meant. Then I asked students what they would mean if they were used in a different context.
So for example, the emoji with one eye closed and its tongue sticking out. On its own my students said it meant "crazy." Then I asked them what they thought it meant if it were sent with a text message that said something like, "I hate you." The words on their own sound mean and hurtful, but when sent with the emoji, they become almost endearing - clearly not meant to be serious.
Emojis can help to provide context to written words, like in the previous example, or they can be used decoratively in a fun illustrative manner.
As visual people ourselves, I think art educators are in an amazing position to teach our students about the power of this type of visual imagery and its effectiveness in communicating more meaningful messages.
Once we were done talking about the symbolism of emojis, we began talking about what soft sculptures are. I told my students that they would be creating their own double-sided emoji soft sculptures using felt and yarn.
Guys I gotta say - I love it! I used to do an angry birds sewing project with my 5th graders, but decided to change things up this year to keep the project super relevant to my student's interests. They were crazy engaged during this lesson!
Prior to deciding to do emojis (and the decision was made pre-happy meal) I was planning on doing Minecraft Soft Sculptures with my kids. If you are interested in that lesson, click on the image below to go to my TPT store. :)