🏠 Homeschooling Amidst 🦠 Coronavirus: How Parents Can Use The 👍 Thumbs Up Emoji And Other Emojis To Help Kids Learn Better

Written by: Ortega
Modified: jul 27, 2022

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live. Around 30 million US children are out of school. Many kids are homeschooled by their parents, and for a lot of moms and dads, getting their kids to pay attention at home is a strenuous task. If you put a big thumbs up emoji after that last statement… we hear you, we feel you, and we see you!

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Photo from Bridgeway Academy


Homeschooling During Coronavirus

Kids playing with mom at home, kids playing with moms hair, kids playing with mom at home

Photo from Bitrix24

Helping your child get better at focusing is difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Sometimes parents need to package things in a way attractive to kids. Remember when you used the airplane spoon to get food into your child’s mouth? Similar to that, but with emojis. (We know you know what we’re saying.)


Teaching With Emojis

Thumbs Up emoji, thumbs up emoji, Apple's Thumbs Up emoji, Apple's version of the thumbs up emoji Clown emoji, Apple version of the Clown emoji, Clown emoji on Apple Ghost emoji, Apple version of the ghost emoji, Ghost emoji on Apple

Kids love emojis. Emojis like the 👍 Thumbs Up emoji, 🤡 Clown emoji, and 👻 Ghost emoji are cute and fun to have around! Emojis keep kids from being distracted. Once you have their attention, you can use emojis to increase the vocabulary and close reading skills of your little ones. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of online content creation tools for teachers. One of the more popular ones is bookwidgets.com.


Emoji Learning Activities

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BookWidgets help teachers and parent-teachers create fun and interactive lessons for tablets, smartphones, and computers. One already made widget we tried involved a deck of flashcards with words. The student reads the word, then flips the flashcard to see an emoji of what they just read. For example, if they see the word “thumbs up,” once the student says the word “thumbs up” and clicks on the mouse, a thumbs up emoji will appear.


Emoji Lessons Online

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Photo from bookwidgets.com

Emojis can also help kids practice speaking. We found another cool exercise on BookWidgets to help with that. The exercise featured different wheels with emojis.  Kids spin the wheel and tell a story about the emoticons that appear. Get ready to hear a lot of funny stories! Here’s the link to the exercise.


Using Emojis To Develop Vocabulary And Word Analysis Skills

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Photo from Pioneer Institutue

Emojis also present an opportunity for vocabulary practice and word analysis. Parents provide kids with an emoji with multiple or ambiguous meanings, like the 👍 Thumbs Up emoji and the 👼 Angel emoji. While the thumbs up emoji or thumbs up symbol is a sign of approval in Western culture, traditionally in the Middle East and Greece, some people see it as offensive and sometimes even vulgar.


Emojis With Many Meanings

Angel emoji, Angel emoji on Apple

Similarly, the 👼 Baby Angel emoji contains two very different definitions. In the West, the Angel emoji denotes innocence or having performed a good deed, while in China, the Angel emoji a sign of death and may be perceived as threatening. Once you’ve assigned emojis to your kids, you can ask them to write an explanation of the different meanings these emojis could have. Parents can provide students with a target number of answers, like three or four. Parents then ask their kids to explain their answers.


Warm-Up With Emojis

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Photo from BBC

Every experienced teacher is aware of the value of warm-up questions; they set the tone for the whole lesson. A warm-up is a good way to discover what students already know about the topic to be discussed. Parents can also give warm-up questions to their kids at home. Parents can even do this with emojis!


Emojis To Introduce Today’s Lessons

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Photo from Contently

For example, parents show a collection of emojis to their kids. The parents then ask their kids to write a response to the question, “These emojis represent today’s lesson. What do you think it is and why?” Alternatively, parents can give their kids the topic for the day and have them pick three or four emojis describing how they feel about the topic. The kids should explain why they chose those emojis.


Wrap-Up With Emojis

Thumbs Up emoji, thumbs up emoji, Apple's Thumbs Up emoji, Apple's version of the thumbs up emojiGrinning Face, Grinning Face emoji, Smiling emojiyawning face emoji

Before the lesson ends, parents can use emojis in a wrap-up session. A wrap-up session summarizes the lesson and is a suitable way for teachers to see if their students absorbed all the necessary information. In a home school setting, parents can give their kids various emojis like the 👍 Thumbs Up emoji, 😀 Grinning Face emoji, 🥱 Yawning Face emoji they can then ask their kids to pick the emoji that best describes how they feel about the lesson.


Emojis As Starter Lessons

Emojis as lesson starters… why not? To kick off the class, parents can draw or print out fun emojis that match the lesson topic. For example, for reading and writing class, parents can use this emoji combo to say the story they will be discussing is The Frog Prince: 🐸🤴

Or the 🌲 Evergreen Tree emoji, 🌴 Palm Tree emoji, 🌳 Deciduous Tree emoji combo when talking about the different types of trees.


Emojis In Writing Assignments

Emoji lessons, emoji exercises

Photo from The Art Of Education

Emojis can also help children express themselves through words. When kids use emojis to add color and personality to their prose, it helps them to write freely.  To do this, parents can give their kids a fun narrative writing activity featuring emojis. The parents give their students a collection of random emojis. The kids are then asked to write a story featuring those emojis.

Parents shouldn’t be mad if kids use just emojis; that’s actually the point of the exercise, to put their thoughts and feelings on paper in a manner they’re comfortable with. Once they’re done with the first draft, for the last draft, kids find the right words to replace the emojis they used.


Emojis In Book Assignments

Emojis in stories, emojis featured in stories, emojis in lessons

Photo from bookwidgets.com

In school, teachers give students book assignments. Teachers ask students to read a book and make a summary of the book to prove they have read it. Some kids think it’s boring, while some try to get out of it by copying or buying book reviews online. To avoid these pitfalls, why not have parents ask their kids to summarize a book in emojis?

Kids can use emoticons to describe the characters, the setting of the book, the problem, and the solution. Once that’s done, the kids can summarize the entire plot of a story using nothing but emojis.

When students read an important section in their textbooks, they usually annotate the text by highlighting paragraphs or sentences, and writing notes in the margins. Well, why not do the same thing on computers or tablets? Homeschooled kids studying a text on the computer or tablet can annotate with emojis. These cute little symbols will help students quickly note their feelings on original sections of the text, and give them a simple way to locate important points and sections of the text, later on.


Emoji Ice Breaker Activities

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Photo from Smarty Pants Mama

Icebreakers are great for team building, getting people to think about a specific topic, or just to wake up a sleepy and tired group- like a group of kids being homeschooled! Family icebreakers promote group participation and allow parents and children a chance to get to know one another better. Believe us when we say, just because you live under one roof does not mean you know everything about your kids.

On normal days, most parents don’t spend enough time with their kids because they’re in the office while their kids are at school. Now that parents and kids spend more time together at home, now’s the perfect time to engage in a little fun in between learning sessions. Here are some icebreakers parents can do with their kids.

Guess Which Emoji I Am Game

First, parents ask their kids to give three emojis that best represent who they are. Parents will then have to guess why their kids picked those three emojis. For a tech component, kids can make a shared slide deck. By doing this, kids will also be able to work on their creativity skills, too.

Act Out The Emoji Game

Another activity is the act out the emoji game. To begin, parents will draw or print out many emojis and put them all in a box. The kids and the parents or other members of the household will be divided into groups and will act out the emojis in the box, like an emoji form of charades.

Other emojis like the Thumbs Up emoji will probably be easier to guess, but it will still be fun to see moms, dads, and kids act out the more complicated ones like the 😂 Face With Tears Of Joy emoji or the 😰 Anxious Face With Sweat emoji.

As homeschool teachers, parents can use emojis to help deliver effective feedback to their kids. Educators have been putting smiley and frowny faces on student work for years. Emojis just offer a more nuanced, more creative way of doing the same thing. You can use an emoji system to give feedback on work, graded or otherwise. Why not use the Thumbs Up emoji to tell your kids they did a wonderful job, or a 👎 Thumbs Down emoji if they failed to make the passing mark?

Other options would be to use a ☺️ Smiling Face emoji to show good, a 😐 Neutral Face emoji to show satisfactory, and a 😢 Crying Face to signify a failing mark. Or you can throw your kids a curveball like the 🤔 Thinking Face emoji to keep them on their toes! A 🤔 Thinking Face emoji is used to show someone deep in thought and conveys feelings like being puzzled or skeptical, contemplation or doubt. By using the Thinking Face emoji, parents are asking their kids to explain the answers to their exams or work.


Emojis As A Tool For Measuring Emotions

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Photo from Hip2Save

It can be difficult for some kids to express how they’re feeling, even to their parents. Children experience a wide range of emotions every single day. They are better able to manage their emotions when they know what the emotions are and when they can name and express what they are feeling.

Emojis can help them with that. Kids pick an emoji that will remind them of how they’re feeling, and their parents can then help them find words that may correlate. For example, if the child feels disappointed with their performance on an exam, they may use the 😞 Disappointed Face emoji, or if they’re nervous about an exam, the 😰 Anxious Face With Sweat emoji might speak to them.


Emojis To Better Communicate Emotions

children playing with blocks

Across the country, parents are trying their best to keep their restless kids preoccupied. Children need to release all their pent-up energy, but they can’t do that indoors. And when they don’t get to fulfill that need, kids sometimes release their energy on other people like their siblings. This often leads to many squabbles at home. When this happens, parents can use emojis to help mediate situations, and to cultivate empathy in their kids.

Emojis can foster more mindfulness around feelings and emotions. They can also serve as a launching pad for meaningful discussions between parents and kids on how to handle these emotions and feelings.


Discussions About Emojis And Mental Well-Being

This has actually been backed by research. Capilano University lecturer teacher Jennifer Fane led a study that sought to better understand the well-being of preschool students. After showing the students a variety of emojis and asking for their responses, researchers found out that more neutral faces showed greater ideas, discussion, and debate. This suggests that teachers could use neutral emojis to spark discussions about emotions and long-term mental well-being.

So, how to apply this research in a school-at-home approach? In between classes at home, a parent can ask their child to talk about how they think their sister or brother is feeling after the fight. Parents will then ask their children to select an emoji to describe their sibling’s feelings.

Toddler twins, toddlers playing at home, toddlers at home

Photo from Kveller

Once that is done, the parent and the child can discuss ways to remedy the situation. If an apology is necessary, the child and the parent can work together to craft a peace offering in the form of emojis. The ☮️ Peace Symbol emoji and 🏳️ White Flag emoji are good emojis to use since they signify peace and forgiveness.

The recipient of the peace offering can also reply in emoji to show that they accept the apology. They can send a Thumbs Up emoji or the 👌 Ok Hand emoji to show they’re okay.


Parents Are Their Children’s First Teacher

That’s about it for now. We hope we could help your kids learn better at home. As we all adjust to the new normal of working at home, we hope the emoji-themed activities we presented will help your kids make a healthy adjustment to this major change.

children holding books

When things get rough, never give up! Don’t forget that, as a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher, and when parents are involved in their children’s education, their kids do well in life and have better feelings about learning unfamiliar things. Now, isn’t that something that all parents want for their children? To keep their kids safe and to provide them with every opportunity in the world to be successful?