Friday, April 22, 2022

Emoji Emotions: Interactive Storytelling Game

The Girl with the Pearl Earring
Johannes Vermeer, 1665

Earlier this year I was struggling to help some of my storytelling students succeed using appropriate vocal intonations for the characters and situations in their stories. Even though I used a number of storytelling activities to demonstrate vocal expression, discussed character voices matching story events, characterization, and coached them on their delivery, nothing was working.

Then one night it suddenly became clear, they were struggling because for the past two years they have been wearing masks in school and in public. They were interacting with others seeing only their eyes, not their entire faces, and sometimes voices were muffled. The masks had affected their social interactions and ability to convey their feelings through facial expression and vocal tone.

What could I do differently? What could I use that they already understand? Emojis! Using emojis I designed a new activity. I found a variety of public domain emojis, copied each into a blank document and typed the corresponding emotion. I printed and laminated each one and the Emoji Emotions game was born. We played it the next day with remarkable success! Here are the instructions for you to try with your students.



  • Explain that you will be working on vocal intonations; share/display the emoji cards.
  • Direct each student to choose a line of dialogue from their story to use for the game.
  • Invite two students to come to the front of the class. 
  • Fan the emoji cards face down and have each student chose a card at random. * You can also do this activity with a solo student.
  • Holding the card in front of them have them hold a ‘conversation’ with the dialogue from their separate stories, using the chosen emotion. Of course, the conversation won’t make any sense, but it will be funny!

The following week I expanded the game. I passed out individual kazoos to each student. (Individual kazoos may be purchased through Oriental Trading.)  The directions were the same but this time they the conversation using a kazoo to speak the dialogue. *Many thanks to Andrea Lovett for this idea i.e., using kazoos to tell a story. It was hilarious!

* Note: When I did this for the first time, I noticed each student naturally added a facial gesture and changed their body language to correspond with the emotion.

The students couldn’t wait for their turn and asked to play the different variations of this game again and again. Not only was the game fun, but it also made a huge difference in how the student’s connected with their characters and emotions in their story. It loosened them up and gave them permission to play with their story. The next time they practiced their story it was obvious how much this simple activity helped their performance. Some of the emoji cards I created are below.

This is the list of emotions I used; there are many more you can add but I kept it as simple as possible due to the age of the participants, fourth and fifth grade students. You could add more subtle emotions for an older group.

  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Confused
  • Embarrassed
  • Happy
  • Nervous
  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Silly
  • Surprised
  • Worried

A few examples I created for this game.

This game is a keeper! If you decide to try this out with your students, please let me know how it turned out for you and for them. 

Permission for private use is granted but I do ask that you maintain the copyright information and offer proper attribution. Publication is prohibited without my expressed written permission. 

There are many more original games I have created in my book, Story by Story, along with worksheets to help your students step into their story. 

Please note, websites change at a rapid pace and weblinks may change or break without notice. I cannot be responsible for redirected or broken links. At the time of this posting all links were in working order. Thank you for understanding.


Karen Chace 2022 ©
This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission, please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I appreciate your support and personal integrity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous epiphany. Fabulous way to help your students.