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Animating an Emoji with Scratch

30+ minutes
Grades 4-6
English Language Arts,
  • Programming
  • Design
Tools & Languages

Key Coding Concepts

  • Algorithms
  • Events
  • Loops



a step-by-step set of operations to be performed to help solve a problem



When one thing causes another thing to happen



Allow us to run the same sequence multiple times, as long as a certain condition is met



An error in a program that prevents the program from running as expected



The act of finding problems or ‘bugs’ in our code and solving them


In this lesson, learners will create and animate emojis in Scratch.

Note: The level of difficulty of this project can be adapted to meet the needs of your learners. For example, if your learners aren't ready to code in Scratch, you can focus on the design steps and eliminate the animation. See the 'Extensions' section for advanced learners.


  • Internet connected device (laptop or desktop)

Before the lesson…

Hook (Grades 1-3)

Discuss the following questions:

  • Why do you use emojis? If you don't, why do you think other people do?
  • What is your favourite emoji? When do you use it most?
  • What emoji do you wish existed?
  • What problems are created by emojis?

Hook (Grades 4+)

Lead a 'Creative Hunt' on emojis with the class.

Ask: "What do you think is the main purpose of emojis? Who is the audience for emojis?"

Document the general consensus at the top of a Jamboard or piece of chart paper.

Ask: "How do emojis accomplish [purpose] for [audience]? What are the different elements of an emoji/the emoji language? How does each of these smaller parts contribute to the larger purpose?"

Document the responses in a chart (see example below - don't share these responses!):

Main Purpose: Adding "body-language" to text-based communication.




Give the sense that there is a person behind the words 


Convey feeling (e.g. red = anger, blue = sadness, green = uneasy, etc.)

Emoji Combinations

Convey larger concepts or ideas

Follow-up the activity by watching one of the following videos:

Depending on the age of your group, you may also have them break into small groups to read through and discuss 'Inclusive and Accessible Emoji Practices For Our Increasingly Digital World' (Feminuity Team, 2022).

Ask: Now that we've learned a bit about the history of emojis, is there anything we should add to our chart?

Add any additional thoughts the group has to your chart.

Say: "Today, we are going to design our own emojis in Scratch. We'll be animating our emojis with code to further convey their underlying meaning."


The code-along is optional, but should be completed with classes that have never used Scratch before.

  1. Open up a new Scratch project at and click on “create” (top, left corner).
  2. Point out the main elements: Stage, Sprites, and Scripts. Demonstrate how to drag and connect blocks.
  3. Give learners a few minutes to click on blocks and explore.
  4. Go through 1-2 challenges with the group, where learners are tasked with trying to make something happen in Scratch. For example, “Try to make Scratch move” or “Try to make Scratch say something when the space key is pressed” (See the Code-Along Challenges doc for more examples and solutions).


Walk learners through creating their own animated emojis using the solution sheet (extended | abridged). 

The solution sheet uses a simple chick emoji as an example, but encourage learners to choose their own emoji as they complete the lesson. The emoji they create/animate should clearly convey a specific emotion or concept.

Learning Outcomes

I can discuss the purpose of emojis in text-based communication.
I can write step-by-step instructions (aka algorithms!) that tell the computer what to do.
I can use events to control when things happen in my project.
I can use loops to make things happen more than once.
I can create animated emojis that successfully express a particular emotion or idea.

Alternatively, co-create success criteria with your learners using the information from the creative hunt. Based on this discussion, what do they think makes an emoji successful?

Assessment Ideas

  1. Have learners evaluate a peer's emoji based on the shared learning outcomes or success criteria.
  2. Reflection: Interpretation vs. Intention
    Ask learners to share their emoji with two partners. Each partner should interpret the emoji independently, explaining the particular emotion or concept that stands out to them. How close was this interpretation to the intended meaning? The original artist can then choose to make adaptations to their emoji to make the meaning clearer. 

    This may lead into a debate on what is more important: the interpretation of or intention behind a piece of artwork. Does this same line of thinking apply to emojis? Can the group think of some real-life emojis that change meaning based on the context? What are the pros and cons of this?

  • Provide learners with free time to work on their emojis.
  • Ask learners to design an emoji they wish existed. Have them write a short reflection on their rationale.
  • Challenge learners to create animated emoji sentences or riddles. Ask them to consider how they can incorporate animation to provide meaningful clues about the sentence or riddle.

Creative Hunt (Project Zero's Thinking Routine Toolbox)

Twemoji Collection

Inclusive and Accessible Emoji Practices For Our Increasingly Digital World

30 Emoji Riddles to Stump Your Friends (Emma Taubenfeld, Reader's Digest)

Emoji: The Language of the Future | Tracey Pickett | TEDxGreenville (TEDx Talks)

The History of Emoji (Tofugu)

Teach lessons that are tied to your existing curriculum!


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