Lay all of the cards randomly on a table or the ground.
Gather your group around the cards, allowing them a few moments to become familiar with them.
In pairs, ask each person to pick one or two cards which reflect a feeling they experienced during the activity.
Encourage people to share why they picked the card and why it was so significant to them.
Allow two minutes for sharing.
If time permits, re-gather your group and invite volunteers to share anything that they learned which they believed was significant.
How To Play Narrative
There are just so many uses of these playful and innovative cards, it’s hard to know where to start. Emoji Cards are perfectly suited for use as an ice-breaker, energiser, problem-solving initiative and a reflection tool.
For now, I will focus on their use as a reflection tool. Take a look at the many variations described in the Variations tab for more ideas.
Lay all of the cards (there are 36 of them) on a table or the ground, and gather your group around them. Take a moment to allow your group to survey their various caricatures.
Presuming your group has just completed a significant experience, ask them to pick one or two cards which express one or more of the emotions they felt during the activity. If you have a large group, it is easier to simply invite people to identify the cards and not pick them up.
From here, either invite people to share with one other person, or invite a series of volunteers to share in front of the whole group.
Encourage people to share why they picked a particular card, and what was so significant about the emotion they experienced.
Practical Leadership Tips
One of the most powerful benefits of these cards, when used in a conversation, is that the focus is on the cards, and not necessarily on the people. For some people, this makes sharing a lot more comfortable.
Beware – these cards clearly focus on emotions and feelings, hence this topic can make people quite vulnerable. To this end, consider your sequence, and the environment you have created to foster a safe place to share. When in doubt, always invite sharing in pairs or groups of three or four people.
Health & Wellness Programming
Emoji cards are nothing if not a wonderfully simple and creative tool to help your groups build their emotional literacy. Particularly for young people, the emojis depicted on the cards can be a powerful prompt for people to identify and understand how they are feeling. As described in the Variations tab, there are many ways in which you can use the cards for processing the feelings of your group. This process is useful to guide one’s self-awareness as much as understanding the emotions and perspectives of others.
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
The cards offer two options for reflection – the emoji images and the words. While the two words which appear on the flip side of each emoji card are not strictly connected to that image, they do offer a useful prompt when building one’s emotional literacy. When working with young people, perhaps focus on the background colour of the cards and alternative words if necessary.
Team Initiative: Assemble all of the cards from happiest (most positive) to saddest (most negative.)
Time of Your Life: Randomly distribute one card to each person in your group. In pairs, ask each person to share with their partner at least one time that they experienced this feeling in their life.
Empathy for Others: Pick a card which you think reflects how someone else may have been feeling during an experience. Share this observation with someone other than the person nominated, or directly to this person. A higher-level challenge would be to share these observations publicly.
Arrival Activity: Invite individuals to pick a card or cards which reflect how they are feeling as they enter the space, or start of your program. Invite people to find one or two others to share their thoughts.
Story-Telling: Randomly distribute a set of 5-8 cards to small teams, and ask them to create a story in which every emotion is utilised. In advance, consider if you want the story to focus on fun or function to guide the impact of your group’s deliberations.
Name That Feeling: Ask an individual to pick one random card from the pack, and non-verbally demonstrate/model this emotion in front of a group, asking them to agree on the name of the emotion being expressed. If possible, encourage your group to achieve group consensus.
Spot The Difference: Deliberately select two cards which appear to express very similar emotions. Ask your group to identify and discuss their similarities, differences and subtleties in emotions. This conversation is ideally to develop awareness and empathy for others.
Create one or more digital boards which feature a bunch of emojis on the screen. Once displayed, your options for their use are as many as described in the Variations tab. For example, take a look at this simple emoji reflection board created in padlet. You are welcome to use this with your groups, but of course, you can produce your own.
Non-threatening method to invite sharing in a group.
Useful Framing Ideas
It may sound like:
“LOOKING AT THE CARDS LAID OUT BEFORE YOU, I’D LIKE YOU TO PICK JUST ONE CARD WHICH YOU THINK MOST CLOSELY REFLECTS AT LEAST ONE OF THE FEELINGS YOU EXPERIENCED DURING THIS LAST ACTIVITY…”
“YOU HAVE ALL BEEN GIVEN A RANDOM CARD FROM THIS PACK OF EMOJIS. YOUR TASK NOW IS TO FIND ONE PERSON IN THE GROUP YOU DO NOT KNOW VERY WELL, AND SHARE WITH THEM AT LEAST ONE TIME YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED THIS FEELING IN YOUR LIFE…”
The inspiration for, and the original developers of, Emoji Cards was Paradigm Shift (USA.) You can purchase the latest playmeo-designed deck of Emoji Cards by clicking the following link: