🗃U1LA2 Mini Project: Custom Emoji pt. 1

What message does your emoji convey?

Overview && Teacher Feedback

In this project, students will use all of the concepts that they have been practicing from LA #1 and LA #2. They are also asked to write a prompt explaining why their emoji should be added to the Unicode Consortium.
This project is a culminating assessment or practice for learning activity 2. It focuses on a student’s creative use of variables, random, and a digital citizen perspective. Some options for implementation are in class lab time, at home projects, and class presentations. This is a great opportunity to build a positive and collaborative classroom culture.


Students should be able to:
  • Use system variables
  • Use custom variables
  • Utilize random() function
  • Create a digital image for an audience
  • Defend and validate their creations

Suggested Duration

1 ~ 2 period(s) (45 ~ 90 minutes)
If students are focused and working, you can allow for as much time as you'd like for them to make something they're happy with!

Planning Notes

Planning Notes
Students can work in pairs Allow time for planning. Students will need 3 tabs open for every lesson of this course: p5.js Editor, Slide Decks (optional), P5.js Reference Guide
No extra materials required outside of a computer.


Do Now/Warm Up (5 - 8 min.)

Share students this Emoji Day Video video.
Introduce the project prompt and read it with your students
Ask students:
  • What is your favorite emoji and why?
  • What would a world without emojis be like?
  • How do emojis influence our society?
  • Are emojis harmful or beneficial to society?

Lab Time

Allow time for students to brainstorm their ideas in a group, as pairs or whole class discussion.
Ask students to:
Write down 3 ideas without sharing with anyone for 3 mins Share their ideas with your peers Pick and finalize one idea
Teachers should circulate and make notes of struggling students for conferencing or remediation. Students should be adding comments to their code to differentiate each shape they are making and where it -should- be appearing. If you’d like students can pair up and give feedback on comments and emoji creation.

Wrap Up

Ask students to present their work as a class in groups of 4. If your students want to see everyone's emoji then have a gallery walk where students can use post its to add feedback and comments.

Culturally Responsive Best Practices

All projects in the ICM curriculum are meant to be adaptable to your student population, and this one is no different. The purpose of this project is to allow for student creativity and to assess their ability to create an algorithm composed of a sequence of functions that creates a final design they are proud of - what that design is can be anything! If your students would respond better to something that is not emoji-based, consider adjusting the prompt accordingly.
Other things to consider:
  • You could make this a more activist-focused lesson by asking students to specifically design emojis that they feel their community needs and are currently lacking in the current library. Reviewing the history of emojis - they were created in Japan and the designer never thought they would catch on outside of Japan - can help the framing of this project.
  • Another activist-focused lesson could be to ask students to reimagine an emoji that could be problematic, as Apple did for the gun emoji. (Emojis look different across platforms for the same reason different fonts have different appearances if students are curious.)
  • As a CS and design-focused course, students are asked to explain not only the code of the programs but their design decisions throughout the year. To better reach all students, consider the different ways that you can collect responses. In lieu of a written response, could students create an explanatory video, or submit to a platform like FlipGrid? Are there ways you can offer supports for students who may struggle with written expression, or written expression in English?


Some students may finish early, have them go through the p5.js reference and add color to their emojis.