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Emoji charades

How do you communicate without using voices or hearing? Find out and give it a go with this fun game.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

    Emoji cards
    PDF – 360.6KB

    Before you begin

    • Cut up the emoji cards and shuffle them.

    Discuss disability

    1. Everyone should sit in a circle.
    2. The person leading the game should ask if anyone can describe what ‘disability’ means.
    1. The person leading the game should explain that sensory impairments are one type of disability. Everyone should try and name the five senses.
    2. The person leading the game should explain that a hearing impairment is when people don’t hear well or at all.
    1. Everyone should try and think of some of the ways people with hearing impairments may communicate. They should think about visual methods of communicating, such as sign language, lip reading, or writing. The person leading the game should help everyone understand that these are all ways of communicating without using sound and hearing.
    2. The person leading the game should ask if anyone knows what an emoji is, and where they’re usually found. Everyone should share their answers (one at a time!). Emojis are a specific set of pictures that people use to help communicate messages. Using pictures and emojis can make it possible for people with hearing impairments to join in with games.

     Play the game 

    1. Everyone should split into two teams. The teams should sit opposite each other, leaving enough space in the middle for two people to act at once.
    2. The person leading the game should put the pile of emoji cards in the middle.
    3. The first person in each team should take a card each from the pile and look at it. They should move into the acting space, and mime the emoji on their card without making any noise.
    1. When someone in the team thinks they know the answer, they should do a thumbs up. When the actor points to them, they should say (or write) the answer.
    2. Once the team has guessed the emoji, the next player in the team should have a turn.
    3. At the end of the game, the team that’s guessed the most emojis is the winner.

    Talk about communicating 

    1. Everyone should get back into a circle.
    2. Everyone should think about the cards—which were the easiest to act out, and which were the hardest?
    1. The person leading the activity should explain that we communicate with our facial expressions, gestures, and actions all the time—for example, we might smile at someone to tell them we’re pleased, or we might fold our arms and refuse to look at them to tell them we’re cross.
    2. The person leading the game should explain that non-verbal ways of communicating are especially important for people with hearing impairments. Especially if we don’t speak sign language, it’s how we can communicate with people, and it gives everyone important clues about what we’re trying to say.
    3. The person leading the game should remind everyone that it’s always best to ask people how they prefer to communicate, and then think about how we communicate to make sure they’re included.


    This activity helped you to respect others. How can you communicate clearly if someone has a hearing impairment? For example, it’s helpful to make sure you don't cover your mouth, or face in the other direction. Why is it important that everyone can communicate? Would everyone (not just people with hearing impairments) miss out if people with hearing impairments couldn’t communicate? Just like everyone, people with hearing impairments have talents to share with the world. What should you do if you’re not sure how someone prefers to communicate? You can always ask, and ask people what you can do to make sure you’re communicating clearly, too.

    This activity also gave you a chance to think about your actions and other people’s feelings. How do you think it feels if people don’t try to communicate with you? How do you think it would feel if you couldn’t enjoy things like watching films or joining in with a game? What can you to do make sure people are included?

    If anyone has any experience of hearing impairments, they may like to share – but they don’t have to if they don’t want to.


    All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.