Thursday, January 20, 2022

Google Sheets Emoji Math - Addition and Subtraction

Emojis can be a fun and creative tool for educational activities. In the past I have shared lots of ideas on how emojis can be used in your classroom for student creativity and learning. Some of these projects have included:

Another use for emojis is teaching math concepts. Emojis can be used to model quantities so students can learn about, explore, and practice addition and subtraction with concrete representations of the numbers.

Adding 2 smiley faces to 3 smiley faces, or subtracting 4 rocket ships from 7 rocket ships, can make the math more understandable for students.

To help with this, I have created a Google Sheet template that lets students choose the emoji they want to work with, and then practice addition and subtraction problems, while at the same time getting conditional formatting feedback to let them know if they have the correct answer or not.

See below for a short 7-minute video showing how to use this template, as well as written directions, and a link to get your own copy of the template to use with your students.

Tutorial Video (7 minutes)

The Template

To get a copy of the Emoji Math template, use the link below:

This will give you your own copy of the sheet which you can use directly, or use in Google Classroom to make a copy for your students, or however you wish.

The template consists of six tabs across the bottom:

✔️ Directions - First you have the "Directions" tab with instructions on how to use the Google Sheet for this activity.

Addition 1 and 2 - Next you have the two "Addition" tabs where the students will be able to practice adding numbers.

Subtraction 1 and 2 - Then you have the two "Subtraction" tabs where the students will be able to practice subtracting numbers

😃 Emojis - And finally you have the "Emojis" tab with a list of available emojis the students can use for their math problems. You are free to add, remove, or edit the emojis in this tab as desired.

Directions for Use

Let's take a look at how to use the sheet for students to practice adding and subtracting numbers.
  • First, in the top left of the addition and subtraction tabs, the student is able to choose which emoji they want to use from the drop-down menu. 
  • This is the emoji that will be displayed when representing the numbers in the math problem on that tab.

  • Next the student will type in the two numbers they want to add or subtract in the first and second boxes.
  • After the student types in their numbers for the problem, the Google Sheet will help visualize those numbers by automatically displaying that amount of emojis below the first and second boxes.

The tabs "Addition 1" and "Subtraction 1" will now provide some additional help for the student by modeling the final answer as well. The Sheet will display emojis to visualize the sum or difference of the two numbers below the third box. The student can use the emojis in the final answer to help determine the answer to the addition or subtraction problem.

The tabs "Addition 2" and "Subtraction 2" will provide less help by not modeling the final answer yet. Instead the student will have to determine the answer by looking at the emojis under the first and second boxes.
  • On any of the tabs, if the student types in the incorrect answer in the third box, the third box will turn red to indicate they have entered the incorrect answer. 
  • The student will need to look at the emojis again to rework the problem.

  • Once the student types in the correct answer, the third box will turn green to indicate they have entered the correct answer.

  • To do another problem the student can simply delete their numbers and type in numbers for a new problem.

Changing the Available Emojis

Remember that you are able to change the emojis that are available for the students to select from.
  • First go to the "Emojis" tab in the Google Sheet.
  • You can delete any emojis here that you do not want.
  • You can also add in any other emojis you want by putting them in the cells in Column A.
  • You can get your emojis from many sources, but one of my favorites is Emojipedia at
  • At Emojipedia you can search for emojis and then simply copy and paste them into the Sheet.


Below are some examples of math problems being done on each of the tabs.

Addition 1

Addition 2

Subtraction 1

Subtraction 2


Using this template the students can practice addition and subtraction problems with numbers up to 30 (since that is how many emojis will fit inside of the boxes). The emojis will give them concrete visual representations of their numbers, helping them understand the quantities being added or subtracted. And the color-coded feedback helps the students know if they got the answer correct or not.

Post by Eric Curts
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