About Pictogram use in Church

2.01.2013

Many of you have asked about the rules regarding pictogram use in church in connection with my Article of Faith posters.  Here's what I know.

A year or two back someone left a comment on this blog on one of my Lyric charts stating that pictograms weren't allowed for use in church.  It started a firestorm of comments on the Year of FHE Facebook page where people actually copied and pasted the portion about the rule from the handbook.  The discussion got rather heated so I eventually deleted it from Facebook.

I had never heard of this rule before so I called my friend, Emily, who was a Primary Chorister at the time and she said her Stake Primary President had made her aware of the rule when she first got her calling. 

The gist of the rule was this:  You can use pictures to help memorization but they MUST be a picture of the true meaning of the word.  So, you can use a picture of Jesus when the word in the song is Jesus, but you can not use a picture of a bumble bee when the word in the song is BE.  That's why there are pictograms used in the Friend Magazine, as some of you have mentioned.  They use the proper picture for the proper meaning of the word.

Some of you who have left comments here and on the Facebook page which have seemed literally angry with me. I am not trying to ruin anyone's fun or keep kids from learning the Articles of Faith. Clearly.  I assume we all want to follow the rules of the church as we serve.  Please talk with your Priesthood Leaders about this rule and together you can make a decision.

If anyone knows the exact wording or can link us to the spot in the church handbook where this rule is stated I would LOVE it if you would leave a comment here. 

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UPDATE:

"I Have a Question", Ensign, Aug. 1990, 52-53
(Questions of general interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy)

In this article Daryl V. Hoole of the Primary General Board said,

Primary leaders Church wide prepare prayerfully and carefully to teach and lead in ways that will be for the good of the children. However, well-meaning leaders and teachers sometimes employ teaching methods that are not in the children's best interests. Among these methods can be the inappropriate use of some types of memory aids and the improper use of competition.

Memory Aids: I find that memory aids are appropriate when used with wisdom and propriety, but they can also be misused and confuse children or cheapen sacred things. For example, when we want children to think of the gift of the Holy Ghost, we do not want them to visualize a wrapped present.

Another method that I think is frequently misused in teaching Primary songs is the use of rebus symbols—pictures that suggest syllables or words in a phrase. The following are examples of rebus I find misleading: a head of lettuce and an iron depicting the words let us all press on; a picture of a bee and a leaf for the word believe; a spear being thrust into an object for 'spear- it'/Spirit; and a wrapped stick of gum for 'chews', as in choose the right. Not only can these rebus symbols make indelible and erroneous impressions on children, but they can also interfere with the learning process. Children mentally replace the real meaning of the word with the meaning of the symbols. The rebus for the words let us all press on, for example, allows the image of lettuce and an iron to take the place of an accurate image of persevering.

Rebus symbols are generally not effective in teaching concepts, but are best used in rote memorization…."


http://www.lds.org/ensign/1990/08/i-have-a-question?lang=eng


18 Way Righteous Comments:

Jacki said...

I remember the pictogram rule being in the old handbook, but I can't find it in the new one online. It reminds me of how many hymns I thought I knew what they were singing, then upon learning to read realized the words were different (and actually made sense).

My stake primary presidency in Virginia was adamant about having drawings or pictures look like realistic people, and not like cutesie cartoon versions- so the kids didn't think of scripture stories as fairy tales. Luckily we have so many pictures from the church for scripture stories, you only need clipart to identify concepts, not people. After she brought it to our attention I became aware of how often the Primary manuals and the Friend point out that the stories REALLY happened and weren't a parable or made up.

NaDell Ransom said...

We just love them for at home. I put them outside the bathroom door in the hallway where they can study them while they wait for their turn. I also added the real words underneath so my reading kids can turn to those if they are confused at all by the pictures or if they just want to read the words. Thank you for making them available!

Rachel said...

The pictograph thing was separate letter given by the General Primary Presidency at the time, if I remember properly. They asked us to use real meanings of words, just as you stated. There isn't official documentation that I can find unless someone knows how to get those letters that are given out all those years ago. I was the chorister at the time in an old ward. They aslo asked us to use as many church approved materials as possible. Approved pictures etc... I have been a chorister on and off for the last 5 years. I scoured the church website, the handbooks, childrens songbook and the Outline for sharingtime this morning and I could not find the statement anywhere. But it was given at some point, possible in a Primary leadership training? I think they just want us to be appropriate and smart about the way we teach the songs. Invite the spirit and testify. If there is any question, counsel with the presidency and the Bishopric (2nd counselor is over the primary). If anyone was serving in the primary presidency then, maybe they could shed some more light...

On that note, thank you for all your efforts and all you do! We are so grateful. Don't sweat the rude people, they are the ones in the wrong. They need to check themselves and remember what all this is all about!

Chiemi said...

I never comment, but I gotta tell you that I love your blog. There are plenty of really grateful people out here we just aren't as vocal about how happy we are with your awesome work. Don't let the ungrateful ones get you down.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I am a Primary Chorister and I have been using pictograms in my flip charts and my teaching and didn't even know this rule.

stevie kay said...

Thank you for providing them. I used to use them in my primary class (opps, had no idea) and my five year olds had the first two memorized and were on the the third before I was moved to YW, so I can see how they've very helpful for the young ones who struggle to ever remember the large words let alone understand them, but also I definitely see why the church would want us to use literal pictures. After all, what does it matter if you can recite every article of faith if you don't have a clue what it means! Anyway, we still use them in our home, and I'm glad to have them.

Jen said...

girl, you are awesome for sharing....peeps that don't want to use the AWESOME stuff shared on this site, don't use it!! thanks for sharing your talents and work girl!! GO year of FHE!!

Allison said...

There's nothing in the current church handbook that states pictograms or cryptograms cannot be used, me and the ward Primary President scoured it yesterday. I have some struggling readers in my class, so we were very interested in that, since pictograms work so well for helping them feel like they can still "read" something when called upon to. Using literal pictures also helps those early literacy skills, so maybe instead of a bumble bee for "be" a person could use a capital B, which would probably be a more literal representation, etc... Anyways, these article of faith cards are awesome, I'm loving using them with my girls at home and we'll probably use them for a long time to come.

Anonymous said...

As Allison stated above, there does not seem to be any current church policy that states pictograms or cryptograms cannot be used. As far as I can tell, the controversy seems to have started when this article appeared in the Ensign back in 1990.

Daryl V. Hoole, "I Have a Question", Ensign, Aug. 1990, 52-53
Questions of general interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy

Daryl V. Hoole, Primary General Board. Primary leaders Church wide prepare prayerfully and carefully to teach and lead in ways that will be for the good of the children. However, well-meaning leaders and teachers sometimes employ teaching methods that are not in the children's best interests. Among these methods can be the inappropriate use of some types of memory aids and the improper use of competition.

Memory Aids: I find that memory aids are appropriate when used with wisdom and propriety, but they can also be misused and confuse children or cheapen sacred things. For example, when we want children to think of the gift of the Holy Ghost, we do not want them to visualize a wrapped present.

Another method that I think is frequently misused in teaching Primary songs is the use of rebus symbols—pictures that suggest syllables or words in a phrase. The following are examples of rebus I find misleading: a head of lettuce and an iron depicting the words let us all press on; a picture of a bee and a leaf for the word believe; a spear being thrust into an object for 'spear- it'/Spirit; and a wrapped stick of gum for 'chews', as in choose the right. Not only can these rebus symbols make indelible and erroneous impressions on children, but they can also interfere with the learning process. Children mentally replace the real meaning of the word with the meaning of the symbols. The rebus for the words let us all press on, for example, allows the image of lettuce and an iron to take the place of an accurate image of persevering.

Rebus symbols are generally not effective in teaching concepts, but are best used in rote memorization…."
http://www.lds.org/ensign/1990/08/i-have-a-question?lang=eng

The Heiner's said...

I love your AOF posters! They are so cute and have been wonderful aids for my 4 year old to learn them! She's on number 5 right now ;-)
Thanks so much for taking the time to post them on here I think they are wonderful!

Linda Lu said...

Note: The answers are for guidance and not church policies. Love your AofF posters! During music time we even use live visuals. Our chorister was inspired to create stations around the room with visual props. In learning "My Heavenly Father Loves Me", she used items like a big hand held fan, for 'the wind as it rushes by', and a squirt bottle that spritzed the children as they walked by 'the rain on my face', etc. She was inspired to use those live props in proper learning sequence and the children remembered the words!

roxanne said...

I LOVE that idea about the stations with the fan and the spritz of water.

It may not be in the current handbook, but I know it was in the old handbook from a few years ago. I am a convert to the church, and Primary Chorister was my first big calling, and then a counselor in Primary. I remember clearly learning about that, and how we should not have a representation for the Holy Ghost. I guess you already knew it was in the old handbook since you said people were pasting it onto your fb page. I find it interesting that it is not referenced in the new handbook.

I was happy to read the excerpt from the Ensign, as I think it is more in-depth and gives the "why" behind the answer instead of just stating the rule.

Ashlee said...

I am a primary chorister in my ward and I think this is a silly rule. I understand that there can be some negative symbols used to represent something else, like the "spear it, spirit," but it limits my teaching methods. Thank you so much for doing this blog. I think everything on here is fantastic! I wish you would finish the rest of the articles of faith though, my kids LOVE them!

Anonymous said...

http://www.lds.org/ensign/1990/08/i-have-a-question?lang=eng

The referenced excerpt regarding the use of memorization aides is found in the article "I Have a Question". Immediately following the title of the article is this statement: "Questions of general interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy."
It is a clear statement that the answer provided by Brother Daryl V. Hoole was not intended to be interpreted as church policy. The policies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will only be found in the most current Handbook, not in a magazine article.
It is also worth noting that in the aforementioned article, Brother Hooke states: "Rebus symbols are generally not effective in teaching concepts, but are best used in rote memorization." Memorization of the Articles of Faith is rote memorization, and therefore use of a rebus symbol is absolutely appropriate.

Leanna said...

These type of rules can change. Food used to be prohibited in primary but it is no longer in the leadership manual but online it says simply to consult with your priesthood authority. Yet I still see the food rule all over the internet. I like pictograms but of course one should use good judgement about sacred things. For instance, the sharing time manual jan 2014 says the Savior should not be portrayed by children in a dramatization.

Leslie said...

I haven't read all of the comments, but I think your pictograms are adorable. I'm using them for my kids with FHE. Thanks!!!!!!!

Cara said...

I am new to your blog but I love everything I have seen thus far! I know that this has been beat to death and so I won't comment on it, but I will say that these AOF posters are literally and answer to my prayers as I prayed about how to help my little ones learn these for our ward's primary challenge to learn the AOF. So thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your talents to further the Lord's work...and help me be a better parent!

Anonymous said...

If you go to lds.org to the Primary page (https://www.lds.org/callings/primary/leader-resources/teaching-children/symbols?lang=eng) there is an entire section on the use of symbols to teach children. There is also a Symbol gallery where we can all look at what is church appropriate teaching symbols.

I love found your blog to be very useful, especially when I'm in a hurry (due to the lack of preparation) to get an FHE together. Thank you for all the work that you do. It is truly appreciated and has helped me stay motivated to do FHE every week.

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