About Pictogram use in Church

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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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“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….”


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