Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rebus Quandary

(image from
So, I thought I was doing GREAT and being all plan-aheady and stuff. I started looking for ideas on "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" and found cute ideas on Sugardoodle. Someone posted a cute little poster that she had made with rebus symbols. The only comment on that poster was kind of snarky and blasted her for using rebus symbols.

This has launched me into a mind boggling quandary: (never knew there was a second "a" in that word)
I know I have used hearts to represent the words love or loving, etc.
Now what I want to know - Is that wrong?

So I looked it up. At first I found a question on Mormon Share that linked to another Ensign article (you have to scroll down a bit), but didn't actually say (or at least that I could find) that their quote for the answer was also directly from the Ensign. (That would have saved a LOT of time - but that's okay) {I looked up "rebus" on and it is apparent that rebus is okay for other uses, just not this one - as many of the links were actual rebus stories}

Reading Sister Hoole's article, it seems as if the rebus issue applies more to abstract concepts:
"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." Okay, I get that. And with this song in question: the word would comes up quite often. After reading all this I would shy away from using a picture of wood since it is a homophone {and more technically a heterograph} that is NOT spelled the same. And I really wouldn't want to be the cause of years of misspelling words.

A picture of a bee has been used repeatedly in conjunction with Gordon B. Hinkely's "Be's" and that seems to be okay. So is a heart in place of the word "love" okay as well?

My current understanding is that moderate and easily understandable and not "misleading" use of rebus symbols might be acceptable, but to do so, I think I would really get on my knees and pray about it. Which I should be doing for EVERYTHING. I guess I just get so caught up in it being such a super fun calling I forget about that key factor.   

So, with that being said I found this SUPER moderate use of rebus poster set on Because I have Been Given Much

(Isn't it pretty?! from
With all this internal debate I have put myself through - I am thinking of printing the second poster twice and then replacing the pictures of eyes on the first poster with the actual letter "I"'s on the second poster. (Sorry for not putting in a pic of the 1st poster - but click the link - it's a great poster set!)

What do you think? Am I wrong? Should we not use a letter C for "see" and a mouth for "say"? Should I use words only at one time and then pictures only at others? I personally feel comfortable with the above poster. Would you?


  1. That is an AWESOME poster. I would, however, change the C to SEE because I want my kidlets to understand that it involves looking - and being able to SEE the Saviour someday. That principle is lost when you use the letter C.
    Otherwise, fabulous poster!!!

  2. I have been struggling with the same thing. The Friend was always full of stories using symbols when I grew up...I loved them. It is funny that it is suddenly not acceptable when it was done for years.

  3. I found your blog as I was looking for a quote about not using rebuses etc in teaching Primary. We just had a stake meeting, and we were told to be very careful using pictures and not use rebuses at all. No one could tell me where the church has says this, but a couple of people said that, yes, the church has told us not to use them. The only thing I have found is from the 1998 Ensign that you also mentioned. That quote is by a woman who wrote into the magazine, not by the church. Have you found anything else about this?

    I do not use rebuses as I believe they make learning more confusing for the children. And do agree we need to be careful with pictures so that we do not confuse the young children. But It seems this has not come from the church leadership.

    1. Well, you need to take into consideration that the Church APPROVES everything that goes into the magazines. I also think that people jump on this bandwagon "The Church has SAID....", but then it is exceedingly difficult to find hard copy proof.

      I have personally not researched this topic further, as I felt comfortable in my end decision and I haven't had any opposition to the visual aids that I use.