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April Fool's Day in the Classroom: 8 Resources for Teachers

I still remember April Fool's Day when I was a fourth grader. A reading comprehension worksheet went out to the class, and in minutes, we were all dumbfounded. The story and questions were incomprehensible, written in complete gibberish. But our teacher went along with the joke. We had a half hour to finish it, and it was going to be worth a substantial amount of points.

I don’t remember how long the gag lasted exactly, but I do remember all of us sitting there, mouths agape, wondering if the assignment was serious. Then, once we’d all thrown our hands up, our teacher let us in on the joke: “April Fools!”

April Fool's Day is the perfect time to play some light-hearted pranks on your friends, family, and co-workers; and if you’re a teacher, pulling an unexpected fast one on your students can be entertaining -- and memorable -- for everyone. So if you’re looking for ideas for classroom pranks, or you’re hoping to bring a humor lesson into the classroom, these are a few of our favorite April Fool's Day resources and teaching ideas. Plus, we've also added some more general resources for using humor to reach students.

Do you have other ideas for classroom pranks? What resources are you using to bring April Fool's Day into your class?

  • Edudemic's 5 April Fool's Day Pranks Teachers Can Play: There are plenty of great ideas here for educators. Whether it’s letting your classroom run itself, or suggestions for a few 21st-century pranks, this list will make you laugh and help you pull a prank on your unsuspecting students.
  • April Fool's Day: A Foolproof Primer on Classroom Laughter: In this Scholastic Teacher post, author and teacher Allie Magnuson takes a look at the importance and benefits of using laughter in the classroom. It’s a great read for educators who have been reluctant to use humor in their classrooms, and offers some simple ways educators can get their students laughing and learning.
  • Library of Congress: April Fool's Primary Sources: The Library of Congress (LOC) is a wonderful source of primary sources that can be incorporated in lessons, and this April Fool's themed page features a range of interesting historical sources. Also be sure to check out out the LOC's "April 1: On This Day in History" page for even more fun learning tools.
  • The Museum of Hoaxes: This is a super fun resource to share with students. (And thanks to Julie Winterbottom for sharing this with us.) The Museum of Hoaxes features some interactive and interesting April Fool's timelines, a gallery of hoaxes and other fun stuff for students. One compilation that might be particularly engaging for students is "The Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time."
  • CNN's April Fool's Day Fast Facts: This is a brief look at some of the interesting trivia related to April Fool's that is perfect for sharing with students. Plus, if you're interested in April Fool's history, check out "Where Does April Fools' Day Originate?" from Discovery.
  • Five-Minute Film Festival: April Fool's Day: Last year, Edutopia’s Amy Erin Borovoy produced this playlist of April Fool's Day videos, featuring a variety of hilarious pranks and some contextual videos as well. If you've got a few minutes, it will definitely entertain.
  • April Fool's Day Teacher Resources on Pinterest: There are so many Pinterest boards for teachers on April Fool's -- it's impossible to list them all. But there are a few favorites for teachers, including Rachel Friedrich's board, PediaStaff's useful pins, and Deb Chitwood's great roundup.
  • Foolproof Fun Lesson Activities for April Fool's Day: This post from BusyTeacher.com features some great ideas for April Fool's Day in the ESL classroom. Although these ideas are ESL-focused, the ideas translate well to any classroom.

Tips, Strategies, and Resources for Using Humor to Engage Students

The research is clear about using humor in the classroom -- humor is an extremely engaging tool. But for educators, it can be a challenge to bring a little levity into lessons. Where should you begin? What types of humor are the most effective? And how exactly is humor best incorporated into lessons? Here are a few articles that provide ideas, tips, and strategies for engaging students with humor.

  • Humor in the Classroom: A MiddleWeb Resource Roundup: This resource from MiddleWeb features a wealth of ideas and tips for using humor in middle school classrooms. Included are links to relevant articles, like "Humor as an Instruction Defibrillator," which offers great insights into the types of humor you can use in class. Plus, there are links to articles and other resources that will show you how to use humor in various subjects.
  • Humor in Education Resources, the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH): The AATH database of humor resources offers tons of useful content and will provide ideas for incorporating humor into many different subjects. In their "Humor and Education" section, you'll find articles that cover a range of topics related to humor in the classroom, as well as a long list of books dedicated to humor in education.
  • Tips for Using Humor in the Classroom: Here's a great article from the National Education Association that highlights effective strategies for incorporating humor into your lessons. There are a few examples that teachers have used in their classrooms, as well as a short video Q&A with humor researchers and a teacher who doubles as a stand-up comedian.
  • Lesson Plan: Comedy in the Classroom: The New York Times' The Learning Network put together this resource for teachers looking to bring to humor to their lesson plans. There are some great ideas for teaching the history of humor, writing and performing fake The Daily Show-style newscasts, and analyzing political cartoons. There’s something here for teachers in every grade level.

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BMK's picture

April Fools' Day: the bane of so many teachers' existences. So many of us worry how crazy our kids are going to get and how many ridiculous pranks will be pulled. Instead of dreading the day, we should embrace it. Great suggestions on how to do this!
Thank you so much for reminding teachers that it is okay to have fun in the classroom. In the age of state testing and high stakes testing, we often get so wrapped up in test preparation and curriculum that we often forget that we can enjoy ourselves in our classroom with our students.

Julie's picture

Great post! Another thing teachers can do in the classroom is talk about the history of pranks--how April Fools' Day came to be (see: http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/af_database/permalink/origin_of_april...); some pranks pulled during the 18th century (a sort of golden age of pranking) (see the Museum of Hoaxes website); and some funny presidential pranks (I cover these and lots more from the history of pranks in my kids' book, Pranklopedia). Julie Winterbottom

Tara Smith's picture

I absolutely love this post. I know that a lot of educators dread this particular day. Every year teachers attempt to mentally prepare themselves for the pranks/jokes that they will constantly endure due to April Fool's Day. However, I love the suggestions that were posted which show that teachers can also pull great pranks on their students and have them sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting the unknown. Sometimes it is nice to see that teachers are able to let their hair down once and awhile and get a good, harmless laugh at the expense of their students.

Jan Codling's picture
Jan Codling
6-8 Reading Teacher and Literacy Coach

I love the suggestions shared. I will absolutely use some to see how they turn out.

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

I like anything that reminds us we can take education seriously without taking ourselves too seriously. I'm passing these along today!

Betty Rose's picture

I knew a little girl who's teacher played a prank on them recently on April fools day. He told them that the kitchen had flooded and that they could all have McDonalds. Some of the children actually cried when he told them it was an April fools because they wasn't allowed Mcdonalds! I do think that is pretty harsh to tell a key stage 1 maths class!

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