This year April Fool’s Day is Friday, April 1st. While not a traditional holiday of either gift giving or religious importance, it is still a fun day to celebrate. Today’s traditions of April Fool’s Day revolve around playing harmless jokes on friends and family. However, the basis of the day actually revolves around topics that are great for the classroom – learning about the calendar, the first day of spring, the change of when New Year’s is celebrated, and the historical significance of a variety of pranks that we play today.
This is an especially sensitive issue as students with emotional or cognitive disabilities may not understand or become upset by the jokes or pranks that other students may be playing throughout the school day. Making special needs students aware of April Fool’s Day is important so that the students can understand the intentions of why their peers may make jokes or play pranks They could get involved in school-appropriate April Fool’s jokes as well. This day must be managed with sensitivity and direction to avoid mean or destructive behavior from any student.
History of April Fool’s Day
There are many resources available online geared for students to learn the history behind April Fool’s Day.
Wilstar.com, a website based on exploration of a variety of topics, has a history page devoted to April Fool’s Day. On this page, students learn that the significance of April’s Fools Day and how it began when the calendar was updated to the Gregorian calendar. The New Year was changed from the beginning of spring to January 1st. The people who didn’t accept this change were considered the ‘fools’ and were made fun of for not following the new calendar. Today, different cultures put their own twist on the day including tricking people for the entire day, holding two days of April Fool’s silliness or celebrating the day on a different day of the year.
The Franklin Institute also has a great page about teaching students about the history of April Fool’s Day. This includes more information about the different calendar systems and the changes that were made and why they were implemented
April Fool’s Day Activities
Classroom activities for April Fool’s Day should be fun and engaging. Playing small jokes on your students to get them motivated always works with the middle school students. Giving the students a silly, impossible worksheet or a fake pop-quiz on pop culture are two examples. For elementary students, you can read them silly books or give them fun worksheets to learn to learn about simple jokes and April Fool’s related vocabulary. More activities can be found on this link to April Fool’s activities designed by teachers.
There is one “prank” that sent me into tears from laughing so hard as I was writing this blog. I was thinking of a classroom joke to play for my students this year and I was thinking of the traditional examples given above when I came across this idea from eHow. As a computer teacher, I can update the Google homepage, the default on computers, to search in three different ‘fun’ languages Elmer Fudd, Pirate, and Klingon. I will do a web-related activity having these settings up on the search engine without their knowledge to have a fun time. For each option, the main choices of searching, settings, feeling lucky, and search are all updated in the fun languages. For example Elmer Fudd “hunts” instead of searches, and the Pirate “Sails into Port” to login.
What are you plans for April Fool’s Day?
Article by Laura Ketcham
Picture by Vanessa Pike-Russell