April Fools’ Day can be a lot of fun when you’re teaching elementary school. Students pile into the classroom in the morning full of pranks and ideas to trick the teacher. But maybe you’re looking to get in on the action this year with some April Fools’ Day pranks that are appropriate for school and will make your kids giggle?
Not only have researchers found that laughter helps students retain information, but it’s also a great way to build a community feeling in the classroom. The students that laugh together learn together!
With that in mind, the Teach Starter teacher team put our heads together to share some truly fun classroom pranks that will elicit laughs without any of the hints of meanness that some pranks involve. Bonus: several of these April Fools’ Day pranks for kids have an educational bent.
Let the practical jokes begin!
April Fools’ Day Pranks for School
Hold a Free iPad Drawing
You probably have a fair amount of cool prizes in your classroom prize bin, but an iPad? Surely nothing quite this spectacular has been up for grabs before! Little do your students know that inside that box you’re showing off to the whole class is just an eye patch!
Alternatively, you can grab an old mousepad and tape the letter I to it. Once your students realize they have been had, you can use this fun classroom prank as an opportunity to talk about homophones and ways that words can sound alike but be misleading!
Hand Out Brown Es
It’s another “sounds the same but not quite” April Fools’ Day prank! Offer your students “brown E’s,” and watch them dissolve into laughter when they realize they’re not actually getting “brownies.” Thanks to South Carolina teacher Lexe Roberts for this fun joke that her kindergartners love.
Wacky Word Search
Word searches are always a hit with students, but wait a second … are there hijinks afoot? Hand out word searches with word banks that have been switched, so it’s impossible to find any of the words! Want to take things up a notch? You can create a search that’s stuffed with silly April Fools’ Day-themed words in our create a word search generator. You can even grab a word bank to add from any of these word searches. Some words to add to your custom word search:
Alternative option: Print out two different word searches, and mix the word banks. It does the same job with half the work.
Spelling Test Nonsense
Speaking of nonsense, it’s time to set your spelling list aside for the day, and use April Fools’ Day as a chance to challenge your class to a new kind of spelling test — nonsense words!
Turn the Desks Around
Need a simple April Fools’ Day prank for the classroom that doesn’t require any planning? Show up to school five minutes earlier than you usually do, and turn students’ desks around or mix up their chairs. Proceed to act like everything is absolutely normal as students filter into the classroom.
Morning Work Mayhem
If your students are accustomed to entering the classroom and grabbing their morning work, you can use this as an opportunity to sneak in an early morning April Fools’ Day prank. Grab the first page of their work, and staple it to several more sheets of paper, stapling all around so it’s extra difficult to get inside. Once they break through all the staples, they’ll find their work wasn’t in there after all!
April Fools’ Day Classroom Activities
Pulling pranks doesn’t have to be the limit to celebrating April Fools’ Day in the classroom. Use the holiday as a chance to talk about hoaxes, jokes, and more. Teaching about media literacy? April Fools’ Day is a perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of finding good sources for information.
Take a “Trip” to the Museum of Hoaxes
Visit the Library of Congress April Fools’ Day Chronicle
Another virtual field trip students can take without ever leaving the classroom, the Library of Congress Chronicling America project offers a look at April Fools’ Day pranks from the 1800s!
Discuss Internet Misinformation.
We don’t have to tell you that the internet is a great resource for student research and also a quagmire of misinformation that can be confusing for students just learning how to do research and find credible sources. A 2017 study by watchdog group Common Sense Media found that a third of students 10 and up have been duped by what they thought was a valid news article on the internet, and worse, they’d shared that story with others.
Take advantage of the theme of April Fools’ Day to dive into the challenges that the web presents — from satirical sites like The Onion to sites sharing jokes like the ones typically shared on the holiday to those with more nefarious plans to mislead and deceive.
Download and print a “what makes a credible website” poster to display in the classroom for students to reference.
Teach Kids What Makes a Good Prank
April Fools’ Day can be good, harmless fun, and laughter is good for the soul … but some pranks are mean and inappropriate. Make a point to use April Fools’ Day to help students understand the difference between the two and how to be more inclusive and kind. Ask students to think when they tell a joke: Is this something that can hurt someone’s feelings? Would it be OK if someone said this joke to me?