April 1st is the perfect chance for everyone to let loose and enjoy some playful pranks. I’ve got some easy April Fools book ideas and pranks for students that are sure to make the whole class crack up. So, let’s get ready to have some good fun!
This is also a great time to emphasize the difference between laughing at someone or laughing with someone.
History of April Fools Day
Do you know the history of April Fool’s Day? The origin is not exactly clear, but this is the prevailing thought.
According to the History Channel, April Fools’ Day might have started way back in 1582. That was the year France decided to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one, which the Council of Trent called for back in 1563. Anyways, the Julian calendar and the Hindu new year aligned with the spring equinox which was around April 1st.
As you can imagine, the news did not travel fast in 1582, some folks didn’t get the memo that the new year was moved to January 1st. So, they kept partying like it was still the end of March or early April. People started making fun of them and playing tricks on them, calling them “April fools.” One common prank was putting paper fish on their backs and calling them “April fish” (or “poisson d’avril” in French). It was supposed to be like calling them young, easy-to-catch fish and making fun of how gullible they were.
It may be fun to share this history with your students. You could cut our fish shapes out of construction paper. Then write letters on them.
April Fools Day Activity
It may be fun to share the history of April Fools Day with your students, then add this fun activity You could cut April fish shapes out of construction paper. Then turn it into a partner activity.
You could play this game like “Hedbanz.”
How to Play Headbands in the Classroom
How do you play Hedbanz (headbands) in the classroom? Write a word, letter, number, shape on the card. Give students a stack that is facedown. Students draw a card without looking at the contents and place it on their foreheads. The person with the card on their forehead will ask their partner yes or no questions.
- Does it have 3 letters?
- Does it start with the letter “t”?
- Is there an “e” in the word?
Partners take turns asking questions until they can guess the answer.
You may want to model this activity with the whole classroom for your youngest learners, but it sure is fun!
Grab the free fish template from my Google Drive by clicking:
Fun April Fools Day Pranks
Here are a few harmless and silly Apri Fool’s Day pranks your kiddos will love. Remember, the best trick is the one where everyone laughs! If you have ever been a victim of an April Fools joke that leaves you embarrassed, then that is really not something we want to bring into our classrooms. We want to be sure students have a lot of fun! Right?
*Be mindful of potential food allergies.
April Fools Day “Brownies”
This joke has been around for a long time. Warning: YOU MUST HAVE REAL BROWNIES if you want to escape without tears.
When you holler out, “Hey class, I made brownies!” they’ll come rushing over in excitement. But when they lift the foil covering the pan, they’ll discover a pile of letter E’s made out of brown construction paper that you carefully arranged. Oh, the looks you will get!
Don’t let the sting of this prank linger. Be sure to reveal the real McCoy immediately.
April Fools Punch
Make a quick Jell-O mix and add a straw to it. Put it in a clear drinking glass and let it cool until it looks like their favorite fruit juice or punch. Serve it to your little ones, but watch them get stumped when they try to suck it through the straw!
Don’t worry, add spoon and your students will love it!
Donut Seeds Prank
This little prank does not need any explanation. (But I will give you one anyway.)
Fill a little back with a circle cereal like Cheerios or Froot Loops. Then add this Free Donut Seed label.
This prank is just silly and makes a great afternoon snack!
Googly Eyes EVERY. WHERE!
Add Googly eyes everywhere!
- On the bulletin board
- On your whiteboard
- On your timer
- On your book pins
- On the mirrors in the bathroom
- On your reading comprehension posters
You’ll know when students find them because you will hear giggles! You could even have students keep a log of where they found the eyes. Kindergarten and first grade students might document their finding using a combination of drawing and writing.
Chocolate Eggs Prank
Just like the Brown Es prank, you’d be wise to have the real deal on hand.
Unwrap the chocolate eggs (eat them all immediately… kidding). Then wrap grapes in the colorful foil. Watch the students’ faces as they unwrap them. Follow up by handing out a real chocolate egg or something else that is suitable for your students.
I’m not sure how fun this one is. I’m not a huge fan of bugs in general. Yes! I know they are important to our ecology, I just don’t really want them in MY immediate ecological circle.
However, these bugs can be repurposed for your insect unit, so I’m just going to say, “You do you!”
You can use fake ants, rubber tarantulas, or plastic spiders hanging from the ceiling.
Also, please keep your individual students in mind. I have had a few students who did not like being scared (this teacher is also raising her hand.) I don’t like to be startled thank you very much.
Although we may have good intentions with a joke, we don’t want a student who may be anxious to have a hard time.
April Fools Books and Lesson Ideas
There are some really cute April Fools Books out there! My absolute favorite book is, April Foolishness, by Teresa Bateman.
Here is a brief overview of the book:
It was morning on the farm and the kids had come to visit their grandparents. As Grandma got ready, she realized that it was a good day to have the kids around. Meanwhile, downstairs, Grandpa was cooking breakfast when the kids suddenly rushed in, informing him that the cows had escaped. However, Grandpa remained unperturbed and continued to pour his milk.
The kids then informed him that the chickens were running around wildly, but Grandpa simply continued frying his eggs. Finally, they informed him that the pigs had broken through the gate, but Grandpa remained unfazed. Later, when Grandma came into the kitchen to find out what all the commotion was about, Grandpa revealed that the kids were trying to play a trick on him. Grandma clarified that it was not April Fool’s Day, and Grandpa quickly rushed outside to check, only to discover that it was, in fact, a prank played by Grandma.
We included this read aloud in our Engaging Readers Reading Comprehension series. It is clearly PERFECT for April Fool’s Day! As you know, each day we read the book for a different reading comprehension purpose. The teacher does all of the decoding work, but the students do the comprehension work. This is done through oral discussions with their partners. We have provided all the reading and writing prompts and have taken the guesswork (and pain) out of planning.
April Foolishness Inferring
On the first day of the book, we focus on inferring or making an inference. Here was our writing prompt:
Readers use the clues in the story to help them understand what’s happening. Why do you think Grandpa keeps ignoring them?
April Foolishness Sequencing the Story
Each week, we usually include a story sequencing activity where students place the events of the story in order. The students then turn to their reading partners and practice retelling the story in order. This is such an amazing way to strengthen each student’s oral language. Students get accustomed to using transition words and holding the storyline in their heads. If students lose track of the events, they can always glance at the pocket chart for support.
These cards can also be helpful when wanting to discuss the main idea of a story.
Students also complete their own black and white version of the story retelling.
April Foolishness Making Connections
Students are asked to make connections to the story. Here is the writing prompt:
Readers make connections. The children and grandma played a trick on Grandpa. Have you ever played an April Fool joke on someone? What did you do?
April Foolishness Schema
Students also spent time noticing the details in the text and attaching their own schema or prior knowledge to help make the meaning clearer. Here is the prompt:
Sometimes authors include some fun details in their books. Teresa Bateman did this in April Foolishness. Let’s look back and see if we can notice some of the fun details she included.
Then we guided students to look at the page where the cows got out. Then notice the next page where Grandpa is drinking milk. We continued looking at the pages where the animals get out, then looked at what Grandpa is doing. We asked students if they noticed a pattern in the text.
We followed up with the discussion prompt and then created a chart to go with the story.
Let’s make a chart about what we know about the products that come from farm animals.
April Foolishness Directed Drawing and Sentence Study
We always love to include some sort of art or craft project for each of the books. We love when we can combine the art project with the sentence study. Here are a few of the directed drawings.
April Foolishness Read Aloud Video
With each of our reading units, you MUST have the physical book. You need to flexibility to go forward and back in the text as well as linger on pages. Having said that, you may find it helpful to have a video version of the book. This provides another model of reading fluency which benefits students.
We know you are busy and planning your own lessons takes time. Therefore, we have taken the hard work on for you!
You can find all of the April Fool Day book lesson plans for April Foolishness by clicking:
Additional April Fools Books for Kids
Here are some other April Fools Day books your young learners will love!
Here is a quick synopsis of the book:
On April Fools’ Day, Gilbert was excited to play pranks on his friends, but things didn’t go as planned as he ended up being the target of pranks himself, even from his teacher, Mrs. Byrd. However, the biggest prankster of them all was Lewis, the bully.
If you love Gilbert (and I do) you may love this other reading book I have blogged about:
Here is an overview of this book:
Ellie May, a quirky and humorous second-grader, is overjoyed that her class is allowed to partake in April Fools’ Day pranks, as long as they are harmless. She sets her sights on the practically perfect Ava and begins practicing on her family. However, Ellie May’s harmless pranks, including fake ants, trick tape, and hidden surprises, end up turning her classroom and home upside down.
Despite her imperfect nature compared to the know-it-all Ava and her rational best friend Lizzy, Ellie May’s good-heartedness ultimately shines through. She learns that the best prank is one that makes everyone laugh genuinely, without hurting anyone’s feelings.
Something really weird is going down in Mud Flat village today! Mr. Duffy disappeared in a cloud of green smoke, and Brian woke up with his head turned the wrong way around. Doris ran into a tree that started singing to her, and Lila got squirted in the eye by a playful rose. It’s like everyone’s gone crazy with some kind of funky spring fever! But don’t worry, James Stevenson has got us covered with another hilarious story about the lovable folks from Mud Flat.
Oh Arthur! This is a great book to add to your classroom collection!
This is a story about when the April Fool’s jokes get a little out of hand. Arthur worries about remembering his magic tricks while trying to stay out of the way of Blinky, the bully.
Phyllis is convinced that a storm is approaching, but nobody believes her due to it being April Fool’s Day. Despite her repeated warnings, everyone is more interested in the Spring Treasure Hunt, which involves solving riddles that both children and young groundhogs can enjoy. Each clue brings them closer to the treasure but also further away from home, and closer to the incoming snowstorm.
Eventually, they realize that Phyllis was correct about the weather, and they make it back home safely. However, Phyllis gets the last laugh. It’s no surprise, as she is Punxsutawney Phyllis after all.
When Sheep found out it was April Fool’s Day and he was excited to have some fun! He set his alarm an hour ahead, which woke up Rooster from his sleep. Sheep then played funny tricks on his friends Dog, Pig, and Cow, making everyone laugh.
But Horse was also in the mood for pranks and decided to play a trick on Sheep, which led to even more laughter among the farm animals.
Pearl and Wagner books are great beginning chapter books for you to read with your students. Some first grade students might love to read these on their own! Here is a brief synopsis of the book:
Everyone is pranking Wagner: his teacher, his librarian, and especially his best friend Pearl. But Wagner (and the kids reading along) will have the last laugh!
Hubie is having a hard time getting ready for the big day as March comes to a close. His usual prank items such as the whoopee cushion, rubber tarantula, and fly in the ice cube no longer seem to be sufficient, especially since the most unexpected source comes up with the most severe joke.
April Fool Book Lesson Plan Template
Would you like to download this free lesson plan template? It is editable so you can make changes to match your own classroom needs! The following link will take you to my Google Drive to download it.
You May Also Be Interested In:
Would you like to learn more about our interactive read-aloud lessons and how they align with the science of reading?