Want to cement yourself as the teacher who pulled the best (and non-mean) April Fools Day pranks EVER?
I’ve used two big April Fools Day jokes in our classroom and they work. The first is a word search of impossible-to-find words that drives the kids bonkers. The second is a “district-wide spelling test” that they learn fairly quickly is NOT, in fact, a test. Here are some of the comments I heard afterwards.
This was the best April Fools I’ve ever had!
I love this day!!
Wait till I tell my family!
The. Best. Ever.
Kids often come back from middle school and even high school, asking if I still do April Fools Day pranks, adding that it was one of their favorite days of elementary school. And I’m giving you the documents at the end of this post so that you can prank your own kids!
April Fools Day Word Search
Since my fourth graders study the states and capitals of the United States, I do a word search of both. But because kids are quick to catch on, we made it more fool-proof, so to speak, by making it a two-day affair.
Here’s how you do it.
On day one, the day before April Fools Day, give them a State Word Search. This one is actually a real word search with all the states right in there. There are a multitude of false starts, though. In other words, if they are looking for Alabama, they will repeatedly come across “Alabamziz,” “Alaiqic” and “Alabaiens.” But “Alabama” is actually in there too. So when you give the April Fools Day Capitals Word Search the following day, the false starts don’t tip them off to the fact that this might be a joke. They just keep looking and looking. (The similar format from the day before also keeps them from jumping to the conclusion that this is a prank.)
If a kid complains that they can’t find the words, you can be “helpful” by sharing strategies for finding the words, like scanning the puzzle for the first letter of the word. Peek over their shoulder and say, “Try one of the big words, like Sacramento. I can see that one from where I’m standing. Search that one first and the others will probably pop out at you.” Lecture them a bit about growth mindset. “Just because you’re having trouble with something, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Think of strategies you can try. Don’t give up.” Evil, right?
As a teacher, you’ll sense the right moment to shout out “April Fools!” (At the end of the day, you can give them copies of both word searches so that they can prank their families. They LOVE this part!)
Faux Spelling Test
Set the stage for this at the beginning of the day while you’re going over the schedule. “We have a spelling test for the district of ____ to give to you today. It usually takes 2-3 days to do. All the fourth-grade students in _____ are taking it this week. Ideally, it would be nice to get it over with by doing it all at once. But if you’re getting tired, we can stop it halfway or so. We’ll play it by ear.” As these kinds of district-wide assessment happen every now and then, they should be unfazed (and VERY unexcited.)
Later, when it’s time for the test, you can make it even more impressive by going over some ground rules. They should do their best. Their work needs to be legible. Capitalization and punctuation count. Explain that it randomly tests lots of words, so they might get a word like, “an” and then the word like “February.” Encourage them to do their best on all the words. If you want to go full on, you set everyone up with privacy screens, make sure they use the bathrooms first, and then explain the directions. (The directions on the top of the student’s test page are purposely confusing, as such test directions often are!)
There are three pages to the test to make it look truly daunting, but you can just print two back-to-back if you want to save on paper.
Then begin. As the teacher, you read aloud the word, then the sentence. So for example, “Number one. The. The dog is in the yard.” And so on. At number 12, things get interesting with the word “This.” From then on, the words gradually spell out, “This. is. not. a. real. test. Happy. April. Fools. Day. Have. you. figured. it. out. yet.?” At some point, one or two kids will look up at you quizzically. You can wink at them, and give them the “Sh!” sign so they know that you know they’re in on the joke. You can keep going if kids aren’t catching on, but when you start using silly words like ‘hippopotamus” and “mischievous” they’ll realize something’s up and will figure things out fast.
Guys — this is SO much fun! And when they realize it’s fake? You will see kids jumping up and down, laughing and cheering. I shared this with my fourth-grade colleagues last year and we knew when the joke had been discovered when we heard a sudden eruption of joyous screams emit from the neighboring classrooms. It makes for a VERY happy day!
To top it off, you can even have kids pass the test in and then, with bright red marker, circled all the words and wrote a big fat “F” at the top of the page. The students will have yet another joke to take home. “Mom! I got an F on my test today!” (Just remember to write Happy April Fools Day on the hidden side so parents would believe their kids when they said it was just an April Fools joke.)
Your Free April Fools Joke Kits!
April Fools Day Word Search
The Word Search can be found for free on my Teachers Pay Teachers page. I give away lots of fun stuff, so be sure to follow me on TPT so you’ll be the first to know! (I have lots of free goodies on there now. Go here to get ’em!)
April Fools Day Spelling Test
There are two formats for you. The first is a PDF that you can print as is. The second is an editable powerpoint. This is if you want to go the extra mile and write your district name on the test itself.
Share the Love
If you know someone who would love to try this, share with a friend and/or on social media. Let’s get the world laughing! And be sure to follow me on the blog too. I send out weekly emails for insider teachers — it contains information and goodies you won’t always get on the blog or in my store.
We want to hear from you, wonderful teacher! Tell us in the comments either 1) How you will implement this or 2) How did this go in your classroom?
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