For some, April Fools' Day is the scariest day of the year. For others, it’s the most anticipated. For teachers, it’s a chance to give students a taste of their own medicine and play some pranks on them! It’s a totally acceptable and fun way to get a little jokey with students while being creative.
But this year is not like others. Teachers who used to reassign seats all day long, do classroom switches, or weird candy food pranks are at a loss. With COVID-19 restrictions, April Fools' jokes are more complicated than ever.
So, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of our favorite April Fools' jokes to play on students this year.
April Fools' Joke #1: Fake Pop Quiz (Remote or In-Person)
This joke can be done remotely or in-person, and it’s a classic. Basically, give students a super long pop quiz, and instruct them to read through the entire quiz before doing it. In the last question, make it say something along the lines of, “Don’t answer the questions. Write your name and turn this in.”
April Fools' Joke #2: Assignment Due (Remote or In-Person)
This joke is better in-person, but can definitely be modified for a remote classroom. Regardless, you’ll need to tap about half the class in advance. Midway through your class, you can “remember” that they had an assignment due. For the students you told in advance, they’ll turn in a fake assignment, leaving the other half of your class totally perplexed!
For remote learning, you can just thank specific students for handing in the assignment (let these students know in advance what the joke is), which will leave the rest of the class wondering what assignment you’re talking about.
April Fools' Joke #3: Speak Silently (Remote or In-Person)
This is a great remote prank, as your students will begin to think something is wrong with your sound or with theirs. Basically, just talk without making any sound, it’s very simple! In person, this will go over better with younger students, and can be especially funny during story time.
April Fools' Joke #4: Final Exam Answers (Remote)
This joke was first played by Gabi Martorell, a professor of psychology at Virginia Wesleyan University. Basically, when sending out a homework assignment, “accidentally” include a link that says “Final Exam Answers.” It might even help to send a follow-up email saying, “please disregard the link in the last email,” to really get your students to click it.
Professor Martorell linked to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” but you can link it to anything! Maybe an early-2000s YouTube video, like Charlie the Unicorn, is ready for a comeback.
April Fools' Joke #5: Upside-Down Computer (Remote or In-Person)
This is a super fun joke to play on students this year. Even if you cast a screen in the classroom to a SmartBoard or some other device, it’s still totally doable. If you’re in a remote classroom, it’s even easier to do while sharing your screen. Basically, flip your computer screen upside down, and pretend nothing’s wrong when sharing the screen to your students.
Here’s how to flip a computer screen: if it’s a Windows, type CTRL + ALT + Down Arrow. On a Mac, go to System Preferences and hold down Command + Option while clicking on Display. There should be a new field for “Rotation” and then click the 180 option. Beware, it may take a few tries to get the “Rotation” field to show up!
April Fools' Joke #6: Backwards Classroom (In-Person)
This joke can only be done in person, and may be the only way to do a classic desk-change April Fools' joke in COVID times. Before the beginning of the day, flip everyone’s desks to face the back of the classroom! That’s it!
April Fools' Joke #7: Paper Props (In-Person)
This is another in-person April Fools' joke that will surely receive some giggles. Basically, make a bunch of paper versions of classroom items. For example, instead of real scissors, draw scissors and cut them out of paper. You can take this one really far and replace crayons, colored pencils, books, and more with paper versions of the objects. It’s a bit creepy and very funny!
April Fools' Joke #8: The No-Prank Prank (Remote or In-Person)
Some of us don’t have time to come up with and plan elaborate schemes for April Fools' Day. So instead, hype it up with your students and talk about the upcoming April Fools' Day a bunch to keep them on the edge of their seats. Then, when April Fools' Day finally arrives, you can watch them nervously wait for a joke that’s never coming.
April Fools' Joke #9: The Robert California List (Remote or In-Person)
While many of us have never watched The Office after Michael Scott's departure, there are still some great scenes in the last couple of seasons. Plus, what better television show to find pranks in than The Office, which is full of pranks between Jim and Dwight that range from a Pavlov’s dog joke to cooking items into meatballs.
In one later episode, the new CEO, Robert California (James Spader), has a random list with the names of everyone in the office in two columns. Andy finds the list, and the entire office tries to figure out what it means. To translate this to the classroom, simply put all your students’ names into two columns at random, and "accidentally" show it to them. They’ll be wondering what it means the entire class.
April Fools' Joke #10: The Fake Spelling Test (Remote or In-Person)
This one is super cute. Give a spelling test of made-up words, and then, read aloud the correct answers that can have any number of silent letters. Teacher Joey Dee pulled this one off in 2017 and it’s hilarious.
Bonus April Fools' Joke: A Joke for Students to Play on Teachers (Remote or In-Person)
This is a great joke for students to play on the unsuspecting teacher. Basically, one student will ask to go to the bathroom. When the teacher says yes, all the students should stand up together at the same time and walk out into the hall. This may be difficult to do in-person in COVID-19 times, but can definitely be done remotely if everyone has their cameras on and simultaneously leaves the room.
Happy pranking, everybody!