I’ve never been a fan of pranks. In fact, I never thought I’d be writing a post about April Fools’ pranks for kids; yet here we are.
True story: there was a year in my childhood where my siblings and I got several broken bones and cuts requiring stitches. To play a joke on our family’s babysitter, my dad painstakingly crafted this realistic cast out of Plaster of Paris. She often joked that every time she came over, there was a new injury (common for a rough and tumble group of 4 young kids).
Kristen was in our house for less than 10 seconds (barely enough time to register my “cast”) when I stood up, breaking the cast apart, declaring “It’s just a joke! It’s just a joke!” because I truly could not bear to lie. Pranks, tricking people, and jump scares have never been things I’ve enjoyed.
Don’t get me wrong–I loved playing pesky jokes on my family as a child. But I quickly learned how much I hated being on the receiving end of those pranks, which tamped down my desire to be the joke player over the years. Which is why April Fools’ has always been problematic for me.
Teachers and April Fools’ Day
During my first year teaching, the other first-year teacher down the hall told me about a trick she was playing on her students. She told them she had brought them a treat; when they asked, she replied with what sounded like “brownies.” Imagine the students’ delight and then abject horror when she revealed a tray of brown Es: brown lowercase and uppercase letters, cut out on the Ellison press the night before.
The idea of playing that prank on my students makes me cringe. I think it’s kind of mean, to be honest. Unless, of course, you follow up with *actual* brownies—not allowed in our neck of the woods due to food allergies.
Overall, my April Fool’s Day experience in the classroom was mostly one of “students play jokes all day on the teacher” and that was honestly fine by me–most of the time. But when my own kids became old enough to know about April Fools Day and (unfortunately) come to expect some mischief on this day every year, I was forced to get creative. Here’s what I came up with:
5 Mostly Nice April Fools’ Pranks For Kids
Prank #1: Act like you’re celebrating another holiday
Your kids will be shook if they come to school expecting April Fools’ pranks for kids like them but find their teacher in full Halloween garb. Better yet, deck out the classroom to match the theme, and then treat the students like *they* are the ones who’ve lost their minds. Make sure to change the date on the board, the calendar, and any seasonal items you may have out. Once the cat is out of the bag, it might be fun to have some activities planned that align with whatever holiday you were pretending it was–because why not?
Prank #2: Pretend you are another teacher
Arrange with another teacher to completely switch personas for the day. If your school allows, it would be awesome to go so far as to change classrooms for the day (or at least the morning!) Curate your outfit, mannerisms, and details to match the other teacher. When students arrive, pretend like you are the teacher just filling in while the regular teacher (you) is at a meeting, an appointment, etc.
Pro tip: Read Mrs. Nelson Is Missing once your students can be tricked no longer. Hey, it was fun while it lasted!
Prank #3: Act like you’re your twin visiting for the day
Pretend to be your twin! Whether you arrive as a substitute or a visitor, trick your students into believing your twin has come to school in your place that day.
Prank #4: Get other teachers in on it.
This is so important! It’s one thing to get a rise out of students initially, but the prank can be enhanced by getting even one other teacher in on it–ask them to pop in briefly and totally play along, leading the students to really think things have gone batty. Here’s a specific idea: pretending like it’s the first day of school, ask your neighboring teacher to come in and ask to borrow a specific First Day of School book.
Prank #5: Give students a nonsense assignment
Saving the best one for last here! I’d be remiss if I didn’t give accolades to Mr. D for this idea (if you aren’t following him, you’re missing out!) He is the OG of April Fools’ Day pranks for kids, in my opinion.
This year, I’ve put a twist on his fake spelling test prank and made a version for my morning journal prompts. The morning journal routine was the smoothest of all routines in my classroom, so students moved through the motions seamlessly most days. This makes it extra funny to envision their response when they see the following slides (I made several because I couldn’t pick just one!)
You can download these slides for free here: