Across the globe, April 1st is April Fools Day. Traditionally, it is a day to play practical jokes and perpetrate hoaxes. Interestingly, there is no traceable origin to when all the fun began, but it has been celebrated for centuries! Considering how unfunny things have been the past 2 years, I want to keep it light today. We’ll peruse some silly activities, reading and movies for your families to enjoy this weekend.
What started the joke?
It occurred to me that I have no idea where or how the whole thing started, so I did a little digging. Turns out, no one else knows either! Origin unknown says the internet. The best that I could find out was that most historians base April Fools in 1580s France. There was a national change from the officially recognized calendar which adjusted the start of the Spring Equinox to April 1st. Since many people didn’t get the news of the change (you know, no Twitter and what not), they became the first “April Fools” and the butt of many jokes.
In the 18th century, there was more widespread recognition of April Fools Day across Britain in particular. Scotland turned it into a whole 2- day festival. People were sent on “fool’s errands” and had the equivalent of “kick me” signs pinned to their backsides. These days, there is still something worthwhile of the chuckle one gets from a classic “kick me” joke, but there is more of an elaborate quality to modern jokes. Be wary of what you read online today lest you be fooled into believing something super silly!
Some folks have really put a lot of thought into pulling off a joke. I have twice (10 years apart) managed to convince my brother that his favorite singer passed away. He is currently not speaking to me and thus I revel in my glee. Today I have also pulled off several instances of “made ya look” by telling students and co-workers they are wearing two different shoes. Always a classic. My face hurts from smiling and laughing.
Amazing April Fools jokes in history
Some of the most successful April Fools jokes have been wide- spread events. Some were able to dupe an entire town, nation or even the world!
On top of spaghetti
When I was younger, I heard about the famous “Swiss spaghetti harvest”. Possibly one of the most famous April Fools jokes of all time, especially considering the global reach of the media prank. In 1957, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) showed alleged footage of harvesters picking noodles off of trees and bushes. They reported on the unusually high noodle crop in Switzerland due to the overabundance of the “spaghetti weevil”. So many people fell for it and called in asking where they could buy a “spaghetti bush”!
Come one, come all!
One of the earliest recorded large- scale pranks was in 1698. Londoners were told to come and see the annual “washing of the lions” at the Tower of London. When the townsfolk arrived, there was no lion washing, only a bunch of April fools. Apparently, this same joke managed to be repeated multiple years in a row, with tickets even being printed for one event years later! Dedication.
Ring the April Fools bell
Those of us “elder millennials” might remember when Taco Bell took out a newspaper ad to announce their purchase of the Liberty Bell. The year was 1996 and the internet still did not exist as it does today, particularly as an informational highway. So, Taco Bell, took their big joke and purchased space in 6 major American newspapers with a “big announcement” that they would be purchasing the Liberty Bell from the federal government to assist with the national debt. Some people were outraged and some were entertained. It was definitely a controversial joke, though effective!
Get in on the fun with your family!
Check out our social media accounts to see the fun jokes you can prank your kiddos with! I always try to remember that some people are more sensitive than others and try to keep the jokes and pranks light and harmless. In that vein, I LOVE creating silly stories to laugh about. As a tween, I was obsessed with Mad Libs. Nothing could make me laugh harder than curating absurd words to enter into the noun and verb boxes. Try these two silly story starters to begin your April Fools fun:
Or, try this online Mad Lib generator! I made some super silly stories with some students during lunch today using this.
Get reading…and April Fools laughing!
There is certainly loads of comedy out there for families to read and watch and not just for April Fools Day. I spent some time looking through Amazon lists and other curated collections of humor content to find some fun titles for my kids to read. My son, who is 7, enjoys a good bodily function joke. Farting is always good for a laugh, we all know it. Our family loves the contemporary classic, Does it fart? A kid’s guide to the gas animal’s pass. Here is a throwback to MTT Facebook read-alouds, featuring the aforementioned title!
Some of my favorites for silly April Fools (and anytime) fun are:
- Anything by Shel Silverstein! American poet, cartoonist, songwriter- master of tongue twisters and silliness. His website offers links to purchase books and has printables and fun resources to accompany his books! I loved listening to him growing up. I would laugh and laugh at his silly voices.
- Raffi songs. He has a whole YouTube channel of concerts from yesteryear to giggle and laugh along with. My daughter is 3 and we LOVE “Banana Phone”. It’s so funny and catchy. He was popular during the childhood of us “elder millenials”.
- Family Comedy movies– Common Sense Media has a great list of good, comfortable laughable fun for all to watch. The list covers a large age range and lists classics to more contemporary titles, so there is something for everyone!
Happy April Fools! We hope you all find an opportunity to laugh and smile today. Share with us your favorite jokes, pranks, funny books and movies in the comments. We love to hear from you!
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.