April Fool’s Day is on 1 April
by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider what happens on April Fool’s Day and how the day’s origins can be traced back to the Christian Church.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the following April Fool’s Day stories from 2019 and the means to display them during the assembly:
- McDonald’s announces new milkshake sauce pots, available at: https://tinyurl.com/t87szkw
- Nintendo announces that Kirby is now square-shaped. An image of round Kirby is available at: https://tinyurl.com/t8fg7fk and an image of square Kirby is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y5qy6h5l
- Lego announces the launch of an app called Find My Brick, available at: https://tinyurl.com/rt4x5zr
- Optional: you may wish to demonstrate the paper fish game in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4, in which case you will need to stick some paper fish on some prearranged members of staff who are attending the assembly.
- Ask the children whether any of them know what happens on 1 April.
Explain that April Fool’s Day is celebrated in many countries throughout the world. In the UK, Australia and South Africa, the pranks are only meant to be played until midday. However, in other countries including Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Russia and the USA, the fun continues all day!
- Ask the children about their own experiences of April Fool’s jokes. Have they ever played one? Have they ever had one played on them? Have they ever heard of one being played on someone else?
Listen to a range of responses.
- Tell the children about a few of the pranks that were played on April Fool’s Day in 2019.
- One newspaper announced that the Royal Mint (where coins are made) was going to release a new line in 50p pieces. The collection would be based on emojis including the poo emoji!
- One newspaper suggested that April Fool’s pranks were going to be banned.
- Show the McDonald’s announcement about its new milkshake sauce pots.
McDonald’s announced its new milkshake sauce pots on Twitter.
- Show the images of round Kirby and square Kirby.
Nintendo announced that Kirby would now be square-shaped. This might not mean anything to you if you’re not a Nintendo fan, but a famously round character was made square, triggering 40,000 tweets in response!
- Show the Lego announcement about the launch of its new Find My Brick app.
Lego announced the launch of a new app called Find My Brick, which could supposedly use the camera on a mobile phone to find any brick in a pile of Lego.
- Explain that different countries have their own traditions on April Fool’s Day. In France, children try to stick paper fish on each other’s backs without their target noticing. When the recipient realizes, the child who stuck the fish on shouts ‘Poisson d’Avril!’, which means ‘April fish’.
Optional: you may wish to play the paper fish game with the prearranged members of staff, encouraging them to turn around so that the children can see how the joke is played.
- In the USA, a common joke in the eighteenth century was to point up at the sky and shout, ‘Look at that flock of geese!’ If the children looked, they would be called ‘April fool’. Today, people are more likely to say, ‘Look, your shoelace is undone,’ or something similar.
- Explain that April Fool’s Day is a bit of light-hearted fun, but as with many traditions, its origins have connections with the Christian Church.
Ask the children whether they can think of any other special days or events that have a religious connection. They might suggest Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day), Mother’s Day, Christmas, Easter, Halloween and others.
- Explain that we can’t be certain as to where or when April Fool’s Day began. However, the most popular explanation is that it began in France in the sixteenth century, when new year celebrations were moved from 1 April to 1 January.
Most people did as they were told, but some people chose to ignore the change while others didn’t know that there had been a change, which all led to widespread confusion. People who did not change to celebrating on 1 January became the butt of jokes. Over time, this developed into 1 April being a special day when jokes and pranks were encouraged; these were called April fools.
Time for reflection
Encourage the children to think about their friends. Good friends are there for us when we are sad and look after us if we are lonely, but they also love to laugh and joke with us.
Jesus had a group of special friends when he was on earth. There is no doubt that he would have laughed and joked with them.
There is a verse in the Bible that tells us something about smiling and happiness. Proverbs 15.13 says, ‘A happy heart makes the face cheerful.’
Encourage the children to try to make someone else happy today.
Thank you for the fun of the world we live in.
Even when things go wrong, please help us always to see the importance of laughter.
Please help us to make time every day to make someone else happy.
‘Don’t worry, be happy’ by Bobby McFerrin, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU (4.03 minutes long)