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What can you believe? April Fool!

To consider the influence of the media on the tradition of April Foolís Day and to consider if we are people who can be trusted.

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To consider the influence of the media on the tradition of April Fool’s Day and to consider if we are people who can be trusted.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Without any explanation, show the children the You Tube clip www.youtube.com/watch?v=27ugSKW4-QQ.

    When the clip is over, comment that there may be some people in the room who have watched it without any doubt in their minds. In fact, the clip is from a BBC Panorama programme broadcast on April Fool’s Day in 1957! Following the programme the studios were inundated with people asking where they could get hold of the spaghetti trees and asking for details as to how to grow them!
  2. Show the clip www.youtube.com/watch?v=rznYifPHxDg. This is the April Fool’s Day release by Google from 2012, announcing their latest version of Google Maps. Apparently people immediately tried to download this version, thinking that it was the latest trend!
  3. The media is essential for spreading news items and keeping us informed about situations in the world. In general, you would expect there to be some truth in what is seen on the news or written in newspapers – but did you know that it is largely thanks to the media that April Fool’s Day became so popular in the UK?

    Show these examples of April Fool pranks by the media:

    1977 – The Guardian newspaper ran a seven-page supplement with detailed descriptions of an island in the Indian Ocean called San Serriffe. Many people believed it, but it was a total hoax. This led the way for the rise in April Fool’s pranks in the media.

    2012 – The story of a bromance between Simon Cowell and David Walliams.
  4. Read out these other examples.

    – One year in Paris, someone announced that the whole of Europe was going to drive on the left from 1 April. Many believed it and set off to work on the opposite side of the road. There was pandemonium!

    – In 1980 the BBC reported that Big Ben was going digital. They received hundreds of complaints and someone from Japan rang the studio to see if he could buy the clock hands!

    – Car manufacturer BMW once announced that it had developed a car with a detachable steering wheel and with pedals on both the driver and passenger sides, so it could be driven both in the UK and on the continent!

    – Apparently in 1998 Burger King announced that they now sold both left- and right-handed burgers. During the day many people specified which they would like to buy!

    – In 2002 Tesco announced that it had produced a genetically modified carrot that whistled when it was fully cooked!
  5. Many people enjoy the fun of the media playing pranks on April Fool’s Day. Now we watch out carefully for such jokes, but every year many of us are still taken in. But some people think that the media should stay away from playing pranks and should stick simply to reporting news.
  6. In life it’s great to have fun and joke around. However, sometimes it can be hard to work out what the truth really is. We need to surround ourselves with people who will tell us the truth and be honest with us – even if sometimes we don’t like what they say.
  7. Are you someone people can trust? Do you tell the truth?

    A proverb in the Bible says this: ‘Truthful lips endure for ever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.’ What do you think this means?

    It is great to laugh and joke, but let’s also make sure that deep down we are people that can be trusted to speak the truth.

Time for reflection

Take a moment to think of the times when you have laughed with your family and friends.

Take a moment to think about the importance of telling the truth. What do you think this verse from the Bible means? ‘Truthful lips endure for ever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.’

Make a decision to tell the truth and to be a person who can be trusted in every situation.

Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for fun and laughter.

Thank you for times of relaxation,

when we can enjoy people’s company,
play jokes and laugh together.
Help us always to be people who can be trusted in every situation.
Amen.

Hymn

‘If I had a hammer’ (Come and Praise, 71)

Publication date: April 2013   (Vol.15 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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