Monday, April 1, 2013

April fools in the Classroom

Many years ago when I taught fourth grade (UK third year) students at Sefton Park Primary School in England April first was always a day of great fun, especially before noon. April fools day, a time for harmless fun and a chance to help children develop their sense of humour.

There were the usual attempts at tricks such as "there's a spider crawling up you shirt" but every so often there was a wonderfully creative one. The last class I taught before emigrating in 1977 pulled one of the best. As I entered the classroom on that particular morning the students were all sitting very quietly at their desks; a sure sign that something was afoot. I sat down at my desk and went to open the draw to pull out the class register but there was no drawer there; in fact there were no drawers visible anywhere.The students had turned my desk around so that the drawers were on the other side. Having turned the desk back the right way and managed to open the drawer I then discover the drawers had been topped up with rice. Hmmm, how to get my own back?

After an hour or so of the usual routine I told the students we were going to learn about spaghetti as part of our project on Europe. I then proceeded to fill the blackboard with information all about how spaghetti grows on trees and how it is harvested (similar to the above recreation). The students dutifully copied the information from the board into their notebooks for 30 minutes and just as the last students were finishing I said "Oh, there's one more thing I've forgotten to write" and I wrote "April fools" at then foot of the board. At first the students were quite shocked and couldn't quite believe what I had written; but then we all laughed together, all 35 of us.

I learned two things from this experience. One, it is important to laugh with your students at least once a day; and two, it's really important to be sure of what you teach children as they will believe almost anything you tell them.

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