An April Fools’ Day Lesson from Teaching House
| Teaching House Nomads Blog
I was looking through my calendar recently and there was a reminder onMarch 31st that said “put L’s breakfast in the freezer overnight” – L is my4-year-old son. I was puzzled at first, but then I realized it was in preparation for April Fools’ Day. The idea is that he will attempt to eat his breakfast cereal as usual, except it will be rock hard, having spent the night in the freezer.
This is what’s known as an April Fool – a prank or trick that people in many countries play on their friends or family in the morning on April 1st.It’s likely that your students will have heard of this special day and probably have something similar in their country, either on April 1st or a different date. This lesson is a fun way to get students to develop their speaking fluency and unleash their creativity on the theme of April Fools’ Day.
The lesson starts with a video of an April Fool played by the BBC in 2008where they showed a colony of penguins seemingly flying, telling the unsuspecting public that this was a newly discovered species of penguin. First, students brainstorm some facts about animals that live in cold climates before watching the video and answering some comprehension questions. It’s likely your students will have heard of this prank, or will be able to figure it out, but if not, why not keep up the ruse until the end of the lesson? There is another short video about how the video was made which can be shown at the end or earlier, if the class figures it out.
The rest of the lesson is a task-based speaking lesson where learners work together in groups to plan a trick to play on someone as part of a new TV show called “Prankorama”. The trick can be anything and played on anyone, perhaps a friend or the general public, either in real-life or online – the choice is theirs. Each group will present their April Fool to the group who will vote for their favorite.
It’s a fun lesson with lots of opportunities for creativity and speaking fluency, but of course, learners come to class primarily to improve theirEnglish, not just to have fun. For this reason, there is a vocabulary matching task for learners to develop their ability to work out meaning of unfamiliar words from context. It’s also a good idea during the speaking stages, to listen carefully to the groups and note down plenty of examples of language that can either
● be shared with the group if it’s good (high-level, complex grammar or natural, advanced vocabulary for example)
● be corrected if it’s not quite correct.
Put the language on the board and elicit whether the example is corrector incorrect. Students can do this in pairs first as well to make the stage more effective for lower level learners. This language focused feedback can be most useful before the stage where groups present their ideas to the class, so that they can practice and incorporate what they have learned, but it’s fine todo at the end of the lesson as well if you prefer.
We hope you and your learners enjoy this lesson – let us know in the comments how it went!
Lesson Plan Overview
Level: Suitable for Intermediate(B1)/ Upper Intermediate (B2) and Advanced (C1-C2) students.
Learning Outcomes: Learners will develop listening skills and learn about April Fool’s Day. Students will also develop their speaking skills.
Note to teacher: This is a lesson of two halves: one in which you play an April Fool’s trick on your learners, and the other where they learn about and discuss April Fools’ day and design a trick or joke that could be played on someone - either in real life or via social media.
Give the students the worksheet with the animals and elicit the animal names (polar bear, penguin, seal, whale). In pairs students brainstorm some facts about them.
● Polars bears mostly eat seals
● Polar bears are the world’s largest predator
● The largest of all seals is the Elephant Seal
● Seals only spend about 20% of their time on land
● Many whales are toothless
● There are 79 to 84 different species of whale
● Penguins are a type of bird
● Penguins can’t fly
Prediction/ gist task
Tell the students they are going to watch a short video about a newly discovered colony of penguins with an unusual ability. In pairs, the students write down a prediction as to what the ability may be. Sts then watch the video clip and check their predictions.
Get some feedback from the students. What do they feel about this new discovery?Have they heard about this?
Detailed Listening Task
Students listen/ watch the clip again and answer the following questions:
● How many species of penguins can fly? One
● Why do penguins usually huddle together in winter? To keep warm
● Where do the penguins fly to? (The rainforests of) SouthAmerica
● What do they do there? Bask in the sun
Students match the words to their definitions on the context of the listening (please see attached worksheets). During feedback, remember to check understanding, highlight the part of speech and any common collocations (words that commonly go with the vocabulary), and drill mini-chunks of language (e.g. bask in the sun) to help learners with their pronunciation.
In groups or as a whole class, discuss the following questions:
● Are you surprised by this new discovery?
● What do you think the impacts of the discovery will be?
● Have you ever heard of any other unusual animal discoveries in your lifetime?
After the students have discussed these, get some feedback from them based on their opinions. [NB - If the learners figure out or know already that this is anApril Fool, you can do stage 9 now instead of later on]
If the students haven’t figured it out already, then you can pretend you are moving on to a new topic and try to keep up the appearance that the flying penguins exist until the very end of the lesson.
Ask your learners if they know whether April 1st is a special day in the USA/ UK.
Tell them it is April Fools’ Day and ask whether they know what it means or why it is special. Get them to unfold their handout and read what it means. They can share anything they learned in pairs before brief whole class feedback. Make sure they know the following vocabulary:
● A prank
● A joke
● A trick
● On somebody
Ask the students to get into groups (would work best with mixed nationalities in each group) and discuss the following questions:
● Does April Fools’ Day exist in their country?
● If so, is the date the same?
● What do people usually do on this day?
● What is the best prank/ joke that they have heard about or seen online?
Get some feedback from the different groups about what they have discussed. Let the students decide which sounds most interesting.
Introduce the idea of a new TV show called “Prankorama”
In teams, contestants plan and secretly film a prank. The audience votes on which was the best prank and that team wins $50,000. Give a couple of examples to inspire them.
Tell students that they are going to compete on Prankorama.In groups, students discuss a prank/ joke they could play on someone in real life or on social media. They need to decide on the following information.
● Who will they play the trick on and why?
● What they will need to do in order for the trick to be successful
● The plan for carrying out the trick
While they are speaking, keep a note of interesting language that comes up - either good high-level language or examples of errors to correct or upgrade. Consider grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Put these examples on the board and got through, eliciting corrections if appropriate or praising the good, complex language. Drilling can be useful here to improve pronunciation and help learners memorise the correct language.
Students then present the ideas to the class and the class votes on the best/ funniest practical joke.
End of lesson
To round off the lesson, tell the students they are going to watch something aboutApril Fools’ Day pranks. Tell students to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzhDsojoqk8 and decide what they think about the prank. It should take the students only a few minutes to realize that the penguins clip was a fake.
No feedback required, you can just laugh with them and send them on their way. You could show this clip earlier in the lesson if they already know or figure out that the penguin clip is an April Fool!
Download the April Fools Day Lesson Worksheets below: