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28th March 2016



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It seems that April Fool has begun a little early this year with reports of Google's Nexus 16 phone, the 2029 model, being reviewed from space by an astronaut.

Here are lots of stories & ideas for April Fool's Day lessons:

2015 tech tricks:

So YouTube was a competition all along. Google have just announced that it has been a 8-year-long contest and that they are finally starting the process of choosing a winner, which should take a decade to trawl through all the videos. The site will shut down imminently & the winner will be the only video on the site when it relaunches again on 1st April in 2023. So if you want to see any videos on YouTube, you'd better get a move on before they're gone.

And then there's also Google Nose:

And here are a couple of more interesting stories for the day:

The world's first mobile phone - in 1938:

Twitter without vowels - you have to pay to use them:

Google SCHMICK - Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion kit:

The Guardian Goggles:

The anti-Drone hoodie:

Virgin launches glass-bottomed plane:

News report about the growing trend of hipsters in Dalston, east London, keeping penguin as pets:

Boden, the clothes shop, introduced the Marylebone Man-Skirt:

Barclaycard PayWag;

Here's a summary of this year's stories to use - students read - don't tell them they are jokes initially - & discuss, then rank them in order of imaginativeness, believability etc:

Some stories in the news on Monday 1st April, 2013 - what do you think?

- Google have announced that YouTube has been a 8-year-long contest and that they are finally starting the process of choosing a winner, which should take a decade to trawl through all the videos. The site will shut down imminently & the winner will be the only video on the site when it relaunches again on 1st April in 2023.

- the Times newspaper reported that Nasa is planning a $2.6 billion robotic mission to catch an asteroid in a giant bag and tow it to the Moon as part of a long-term programme that could one day lead to the permanent settlement of humans in space.

- Twitter announced that if you want to use vowels in your tweets you'll have to pay, otherwise it remains free to use.

- Google also announced 'Google Nose', which provides smells for whatever you type into the search engine – just "bring your nose as close as you can to the screen and press Enter".

- claims to be offering the Belgian Suite of Buckingham Palace (an "iconic palace in the heart of London") from 1 April for £10,000 a night.

- Pirate Bay, says that "we hereby announce that we have moved our servers from the evil North Korea to the greatest ...nation in the entire world … The United States of America, ..... yeah!."

- Boden, the clothes shop, introduced the Marylebone Man-Skirt - "Trousers made sense when men rode horses, ploughed fields and trawled for fish. But now that so many of us are sat in front of a computer monitor all day the man-skirt is a smart choice."

- the BBC ran a report on the growing trend of keeping penguins as pets in an area of London.

- Virgin announced that it is introducing a "glass-bottomed plane" for its new route to Scotland.

- the Guardian newspaper announced Guardian Goggles, augmented-reality glasses that allow readers to surround themselves constantly and in real time with the approved Guardian view of your local fishmongers, cinemas and restaurants – and will even censor objectionable opinions in rival newspapers.

- Barclaycard issued a video explaining PayWag, a credit card put into a dog's collar so that they can pay for things in shops.

- Battersea Dogs & Cats Home announced that it has started training its dogs in more unusual "life skills" such as hoovering, gardening and washing up, in a bid to help them find new homes.

- Radio 4's Today programme this morning, reporter Nicola Stanbridge announced that barcodes would replace numbers on the sides of trains, so trainspotters can simply photograph it with a barcode reader on their smartphone.

- the Daily Mail newspaper showed photographic proof of the first mobile phone in 1938.

So it's April Fool's Day on 1st April, a time for practical jokes in
quite a few Western countries. Nobody really knows where or when
the tradition began, the first time it was mentioned was in
Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales'. On Wikipedia they say 'Many writers
suggest that the restoration of the 1st of January as New Year's
Day in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the
holiday, but this theory does not explain earlier references.'
On the same page there is a list of well known public practical
jokes,that includes the Guardian's spaghetti harvest supplement.

Here are a couple of our own from past Tips - we've stopped them as we do get credible questions about them!

'Cognitive & affective feedback':

'Stir It Up':


Below is a history of April Fool's Day from Wikipedia:


The origins of April Fool's Day are unknown, although various theories have been proposed. It is considered to be related to the festival of the vernal equinox, which occurs on March 21. Prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, it was observed as New Year's Day by cultures as far apart as ancient Rome and India. New Year was originally celebrated from March 25 to April 1, before the Gregorian reforms moved it back to January 1. The English first celebrated the day on a widespread basis only as late as the 18th century, though it appears to have reached England probably from Germany in the mid-17th century. Its first known description in English originates with John Aubrey, who noted in 1686: "Fooles holy day. We observe it on ye first of April. And so it is kept in Germany everywhere."

The custom of playing practical jokes on April Fool's Day is also very widespread and of uncertain origins. The victim of a joke is known in English as an April Fool; in Scots as a gowk (cuckoo or fool); and in French as a poisson d'avril (April fish). It has been suggested the custom may have had something to do with the move of the New Year's date, when people who forgot or didn't accept the new date system were given invitations to nonexistent parties, funny gifts, etc. Originally, April Fool's Day jokes concentrated on individuals (sending someone on an absurd errand such as seeking pigeon's milk) but in the 20th century it became common for the media to perpetrate hoaxes on the general population.

Here are some ideas on using the above text:

  • present it as a cloze - take out every nth word & the students fill in the gaps from the contextual clues. Cloze tests were first designed to check the readability of texts & they can be quite hard, so have a go at completing it yourself first. Also there might be more than one right answer. After the task, you could pick up on one or two of the answers & give further practice.
  • for free software so that you can create cloze tests on your computer, ready to print off:

    This is a very small download that doesn't need installing - just click on it. You need to create a text file with the text you want to use in it eg. text.txt. Then create an empty file eg. text1.txt . Double click on the programme & first enter the interval number - every nth word you want omitting eg. 9, then press 'enter', then write text.txt, then 'enter', then write text1.txt , then 'enter'. Finally go to your text1.txt open it & see the cloze text you have just created, together with the answers - very easy! Keep it all in one folder for ease of use. See below for a cloze I created of the History text. If your students find it difficult, have the answers at hand - jumbled up! - to give out while they are completing the task.
  • present it as a selective cloze - take out all of the verbs or all vocab connected to a certain field. Nice for reviewing an area.
  • after dealing with the text, the students could think of tricks they could play, the most imaginative being the 'winner'.
The origins of April Fool's Day are (1)____________, although various theories have been proposed. It (2)____________ considered to be related to the festival (3)____________ the vernal equinox, which occurs on March 21. (4)____________ to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar (5)____________ 1582, it was observed as New Year's Day (6)____________ cultures as far apart as ancient Rome (7)____________ India. New Year was originally celebrated from (8)____________ 25 to April 1, before the Gregorian reforms moved (9)____________ back to January 1. The English first celebrated (10)____________ day on a widespread basis only as (11)____________ as the 18th century, though it appears (12)____________ have reached England probably from Germany in (13)____________ mid-17th century. Its first known description (14)____________ English originates with John Aubrey, who noted (15)____________ 1686: "Fooles holy day. We observe it on (16)____________ first of April. And so it is (17)____________ in Germany everywhere."

The custom of playing (18)____________ jokes on April Fool's Day is also (19)____________ widespread and of uncertain origins. The victim (20)____________ a joke is known in English as (21)____________ April Fool; in Scots as a gowk ((22)____________ or fool); and in French as a (23)____________ d'avril (April fish). It has been suggested (24)____________ custom may have had something to do (25)____________ the move of the New Year's date, (26)____________ people who forgot or didn't accept the (27)____________ date system were given invitations to nonexistent (28)____________, funny gifts, etc. Originally, April Fool's Day (29)____________ concentrated on individuals (sending someone on an (30)____________ errand such as seeking pigeon's milk) but (31)____________ the 20th century it became common for (32)____________ media to perpetrate hoaxes on the general (33)____________.


1 unknown
2 is
3 of
4 Prior
5 in
6 by
7 and
8 March
9 it
10 the
11 late
12 to
13 the
14 in
15 in
16 ye
17 kept
18 practical
19 very
20 of
21 an
22 cuckoo
23 poisson
24 the
25 with
26 when
27 new
28 parties
29 jokes
30 absurd
31 in
32 the
33 population

On the same page as the History text there is mention of some notable April Fool's jokes, for example:

Television licence: In another year the Dutch television  news reported that the government had introduced a new way to detect hidden televisions (in many countries in Europe, one must pay a television licence to fund public broadcasting) by simply driving through the streets with a new detector, and that the only way to keep your television from being detected was to wrap it in aluminium foil. Within a few hours all aluminium foil was sold out throughout the country.

A couple of ideas for using this:

  • Give out or dictate the first part up until '...broadcasting) ' & the students work together & complete the text, reading them out & deciding on the most interesting, & then reading the remainder of the original.
  • Use the text as a dictation & then focus on the tenses - past perfect, past simple - & past passive.
  • you could use the text as a running dictation - see:


Here's a lesson plan on April Fool jokes:

Preliminary information

Time: 75 minutes??

Level: Intermediate upwards

To give intensive reading practice
To give freer speaking practice
To give freer writing practice
See the texts for possible language aims

That the stds will be interested in the topic of April Fool's Day.
That the language will not be too difficult to get the overall meaning of the texts.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Some of the vocabulary may be challenging >> dictionaries on hand/ meaning from context tasks.
Structures - depending on level - have a good look at the texts you want to use. You may want to provide tasks focusing on the vocab & language with each text.

Aids: Quotes & Texts below with permission from the Museum of Hoaxes


Stage 1 - Intro to the theme of April Fool's Day through the 'fool' quotations
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std

1. Elicit the vocab: a fool, foolish, to act the fool.
2. Handout the quotes & in pairs read & discuss the ones they like.
3. Feedback - class - elicit their faves & discuss why. Ask if they know any in their own language?
4. Introduce/elicit April Fool's Day - maybe through the day they celebrate in their country to play pranks on each other. Elicit what kind of things are done on a day like this. During this introduce vocab connected to the lexical set: to play a joke on, a prank, to be taken in, gullible, etc....

Stage 2 - Reading
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std

1. Explain the activity - the stds read one of the past pranks, work on the text, & then get together with other stds to explain their prank & rank them in order of imaginativeness, effectiveness, fun etc..- a jigsaw activity.
2. Handout texts - stds in pairs read & help each other with comprehension - poss. have dictionaries on hand. You could add comprehension & vocab tasks at the end of each text. Be on hand to help out when all else fails.

Stage 3 - Jigsaw speaking activity
20 mins tch<>stds, std<>std

1. Put stds into two or three different groups - each having read a different text, depending how many you have in the group. The stds explain their stories & then together they rank them. Also encourage them to write down new vocab they learned from each other.
2. When they have an order either get one std to go to the other group to explain the order & justifications or go back to the original pairs & they compare what they have heard & their group's orderings.
3. Feedback - on both the task achievement & the language, both difficulties & good things that came up.

Stage 4 - Stds design their own April Fool's joke
20 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds

1. Set up the activity, explaining that they are going to design their own & write a report of it for all to read & then put them on the walls to vote on most imaginative.
2. In small groups/pairs stds discuss & write - be on hand if needed.
3. Stick up reports on walls - stds wander round reading each others.
4. Vote on best - could be done informally in a class discussion.

A few quotes about fools & foolish things

However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him. (Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux)

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools. (Herbert Spencer)

Looking foolish does the spirit good. (John Updike)

Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed. (Mark Twain)

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. (William Blake)

Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other. (Benjamin Franklin)

A fool must now and then be right by chance. (Cowper)

It is better to be a fool than to be dead. (Stevenson)

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. (Douglas Adams)

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. (Mark Twain)

The surprising thing about young fools is how many survive to become old fools. (Doug Larson)

Some April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time

1. The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
In 1957 the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in, and many called up wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. To this question, the BBC diplomatically replied that they should "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

Spaghetti harvest

2. San Serriffe
In 1977 the British newspaper The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement in honor of the tenth anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The Guardian's phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer's terminology. The success of this hoax is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April Foolery that then gripped the British tabloids in the following decades.

3. Sidd Finch
In its April 1985 edition, Sports Illustrated published a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch and he could reportedly throw a baseball with startling, pinpoint accuracy at 168 mph (65 mph faster than anyone else has ever been able to throw a ball). Surprisingly, Sidd Finch had never even played the game before. Instead, he had mastered the "art of the pitch" in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa." Mets fans everywhere celebrated at their team's amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more information. But in reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the writer of the article, George Plimpton.

4. Hotheaded Naked Ice Borers
In its April 1985 issue Discover Magazine announced that the highly respected wildlife biologist Dr. Aprile Pazzo had discovered a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. These fascinating creatures had bony plates on their heads that, fed by numerous blood vessels, could become burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speeds. They used this ability to hunt penguins, melting the ice beneath the penguins and causing them to sink downwards into the resulting slush where the hotheads consumed them. After much research, Dr. Pazzo theorized that the hotheads might have been responsible for the mysterious disappearance of noted Antarctic explorer Philippe Poisson in 1837. "To the ice borers, he would have looked like a penguin," the article quoted her as saying. Discover received more mail in response to this article than they had received for any other article in their history.

5. Alabama Changes the Value of Pi
The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0. Before long the article had made its way onto the internet, and then it rapidly made its way around the world, forwarded by people in their e-mail. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by a physicist named Mark Boslough.

6. The Sydney Iceberg
On April 1, 1978 a barge appeared in Sydney Harbor towing a giant iceberg. Sydneysiders were expecting it. Dick Smith, a local adventurer and millionaire businessman (owner of Dick Smith's Foods), had been loudly promoting his scheme to tow an iceberg from Antarctica for quite some time. Now he had apparently succeeded. He said that he was going to carve the berg into small ice cubes, which he would sell to the public for ten cents each. These well-traveled cubes, fresh from the pure waters of Antarctica, were promised to improve the flavor of any drink they cooled. Slowly the iceberg made its way into the harbor. Local radio stations provided excited blow-by-blow coverage of the scene. Only when the berg was well into the harbor was its secret revealed. It started to rain, and the firefighting foam and shaving cream that the berg was really made of washed away, uncovering the white plastic sheets beneath.

7. The 26-Day Marathon
In 1981 the Daily Mail ran a story about an unfortunate Japanese long-distance runner, Kimo Nakajimi, who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. The Daily Mail reported that Nakajimi was now somewhere out on the roads of England, still running, determined to finish the race. Supposedly various people had spotted him, though they were unable to flag him down. The translation error was attributed to Timothy Bryant, an import director, who said, "I translated the rules and sent them off to him. But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake. He seems to be taking this marathon to be something like the very long races they have over there."

8. Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity
In 1976 the British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on BBC Radio 2 that at 9:47 AM a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to occur that listeners could experience in their very own homes. The planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that would counteract and lessen the Earth's own gravity. Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment that this planetary alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation. When 9:47 AM arrived, BBC2 began to receive hundreds of phone calls from listeners claiming to have felt the sensation. One woman even reported that she and her eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room.

9. The Left-Handed Whopper
In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version."

10. Whistling Carrots
In 2002 the British supermarket chain Tesco published an advertisement in The Sun announcing the successful development of a genetically modified 'whistling carrot.' The ad explained that the carrots had been specially engineered to grow with tapered airholes in their side. When fully cooked, these airholes caused the vegetable to whistle.

11. Guinness Mean Time
In 1998 Guinness issued a press release announcing that it had reached an agreement with the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England to be the official beer sponsor of the Observatory's millennium celebration. According to this agreement, Greenwich Mean Time would be renamed Guinness Mean Time until the end of 1999. In addition, where the Observatory traditionally counted seconds in "pips," it would now count them in "pint drips." The Financial Times, not realizing that the release was a joke, declared that Guinness was setting a "brash tone for the millennium." When the Financial Times learned that it had fallen for a joke, it printed a curt retraction, stating that the news it had disclosed "was apparently intended as part of an April 1 spoof."

12. Drunk Driving on the Internet
An article by John Dvorak in the April 1994 issue of PC Computing magazine described a bill going through Congress that would make it illegal to use the internet while drunk, or to discuss sexual matters over a public network. The bill was supposedly numbered 040194 (i.e. 04/01/94), and the contact person was listed as Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards). The article said that the FBI was going to use the bill to tap the phone line of anyone who "uses or abuses alcohol" while accessing the internet. Passage of the bill was felt to be certain because "Who wants to come out and support drunkenness and computer sex?" The article offered this explanation for the origin of the bill: "The moniker 'Information Highway' itself seems to be responsible for SB 040194... I know how silly this sounds, but Congress apparently thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of highway it is." The article generated so many outraged phone calls to Congress that Senator Edward Kennedy's office had to release an official denial of the rumor that he was a sponsor of the bill.


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