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April Fools' Day: A Foolproof Primer on Classroom Laughter

By Allie Magnuson on April 1, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K

Happy April Fools' Day, everyone! Since today celebrates the spirit of fun, I thought I'd talk about the importance of humor and laughter in the classroom, how to utilize it, and why you don't have any excuses not to. Also, take a look at my students, caught on candid camera.

 

 

Happy April Fools' Day, everyone! Since today celebrates the spirit of fun, I thought I'd talk about the importance of humor and laughter in the classroom, how to utilize it, and why you don't have any excuses not to. Also, take a look at my students, caught on candid camera.

 

 

Laughter is infectious. Get just one or two people laughing, and it won't be long before everyone joins in on the joy. After all, laughter is a universal language — everyone likes to laugh. And that right there is a reason to include it in your classroom.

Never mind the excuses. I've heard them all before:
 

  • I'm not funny.
  • That's not my style.
  • It's not professional.
  • It's not statistically sound.
  • That's not what school is for.
  • It won't be on any tests.
  • I don't have time for/can't afford nonsense.
  • Parents might be mad.
  • It will make them wild.
  • I want them to be as miserable in school as I was.


Let's take a look at those excuses one by one.


1. "I'm not funny." Trust me, you don't have to be a comedian to bring laughter to the classroom. It's not a comedy show. You don't even have to try to be funny; just try to have fun. Don't be ready with a joke; be ready with a laugh. Be playful, and encourage their playfulness. Kindergartners will laugh at almost anything. I promise that no matter what you do, if you do it in the spirit of fun, your students will think you're funny.

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

2. "That's not my style." While openness, creativity, gestures, animated expressions, and the ability to see the potential for fun all contribute to humor and laughter in the classroom, you don't have to fit a personality type. The only real requirement is to show that laughter is welcome in your classroom, even if the humor doesn't come from you. Most of the time, the kids themselves will provide the humor. Don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable. It isn't necessary.

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

3. "It's not professional." A teacher's job is to inspire, uplift, motivate, ignite passion and creativity, make learning fun, and build self-confidence. If these are the effects of laughter in your classroom, you're doing your job. If you're doing your job, you're being professional.

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

4. "It's not statistically sound." Numbers aren't important; results are. If laughter is having a positive effect on your class, that's all the proof you need. Don't base your actions on somebody else's statistics!

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

5. "That's not what school is for." School is for learning, and kids simply do not learn when they're uninterested and unmotivated. Humor breaks up routine, alleviates boredom, attracts attention, and increases enjoyment, which motivates students to do what you ask of them. Students are more likely to listen, work, and behave — and therefore learn — if they like school and they like you. Humor also shows that it's okay to take risks and make mistakes, and that is a large and important part of education.

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

6. "It won't be on any tests." If you teach only to the test, you're depriving your students. Almost everything kids need in life won't be on any tests. Eating won't be on any tests, but there's still lunch time. Breathing won't be on any tests, but it's still allowed. Laughter can be just as necessary. Did you know that when you laugh, you take in more oxygen, lower your blood pressure, enhance your immune system, and release natural pain relievers?

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

7. "I don't have time for/can't afford nonsense." Do you have time for conflict? Can you afford stress? Laughter in the classroom is a wonderful tool for conflict and stress management. When you laugh, you relax and experience an internal massage. Laughter feels good. It lifts spirits, releases tension, reduces anxiety, soothes irritability, acts as a coping mechanism, enhances self-esteem, mends wounds, and heals hurt feelings. I wouldn't call that nonsense.

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

8. "Parents might be mad." I assume you think they would be mad for one of two reasons: either because they might think no learning is going on, or because they might think you're using inappropriate humor. Explain to parents the importance of laughter in the classroom and at home. Explain that when their children laugh and have a good time with their classmates and friends, they feel a sense of belonging. Laughter builds bridges, allowing students to communicate, cooperate, and make connections with one another. Reassure parents that you will never use tasteless humor, put-down humor, or private humor that leaves children out. And don't forget to show parents the actual output of the work their children are doing.

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

9. "It will make them wild." Remember how, at the beginning of the school year, you had to point out the difference between good and bad behavior? You did that in the interest of good classroom management, to teach your students the consequences of their behavior choices. Humor and laughter is no different than any other classroom situation. Your students have a choice about how to behave. You, too, have a choice: you can choose not to do anything that will remotely get your students excited (which with kindergartners is almost everything) or you can choose to impose consequences when they get out of control. But first give them the opportunity to make a different choice. Tell them, "You're showing me that you can't handle having fun. If you don't settle down, we will have to be more serious."

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

10. "I want them to be as miserable in school as I was." Let the past go. Be the teacher you always wished you had. True, it's not quite fair that your students have it easy while you had it rough. But don't let past bad teachers control your whole career: don't stoop to their level and adopt the qualities you hated in them. I doubt that's why you became a teacher in the first place, and if it is, you're in the wrong profession. Teaching is meant to be affirming, inclusive, and humanizing — NOT cynical, exclusive, dehumanizing, hurtful, or degrading. Just because you were treated that way doesn't make it right.

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the Classroom

 

The three most important points stated above are:

  1. Try to have fun.
  2. Be ready to laugh.
  3. Show that laughter is welcome.


Just lighten up, don't take things too seriously, and be ready for any humorous situation that might arise. Most funny classroom moments are spontaneous. You don't have to plan anything, unless you want to make it part of your lesson. So with all that said, how do you incorporate laughter in the classroom? 

If you want to do a little planning, but still want the humor to be natural, take a page from my book: 



Smile . . . You're on Candid Camera!

 

 

In order for humor to be effective in your classroom, it must be allowed on an ongoing basis. So make time for it every day!

Have a foolish weekend!

~Allie

 

Comments (11)

Oh my goodness! That video is so cute and funny! I love it!

Hi Joy ~ I love seeing kids being happy and so I thought a candid camera approach would be fun. The kids loved watching themselves when I showed them the video. There was even more laughter! Thanks for reading.

~Allie

The video is a riot! Teaching humor and good April Fool jokes that can be funny and not mean is a wonderful idea!

Hi Lynsie - Ha ha! I love the sticker eyes under the nose. Kids sure do put a smile on our faces and laughter reduces the everyday stress. I love the sound of kids laughter and anything we can do to keep them laughing is good! We will probably hear them saying April Fool for the next two weeks! Thanks for reading and commenting.

~Allie

Hahaha! I am totally a believer of laughter. Sometimes I think "Who really cares? Let's just laugh!" One day I looked over and one of my students had taken her stickers off something and stuck them under her nose. I couldn't help but bust up laughing she had two little eyeballs under her nose! My students definitely keep the laughter going...maybe sometimes a little too much! I loved the video! It was very cute! Great job, April Fool! Oh and one of my students kept forgetting it was April Fools and was saying, "April Fart". That was pretty humorous!

Hi Nancy ~ LOL - that would have been funny - I wish I would have thought of that. I would love to see your high school students reacting to someone in a big box!

~Allie

Hi Heidi ~ Thanks for reading. It is so important to bring laughter in the classroom - often their lives outside the classroom aren't always that happy so whatever we can do to bring joy is important. They love your music too and that always bring laughter and smiles! Thanks for commenting and I hope to hear from you again.

~Allie

Hi Aurora ~ Thank you for reading. We do have a lot of fun in our class and most of the time the kids don't realize they are learning when they are laughing. I agree it does create a bond and even when the kids move on to the next grade they often come back to me and say they miss having fun. I think you should re-introduce your joke a day - what a great idea. Thanks for commenting and I hope I hear from you again.

~Allie

So cute, Allie. I wanted to see my favorite - kid hiding in a big box. I still do that every once in a while!

Hey, Allie! I LOVED this blog entry! BRAVO! And I loved the video at the end, too! Your classroom looks like a wonderful place to be, and your students are superbly lucky to have you as a teacher. Beautiful! Heidi Butkus

I loved this post. It is so important to bring joy and laughter into the classroom. It creates a bond with students and helps them enjoy what they are learning. At morning meeting a few years ago, I had one student pick out a joke of the day from one of my joke books and read it to the class. It was a great way to start the day off right. This reminds me of that, and maybe I will re-introduce that idea back into my classroom. Thanks!

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