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ESL April Fool's Day Lesson Plan: The Last Laugh

 
Level: ESL Advanced

Objectives: read about practical jokes and practice idiomatic expressions related to April Fool’s Day
 
Teacher Notes:
 
Due to a large amount of new vocabulary, this lesson is beneficial to teach in 3 parts (see below).
 
Part 1: Lead-In
 
Discuss the meaning of a practical joke - a trick that requires some physical action (rather than just telling funny stories). Examples of typical practical jokes can be putting salt in a sugar bowl, tying two shoes together or taping the hook of a telephone to the handset (so that the phone will keep ringing even when picked up).
 
Mention that people in North America either really enjoy practical jokes or really hate them.  Ask students to discuss questions a-d in pairs.
 
- Do you think practical jokes are funny? Do you consider them amusing, frightening or embarrassing?
- Do you enjoy playing practical jokes on other people?
- What is the general opinion about practical jokes in your home country?
- Do you know of any situation when a practical joke was played?
 
Hand out the glossary. Ask to fold the last column of the handout back. Students read the sample sentences and guess the meanings of the new words/phrases. You may want to start this activity in class and assign to finish it at home.
 
Part 2: Reading and Vocabulary Practice
 
Tell students they’re going to read a story about a husband and wife who play practical jokes on each other. Ask to make predictions on the possible nature of the practical jokes in the story.
 
Play or read the story (to demonstrate the pronunciation) without stopping. Play or read 2d time, stopping after each paragraph an ask comprehension questions. Call on students to read the story again or allow to read in small groups by taking turns.
 
Vocabulary Practice: Students read sentences 1-10 in Saying What You Mean and replace the phrases in bold with the new vocabulary. In Find the Opposites students identify reverse meanings of the bolded words. Based on the understanding of the new phrases, students answer yes or no in Have a Say.
 
Part 3: Recycling
 
Students put new vocabulary in a different context in Applying the Meanings. Wrap up with students retelling the original or additional story.

Student Handout:

Glossary
 
This lesson focuses on the words in bold.  Read through the definitions and sample sentences below to clarify their meanings.

new word/expression
example
meaning
1. practical joke

There’s a television show about practical jokes. The host tricks people into doing silly things. It’s very funny.

trick that is intended to be amusing
2. prankster

Gord is always playing practical jokes on his co-workers. He’s such a prankster.

joker
3. straight face

I had to keep a straight face when I told my son that he wasn’t getting a birthday present. I knew if I smiled, he wouldn’t believe me.

serious looking expression
4. not have a clue

"Do you know what time the bus arrives?"

"Sorry, I don’t have a clue. I never use the bus."

said to describe not having any knowledge about something
5. darn

This darn car won’t start. It’ll never start on cold mornings.

used to show annoyance about a thing
6. out of the blue

I haven’t seen my old classmate James for several years; then out of the blue I met him at the grocery store.

unexpectedly
7. prank

Jerry is always playing pranks. He loves to trick other people.

trick
8. disguising

"The only way for us to escape from the police is by disguising our appearance. They’ll never recognize us in these wigs," said one criminal to the other.

changing so that the original is unrecognizable
9. infestation

The homes near the harbour are experiencing a rat infestation. There are so many rats there.

appearance of a large number of insects or animals
 
10. slugs

I’d sit outside in the garden, but there are so many slugs this year. I don’t want to feel one crawling across my feet.

small creatures that look like snails with no shells
11. avid

Alice is an avid coffee drinker. She was very happy to hear that a new coffee house was opening in the neighbourhood.

enthusiastic
12. mortified

Mary was mortified when she released she had gone to work without doing up the buttons on her blouse.

embarrassed
13. hover

The police helicopter was hovering over the demonstration. It would remain in that position until the demonstration had ended.

remain in the air in one place
14. come to one’s senses

Barb was planning on hiking across the country alone. She finally came to her senses and agreed that her plan was too dangerous.

realize that behaviour was not clever
15. hoax

On April 1st Jane told her parents that she was planning on marrying her new boyfriend. They were very upset until they realized it was a hoax.

hoax
16. smug

The school newspaper printed an editorial saying Joe was the best candidate for the position of student president. After reading the paper, Joe was very smug when speaking to the other candidates.

pleased in a superior way
17. earful

My mother gave me an earful when I came home late and drunk!

reprimand
18. get a kick out of

Last night I went to a karaoke club. I really got a kick out of singing on stage.

enjoy
19. antics

I love watching clowns in the circus. They make me laugh with all their antics.

tricks or unusual actions performed for fun
20. card

My roommate is a card. He’s always got a funny story to tell.

funny and interesting person
21. be quite a character

He’s quite a character.

be an amusing person
22. up someone’s sleeve

"I’ve known Todd for a few years, but I didn’t know he could play tennis so well," Jerry said to his partner at the tennis match.

said to describe someone hiding something until it’s needed
23. drop hints

My mother is always dropping hints about what she would like for her birthday. She’ll mention seeing something nice at the mall, hoping we’ll buy it for her.

suggest things in an indirect manner
24. ad nauseam

Gary talks about his days as a football player ad nauseam. I don’t want to hear about football any more.

said to describe a topic that has been discussed in great detail and has become boring
25. dump

When my husband and I were first married, our house was a real dump. Many things were wrong with that place, but it was very cheap.

building that is old and in need of repair
 
26. when pigs fly

"Danny you’re almost 40 years old, when are you going to get married?"

"When pigs fly!"

said to mean that something will never happen
27. groundwork

Before launching the new advertising campaign, the company did a lot of groundwork. They felt that the extensive preparations would make the campaign more successful.

preparation
28. conspire

He was conspiring with the drug-dealer to supply the heroin to the youngsters.

make secret plans together
29. board up

There was a hurricane coming to the coast. Most people boarded up the windows of their homes before leaving town.

cover something with wooden boards
30. wander

Ned wandered around the circus looking at the different attractions until he saw the roller coaster.

move without purpose
31. in a daze

Rosa was in a daze after hearing that she had won the lottery. She was so shocked.

in a state of shock
32. run-down

Since the man became sick his house has started to look run-down. It needs to be painted, the grass needs to be cut and the old newspapers need to be picked up.

old and shabby
33. stifle

During the wedding ceremony Toni stifled a sneeze. She didn’t want everyone to hear her sneeze during the beautiful service.

try to prevent a noise
34. double over

Ben was doubled over in pain after he was hit in the stomach.

bend over often because of pain or laughter
35. dupe

The salesman duped Ellen into buying more accessories and upgrades for her car. She didn’t really need to buy all the extra things.

trick
36. grin

He was grinning all day. He must be happy about something!

smile widely
37. serves you right

"The teacher made me stay late after school everyday this week!" the boy complained.

"It serves you right. You were late for school everyday last week!" his mother answered.

said to mean the punishment received is appropriate for the bad behaviour
 
38. fits

Dora was still upset about the death of her dog. She had crying fits on most days.

periods of time spent doing one activity
39. taste of your own medicine

"Harry, you’re always late for our dates. Would you like it if I kept you waiting for more than an hour? That’d give you a taste of your own medicine."

said to treat someone in the same way that they treat other people
 
40. had it coming

Peter’s wife left him, but he had it coming. He’s never treated her very well. He spends most of his time out with his friends.

deserved the treatment received in a given situation
41. concede

After years of arguing, Fred finally conceded that Betty was a much better bowler than he was.

acknowledge
42. warm up

The band hadn’t started playing when we arrived at the bar. They were just warming up.

get ready


The Last Laugh
An Ed and Mildred story
By Tina McFadden
 
 There was one thing Ed couldn’t resist and that was a good practical joke. He was known as a prankster among family and friends. Even as a kid he’d been a trouble maker.

 On any given day, Ed might take one of his wife’s prized possessions, like her favourite coffee mug, and hide it on her. Eventually Mildred would question him about it, and with a straight face, he’d tell her he didn’t have a clue where she’d put her darn cup – and she should be more careful not to misplace her things.

 One day, out of the blue, Ed decided to pull a prank on Mildred. Disguising his voice, he phoned her and identified himself as a worker with the City. He told her there was an infestation of giant slugs in the region and the City was calling for the immediate disposal of all flowering plants. Mildred was an avid gardener and loved her flowers more than life itself. Needless to say, she was mortified – that is, until she recognized Ed’s laughter on the other end of the line.

 Another time Ed called the house, pretending to work with air traffic control. He calmly explained that a hot air balloon was flying off course and was now hovering somewhere over her house, and would she kindly permit the balloon to land on her roof. Without hesitation, Mildred granted permission. She quickly came to her senses and realized it was all a hoax. When Ed came home later that afternoon with a smug look on his face, he got an earful from Mildred.
 
 Their friends got a kick out of Ed and his antics. “Ed’s such a card,” they’d say.

 “Yep, he’s quite a character,” Mildred would reply. “He’s always got something up his sleeve.”

 But Mildred had a few tricks up her own sleeve. For several weeks before Ed’s annual fishing trip, Mildred started dropping hints about how she’d like to move to a smaller house. She went on ad nauseam about the lovely house for sale at the end of the street. This “lovely” home was really a dump, and Ed couldn’t understand what Mildred saw in it. He told her he’d agree to move there when pigs fly

 Now if truth be told, Mildred didn’t have any intention of moving. She was just laying the groundwork for her own prank. 

 When Ed left for his week-long fishing trip, Mildred got to work, conspiring with her friend, a real estate agent.

 When Ed returned home from his trip, he discovered – much to his horror – a “For Sale” sign with a “Sold” sticker on his front lawn. The windows were boarded up and there was a note stuck to the front door, which read, “Dear Ed, I’m at our new house down the street. Mildred.”

 Ed wandered down the street in a daze. How could Mildred do such a thing? He arrived at the run-down house and found the front door locked. Then he heard stifled laughter from the side of the house. He rounded the corner and found Mildred and several neighbours doubled over, killing themselves laughing.

 The realization set in that he’d been duped. “You fooled me,” he said, grinning in spite of himself.

 “Serves you right,” Mildred replied between fits of laughter. “How do you like the taste of your own medicine?”

 “I guess I had it coming,” Ed conceded. “Shall we call it even then?”
  “You think we’re even?” Mildred asked in disbelief. “Oh no,” she shook her head.
 
“I’m just warming up.”
 
Saying What You Mean
 
Complete the following sentences by replacing the phrases in bold with the words or expressions from the list below.
 
hoax      had it coming       dump     prankster  
fits        wandered     got a kick out of   
earful         darn       came to her senses
 
1. Bob is such a comedian. He’s always playing tricks on other people.
Bob is such a _______. He’s always playing tricks on other people.
 
2. Pam thought she’d be able to buy a new condo and a new car this year.
After talking to her banker, she understood that her plan was unrealistic.
Pam thought she’d be able to buy a new condo and a new car this year. After talking to her banker, she _______ .
 
3. Davy forgot to put the money in the safe at closing time. He left it all sitting in the cash register overnight. The morning manager gave him a severe lecture when he came to work the next day.
Davy forgot to put the money in the safe at closing time. He left it all sitting in the cash register overnight. The morning manager gave him an
_______ when he came to work the next day.
 
4. The police cleared the area around the suspicious package because the package looked like a bomb. It was later discovered that the package wasn’t really a bomb. It was a terrible joke.
The police cleared the area around the suspicious package because the package looked like a bomb. It was later discovered that the package wasn’t really a bomb. It was a terrible _______ .
 
5. After I saw the cottage I understood why it was so cheap. It was really a broken-down old place.
After I saw the cottage I understood why it was so cheap. It was really a _______ .
 
6. While Liz was waiting for her husband to finish work, she stopped at the mall and walked leisurely around the stores.
While Liz was waiting for her husband to finish work, she stopped at the mall and _______around the stores.
 
7. Bob wasn’t a good employee. He would spend most of the day playing Internet games and making personal phone calls. None of the other employees talked to him. He earned this treatment because of his bad work attitude.
Bob wasn’t a good employee. He would spend most of the day playing Internet games and making personal phone calls. None of the other employees talked to him. He _______because of his bad work attitude.
 
8. The girls saw their teacher trying on jeans at the mall on the weekend. They thought it was hilarious. They had attacks of laughter during his class for the rest of the term.
The girls saw their teacher trying on jeans at the mall on the weekend. They thought it was hilarious. They had __________ of laughter during his class for the rest of the term.
 
9. I hate this stupid lock. The key always gets stuck in it on cold days.
I hate this _______ lock. The key always gets stuck in it on cold days.
 
10. George always thought playing cards was an activity for women. Then
one day he tried a few games and he really had fun playing.
George always thought playing cards was an activity for women. Then
one day he tried a few games and he really _______ playing.
Find the Opposites
 
Find the opposite meaning of the word in bold.
 
1. avid is the opposite of:
 
a. keen
b. sad
c. indifferent
 
2. in a daze is the opposite of:
 
a. confused
b. scared
c. clear headed
 
3. conceded is the opposite of:
 
a. denied
b. admitted
c. lied
 
4. yep is the opposite of:
 
a) okay
b) maybe
c) nope
 
5. smug is the opposite of:
 
a. uncomfortable
b. modest
c. unpleasant
 
6. earful is the opposite of:
 
a. scolding
b. praise
c. gossip
 
7. card is the opposite of:
 
a. bore
b. fool
c. joker
 
8. mortified is the opposite of:
 
a. ashamed
b. dead
c. proud
 
9. stifled is the opposite of:
 
a. retained
b. repressed
c. released
 
10. run-down is the opposite of:
 
a. well-rested
b. well-maintained
c. well-known
 
Have a Say: Yes or No?
 
Based on your understanding of the bolded expression, answer each question by selecting either Y for yes or N for no.
 
1. The writer suddenly had an idea for a new book.
 
Did the idea come out of the blue? Y     N
 
2. My husband told me he would never take ballroom dancing lessons with me.
 
Did my husband mean that he would take ballroom dancing lessons with me when pigs fly? Y     N
 
3. My brother treated me very kindly when I saw him last week, even though I always treat him badly.
 
Did he give me a taste of my own medicine? Y     N
 
4. Before going into the basement the owners didn’t have time to prepare their house for the storm. There was broken glass everywhere!
 
Were the windows boarded up? Y      N
 
5. Bill had no idea what his wife wanted to do for their first wedding anniversary. She hadn’t mentioned it to him.
 
Was she dropping hints? Y      N
 
6. My grandfather rarely talked about his days as a sailor. When he did, the whole family loved to hear his stories.
 
Did my grandfather talk ad nauseam about being a sailor? Y      N
 
7. They were laughing so hard at the movie that they couldn’t sit straight in their chairs.
 
Were they doubled over? Y      N
 
8. My co-worker shook my hand and said "Pleased to meet you" when we were introduced, but he didn’t really look pleased!
 
Was he grinning? Y      N
 
9. The actress laughed while saying her lines during the last scene of the play.
 
Could she keep a straight face when she said her lines? Y      N
 
10. He cheated when he played games with the other children. So now none of the other children will play games with him.
 
Does it serve him right? Y      N
 
Applying Meanings
 
Complete the sentences with the expressions from the list below.
 
stifle      grin      ad nauseam      warming up     
smug     straight face      up your sleeve      avid     
dropping hints     practical joke      out of the blue
when pigs fly     not have a clue      darn      conceded disguise     in a daze      doubled over
came to her senses     got a kick out of      earful
 
Nancy and Joe were a happy couple, but they didn’t have much in common. Nancy was an (1) _____ reader. She loved spending a quiet evening at home with a good book. Joe wasn’t a reader. He did (2) _____ as to what she was talking about, when she started describing her favourite authors. He listened to her, but usually he had to (3) _____ a yawn or two.
 
Joe enjoyed sports. He played sports and watched sports. Plus he talked about sports (4) _____. Nancy listened to him talk about the players and their skills with a (5) _____ on her face, but she didn’t really listen to what he was saying. She (6) _____ seeing him so excited.
 
On the day of their 10th anniversary, (7) _____, Joe told Nancy that he planned to take her to a baseball game.  At first, Nancy thought it was some kind of (8) _____ . She had been (9) _____ for weeks about wanting a new necklace as an anniversary present.  When she realized that Joe wasn’t joking, she gave him an(10) _____ . “I’ll spend my anniversary watching a (11) _____  baseball game (12) _____ .”  Joe looked (13) _____  and asked her, “What’s more important for our anniversary getting a present or spending the day together?”  Nancy (14) _____ that spending the day together was more important.  So she went to the baseball game with Joe, but she didn’t try to (15)_____  her anger.
 
While the players were (16) _____ , Joe went to buy some snacks.  Nancy sat (17) _____ , barely watching the players.  Joe came back and handed Nancy a cold beer and a box of popcorn.  “Happy Anniversary!” he said.  As Nancy smiled, she (18) _____ , and decided Joe was right - spending the day with him was more important than a present.  Nancy started to eat her popcorn, but as she reached into the box she felt something hard.  She looked into the popcorn box and saw the necklace she had wanted.  She looked over at Joe who couldn’t keep a (19) _____  and was (20) _____  laughing.  “How long have you had this (21) _____ ?” she asked him. “Quite a while!”, he replied.

Answer Key:
 
Saying What You Mean
1. prankster   
2. came to her senses       
3. earful
4. hoax     
5. dump     
6. wandered      
7. had it coming
8. fits  
9. darn  
10. got a kick out of
 
Find the Opposites
 
1. indifferent 2. clear headed 3. denied 4. nope 5. unpleasant 6. praise 7. bore 8. proud 9. released 10. well-maintained
 
Have a Say: Yes or No?
 
1. yes 2. yes 3. no 4. no 5. no 6. no 7. yes 8. no 9. no
10. yes
 
Applying Meanings
 
1. avid 2. not have a clue 3. stifle 4. ad nauseam  5. grin 6. got a kick out of 7. out of the blue 8. practical joke 9. dropping hints 10. earful 11. darn 12. when pigs fly 13. smug 14. conceded 15. disguise 16. warming up 17. in a daze 18. came to her senses 19. straight face 20.doubled over 21. up your sleeve


Comments
Sunday, March 28, 2010 AT 9:41 AM
Lucie Burelle said:
Thanks for this lesson. I just want to mention that I saw a mistake in the example of "straight face". It's the example of prankster that is repeted.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 AT 10:43 AM
Olga Galperin said:
Thank you, Lucie, for noticing. We've replaced it with a relevant sentence. Thanks again!

Monday, March 14, 2011 AT 10:16 AM
carla said:
Why is there no download for this lesson? I layout is much better on the downloads.

Monday, March 14, 2011 AT 12:16 PM
Olga Galperin said:
Thanks, Carla. The downloadable format will be added soon.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 AT 8:43 PM
Yaden said:
thank you so much guys we really appreciate you efforts , thanks again

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