Although the history of April Fools’ Day pranks and jokes is not entirely clear (it has been attributed to a variety of European springtime traditions), the day is kept alive by practical-joke-lovers all over the world.
Adults may opt for outrageous and bewildering pranks on this day, but for kids, it’s best to keep it on the fun and tame side.
You can involve the little ones in April Fools’ Day fun by creating these sweet jokes and pranks. Food jokes and visual humour always resonate with kids, so here are some cute ideas to try.
Teeny Tiny Meal
WHAT YOU NEED: play dishes and tea set
Set the table with the kids’ play tea set using tiny dishes and cups, and serve out breakfast (or dinner) in teaspoon-size portions. Your kids can either be in on this joke to surprise the rest of the family or not.
Before they see the table, tell them with a straight face, “I’ve been doing some thinking, and it’s time we reduce our portion sizes at mealtime.” Undoubtedly the kids will like this prank so much that they will want to keep eating off the tiny plates anyway.
Colourful Surprise Milk
WHAT YOU NEED: food colouring
Add a drop of food colouring to a container of milk. Then watch the kids pour it into their cereal with amazed expressions.
Or get the kids to help with the food colouring drops the night before, and they can giggle with delight as the other unsuspecting grownups in the house pour the coloured milk into their coffee, tea, or cereal the next morning.
(Note that you can find natural and organic food colouring online and in health-food stores, which will come in handy for Easter-egg dyeing if you celebrate.)
“Hey, my shoes don’t fit!”
WHAT YOU NEED: newspaper, paper, or paper towel
Stuff shoes with a balled-up sheet of newspaper or crumpled paper from the recycling bin. Then watch the shoe’s owner be puzzled as to why her foot doesn’t fit in when she’s heading out the door in the morning.
You can make this prank more elaborate if you introduce a new vegetable at dinner the night before and tell the kids it’s a special vegetable that will make them grow like crazy by the morning if they take a few bites.
WHAT YOU NEED: eyeliner
Target the biggest morning sleepyhead in your home, rise before them (which you probably do anyway), and whip out your black liquid or pencil eyeliner. Then quickly draw a moustache on them and sneak out of the room. Bonus giggles if you snap a pic of them before they wake!
WHAT YOU NEED: strong clear tape (like packing tape)
Use a piece of clear packing tape to cover the faucet nozzle of the bathroom sink. Then when your kiddo or spouse goes to brush his teeth or wash his face, he’ll get a big splashy surprise. Just make sure your victim is still in pyjamas!
WHAT YOU NEED: depends on the recipe
This might be the sweetest prank of them all, or at least the yummiest. Kids will love these fool-you foods, especially when you serve cupcakes for dinner—savoury meatloaf and mashed-potato “cupcakes”, that is. The meatloaf is baked in paper muffin cups and topped with fluffy white mashed potatoes.
For dessert, it’s pizza! Or at least a cake that looks like a pizza, with white-chocolate “cheese” and fruit leather pepperoni.
WHAT YOU NEED: craft-store or dollar-store googly eyes
Stick-on googly eyes from the craft store are so much fun. Put pairs of them in unexpected places: Decorate the contents of the fridge with pairs of googly eyes to surprise the person who opens the fridge door to find ten pairs of eyes staring back at them. Stick some on your kid’s banana and tuck it away in her lunchbox.
Or for an evening prank, affix googly eyes to all the bottles and tubes in the bathroom before bathtime.
Brown E’s (“Brownies”)
WHAT YOU NEED: brown construction paper, scissors, and (recommended!) actual brownies
Here’s a joke for the word-play lovers in your home. Cut a bunch of lowercase and uppercase e’s from a piece of brown construction paper. Arrange them on a platter. Promise the family that you’ve got brownies for dessert.
Present the plate with a flourish and say “Brown e’s for dessert, everyone!” Either you’ll get crestfallen faces or laughs—or both. It might be wise to have actual brownies on hand, too!
What you need: a bunch of safety pins
Sneak into your kid’s t-shirt or underwear drawer and stealthily safety-pin together all the underwear or shirts. Don’t pin them in a big lump: the key to the most laughs is to pin and put everything away carefully so that when you grab the top one, the rest come tumbling out. This is also a fun one the kids can help you play on your unsuspecting spouse.
Ice at bottom of cereal bowl
What you need: water, cereal bowl, cereal
Target the crunchy cereal lover in your family by putting his or her cereal bowl in the freezer the evening before, half-filled with water. Then in the morning, offer to make her breakfast and serve her the crunchy cereal on top of the ice. The fun begins when she tries—and fails—to dig into the bowl.
“Hey! A marshmallow bush!”
What you need: a bush on or near your property, marshmallows
Get up a little early and decorate a nearby bush with some marshmallows by pushing them onto the ends of the twigs. In the morning, you can play this two ways. You can tell them that the bush outside suddenly grew marshmallows and to come and see (hopefully this has the added effect of getting them to brush their teeth and dress faster). Or just play it deadpan and casually say “Hey, I didn’t know that bush was growing marshmallows,” on your way out to school in the morning.
Computer mouse problems
What you need: sticky notes
Kids, being nearly always more advanced than we are in sorting out tech matters, probably will catch on to this joke very quickly, so try it on your partner. All you need to do is cover the bottom of the computer mouse with a small sticky note (trim it to fit if you must), or simply unplug the mouse. Then your unsuspecting family member will be just the right amount of stumped when he fires up the computer in the morning.
Tablet or smartphone language barrier
What you need: to remember how to change the device back to English!
Confuse your household’s resident smartphone or iPad addict by changing the device’s language when they aren’t looking. Then they’ll have the surprise of finding German notifications on their device. A word of warning: Be sure you know how to change the settings back to English. Once, my son accidentally changed an iPad app’s language to Japanese, and we had a frustrating time figuring out how to change it back.
Colourful bath water
What you need: food dye
If you’re waiting until late in the day to pull out the April Fools’ Day jokes, this is a good one because it happens at bath time. Simply swab the inside of the tub faucet with food dye. Then, get the kids to check out the water turning blue or green or pink at bathtime. Or, foist this trick on a teen or grownup that indulges in a nightly bath. (Note that you can find natural and organic food colouring online and in health-food stores.)
What you need: to know how to take a screenshot and hide desktop icons
Convince someone that the computer screen is frozen by pasting a screen grab on their laptop or desktop. All you have to do is figure out how to take a screenshot and how to hide your desktop icons (see a Windows tutorial, for a Mac you need to download a free app) then set the image as the desktop background. That way, when they click on the image to close or open a file or browser window, they can’t—because it’s only a picture.
Tiny flies in your food
What you need: toy or prank flies or spiders
True, fake flies in your soup is about as basic and lowbrow a prank as you can get, but it’s always fun to have at least a smidgen of gross-out humour on April Fools’ Day, right? Hit the dollar shop for a pack of toy flies, insects, or any other nasty-looking bug that takes your fancy. Then put it at the bottom of a salad bowl, or stick in a dinner roll. Just make sure no one actually eats the thing! The way to get around that is to simply suggest before eating “Do I see something black in there? Could you check?” Then enjoy the moment as everyone is grossed out.