Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

April Fools’ Day pranks to play on your kids

Share a few laughs with these creative and simple tricks

April showers bring May flowers, but April FIRST brings April Fools Day. For one day a year, pranks and jokes flow without abandon, and no group is more poised for unleashing tomfoolery than parents toward their children. Read on for simple pranks you can pull on your kids this April Fools Day!

Fooling foods

Plan to start the day with a hearty (har har) breakfast the night before. Make juice-colored Jell-O in kid-sized cups and freeze a bowl of cereal with milk. Kids will get a kick out of trying to eat their difficult-to-consume breakfast before you bring out the real deal.

Pack your kids’ lunch with a special touch by wrapping individual items in paper. For an added laugh, use holiday paper that is out of season.

For an after-school snack, bake up a batch of Brown-E’s (brownies)–simply get a piece of paper and use a brown marker to write a bunch of “E’s”, then place the paper in a baking pan. If you want to get back in your kids’ good graces after a day full of pranks, serve them some real brownies after they discover the prank pan.

When dinner rolls around, prepare a faux feast. Vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce can pose as mashed potatoes, and candy peas and carrots make a perfect side dish (you may even find Easter candy that looks like carrots at this time of year). For the main course, you can serve meatloaf “cupcakes” topped with mashed potato “frosting,” or try your hand at making these ice cream “fried-chicken” look-alikes.

Creepy crawlies

If your kids can handle a bit of spooky, fake bugs, snakes, and other critters, you can use them in a number of ways to catch them off guard and give them a sigh of relief when they realize it’s all a joke. Dig into your Halloween decorations and pull out some cotton spider web decorations to adorn spaces in your home. I like adding them to my kids’ bedroom doors so they are greeted with a spooky surprise in the morning.

Another classic bug prank is the “cockroaches in the lampshade” trick. Search the internet for free images of cockroaches (or any bug you like) and print them off. Tape the cockroach printouts inside a lampshade–when you turn on the lamp, the light will illuminate the outlines of the bugs!

For a final creepy crawlies prank, hide plastic bugs or snakes around the house in places where your kids are sure to find them. Inside shoes, next to backpacks, and on top of tablets are all fair game.

Toilet Tricks

One of the most-used rooms in any home is the restroom, so April Fools Day is the perfect time to get the toilet in on some prankster action. You can decorate your commode with toilet paper roll “eyes”, a red streamer “mouth”, and a nose drawn on with a dry erase marker.

For a BIG surprise, hide a “shark mouth” inside your toilet–make sure kids know the surprise before they do their business! Use these free printables to make the mouth.

Shark mouth (top)

Shark mouth (bottom)

More Wacky Antics

Sprinkle in some surprise pranks throughout the day to keep your kids on their toes.

Use googly eyes to spruce up items throughout your home. Everything looks extra silly with googly eyes–some of my favorite places to stick googly eyes are on fruit, milk jugs, appliances, shoes, and toys.

Cover up family photos in your home with temporary pictures. Print off photos from online and use painter’s tape to tape the pictures onto the glass of photo frames. The images can be of famous families, cartoon characters, YouTube stars, video game scenes, or whatever else you think your kids would get a kick out of.

Take a cue from Dr. Seuss’s classic book “Wacky Wednesday” and put shoes in unusual places. Your kids will be delighted to find their shoes on the “feet” of tables and chairs, hanging from light fixtures, or even “climbing” up the walls.

If your kids have access an electronic device, temporarily change their screensaver or home screen to something you choose. A beautiful photo of their parents or a baby picture of them would do quite nicely.

Use a dry-erase marker or glass marker to write jokes on glass surfaces like mirrors and windows. You can easily wipe off the marker with a dry paper towel or cloth at the end of the day.

If you’re up for a grand caper, consider taking your kids for an afternoon adventure of the worst/best kind. Last year, we told our kids that some of the standardized testing they usually do at school had been rescheduled, and we needed to go RIGHT NOW to the testing center. We had our kids pack their backpacks with a few testing essentials and then loaded them into the car to drive to the “testing center,” which ended up being a donut shop! Their joy and relief of getting a treat instead of a trick made the whole ordeal–and it was an ordeal getting them there!–worth it.

Take these tips and create your own April Fools Day magic with your kids. You’re sure to share some laughs and surprises while creating memories that will last you until (at least) next April!

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About the Author

Allison Peterson

Allison Peterson is a former elementary teacher turned full-time driver/chef/tutor/nurse/coach/memory-maker to three children who call her "Mom". She lives in Woodinville, and is always looking for her next adventure!