Play The Fool

17 Harmless April Fools’ Day Pranks You Can Play On Your Kids

Cut out the mean-spirited pranks for these more joyful ways to celebrate the day.

by George Lopercio
Originally Published: 
Melon with googly eyes, sitting in a bowl intimidating some apples
Richard Bailey/Corbis/Getty Images

April Fools’ Day can suck for adults, if only because it’s such a childish holiday. Prank culture is by and large a cruel culture and kids — especially little kids — are going to be unable to extricate the meanness out of the prank. In other words, parents that go all out for April Fools’ Day are at risk of either frightening their children or giving them permission to be mean to others.

So what’s a parent to do? Take April Fools’ Day back! The core of the day, as far as parents should be concerned, is one of collective humor and laughter. When the family expects the silliness when the jokes and pranks are inclusive and inviting when the tone is lighthearted and fun, then you can teach your kid about the joy and healing power of humor (dad jokes ftw!). To keep it that way, we came up with a list of harmless, kid-friendly April Fools’ Day jokes and pranks you can play on your kids. These are quick, fun, and easy to pull off. Best of all, there are no permanent emotional scars.

1. Brown-“E”s

Tell your kids you baked them a pan of brownies. But when you remove the foil, the pan will be literally filled with “E”’s you have cut from brown construction paper or cardboard. Of course, you will need to have a real pan of brownies on standby (make them in the shape of an ‘E’ for extra credit) .

2. Frozen Cereal

When your kids go to sleep, pour a bowl of their favorite cereal, add the milk, and then stick it in the freezer. Have it waiting on the table when they come down for breakfast and let the confusion ensue!

3. Black Bean Cookies

Make “chocolate chip cookies” out of mashed potatoes and black beans. Even you’ll be surprised by the striking resemblance. Also, they’re delicious.

4. The Eye-Pad

Tell your kid you bought them an iPad, but really, just buy them an eye-pad from the pharmacy.

5. Cereal Switch-a-roo

Switch the bags inside two boxes of cereal (preferably the one they want with a healthy high-fiber option).

6. Bad Hair Day

Pick up your kids from school wearing an outrageous wig. This could also be a good way to mortify your significant other on an April Fools date night.

7. Plant “doughnut seeds”

Take your toddler out to the yard in the morning and plant a handful of cheerios. They’ll be shocked when those seeds have grown into a dozen doughnuts by the afternoon.

8. Hidden kitty

Hide a walkie-talkie in your kid’s closet, under their bed, or in the vent. Then meow into it at various intervals. Watch and laugh as they search furiously for their new pet!

9. Penny for your thoughts

Start placing pennies in places where your child will find them. Then start placing more and more pennies. Then more and more! What a lucky day!

10. The walls have eyes

April Fools Day prank lite. Put googly eyes all around the house on every wall.

11. And so does the fruit.

Put googly eyes on fruit. You’ll be surprised how alive it makes the watermelon seem.

12. Big Kid Undies

Replace your kid’s underwear with a drawer full of your own.

13. Magic Cereal

Place a few drops of food coloring in the bottom of your children’s cereal bowls, then add their favorite cereal. They pour the milk, watch their jaws drop when it somehow turns a crazy color.

14. Bigfoot

Stuff the inside of your kids’ shoes with toilet paper. They will wonder how their feet got so big overnight!

15. They Say It’s Your Birthday!

As soon as your kid wakes up in the morning, act like it’s their birthday. Put up a banner, balloons, a muffin with a candle in it. Prominently display a generous pile of colorfully wrapped empty boxes. When it comes time to sing, replace “Birthday” with “April Fools Day”.

16. Cupcakes for Dinner

Coolest Dad ever? Not so fast. Bake mini meatloaves in muffin cups, then “frost” them with mashed potatoes.

17. Fill a Room Full of Balloons

Go big by filling a room full of balloons. If that seems like too much of a project, fill a closet or a shower. The post-prank entertainment potential is high.

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