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Family-friendly April Fools' Day pranks for kids

Because April Fools' Day should only end in tears if they're tears of laughter.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

This April Fools’ Day, make it a family affair. From the minute your kids wake up, until they crawl back into bed at night, they’ll never know when the next joke is coming.

Obviously we want to stay away from any pranks that leave our kids in tears, unless those tears are from laughing too hard. So whether your kids are the ones pulling the pranks or they’re on the receiving end, these April Fools' Day jokes are silly and fun and will have everyone giggling.

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1. Swap Sleepers

If your kids are heavy sleepers, carry them into their sibling’s bed and let them wake up in a different room to start April Fools' on the right foot.

Swap sleepers
Hey, this isn't my bed!Amanda Mushro / TODAY

2. Frozen Breakfast

Put cereal and milk in a bowl and let it freeze overnight. When your hungry kids try to dig in, they’ll get quite the surprise.

Frozen Cereal
Brrrr, it's breakfast.Amanda Mushro

3. Juice Joke

Anyone want juice? Your family will try taking a drink of this juice and find out it’s really Jell-O.

Jello juice
Jello juice.Amanda Mushro / TODAY

4. Underwear Surprise

Swap out their underwear drawer for bathing suits for an early morning prank.

Swap underwear
What are these doing here?Amanda Mushro / TODAY

5. “Eye” See You

Give your kids a laugh at lunchtime by attaching googly eyes to everything.

Lunchbox prank
Lunchbox prank.Amanda Mushro / TODAY

6. Toilet Paper Message

Unroll the toilet paper and leave a funny message for the unsuspecting user. My personal favorite: “You’re going to wash your hands, right?” (What a perfect message for these ongoing pandemic days.) Roll the toilet paper back up and wait to see who ends up getting the message.

Toilet paper prank
Toilet paper hijinks.Amanda Mushro / TODAY

7. Honk For April Fools

Let your practical jokers put a sign on your car that reads “My kids are playing an April Fools' joke on me. Honk and wave at me!” This joke is even funnier if they get to take a ride in the car with you.

Honk and Wave
Honk if you pranked your mom! Amanda Mushro / TODAY

8. Bugs In Your Ice

This oldie-but-goodie prank is easy to make at home with this tip. Add almost boiling water to the ice cube trays and toss in a few plastic bugs. The hotter the water, the more clear the ice will be when frozen.

Bug in Ice
Want something cool to drink?Amanda Mushro / TODAY

9. Sweet Trick

Offer up brownies as an afternoon snack, but everyone will be shocked when they find brown letter "E"s (get it — brown "E"s?) instead!

Brown Es
After school snack trickery.Amanda Mushro / TODAY

10. Bathtime Hoax

Use a Q-tip to put gel food coloring around the inside of the faucet in the bathtub or sink. When the water is turned on, you’ll have colored water! You might want to stay away from red. This is April Fools' and not Halloween, after all.

colored water
Bathtime surprise!Amanda Mushro / TODAY

11. Pillow Prank

Just when they thought April Fools' Day was over, here’s one last prank. Remove the pillows and fill their pillowcases with several partially inflated balloons. When they put their head down to sleep, they’ll realize you got the last April Fools' laugh. Obviously if you have younger children, you’ll want to take the balloons out of their room before they drift off to sleep... with a smile on their faces.

Balloon pillow
End the day with a balloon pillowAmanda Mushro / TODAY

12. Toothpaste switcheroo

Surprise your kids this April Fools' Day with a little toothpaste switcheroo. After breakfast, hand over their toothbrush — but instead of the usual white paste, opt for something white, creamy and…sweet! Cream cheese or vanilla frosting will do the trick; if they use a colored kids' tooth gel, try using cake decorating gel instead.

13. Whoopee!

Put a whoopee cushion under your baby's high-chair cushion, under the booster seat or car seat cover and see if you get a laugh from the baby, his fart-loving older brother or your hubs.

14. Milk shenanigans

Add a few drops of food coloring to the carton of milk; when your child goes to pour it into her glass or bowl of cereal, she'll get a colorful surprise — bright pink (or blue, or green) milk!

15. Cupcakes for dinner

Your kids will think you're the coolest mom ever — for a moment at least. Bake up mini meatloaves in muffin cups (don't forget the colorful wrappers). Then "frost" them with creamy mashed potatoes. See how long it takes for your kids to realize that you really aren't that cool after all.

16. Bedtime classic

Borrow a summer camp classic and short sheet your kid's bed before bedtime — when he tries to get in, you'll have the last laugh.

Sarah W. Caron contributed to this story, which was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.

Amanda Mushro blogs at Questionable Choices in Parenting. Follow her on Twitter and on the TODAY Parenting Team.