Funny Things That Kids Will Laugh At (Easy to Do)

Making a child laugh may seem like a walk in the park, and some times it can be as simple as that. However, keeping a child entertained all through the day or better yet, just figuring out what exactly kids laugh it is another task altogether. It takes a special kind of personality and sense of humor to keep children focused and mentally stimulated while in the classroom or even in the home.

There are certain funny things that kids laugh at that parents and teachers should know: tickling; funny stories; fake laughing; staring contests; silly pranks; amusing words; gross stuff; and finally, each other. Contrary to what some people may think, kids don’t laugh at just anything, so it’s important to be focused.

Looking to learn more about keeping a child entertained and getting them laughing? This article aims to inform anyone, whether you’re a teacher or a parent, of the key factors to induce fits of giggles.

Why It’s Important to Understand What Kids Laugh At

Knowing what is funny for kids helps teachers and parents in numerous ways. Using a sense of humor is one of the best approaches for classroom management or diffusing tension in the home. It’s also good for ice breakers in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations. No matter the circumstance, it is just helpful to know!

For teachers

Research has shown us that making learning fun is an effective way to teach. It builds rapport between the teacher and students, making them care more about what he or she is trying to teach them. Fun learning engages kids so they pay more attention to instruction. And making learning fun creates an environment where kids feel comfortable to participate and take risks. All of this means ‘it’s important for teachers to understand what kids laugh at.’

I’ve written more about bringing a sense of humor into the classroom, so feel free to search the blog; but for now, read on to learn more about the funny things that kids laugh at.

For parents

As for parents, when they know what makes kids laugh, they create a home that helps kids grow. A home with laughter is fun, which kids equate to safe and happy. As parents get to know their kids through sheer parenting, they learn more about their kids’ personality. This can be helpful for understanding what makes them laugh in particular. But nevertheless, there are things that almost all kids find funny.

As a mom of four and retired public school teacher, not to mention new grandma, I have lots of experience with thousands of kids over the years. And my husband is not only a master of martial arts, but after decades of wrangling preschoolers and young children for karate lessons, what he’s learned about making kids laugh could fill a book (and well, it has!). Be sure to check out his Author Page, after finishing this article. From this, we’ve been able to figure out several common things that kids laugh at. I’m happy to share those below.

Kids Will Laugh At Tickling

Kids not only will laugh from tickles they receive, but they’ll most definitely laugh at watching baby gorillas being tickled!

The age-old method of getting anyone of any age to laugh is…Tickling, and kids are no exceptions when it comes to this funny thing to laugh at. Tickling will have just about anyone rolling around in laughter, whether they’re 6, or 60. But of course, there’s a fine line to know about using tickling. We’ll address that later on.

Why do we laugh when we’re tickled? It’s one of those strange scenarios that we often ponder, and scientists think they may have figured out why it happens. When someone touches you, your nerve endings send signals down the spinal cord and straight to the brain. Biologists and neuroscientists studying evolution believe that the reason for laughing when being tickled could be a defense mechanism.

According to studies on tickling, the part of your brain called the hypothalamus tells you to laugh when you experience faint touch. This is also the same part of the brain that makes you wince when you’re expecting to feel pain. Scientists believe that the hypothalamus expects pain when we’re tickled, and uses laughing as a form of warning. Laughing helps to dispel an uneasy situation and prevents us from getting injured.

Of course, when using this technique it’s highly important to make sure that it’s appropriate for the person and the situation. Although a quick tickle under the armpits is an innocent action, there are some situations where this should be avoided. Stick to tickling your family members and people you know vert well, and avoid tickling children in the classroom. And of course, when asked to stop, do so.

Why Can’t We Tickle Ourselves? Tickling someone else ends in fits of laughter, but when we tickle ourselves it’s not the same. This is down to the cerebellum, located at the back of the brain. According to Dr. Konstantina Kilteni, who conducted the Tickle Me Project, when you tickle yourself, the cerebellum sends a signal to pre-warn the body that you’re about to tickle yourself.

Still confused on how tickling works? Some people say it makes us laugh, but we hate it too! Now that’s a conundrum!

Since the body is already prepared for the tickling to happen and identifies the suspect as you, the brain interprets the touch as harmless and is also prepared for it. It’s the same as brushing your own hair; when brushing your own hair your brain already expects the sensation and it feels less intense than if someone else were to do it for you.

What about animals? One strange fact is that primates such as gorillas actually laugh just like us when tickled! Remember that super cute video on YouTube with the baby gorilla from the Grace Center being tickled? It’s as cute as it is funny! Rats are also known to laugh when tickled, but the frequency is so high that humans cannot hear the sound. (Source: Science, Vol 354)

Kids (and grandmas) Laugh At Funny Stories

There are many funny children’s books like this one, The Wonky Donkey, found at Amazon, that’s so funny this Scottish grandma can hardly get through it!

Stories are a great way of getting a child engaged, and even better when a bit of humor is added to the mix. Children love a story, especially one that involves them and the people around them. Thus, funny books make kids laugh.

One great way to make a child laugh is to tell a funny, short story involving the child as the main character, and some people from their day-to-day life as side characters. Remember, it’s better to go simple and clear when trying to engage with children, so ensure the story you tell is easy to follow. Include simple, animated, and goofy jokes and stay away from anything complex that may go over their head.

Some great ideas for kids stories are: 

  • Sci-Fi: Include astronauts, aliens, and details about space.
  • Adventure: Your main character finds a mysterious treasure chest – what’s inside?
  • Fantasy: Fill it up with dragons, mermaids, talking frogs, and other mystical creatures.
  • Animals: Your child wakes up and cats rule the world. What happens next?
  • Superhero: Your child is the hero, of course. Choose a family member as the villain. Dad always makes a good target!

But remember the key for this to work is including humor! After all, we’re focusing on what kids laugh at, right?

Looking for more ideas for kids’ stories? I have plenty of ideas for prompts to get you started. You can tell stories at breakfast, during the day, or even at bedtime, but I can’t be held responsible if your kids are laughing so much they won’t fall asleep!

Funny Story Prompts:

  • There once was a horse who loved ballet!
  • (Your child’s name) woke up one morning speaking only (a foreign language)!
  • The abominable snowman wants to be my best friend. I didn’t know he liked lollipops, too.
  • The cat started barking and the dog is meowing. It’s like the whole world is upside-down!
  • I had to babysit a platypus. Oh my!

You can make these ‘two-minute stories’ or be more elaborate and add more shenanigans throughout the day. The main thing is that the story should be funny. To make a story funny, it sho

Some tips to making stories funny: Include surprises and/or unusual twists. Patterns and repeating themes can also add touches of humor. Silly words and goofy names work too (we’ll look at this in detail in another section, as well). That certainly worked for a certain doctor (ahem, Dr. Seuss).

Besides The Wonky Donkey and Dr. Seuss books, there are many other funny books that I recommend. I’ve written more about that in an article titled: Top 187 Books That Make Children Laugh (Teacher Reveals). Is 187 enough?

Fake Laughing Works

Ha, ha, ha! He, he, he! Ho, ho, ho! It’s as simple as that. If you’re struggling to get a laugh out of a child, fake laugh until they do! It’s one of the funny things that kids laugh at!

This technique works all over the world for all ages and actually helps in a lot of awkward situations, such as family photography. Photographers often instruct their subjects to begin to fake laugh, in an attempt to bring out some real expression. It’s really no different than being told, ‘say cheese’ to elicit smiles.

Due to the awkwardness of the act of fake laughing, the most common reaction for most people is to laugh actually. Have a competition between you and your child to see who can do the ugliest laugh, and you’ll be in hysterics in no time!

You could even mix it up by actively trying to make the other person laugh. Sit opposite each other and stare directly into each other’s eyes while taking turns making a silly face or telling a funny (or even not-so-funny) joke. The aim of the game is whoever laughs first is out, and when you’re told not to laugh it’s guaranteed to happen.

Don’t believe it? There was a recent viral trend creeping across the internet where TikTok users fake laughed until they really laughed. It’s so silly but true! And it works! Go on…I dare ya to try it!

Kids Laugh At Staring Competitions

Staring competitions can definitely lead to laughter, just listen to the guffaws from some baseball sports commentators when a kid from the audience decided to instigate a staring challenge with the camera! And of course, the kid starts laughing too!

Another thing that kids laugh at is staring contests! This is similar to the previous point, fake laughing. Putting yourself in an awkward situation just has a way to induce laughter. When we’re in a situation where we’re told not to laugh and we begin to overthink it, we are more likely to let it slip.

Think about those situations we’ve all been in. A silent room, a serious tone, and something triggers your sense of humor. For instance, it never fails that our cats will start doing something inane when we’re praying the Rosary as a family; it becomes almost impossible not to laugh! How much harder is it to not laugh when you have to keep a straight face?

This phenomenon is well known throughout psychology, most commonly known as ‘The White Bear Problem’. This refers to a process in our brains where deliberate attempts to suppress thoughts can actually make us think about them more. Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote:

“Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” — Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (Amazon linked)

Here’s what to do:

  • Sit in front of each other.
  • Stare directly into each other’s eyes and try to be serious.
  • Don’t blink.
  • Tell your child to try their very best to keep a straight face.
  • The awkwardness of the situation most often brings on a smirk, which then turns into uncontrollable laughter.

And if there are other kids in the vicinity of this staring contest, well, they’re going to laugh, too!

Silly, Funny Pranks Make Kids Laugh

A silly prank is bound to make a kid of any age laugh!

It may sound simple enough, but kids love anything silly. April Fools doesn’t have to just happen one day a year,; dust off the whoopie cushion all year round, and have some fun!

Here are some great prank ideas for kids:

  • Hide a whoopie cushion on a chair they sit in often.
  • Stick googly eyes all around the house or classroom
  • Add a bit of food coloring to the milk, or their eggs.
  • Stick a coin to the floor and watch them struggle to retrieve it
  • Put their favorite toy in the freezer
  • Or switch desks with a student but act like it’s totally normal
  • Create a fort in the living room out of the many Amazon boxes you get at home (or in the middle of your classroom)
  • Stack canned foods in their bed…for a teacher, put all your ‘teacher junk’ onto student desks
  • Wear their jacket but act like you’re not

Get creative and come up with your own ideas for silly pranks. The more inventive you get the more fun it will be for everyone involved. Have a look around your home or classroom for things that you could change or mess with. 

You could even nip to a local bookstore and take a browse in the jokes and pranks section. They’re usually full to the brim with fake gum, realistic plastic bugs, whoopie cushions, water squirting rings, disappearing ink, magic tricks, and more. Keep in mind, though, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make kids laugh!

Still looking for ideas? You can find many examples of funny family pranks on YouTube.

Family pranks can be funny for everyone! It’s fun to plan them, as well as fun to pull them off!

Kids Laugh At Amusing/Silly Words

There’s nothing like switching your usual, dull sentences around and throwing a few funny words in the mix. It may seem simple, but it’s guaranteed to get a laugh or two.

Think of a few fun words you could slip into a sentence to catch them off-guard and make conversations a little more entertaining. As I alluded to above, Dr. Seuss is one of the most well-known authors for kids and just about every one of his books has a slew of silly, amusing, goofy words; words that don’t always mean anything but sure are fun to say, and laugh at!

Examples of Seussical words:

Some other funny, random words guaranteed to get a chuckle are listed below and linked to Merriam-Webster:

And I think every parent knows just how funny bathroom words are for kids. All kids laugh at the mere mention of pee pee or poo poo!

Kids Laugh At Gross Stuff

Much to the chagrin of parents and teachers alike, kids laugh at gross stuff! Whether it’s snot, boogers, vomit, or slime, kids love to mess with it and laugh at it.

And sometimes, I find myself even laughing because it’s either that, or throw up!

I remember one of the most popular books in my classroom were the nonfiction books by National Geographic, made for elementary-aged kids. Now to the untrained, this might seem impressive and even scholarly. But no…I quickly learned these books were most popular, to the boys especially, because they usually contained gross pictures of dead insects or some predator eating its prey. They loved the gross-out factor and for them, the grosser the better….and the louder they laughed!

Kids Laugh At Each Other

And finally, the last funny thing that kids laugh at is…each other. This is no surprise when you really think about it. Get together any group of kids, whether a set of 4-year-olds or 14-year-olds, and if they’re not crying from hurting each other…then that means they’re laughing at each other.

Kids tell jokes; make funny faces; emit goofy sounds…get up to no good playing pranks. There are a myriad of ways kids will make each other laugh.

Kids don’t need a lot of toys or much direction when having a play-date at home or recess at school. If they have their pals, they’ll find ways to laugh! It’s simply natural!

What’s the Punchline for Funny things that Kids Laugh At?

If you’re still struggling, don’t worry. Even professional comedians sometimes have trouble figuring out what kids laugh at!

To recap, the funny things kids laugh at are:

  • tickling
  • funny stories
  • fake laughing
  • staring contests
  • silly, funny pranks
  • amusing words
  • gross stuff
  • and finally, each other

But this list isn’t exhaustive, either. Truly, there are so many ways to entertain children and keep them laughing. From good old-fashioned tickling, to an inventive prank or silly story, kids laugh at many funny, silly things. Kids’ minds work visually and creatively, so the key is to keep the activity simple to maximize effectiveness, or should I say, ‘funniness’?

Reminder: if you’re planning on telling a funny story, stay away from any plots that are too complex, as you will lose your listeners before you get to the punchline. And if you’re a teacher planning on making someone else’s child laugh, make sure the method used is appropriate, as different techniques are more suitable for your own kids than for others.

Last, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and act silly too; as the more fun you have yourself, the more fun kids will have along with you. You may have heard the saying, misery loves company? Well, the same can be said for laughter!

Jackie Booe

A mother to four kids, grandmother ("Oma") to a growing number, a retired teacher for over 18 years, and a wife to Mat since 1994, Jackie knows kids and laughter. She holds a license to teach in 3 states and is certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners, with practical experience at all levels. She holds three degrees in the field of education and has taught education courses online at the university level as an adjunct professor, too. She has mentored numerous education interns, hosted professional development for educators, and tutored, in addition to homeschooling her own children.

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