You often hear that jokes aren’t as funny if you have to explain them, and that may be true, but I think explaining jokes to kids is fantastic for them. Kids are still learning a lot of vocabulary all the time, and jokes are a pretty cool way to expand that vocabulary. And if you can somehow time a funny joke to coincide with a new concept that a kid just learned, you’re sure to leave a lasting impression.
Since a lot of kids jokes have a play on words, kids get to explore things like puns, double meanings and irony. Not only are they developing a sense of humor, but they’re developing their control over their language as well. Even if I have to explain something, once my son understands the play on words that makes it funny, he still gets a big grin of recognition and pleasure on his face.
Jokes are actually really good for us - both emotionally and mentally. And they’re particularly good for the growing brains of our kids. According to Andy and Amber Ankowski on pbs.org, humor has been proven to provide children with all of the following:
1) Higher intelligence and creativity
2) Better language and literacy skills
3) Reduction of stress and easier social interactions
How are all of these benefits possible? People who learn to think outside of the box - the type of thinking that helps solve riddles and understand word play - develop better creativity and critical thinking skills. Children who start to see things from different perspectives are well equipped to solve problems and play devil’s advocate - viewing things from all angles. And, naturally, we all know how good regular, deep laughing is for our health and mental outlook as well.
So what’s the best way to introduce kids to an appreciation for good humor? Our two-year-old is easy to please. All we have to do is say “OOPS!” really loud when reading Sandra Boynton’s Blue Hat, Green Hat and she will absolutely lose it. That crazy turkey does NOT know how to put on shirts like I do. She’s also very good at making me laugh by showing up unannounced in very silly outfits from the costume chest.
Of course our son is in a different stage of humor appreciation, and more complex puns are more enjoyable for him. Either way, according to Dr. Mary L. Gavin and kidshealth.org, some of the very best advice is to encourage a child’s love for humor, and, most importantly, to encourage their own attempts at humor. Even if it isn’t funny, we need to take their humor seriously.
We have this one very bad book of jokes in our house and I honestly have no idea where it came from. It simply appeared on our shelf to torment us like the book from the horror movie The Babadook. There are hundreds of jokes in this book, and they are shockingly not funny. “What’s green and sour and comes down your chimney at Christmas? Santapickle.” Lucky for all of us, this joke book also has an index. If you look up the word “pickle”, you’ll be happy to know there are no less than twenty more jokes exactly like that with pickle added onto something.
But, according to kidshealth.org, encouraging your child’s humor by “reading (potentially unfunny) jokes from a book” is not a bad thing at all. And I guess the terrible joke book won in the end, because my wife and I actually began to laugh very loudly at the absurdity that somebody actually wrote these jokes, submitted them to a publisher, and put them into print. Then we spent quite a bit of time making up our own awful pickle jokes with our son. Perhaps it was always meant to be a disguised lesson for parents to appreciate attempts at humor.
Here below you’ll find our family’s personal favorite jokes that we tell each other again and again. I never grew up with jokes memorized and ready to share with others, but our son really enjoys learning them and has a remarkable memory for sharing them with his friends and family. I truly believe his wit has grown tremendously, and there’s nothing more special than the moment your child makes you really laugh (on purpose). I hope you’ll find something in this list to get your little ones thinking, and then laughing out loud. If you have your own favorite joke, please share it in the comments!
Why does the golfer always carry an extra pair of pants?
In case he gets a hole in one.
Have you heard about the restaurant on the moon?
Great food, no atmosphere.
For us, this joke coincided very well with learning about space. For the longest time, our son mixed up his answer and said “Great food, no gravity.” This joke sparked great conversations about both atmosphere and gravity.
Why do teenagers prefer odd numbers?
Because they can’t even.
Challenge: try explaining to your 5-year-old what “I can’t even” means.
How do you make a handkerchief dance?
You put a little boogie in it.
A mushroom walked into a bar. The bartender looked at him and said, “Get out of here. You aren’t allowed to eat here. Nobody wants you here - get out.
The mushroom said, “What’s the big deal? I’m a fun-gi.”
What’s a pirate’s favorite letter in the alphabet?
Why can’t you trust atoms?
They make up everything.
Time this joke perfectly after learning about molecules and atoms and you’re gold.
What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?
How do you count cows?
With a cowculator.
A new addition that had to be included on this list because it made our son laugh out loud in a way we hadn’t heard before.
Want to hear a joke about pizza?
Nevermind, it’s too cheesy.
Challenge: Explain what cheesy means to a 5-year-old.
What is brown and sticky?
Why is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7, 8, 9.
Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?
He didn’t have the guts.
What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument?
What do you call an alligator wearing a vest?
Where does a vampire keep his money?
In the blood bank.
How do you know when a vampire is sick?
What did the snowman say to the other snowman?
Hey, do you smell carrots?
What’s black and white and red all over?
Or a sunburned zebra as my son loves to remind me.
Knock, Knock Jokes
Knock, Knock Jokes are one of the very best templates for children to experiment with their own humor. I’m not saying we were the first ones to think of these jokes - I’m sure someone has told them before - but my son and I actually created the first three of these while sitting around together.
Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Boo. Boo Who?
Aww, why are you crying?
Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Who. Who who?
What are you, an owl?
Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Toodle. Toodle who?
Why are you leaving? You just got here.
Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Interrupting cow. Interrupting cow…
Knock, Knock, Who’s there? Interrupting joke. Interrupting jo…..
Knock, Knock! …
And so on for approximately 1 hour. Sorry about this one.
And those are our favorites! We’ll continue adding to this list if we get any new family favorites. If you and your family have your own favorite jokes, please share them in the comments! And if you’re in the mood for riddles instead, check out this list of our family’s favorite riddles.