When done well—thoughtfully, good-naturedly, and with care to avoid harm—pranks are, at their heart, an invitation to play. A thoughtful prank, which often involves an element of surprise that turns an expectation on its ear, can help develop your girl’s sense of humor and sense of fairness. Pranks can provide a way for kids to understand limits, the difference between what’s clever and what’s cruel, and the importance of considering the perspective of others—after all, what’s funny to the prankster may not be funny to the person being pranked, and that’s not fun for anyone. But pranks that, ultimately, let everyone in on the joke can relieve stress and, according to some researchers, play an important role in community-building and bonding.

Welcome a little mischief by helping your girl plan a good prank—or turn the tables to prank her!—with these fun ideas:

mom and girl having fun

The Mind-Reader Trick

Before you begin, secretly choose an assistant to help you with the prank and be sure there is a stack of books in the room. On a piece of paper, write this sentence: It says exactly the same thing. Seal the paper in an envelope.

Gather a small group of friends or family members and choose one person to pick any phrase from any nearby book. Dramatically ask her to read the phrase aloud several times.

Present the sealed envelope to your secret assistant. Tell her to open the envelope and read the message inside aloud. Don’t let her show the paper to anyone else!

People will gasp when she says, “It says exactly the same thing!”

Only your assistant will know your secret—until the big reveal. Once the excitement has calmed, you and your assistant can show everyone the message and say, together, “April Fools!”


Alphabet C

Bag of Tricks

Cut a large “C” out of paper and place it in a bag. Approach your girl, peek into the bag, and exclaim, “This is so cool! I can’t believe this! I’ve never seen anything like it!” Once you have her attention, ask, “Wanna see?”

When she says yes, ask again. “Are you SURE you wanna see? Are you positively positive you wanna see?” When she’s dying to know what’s in the bag, reach in, pull out your “C,” and hand it to her.


Diamond Pin

Diamond Pin

Place a dime and a safety pin in a small box. Wrap the box nicely. Tell a friend or family member that you want to give her a diamond pin as a token of your appreciation.

When she opens the box, she’ll find a “dime and pin.”


Family member holding frozen brush

Icy Cool, Hold the Mint

The night before April 1, freeze the brushy parts of all your family members’ toothbrushes into individual ice cubes. Fill plastic cups with water. Add brushes and freeze overnight. Then get up early and return all the frozen brushes to their proper places. Cool trick!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please do NOT try this trick using electric toothbrushes.


Grasshoppers

A Box of Grasshoppers

This unexpectedly sweet prank will take a little bit of prep.

You will need: pre-made or pre-packaged brownie bites, any white frosting (mint, vanilla, or buttercream), green food coloring, chocolate mint candies.

Tint the white frosting green, and add a dollop to each tiny brownie. Break a chocolate mint candy in half, and place it on the top for decoration to make “grasshopper” brownies.

The Prank: Select a plain box—clean, but the uglier the better. The box should be just large enough to hold 2 or 3 decorated brownie bites. Poke tiny “air holes” in the lid of the box, then place your sweet treats inside. Carry your box of “grasshoppers” to an unsuspecting friend or family member, and ask them to hold it for a second while you tie your shoe. Tell them to be very careful not to drop it or let anything out of the box. Explain, “If you open the lid even a little, they might escape!” When they ask what is in the box, tell them “a bunch of grasshoppers. They’re really sweet!”

  • If they are excited about that, tell them they can take a careful peek in the box.
  • If they are grossed out, take the box back and offer to show them how sweet they are.

After you reveal what’s inside the box, enjoy a good laugh and a sweet treat together!

Girl opening a box

Adapted from American Girl magazine, various issues. © 2018 American Girl.