Playtime! Activity: Gettin’ Jokey With It

Orange you glad we included this picture?
Orange you glad we included this picture?

Think helping your child learn something always has to be serious business? A priest, a duck and a sandwich walking into a bar would totally disagree. Try this awesomely addictive activity with your family, and your kids will be cracking wise – and getting wise – before you know it!

Who It’s For: Kids ages 4 and up (plus their younger siblings, if they’re into it like ours)

What They’ll Learn: Language, memory, creativity

What You Need: A sense of humor, or if you don’t have that, a book of kids’ jokes that you found for like five bucks in that weird “gift items” aisle nobody ever goes down at the grocery store

How It Works:
– Start telling jokes to your kids – simple, formula-based, classic routines like Knock Knock jokes will probably get the best reaction at first, as they help your youngsters begin to recognize and identify what a joke should sound like
– Encourage your kids to tell some jokes of their own

In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, the Doctor and the Dad have always enjoyed a good joke. You might even say (as at least one person has said to us before) that we’re “a couple of hams.” So it shouldn’t come as any surprise to hear that we’ve been joking around with our kids pretty much since the day they were born.

Our early jokes with our youngsters usually consisted of just saying things that we all knew weren’t true:

“Isn’t the sky a lovely shade of green today?”

“Come to the table! We’re having dinosaur for dinner tonight.”

“I’m going to sleep in tomorrow, so you can just get up, make yourself breakfast and then drive yourself to preschool, okay?”

But lately, we’ve gotten into more structured joke-telling, which has been a really cool experience for everyone. Our four-and-a-half-year-old daughter now has a good enough grasp of language to understand why jokes that play with multiple meanings of words are funny. So she totally gets some tried-and-true classics like these:

“What kind of fish costs a lot of money? A goldfish.”

“Knock Knock. Who’s there? Boo. Boo who? Stop crying and let me in!”

And telling these kinds of jokes is not only fun – it can build some serious skills for your kids, too. Many studies have shown that joking promotes kids’ cognitive and language development, and that kids with better humor skills also tend to have higher IQs and creativity scores.

And even younger kids can get in on the action.

Our two-year-old son’s understanding of language obviously isn’t at the same level as the rest of us, but he still has fun trying to repeat his big sister’s punchlines, and even making up some jokes of his own!

And that’s where things can get funny in some weird and wonderful ways!

When our son tried to tell our daughter his own Knock Knock joke the other day – even though he doesn’t fully understand how they work yet and so pretty much just completes them by naming a series of random objects that he happens to be looking at – we witnessed the kids hitting a whole new level of seriously sophisticated silliness:

LITTLE BRO: Knock knock?

BIG SIS: Who’s there?


BIG SIS: Barbie who?


BIG SIS: Okay, Barbie Key who?

LITTLE BRO: Monster.

BIG SIS: All right, Barbie Key Monster who?


BIG SIS: So it’s Barbie Key Monster Button?


BIG SIS: I’m not letting you in. Go away.

Nice work, kids.

We guess the apples don’t fall far from the hams.

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