Get Silly: Bond with Your Kids over Humor

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Be Spontaneous

Start a family improv night. Write down some silly scenarios (you're stuck in an elevator with a monkey, for instance) on slips of paper, break up into teams, and then draw your group's surprise situation out of a hat. Use props like kitchen utensils and sports gear to help play out the scene. Or have your kids act out moves like mowing the lawn or cutting down a tree while you supply the sound effects. Your players can talk through a script or a staged scene, then, on your cue, sing their lines instead. Or try some impromptu ad-libs (sans pens and paper), where the first speaker starts a sentence and each subsequent person adds a phrase. Be sure to tape the show so you can watch the funniest parts over and over again.

Laugh at Yourself

Dig out old photos of you and your spouse sporting out-of-date haircuts and outfits (which are guaranteed to crack your kids up), or find their baby pictures and reminisce. You can also enlarge and print current photos of yourselves and have each person "decorate" them with mustaches and wild hairdos. Or make it a photo shoot and take pics of yourselves making funny faces. Computer programs like Mac's Photo Booth produce silly renderings of your images, with effects like funhouse mirrors that shrink and stretch.

Challenge Your Funny Bone

Classic games like Twister and Simon Says will get everyone involved, and word games like Apples to Apples and Last Word (in which players shout out their answers) will give you a giggle when competition gets heated and players start spouting gibberish. Or head to a site like to find and play free online games together.

Play Dress Up

Pull out old Halloween costumes (perhaps you have a few in storage that you used just once) and put them back to work again. Let your kids use dress-up accessories to turn Dad into a Power Ranger and Mom into Little Bo Peep, or find a "vintage" outfit from your glory days and dress one of your kids in it. You can also plan a mad clothing dash: Lay out shoes, pants, shirts, and hats in the backyard and race to see who can put them on the fastest and then run to the finish line.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, April 2010.


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