Funny development: Five- through eight-year-olds are avid collectors—of dinosaur facts, Silly Bandz, knock-knock jokes. Plus, they love wordplay and can appreciate some nuance, says Murphy. (And by “nuance” she means groaningly bad puns.)
Their comedy heroes: An orange you’re glad isn’t a banana, the chicken who crossed the road, contestants on Wipeout.
Comedy gold: Friend-for-life territory? A fart joke or two. “A 50-cent whoopee cushion provided my older daughter countless hours of enjoyment as I prepared meals, cleaned, or fed the baby,” recalls Bee. “It was the sound track of my life for an entire month.” (This is an age group that doesn’t grasp the concept of a tired joke.) When all else fails, execute an elaborate pratfall: Kids this age love physical humor the way Ricky loves Lucy. “You have to plan ahead a few paces, but kids adore it when you pretend to crack your head open on a street sign,” says Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr, a father of two and the author of The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide for Watching Together ($18, amazon.com). “For the first few seconds, they think you’ve really hurt yourself, which makes it even funnier.”