20 Life Hacks All Kids Need to Know

Benna Crawford
Girl with A+ test

Life is hard. You need excellent hacks to deal with your day, your nights and weekends, definitely your dog, and maybe your little brother. From pizza tips to stealth cleverness these life hacks will leave your hackless friends in awe.

Smart Study Hacks

Face it: no "A" student makes the honor roll without a few tricks up her sleeve.

Hanger Book Holder

When you're studying for a big test, every second counts. You don't have time to wrestle your book into submission, so it won't close on you, but you only have two hands and they are needed at the keyboard. No worries. Grab a pants hanger from your closet and clip the spread pages to hold them open. Either stand the propped-open book on your desk or, if you're lucky enough to have a desk with shelves along the back, screw a sturdy cup hook into the bottom shelf and slip the hanger onto the hook.

Here Comes the Sun

Get up early to finish your homework or squeeze in a last-minute cram session for that test by making a no-noise alarm clock. Put your bed lamp on one of those timers your parents use to control the lights when you're on vacation. Set the timer for a few minutes before you have to wake up and make sure the lamp will shine in your face. It's an instant silent sun-alarm, and your sibling will thank you for not waking them up too!

Save Your Stylin'

Few can truly appreciate how much work you put into maintaining your signature look. You've got the big picture down, but those tricky details snag you every time. Protect your brand with a couple of slam-dunk hacks that give you more time to binge-watch old seasons of Project Runway.

Pool Noodle Boot Protector

Cut an old pool noodle to the height of your favorite boots and stick one noodle in each boot when you aren't wearing them. No more collapsed, wrinkly boots! This epic trick also works for high-top kicks.

Fix a Stuck Zipper

If the zipper on your jacket - or heaven forbid, your jeans - gets stuck, rub the lead end of a pencil over the teeth. The graphite dust allows the zipper to slide easily over the teeth.

Hand Sanitizer to the Rescue

That careless ink mark on your new shirt isn't the end of the world. Squeeze hand sanitizer on the mark to lift the ink out of the fabric. Then blot the loosened stain with clean paper towels to remove it.

Smelly Sneaker Fix

Pop a dry tea bag into each stinky sneaker, post-gym, for odor control. Then put both dirty sneakers in a clear plastic shower cap to keep your bag or locker clean.

Tiny Treasure Retriever

girl with earring

Don't you hate it when you drop the microscopic back to your favorite earring and can't find it in your fluffy carpet? Stretch a piece of old pantyhose over the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner and secure it tightly with two rubber bands. Turn the vacuum on the lowest setting and go over the rug. Keep checking the "filter" until your earring back shows up. Bonus: you can use this hack to find lost contacts, too.

Strings and Straws

You've accidentally pulled the string out of your hoodie, and now you can't snug it closed. Don't despair. Safety pins might be in short supply, but plastic straws are everywhere. Poke that hoodie string through a straw and then thread the straw easily through the channel. Remove the straw once your hoodie string is back where it belongs - and stick the straw back in your Coke.

Wizards and Whizzes

Remember when you stayed up all night reading Harry Potter? Wait... what? You still do? Okay then, you don't need a wand for these tricks. When you get back to the muggle world, cast a few spells to make things work better.

Platform 9 3/4

Mischief Managed

Next time you go to Harry Potter World, dial MAGIC (62442) in the phone booth just outside King's Cross Station to be connected directly to the Ministry of Magic.

You in Gryffindor

Study for Potions class with Harry, Hermione and Ron by playing ambient sounds of the Gryffindor common room in the background. Go here for crackling fires, chatting students and other Hogwarts sounds.

The Hunger Games

You have to get the food thing right. In between whipping up your awesome M&M's-studded brownie recipe and hoovering all the unbroken cookies in the cabinet, there remain three meals and other munchies to worry about. Stay calm and act as if your not-quite-nutritional diet is just the latest update to the FDA healthy Food Guidelines.

Snack Attack

Secure the choicest snacks without looking like a hog. Shake a can of salted or roasted nuts before opening it, serve yourself and then casually share it with your friends. The broken bits and smaller nuts (like peanuts) fall to the bottom when you shake the can, so the best ones are at the top.

fries with ketchup

French Fry Rescue Mission

That cute little paper cup they provide to hold your condiments isn't up to the job. What were they thinking? Everyone knows super-fries need major ketchup. After all, ketchup is a vegetable, and you need five servings of veggies a day, right? No worries. Just unroll the "lip" around the top of the cup to expand it. Now you can score enough extra ketchup to dunk ALL your fries. Not too sure about the vitamins, though.

Basic Economics

Remind Dad that ordering one 18-inch pizza gets you more pizza than two 12-inch pizzas. You're welcome.

Pizza 2.0

If you're microwaving leftover pizza for your after school snack, place a glass one-fourth full of tap water on the revolving tray with the pizza. You get a crisp crust, almost like a fresh pizza, as opposed to a soggy, day-old piece of carpet with sauce on it.

Take Care of Yourself

A few common remedies can save you a boatload of grief when you're out and about, but a few uncommonly intelligent hacks could save your bacon in a pinch.

Car Sick Blues

If you start to feel motion sick on a car trip, press the pad of your thumb into the inside of your arm about two inches from your wrist crease. Just hold it there for a few minutes. You trigger an acupressure point and the queasiness calms down.

"X" Marks the Spot

Next time you get an itchy mosquito bite, make an indented "X" in the middle of it with your thumbnail. The pressure lowers the blood flow to the most swollen part of the bite, relieving the itch.

Blazing Nachos

making s'mores

Forgot the kindling for your campfire? Leaves too wet? Twigs too green? Don't worry, as it happens, tortilla chips make a fine kindling substitute. Dig into your snack stash, and you'll have a blaze going in no time. The oil in them is flammable enough to catch and hold a flame so you can get the logs blazing and the s'mores nicely melted. Hint: the chips ignite faster if you open a fresh bag.

Hacktivism for the Short Set

Why should the big kids have all the fun? You'll be big one day, and you need the practice. So get some help from these problem-solvers if your superpowers aren't quite advanced enough to handle them all yourself.

Happy Place Pencil Case

Some days a classroom can be a cold and lonely place when you just need your mom, or your dog, or whatever. So take them to school with you. Have mom laminate a photograph of the two of you, or Fido the Friendly Mutt, or Harriet the Hamster on a piece of card stock the size of a bookmark. Print your name on the other side of the card stock first. Stick that bookmark in your pencil case or lunch box and pull it out whenever you need a little something to cheer you up.

Express Elevator

kid in elevator

Hack your ride home after a sweaty soccer practice or ballet class. Don't stop on every floor when you take the elevator. Hold the "door closed" button until the door closes and then hit the button for your floor. Release both buttons after the elevator starts to move and you will go express to the floor you selected. (This will make you pretty unpopular with other passengers and people waiting for the elevator, so don't do it all the time.)

Zoo Trick: Try This at Home

If it's good enough for a panda birthday party at the zoo, it's good enough for Poochini in your fenced-in yard. Make your puppy an afternoon cool-down toy that's good for him on a hot summer day. Freeze chicken broth, diluted with fresh water, inside your mom's Bundt pan. Add a few small rubber puppy toys, a bone and a couple of carrots or other favorite treats before putting the mold in the freezer until the ice is solid. Your pooch will play with the ice ring for hours -- great exercise without overheating. Make your big sister hose him down before you let him back in the house.

Hacked Off

Some hacks are just so awesome; you rock them like a boss. Others, despite being helpful, could cause some people to give you the stink eye. So always approach your hacking with an air of quiet confidence and avoid showing off. Share the hacks you road-test with your besties, because what are friends for? Expect them to share back. Oh, and if you've always secretly yearned to be one of those bad boys in Slytherin? Here's the background sound for the Slytherin Common Room under the lake - drippy and a bit creepy - just the way you like it.

20 Life Hacks All Kids Need to Know