Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Life Hacks with The How To Handbook (Plus, some of my favorite Life Hacks posts/resources)


noun: life hack 
1. a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.
If you spend any time at Buzzfeed or Pinterest, you know that Life Hacks are a thing. Kitchen hacks, school hacks, craft hacks . . . you can always find fun posts that highlight fast and creative ways to solve a problem, re-use an item, etc. I am obsessed with finding fun and creative life hacks.
But here’s the truth, I don’t do very many of them because, well, I am not overly domestic. True story. So kitchen hacks? Cool, but not practical for me because I avoid the kitchen like the plague.

So then I was reading this story about how teens don’t know how to do a lot of the basic skills that we used to take for granted because no one is teaching them.  Know how to sew on a button? Most teens don’t. Know how to tie a knot or pitch a tent? Sadly, a lot of teens don’t.

Every time I see the book The How-to-Handbook I keep thinking that I want to put together a program series called Life Hacks – perfect for a series of Throw Back Thursday themed programs – where we teach teens how to do these basic types of skills. Family Circle has a really good highlight of some of the things we need to make sure teens know, including money skills and clothing skills (there’s that sewing on a button thing again).
And because of the cover of the The How-to-Handbook, I always think I want to do is as an old school badging program. Or, if you want, electronic badges. In my mind it is set up in one of two ways:

1) Do it over spring break with a different themed day every day. Set up stations where tweens and teens do different tasks.  For example, you could have a clothing themed day where at one station they sew a button, in another they sort baskets of clothes for washing, and in another they fold fitted sheets. And a lot of these activities can be turned into types of relay games to make it fun.

or . . .

2) Do a series of Thursday programs (because, you know, Throwback Thursday) for say a month. Again, each week of the month gets a theme.  You can also throw in some old school board and video games. And crafts!

Here’s a look at some of my favorite skills in the book that I think might make for good elements in the series:
Part 1: Everyday Essentials
Manage Your Money
Pack a Suitcase (this could be a fun racing type game)
Wrap a Gift
Part 2: Looking and Smelling Good
Iron a Pair of Pants
 Tie a Bowtie/Tie a Tie
Part 3: Get to Know Your Kitchen
Kitchen essentials
Set a table
Eat a balanced meal
Part 4: Clean Up Like a Pro
Clean your room in five minutes
Do the laundry
Fold a fitted sheet (again, another fun relay type activity could be done here)
Unstick chewing gum
Part 5: Do It Yourself
Fix a flat
Pitch a tent
Sew on a button
Part 6: Emergency Skills 101
Dress a cut
Extract a splinter
Help a choking victim
Take a pule
And of course you could add to this in any way you wanted to. Basic computer skills, job seeking skills, etc.

Here are some of my favorite LifeHack posts/resources:
Huffington Post: 20 DIY Lifehacks with Office Junk that will Blow Your Mind
Tumblr: Daily Life Hacks on Teenager Posts
Bored Panda: 40 Life Hacks That Will Change Your Life
Buzzfeed: 26 Clever and Inexpensive Crafting Hacks
Lifehacker.com: Tons of life hacks

Please people, feed my obsession! Share your favorite Life Hacks in the comments.