Making cents of the penny.

This month Handy Mom takes on the penny. Smallest unit of American currency or multi-faceted household tool? We'll let you be the judge!


1. Kite stabilizer
Ever launch a kite to find it needs a bit of ballast to keep it balanced in the air? Just tape a penny to the base (pennies manufactured since 1982 weigh 2.5 grams; older than that, up to 3.11 grams).

2. Make your hydrangeas blue
Some say it's superstition, but some gardeners claim if you bury a bunch of pennies near the base of a hydrangea plant, the flowers will become more blue as the leaching metal changes the soil's pH.

3. Tire tread checker
Insert the top of Abe's head into your car tire's treads. If you can still see most of his head or any of "In God We Trust" letters, it's time to replace your tires.

4. Birdbath algae-eater
This works best with pennies made before 1982 (when they had a higher copper content). If you toss a few into your birdbath, they will help deter the growth of algae.

5. Tile spacer
Before you sponge in the grout, you can set the tiles and space them apart using pennies.

6. Play penny checkers
Draw a checkerboard on the sidewalk with chalk, then use the pennies, heads or tails, for each side's checkers. Keep extra on hand for crowning purposes since you can't flip "kings" over.