Exploring Glue

Who doesn’t love playing with glue?  I have a strong memory of covering both my hands in glue with my best friend at summer camp, and then seeing the look of horror on our counselor’s face when we mischievously started peeling off our own “skin.”  I’m not advocating for that kind of behavior here, but my point is that there are endless possibilities for creating and playing with glue:  it can be used as an adhesive or a paint, it can be squeezed or dripped, and it has a delightful (and for some, disgusting) sticky quality that is fun to touch…and sometimes peel.  There are lots of recipes out there for home-made glue, but I love good old-fashioned Elmer’s School Glue.  It’s non-toxic, inexpensive, and works really well.

Exploration Connections:

  • When playing with glue, children can learn about viscosity, and how one object can adhere to another, sometimes permanently.
  • Children will also make choices about which objects they want to use, where to place them, and how many to include on the paper, helping them experience decision-making skills and autonomy in a lovely way (rather than throwing an “I want THAT cookie” fit in the grocery store).

Time:

Set-up: 5 minutes (after materials are gathered and/or purchased)

Activity:  5+ minutes, depending on the child’s ability, interest, distractions, etc.

Materials:

  1. Paper
  2. Glue
  3. Disposable Bowls
  4. Small objects for gluing (i.e. feathers, pom-poms, leaves, macaroni)

Activity:

  1. Squeeze enough glue into a disposable bowl to fill its bottom.  (After the glue dries, you can use the bowl again for another gluing activity.  Hoorah for recycling!)
  2. On your own paper, show your child how to dip an object in the glue and place it on the paper.  Hold your paper sideways or upside-down (depending on the weight of the object) to demonstrate that the glue is holding the object in place.  Next, encourage them to try, and ask them what they’re doing and/or comment on their process by saying things like, “You’re dipping the noodle in the glue and dripping glue on the paper.  And now you’re placing it on the blue paper.”
  3. Alternatively, give your child a small glue bottle and show them how to squeeze it on the paper.  They can then place the objects on the small dot or pile of glue.  This is a great option for kids who don’t want to touch the glue, and also helps children understand the physics of squeezing a bottle to release a liquid.

Another idea for the preschool crowd: Writing with glue as a preschooler

Comments

  1. says

    well our glue project went swimmingly. thanks Rachelle for the suggestion.
    it kept simone’s attention for awhile and every once in awhile when I wasn’t blowing bubbles for Spencer or making lunch, I would pop in and add to her project.
    the only thing that beats me up about these activities is ……it’s another thing to clean up. grrrrr. I feel like a maid more than a parent most days. if you ever have any clean up advise , please give it.

    • says

      Ugh. Cleaning up is SO challenging for us too. I try to clean up each activity as it ends, which is only sometimes possible since attention spans can be so short. And I also notice myself falling into the “easy-to-clean-up” trap (“Hey, let’s read some books!”) when I absolutely can’t handle wiping down one more table or sweeping another floor.

      One thing that does seem to help are baskets or boxes that gather like materials, such as a box of stamping supplies or a basket of Duplo blocks that everything from the activity can just be dumped into once you’re done. And then the real trick, which we’re just learning over here, is teaching your child to put everything away BY THEMSELVES. No advice for you there, but repetition and practice does seem to help a bit.

      And let me know if you have any good ideas on this matter — it’s an area that’s probably worth making a unique post about!

  2. Aude Ismael says

    Thanks for sharing Rachelle! We look forward to more projects and will definitely try the glue again!

  3. Chana says

    I would love to share what turned out to be several extraordinary masterpieces: “Layering Leaf Art” is what we call it. We use rubber cement glue… You remember the old kind in the jar with he lid that was attached to a brush? This glue doesn’t compromise the integrity of the leaves. We collected leaves during fall but can be done whenever leaves are available. Choose as many different colors, sizes, shapes as possible. Use your imagination to visualize how layering can create an elephant or a peacock or a beautifully whimsical butterfly. So many animals and insects we’ve created. the creatures could each be characters in books by Eric Carle (sp?). I would love to share pictures Rachelle if possible.

    • says

      Oh yes, rubber cement was the glue of our childhood! I love this idea — it’s totally open-ended and encourages the imagination to run wild.