Gluing: Five Ways

Gluing, with its potential to work on one’s fine motor skills and later become a vehicle for artistic expression, has become a staple on our art shelf, and I enjoy finding ways to keep it fresh.

1. Large shapes

We started with large shapes on a disposable tray (a Japanese takeaway container) that they could collage. A glue stick was what the children had been using for months, probably since about 2yo or earlier, but I thought I wld introduce white glue in a jam jar, and a brush, for greater precision when Emmy was  between 2-2.5yo.

2. Small shapes

The shapes got smaller as did the paper. The oval cutouts from tissue paper boxes (a great idea we borrowed from Emmy’s school)  were the perfect stiffness for over-generous applications of glue. I used only two shapes, circles and rectangles cut out from a remnant of wrapping paper, for patterning.

Emmy made caterpillars and spectacles (for this unit on wearing spectacles here), Dylan really enjoyed making patterns so I gave him a bigger piece of paper for him to make as many zigzags as he wanted.



3. Glue sponge and sequins

The children had been ignoring the gluing for awhile, so I thought switching to a black background would make a nice point of interest, as would a glue sponge contained in the jam jar so it could be capped and reused.



If your child is in a sensitive period for order and likes lining things up, this may be fun.

4. Straight line gluing on paper butterflies

This produced such 3D, frameworthy artwork! Also useful for indirectly learning about parts of a butterfly, as I told them to glue only the thorax and abdomen, and leave the wings free. (Spring unit here.)



5. Mix-and-match clothing for paper dolls

Inspired by Nduoma’s gluing activity, I made my own eco-friendly summer version with a cardboard box and fabric samples from my interior design class. 

Hats and glasses optional 😂

The skirt is upside-down in my eyes but Emmy sees it differently. No correction needed.

Emmy wanted to add a finishing touch with liquid chalk marker.


These final two pictures are of the gluing exercises the children did in their AMI-accredited schools. What gluing looks like at 2.5yrs – more about refining the technique through repetition.


And 4 years: having mastered gluing, using it to create representational art- this is a train. As for the white parts that got stuck- that’s just a natural consequence Dyl has to face for not storing glued work separately!


The children also have free access to paper and art materials in our art space. (And of course, if you want the child to focus on the materiality of the glue itself, glitter glue is easy to procure, although my kids seem to like “painting” with it more than gluing things.) It’s been four months since I took the plunge and set up the art space. They have used it every single day. Whenever I observe that they are not as interested I tweak some of the materials, and let them discover it on their own! They are in such a sensitive period for refinement that they will notice any small difference even if you don’t say a word- just trust the child.

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