Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Little Things #1 - Glue Sticks

I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day at lunch about the importance of teaching kids the "little things" that may make their artmaking (and general school work) more successful. She works with a child with special needs and sees daily how important the little steps can be. We started listing all the little things that some kids sometimes (BUT NOT ALWAYS) have learned intuitively. As art teachers, we probably see examples daily -- things like: using a glue stick, scissors, "pinch tearing", how to hold a paintbrush, using white glue, carrying scissors, etc.

I taught primary grades for years and was used to not taking anything for granted and teaching all the little steps. But this year, working again with upper elementary, I was surprised to see how many kids must have missed the lessons on the use of some of these materials. So, since this blog is (in part) for families and others who work with my students, I thought that every now and then I would focus on one "little thing" and detail how I like to talk about it. I also think it's a good idea MODEL everything I say for the kids so there are no misunderstandings.

Today, it is the GLUE STICK. First of all, I have found that not all glue sticks are made equal. My favorite right now is Avery Permanent Glue Stic. It is a small stick -- the larger ones are actually harder for kids to handle, particularly when working with small pieces of paper and small spaces. If you have other sticks you like even better, I'd love to know about them!!!

I impress on students to:
     1. Put the lid in a safe place where you can find it later (we have table trays that are
        good for this purpose).
     2. Wind up the stick a VERY little bit -- maybe 2 millimeters at a time. Otherwise, as
        the kids say, "It gets all smooshed up."
     3.  When gluing, put glue on the small piece of paper you are going to glue, not all over
        the large sheet you are gluing to. (I know that's a dangling preposition - but kids
        understand what I mean when I say it that way!)
     4. Place that small paper on the newspaper on your desk and press hard enough to
        get the glue on the paper or hold it in your hand and press hard enough to transfer
        the glue.
     5.  If the corners are popping up, add some more glue and press them down.
     6. When done, replace the cap and listen for the "snap".
     7. When a glue stick is out of glue, throw it away, instead of putting it back in the
         supply basket.
     8. We keep a basket of old caps for those times when one gets lost (which happens
     9. If your hands get too sticky after awhile, go clean them and them come back to
        continue the work.
Have I forgotten anything??


  1. Our school learned an important fact about glue sticks this year, apparently little mice like to eat the Elmer's purple glue sticks. Whenever the exterminator came (and he's been around a lot this year) he finds those glue sticks in the mice nests! So I would add one extra step: store all glue sticks in a sealed plastic box:)

  2. Oh my. I am rodent-phobic. I don't know if I could go back in my art room if I knew mice were getting in there! We've had crickets, and flies, and wasps, and spiders, but NEVER a mouse in my art room!

  3. I always need to remind my students to also turn the glue so it goes just a bit inside the tube. Otherwise it gets "smooshed" up inside the cap. When the next person takes the top off their glue stick the glue sometimes comes off with it.

  4. Mice -- ick!! I have never had mice, BUT last year I was in my room very early one morning chopping paper at the paper cutter and heard something rustle behind me. I turned and didn't see anything right away. Then, something moved across the room. I caught sight of this little brown rodent face peeking over a desk. At first I thought it was one of the MANY squirrels that are around the school (and often pass through a classroom) until I saw the long skinny tail. Yep! It was a RAT!! OMG, I got out of there fast, calling my buddy the custodian to come and help me. That would be a whole other post -- that I will probably never write because I don't want to re-live it!! I'll think about putting the glue sticks in a plastic container, just in case our other little rodent neighbors are attracted to them!!

  5. i loved this!! an ode to the glue stick! i could NOT live without mine and these are awesome tips. my favorite is the UHU -- it goes on the most smoothly and doesn't get as smooshy as most others. sometimes i keep a damp papertowel next to me to wipe my fingers so i don't have to get up and go wash my hands all the time!

  6. I love Crayola's glue sticks. The cap is made so it fits on the back of the glue stick and will stand up on the table. My students also claim they smell like cherry. Whatever. Haha! I just like the lids. :)

  7. Love your glue stick tips! I think my favorite glue stick is UHU, but they do have a screw on lid and it is not always easy for the kids to put that back on.