Several years ago, my teaching assistant couldn’t make it. Our Cantor/Educator stepped in to fill the role. When asked by a parent about the experience of a heavy duty art day, he replied, “I now know more about glue than I ever thought there was to know!” The comment brings up 2 interesting points:
of deep importance…we frequently do not realize how much we do not know. (This is a big topic for another day.)
of practical import…you need to use the right stuff.
This latter point is easy and fun so let’s start with glue:
Glue Sticks: glue sticks have become de rigeur in a classroom. On the plus side: glue sticks are neat, clean and convenient. On the negative side: glue sticks are expensive and generally hold only standard paper. Best usage: adhering paper to paper. Large glue sticks are a better value than small ones. I prefer the Crayola Glue Sticks or the Avery Color Disappearing Glue Sticks. Both stay moist; they are colored when they go on, so children can see the glue area but they do dry clear.
Last summer a young counselor came, to me, perplexed. She had requested glue sticks for her 3 year olds and, as she put it, what she got was a jar of Crisco shortening. In other words, she received Paste! On the plus side: paste is inexpensive, simple for little hands and easy to clean. On the negative side: paste gets brittle, does not adhere for long and can only adhere paper. Best usage: paste is a great alternative for everyday projects that are not meant to last or paper projects you will eventually laminate to seal (after removing the excess globs).
White Glue, whether Elmer’s, Crayola, Ross, etc. is a classroom staple. On the plus side: white glue is inexpensive, washable, dries clear and adheres well. On the negative side: the squeeze bottles clog readily; kids squeeze puddles of glue when a dab will do. Best usage: pour white glue into a dish and spread onto the work with a craft stick. Then pour the excess back into the bottle or into a sealed plastic container. If you insist on using the squeeze bottles, be vigilant about damp wiping the tops after each use and close securely. White glue will hold most weights of paper as well as other porous materials. I find that the name brands do have better strength.
Tacky Glue can be found in most supply closets where it seems to live an eternal, stationary life. On the plus side: Tacky glue dries clear and with hold fabric (including felt) and non-porous materials. On the negative side: Tacky Glue seems to solidify in the squeeze bottles, resulting in lots of waste. Best usage: take the Tacky Glue you now have in the squeeze bottles. Slice open the bottles and pour the glue into small jars. Vow that, from now on, you will only buy Tacky Glue in jars. Use directly from the small jar or spoon the glue into dishes for application with a craft stick. Wipe around lids after each use and place a baggie or plastic wrap over the top prior to replacing the lid.
Carpenter’s Glue or Wood Glue are not just for securing pieces of wood. It carries the name because it does have wood fibers as a component. On the plus side: wood glue is very strong, inexpensive and dries rapidly. On the negative side: wood glue does not dry clear. Best usage: any project where the glue will not show. This is great stuff! Affordable for frequent classroom use.
Hot Glue is something I do not use with students or campers. On the plus side: hot glue is strong and adheres almost immediately. On the negative side: hot glue is, well, hot. It can burn. Also, only one artist can use the hot glue at a time. Unless you are working with teens anything hot glued is not reflective of student/camper work. Best usage: quick repairs by the teacher. Some prep work can be done with hot glue.