A week or so ago we were doing Letter W with the Little People, and as a result did some fun activities with wood. Of these activities, my most favorite was making Wood Sculptures. I gathered all of the various wood pieces that I could find in my Creative Art stash. There were cubes, flat squares, matchsticks, craft sticks, wooden spools and various flat wooden shapes. I put out containers of these objects on the art table along with pieces of cardboard and bottles of glue. Then I let the Little People go at it. I didn't give them any instructions except for "make whatever you want", and just watched as they came up with the most wonderful sculptures.
And believe me, the glue was flowing on this project. The kids had a blast pouring the glue on the cardboard, gluing pieces together, making glue puddles here and there, and filling all of the wooden spools with it.
To be honest, I was just as happy as they were as I watched them work. Because the truth is that I think gluing is good for children. Not gluing with glue sticks, or gluing with tiny adult-administered dots of glue. I mean gluing with the whole bottle. Squeezing the bottle and watching it flow out.
Granted, I am not going to let them pour out enough glue that it runs off the table onto the floor. Nor will I let them pour glue in the non-art area or on each other. But I am going to let them use the bottles alone and add the glue to their projects that they think is needed.
Because Little People learn things when they glue. They learn about volume and spatial concepts and viscosity. The learn about pressure, and how glue gets hard and clear when it dries. They learn that yes, glue is messy, but that it also washes right off. Believe it or not, they also learn that sometimes too much glue is just too much.
I have discovered that I am unusual in this belief. I have worked with several teachers that avoid liquid glue at every opportunity. Or they try to control how much glue the kids put on the their paper. Or (even worse), they commandeer the glue bottles and administer the glue themselves. Worst of all, they will shun all liquid glue efforts altogether and will only give the kids glue sticks to glue on heavy objects that won't stay glued to the paper and then end up falling off and lying sad and abandoned on the floor.
But I think there is a true goodness in glue.
Next week we're doing the Letter X. To celebrate this I am going to pull out the many, many small cardboard boxes I have been saving all year long (think cereal and crackers and toothpaste boxes). Then I am going to let each child use as many boxes as they want and as much glue as they want to make box sculptures.
I haven't told my glue-fearing coworkers this yet. They might actually shudder at the thought of all that glue. But the Glue Lover in me almost shivers with the anticipation of it.