The Value of Repeated Art Experiences: Gluing Again!


As I admitted to the first time I offered Greysen glue, I was unsure how best to set up this material so that her learning would continue. I was fairly confident that she would enjoy gluing again, but how should I set things up to provoke a sort of next-step learning experience?


In their early years, keeping art materials simple and the tools few helps the child stay focused.  Repeated experiences with the same art mediums gives the child time to consider different aspects of an art material. To create a familiar yet interesting experience, I offered her glue exactly as I had last time, but added a few drops of food coloring to add to the experience.






Greysen has just started to explore glue, and I’m not sure at this point what she understands or remembers about it.  An atelierista that I studied under often remarked that a child’s first experiences with materials are predominately exploratory. They may handle the plaything or art materials in ways that are playful and superficial. It’s only after they become more familiar with the material that they come to get a sense of what it can do, and impart their ideas on what they want it to do.


Glue & Food Coloring
She immediately mixed the colors and continued spreading the glue.  Just as soon the glue started to dry, she returned her full attention to her hands and the bits that had begun to dry on them.




Suddenly, an idea! I could see it in her eyes.

Wet Glue!



Dry Glue!












Maybe a comparison test?


Interesting to Who?


In retrospect, adding color to the glue was of only minor interest to her. She is primarily interested in what happens to glue when it dries. I have been guilty of adding what I think may be interesting elements to clay that are not related to what her interests are at all.  She has, on more than one occasion, tossed them aside and proceeded as she wished.


I could give her things to collage and glue, but she is still interested in glue on its own. So for now, let’s do it again!  I’ll give her more glue soon, but perhaps in a different way. A bottle maybe? I do know one thing for sure – I’ll hold off on the color for now.

3 thoughts on “The Value of Repeated Art Experiences: Gluing Again!

  1. I love this post. I just began to introduce crafts to our 1.5 year old daughter. I began with coloring with crayons and then paper tearing. Also focusing on primary colors. I was thinking that it would be good to do gluing next to use the torn pieces of paper. Intimidated by the glue though, I switched gears and gave her pipe-cleaners and huge wooden beads to do threading. I would love more information on how you set up your work area for your daughter. How old is she? Is she still at the sensitive period for exploring her environment with mouth and hand? Our daughter is so I was thinking that I would not be able to multi task very much if I present this type of work to her at this point.

    1. Thanks! It sounds like you use some great materials for developing creativity!

      My eldest is 22 months and youngest 7 months. Greysen (22 months) does not taste/mouth the art materials any more and it is absolutely one of the reasons I waited to offer glue until now. When she was mouthing I felt most comfortable sticking to natural (clay) and mostly natural art materials (watercolors with lots of water and a little color).

      Have you considered trying contact paper – sticky side up – in lieu of glue for now? She can use the torn paper pieces and no need to worry about glue consumption. If you decide to glue, q-tips are a great alternative to brushes for glue since the brushes do take a bit of a beating.

      I offer her paints, glue, and watercolors indoors often. I have always laid them flat so that they don’t drip. I cut one side of a large cardboard box to use as the sturdy surface. I covered the cardboard with wax paper, thinking I would use the cardboard again and again, which I have. Since the box had distracting printing on it I used a piece of paper to create a less distracting surface.

      I would love to see what transpires!

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