Globs o’ Glue: Tips and Tricks for easy use and avoiding messes

Have you ever noticed that even though regular school glue doesn’t always seem to hold projects together the way you think it should, it seems like it sticks to everything else in your classroom? Here are some tips to keep your students from using so much glue that it ends up everywhere you don’t want it.

“Here in grade 1, when we use glue I hold an informal ‘contest’ to see which student can use the tiniest dot of glue. They understand that it has to be enough to stick but not too much. Then I walk around and comment on those with good glue drops so they know what a tiny glue drop look like. I also use a tiny voice when I remind them about the ‘tiniest drop of glue’. I also led them to realize that if you hold the glue bottle on the side instead of vertically the glue would not come out as fast.” -Lynn DaPolito

1. Try a closed margarine tub with half a dozen holes in the lid (melted with a hot needle to fit fairly closely) and short straws cut to poke out of the lid. Put about half an inch of glue in the tub. The action of drawing the straw out of the box wipes the straw quite effectively.

2. Another way around it is to put a mere squirt of “Little Finger Glue ” in a jar lid. They may only dip their littlest finger in, to glue whatever it is they’re making and it’s worth showing them how to wipe the drip off on the side of the jar lid before you set them free. Its also helpful to actually say, “…And you can rub the excess glue off your little finger easily, can’t you?…” to avoid the prissy kids coming up with the “UGH!!!” response. -Pat Fisher

“There is a little glue cap that is called a ‘tap it’ cap. This is a cap that you have to purchase for about $1.00 each and it lets the kids tap the glue bottle upside down and get out one drop of glue. It is a neat device that fits any glue bottles. It is included in our book and supply fees. HOWEVER, there are days when I just cannot stand the tapping of the glue bottles on the papers. Our kindergarten uses these tap it caps all the time. In first grade I use them occasionally. It sounds like someone is tapping a big pencil.” -Linda Patton

“I do two things about glue in my kindergarten class. At the first of the year I read the story of the 3 Bears. Then I have colored glue and I show the children 3 sizes of glue dots (This is done ahead and the glue is dry)—there is a small dot, a baby bear dot; a medium size dot, a momma bear dot; and a big dot, a poppa bear dot. This is so easy and then when you are using glue, you can show the page (which I keep posted the first couple of months) and tell the kids to use a momma bear size dot, or whatever.

The other thing I do is I have lamimated construction paper and when we glue, they use that paper under their work and the glue drops on it. When it dries, it will come off easily. If they wipe the glue off with kleenex, it will make a mess, so we just let the extra glue dry.” -Evelyn Irwin


“I teach the kids to use “dots, not lots”. We have a paper that has dots drawn on it and the kids practice opening the glue bottle, turning it upside down and letting one drop fall onto the dots on the paper. They are instructed not to squeeze the bottle but to let the glue run to the tip. A drop will come out.

I also teach them this song, sung to the tune of the Alphabet Song, except the last two words are spoken as the kids turn the glue bottle lid back to the closed position:

Dots, not lots
And when I’m through,
I close the top
On my bottle of glue.
Twist, twist.

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