Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"I'm Not Allowed to Use That"

One of my favorite bloggers is Teacher Tom. He continually challenges my thinking and inspires me. Some of my favorite posts on his blog are about allowing kids to take risks and to do things that seem "unsafe" (at least as many adults would define that). I think the post that initially jarred me to do something different in this area was his post about white glue vs hot glue gun. I went out and purchased glue guns for my class immediately after that post.

We used our glue guns again this week to make frames as gifts. We made frames last year and it was a big hit. I anxiously prepared the materials, afraid that if I got too excited I would have another experience like my rope light fail. I laid out the colored craft sticks and plugged in the glue guns. I arranged foam stickers and put out a cup of water. Then I waited.

The first kids in the room jumped right into the activity. I told them that the end of the glue gun was hot and so was the glue. Then I had to clarify that the glue coming out of the glue gun was hot, not the glue stick in the back. (They are literal and take what we say at face value.) They put dots of glue on the corners and stuck the sticks into a square shape.

Then the foam stickers went on, as few or as many as the child chose.

They took their frames over to Mrs. Cindy who helped them mount a picture, glue the picture to the frame, and add magnets. (No pictures of this step.)

One girl told me, "My mother says I'm not allowed to use that."

"It's okay to use it here," I told her. "I'll stand right here if you need help." She didn't. I want to respect her mother's rules but we often do things in the classroom that she probably wouldn't do at home. And, if she had insisted she wasn't allowed, I would have let it go.

"I touched the glue," one boy said to me.

"It's hot, isn't it?" I said. He nodded. "The water will help it feel cooler." He dipped the finger a couple of times and turned back to his work.

One or two others brushed against the glue and had to take a quick water dip, but no one was upset or even concerned. The boy who had mentioned it to me seemed frustrated with himself that it had happened. But he shook it off and finished what he was doing.

I love the wonky frames that the kids create. This is probably the most "product" oriented I ever get regarding art activities. But each one is different, expressing the personality of the child. Some are covered with stickers; some have a few stickers; one even had no stickers.

These are ones from last year.
I didn't get a pic of the completed ones this year.
And we get to use the "dangerous" tool!


  1. Bravo! I still have yet to buy some (lo-temp) glue guns for my class. I'm still anxious, but I WILL take the plunge...one day! :)

  2. Love the title of your post :) I am also a huge advocate of children testing out Things I Can Do when adults respect them as competent and capable individuals. Bravo! (on the same note as your love of the glue guns, a big favorite Teacher Tom post of mine is his '2 year olds using hammers' !) Cheers.

  3. That is so cool. I am impressed at you preschool teachers who can manage this so smoothly with a group of kids. I have a great friend who is a teacher turned stay at home mom like me, between us we have a bunch of boys. She has really challenged me to let the boys use real tools-- like drills, hammers. To be honest, it freaked me out at first but then I saw how thrilled they were. I still tend to hover over them! I'm working on it...

  4. Thank Scott- this is a great step-by-step for those of us who haven't dared try this yet. :)

  5. Cindy was talking to a mother today; Cindy asked about the frame and the mom really liked it. She said her son was so excited. "We got to use the glue gun!" he told her. THAT'S what it's all about.

  6. Bravo! I am trying to come up with some projects for my two year olds to use real tools. They love them and pretend all the time so I just need to think about it. I even have the tools.