Our favorite ways to glue in preschool

Gluing with Cotton Swabs

Cotton swabs make a quick and easy way of adding glue to art activities – when you are done, just throw the swabs away. The drawback is that if you use one swab too long, it gets kinds of stringy so you need to have plenty of fresh swabs around to replace the ooey gooey ones.

Give the glue bottle a little squeeze

Exercise fine motor skills by giving glue bottles a little squeeze. Using glue bottles takes practice but with a little practice, young children are able to develop the skills they need to use glue bottles effectively and efficiently – but they can only get better at if if you actually let them practice.

Brush on the glue

Paint brushes are fun to glue with but be sure to rinse them in hot water as soon as you are done or they get hard as a rock!

Butter tub lids make great glue holders.

Fill up a butter tub lid with glue and when you are done, just let the glue dry completely then bend back the lid and pop or peel the dried up remaining glue right out of the lid. Now you can use the lid again! Or you can put the glue inside the butter tub, poke a couple of holes in the lid and then slide the brushes down into the lid and close it all up.

This wont last forever but it keeps glue good for a few days or so.

Our most popular glue bottle and brush…

The most popular gluing tool our teachers like to use is the glue bottle and brush you can purchase from Discount School Supply.

The one drawback to this popular glue tool is when the glue builds up and dries out on the inside edges of the cap and the top of the container – it can be a bear to get the tops on and off the bottle. So one of our teachers came up with a solution!

Just put a little petroleum jelly on your finger…

Then wipe the petroleum jelly around the inside of the glue cap and the outside of the glue bottle…

This will keep the glue from sticking to the container. I would imagine this would work well for any kind of glue container. If you try this, let me know if it works for you!

We use these glue bottles all the time for all ages…

Not my glue of choice for preschoolers…

Want to know my least favorite type of glue? It is a glue stick! We use them all the time for cut and paste kinds of activities but when I see them used in the creative art room, I just cringe! I am not picking on any brand, I feel the same about any brand of glue stick and we do use all kinds of them but I find them to be expensive and they provide less opportunity for exploration, creativity, and even skill building compared to what good old fashioned white glue provides…

Just saying!

By |2011-02-04T20:38:48+00:00February 4th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Monica @ Family Fun Notebook February 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Fantastic post! So helpful, esp. for newer teachers and those of us at home. It’s great to learn these little tricks and tips.

    • Deborah J. Stewart February 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      Thank you Monica! I appreciate your comment:)

  2. Pam February 5, 2011 at 8:01 am - Reply

    ohhh- thanks for the tips- we use brushes and brush on glue, but I’ve never figured out how to truly get all the glue out of the brushes! No matter what I do or how long I soak them, it does seem to ruin the brushes. I think I’ll try cotton swabs next time so we can toss them out! (and I agree, glue sticks are just about worthless- nothing really sticks well when you use glue sticks…just makes little ones frustrated!)

    • Deborah J. Stewart February 5, 2011 at 8:55 am - Reply

      Yes, I usually end up having to just throw the paint brushes out after several uses but keeping them in the butter tub helps them stay good a little longer but you can’t use them for anything else 🙂

  3. Ayn Colsh February 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    We sometimes use glue paddles. They’re sort of like the old paddles used with old school paste, but a little more pliable. The plastic makes it easy to peel dried glue, if left unwashed.

    Ive not seen the glue bottle/brush, except in rubber cement. I’ll have to look for those!

    • Deborah J. Stewart February 5, 2011 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      I remember the glue paddles! We used paste for years but then the school stopped allowing paste – I guess they thought kids were eating it! I am not really sure because I liked the texture and having a secondary way of sticking things together – I will have to ask why we stopped using paste:)

  4. Barbara February 6, 2011 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you once again for all of your practical ideas . Even though I am a “seasoned teacher” I often have questions about how other programs are doing things and you are providing the answers.. We have been going through glue sticks like crazy and I have been looking for an alternative.
    Does anyone use old fashioned “school paste” anymore? The plus I find in using glue sticks as opposed to Elmer’s glue is that the paper projects lay flat and don’t curl up.

    • Deborah J. Stewart February 7, 2011 at 7:30 am - Reply

      HI Barbara – I agree, we do use glue sticks on the cut and paste paper type activities. I see you found your answer on the paste! We used to use paste all the time but I don’t know what happened to stop that. I am going to have to ask to day:)

  5. Barbara February 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    oops just read the last comments..guess you already covered the paste topic…..sorry!

    • Deborah J. Stewart February 7, 2011 at 7:30 am - Reply

      🙂 No worries!

  6. Savannah February 8, 2011 at 7:25 am - Reply

    Thanks for the ideas. We usually use cotton swabs for glue, but I’ll have to look for the bottle and brush ones. I don’t like glue sticks either; they don’t seem to stick well.

  7. Jai April 24, 2011 at 9:16 am - Reply

    I let my toddlers use one of their finger to glue or paste. It’s good for their fine motor skills. I ask them to wait for the glue to dry up and they can strip it away. It works for my class and no sweat.

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