Thursday, March 24, 2011

They don't tell you this in your college art ed program


There's a lot of practical stuff they don't tell you about in college, when they are busy teaching you all sorts of educational jargon and acronyms. Like how to take clean 40 paintbrushes and refill 10 paint trays in 2 minutes between classes, and how to get blue and black paint out from under your fingernails, and what to do when a bucket of papier-mache goo gets spilled on the floor, and how to get red acrylic paint out of fine blond hair, and how to keep the metal strips from coming out of the good wooden rulers, and what to do when the sink clogs, and especially (and most frustratingly), how to keep Elmer's Glue bottles from clogging.
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Most of these things I have figured out during my 34 years in the art room, but I'm still befuddled by the glue caps. No matter how many times I tell the kids to close the tops and wipe off the excess glue when done, and to make sure the bottles are standing up, and to NOT stick a scissors in the top to unclog them, I still spend a ridiculous amount of time taking care of them. This morning I put 2 Elmer's bottles on each of 4 tables, all of them working. By the time the 2nd class had left each bottle was clogged and replaced with another, and by the end of the morning I don't think a single bottle still worked. How does this happen?!!
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So I spent more than 2 hours after school today, removing and cleaning out all the tops, stabbing myself several times with the punching awl while I chipped away dried glue, and finally refilling. Do you go through this glue bottle ritual? If not, do you have any tips how to avoid it?

35 comments:

  1. I DEFINITELY share your pain!!!! My best solution has been to buy the individual bottles of Crayola Glue (the ones with the green plastic caps). I bought a whole bunch YEARS ago - maybe 12 or 15 years. I still have and use those same bottles. HOWEVER, I fill them with Elmers Glue All -- love that glue!.Anyway, back to the bottles. The caps have a little plastic stick that goes into the hole to keep it unclogged. I do have to teach the kids how to insert it so it doesn't snap off, but that has only happened once in all those years.

    I have routinely told my students that I would like one of them to grow up and invent a better solution to glue bottles, and when they do to come back and find me to donate a set to our classroom! I'm not kidding--I really do this!!!

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  2. Yep, I am sick of it too! I have resorted to leaving the glue bottles open because we use them every day. I am the one usually taking my fingernail and picking the glue off. I am thinking about getting the Crayola bottles, this was just brought to my attention this week by another art teacher. Painfully picking glue!
    Laura

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  3. I find that leaving them open is the easiest way, although far from ideal. I teach the kids that if the glue doesn't come out, "Hold it upright and give it a little squeeze. If you hear air coming out it isn't clogged. If you don't hear air, close the top, scratch off the crusty tip, and reopen. If that doesn't work, raise your hand so I can fix it."

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  4. Yep, same craziness going on in my room as well. We call those "glue boogers" and I tell the kids my life is full of cleaning out glue boogers and rolling tape, to hang all the projects! We can make millions on inventing some type of unclogging glue bottles and some type of tape dispenser that rolls the tape for you!!

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  5. Wow- talk about telling and teaching the kids to be good at problem solving- what if we set up a competition through Elmers to invent a new concept for glue bottles using the kids as inventors. This is one of my biggest pet peeves- the other being ill-cleaned and misused paintbrushes... No matter how many times I tell them- I get some with crud on them or shoved upside down in the drainer! Small potatoes, but it adds up. I'm off to email Elmers...

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  6. One other solution that is temporary, but can help, is to take all the tops off and place in a bowl of water and nuke in the microwave for a couple minutes or until the water almost boils and it will melt off the excess glue. I tell my students that I could make millions if I could invent a non clogging glue bottle.

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  7. I don't use squeeze bottles.
    I pump glue from the gallon into baby food jars and have a set of cheap plastic paint brushes especially dedicated as glue brushes. The brushes live in a can of water on a tray with the glue pots when not in use. (I don't wash out the brushes after each use). Kids drop them into the can of water and go.

    It wasn't the clogs that got to me as much as the way kids dispensed glue from the bottles that did me in.


    I don't require kids to wash their own paint brushes either. I ask them to drop them into a container of water and I rinse them all at once at the end of class.

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  8. Wow! I suspected this problem with glue bottles was universal. Last year I asked a group of students to help make a movie that would encourage other students to care for the glue bottles properly and stop this crazy sticky mess.
    They made this movie, The Glue Blues: http://www.vimeo.com/9576074
    Which has gone on to screen at the Shortie Awards in Washington D.C. and the Chicago Children's International Film Festival.
    See if this helps your students care more:)

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  9. I like the microwave idea, and also Barb's idea, though there are times that wouldn't work for me. However, Barb, my kids DO wash their paintburshes brushes usually, and I think that's another post, because it seems to work pretty well most of the time. And then they know HOW to do it properly.

    I just checked out The Glue Blues and it is a WONDERFUL little movie! I will definitely show it to all my students when we start gluing again! Just fantastic!!!!!!!

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  10. Fuglefun! Darn! My district is blocking your movie! Rats. I'll have to see it at home.
    Well, my solution of the moment is to set the basket of glues on one table and ask them to be "glue cops". They are in charge of being sure tops get closed and wiped off. They usually take it pretty seriously!

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  11. Check out my post about this. Sometimes glue leaks everywhere, so I don't use this with the kindergartners. I use glue sticks as much as possible.

    http://vividlayers.blogspot.com/search/label/art%20teacher%20tips

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  12. I'm with Barb. We only use squeeze glue when we want to do glue batiks. I got little plastic cups with lids and a set of cheap paintbrushes and we paint on our glue from kinder to 8th grade. I swear we use 1/2 the glue we used to and the kids get all the edges and corners glued down. Best change we ever made in the art room.

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  13. I also do the paint glue thing. But then I like to switch it up and us glue bottles too. Especially with the younger kids because many don't learn how to use glue at home, or have glue at home! Always filling and I use the green top no clog with the stick... do you know which ones I'm talking about? They don't clog to much but are always empty.

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  14. On one of my listserves, they talked about a "glue sponge" where they put a damp sponge in a shallow dish and pour the glue on top. The glue seeps into the sponge and the kids swipe their paper pieces on the sponge. I admit, I haven't tried it, but it sounds great. Anyone tried this?

    Like Tana said, we call the clogs "Glue boogers" and I tell the kids to close the bottle, pick the booger off, and re-open. I am constantly telling them not to be "glue monsters", but it continues to be an issue day in and day out.

    Denise

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  15. Oh, so many comments! to respond: I did try the Crayola glue with the green caps a few years ago, and unlike some of you, I HATED it. The glue was so thick that when the bottles were half empty we couldn't get the glue out. So I stored them upside down, and it was still problematic, so I finally got out what glue I could and ditched the bottles.

    Marcia, thanks for the link to your post. I liked a comment about using ketchup bottles, but my requisitions are already submitted for next year so it's too late to change what I requested.

    I still have a bunch of OLD jars of WHITE PASTE, still perfectly good, but I never use it. Does anyone have a good use for this stuff? I've been teaching long enough to remember when we used this, where we now use glue sticks. Glue sticks didn't exist when I began teaching! So if anyone knows of some crazy way to use the white paste, let me know.

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  16. I was JUST thinking this too today! After poking about 10 bottles of glue with an awl and breaking 2 caps trying to get the lid OFF... I gave up and got out the glue sticks. HATE that they just don't work great! I love tacky glue!!! I bought a bunch of those condiment bottles (like mustard ones with the little cap on them) and filled them with tacky glue for big extra sticky projects and they are sooooo much easier to dispense and fill. I HATE the screw on caps! I also found the caps that you press and squeeze but they don't twist. They only dispense dots of glue and you have to wipe them often to avoid drying glue layers over the top. It's annoying! I wish there was a good solution. i'm thinking of getting some glue brushes and using baby food jars too. Seems way easier than poking, cleaning, unscrewing and refilling glue bottles!

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  17. I totally agree with you! I hate those Elmers glue bottles and never use them. I teach a craft class in the Philippines and they are expensive here as well. I just buy white glue by the gallon and put it in bottles and use brushes. I do think that it is a good idea to keep the brushes in water until the next time as I do find that the tackier glue I use is practically impossible to get out of the brushes. For gluing smaller items I use barbecue sticks as otherwise the children use much too much glue! I also use fairly shallow dishes for the glue, as if the glue dries up on them, they are much easier to clean.

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  18. I demonstrate how to use the glue bottles, but we still get clogs. So what I have done is for last few years in August I buy glue in the size I like 4 for a dollar and instead of refilling all my old bottles and caps, I keep a replacement bin. When the top is clogged I take it off and replace it with a clean one. I toss the clogged ones in an old colander, and the kids help clean them out using wooden stylus. I also use containers with glue in them but never paint brushes, I use cotton swabs.

    My glue bottle nightmare was when I had flu many years ago a sub clipped the tops off all the bottles. UGH!!!

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  19. I don't think it is the fault of the kids (other things are but this is not so much). It's the fault of the glue cap design under heavy usage. The glue never gets a chance to drain out of the rather complicated design, and then gets semi dried and stuck. So I buy glue in gallons, dispense it into little containers like yogurt caps with some kind of spreading tool. I won't go so far as to say it's an Elmer's glue conspiracy but it's certainly more expensive to buy the small bottles.

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  20. Just want to add this. I actually have a gazillion tiny bottles of Elmer's Glue (the 49 cent size). They live in a zip lock bag and are used especially for glue batik or other special projects. I think the small bottles are easier for kids to squeeze and manage the flow than the big bottles. Like Kelly, I have a supply of extra caps on hand. When a clog happens I throw the cap into a cup of water near the sink and let it soak.
    Jennifer--I heard that tacky glue is just Elmer's glue that is thickened slightly by letting it sit out. Has anyone tried that?

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  21. Barbara-I leave my Elmer's out and it thickens, I believe it then functions as tacky glue, typically I use that with a cotton swab. the long kind with the swab on only one end.

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  22. I can SO commiserate with those evil elmers bottles. I am always telling my students to grow up and event a new bottle cap..isn't that funny that so many of us do that!? I tested out using the tiny bottles..they are great, but kids use them up in a day...and one afternoon of 5 K classes basically ended my supply. I have tried in vain to keep on top of the caps, cleaning and replacing with good ones, but with not a second of free time between classes that doesn't work. So frustrating!

    I might give the glue and brush a try. My only question is how do you keep the kids from trailing globs of glue all over the table?

    and don't get me started on the gluesticks...I had a very low budget this year and bought a lower cost stick... NEVER again. We use twice as much to get it to stick.

    So many frustrating things day to day!

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  23. Hi Phyl
    I forgot to mention in my comment above that, although I use Crayola glue bottles in the room, the KIDS DON'T.I buy the gallon size of Elmer's Glue All and then put it in my old Crayola bottles. When students are gluing, I squeeze a small amount of Elmer's Glue All into plastic portion cups and kids use very large wooden toothpicks with a fat end to scoop and apply glue. When we are done at the end of the day we dry the sticks for re-use and let the glue in the cups just dry in there. I re-use the cups, squeezing new glue on top of the dried layer. The same cups and sticks usually last the whole year and I haven't had problems with the Crayola bottles clogging. Maybe I've been lucky?!

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  24. Kids place a "drip sheet" under the pot. It gives the brush a resting place and catches drips. If pairs are sharing the pots the glue is nearby and the drips don't travel.
    I also teach kids to rub their palms together to get rid of sticky fingers. No more running back and forth to the sink.

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  25. Great topic Phyl!! At the end of every quarter sometimes sooner I bring all the glue bottles from the table totes,take off the cap and orange top and let soak in soapy warm water for a whole day if possible. Then at the end of the day I wipe them down with a sponge, put the cap back together and fill. Thanks for the great ideas everyone! Love your blog Phyl!

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  26. I remember one of the 5th grade teachers telling me a tip about keeping glue bottles functioning better but I couldn't remember what it was! I emailed her this morning and she said:
    Pull off the glue cap, and coat the threads of the screw with petroleum jelly. Then replace the cap. The glue also flows out a little better with the petroleum jelly.

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  27. I ordered a bunch of these --> http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=3359 for this school year. The tops fit on regular glue bottles and have a spring mechanism inside that opens when the top of the glue is pushed down on paper and automatically closes when the glue is lifted. It is only good for putting down dots of glue, but that is what I want my kids to use most of the time anyway. If they are wiped off after use, they are ready to go for the next kid! They have really worked very well for me.

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  28. I had a hellish experience w glue bottles after leaving them for easter break. I practically ripped my hands open trying to get the tops open and taken apart to soak. I usually take them apart and soak them about every 6 weeks. I sometimes have helpers come in and so it on my planning period but sometimes it is just to hard for them . I udually soak the caps for a dy or two, take them apart.... then get out the clogs and put them back together and refill. I may try these crayola bottles!!

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  29. Try applying some cooking oil in the bottle cap to prevent clogging.

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  30. Not sure if this has been said. "tap and glue caps" are a product that may solve almost all your problems. Use them in the classroom and they're great!

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    Replies
    1. I have tried those tap caps, and they are ok, EXCEPT lots of times I have kids squeeze a line of glue or a puddle of glue and you can do neither with those caps so I abandoned them. Plus they also will clog after a while!

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  31. I'm in my first year as an art teacher, and I just finished unclogging glue bottles and decided to type this problem into google, and here I am!
    I like to let the fifth graders use the bottles instead of brushing it on, but they always get clogged before the end of one class!!!

    I am going to try adding a small bit of water to the glue, to see if thinning it out might help keep it from clogging. I am not sure if this will do anything, but we'll see! I also have the green topped bottles and the glue is way too thick.

    Thanks for all the helpful comments! I'd also love to try the sponge thing... has that worked for anyone?


    ~ Laura

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    Replies
    1. Haha! I love it when someone brings me back to a post that is 2 years old! Some things never change...

      Personally, I wouldn't thin out the Emer's because it is the perfect glue for so many things just the way it is. I particularly love it for my first grade cardboard sculpture, where no other glue works as good, and my sweet teddy bear chairs, which would fall apart without my Elmer's Glue All.

      I didn't ever try the sponges, but my favorite ideas that came from this post were the Vaseline and soaking in hot water. Generally, I had a group of kids who loved using a pliers to remove the caps, and I would train them to pullout the gunk while I refilled. I don't know why the kids love these jobs so much, but they do.

      Good luck!

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    2. Phyl you retired a year too soon. This year my Elmer's glue came with new caps, orange collar and tip. These glue bottles haven't clogged all year!!!!! I just close the cone tip, pickoff the "glue booger" and open again. It's a new design somehow (I think Elmer's read your blog). I tried this with the old bottle - they have the white collar, and those still clog like they always have. Somebody's art student grew up to create a new glue bottle top!

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    3. Jen, actually I got some of those orange capped glue bottles last year, and I despised them! It was very hard to get the glue out in a nice stream - it seems the hole is smaller. You are right, they didn't clog as much, but when I wanted someone to squeeze out a puddle of glue (example, the 1st grade cardboard sculptures) I resorted to the older bottles. The orange cap ones were better for the 'a dot is a lot' type of gluing!

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