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The Glueing Table - Group STEAM Activity

A glueing table is a fantastic STEAM activity which can incorporate many loose parts and open ended materials. There are no rules and it is a wonderful example of a "process over product" activity.

Children can work together collaboratively on this creative STEAM project over a short or long period of time. The glueing table can be taken out as and when the children request it or it can be a permanent fixture in the learning environment. It can also be used in both the indoors and the outdoors!

The glueing table can provide an excellent platform for children to engage in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) learning. It also supports collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, team work, the use of sustainable materials, repurposing materials, fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and creative thinking, sensory play (to name a few).

Setting up a Glue Table

Here are the resources you need to set up a glueing table:

  • An old table or reclaimed wooden pallet.

  • Child friendly craft clue.

  • Any kind of loose parts - natural materials like twigs or stones, lollipop sticks, feathers, toilet role insert tubes, different coloured beads, various sized bottle tops, various pieces of scrap cloth, different coloured threads, small world toys like cars or animals, glitter, tin foil, googly eyes, small tubs......literally the list is endless!

  • Other adhesives like double sided sticky tape or glue dots.

You can get parents involved by asking if they have an old table or wooden pallet to donate and any materials or loose parts. Pictures of the glueing table project at various stages of creation can also be shared with parents.

Here are some examples of STEAM related learning through hands on play that children can enjoy using a glueing table:

1. Building Structures: Provide various materials such as cardboard tubes, popsicle sticks, straws, and connectors like plastic caps or paper clips. Encourage children to use glue to connect these materials to build structures like bridges, towers, or houses. This activity promotes engineering concepts of stability, balance, and problem-solving.

2. Creating Collages: Offer a wide range of materials like cut-out shapes, fabric scraps, coloured papers, foam pieces, and other craft materials. Allow children to use glue to create collages on a large paper or canvas. This activity combines art and design with creativity, enabling children to explore different textures, colors, and patterns.

3. Designing and Assembling Mechanical Art: Introduce basic mechanical components such as gears, pulleys, or simple machines like levers and ramps. Provide cardboard, art supplies, and glue for children to design and assemble their own mechanical art pieces. This activity nurtures creative thinking, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of simple machines and mechanisms.

4. Investigating Adhesives: Set up a glueing table with different types of adhesives such as glue sticks, white glue, tape, and sticky dots. Have children experiment with these materials and different objects or materials, observing their adhesive properties. They can record their findings and discuss the effectiveness of each adhesive for different purposes, introducing the scientific method and critical thinking.

5. Recycled Material Transformations: Gather various recycled materials like egg cartons, bottle caps, cardboard boxes, and fabric scraps. Provide glue and art supplies for children to transform these materials into new creations. They can build robots, vehicles, or any imaginative creations that combine engineering principles with artistic expression. This activity encourages creativity, problem-solving, and resourcefulness.

These glueing table activities promote STEAM learning by integrating engineering, creativity, and critical thinking skills. They also foster collaboration, communication, and experimentation, allowing children to explore and develop a deeper understanding of various STEAM concepts in a hands-on, engaging manner.

For further inspiration, check out this fantastic example of a glueing table in action in an early childhood education environment:

About the Author:

Paula Walshe is a published author, PhD student and Assistant Lecturer in ECE at Dundalk Institute of Technology. Her PhD research focusses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths) in ECEC.

In 2023 Paula published her first book entitled "Síolta in Practice" which is a guide to implementing Síolta quality standards in ECEC. It is published by Boru Press and is available here.

Paula has also co-founded a Twitter community of practice page and podcast @ECEQualityIrl . You can listen to the most recent ECE Quality Ireland podcast here.

You can contact Paula or learn more about her work here. LinkedIn: Paula Walshe / Twitter: @walshe_paula / Instagram: @digitalearlychildhoodeducator

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