"If you touch this part," Benjamin's mom Robin told each child as he approached our new workbench, "it will burn you. You make the glue come out by squeezing this trigger." Thus ended the lecture portion of the program.
The beauty of making things with a hot glue gun is that the bond it creates is both strong and virtually instantaneous. There's no waiting around for things to dry. And when it comes to using it to build with wood bits, the sky is the limit in a way that the mere balancing of blocks will never be.
I removed the umbrella from the center of the workbench and ran a power supply up through the hole in the center of the table. We had three glue guns going at once, with two adults working the station most of the morning. It seemed about right. With 2-year-olds in the glue gun mix for the first time, I wanted to make sure we had enough adult eyes and hands, although I was under no illusions that we would go burn free. I don't think I've ever used the things myself for any length of time without leaving a red mark or two on my fingers.
The girl on the left is one of our youngest classmates. She
spent a lot of time watching the more experienced kids at
work before trying it herself.
After awhile, we added bottle caps to the mix.
Some of us made structures so tall we had to stand on blocks.
And some of us were happy to have grown-ups handy to play
a "supporting role" in achieving our vision.
I've only just begun putting these incredible tools in the hands of the preschoolers and this was the first time I'd seen children this young handling them. I kept dropping by to ask if anyone had burned themselves, but shockingly we had zero burns. I'm not entirely sure how this happened, and I'm not entirely sure that no burns is a good thing; it's a lesson deferred I suppose.
In the meantime, we made some amazing things. Most of what we created were smaller, flatter creations . . .
I like the way Max fit together those triangular bits of molding
like a puzzle.
. . . but the kids who went for height and complexity were rewarded for their perseverance and vision.
I'm glad we finally found a use for those quirky
wood parts like the one at the top of this tower.
Robin had never used a glue gun before herself and I think this
project really opened her eyes to the fun. I see a lot of her adult
influence in this one, but that's part of what co-op is all about --
we're all learning together.
Thomas has always had a strong desire to construct, but often lacked the
patience to see his ideas through to the end. The ability to build complex things
quickly really serves the creative needs of kids who like their learning in short,
Glue guns aren't ordinarily classified as power tools, but as you can see here, they really are. I love being able to put this kind of power in the hands of kids.