Glue Painting

Mar 8, 2016

Today we experimented with a very basic art tool: white glue. We didn't use it to stick things to paper, though. We used it to paint and was it ever fun!

I had a group of children ranging in age from 2- to 10-years-old and each one of them explored, experimented and created at their own pace.

Each worked on their own designs, but also learned new techniques from the other kids. They all tried different ways of painting with this thick, sticky medium that they'd only used to stick things together before.

You Will Need:

  • card stock or heavy paper
  • white glue
  • food colouring
  • permanent markers
  • empty pots to hold the glue
  • paint brushes


We started off with sheets of thick card stock, pots of white glue coloured with food colouring and a handful of permanent markers.

Use as many drops of food colouring you'd like in the glue—the more you use, the more vibrant the paint will be.

I let the children draw with markers first, so they could experiment with the opacity of the glue once it dried on their paper. Would glue still be see-through when it dried, even if it's coloured?

We used permanent markers so the wet glue wouldn't run the ink while painting. Each child was free to draw and colour as they pleased with the markers, creating whatever design or picture they desired.

A unicorn drawing.

Once the kids finished drawing, I removed the pens from the art table so they wouldn't get glue on their tips (rendering them useless for our next art adventure).

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Then the children got down to painting.

They smoothed, blobbed, dripped, smushed and dabbed the colourful glue on to their marker drawings.

Purple glue on a blue drawing.

They remarked on how sticky it was on their fingers, how thick and "honey-ish" it felt under their brushes and how glossy and smooth it felt when it dried.

They learned they could let it drip like ribbons on to their paper, creating effects that delighted them all. So many textures, so many layers and so much conversation as they learned more and more about what glue could do.

4 different glue paintings.

This activity is a win in my books: such a simple idea, creating such an interesting sensory, language and creative experience for such a range of ages. 

And for the record, it was my 10-year-old daughter's idea. She was curious about what it would feel like to paint with glue. And now we know. Sometimes the child-led activities turn out to be the ones we learn the most from!

Helpful Hint: White glue is stickier and thicker than traditional paint and the paper tends to move around the table as the children paint, frustrating the toddlers. Simply tape the corners of the paper to the table and the problem is solved!

Article Author Arlee Greenwood
Arlee Greenwood

Arlee is an Early Childhood Educator, earning her degree at BYU Idaho. She runs a government accredited care center in her home in Red Deer, AB. She studied with the New York Institute of Photography and she owns her own photography studio. Arlee is a mother of 6, an aspiring yogi, a lover of books, bento box lunches, travel, good food and wine. She’s a blogger in her “spare time” and she will never say no to chocolate. Find her at Small Potatoes, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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