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Many activities and skills in Montessori are often introduced at a younger age than they would be in a regular daycare or public school.

This is because, even at a very young age, Montessori teachers are watching closely for signs of development and readiness. When teachers believe a child is ready for one of these more "dangerous" or "messy" activities, the child is taught one-on-one in a very precise way.Gluing is one of these types of activities.Of course, if you gave a toddler full, unrestricted access to a bottle of white glue, the results would likely be... very messy.However, when it's introduced with the right setup and close supervision, gluing is a wonderful way to develop creativity, improve fine motor skills, and refine hand-eye coordination.It's typically introduced around two years old, once a child stops mouthing everything.

How To Prepare a Gluing Activity

In Montessori classrooms, children are first introduced to gluing shapes. Not only does this help with the development of the hand but it's also a way to foster the mathematical mind.gluing box or tray is set up to contain everything the child needs in one place.

The goal is for children to work on their chosen activity with limited interruptions or distractions and the gluing box or tray allows them to do this.On the tray is:

  • Glue in a small pot or bowl
  • A gluing brush
  • A bowl of cut out shapes
  • A blank piece of paper (just be sure to cut the paper down to fit on the tray)

You can also keep extra blank paper and shapes close by for your child to replenish as needed. It's best for you to be in charge of refilling the glue.

That's it! Simply show your child how to apply glue to one side of the shape and stick it to the paper. Give them to time and freedom to apply the shapes wherever they like.

If you'd like to work on a more themed gluing activity, you can download this pumpkin gluing activity. Just don't expect children under 3-3.5 to actually make a jack-o-lantern face.

It's just a fun seasonal version of free-form shape gluing.

If Gluing Becomes Too Messy

If you introduce your child to glue and they become more interested in exploring the glue with their hands, they may not be ready yet.

You don't necessarily want to encourage your child to explore glue in the same way you do with food or finger paints. It’s not dangerous but it’s sticky and the mess can be difficult to clean up, whereas with paint you can just have a bath.

If they're interested in feeling the glue, you can put a little dab on their fingers to explore the stickiness. If they want to put more on their hands, it's probably best to redirect them to another activity for now.

Extension Activities for Older Children

Children tend to have an interest in simple shape gluing until around age four.

Once they begin to lose interest in gluing 2-3 shapes, here's how you can keep them engaged:

  1. Switch up the types of shapes (or add 4-6 different types at one time) and change the type of paper to keep it interesting.
  2. Once they seem ready for more than just shapes, you can get creative. Glue fallen leaves, cutouts from magazines, ripped paper, cotton balls, etc.
  3. You can also try gluing activities with a clear purpose, like sorting shapes (divide paper into 3, give them circles, squares and triangles to sort and glue), sorting colours (same as shapes but with colours), gluing shapes on a line (refines hand-eye coordination) and counting, i.e. recognizing numbers and quantities (glue 1 pom pom next to number 1, 2 next to number 3, 3 pom poms next to number 3, etc.).
  4. Add in scissor skills: if your child is using scissors, have them cut out the shapes before gluing them.
If your child is interested in using scissors, here's how to introduce them > How To SAFELY Introduce Scissors - 6 Steps. That post also have some pre-scissor skills to help toddlers develop the right hand movements before introducing them to scissors.

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