6 Best Glue Sticks for Kids9 min read

kid arts and crafts

Take a look in the craft cupboard of any school or kindergarten and you’ll find a good supply of glue sticks. These easy to use adhesives have become a staple of paper-crafters and educators alike. But what can you do with them, and why are they so useful?

Origin of the Glue Stick

The first glue sticks were invented by the German company, Henkel, in the late ’60s. Their brand, Pritt-Stick, soon took off and is now sold around the world. Other companies soon followed suit, with Scotch, UHU, Elmer’s and many more brands producing a glue stick.

While they were originally made to glue paper and card, customers loved the ease of use and low mess of the stick format. That lead to the invention of stick adhesives that will work for wood, glass, and plastic too.

There’s also been innovation in the paper-glue stick. You can now buy glue that goes on colored, so it’s simple to see where you have put the glue but will dry clear. There are also colored glues for more creative projects, and variants that include glitter to help with decoration.

Uses for Glue Sticks

The most common use for glue sticks is in paper crafts. They’re a great way to introduce children to the world of sticking, as many brands are non-toxic, and they prevent the potential spills that come with liquid adhesives like school glue. Because the glue is tacky, you have a chance to reposition without tearing the paper, but when it dries the adhesive is permanent.

Some ideas for projects with kids include:

Butterflies: Make wings with a piece of paper, and then glue them to a toilet paper tube. Add chenille stick antennae and a cute smiley face with a marker pen.

Bookmarks: Stick paper to a large lollipop. You can do something as simple as cutting out shapes, or get more advanced and weave paper into interesting designs.

Leaf Picture: In the fall, find dried leaves and use them to make a collage-style picture.

Caterpillar: Cut an egg-carton into segments and glue them together to make the body of a caterpillar, add googly eyes and draw on a cute smile.

Best Glue Sticks for Kids

There are many different brands of glue sticks out there, from dollar store versions all the way up to premium brands. So which ones are the best for kids? These are our favorites.

1. Elmer’s Extra Strength Office Glue Sticks

Elmer’s is one of the most famous names when it comes to adhesive. Originally a part of Borden’s, Elmer (the bull in the logo) is the counterpart to Borden’s Elise the cow. Perhaps best known for its school glue, Elmer is a trusted brand known for quality adhesive products.

These glue sticks are known for their extra-strength formula, which has a superior bond and can be used to attach all types of paper as well as cardboard, foam board, and display board.

Things we like:

The Elmer’s name is a mark of quality, and these extra-strong sticks give you a better chance of bonding making them perfect for precious projects. The recipe is non-toxic so you don’t have to worry about your little ones putting sticky fingers into their mouths, and the glue is washable so it will quickly come off tabletops and clothes.

Things to Consider:

This glue is acid-free, which means it’s great for projects which you need to last including photographs. There are cheaper options available if you are just passing the time with paper crafts. These are quick-drying glue sticks, which may make them less suitable for little ones who want to reposition their artwork.

Pros:

  • A quality brand
  • Extra strength adhesive
  • Non-toxic

Cons:

  • Fast drying
  • These glue sticks will dry out after 12-18 months
  • No color in the glue

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2. Scotch Permanent Glue Stick

Scotch is another major name in the world of adhesives, perhaps best known for their ‘magic’ tape or post-it notes. Theirs is one of the best glue sticks for arts and crafts, and this pack of 18 makes it suitable for classroom use.

Things we like:

The price on this pack of 18 is pretty low, and with the Scotch name behind them, you can be assured they’re a quality brand. They have an easy-grip lid which will help small hands to get them off without grown-up help.

Things to consider:

These glue-sticks don’t specify that they’re acid-free, so they may not be suitable for projects you want to keep longer-term. Some customers have reported needing to reapply the glue to get a stick, and if this happens to you then you may be better off with a colored glue stick so you can see where you have already applied adhesive.

Pros:

  • Quality brand
  • Easy-grip cap
  • Doesn’t wrinkle the paper

Cons:

  • Clear glue may be hard to ensure good application
  • Dries quickly so not great for repositioning
  • May not work well for heavy card

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3. Avery Glue Sticks

When it comes to sticky labels, Avery is a household name so it’s probably no surprise they’ve also produced a glue stick. Like the other brands, this is washable, acid-free and non-toxic. This glue is specifically made for kids, but will also work well for paper crafting and can even stick glass.

Things we like:

This glue has a smooth consistency, so it goes on to paper well and doesn’t leave clumps behind that cause your paper to lay unevenly. The bond is really good, but you do get enough time to reposition if needed.

Things to consider:

These glues work best when they’re fresh, so try and keep just one stick in use and the others sealed in a zip-lock bag to ensure they don’t dry out.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Acid-free for archival work
  • Repositionable

Cons:

  • Clear glue may make it difficult to ensure good coverage
  • Dries out easily

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4. Gorilla Glue Sticks

Gorilla is a relative newcomer to the world of adhesives, launching their original product, Gorilla Glue, in 1999. That adhesive has become a firm favorite with maintenance men and woodworkers as it has great sticking power. Their glue stick is a quick-stick formula that holds paper, card, googly eyes, felt and fabric make it a great all-round craft glue.

Things we like:

In a world of white tubes of glue, the orange and lime of Gorilla’s packaging really stick out and the company logo is likely to appeal to animal-loving kids. This glue stick goes on purple, which fades as the glue dries, this makes it easier to tell when you’ve got enough glue on your paper to form a good bond.

Things to consider:

This is one of the quicker drying glues, so it will be trickier to reposition if your child gets something in the wrong place. The colorful nature of the glue might inspire your children to use it in places other than their artwork.

Pros:

  • Disappearing color helps you get all areas covered
  • Non-toxic and washable
  • Strong bond that holds multiple materials

Cons:

  • Fast bond, so not easy to reposition
  • Premium brand with a higher price point
  • Colorful glue may encourage misuse

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5. Amazon Basics Glue Sticks

Amazon has come a long way from a bookseller, and now they have their own range of popular products too. These glue sticks are, as you might expect from the name, reasonably priced and they perform almost as well as the premium brands. They’re not the best glue sticks for paper crafts, but for kids, they should be just fine.

Things we like:

When you’re supplying a classroom with glue sticks, or you just want to stock your craft cupboard for rainy day activities, you don’t need glue sticks with bells and whistles and a price to match. Still, these glue sticks are colored, and they stick well.

Things you should consider:

With a lower price point, these aren’t as high quality as the premium brands. So if you’re looking for an ultra-smooth application for serious crafting you may be disappointed. These are also sold loose, rather than boxed or with an included stand so you will need to consider how best to store them when not in use.

Pros:

  • Price
  • Quick delivery as an Amazon product
  • Colored glue helps see where you’ve used it but dries clear.

Cons:

  • Lower quality
  • Sold loose, no storage solution
  • Glue may become ineffective after time.

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6. Elmer’s Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks

The second entry on our list from Elmer’s! This is the disappearing purple version of their glue stick, but the pack also comes with a bonus tube of re-stick. That’s a slow drying version of their glue stick that gives you up to 5 minutes to move things around before it sets making it perfect for paper crafters and scrapbookers.

Things we like:

As with the previous Elmer’s offering, you know that you are getting a good quality glue when you buy this brand. This is a pack of six, so it’s perfect for stocking the craft cupboard, and the addition of the re-stick is a nice way to try a different product.

Things to consider:

This glue is really only suitable for sticking paper and card, if you want to add googly eyes or sequins then it’s not up to the job. Some users have found that the glue takes a long time to dry, which is great for repositioning but not so useful when dealing with impatient toddlers.

Pros:

  • Great brand.
  • One bonus repositionable glue stick.
  • Colored glue helps guide sticking.

Cons:

  • This is a higher-priced product.
  • Glue may take a long time to dry.

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A Sticky Situation

The convenience of glue sticks makes them a great alternative to liquid glue when working with younger children. They are chunky enough for emerging grips to get a firm hold of, and the purple varieties help kids learn how to glue thoroughly.

There really isn’t much to choose between most brands, a quality name will get you a good glue product however if you’re just looking to spend time crafting with your kids then a cheaper brand will do just fine.

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