Jun 21, 2020 - 4 min read - 466 views
Glue Sponges - Classroom Heroes
When I started using INB's I was really nervous about all of the gluing. Here is how I overcame that fear and saved my sanity.
Are you considering Interactive notebooks in the classroom or are you a very creative hands-on project style teacher? Does the thought of dried up glue sticks being used as classroom projectiles give you nightmares? Maybe thinking about all the money you wasted as you see glue oozing onto a table causes panic? Well, read about glue sponges and how I wiped those fears away.
What is a glue sponge?
Well simply said, a glue sponge is a household sponge saturated in liquid glue and stored in a resealable container. Glue sponges are not difficult concepts, but they have drastically reduced the time my students take to paste any kind of paper or activity and my classroom stays clean! Best of all, I only go through 1 gallon of liquid glue of glue in an average school year and use the glue sponges almost daily. Time, money, and sanity-saving? Who wouldn't want that?
Making yours glue sponges
I first learned about these at an AVID conference where I spent 3 days learning all the in's and out's of a traditional AVID INB. About 2 hours into the session a teacher chimed in with the question that was on everybody's mind. How do you manage the glue mess and stress? Well, the workshop facilitator started talking about teaching students to respect glue sticks, and out of the audience, an angel spoke up. She shared with us the concept of a glue sponge, which is just a liquid glue saturated sponge, that she used with her lower elementary students. We were all of course interested in this novel approach to glue, but I was still a bit skeptical and confused. She then shared a video showing their set up and I was sold. Here is my video tutorial!
My Glue Sponge Tips
So here is how I have found the most success in making these:
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Use thick sponges. They are a little more difficult to find, I could only find them on the military base grocery store, I reuse them year after year since they can be washed out. If I stumble across my preferred sponge in a store I will come back and update you. Bottom line, for me, the standard-sized kitchen sink sponges do not make the cut.
For my first round of glue sponges, I used up all of the partially used liquid glue bottles I had around the classroom. Now I just buy the big gallon liquid glue when they go on sale. I go through about a gallon a year, but that does vary depending on students and my curriculum.
I started with the 1 cup small rectangular Ziploc containers and the next year I tried these harder plastic containers with snapping lids. The particular snapping containers I bought were horrible. The snaps snapped off and the hard plastic cracked with use. Just to be transparent, the year I used those containers was the year I had the roughest classes ever so that may be a factor in the container failure. Whatever the case was, I went back to the Ziplocs and have never had those problems again.
You need to use a lot of glue to get them set up and they will not be ready overnight. Give the sponges a long weekend to soak up the glue before you try to use them. Also, when you have to refill them by adding more glue, aim to do that on a Friday.
After you pour the glue on, flip the sponge over a few times so you have glue on both sides of the sponge and at the bottom of the container.
These are something you have to spend a bit of time training your students how to use.
When I first introduce them to my students, I spend time teaching the word saturation and showing them how slight pressure of paper on the sponge still covers that corner. I physically walk around the classroom showing the students the glistening corner of the paper to prove my point. Teach your students the 4 corner, or edge gluing method. They will not believe that it will work but show and prove to them the superiority of liquid glue to glue sticks they are used to.
I make sure I include a discussion about not EVER needing to touch or take out the sponge to make it work. The little ones have a harder time with this concept but I promise if you model and repeat the expectations of glue sponges early on it is so WORTH it.
If the glue sponge is getting "dry" flip it over to renew it before adding more glue. If you have responsible students you can teach them this too and they will fix the "bad" sponges for you.
My older middle school classes do not find having a glue sponge on their shared desk a distraction, however, that was a different story for my 6th-grade babies. So I ended up having to have weekly class helpers to pass out and recollect the sponges at the beginning and end of our gluing activities. 6th graders still LOVE being helpers so it is a sought after position and keeps my sponges safe and my sanity more intact!
I hope you end up loving glue sponges as much as I do! Good luck!