A Beginner Glue Gun Project for Kids: Mosaic Meat Tray Structures

When you’re thinking about science activities that you can do with your children don’t overlook a simple building project!  Structures are definitely a scientific topic, and you can make the most basic structures with even the youngest kids.

Now, you might be thinking “WHAT?   A toddler and a glue gun??”  You bet!  Have a look at this glue gun project for kids that I shared a wile back.  In it, I share my advice on teaching kids how to use low temp glue guns.  You’ll see that our older toddlers and preschoolers use them well.  With a little guidance and supervision (and a bowl of cold water near-by, just in case), you can teach your child how to use a low heat glue gun too!

Mosaic Meat Tray Structures - a beginner Glue Gun project for kids (Happy Hooligans)

Using styrofoam meat trays for crafting:

Styrofoam trays are super in the craft room.  We use ours to make make ornaments, and to hold craft supplies.  We even use them as paint pallets.  For safety reasons, always sterilize your meat trays in the dishwasher before crafting with them.

Today, the hooligans are making  styrofoam structures .  Building a structure is a simple way for young children to explore the basics of design and physics.  It’s also great for fine motor skill development and critical and creative thinking.

Supplies for making Mosaic Meat Tray Structures:

  • styrofoam meat tray
  • acrylic craft paints
  • low temp glue gun
  • paint brushes
  • safety scissors
  • bowl of cold water

Painting your Meat Trays:

Cut the curved edges off your trays so you’re left with a flat tile.

"mosaic tiles" cut from painted styrofoam trays

Give each tile two coats of acrylic paint.  You can speed up the drying process with a hair dryer.  We’ve used tempera paints in the past, but they tend to flake and chip.  If you’re going to use temperas, I’d advise giving your tiles a coat of craft sealer/varnish to prevent chipping.

Cutting up the tiles:  The hooligans love this part.  Cutting styrofoam is one of my favourite scissor skill exercises for kids.  It’s easy for little hands to cut through styrofoam,  and it makes such a satisfying sound when they do.

painted styrofoam meat tray cut into irregular shapes

*tip for preventing burned fingers when using a glue gun:

Keep a bowl of water near-by.  The low temp glue is not hot enough to actually burn but it’s comforting for little ones to know they can dip a finger or thumb if need be.  I use this trick all the time myself when I’m using my high heat glue gun.

Building the structures with a low-temp glue gun:

Have your little one gently squeeze puddles of glue out onto their mosaic pieces, and lightly press them in place.

Building structures with styrofoam and glue guns

 These are the beautiful structures that the 3 and 4 year old created.

art for kids with low heat glue guns

 For more creative activities for kids, check out our:

Stained Glass Painting

Art with Salt, Glue and Watercolours

Melted Crayon Art

Playdough Potato Heads

Homemade Puffy Paint

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  1. says

    This looks fun! And like a creative way to learn to use a new tool!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  2. says

    Never thought about painting meat trays before! Gorgeous project ideas. Now may stalk our meat dept. people to ask for some unused ones, lol. With baby in the house do not want to have any extra germs around:) Thanks for linking up to the Thoughtful Spot Blog Hop. Hope to see you next week!

  3. Carol says

    If you’re worried about using Styrofoam trays from meat packaging, just use the Styrofoam trays from produce, many fruits & vegetables are packaged on these trays & there is no concerns of bacteria from meat.

  4. says

    I love this idea Jackie! My son loves making things out of recyclable to the extent that I can barely recycle anything without him taking it out of the blue bin and saying, “Let’s make something out of this Mommy!” Thanks for a fun idea! We like using glue guns too at our house – you can just make things with it that you can’t do with white glue and the wow factor is there quickly too.

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks Sue! I love that your son is already turning to the recycle bin for craft supplies! A boy after my own heart. :)

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