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!
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.
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.
*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.
These are the beautiful structures that the 3 and 4 year old created.
For more creative activities for kids, check out our:
Art with Salt, Glue and Watercolours
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
This looks fun! And like a creative way to learn to use a new tool!
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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!
Would regular Elmer’s glue work?
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.
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.
Thanks Sue! I love that your son is already turning to the recycle bin for craft supplies! A boy after my own heart. 🙂
What brand of glue gun did you use – my granddaughter received a 2nd degree burn on her hand from what was supposed to be a low temp gun & I’m trying to find one that has actually been used by younger children. Thank you.
We actually use several different brands, Nancy. I keep a bowl of ice water (with ice cubes in it) nearby in case the children accidentally touch the tip or get glue on their fingers.