Fun with Glue and Beads STEAM Activity for Kids

Kids will love combining glue and beads in this hands-on STEAM activity. And grownups will love the easy setup that only requires two craft materials along with some recycled plastic produce packages. The only thing that will be hard for everyone to do is wait for the glue to dry! 

Glue and beads combine in a fun STEAM activity for kids

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Glue and beads go together perfectly in this fun STEAM activity.

Kids engage with a scientific process as they observe the changes in color and texture of the white glue as it dries. 

Decorating the glue with colorful beads adds a creative component to this STEAM activity. Kids will have fun observing what happens to the beads as the glue dries.

 

Glue and beads supplies for STEAM activity

 Supplies
  • recycled plastic packaging

Glue and beads combine in this STEAM activity

Instructions

Choose recycled plastic containers with lots of ridges for your molds. The raised areas will show up as designs in the finished product.

Squeeze glue into a mold. Kids will love this part of the process! 

You can add the glue first (left image) and sprinkle beads on top - or - add beads to the bottom of the package first (right image) and spread glue on top of the beads.

Try to maintain a thin layer of glue as it will dry faster and a greater area of the glue will be transparent.

 

Glue and beads combine in this STEAM activity for kids

 

Top row: glue is added first and star beads are dropped on top of the glue

Bottom row: leaf beads are added first and glue is squeezed over the beads

 

Glue and beads combine in a mold STEAM activity


The glue will take several days to dry. Kids can observe the glue gradually changing from a milky white color to clear and transparent.

Carefully lift one edge of the dried glue and gently remove from the plastic packaging mold.

 

Glue and beads transparent STEAM activity

STEAM activity with glue and beads for preschoolers

 

Observations

Put a piece of dried glue on your hand to observe transparency.

Glue must be spread thin to get this effect. Thicker areas are translucent

 

Dried glue and beads cutting with scissors STEAM for kids

 

Try cutting the dried glue with scissors. Is it easy to cut?

 

If you used both methods for the activity (adding beads before and after the glue), do you observe any difference in the results when the dried glue is removed?

 

The science behind it:

A simple explanation is that glue is a made of PVA (Polyvinyl acetate) mixed with water. When the water evaporates only the clear PVA plastic remains. The effect can also be explained by refraction of light from the different molecules that make up the water and the PVA but this may be better explained to older kids.

Have you offered an explanation to preschoolers of why white glue dries clear? We'd love you to share your explanation in the comments. 

 

STEAM

Science: formulation of glue

Technology: cutting with scissors

Engineering: spreading glue in trays

Art: colorful beads

Math: size and shape of molds

 

 

 

Amazing STEAM resource 

STEAM KIDS 50+ activities for kids!

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Get more great science activities on our STEM to STEAM Pinterest board.

 

 More STEAM for kids!

Easy Breezy Windy Art / Handmade Kids Art

Circuit Bugs / Steam Powered Family

Rock Balancing Stone Stacking / Rhythms of Play

Grow a Candy Heart / Gift of Curiosity

Shape Geoboard / Little Bins for Little Hands

 

 


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