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!
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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.
- white glue
- small beads
- recycled plastic packaging
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.
Top row: glue is added first and star beads are dropped on top of the glue
Bottom row: leaf shape beads are added first and glue is squeezed over the beads
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.
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
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.
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
Get more great science activities on our STEM to STEAM Pinterest board.
More STEAM for kids!
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Rock Balancing Stone Stacking / Rhythms of Play
Grow a Candy Heart / Gift of Curiosity
Shape Geoboard / Little Bins for Little Hands