22 March 2011

an extravagance of glitter glue

We're getting through a lot of glitter glue at Junior Church. Peter Privett advises that when stocking art materials, Check that there's material for both boys and girls. There's no hard and fast rule but girls tend to opt for drawing etc. - boys for activities that require manipulation. Too much glitter might send the wrong message. ("Designing and Building a Godly Play Classroom") Well, more than once in our classroom all the boys have chosen to work with glitter glue and all the girls have worked with clay. I'm pleased that our children do not feel trapped by gender stereotypes! 

But the thing that glitter glue has really got me thinking about is generosity and extravagance. I often say that one thing I love about Godly Play is its lavishness. We have all the time we need. I believe in the goal of providing beautiful and good quality materials, the goal that both story materials and art materials should be attractive, perhaps even the best your group can afford. So I'm surprised and unnerved by how anxious I get about our glitter glue expenditure. We seem to be getting through a LOT of glitter glue at Junior Church. 

I thought I understood the ideal of letting children explore for themselves what works and what doesn't work. But when one child started piling glitter-blob upon glitter-blob, and announced, I'm making a castle, I broke down. I said firmly that glitter glue wouldn't work for constructing upwards. If you want to make a castle, you need to use play-dough. If you want to use glitter paint, you need to make a painting. 

I keep re-playing that scene in my mind. I am struggling to find a good balance between freedom and limits, between instructing and letting the child explore. Perhaps I also need to remind myself that sometimes it's appropriate to break open a whole bottle of nard(Mark 14:3, John 12:3)


  1. It costs a lot less than communion wine or lots of candles and vestments ... but it IS good to set appropriate boundaries as to where and how things may be used (after all you do that with the godly play story materials - no-one would be allowed to jump up and down on the felt mats or scribble on those - etc) so don't be so hard on yourself.

    That blob of giitter glue did represent something to the child - but quite rightly you said (if memory serves me right) that it wouldn't dry properly ... appropriate correction IS good. Montessori teachers do model that!

  2. Glitter glue is sooooooo much fun, and yes, we've had the same issues with it. While I never want to restrict the creativity of a child, I was deeply impacted by Muriel Silberstein-Shorfer's philosophy in "Doing Art Together" that it is appropriate to teach children respect for the materials. Just as they should be taught to enjoy, but not waste water, they can also be taught this with their art materials. I love how you are so respectful towards your children and sensitive to their needs!

  3. At home I often found myself hovering over art projects saying thing like "not too much" or "that's enough now" thinking primarily of the costs of replacing the materials! But then I decided to let them express themselves however they want (on paper, NOT on the walls or furniture) and just keep telling myself - "when it's gone it's gone!" and then they'll find something else to play with!


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