Do Art Teachers Really Hate Glitter?

Do you use glitter in the art room? I was reflecting on use of glitter, and chuckling because of one of my favorite blogs (and art ed online pal’s) website is “Art Teacher’s Hate Glitter”– She was one of the Top 10 Art Ed Blogs of the Year, too! So cool…


I want to ask –

I can say with confidence, yes, I do hate glitter. The only time I use glitter in the art room is for ONE project and the glitter serves as stars in the sky for 1st grader’s cityscapes. I have a good method for containing the glitter with 28 students and no assistant. I get a huge box flat (you know the ones that pops come lined up in from the pop machine?) and have students come up in small groups to the glitter station. They lay their work inside the large box, shake on the glitter, I give it another shake for good luck and they are on their merry way. I even have students prepare the glue at their tables ahead of time so all they have to do is glitter in the box, and go back to their seats.
Sadly enough, my 1st graders this year really struggle with behaviors. I’ve tried so many different things, but with, again 28 kids, the last period of the day, and lots of behavior issues, I decided against using glitter with a few of the groups this year. Bad teacher move? Not sure, but it’s what I decided to do.
Is there an art supply that you simply don’t like? Do you ever adjust your lesson because of the group you have?
PS. Want to finally start your own blog? A few more days left to sign up for the April AOE Class “Blogging for Art Educators!

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Nannette

    I have a love hate relationship with glitter. I love the way it motivates and inspires…I hate that it will always be around in some nook or cranny reminding me of the worst sub I ever had. I was a 4th year teacher (new) I was away at a 10 day conference. I left careful plans. The sub ignored them, opened my craft closet ( the one with supplies I’d squirreled away for certain worthy projects) and let the kids take anything they wanted and “create”. When I returned I found all the work in neat piles stacked by grade level. Each pile was cemented together with glue, Pom poms, pipe cleaners, craft sticks etc… AND most of all 6 large containers of glitter. It made to sick to scrape the piles off the tables and toss the work. Today I would probably take the piles and up-cycle them somehow, then I just cried!

    • Dmelville

      Love glitter, (HAAAAAAAAATE GLUE)!!!

    • What a nightmare! 

  • Tonia

    I am an art teacher and I LOVE glitter! But I only use it round Christmas time and for the odd other activities. I also am like you, Jessica, and set up a glitter station where I am in charge! Your post made me smile, thanks.

  • Theonlyingrid

    I have mixed feelings on glitter. I compare it to salt for soup. (a little makes it taste better, a lot- gross, the kids remember it)
    As far as behaviors and nutty groups, I adapt my lessons when I need to, absolutely. Especially with behavior near the sinks- that is non-negotiable. I also know when I need to keep my sanity. You can’t fill the pitcher if the well is dry, and you can’t have a productive class if you are frustrated because you tried something or asked for responsibility or behavior the *group* wasn’t ready for.  I feel badly for the kids that are able, but if the group as a whole can’t function, I simplify the process somehow, absolutely, and I don’t feel bad about it. (well, ok, I do, but..) Sometimes you just have to.

  • Kimberly Butts

    I do…I hate glitter…at least the loose glitter.  If it’s glitter glue it’s so much easier to work with but you still have to set strict limits on how much can be used or you end up with the whole paper/project covered with glitter.

    I too use class behavior as a guide for which special activities I can include in my lessons. 

  • Sarah Brooks

    I never ever use glitter in art lessons in my classroom, I think I was trained by my fine arts department in our school system at glitter=crafts. I don’t personally hate it, I keep a really big jar of it on hand for classroom teachers to use in their craft projects in their classrooms, but I feel like having a jar of glitter in my art room cabinet makes me a traitor, like I’m stashing contraband.
    I personally have two art materials that I really dislike- Manila paper, and Glue- the kind in the bottle. I hate the texture and smell of Manila paper- a long lasting after effect from a terrible art teacher in my past who only ever let us use pencils and manila paper. My hatred for glue is mostly related to keeping glue bottles clean and functional. I hate the part of e year when I finally have to open and refill them all.

  • Vivian

    I like glitter, but don’t use it often. I, like you, have made it really structured when I do use it and say outline one main thing or put some dots of glue, then bring up your paper to the designated glitter table, because some kids just love it and do cover their whole paper, even with specific instructions. I think it’s ok to be really selective of the use of glitter especially because they are usually using various supplies in art that they don’t usually use (like paints, oil pastels, etc..), so it’s just an extra bonus for their work. It’s up to you as the art teacher to decide and I think being selective is good especially because you are the one setting up and cleaning up after they do.

  • Shari

    Glitter is one of those special items that rarely appears, but when it does, it motivates the kids.  There are always limits as to how to apply, how much to use, etc.  You will always have a kiddo that wants to “glitter-fy” their entire art piece. 
    Yes, I change my lessons according to classes…not necessarily the items, more like do I offer it all and to who.   I have used lessons that I taught to higher levels to younger grades that were up for a challenge. 
     I have to admit…I dislike clay.  I do one assignment a year (if the children are on their best behavior of course).  I love 3d work, I just hate the whole storage, carting the clay pieces to the entire opposite side of the building to fire…because someone’s piece always gets damaged due to travel.  The clay is too hard for some of the kids to manipulate and it just takes too long for the entire process.  I prefer plaster or papier mache anyday of the week. 

    • Irenemele

      Hi Shari
      as a ceramicists, i totally understand the clay thing…the cries and distress you fear when one of their masterpieces has cracked or broken b/c of the travel issue getting it to the kiln…try this little project…my little one aged 4yo made on a piece of cardboard 15cmX15cm ‘herself’ out of terracotta clay. (any clay will do) 
      They adorned it with match sticks for some hair, buttons for eyes etc…you know….they allowed it to dry for a day or two and then covered it with pva glue.  this hardened the clay and its amazing!! feels like it has been fired.
      I guess you could try this method if the children are not intending on using the fired pieces and only for decorative purposes. 

  • I have a lesson that I like using glitter with – it’s a kindergarten Jasper Johns inspired lesson where we turn ordinary letters and numbers into extraordinary ones.  To a kindergartener, glitter is about as “extraordinary” as you can get.  I do use a glitter table with only a few kids sprinkling at a time, and I am monitoring – it never becomes a problem as long as I’m standing there.
    As a studio art major in college, we were taught “no glitter, no black outlines” and a few other no-no’s that I’ve abandoned during my career.  I don’t think there are many materials out there that I stand firmly against. I think it’s all about using materials in surprising, unexpected, effective ways.  What no one likes is the cliche use of glitter and black outlines.  Challenge yourself to find a new definition for it!

    • By black outlines do you mean outlining in sharpie? I do that all the time!!!!

  • Cbtartteacher831

    I love glitter and have been teaching for 36 years. I use it in a controlled way too but if the kids get to use it starting in K it is not such a “forbidden” thing. I just finished  having my 3 classes of 29 first graders make castle landscapes. As a motivator (since they had to write a sentence or two about their landscape) I had out homemade “glitter glue” that they brushed on all the dry area as they wanted. This is simply white glue mixed with water with glitter sprinkled on top of the glue.  Even if they brush lots on it does not ruin their artwork–very cool.  I also tell the story how important it is to not touch and play with the glitter as it can get into your eyes since it is tiny pieces of plastic.

    • You sound like an amazing teacher and props to you for teaching so long. What an inspiration!!!
      Jessica Balsley

  • Dale

    I don’t like glitter either. I use it for one lesson at Christmas but that’s it.  I do like glue but hate glue bottles.  They seem to always be clogged or kids try to unstick them by opening the bottle and then there is glue everywhere. I thought I had come upon the solution a few years ago and ordered the tap-n-glue tops. However they get clogged or the kids tap so hard that they don’t work any longer. Perhaps I’ll invent the perfect bottle one day and make a million!

    • Dale,

      I agree about tap and glue. I have no patience for it anymore but when working well it does the job! You work on that glue bottle idea…

  • Eagle Studio

    I hate glitter, but use it in my classroom with reservation. As Sarah Brooks pointed out it does feel like contraband. As if my professor would walk in any moment and that would be all he would see is the small jar of glitter in the room.

    However, I have conquered my distaste and teach the kids how to properly use it. We take a short field trip outside to see how well it is easily lost to the smallest breeze. The little ones really do not like that fact, especially since they learn very quickly that they each only get a small bit to use. I have learned to make it a special tool that only the best can use and the kids really seem to get it. They love the way it sparkles, so to have that privilige to add it to their artwork has really motivated them to use it correctly and in special places. To the point that the younger classes often will all get a chance to use it together. They help each other control it and when new kids are added to the class I can guarantee that someone will help me teach the new student how to best use the glitter so that the class can keep the privilige.

    They learn how to use a second piece of paper to capture the excess glitter and often will use their glue brushes to control the application. I have taken to using glue cups with a little bit of glue in them and a brush so that we all are not battling with sticky bottles. It has its draw backs, but the frustration level of all seems to be down considerably.

    • The glue cup idea definitely has promise. I may try it next year.

  • Ingrid

    I use glitter glue that comes in large squeeze bottles. I then divide that up into smaller squeeze bottles like tomato sauce. Because it’s in a glue form, there’s no fly-away mess. And because it’s squeezed out of a tip it’s relatively easy to apply. The only problem I have is telling children not to use it all up!

  • Lisa

    i love to offer acrylic glitter glaze when a sparkle is wanted. this stuff is the bomb-diggity in my opinion! :)

    • The Bomb Diggity! Love it. I will have to look into this. Some things do need that sparkle. 

  • Art Teachers Hate Glitter

    I feel obligated to comment on this. For obvious reasons, but also because…

    I have a confession to make.

    I have, in the past, allowed students to use glitter. *GASP* It’s true. I am not immune to the powers of the colorful, sparkly, confetti. It is, however, through my experience with using glitter that I have come to “hate” it. I too used glitter stations (copy paper box lids work nicely for this task) and limited the use of it. BUT it seemed no matter how hard I tried to contain and control the mess, glitter inevitably ended up everywhere. It was as if it bred and spread. Despite my strong opinion of glitter, there are still times when I find myself thinking, “Hmmm… maybe a little glitter…” Thankfully, as Sarah Brooks also mentioned, my Fine Arts Department does not approve, so my brief moments of weakness are never acted upon. Heck, I don’t even know if we have glitter in my school. I think someone also mentioned this already, but another issue I have with glitter is the cliche that that is all elementary art is about. Well, that and Popsicle sticks and pom poms.

    • Thanks for commenting!! Oh I hope you found this amusing. And of course don’t forget about finger paint and google eyes!

    • Love it! Thanks for commenting, and of course how could you forget fingerpaints and google eyes!!!

  • EHarrison

    I teach Elementary, and yes, I have glitter.  I have a clear “flake” that kids use on a winter scene where they try to show sparkling snow.  The colored stuff comes out every now and then, as a special material.  My classes are big, and full of behaviors, but, most of my kids will not have the opportunity at home to ever use even the most common “craft” materials, so I keep them around.  Because it is a special thing, setting up stations has worked well.  Actually, it is my 3rd and 4th graders who make the worst messes. 

  • Ms. Novak

    I LOVE glitter – though I use it very rarely.  I really like using it with snow trees or for costumes students are making for shows.  I secretly love how the glitter tracks everywhere in the building.  I laugh when I find it in the office, bathroom, library – I love how it manages to get EVERYWHERE.  

  • Megan Steinlage

    Glitter makes such a mess, but if the kiddos use it correctly, it can be beautiful to look at. Sometimes I teach my kids to make “glitter paint” by allowing them to mix glue with glitter (that I pour/sprinkle). They stir and use brushes to apply. This keeps it from getting everywhere. Typically though, I really pay attention to the class that I use it with because if behavior is an issue-glitter will get everywhere. The kids know that it is special and ramp up good behavior to have the privilege of using glitter on their projects.

  • Clare

    I am not a fan of glitter…..for a few reasons. First it is just messy and it seems as if it just shows up in random places months later!! Also depending how the glitter is used it can make a project look “crafty”. I typically use glitter on one first grade project. We make paper snowflakes and then turn them into “snow creatures”. When they are complete I let the kids add snow glitter. I also set up a glitter station where they glue and I glitter. This school year I did sugar skulls with my second graders……so how can you not use glitter for that??!! As far as switching up lessons based on behavior and class size……YES! I have and will continue to do so. I sometimes feel bad when I have to do this BUT……I am only 1 person and I have no help………so I don’t want to set anyone up for failure!! Oh had to share this article. Not sure how true it is…………,1843/

    • Clare,
      I am laughing so hard at the article “Glitter Lung On the Rise Among Elementary Art Teachers” – ha. The Onion is a joke magazine, it’s not true, but it sure is funny. See, it’s these stereotypes that keep us fighting!

  • David

    ABSOLUTELY!  I hate it but the kids love it. 

  • Ann Darling

    We just got done using glitter for our “Indian Elephant” festival. Glitter glue the homemade way can be loaded into the old squirt containers or old hair dye bottles even ketchup and mustard bottles.
    I have to relate a comment made by one of my senior TA’s. “Glitter is the herpes of the art room, it spreads everywhere and nevwr goes away”. Sheesh, everyone’s a comedian :-)

  • Vicki A.

    I confess…I loathe glitter. My students adore it, even a fifth grade toughie turns into a disco diva when I bring out the sparkles. A nice compromise is sparkley glitter glaze  made by Sargent or Sax. It is essentialy an acrylic gloss medium with a greenish cast glitter.  You can put a lightly brushed coat on any medium without it smearing (emphasis lightly brushed…we can’t be scrubbing the floor with the paint brush). It puts a nice sheen on papermache and some painted projects. 

  • Lwdevin

    LOVE glitter as much as any third grader! I have a glitter box- a big flat lid that our paper can fit into. You can’t use glitter unless your paper is in the glitter box. Also- not many choices of color- and when all the leftover glitter gets mixed up in the glitter box- that becomes the new color- poured back into a container to re-use.

    We use glitter at the end of a project as the very last thing before a project goes on the drying rack and only for emphasis/detail. The kids sometimes are required to tell me why they want to emphasize a certain thing- it helps them think through the idea of emphasis and directing the eye to certain things in their composition.My custodians are not such a big fans. I have to treat them to cookies every once in a while.

  • Bcr8tiv

    In general I don’t use glitter too much…but boy do the kids LOVE it!

     If all else fails add glitter.   No one will see the maistake beyone the sparkle…OOHHH pretty.  :)
    I have to say I made the toilet paper tube garland I found on PINTREST and had the kids add glitter to the petals they were beautiful.

    Simple project.
    Cut TP. tubes into 4-5 sections you will have 4- 5 loops.
    Flatten them to make them look like petals.
    Each student makes 3 – 5 petal flowers
    Extra loops can be cut in 1/2 and made into curls.
    Glue all parts together to creat a garland.
    2nd day have  a tray of glitter and a try of glue. ( I used styrofoamlg meat trays.)
    Students are called by table to dip into the glue and then the glitter. Shake off into the garbage.
    PLace of dry rack…
    They looked like snowlfakes falling.

    On a side note I teach at 2 schools and my one school banned it because the custidian didn’t like to sweep it up….I brought it to my other school.

    This is the only time I used glitter this year… I had it and I didn’t want to just throw it away. I think next year, I may have them dip it into metalic paint…

    Honestly my conscience keeps my up at night with all the supplies we use and their effcts on the envirnment…. but that is a whole new bag of worms…That may be a good conversation…would love to hear others thoughts on this topic.

  • I don’t teach in a school but run a children’s craft activity company in Yorkshire. I also love glitter mainly because of the look on children’s faces when they realise they have permisson to use it liberally but it does pose a mess problem. I have tried so many ways to keep the mess down which have been successful to greater or lesser extents. I have some workshops coming up on superheroes and you can’t have superheroes without some sparkle so I am currently designing a glitter corner based on similar principles to Cbartteacher831. My principles are going to be deep containers that with a mass of glitter at the bottom that the dip their art into and lose glitter as they bring it out. Our biggest problem is when glitter is portable so I’m going to make it all very unportable to keep it all in one place. I’ll let you know how it goes

  • Carolian Elizabeth

    This has been fabulous. I love that art educators love to share!

  • hsartteacher

    My coworkers are in the habit of giving me everything that’s possibly remotely related to arts & crafts and saying “this will be great in your art class!” (Everyone’s on a purging kick this year, nobody’s thrown stuff out in a while, it’s strange.) I say thank you…and secretly throw away the glitter.

  • Rlviers

    I love glitter but use it only at christmas. The one supply I really hate is the Paper Mache Paste  AKA Wheat Paste. It starts to smell and high school students would ALWAYS referr to it as a “boy” type body fluid. I have to thank a great art teacher (Amy M. Rocks) for introducing me to Art Paste. You can get it from school specialty and it’s clear, keeps Forever in a covered container and feels like hair gel. Now my students call it goop or snot instead of ____. Yeah!

  • Kristin

    I love glitter!!!! Even if it looks like magical fairies have been frolicking in my room after we use it.  It totally makes the kids’ day when I tell them we get to jazz up a piece with glitter! Who doesn’t like spreading joy! :)

  • Ginadk

    I hate googly eyes! Lol. Don’t use glitter either, but I would use both if it would encourage better behavior with some classes!

    • A colleague of mine uses googley eyes for one giraffe project and it looks great. I was skeptical at first, but she proved me wrong. :) I still don’t’ use them, though.

  • Aisha Isaksson

    I must admit I HATE glitter as well! It might give a project a little “oomph”, but I hate how no mater how controlled you (or the kids) are with using it- it still gets everywhere! And it seems to linger for weeks too…randomly, you will find specks of glitter on you from a project done weeks ago!

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  • Kaitlyn

    ugh, I despise glitter and my students know it! Luckily in middle school, we don’t have much of a need for it. I have students come down to my room to borrow it for other projects and I happily give them all of it just to get it out of my room. I think my glitter hatred stem back to when I was in middle school and it was “cool” to wear glitter on your eyelids. It used to get in my eyes and scratch them so since then, I won’t touch the stuff. Totally gives me the heebie jeebies!

  • Annie

    Glitter is hidden in a high cabinet in my art room until……”Glitter Extravaganza Week”. This yearly tradition is always the week before Xmas vacation, where I put out different stations (and yes, “craft” areas), one of which is a glitter station. This center opens at the end of class to add a bit of pizzaz to a project. I use the paper carton covers too, these are large enough and deep enough to put papers and small projects inside. Trying to contain the fairy dust is almost impossible, but I figure, right before vacation, the custodians will have plenty of time to sweep :-D later. One rule is no lettering with glue, because after the glitter is added, it becomes illegible. I encourage small areas to highlight, emphasize, accentuate…..not glitter overkill. Doesn’t always work, but I try my best.

  • Ms. McG

    Every year, my first-grade art students make a tooth-fairy pinch pots and we add a little “fairy dust” (glitter) inside. I always end up finding it everywhere for days – including at home in my cat’s litter box! Makes cleaning the box a little more enjoyable.

  • Sue Alexander

    I like glitter, and my custodian hates me for it. I’ll never forget the student who said to me, “Mrs A, you must love us!” I said of course I loved her, but asked how she knew. “You let us use glitter”. For me glitter=love.

  • That Guy

    I had an art teacher like you. Lazy idiot almost made me give up art.

    I guess the oh-so-hard chore of cleaning up glitter takes precedence over instilling a joy and love of art in children. Good job =T

  • Claudfin

    Do NOT hate glitter. I’m a glitter convert. I use glue pens but they are kind of pricy and I supervise closely because it can get MESSY> I have a small class at cultural center rather than a 20+ classroom which might be why I like glitter. AND this lovely artist who embellishes her illustrations with glitter and sequins.

  • crazy blonde

    I agree that glitter can be messy but you can make gorgeous works of art with it I should know I’ve done it and loved it I’m a art student in high school and many of you might say it’s not complex enough for high school art it can be a amazing medium so keep ur minds open to it you may be pleasently surprised