Glue Stick or Glue Bottle? That is the Question.

Glue is an issue in every art classroom.  We are forever teaching our students (at every age) how to use glue, how much to use and how to care for it.  I have always been a fan of the glue bottle, but other teachers I know won’t touch the stuff!  Some classrooms are pro glue stick, while others use nothing but watered down glue and paint brushes.  Some art teachers have a gluing station and others use glue mats under student work.  There are SO MANY ways to get your glue on!

Let’s take a minute to compare the pros and cons of the bottle verses the stick – two of the most commonly used glue methods out there:

Glue Comparison Chart

I invite you to weigh in: which glue is the one for you?


Heather Crockett

Heather is AOE’s Project Manager and an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment. She is a veteran teacher in the art room and at the graduate level.


  • Melissa Enderle

    I use both with my elementary students. I find each to be better for certain techniques and materials. After having puddle incidents with some Kinders I found and tried out the Tap n’ Glue caps, which Sax then added into their catalog. No need to open the top – just press down. They are worth the initial investment (they fit over regular sized bottles). It saved precious money and preserved kids’ art.

  • I use both. Glue sticks when we are doing something that I don’t want to see the glue lines through and glue bottle when I really want to hold something down.

  • I use mostly high quality glue sticks in my elementary room, but when I want white glue, I use the no clog tip bottles from crayola. They’re awesome!

    • Kristyn

      I had the Crayola glue, and really liked it. However, I found that they did not last as long as Elemer’s and when there was 1/3 left the kids couldn’t get the glue out. You also can’t refill them with other glues. I guess they just weren’t cost effective enough for me.

      • Hmm..Kristyn. Maybe we had different bottles, because I do refill mine…with Elmer’s ;)

    • What is your favorite glue stick?

  • Christy Humpal

    I use white glue, but use home-made sponge-containers – the glue soaks into the sponge and kids tap their shapes on the sponge to put an even coat on them – the stick of white glue, and the convenience of a glue-stick… seriously love them – I blogged about my glue sponges here:

    • I think I saw your glue sponges on Pinterest, small world! What age students do you teach with this method? Do older students transition to glue bottles?
      Heather Crockett

      • Christy Humpal

        I teach K-3, and the glue sponges are pretty much what we always use for collage – I still have the glue bottles for glue-line printing, or gluing things too large for the sponges, so they do get to use glue bottles – by the time they do, though – pretty much all the kids have the fine motor skills and control to use them successfully –

  • Lisa

    I use both in my classroom. I love glue sticks personally, but using them with students drives me crazy. 1) they cover their entire paper with glue, slowly, and by the time they stick it to another piece, it’s almost dried and they end up falling apart. 2) they don’t use enough glue and they fall apart. 3) they use so much that it clumps and I run out all the time. 4) students press so hard their paper tears. No matter how much I tell the students how to properly use them, doesn’t seem to click. Maybe that’s my fault?
    Wet glue has its faults and definitely not useful if wanting things really flat, but most of my students are really good about not using too much, or using their finger to spread out the bigger globs. They also know to wipe it off the table right away. But then, even though they know to shut and wipe the bottle tip at the end of class, many don’t so they end up clogged. I might have to check out those Tap n Glue caps.
    Good and bad to each!

  • Lynn

    I am anxious to try the glue sponge that I saw on Pinterest. I have the Tap-n-Glue lids but after the first use, they clog up just like the regular lids. they do regulate the amount of glue you can use since you only get a dot with each tap. As far as recycling old glue sticks…Pinterest has something about filling them with old melted crayons and using them to color with. Haven’t tried it but I pinned it as a good idea.

    • Annmarie

      I have used the glue sponges; I thought they’d be a life saver, but I found the sponges stuck to the paper and kept popping out! Trying to think of what I could use to anchor them, without gluing them in there, because I want to be able to wash them from time to time. That’s my experience that I thought I’d share! :)

      • Alyse Roe

        I use the glue sponges almost every day with my elementary kids. I bought economy dried sponges, and cut them to fit into Tupperware containers. you soak the sponges and rinse out any chemicals, wring them out, and then pour glue on top. Each table gets two sponge containers, and they put the lid on when they’re done (The students named the glue sponges ‘Sponge Bob’ so I tell them to not take him out of his house, and cover him so he doesn’t dry out. I can spritz the sponges with water if they’re getting a bit dry. The kids mostly just stick their paper on top of the sponge and press to apply the glue.

  • Rina_k6art

    I didn’t use vegetable oil, but I did pry the orange tips off the wet glue bottles and coated the inner white tip with Vaseline. It has worked pretty well so far – no big clogs.

  • Staci Nofziger

    I usually use the jumbo UHU purple glue sticks… the trick is getting them to press hard enough to get enough of the paper, but not so hard that they get chunks of glue stick on their paper… also getting around the edges of the piece so it can’t be pulled off when dried. Then I teach them to RUB with a flat hand (not pound on the artwork!) to get it to stick really well. We use elmers glue for projects with glue outlines though too!

  • Vonnie

    I can’t use the glue sticks – things just don’t stay stuck! So I came up with this solution. The kids think it is so funny. You have to ‘kiss’ the paper with the glue top but you can’t ‘hug’ the bottle with two hands! We also discuss making ‘snail trails’. Gluing is a fine motor skill and eye/hand coordination skill that they really need to learn. These strategies aren’t perfect, but they do inspire the kids to pay more attention to what they are doing. :)

    • Very creative! I like the way you link gluing to things kids already understand.
      Heather Crockett

  • Lisa R.

    I take a plastic lid (like from a sour cream or cottage cheese container) & squeeze some elmer’s glue onto the inside of the lid. Each table group gets one of these to share.
    The only things I need to teach the students are:
    1. Use just one finger in the glue, and
    2. “Dot-dot-not-a lot!”
    This has worked brilliantly for 13 years in my elementary art class. Clean up is a cinch because when the glue dries on the lid I can peel it off and toss it the next morning. If students find it icky on their finger and want to wash, I encourage them to just use less. I then tell them to rub their hands together until it dries and balls up and we just brush it away.

  • Michele Gorham

    GLUE BOTTLES!! I teach proper techniques from Pre-k up to 6th-it takes routine but the cost and end product are worth it in the end. I developed a ‘glue test’ for my students to introduce them to glue bottles (its on my TpT page). I buy glue bottles for a penny at staples each summer and re-fill with elmers and their pump. Bottles are stored upright in a bin with matboard dividers so it is impossible for them to tip over and spill. I have an anchor chart up all year on how to open and close the glue(my students listen for the ‘pftttt’), fix it if it is clogged (pick the glue booger off), and what shapes get what type of glue (dots, lines or shapes) .

  • Mrs. Kirkebye

    O’Glue!!!! The best of both worlds. Couldn’t live without it.

  • ced1106

    Old discussion, but Woodland Scenics uses squeeze bottles (just do a search on “squeeze bottles”), the ones where you cut off the tip and have a plastic cap on. I swear, the glue “bottle” is designed so that little ones don’t spurt glue all over the place, and don’t have a cap to lose. Sorta like how the QWERTY keyboard was made to slow down typing. I guess glue dots would be less messy but still safe for kids. Rubber cement would be my favorite, but it’s not safe for the young ‘uns.