It's true! Hot glue guns are dangerous. The guns themselves can burn fingers as can the hot glue the guns produce.
Does this mean we shouldn't give glue guns to children to use, under supervision?
Do children benefit from using potentially harmful tools?
Everything Is Risky!
The truth is that everything, in one way or another, can be potentially harmful. If you've ever had a paper cut, you'll know how painful that can be.
Raising and teaching children is a balancing act. It's a continual challenge between balancing risk with challenge.
Children Need Risk
While I'd love to wrap my boys in bubble wrap to protect them from harm, I know that I would be harming them by doing so. They need to experience risk, face danger and learn how to handle them.
Of course, in saying that, I continually try to question whether the risk children are taking is appropriate for their developing abilities.
I wouldn't give a baby a hot glue gun just like I wouldn't give a 13 yr old the keys to the car.
Children need challenge. Through challenge, children extend their skills, learn new concepts and increase their self-esteem.
How Do Children Benefit From Using Glue Guns?
When the glue gun came out at our house recently, there was huge excitement. The boys love using the glue gun!
While there are many risks associated with using such a hot tool, the advantages well and truly outweigh the perceived dangers.
The Risks of Using a Glue Gun
- Burns - to children and others around
- Hazards - electrical chord can be tripped over
Benefits of Using a Hot Glue Gun
By using a hot glue gun, children:
- Learn how to properly handle something potentially dangerous like a glue gun
- See they are trusted, by adults, to handle something which they perceive as being dangerous. This results in increased self-esteem.
- Experience success and enhanced creativity. Because the glue sets so quickly, children are able to create things in a way that they couldn't if they were using a liquid glue which requires extended time to set
- Learn from mistakes .. if they do get a little glue on their fingers, they learn very quickly to rub it off, and ... hopefully ... not do it again. We learn from our mistakes. (Of course, I was close by to ensure the gun was handled correctly, placed down safely, etc).
Precautions to Take When Using a Hot Glue Gun
- Set up the area thoughtfully. Position electrical chords where they won't be tripped over .. or tape them to the floor
- Position the gun in a position where it can be handled safely by the children - i.e., facing in a direction where the children can reach the handle easily
- Supervise, supervise, supervise ... and supervise again. Actually, supervision is the essential ingredient in every activity.
The objective of the activity was based more on the process rather than the end product.
The boys were encouraged to make whatever they wanted from the craft sticks, sticking them together with the hot glue gun.
I loved the way they came up with ideas and then put them into action.
They even put a house boat we'd made, into the bath to see if it would float.
Giving children craft sticks and a hot glue gun is a terrific open-ended activity which enables children to create and problem-solve.
So yes, while hot glue guns are dangerous, the benefits outweigh the risks.
We'll be doing this activity again ... as soon as I've been to the store to replenish the glue sticks! We went through a number of them. :o