I have a one year old and a two year old. If you know anything about toddlers, you may be able to guess, then, that our arts and crafts consist primarily of variations on coloring/painting, and lots of cutting and pasting things together!
My girls are especially interested in the pasting part of things. They love to glue paper to paper, things onto paper, things onto things — you get the idea. As long as the project involves some form of paste or glue, they want in on the fun. So, I decided to start making our own kid-friendly, natural glue to keep up with toddler demand!
But, why go to the trouble of DIYing paste when we could just buy a bottle of Elmers?
I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you!
Why we avoid white school glue:
- It will get eaten, and though School Glue has “non-toxic” written on its label, I wouldn’t exactly call the petroleum-based polymer it’s made with food-safe.
- It is messy. (And I mean MESSY.) Cleaning up school glue is NO fun. When wet, white glue is sticky, gooey, and finds its way onto everything! When dry it has to be scrubbed, soaked, or peeled off of everything that it got onto (including toddler bodies).
- It is hard to spread evenly. White glue is great for squeezing onto a very specific area with its narrow spout, but it is not ideal for spreading over an entire sheet of paper or covering a large area.
- Did I mention it is messy and will get eaten? Yeah.
Here’s why we love our homemade glue:
- It is gluten-free. This is actually a major perk since a lot of homemade glues are made with all purpose flour, and more and more kids have allergies to gluten. And as a very low-grains family (and one that doesn’t offer grains and gluten to our babes for the first couple of years), wheat flour isn’t even an item we stock.
- It is vegan. This is also great as many DIY alternatives to flour-based glue are gelatin-based.
- It is completely edible and non-toxic. And let’s face it, friends, my toddlers are going to eat it. Like dip-a-spoon-in-and-eat-it status.
- It is great for hand manipulation. My kids love using this paste because it feels like a thick finger paint. It easily can cover a big surface area and has the spreadable benefits of using a glue stick, with the fun of using fingers.
- It is super easy to clean up. A warm, wet wash rag will easily wipe this off of windows, furniture, clothes, kid limbs… and no peeling!
Are you convinced yet?
Well, how about if I tell you that it takes less than 5 minutes to make and uses only 3 ingredients?
Yeah, I thought so! Let’s get making, friends.
Kid-friendly Glue/Paste Recipe
- 3 Tbsp Organic Arrowroot Powder (the one I buy)
- 1/2 Tbsp Evaporated Cane Juice or Organic Sugar (or I like to order it discounted from Thrive market)
- 3/4 cup Distilled Water
- 1 tsp White Vinegar
- Combine the arrowroot powder, evaporated cane juice, and 2-3 Tbsp of the water in a small saucepan, but be sure NOT to turn on the heat yet! These ingredients should easily mix together to a milk-like consistency.
- Stir in the remaining water and set heat to medium-high heat. Watch closely, stirring every 30 seconds or so.
- After a couple of minutes you will notice the mixture begin to rapidly thicken. Stir constantly until the mixture resembles a very thick sauce (almost starting to gel).
- Remove from heat and add in vinegar.
- Allow to cool to room temperature before giving a final stir and transferring to an air-tight container.
Keep the glue tightly sealed in a cool area. We tend to use up a batch within a week or two, and have yet to see it “go bad.” Still, a main ingredient is water (major breeding ground for bacteria) and there are no real preservatives, so storing in the fridge wouldn’t be a horrible option if you plan on making it last for more than a week.
This paste is very easily spreadable with fingers, making it super kid-friendly! I’d recommend using a paint brush or craft stick to dip into your container (to minimize contamination), and then suggest using the paint brush or fingers to apply the glue. Less is more – a thin layer will go a long way! Too thick of a layer will still stick, but will wrinkle your paper just like regular school glue would.