adventures in babysitting,  artsy fartsy,  Bad Mom,  Beach Bits,  Bug,  crazy stuff

Making Frames and Why you should not let a five year old use a hot glue gun.


I babysat the kids I always babysit last night and for a change I decided to take over a craft for us to do together. They love crafts. Usually we end up making things with their mother’s office supplies that consist of post-it notes, straws, paper plates, staples and tape. I’m creative but even I have trouble coming up with hours of fun with those meager supplies. Believe me, we’ve pretty much exhausted them.

I decided it would be really fun to make picture frames out of cardboard and seashell bits. They live right on the beach so I thought this would make a perfect gift for them to give to their grandmother. We could make them refrigerator magnets. How sweet, right?

They thought it was a dumb idea. I guess five- and six-year-olds are way too cool for fridge magnets. Phooey. They wanted to make goblins and ghosts out of post-it notes and stick them to all the door handles in the house. That’s fun too but not really what I had in mind. Then the five-year-old started drawing droplets of blood in red marker and posting them down the wall. He was rattling on about how scared his parents were going to be when they came home at 2 o’clock in the morning and saw that someone had been murdered in the hallway via post-it note. Somebody’s been watching too many Scooby-Doo movies, I think.

So I had pull out the big guns. And by big guns I mean my evil friend Mr. GLUE GUN.

say hello to my little friend

A little side note about glue guns: I love glue guns. They are my favorite tool to use for gluing. Quick, fast, dangerous and dirty. We could have used some sort of wood glue or paste but the hold is just so, how do you say…half-assed, you know? When you’re positioning something somewhat heavy onto something that is going to end up vertical, you really need a glue that is going to set fast and well OR you need a lot of time on your hands to let the not-so-sticky glue sit around and dry for days and days. Who’s got time for that? Not me. Not five-, six- and two-year-olds either.

But that’s not really where this story was going. I decided to break out the glue gun because I knew it was something exciting that would capture the imagination of my young post-it note terrorist. He’s a boy. Boys like guns. Sure enough, the minute the glue started to drop, he was there like a fly on a piece of poop. I had no intention of letting him use the glue gun because that would just be irresponsible. What am I going to do next time? Bring a nail gun? Yeah. That wasn’t going to happen. Except he started whining and bouncing off the walls like boys do. He had every argument in the book to prove why he was capable of using a glue gun.

“I’ve used them thousands of times,” he said confidently.

“When? Who let you use a glue gun?”

“Mrs Something-something always lets me use a glue gun to glue the beads onto our something something something at school…”

Hmm…I thought. Could he be telling the truth? Do they let five-year-olds use glue guns at private school? I never went to private school so I figure they do all sorts of fancy stuff there. They have church on Thursdays and I think they ride horses and play tennis and learn how to make martinis too. That’s where all the sophisticated kids learn those things, right?

And then there’s the part of me that isn’t closed-minded about letting kids use tools before they are “old enough.” I learned to paint at six, with oil paint. It worked out for me. I let Baby Bug use scissors and except that time she cut her bangs, she’s been very good at it. Maybe using a glue gun would work out for the post-it-note terrorist. Maybe he’s so crazy and bouncy because he’s not challenged enough or something.

Or maybe I’m just stupid and should probably be fired as a babysitter.

I let him use it.

And…he burned himself.

Right on the inner part of his arm where it bends. You know that tender part that has no callouses? I felt so bad. He was wailing and moaning and bouncing off the walls. (That’s what he does. Ask me about the time I took him to Starbucks and he climbed up on that little shelf where they set the drinks.) We put ice on it, we put a cool towel on it. Nothing really made it feel better. Thankfully it was a very tiny burn and after 30 minutes or so he finally forgot about it.

I didn’t. Lesson learned: kids should not use glue guns until they are able to sustain great amounts of pain without crying. I think I’m barely old enough actually because right after he burned himself, I burned myself on the thumb and it hurt like a bunch of really bad words. It still hurts a day later but it’s slowly turning numb. I guess I could go out and get a cold glue gun but that seems like such a wussy thing to do.

gluing on the shells

So anyway, this post is sort of supposed to be a craft post as well as a day-in the-life-of-Bug-and-SAJ post so maybe you want to know how to make your own seashell picture frames. It’s easy really. You don’t have to use sea shells. You can make a frame with anything glue-able. Rocks, cheerios, dry alphabet pasta, beads, buttons…pretty much anything you want.

beach bit frame

We’ve been collecting small broken pieces of shells for a long time so I thought this would be fun. Toby thought it was a little bit busy for a picture frame but I think he’s just a stuffy old man with no imagination. He does have a point though so I tried to use a photo that was just Bug’s face and not a lot of background detail going on.

cardboard makes a great frame for cheap!

All you do is cut two pieces of cardboard the same size. I cut mine three inches by three inches because I’m partial to squares. Then cut a small square (or rectangle if you’re making a rectangle frame) into the top piece. An exacto knife will do the trick. Glue your shells (or beads or whatever) onto that top piece, place your photo between the two, glue them together, glue a magnet to the back and tah-dah! You’re done. Easy-peasy. If you are five, do not use a glue gun. Ask your mom to do it for you. Or use some other kind of glue and take your time.

sticking on the eyeballs

The next day Bug and I decided to make ooglie-booglie eyeball frames. Because everything is better with ooglie-booglie eyeballs of course! In the spirit of Halloween we painted them black and then Bug had to add green. I think they turned out pretty cool. We’ll give them to my nieces for Halloween.

oooooooga booooooga!

Ooooooooga Booooooooga!


  • TheAngelForever

    So glad that you survived the babysitting experience. Life with a five year old is always challenging, I am living it right now.

    I know that kids were never allowed to use glue guns at any of the schools (public or private) that I worked at no matter what grade (PreK-8 at least). Too much liability there and we were specifically told not to even use them with kids around. I love to use them, but they are quite nerve wracking none the less.

    I love your ooglie booglie eyeball frames, I just may have to go and get some craft supplies to do that with my boys tomorrow. Thanks for the great idea :)

  • Sally

    When my brother was four or five, my dad was making some kind of art by melting crayons in a hot glue gun and he let us watch. At some point he needed to set the glue gun down for a bit, so he handed it to my brother and said “whatever you do, don’t tip this backwards.” So of course, that was the FIRST thing my brother did, and hot, melty crayon ran all down his arm. I was about three at the time, but I still remember rushing to the hospital so quickly I didn’t have time to put my shoes on. My brother had bandages all over his arm for what seemed like a long time (so at least a day or two.)
    It could have been so much worse.
    Also, I really like your googly eye picture frames. I might have to make some of those.

  • Abby

    You are SUCH a COOL MOM! You are exactly the kind of momma I’m going to be when Baby Beck is old enough to be crafty and such. Love the ooogly booogly eye project!

  • Gayle

    I’m a wuss and afraid of the hot glue gun! I bought a low temp gun and that has worked on most things really well.

    Love your ooglie booglie frames!

  • Jennifer

    Great project. I’ve been in similar predicaments with Emily. She will go on and on about how she can do something. Then, even though I know better, I give in. Anything to stop the begging. Then she ends up with permanent marker all over her face or some other such tragedy that I JUST KNEW would happen. Sometimes the tragedy is worth the 5 minutes of silence procured from giving in :)

  • Sonja

    Ah yes, babysitting misadventures… in my first week as a live-in nanny, one of the boys climbed up on the sink, slipped off, and had to have his chin sewn back together in the ER.

  • BeachMama

    I love the googlie eye frames, they are just so fun! The shell ones are gorgeous too and would nicely add a little beach to my house, but the googlie eyes just crack me up :).

  • bluejaye

    Google eyes….I think we will be doing these at one of our Girl Scout meetings.

    I think we will use glue dots. They cost more but are really fun to use and not hot.

  • Sun-Kissed Savages

    Great, just great!
    With my four kids around, I am so far the only one who has sustained major burns. But then again, I’m also capable of cutting myself with a butter knife. Maybe I shouldn’t own hot or sharp things at all.
    And, yes, I agree– you are a COOL MOM. So much like my own mom, in fact. I don’t know how many times I cut my own hair before she stopped giving me the scissors…and I was, maybe, 3-years old…

  • H

    I started letting my 6year old use a low heat glue gun when she was 4 and she has never burned herself. She is a calm sort of child though,that probably makes a difference! I do make her use it on cookie sheet in case we forget to unplug it and then there are no messes.