In our house, the glue gun is king.
I use mine more than any other tool I own and Finn (age 4) uses his several times a day. I should preface here that mine is a high heat glue gun (20wts) and Finn's, is a low heat version (10wts).
Why the hell do we love them so much and why do I think they are great for kids?
Little imaginations work fast! With regular glue you have to do things in stages, but with a glue gun you can keep pace with a stream of inspiration. It is so satisfying for mini makers to see a project they are imagining come to life at their fingertips. No waiting for glue to dry and no sticky fingers.
Finn calls making thing in this way 'Inventing' and it really does feel like that. I like to think of it as kind of like sketching with objects. There is a real freedom to it as the glue dries so quickly that there is no time to second guess a decision. Sometimes the balance either literally or figuratively isn't quite right and I love watching Finn add object after object until he gets it just right.
Again because there is no drying time projects can be played with immediately. I find Finn is much more likely to play with a project he has just finished making than one he may made on another day.
Practically, constructing with loose parts and recyclables can be tricky. The pieces can be round or uneven and often they are heavy. While regular glue is OK in some instances more often than not it is just not strong enough or practical enough to use for the whole project.
Buy aren't they dangerous? I don't personally think so. Finn and I spent a while working on inventions together with me on glue gun duty and he on art direction before I bought him his own, but really with the low heat versions, there is little chance of a serious injury. The glue while hot, will not really burn skin and little hands learn quickly once they have had a few hiccups.
We do have a few rules. Finn has to ask me to switch it on and off at the power point and we generally try and rest the gun in a jar or on a piece of card while in use as the glue can be a bit drippy.
A WARNING: It is seriously addictive. I have lost count of how many fantasy vehicles and sculptures Finn has made and we have had to set up a mini show room to house them in the attic. You will also most likely also never be allowed to throw anything away as basically anything can be used as a construction materials once you have the gun at your fingertips. You have been warned!