Make learning about maps, countries, and map features fun with this hands on geography activity for preschool, pre k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students. This easy to make Salt Dough Map is a great learning activity for at home or at school. This map activity is such a fun way to teach children about elevation, terrain, mountains, rivers, and more.
Salt dough map of united states
Learning about geography can be boring when you just hand out worksheets, but it can be lots of fun with a hands on Salt Dough Map. Children can make a model of a country, battle, period of history, early explorers, and more. We used our geography activity along with our homeschool history lesson to show the struggles and route of the early pioneers as they headed West. We added mountain, plains, rivers, oceans, and more to learn about the topography of the United States of America, the route towards California in the mid 1800s, and how the US geography impacted traveling in covered wagons.
Whether you are a parent, teacher, or homeschooler you will love this salt map to make social studies come alive. We have our tried and true salt dough recipe for maps. All you need to do is figure out what 3d map you will create with your preschoolers, kindergartners, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, and grade 5 students.
Salt Map Recipe
This is a WONDERUL hands on way to teach kids a little geography! It would be wonderful for a US States for Kids , Geography, History, exploring other countries, or Westward Expansion Unit (like we did above – note the black line that shows the Oregon Trail Route)
We started with a basic Salt Dough recipe of 3/4 cup salt, 1 & 1/4 cup all purpose flour, and 1/2 cup water. This seemed to be the right consistency and it made enough ‘dough’ for 8 x 11 map. It only took about 48-72 hours before it was ready to paint. (which for the thickness – I think that is pretty good!)
Salt dough map
The hardest part for younger kids is getting the shape right. We printed out a map with different colored elevations and put that on a piece of cardboard. We then put our salt dough directly on top of the map. It worked GREAT!
salt and flour map
Then we colored our map by elevation; use tempera paint or acrylic paint. You might want to reprint your original map as a guide. We did some paint mixing to get a variety of different shades. We added some major rivers, surrounding countries (in white so as not to distract from the subject mater) and adjacent oceans.
3d salt dough map
Here is our finished map. My son was so proud of it! And he amazes me at how much he remembers of the details (mountains, rivers, oceans) he added. He even remembers the family vacation I pointed out for him on the map! I definitely recommend making your own Salt Dough Map!
Geography Books for Kids
Explore more about geography with these fun, engaging kids geography books.
Geography for Kids
- Grab this realistic looking Free Printable Passport for Kids
- Free Printable Maps including world map, continents, and country maps with and without labeling
- Ready to dive more in depth? Check out Country Study for Kids – look at 16 countries around the world up close
- Kids can research to learn about other countries with these country worksheets.
- Around the World I Spy Worksheets – learn about 36 countries
- Use Lego to explore famous landmarks in countries for kids
- Research and learn with these free Children around the World Worksheets
- Roll into Geography – Printable Geography Games
- Geography Treasure Hunt Activity
- Landforms Worksheets pdf free
- Snap Geography Games for Kids
- Read, Color and Learn about other countries with FREE country studies including: Vietnam For Kids and Greece for Kids and Peru for Kids and Kenya for Kids and Israel for Kids, plus many more!
- You can find all our FREE printable country coloring pages covering over 36 different nations – or jump right to Spain Coloring Pages, China Coloring Pages, Italy Coloring Pages, Chile Coloring Pages, Germany Coloring Pages, and Costa Rica Coloring Pages
United States Lesson for Kids
Help children learn about the great country of the United States with these free printables and resources:
- Free Presidents of the United States for Kids
- Cute, Free Printable State Coloring Pages
- Printable USA Presidents Coloring Pages
- Voting for Kids – How Americans elect a new president
- Free Presidents Worksheets – Learn about all the American presidents
- US States I Spy Worksheets
- Help kids understand where do I live with this clever printable activity
- Learn about American symbols with these Patriotic American Symbols for Kids
- United States I Spy Worksheets
- How much do you know about USA for Kids? Color the flag, look at a map, discover famous landmarks like the statue of liberty,and more!
- American Symbols Worksheets
- Fireworks Patriotic Craft
- 50 States Worksheets
History Lessons for Kids
Check out one of or MANY engaging, Free history lessons for kids
- Greek Mythology for Kids Printable Book to Read, Color and Learn about the Myths
- Explore American History for kids including lots of fun, hands on activities and free printables
- Dive into Mesopotamia History to learn about Gilgamesh
- 4 week lesson about Early Explorers for Kids
- Learn about castles, knights, and more in this exciting Middle Ages for Kids
- Make a teepee, dig for arrowheads, color our printable books and more in this Native Americans for Kids lessons
- The Colonial America for Kids lesson takes kids on a journey back to the first permanent settlement in America – Jamestown. Students will learn about colonial life with lots of hands on projects like eating Gruel, making a Wattle & Daub house, and creating a tin lantern will make the settlement come alive.
- We will make westward expansion for kids come alive for kids as they learn facts about the time period from about 1783-1898. In addition to learning about the Oregon trail, pony express, gold rush, transcontinental railroad, students will also learn to match animal trails, map the united states, and learn about North American animals too.
- Civil War for Kids – students will learn about slavery, famous Americans from the Civil War, famous battles, and how our nation stayed together. Lesson includes printable worksheets, mapping activities, printable civil war board game and more!
- Learn about US States for Kids – state coloring pages, president coloring pages, state report forms, states and capital printables, and so much more!
- Pennant History Posters to see US History At-a-Glance
- Learn about the Roaring 1920s for Kids – Printable Book to Read, Color, and Learn
- Rosa Parks for Kids Printable Reader to Color and Learn
- Martin Luther King Jr for Kids Printable Reader to Color and Learn
- Titanic for Kids Reader to Color and Learn
- Learn about the Roaring 1920s for Kids – Printable Book to Read, Color, and Learn
- WW1 for Kids Printable to read, color, or Learn. (World War I Flip Book)
- 1930s for Kids – Printable Book about the Golden age of Hollywood, Great Depression for Kids and more to read, color, and learn
- Life in the 1940s America for Kids Reader
- Anne Frank for Kids Printable Reader to read, color, and learn about this Jewish girl who lived behind the wall in Holland during World War 2
- 1950s for Kids Reader to Color, Learn and read about what life was like in America in 1950
- Life in the 1960s for Kids Printable book to read, color and learn about life in the 1960s
- Learn about platform shoes, disco, the beginning of Star Wars and more with this 1970s for kids Reader
- 1980s for kids Reader to read, color, and learn!
- 1990s for Kids Printable Reader filled with information about fashion, technology, Presidents, and more!
- Learn about life for early 2000s Kids with these american history printables to read, color, and learn!
- Review what you’ve leanred with these American History Worksheets (Notebooking)
Looking for more fun, creative ways you can begin your free homeschool? We have over 1,000,000 pages of FREE Printable Worksheets including resources for: pre k worksheets, kindergarten worksheets, 1st grade worksheets, 2nd grade worksheets, 3rd grade worksheets, 4th grade worksheets, 5th grade worksheets, 6th grade worksheets, and more. Plus see our history lessons for kids, printable math games, language arts worksheets, sight word worksheets, free alphabet printables, and cvc word activities for kids of all ages!
I would love to make this salt dough map, but I am missing where you got your elevation printable. Also, did it take the full salt dough recipe for just one map? Thanks!