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Geography Fun with a Salt Dough Map of the United States

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.
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)

Geography Fun with a Salt Dough Map

Salt map

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 us map

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!

painting salt dough map

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.

hands on geography project with easy to make salt dough map

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.

 

16 Printable Country Studies for Kids - children will have fun learning about countries around the world with this fun resource perfect for pre k, kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, grade 5, and grade 6 including Kenya, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Netherlands, Mexico, China, Philippines, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Chile, Colombia, Australia, and Costa Rica. FREE Printable Maps for kids -blank maps of the world, africa, asia, australia, south america, north america, united states, antarctica, Europe and more. Include blank maps and labeled maps. Use them with any social studies / geography program with kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, and 7th grade students to visualize the world at a glance or dive deep into finding countries, continents, rivers / mountains, oceans, etc. Includes both blank printable maps and labeled as well. tralia, united states, europe and more both blank and labeled for kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, elementary, middle school, and high school #printablemaps #geography #homeschooling   FREE Lego Challenge Cards - free printable STEAM education uses lego or duplo bricks to help students learn about famous buildings and landmarks from around the world. This fun learning activity is great for parents, teachers, school at home and homeschoolers from preschool, pre k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade students.

Geography for Kids

Looking for more resources and free worksheets to teach students about geography for kids? You will love these coloring sheets, printable maps, books, activities and games:

us presidents coloring pagesFREE Printable 50 Us States coloring pages These free U.S. Presidents Worksheets are a great way for children to practice and improve their knowledge of the Presidents of the United States as well as work on their research and handwriting skills. This history for kids activity is perfect for kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade kids learning about American history, preparing for Presidential Elections for kids, or celebrating Presidents Day. american symbols worksheets

United States Lesson for Kids

Help children learn about the great country of the United States with these free printables and resources:

Vikings for Kid s- this is a fun hands on history unit that will help make history come alive including history activities, history crafts, free history printables and more for learning about early explorers #vikings #history #homeschooling Join us as we discover what it was like in Valley Forge during the American Revolutionary War with these fun hands-on Revolutionary War for Kids activities. This fun history for kids lesson includes rolling cartridges activity, cold feet activity, dragon pistols, and other Revolutionary War Project Ideas, lots of great book recommendations, and a free printable revolutionary war lapbook with important dates and people. This is a fun American history for kids unit for kindergartners, first graders, 2nd graders, 3rd graders, 4th graders, 5th graders, and 6th graders. Oregon-Trail-History-for-Kids Learn all about the Seventies for kids with this American History for Kids reader for kids to color and learn! Learn about life in the 1970s with elementary age students from pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade students.  Simply print pdf file with 1970s for kids for kids to learn about life in the 70s while having fun coloring the cute pictures and learning about platform shoes, pet rocks, the beginning of Star Wars, TV and the Presidents of the US during this decade.

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 worksheetssight word worksheetsfree alphabet printables, and cvc word activities for kids of all ages!

About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com and www.preschoolplayandlearn.com

2 Comments

  • Hi there!
    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!
    Kristyn

    • It has been a while and honestly don’t know where I got the elevation map – I’d try googling it and looking under images 😉 Yes – it took a whole recipe to make the map.

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