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
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.
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)
Salt dough recipe for maps
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!)
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!
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.
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
- Where do I live Printable Activity
- US States for Kids – free worksheets, games, hands-on activities and more for teaching kids about us history and all 50 states
- Country Coloring Pages – Color, Read, and Learn
- Books about Countries around the World
- Tons of Free Printable Maps for Kids
- Roll into Geography – Printable Geography Games
- Geography Treasure Hunt Activity
- Landmarks for Kids Lego Challenge Cards
- Children around the World printable worksheets
- Landforms Worksheets pdf free
- Snap Geography Games for Kids
- Roll into Geography Games for Kids – simple printable game to learn about continents
- Country Coloring Pages
See all of our history lessons for kids of all ages to make learning FUN!