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Curricula and Learning Links - Geography

Geography Crafts and Cooking

How to Make a Salt Dough Map

By Sharon T.

What You Need:

  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 poster board or cardboard
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 mixing spoon
  • 3 cups flour

On a sheet of cardboard, draw an outline of the state. Spread the salt dough onto the outline, making mountains and other geographical features such as rivers. Allow the map to dry, and then paint.

My only suggestion is to add the water slowly (cold water works o.k. too-the salt is just a little bit grainier) because depending on the weather conditions depends on how much water you need, just make the the flour a dough consistnacy, too dry and it will crack easily when moved. They can also work with their hands wet to help shape the dough as they work instead of their dry hands drawing the water out of the dough. Also, make sure the cardboard is thick, because tag board or something thing will warp with the wet dough and the kids will be unhappy. We have made them on old leftover pieces of plywood too--I can't remember now how well the dough stuck to it-- that was a while ago, we've always used cut up thick cardboard boxes since then. Also, it will probably take several batches of dough-depending on the size of your map- so be sure to have enough flour on hand.

I would allow 2-5 days for the map to dry , depending on the amount of moisture in the air. If you have a gas oven with a pilot lite you can put it in there for a couple of hours to help. I think I heated our electric oven to around 250 and then turned it off--I put in the maps after it had cooled some-just to let the warm air dry the maps out a bit more. We painted them with poster paints and they turned out very bright, another time we did one with water colors (minimal water, as dry a brush as possible) and the colors came out very washed out and faded. I just glanced at the ones my kids did last spring and they did them on some kind of thick, foam board (like the stuff you might us to make a science display) and they are still holding together very well. Have fun!