How to Make a Salt Dough Map

Updated on January 23, 2017

Hands-on Geography

How can a little flour, water, and paint become a fantastic hands-on geography project, full of educational benefits? With salt dough maps, that's how!

Get messy and make a 3D relief map of a country or state with these directions and pictures.

Our State: Alabama

The year we studied American history and made a 50 States Notebook was the same year that we created a state map from salt dough. It was a fun way to study the geography of a state. My daughter chose Alabama.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Completed salt dough map of AlabamaMixing up the salt doughputting salt dough on the map basespreading the doughforming rivers and mountainsforming riverspainting riverssalt dough map paintedadding place names
Completed salt dough map of Alabama
Completed salt dough map of Alabama
Mixing up the salt dough
Mixing up the salt dough
putting salt dough on the map base
putting salt dough on the map base
spreading the dough
spreading the dough
forming rivers and mountains
forming rivers and mountains
forming rivers
forming rivers
painting rivers
painting rivers
salt dough map painted
salt dough map painted
adding place names
adding place names

Salt Dough Recipe

4 cups of flour

2 cups of salt

2 cups of water

2 tablespoons of cream of tartar

Mix with your hands (that's the fun part) until the consistency of playdough. Add more water or flour as necessary.

Step-by-Step Directions

First you need an outline map. Here are my two absolute favorite online map sources:

1. Education Place Outline Maps

2. World Atlas Maps

Put the outline onto a sturdy base of cardboard. We chose to cut out our map and affix it directly to the cardboard. You could draw an outline onto the cardboard, or use carbon paper to trace the outline on from a printed map.

We chose to paint our cardboard first. It ended up getting a bit dusty when the dough was applied, but it was okay.

Besides an outline map, you'll need a physical map as well for forming mountain ranges, rivers, and other landforms.

We made a batch of salt dough while the paint dried: 4 cups flour, 2 cups water, 2 cups salt, and 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar. (The cream of tartar is optional, but does make your dough smooth and less likely to crack.)

Then "Sprite," my daughter, began applying a layer of dough to the outline of Alabama.

She didn't need any help in this process. In fact, I asked her how she would teach someone to do this, and these are the steps she gave me.

1. Get a clump of dough.

2. Make if flat in your hands.

3. Put it on a bare place of the map.

4. Press it down and smooth the edges into any dough already there.

5. Keep pressing it flat to cover more of the map and go right to the edges.

6. You can even use your playdough tool to smooth it out.

Then, once all of Alabama was covered with salt dough, we studied the physical map and identified the mountainous areas. Then Sprite used more dough to build up those areas.

Finally she used this fun playdough tool to make riverbeds in the map.

Before leaving it to dry overnight, we used a toothpick to make holes where we want to place flags identifying various cities, rivers, and mountains. After drying overnight (not totally dry, by the way) Sprite painted the dough.

First the rivers.

Then the land.

And finally detail for the mountains.

Because our cardboard base got a little dusty from the forming the dough, we brushed off the crumbs with a dry brush, and Sprite gave it a final coat of paint.

Here she is with her finished product. The only thing it lacks are the toothpick flags to label the cities, rivers, and mountains.

We used adhesive paper to make the flags. (Of course, if you don't have any, you can simply use glue to hold the paper together.) I drew some outlines of flags, and Sprite wrote in the place names. We cut out the flags, removed the backing from the adhesive paper, and placed a toothpick in the center.

By folding the paper over, you capture the toothpick inside and make a great flag for the salt dough map. I made a FREE printable salt dough map flag template, and you can get it right below this next picture.

Educational Benefits

Is playing with playdough really learning? Well, yes it can be. And here are the ways.

  • If your children read the recipe and make the dough, that builds reading and math skills.
  • This is fun! Motivation is increased with hands-on learning activities.
  • Kinesthetic and tactile learners learn through doing.
  • Your children are sure to remember the topography and outline of whatever area they choose to map with salt dough.

Blank Map Outlines, United States and World

Blank Map Outlines, United States and World
Blank Map Outlines, United States and World

This book contains up to date maps of countries throughout the world, plus a separate map of each state of the United States. Since the maps are blank, they can be tailored to fit individual class needs.These map outlines were designed to supplement a comprehensive study of the world or the United States.

 

Questions & Answers

    Comments

    Submit a Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wehavekids.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wehavekids.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)