In this first installment of our Geography Art Series, we are making world salt dough maps!
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My 9th grade homeschooler is taking world geography and art this year. I’m all for teaching across the curriculum to develop deeper learning whenever possible, so we decided to align these two subjects and do art projects that go along with the areas of the world we are studying.
To make this even more fun, we are meeting with my daughter’s friend (and her mom and little brother) once a week to do art (and sometimes, cooking) projects together! We’re finding it to be a great way to stay connected during this time of social distancing.
Our first project of the year was a world salt dough map! Now, you may be thinking that salt dough crafts are usually for younger kids, but using this medium to make physical maps is a great way to help your high school students understand topography…and they like getting their hands all gooey and messy, too!
Here’s how we did it:
The Map Base
We’re using Trail Guide to World Geography through GeoMatters for our homeschool geography curriculum this year. As part of their digital resources, they had a one-page printable physical world map. I increased the print size on this to 300% bigger and printed it to use as a base. You may need to print your map bigger or smaller, depending on the surface your using to build your map. We cut up an Amazon box that had sides that were about 2’x3’.
Ours used 12 sheets of paper for each map. I trimmed the edges and matched it up like a puzzle as I taped it to the box. This gave a great base where the girls could see the physical features of the land as they were building their maps.
The Salt Dough Recipe
Along with Trail Guide to World Geography, we’re using The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide. There are TONS of ideas for teaching geography to all ages in this book, and that’s where we got our salt dough map idea and the salt dough recipe.
- 2 parts flour
- 1 part salt
- 1 part water
We added just a little cream of tartar to help with the texture, too.
Our maps were pretty big, and I was expecting to need a lot of flour and salt. We made two batches, each with 4 cups flour, 2 cups salt, and two cups water. We had a lot left over, so they made a volcano out of it. 😊
I will say that I had envisioned the girls using salt dough for the oceans, as well as the land, but they opted to only use it for the land and just paint the paper for the oceans. They probably would have come a lot closer to using all of the salt dough if they had used it for the entire map.
A Two-Day Project
It took several hours to build the salt dough maps. After they were built, they needed to dry before they could be painted. When our friends came back the next week, the maps were dry and ready to be painted. Although, I can’t say the same for the volcano…I don’t think that thing would have ever dried completely!
The girls spent all afternoon painting. Honestly, I think they wanted to add more details, but they just ran out of time. We could have stretched it out another week, but they were ready to move on to another project. My daughter said she might work on hers some more on her own.
Geography Art is for Everyone
Remember how I said my daughter’s friend brings her little brother along? This little guy is in kindergarten, and he was able to participate and make his own salt dough map, too!
That’s one of the best things about art…it can be enjoyed by everyone!
What other kinds of geography art will we be doing this year?
We’ve gotten lots of ideas from Geography Through Ar