For the last several years, the kids and I have made salt dough maps for the countries we study for our homeschool group’s Around the World Day. Last year, one of the families in our group had made a paper mache map from a kit they’d purchased. We decided we’d try our hand at that this year, winging it as far as how-to’s. We thought it turned out pretty good.
Supplies for making a paper mache map
- shredded paper
- heavy, flat piece of cardboard (we usually use pizza boxes)
- enlarged map of country (we like 11X17)
- paint (acrylic works best)
How to make a paper mache map
Step 1: Trace you country map onto the heavy cardboard (see salt dough map post for more detail on how we do this step):
Step 2: Mix glue (we used most of a bottle of Elmer’s) and enough water to make a soupy paste. Add in enough paper to complete your project. We used paper from our shredder and added several large handfuls.
If I had it to do over again, I think I would have mixed the paper and enough water to make it moist in the blender first, to make a sort of “paper pulp” or let the paper sit in the glue/water mixture long enough to absorb some of it and get a little mushy. I think it would have made shaping it easier.
Step 3: Shape the paper mache into the country outline, being sure to build up mountainous areas. Allow to dry thoroughly (ours took 2 or 3 days to dry completely).
Step 4: Paint paper mache portion of map. Use paint or colored pencils to fill in surrounding countries and waterways (optional) and use a Sharpie to label points of interest. (Prior to painting with acrylic, we put a layer of Kilz on the paper mache portion of our map to keep it from soaking up so much paint.)
I hope this is an activity that you and your family will enjoy. We’ve always found that making maps really helps us to get a much better understanding of geography when we’re doing country studies.