Easy and fun to make, salt dough maps are a great visual aid for learning the geography of a country and a fun, hands-on tool for making history come alive.
We like to make our maps on pizza boxes. They’re sturdy, easily accessible (most pizza places are happy to give you one if you just ask) and the perfect size.
Ingredients Needed to Make a Salt Dough Map:
- one or two boxes of salt
- a map of your country, enlarged to 11X17
- a pencil
- a Sharpie marker
How to Make a Salt Dough Map:
Step 1: Color the entire back of your map with a lead pencil to make the transfer to the pizza box easier to see.
Step 3: Remove the map to reveal a light pencil outline. Trace this outline with the Sharpie marker.
Step 4 (optional): Spray paint the inside of the pizza box blue to create an ocean effect. If yours is a land-locked country, you might want to use a tan or green color to indicate land. You can paint over the Sharpie marker. As long as you don’t paint heavily, the outline will still be visible.
Step 5: Mix equal parts flour and salt together to make the salt dough. Mix just enough water to create a dough that is a Play-doh-like consistency. I usually use the entire box of salt, approximately 3-4 cups.
Place the dough on the pizza box and shape into the outline. When you’re finished, you can build the dough up to depict mountains and valleys, using a topographical map as a guide.
While most of your map should be basically to scale, having traced a printed map as your guide, it’s fun to add not-so-scaled highlights. For example, Brianna added The Leaning Tower of Pisa to our map of Italy (it’s the brown protrusion you’ll see) and she added Mt. Fuji to Japan last year.
You can also add toothpicks at points of interest, to which you can later add labels to make flag markers.
Step 6: Place the map in the sun for several hours to dry or place in the oven on 200 degrees (F). If you use the oven, be sure to supervise carefully since you’re baking a painted pizza box. The dough should become hard enough that it does not “give” when you press on it.
Step 7: Paint your map (we use tempera or acrylic paint).
That’s it! You now have a wonderful tool for studying your country of choice and a really awesome keepsake of your studies. Here is last year’s map of Japan:
Have you and your kids ever made a salt dough map?