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Friday, November 16, 2012

{geography lab} salt dough land forms

Are you good at geography? I never understood geography until I was an adult. I think for many kids, geography is too abstract and seems meaningless.

I discovered that I learn places on a map from experience, either traveling or through really amazing stories. The notion of memorizing capitals and countries without a tether to something real is about as alluring to me as cleaning the bathroom. Learning metro and train systems, driving through states, or pouring over maps of the places I read about is how I have come to understand the world and its physicality. 

To that end, my kids recently did a project that would be amazing for anyone learning about a specific place. We made salt dough maps of our state. You can see examples of this project all over Pinterest, so I guess it is a classic that was just under the radar for me. It is so simple. 

1. Make salt dough (recipe at bottom)
2. Print out or draw a map of your geographical area
3. We put our map in a plastic page protector. This meant that we could not cook it in the oven, but had to let it air dry. 
4. Put a ball of dough on the map and shape. We used toothpicks to pull the dough into the perfect coastline. 
5. Add specific features (mountains, prominent water features, bays etc.)
6. Let dry. (During this time, we pulled out the map and watercolored the ocean)
7. Paint landform.

You can make these and store them in pizza boxes if you want.

The physical connection to the the land form makes understanding our state so much easier. My kids completely get that there is a high ridge that runs down Florida. (And how that affected the early animals who lived here and why we can find shark teeth in the middle of the state). 

Have you done this with your kids?

What would be the defining feature for your state?

Make salt dough

1 cup salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup warm water

mix and knead for 5 minutes.

air dry or bake at 200 (the time depends on the thickness, so check every 20 minutes)

we paint ours with acrylic craft paint and then seal with a spray varnish

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