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Maps and Geography



I am looking for some new hands on ideas for the study of maps and geography (landforms, oceans, etc). Any idea will be very much appreciated!



Junior Member
????? Oceans

This won't help with your activity search, but in your study of the oceans, do you teach four or five? I've taught the four oceans in 2nd grade music with a song for quite a few years, and the 4th grade teacher just told me one of her students informed her there are five oceans. Sure enough, as of 2000, the Southern Ocean is the 5th. What really got her steamed is that they just bought NEW s.s. texts in 2003, and the information is not updated in there! I'm wondering how this is being taught by others?


Senior Member
One thing I did this year that my kids really loved was make a salt and flour dough map. (We did it on the United States and where the Native American groups were) We made the dough together, then put it on a pre-copied map. We put the mountains and deserts on the US map, but you could also do strictly a landforms map. It turns out 3D and really cool. The kids loved making the maps and it makes the landforms/geography really stand out in their head. It is very visual and hands on. (if you would like the receipe for the dough, I will be glad to give it to you. Just let me know!)


dough recipe

Hi, I would like a copy of the dough recipe if you wouldn't mind! Can it be different colors? Thanks! jreigle13@adelphia.net


Senior Member
grid maps

We are beginning our study of maps this week and begin with grid maps. We actually created a grid map outside using masking tape. We placed objects inside the grid. Each student was given either the name of the object or the coordinates to find it. If they were given the object, students provided me with the coordinates. If they were given the coordinates, students provided me the name of the object.


Full Member
1 salt dough recipe--google for others!

Salt Dough—fun for all ages!

Note: there are many variations on this simple recipe. Our advice is to experiment until you get exactly what you want.

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1-1/2 cups hot water (from tap)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (optional)

Mix the salt and flour together, then gradually add the water until the dough becomes elastic. (Some recipes call for 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil at this point.) If your mixture turns out too sticky, simply add more flour. If it turns out too crumbly, simply add more water. Knead the dough until it’s a good consistency—then get out rolling pins, cups, bowls, straws, cookie cutters, plastic utensils, and let the fun begin!

If you want colored dough, mix food coloring, powdered drink mix, or paint into the water before adding it to the dry ingredients. Or you can paint your creations after baking them at 200 degrees. Baking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of the object, but make sure that all of it is hard. If the dough starts to darken before cooking is complete, cover with aluminum foil. Painted keepsakes will need to be sealed on all sides with clear varnish or polyurethane spray.

You can store your salt dough in a sealed container in the refrigerator, but usually not more than a couple of days.


Senior Member
Recipe I use

Here is the recipe I use.

3 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1 tablespoon of cream of tarter
1 1/2 cups of water
food coloring

Mix the flour, salt and cream of tarter together (the cream is what really makes the dough stick together and not crack). Before putting the water in the dry mixture, put a few drops of food coloring in it. Then mix the water in. This evenly distributes the color.

You can use it right then and there. If you need to store it, keep it in a plastic baggie. This kept in my classroom (in the baggie) for two weeks...and we still could use it!!

The dough dries hard and sticks together well. If you make it and it feels really sticky or grainy, there is too much salt. Just add flour until the dough has the consistency of playdough.

(I hope this make sense...it was a long day at school!!)


how much dough?

How much do you make for your whole class to make a map? I would like them to do several landforms each. Thanks!


Senior Member

Latitude Rhymes with "Fatitude" and people grow fat from side to side or east to west just like the Latitude lines. Longitude runs from North to South. People are long and tall...


Geography Songs

I have collected several great songs that help me teach geography (what I'm doing right now). Here's a link to my website:



Senior Member
I made about 4 batches for my class and that was enough to make the entire US (about 8 x 11 size) as well as 3 mountain ranges and the desert. You could probably make about that many batches and be fine for your class. If you want to make it all in one color, it paints easily.


landform ideas

We are just finishing our unit on landforms, and did several things. First, we did the usual make a volcano activity. Then we did salt dough landforms. They chose a few landforms and created them out of dough, and colored them after they dried. They can be painted or colored with markers. We also did a landform flip chart. We used a different color of paper for each landform and then cut each at a different height to represent the landform. For example, the desert was in brown and was cut wavy on top, then we added sand to it. The mountains were cut at the top like peaks. Then they were all stapled together at the bottom. I also had my kids do a reasearch project on landforms. They were assigned a type, and they had to research a famous landform, do the research, and make a model out of junk (anything they wanted to use) then present it to the class. All of these helped my kids so much!


Full Member
songs I use

It's not really hands on, but I use songs as well. Dr. Jean has a great song that helps students learn the continents and the oceans (four, not five!). We would sing the song, and someone would come to the map and point to the different locations as we sang the words. It really helped my children learn them- and the knowledge has stuck with them.


Fla. Teacher

New Member
Carpet from lake shore

I have a carpet with squares on from Lakeshore Learning in my class room and I just decided to get some masking tape out and make a grid out of it to practice in class. Thank you for the inspiration :)