Australia Salt-Dough Map – Hands-on Geography

Learning the geographical features of the continent is fun and engaging with hands-on activities. In this post, I am going to share how we discovered the physical features of Australia with a salt-dough map.

When we study continents and countries, we like to present the world view from an eagle’s eye – start from a broad perspective look at a larger picture and then zoom in and focus on details that fascinate the students.

Instead of giving all the information and filling in children’s minds with a bunch of facts, we create an environment in which they use their hands, curiosity, and available resources to ask questions, collaborate, find answers, make connections and draw conclusions on their own accord.

Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up

This week we decided to make a salt-dough map of Australia to learn about the physical features of the country. Our circumstances allowed for children of various ages to join in the fun. In the process children practiced their grace and courtesy, they gave each other suggestions, instructed each other, and shared facts. My role was to provide necessary equipment and resources, give clear directions, make it safe, step back and observe.

Often when we initiate a group project we involve as many resources as possible and extend it for as long as necessary. Children find and reserve library books on the topic, look up educational videos to watch, we reenact events.

HERE IS WHAT WE USED To create a salt-dough map of Australia :

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of table salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • approximately 1/3 cup of tap water was added to the dough until we reached the desired consistency when the dough wasn’t sticking to the hands
  • rolling pin, measuring cup
  • paints
  • toothpicks
  • paper for making labels
  • physical map of Australia
  • outline of Australia
  • butter knife
  • tray or board

Here is what we did

  1. Mixed all the ingredients to make salt dough
  2. Rolled the dough
  3. Covered the dough with a map of Australia and cut around it. Please note we do have Tasmania here, we just painted the Bass Strait instead of making a separate island on the map
  4. Used leftover dough to make mountain ranges
  5. Using Australia’s physical map as a reference children painted rivers, lakes, planes, and other geographical features
  6. Children made labels on pieces of paper and glue them around toothpicks
  7. Inserted the label pins to mark various features of the country

Our map turned out a bit small but it suited perfectly for what I was hoping to accomplish based on the learning outcomes. Next time I will make sure we don’t make the map so thin and use more dough. Younger children got disengaged when it came to drawing labels. We will be looking into it in the next couple of days, we will watch videos about different states, use figurines to locate animals on the map, and learn about all the different land and water forms of Australia.

My oldest student started writing and making landmarks and features of the land which she is going to continue to do in the next couple of weeks until we have the map covered in as many labels as possible.

So as you can see, it is still an ongoing project we are going to build upon and follow up on until we are ready to move to the next country of interest.

Here are some of the learning resources about Australia you might like to check for your classroom and that we used during our study of Australia

Australia / Oceania Preschool Hands-on Activities

Australia Oceania printables

Australia/Oceania Montessori-inspired printable set filled with hands-on skill reinforcement activities for preschool and kindergarten students – fine motor, cutting, push pinning, tracing. Please note whist this resource contains flags, map printables, and images of traditional outfits of the whole continent of Oceania, the animals, and photographic cards mainly present the country of Australia.

Here is what’s included:

Map of Oceania for coloring
Animals of Australia pin poking and tracing exercise (15 animals)
Animals of Australia coloring and tracing exercise (15 animals)
Animals of Australia cutting strips (one page)
3 Groups of Mammals – monotremes, marsupials, and placentals poster, 3 x label cards, 13 x animal cards
Color matching clip cards with flags of the Oceania countries (16 cards)
Matching clip cards with traditional outfits of Oceania (16 labeled cards)
Matching quantity to numerals clip cards with native plants of Oceania themed clipart (8 labeled cards)
Shape matching clip cards with landmarks of Oceania (8 labeled cards)
Lacing cards Australia themed clipart images (4 cards)
Introduction to Australia (4 picture posters and label cards featuring photographs)

37 pages

NB This printable is also included in the money-saving bundle – Australia Oceania Continent Bundle. If you have purchased the bundle in the past, you don’t need to purchase this printable as well.

Purchase this resource here or

find it on Teachers Pay Teachers

learning resources you might find helpful in your classroom

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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