Hands On Geography for Multiple Ages

The last few weeks we’ve been heavily hands on in geography. What we found out is that when you actually make a model of something you have to pay attention to its qualities. The details. The boundaries and borders. These hands on geography activities also help the child see the big picture. To think of the Creator. Sometimes, a geography project helps children to fix a portion of the history timeline in their minds.

This is a rather long post because I share our adventures from the last few weeks – for our age range of children from four to 15. Really, each of these projects could be a separate post but I wanted you to see how all of these work with multiple ages. I hope these examples will give you some ideas, options, layers and levels of studies for fun geography and history learning in your home. First of all…

How to Make Hands on Geography Work for Multiple Ages

Hands on projects can be messy. Ok, they are messy. Often that is what children love about learning. And often hands on learning sparks the joy needed for further independent study. Just a little paint on a continent prompts a child to linger on Japan. Forming a mountain peak or drawing the line of a river opens up discussion of native Americans and how they taught those early Pilgrims survival tactics.

I tend to group all the messy fun together. When we painted our salt dough map, each child took a  turn. While the paints were out, the younger ones painted pictures just for fun. We also mixed up the goopy, messy ‘glue’ for our paper mache globe. It was all out at once and then was all cleaned up at once.

Maybe while an older one is painting, younger ones can be putting together a geography puzzle. Each can take a turn, pick a state, pick a continent. Contributing and adding a piece to the overall big picture of this world God made for us.

Paper Mache Globe – Ann Voskamp’s A Child’s Geography

My children have been in heaven making the earth! A resource we’ve had for a while but have just this year really delved into is A Child’s Geography (Daniele’s review). I’ve been pleased with how well the reading fits into our One More Thing After Lunch habit.

The information is challenging enough for my older ones to think on. And the hands on activities are engaging for my younger ones – well, for all.

One of the first exercises we did was sort of a Me on the Map type activity. Each child was to draw themselves in the center of the paper, then a house around themselves, then the street they live on, a road, a city, state, country, world… This activity gave us a wonderful perspective on just how small we really are and just how great our God is!

Our times with A Child’s Geography are giving us a really great tour of our Earth. So far we have toured our atmosphere, learning about each layer and its qualities.

And, we have made an earth! Following directions in the book, we used a balloon to make a paper mache globe. You can also follow the simple directions at the Crafty Classroom. This absolutely messy project made a treasure for all time. Only two of my five were willing to put their hands in the ‘glue’ and wrap a balloon in paper. But all took a chunk of the world to recreate. Each looked at a globe and copied a continent, paying attention to features, scale and more.

Salt Dough Maps

The 13 Colonies. One of the wonderful learning tools Tapestry of Grace offers is arts and activities. Every year we make a salt dough map of some kind. We’ve made a salt dough map of an imaginary land and sculpted a map of Italy. This year, along with our study of the 1600s, we created a salt dough map of the 13 colonies.

Using a simple salt dough recipe from Cooks.com, a link offered in the resources on the Tapestry of Grace site, we made our dough. From the start we decided that each child could be in charge of a few colonies. First, I found a piece of discarded cardboard. I opened it up so it would be a flat surface starting point.

Little guy is just enjoying the paints. You could also let your youngest ones have their very own pieces of salt dough. Youngest girl wanted to make some islands. So she shaped them on a paper plate, let them dry for about a week and then painted them any way she liked.

We sketched off the map, noting how small our Georgia was. And as we placed the salt dough over our sketched map, we noted that the western border of the new colonies just might have stopped at the Blue Ridge Mountains. Made perfect sense though it’s not something we read in our assignments.

This time our dough was thin enough to dry in just about a day. So, gathering our acrylic and tempura paints we painted the colonies, Spanish Florida, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. We noted the borders of each colony.

All that is left is to label each state. We also thought that with the empty, open ‘west’ of our map, we would list some facts we’ve learned. Make a display board of it.

Harmony Art Mom’s Free World Geography Plans for High School

Though I have just now been digging into this rich, free resource, I know that my two eldest children will be blessed. Harmony Art Mom’s World Geography for High School offers a tour of the world, week by week and country by country. We’ll be using, as suggested, internet links, Netflix selections, Google Earth, notebooking, geography spines, puzzles and more to learn more about the countries of our world.

It’s looking like puzzles will be the big ‘hands-on’ geography portion for my older students. Though I am sure these world geography studies will match up with more Tapestry of Grace mapping and arts and activities projects.

More geography fun for you

I’ll be back next week with a more ‘regular’ sort of Collage Friday – which may or may not include pond scum…Wrapping up these few weeks of geography projects. Many thanks to our Friday hostesses!

I invite you to subscribe to Hodgepodge (it’s free!) so you won’t miss a homeschool post!


  1. 1


    Tricia — so many wonderful ideas here! I purchased A Child’s Geography last month and we will be delving into it soon. It’s good to see all of your kids are benefitting from the readings and activities. Needless to say, I’ve pinned your post and will be using these ideas! We made a salt dough map when studying the 13 colonies and it really cemented the information for my daughter then. We need to do more hands on learning.

    Thanks for linking, my friend!
    Mary recently posted..Collage Friday – Chicken Pox!My Profile

  2. 4


    Thank you ladies! We have had absolute fun with these activities. Learning SO much – not only about colonies and the earth – but I’m also learning how my children learn best.

  3. 5


    I absolutely love this! Thank you for the ideas. Our homeschool group is doing presentations on Canada and now we have something to do. I never thought of using salt dough for this. Brilliant!
    God bless!

  4. 6


    Confession: We have never done salt dough maps…ever. My boys prefer to use markers and draw so I guess I just adapted to their style of learning. Trying not to feel guilty….

    This looks like a fantastic full and glorious way to learn for all those little hands. I love the colors you used to paint the globe with the shades of blue and green.

    Thanks for sharing my free geography plans. We had such a great year working through those lessons.
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom recently posted..Weekly Wrap-Up: Finally Getting StartedMy Profile

  5. 8


    Great projects! I’m doing World Geography this year, but just with one 9th grader. Another good one we found for Geography practice is the free download at seterra.net .

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      Lauren – are you a southern girl? Because ‘you are somethin’ else!’ is definitely a southern phrase :) Thanks – and I encourage you to just pick one project. Spread it out over several weeks like we did. Make the salt dough and sculpt it one week. Let it dry, paint it another week, let it dry. Label it another… you are bringing out that visual and reinforcing what you are learning from books. (plus bringing out the fun)

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    Love the paper-mache globe. We’ll have to do that this summer for a fun geography review. I put together a unit for world geography a few years ago and we had a blast. The boys had the most fun with our global twister game that I made them. We still pull that out to play with…
    Heather recently posted..Engaging the Senses Boosts Brain PowerMy Profile

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