Making an Affordable Land and Water Forms Activity

I’ve had the Montessori land and water form trays on a wish list for a long time. The best deal I know of costs $40.23 plus $25.74 shipping for a grand total of $65.97 for these land and water trays from Mindset Learning. Since I’d be buying them for a home and not a school, it’s tough to put that much money toward building a better geography vocabulary for two kids and maybe their friends. So, I’ve found a better, less expensive way to introduce geography terms at home.

Now, the “official” Montessori land and water form trays are exciting to kids because they get to create lakes, straits and other water forms by pouring water.

However, I’ve found that it can be equally exciting for kids to build islands, isthmuses and other land forms by molding them out of salt dough onto paper plates. Then, they can use blue paint to create the water form. This has turned out to be a very affordable land and water forms activity for us. In fact, I made it entirely out of materials that were already on hand. Buying the supplies would be affordable, too. It would cost about $10-$12 with the most expensive thing being the tray.

Here’s a photograph that shows how I’ve set this activity up to be used at any time:

land and water forms (1)

The parts include:

  1. Land and water forms 3-part cards resting in 1/2 an egg carton box. (The cards pictured here are from Montessori Helper, however the Helpful Garden has a beautiful free set.)
  2. Salt dough (2 cups wheat flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water) in a plastic container
  3. Blue tempera paint in a tin
  4. Paintbrush
  5. Example landform project (the isthmus)
  6. Under the isthmus, there are paper plates to make more land and water forms
  7. Everything is organized on a KLACK tray from IKEA

The moment I set this down my daughter started using it. (That’s why the lids to the salt dough and paint containers aren’t shown.) She built an island and a bay for her first two land form projects. Here they are:

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 1.00.09 AM

These projects have definitely solidified what the terms bay and island mean for my daughter. This was evident when we read a picture book set on a bay.

The book was called “Who sank the boat?” by Pamela Allen. Here’s a photo from the inside of the book:

bay book

When my daughter saw the bay in the illustration she ran over to her bay land form project and brought it to the table by our reading chair. When we finished reading the book, my daughter collected little figures for each character in the book and used them with her bay project to reenact the story.

Here’s the end of her reenactment:

The big takeaway here is that for 1/6th the price of official land and water forms, you can teach the same thing and perhaps even have a little more fun.

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