Tudors and Stuarts: Explorers – Making a Paper Mache Map of the World

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Last week the children focused their attentions on the reasons for exploring.  I used blank print out maps from Home School in the Woods and asked the children to fill in the continents and oceans, which they did easily.  As I am trying to include the little ones more, I asked A6 to colour in the oceans and the different continents.

Using the maps as an outline I copied the world onto a huge piece of card.  For now I just did the main outline.  The children will be adding more detail as we go along.  Using my outline they used a paper mache mixture to create a thicker, built up outline.  Again, just the simple outline – details would be added as our study progresses.  I’ve included a photo of the paper mache we used.  It is fairly inexpensive dry paper pulp mixed with a small amount of plaster of paris.  You just add water – I eye it as how much you put in depends on how stiff you want the final mixture to be.  For map making I like it stiff:

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Once made the mixture is simply applied to the surface of whatever you wish to mache, in our case the map outline:

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And here is the whole map before it has dried and before it was painted:

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The map was left to dry.  Depending on the thickness of paper mache you use this could take anywhere between over night to a few days.  Our map took a couple of days to dry completely.  Once dry we took it in turns to paint the land green, the oceans blue and the Antarctica white:

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This is a job even little children can do as this type of map making is very forgiving.  Here is the final map:

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And a few close ups:

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These aren’t (as you can probably see) very accurate maps.  I drew free hand and it is hard to get it spot on.  I think National Geographical does a large print out of the world spread over a few pieces of paper if you wanted it to be more accurate.  We do not need it to be that accurate.  Our purpose for creating a map like this is mainly for visualising which route each explorer took and comparing the routes at the end.  We will also be adding geographical formations to the map as we go along.  For this our map will be perfect!

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These maps are so incredibly easy and quick to make and are far less expensive than buying a ready made map of the same size (this one is 8 feet by 4 feet).  In addition to its size we are also able to be very tactile with our home made one.  For example we can add rivers, mountains, plains, deserts; paste on string to show various routes and stick flags on tooth picks and stick them through the map.  Our home made maps are one of our favourite ways to learn about the world around us.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

28 comments

  1. It looks fabulous! I have dim memories of making a papier mache globe for school – I would have been ten or younger, as we lived in our first house at the time – but it didn’t make a lot of impact on me, as my geographical knowledge is still embarrassingly poor. A map like this one would have helped a lot!

  2. Thanks for posting this tutorial, Claire. I think we will definitely try this soon. I’m eagerly looking forward to watching the details appear on your map in future posts (hint hint). Cathy
    ps – I am intrigued by the art mache. Did you find it a better result than making your own? Certainly looks like it saves time and mess which is a good thing 🙂

    1. Personally I find the art mache one of the best materials to have around the house for homeschool, along with clay and plaster. It can be used in so many projects and it dries really hard which means the models retain a greater detail if required. I would always choose it over paper mache. One bag lasts a long time.

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