Edible Physical Maps: Hands-on Activity

Let’s set the record straight. Kids love food. Kids love touching food. Kids love learning with food. Anytime that I can incorporate food in an activity is a hit in my book. Want a fun, engaging, food filled activity that students can actively learn about the landforms of the United States and later eat their creations? This is the perfect activity!

I recently got this idea from my coworker who has been doing this for years. We combined our classes together and had students bring in the items needed. Whatever the students did not bring, we provided.

Materials Needed: (One class size)

  • 2 large jars peanut butter
  • 2 bags of powdered sugar
  • Copies of a U.S. map displaying regions and mountain ranges
  • 2 bags of pull apart Twizzlers
  • 2 bags of M&M’s
  • 2 bags of chocolate chips
  • 4 containers of green sprinkles
  • 4 tubes of blue icing
  • 3 rolls of wax paper
  • cardboard boxes for safe transportation home

First, you have to prep. Yes, this activity is fun but some work has to go into the process.

In a large bowl, mix peanut butter and powdered sugar. Mix together until the mixture forms into a big ball and is not sticky. You may have to use your hands to get the dough to the consistency needed. It will take about 20-30 minutes. This is when parent volunteers come in handy!

Tip: If you have a peanut allergy, you can substitute the peanut butter for almond butter, hazelnut butter or another type of butter product.

Once the dough is ready, pull apart the dough into baseball sized balls for each student.

Print out a copies of a U.S. map displaying the different regions and mountain ranges.

Each student also needs wax paper long enough to cover the map copy. The wax paper will serve as a window so students can see the map through the wax paper and use it to guide them in their edible map creations.

Each student will receive a ball of dough and use their fingers to spread the dough to form the U.S. Once students are done, they will slide the paper map from underneath the wax paper. They can still use the map to reference.

Tip: I don’t allow students to eat any of the ingredients during the creation process. Everyone has to wait until they get home to eat.

Bring the following ingredients out one at a time so students have time to place the items in the correct spots and do not fell overwhelmed or rushed.

The outline of the U.S. and region boarders are created using pull apart Twizzlers.

Chocolate chips represent the mountain ranges.

Green sprinkles are used to represent the prairie states.

M&M’s represent the deserts.

Blue frosting is used for oceans and the great lakes.

Once finished, place the finished products in a cardboard box cutout and seal with wax paper for safe travels.

Boom! You have an edible physical map.