Grade: all

#1299. Edible Topographical Geography

Social Studies, level: all
Posted Tue Sep 14 11:05:51 PDT 1999 by mara (
Storysong Productions, Cupertino, California
Materials Required: large cookie sheet, graham crakers, cake icing, sprinkels, candies
Activity Time: one hour
Concepts Taught: Tactile geography

I teach ... but I am also a mother.

My daughter was terrified of taking her 3rd grade test on the geography of California. She didn't seem to understand anything they had been talking or reading about. So we went to the supermarket. We bought: graham crakers, vanilla cake icing, blue sprinkles, yellow sprinkles, green food coloring, mini marshmallows, hershey kisses, flower shaped sprinkles, and red licorice.

We came home and created a map of California. She took the test the next day and got a 97%! We told her teacher how she 'studied' and the teacher thought it was such a good idea she asked if my daughter and I would do it with the entire class! Here's to some right brain teaching techniques!

Use a large foil sheet (we used one approx. 15" x 10" -- the size will also depend upon what state, country, etc, you are creating).

Line the sheet with GRAHAM CRACKERS. (Living here in California and knowing about fault lines, it really looked a little like the earth's crust!) Cover the graham crackers with an even layer of WHITE CAKE ICING. This will be your base.

Cut the LICORICE STICKS lengthwise in half. This may not be necessary but that way they will be rounded on top and flat on the part you put into the cake icing. Lay out the basic shape of the state, country, etc. you are going to be creating. a)SKETCH IT out first on paper (to scale).This is a good time to use a ruler to try and get the correct sizing. For California we realized that one part of the state was approximately 2x the size of one of the other borders. We therefore used 1 licorice stick for the small border and 2 for the longer side. b) Then lay the licorice sticks on the drawing ... c) then move it over to the cake icing.

Now comes the really fun part. Making the mountains, rivers, valleys, deserts etc. Decide what it is you want to show. For California we were showing the 4 major regions - Mountains, Central Valley, Coast and Desert. There were 2 Mountain areas we wanted to show. One slightly lower than the other. For the lower Mountains we used MINI MARSHMALLOWS (and colored them with GREEN FOOD COLORING). For the higher Sierra's we used the marshmallows but added the HERSHEY KISSES on top (using cake icing as 'glue'). The Central Valley (where we grow most of our crops) we used FLOWER SHAPED SPRINKLES. The Desert was represented by YELLOW SPRINKLES. The Coast was mostly just the white icing. We divided the different regions up by drawing thin lines using BLACK CAKE ICING from a tube.

The Pacific Ocean was made with BLUE SPRINKLES. Borders were all labeled by making a small paper sign that we attached to a toothpick and stuck into a mini marshmallow. The marshmallow was then stuck onto the cake icing in the appropriate place.

Don't forget to take a picture of the map, with the artist(s) BEFORE you begin to eat it. The maps can be kept for a couple of days and not go bad.