Note to those searching for information on how to make a salt map (which according to my blog stats is a suprisingly large number of people): I’ve included the instructions at the end of this post.
Just as the cobbler’s son was rumoured to have no shoes, Soccer Boy was in grave danger of having no school project as of early this evening. A bit of an embarrassing situation for the son of a former teacher and current school administrator.
While I don’t dislike school projects like some of my friends, I do dislike the kids not having a choice of what to do. Usually Soccer Boy’s teacher gives a wide variety of options for their monthly book reports, but this time she required a relief map made from a salt and flour mix. It was to show the setting of his mystery book, and we were also to develop items to serve as clues to solve the mystery. Lovely.
I’ve already learned that Soccer Boy needs a lot more hands-on guidance on these book reports than his sisters did in third grade. From chatting with other parents, I’m gathering this is a fairly common experience with boys. Soccer Boy is a good student, but he’s still not very independent on long-term projects. That’s my goal for the year, getting him to be able to plan out and complete his projects on his own.
From the moment I pulled the assignment sheet for this project out of Soccer Boy’s homework folder, I knew this was a task for Adventure Guy. I handled the written book report work last month. The salt map project clearly had Adventure Guy’s name all over it. The only problem? Adventure Guy tends to as he says, “work best under pressure” and as I say, “procrastinate.” I’ll also admit that in this case, I may be the pot calling the kettle black. Neither of us really wanted to tackle this project last weekend. In my defense, though, I had worked with Soccer Boy to identify the clues he wanted to make and to design the relief map. I just didn’t want to make the thing.
Normally we would have had all this weekend to work, but Adventure Guy and all the kids are going to be out of town tomorrow through Monday, and the project is due Tuesday. Last night, I informed Adventure Guy that the salt map had to be made immediately, since it had to bake for two hours and then be painted tonight. He mixed the dough, and then Dancer Girl, bless her, took over. She loves projects and helped guide Soccer Boy through the process of shaping the dough on his board. At one point, Adventure Guy was hovering, giving unsolicited advice. Dancer Girl gave him a classic teen look, and said, “Dad, I’ve got this.” That being said, Adventure Guy and I beat a hasty retreat upstairs to the study. Once we were out of the way, Dancer Girl whipped both Soccer Boy and his relief map into shape. Two hours of baking later, stage one was complete.
Stage two involved painting the relief map, building houses for it out of popsicle sticks, and painting the houses. Stage three required making the items to serve as “clues.” Once again, Dancer Girl earned her keep by helping Soccer Boy with the painting and house building when they both got home from school. By the time I arrived home, he just needed my guidance on clue making. He put the final painting touches on the houses around 9:30 p.m.
I cannot tell you how happy I am at this point. I’ll be even happier when I see him heading into school on Tuesday with the completed map!
To make a salt map, you’ll need 2 cups flour, 1/2 c. salt, and 3/4 c. water. In a bowl, thoroughly mix together flour and salt. Stir in water. Knead the mixture for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is smooth and pliable. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water. If it is too sticky, add a small amount of flour. Mold the dough into the shapes that you will make up your map. Connect the parts together using either a piece of wood or cardboard as a base (we found that an inexpensive wood cutting board made a great base) and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for about 1 hour, or until hard. After dough is completely cooled, you may then paint your map.