How to Make a Cookie Dough Map!

Posted on 17 Comments

Do you and your kids wish you were Rip Van Winkle so you could take a 20-year snooze rather than read one more chapter in that boring history textbook?  I’ve been there. You’re dragging. Your kids are dragging.  Maybe it’s time to bring your kids’ homeschool education to life by adding some PUNCH to your homeschooling. If you are just reading, writing, and mathing, you all need a break! To jazz up your studies, I’ll teach you how to make a Cookie Dough Map.  You’re welcome.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, I can barely get the time to teach the “have tos”! I don’t have time or energy for those kinds of messy projects!

But rather than thinking of activities like cookie dough maps as time-wasters, you might be surprised that they often cement learning in your kids’ brains. Keep reading to find out why.

homeschool boy with apron excited about making a cookie dough map

When your kids MAKE something like a cookie dough map, there’s a different kind of dynamic that takes place.  Brain research says that children learn more when actively involved in learning. Instead of listening to you talk about it or reading about it themselves.  When you incorporate cookie dough maps into your history studies, for example, your kids are using more than just their ears or their eyes. They are:

  • listening and processing instructions
  • talking to each other and you while they are making the maps (or making one together)
  • using their hands to create the dough, build the map, and make the labels
  • practicing research skills to find the information they need to create the map
  • employing critical thinking skills as they figure out how to reproduce a two-dimensional map in cookie dough
  • using their mouths and taste buds when they eat some of the dough, chocolate chips, M&Ms, or whatever you are using for landforms and labels — and you know they’re gonna do that! That’s what makes it fun!

Here’s an example of when to make a cookie dough map

So, let’s say you’re studying Ancient Egypt.  To cement the geography of Ancient Egypt, you’ll have your kids make cookie dough map(s), including labeling the following:

  • the bordering seas-Mediterranean and the Dead Sea
  • Lower and Upper Egypt (and have your kids find out why Lower Egypt is closer to the top of the map while Upper Egypt is closer to the bottom!)
  • locations of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings, the Temples of Luxor, Hatshepsut, Ramses II, and Ramses III, Abydos
  • the cities of Giza, Cairo, Memphis, Amarna, Thebes, Abydos

Additional Notes: 1. If you have been reading books about Ancient Egypt (as a family read aloud or individually), note the names of cities and places you’ve read about and make sure they’re included on the map. 2. Feel free to simplify or add to these ideas depending on the ages of your kids. 

I know it’s a messy endeavor, but if it’s helping your kids actually learn, isn’t it worth it?

The recipe below makes several tasty peanut butter-flavored maps.  The recipe yields a few larger or a plethora of smaller maps.

Keep reading after the recipe to see map ideas per historical period!

Recipe for Cookie Dough Map

  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups white corn syrup

Mix all ingredients together and put portions on wax paper if you are creating smaller maps,  or want to freeze portions for future small maps.   For one or more large maps, you will need sturdy cardboard (or perhaps several layers of cardboard glued together) for a base.  You can also use a large plastic cutting board.

General decoration ideas for cookie dough maps

  • blue icing or white icing with blue glitter for lakes and oceans
  • green sprinkles for forested areas
  • cinnamon sugar for deserts
  • chocolate chips for mountain ranges
  • black or red licorice strips for rivers
  • Red Hots for capitals
  • M&Ms for major cities
  • toothpicks with paper flags taped to them with names of cities, locations, or landforms

Especially for a large map, making a map key is helpful.

Map Ideas Across History

The following ideas are taken from our Unit Program Tools and Daily Lesson Plans:

Ancients (Creation to AD 476)

  • Ancient China, showing the Great Wall and major cities, rivers, deserts, and other landforms
  • Roman Empire at its height of influence


Middle Ages (476-1453)
  • Chart the raiding Vikings’ favorite routes from Scandinavia to Great Britain, labeling the major cities and routes traveled by raiding Vikings
  • the Mediterranean World as it was during this time, labeling major cities, landforms, and trade routes


Renaissance & Reformation (1450-1685)
  • Italy, labeling the city-states and their major cities. Including images of their leaders. (You don’t have to create those out of Cookie Dough. 🙂
  • Europe, showing the countries and cities where Protestantism had a foothold. Use toothpicks with paper flags to mark where key events took place, such as:
    • Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the church door in Wittenburg

More Cookie Dough Map ideas to help you homeschool history

Colonization (1620-1770)
  • World map showing the triangular slave trade routes between the colonies, the West Indies, Africa, and Europe
  • U.S. map of the 13 colonies showing the location of natural resources in each area


Revolutions (1750-1800)
  • U.S. depicting the Revolutionary War’s major battles
  • France showing the battles of the French Revolution


Westward Expansion (1750-1860)
  • U.S. showing Lewis and Clark’s route to and from the Pacific Ocean
  • World map showing the colonies of Great Britain during this period of history


Civil War (1750-1880)
  • U.S. showing the locations of the major battles
  • U.S. depicting the Confederate states and their dates of succession


Immigration (1850-1910)
  • World map showing areas of missionary efforts during this period. Include image of missionaries.
  • World map identifying areas of conflict during this time. (Examples: Boer War, Crimean War, Boxer Rebellion, etc.)


Modern (1910-present)
  • World map – choose WWI or WWII and depict the major battles with dates
  • World map identifying the primary religion of different areas

After making cookie dough maps, have your kids show and tell about it to anyone you can find to listen! (Giving your children a chance to review what they learned and better retain what they learned.)

And make sure you take a picture of your cookie dough map before it is gone!

Have you ever made cookie dough maps? Tell me about it in the comments!

Happy Mapmaking!

17 thoughts on “How to Make a Cookie Dough Map!

  1. I remember doing this as a homeschooling child and LOVED it 🙂

    1. We did have fun making those, didn’t we? Thank you for commenting, Aliece! 😘

  2. How long and at what degree do you bake the cookies?

    1. Billie, you just let the dough dry instead of cooking it. Have fun!

  3. We have done this a couple of times with great success using sugar cookie dough. Hershey kisses become large mountains and chocolate chips smaller hills. After learning general geography terms, my kids each created a fictional land, complete with mountains, rivers, islands, a bay, straight, etc. Each element was marked with toothpick flags. Another time we added cities and rivers to our cookie dough state map. Lots of fun to make and eat.

    1. Hi Andrea, what a fantastic idea to have your kids each create a fictional land! How fun. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love this idea! I’ll be modifying it for our gluten-free, peanut-free home!

    1. Sounds good, ElizaBeth – if you wouldn’t mind sharing your recipe, I would be happy to post it. We have been working on going gluten-free for awhile but haven’t around to these non-essentials yet. 🙂

  5. We really like the cookie dough map idea! This is one to use over and over. My little ones were so exicted about it! Thanks so much for the idea.

  6. I absolutely LOVE this activity!!!! I saw something similar on another website while researching Ancient Egypt. She used sugar cookies but this seems easy and the recipe sounds yummy. I want to make Ancient Egypt cookies with my daughter but we’ll have to do it next week. We might use crushed graham crackers to represent the Sahara Desert and butterscotch chocolate chips to represent the pyramids of Giza. I was thinking blue licorice, blue icing, or blue sour patch strips (not sure what they are called) for the Nile River. I am still jotting down my ideas. Alyssa will love doing this and helping me bake. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Wow! What a great idea! My kids will love this! I wonder..use gingerbread cookie cutters and decorate people according to country or time period that you are studying. We WILL do this. Thanks for sharing:)

    1. Yes, Patricia, there is nothing like a little cookie dough to liven things up a bit. 🙂 That is a great idea about using gingerbread cookie dough to make and decorate people according to country/time period!

  8. My girls would love this! We are studying deserts right now, and I am wondering if we could use this to show where the deserts are around the world. I will have to think on that and give it a try! Thank you for the reciepe!

  9. This is a cute idea that I am sure my kids will love (and mom too yum yum)!

  10. Love this idea!! My five y/o would definitely enjoy making this while we read our history!!

  11. A cookie dough map sounds much more appealing than a salt map (which I have had terrible success with)!

  12. I really like this idea! I usually avoid messy crafts, but you really made this one sound fun! I like the recipe, and I appreciate the decorating ideas. I would not have thought of them – how fun!

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