Montessori DIY Land & Water Forms

This is a project was completely inspired by some amazing DIY's of this material I'd found online! 
The Land & Water Trays are part of the early Montessori Geography work and are a hands on opportunity for your child to experience the look and feel of land and water forms found in nature. 
They were a bit of a process but fun to make!

I bought a set of basic baking trays from the dollar store.  I decided to try and mold the sides in modelling clay and then to pour the molds with a quick set plaster that you can find at Home Depot (it's in what looks like a milk carton).  This worked amazingly well!  When it dried, I simply pulled the clay from the sides, and it left behind clean crisp molds. I left these to completely dry overnight.

I spray primed the entire trays really well.  Then I sprayed them with a water based blue paint. Finally gave them a few coats of a water based sealer to be sure they were water tight. 

 I did buy the wood sandpaper cards, and printed the nomenclature cards.  You can make your own of find many for free online.

These trays are beautiful and fun to use. I am careful in storing these and we take care not to drop them because they are plaster. They have stood up incredibly well! Should we get any chips we just touch up the paint.

  You can also construct our own out of play dough in trays to further for more fun! 

Land & Water Nomenclature Cards can be found for free here & here & here and command/lesson cards here also.  
You can make the sandpaper cards or you can purchase them for $18 here.
Should you want to buy these you can find them reasonably priced here.

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  1. These look fantastic! Great job :)

  2. Wow you make it sound so easy! I am getting nervous just thinking about making these!

  3. The only thing I would suggest is putting a piece of cloth or something in between when you store them to keep them from chipping.
    Send me a link when you get them done!!!!

  4. These look great! I am thinking I couuld maybe do these :) I was considering JUST having my kiddos make them on their own with modeling clay when we covered this, and that would be a good idea, but this sounds easy enough that it might just work! Thanks for the idea!

    1. You could easily do that!!! There are many ideas out there for this work. If you make them let me know how they turn out!! We did some early introductions with the trays, but will be using them again and going into more detail very soon:)

  5. awesome. how is it lasting? Are the land and water forms still in good condition? I'm just curious as to how long these last. Also, how much did this cost? I'm trying to compare the cost of making to the cost of buying. Thanks for sharing.

    1. We have taken good care of ours, and store them carefully with foam drawer liner mats in between them. If you are worried about that plaster factor making them with modeling clay (not play dough) is a great alternative. Real modeling clay does not dissolve the way play dough will. I bought the trays at the dollar store, and the plaster was about $7 at Home Depot. My paint and clear coat was left over from other material making projects but would be about $5 ea. Depending on where you live, there is the cost of purchasing the plastic forms, taxes and shipping so for us it was a good choice to make them.

  6. Good morning Cherine,

    Would it be possible to request an order of the land and water forms from you? I've looked at countless vendors but they the ones I've found do not look aesthetically pleasing. I'm setting up my classroom for September. I don't have as much time to hand make the materials. Please let me know if it would be possible. Thank you.


  7. Good morning to you Andrea!

    I completely hear you, and did not find any that I found aesthetically pleasing. We are not making these for sale at this time. Ours are still in amazing condition, but have only been used by our two children. I'm not sure how they would stand up in a class environment. We are looking at different options to produce some materials, and will post if this becomes viable for us to do in the future.

    I greatly appreciate your writing and asking. This is a material we have loved!
    I wish you the very best in setting up your classroom!

    1. I understand. Thank you so much for your prompt response and for being helpful and inspiring. I am so happy I found your website.

      Warm regards,


I greatly appreciate your friendly comments and feedback. I love to see what others are making, so please feel free to include a links and share your site with us!!! If you have any questions regarding any of the materials we have made...I'd love to help!!! Thank you for visiting us:)



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