Use modeling clay to help children conceptualize geographic formations. Most children will enjoy working with modeling clay and when you use air-drying modeling clay, there is no need to bake the clay to harden it. Help children create a mountain out of modeling clay, allow the clay to dry and then paint it with craft paints to make it look like a real mountain.
Remove the air-dry clay from the package. Moisten your hands to prevent sticking and knead the clay to make it soft and pliable.
Place a mound of clay onto the plywood platform and begin to shape it into a cone-shaped mountain with your hands. Add more clay to make one mountain the desired size or make several smaller mountains on the platform as a mountain range.
Use your fingers to begin to make finer details in the clay. Create ridges along the sides of the mountain(s) and define the valleys between the mountains if you have more than one. Make the sides of the mountains vary between steep sides and then gradual slopes. Often mountains are very steep up near the tops and then the mountainside slopes gradually near the bottom. Designate a tree line on the mountains by making a craggy and rocky area up near the top of the mountain and more smooth sides on the bottom portion where grass is growing.
Work on the details until the mountain looks the way you want it to look. Use modeling tools to make tiny details, if desired.
Place the model of the mountains on the platform in a place where it will be undisturbed for 24 to 48 hours while the clay dries.
Paint the model with the acrylic or tempera paints after the clay has completely dried. Use gray paint to outline rocks near the tops of the mountains. Make the very top of the mountains white as if the mountaintops are snow-covered. At the tree line of the mountains, begin to add brown, tan and green colors to show the vegetation and plant life growing along the sides of the mountains.
Allow the paint to dry completely and then display the mountain model in a prominent location.