Here is just ONE way you can make a topographical map - indeed, this is how they are currently made at Garden of Francis!
|The completed map|
|Plaster of paris cloth strips|
pan of warm water
placed over styrofoam peanuts glued to the board
Draw the outline from the regions puzzle map (or eye-ball it if you've done a thousand times over or are using a board different size from your puzzle map ;) )
Glue on the styrofoam peanuts (actual styrofoam, not the bio-degrading ones (they dissolve when wet) - or use pieces of aluminum foil or another material that won't decompose when wet and will hold its form. You're make the line of mountains in the east (along Perea) and the line of mountains through the core of Israel, ensuring that Mount Carmel has height (the point that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea, east of Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee).
You don't have to deal with slope because that happens naturally with the plaster of paris cloth.
We use craft sticks for our symbols, so we take a sharp knife or a pair of scissors and press into the plaster of paris layers when it is firm but not entirely dry yet - about 10 minutes of wait-time. Then we take a smaller piece of plaster of paris cloth, fold it in half, wrap it around a spare craft stick saved for this purpose and press it into the hole. A few times of sliding it in and out and smoothing it all down, creates a nice hole for the fresh craft sticks later (please note, it likes to tighten up when drying - and sometimes even once more after that - so you just use a craft stick inserted in and gently wiggle it back and forth to open it up again!).
|Paint the water!|
|Layers of glue on the land - sprinkle on some sandbox sand - tap off the extra.|
When dry double-check all areas look nice.
|Some sand likes to stick to the water. Use a dry paintbrush or blush brush or similar.|
Time to polyurethane.
Use a water-based polyurethane as the oil based ones leave an amber tint to everything.
|Paint the symbols (mounted onto half-length craft sticks)|
Make the name labels.
|Unpainted symbols in an optional add-on box.|
For making this yourself, it is nice to have two boxes:
one for the symbols (younger children)
one for the name-labels (older children returning to the work)