Potatoe Mountain Contours

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Activity to help visualise contours by mapping contours onto potatoes and being able to see what the contours look like on a map.


Large baking potatoes
Kitchen knife
Chopping board
'Spacers' small off cuts of plywood or similar


- Prepare large baking potatoes by cutting in half (they need a flat side to be stable. Depending on which way you cut them you can get a variety of shapes and gradients).

- The Scouts take a felt pen. Hold it flat on the table and draw the first contour line all round the potato easiest to hold the pen firmly and move the potato.

- Repeat, but this time with a spacer under the pen (small pieces of plywood)

- Add spacers (equal thickness) and draw contours until you can’t get any more on the potato.

- View the finished mountain from directly above - this is what you would see on the map.

- Point out the steep bits (where contours are close together), the gentle slopes (contours further apart), even slopes (contours evenly spaced), convex slopes (contours close together at the bottom and spread out at the top) and concave slopes (close together at the top, spread out at the bottom).


  • Contours
  • map reading
  • mapping
  • maps

Badge Links

  • Navigator - Contours