Inside the Earth is hot molten material.  We see evidence of this in places where the heat and the melted rock leak to the surface through cracks and weak spots.  We call these places volcanoes.

This is a hot pool in Yellowstone park called "dragon's cavern".

This is a hot pool in Yellowstone park called “dragon’s cavern”.  Yellowstone has no obvious volcano, but the whole park is sitting on a hot spot, a place that could become a super volcano at any moment.  There are many hot pools and geysers as well as earthquakes that are evidence of this.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Introduce volcanoes with the traditional baking soda and vinegar “eruption”, which though certainly not a real eruption, is fun and memorable.  After all, it’s a classic for a reason.

Make a two different models of volcanoes.

 To make this happen you need to build your “volcano” base, leaving a nice big hole in the center.  Ours is made of homemade moon sand.  You can also use salt dough, play dough, dirt outside in a mound or just a tall thin container.

Next put about 2 T. of baking soda down in the cone of your volcano and pour in the vinegar.  We mixed some red food coloring in with our vinegar for “effect”.

Cut-Away Model Volcanoes

Then we made model volcanoes out of salt dough and painted them.  There are three main types of volcanoes and several sub-types.  The three main types are composite, shield, and cinder cone.  Have your kids look up details on one type of volcano and create a model of that type.

Make a two different models of volcanoes.

This is a model of a shield volcano which has formed an island in the middle of the ocean.

 Salt Dough: make one recipe for each child

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. salt

Mix together and add water until the dough just sticks together.  If you put in too much water, just add a little more flour.  Shape it then let it dry for a couple of days or speed it along by putting it in a warm oven (200 deg F) for an hour or so.  After it’s dry and cool you can paint it.

As we made the volcano models we looked at books to help us get the “anatomy” correct, making the correct sorts of shapes and the right sort of underground piping.

Volcano Books & Movie

We also read volcano books and watched volcano movies.  My favorites are:


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One Response to Volcanoes

  1. Shelly Terrell says:

    Thank you for this great lesson! It is always great to couple reading with a hands-on activity. This really helps students understand the process. I love the pics as well!

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