How To Make A Volcano For Kids That Actually Erupts

How To Make A Volcano With Your Kids That Literally Bubbles Over With Fun

March 19, 2021 Updated July 9, 2021

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At-home science experiments are always a hit with kids — and making a homemade volcano erupt is a super-cool opportunity for young children to watch and learn about chemical reactions. As a bonus, this DIY activity helps kids better understand the spectacular power of such geological formations. The best part? You don’t have to wait until a school science fair to figure out how to make a volcano!

Making your own homemade volcano is not only fun for the whole family, but it’s also really (and thankfully!) easy. It just requires some basic materials that you can find around the home. Below, we provide the best tips and info on how to make a volcano at home using a few different methods. Try one, or try them all!

How to Make a Volcano With Paper

Making a volcano with paper is one of the most popular options. Admittedly, it makes more of a mess since you’re bringing papier-mache into the mix. Papier-mache is an art technique in which you create molds out of shredded paper with papier-mache glue or paste, which is a basic mixture of flour and water.

Materials:

  • Papier-mache paste (one part all-purpose white flour, two parts water)
  • An empty plastic bottle
  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • A cardboard box or similar to help contain the volcano (and its eruption)
  • Colored paints
  • Waterproof varnish (optional, but a nice touch)

Instructions:

  1. Place your empty plastic bottle in the center of your cardboard box (remove the lid).
  2. Crumple up some newspaper and place it all around the bottle, forming it into a makeshift volcano mound.
  3. Using masking tape, secure the bottle or cup upright in the center of the mound to create a frame. Wrapping it in tape helps to give you a smooth exterior to build out your volcano.
  4. Tear your remaining newspaper into strips and smaller pieces. Saturate each strip of the newspaper by dipping it into the paste. (Alternatively, you can brush the paper with the paste using a paintbrush.) As you saturate each strip, use your fingers to smooth it to the mound. Keep doing this until you’ve covered the entire form and base with your remaining strips.
  5. Let it dry fully. While your kiddo will probably drive you crazy with impatience, you should plan to let the mound dry for 24 hours. If it dries and you’re not in love with the way it looks, you can add more strips. Just keep in mind that means waiting another 24 hours!
  6. When it’s fully dried, get creative and start painting your volcano. Again, let it dry.
  7. Once your mountain is ready, prepare for your eruption.

How to Make a Volcano With Clay

For a different and smaller option, you might want to try getting your hands dirty by making a volcano with clay.

Materials:

  • Paper plate
  • Small disposable cup
  • Masking tape
  • Clay
  • A cardboard box or similar to help contain the volcano (and its eruption)

Instructions:

  1. Make a hole at the top of the cup for “lava” to come out of.
  2. With masking tape, attach that cup to the center of your paper plate.
  3. Using either homemade clay or store-bought clay, form a mountain on the plate around the cup. The mountain should completely cover the side of the cup.
  4. The hole in your cup is the crater where the lava comes out, so try not to get any clay in it.
  5. Once your mountain is ready, prepare for your eruption.

How to Make a DIY Volcano Erupt

Ingredients:

  • One tablespoon of baking soda
  • Warm water (acts as an accelerant)
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring (red, yellow, orange)

Instructions:

  1. First, pour the water into your volcano crater (cup).
  2. Add three to four drops of dishwashing soap and three to four drops of food coloring.
  3. Stir in the baking soda.
  4. Pour some vinegar into the other small disposable cup so that cup is almost one-third full.
  5. Quickly pour the vinegar into your volcano crater, step back, and then watch your volcano erupt.

How does the volcano erupt? Thanks to some simple science! The chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda creates a gas called carbon dioxide. It’s the same type of chemical reaction that causes carbonation in sodas. What happens with the volcano is what happens when you shake up a soda bottle — there isn’t enough room in the bottle for the gas to spread out, so it leaves through the opening very quickly, causing an eruption!

How to Make Ketchup lava

Make your volcano even more unique by adding ketchup. Lava is red and bubbles over slowly and dramatically. To get this realistic reaction, use a bottle of ketchup for the base of your eruption. Science fact: Ketchup has vinegar in it. When you pour baking soda into the tomato favorite it creates a fizzy red volcanic eruption that will make your kids think it’s the real thing. 

How do you make a Coke and Mentos volcano?

If you ever want to make a quick volcanic eruption that’ll blow your little one’s mind, grab a roll of Mentos and a bottle of Coke. Make a clay mold into a volcanic structure and pour a bottle of coke into it. When you’re ready for the explosion, drop a roll of Mentos into the volcano and back up. It’s best to do this experiment outside.

Volcano Cake with Dry Ice

Here’s a treat everyone will love at the science fair. A smoking volcano you can eat! So grab your dry ice and cake boxes, and check out this video on how to make it below.  

Ingredients

  • Two boxes of your favorite cake mix. Feel free to use red velvet or chocolate for a more realistic look. 
  • One cup of vegetable oil
  • Six eggs
  • Three cans of whipped frosting 
  • Plastic cup/empty soda bottle
  • Dry ice 
  • Hot water
  • Cake board
  • Aluminum foil 

Glow in the Dark Volcano

Did you know volcanoes can glow in the dark? Mix one cup of baking soda and glow in the dark paint together. Pour it into your paper mache volcano and when you’re ready for your volcano to erupt, add the vinegar.

You’re going to need the following materials.

  • Baking soda
  • Glow-in-the-dark or fluorescent paint
  • Vinegar
  • Cups
  • Dish soap
  • A blacklight