How to Make a Volcano for Kids

Young scientist conducts a scientific experiment

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Tips for Making a Fun, Erupting Volcano Science Experiment at Home

Some of the best experiments let your kids get a little messy. The homemade volcano is no exception. Not only is the volcano experiment fun, but it gives your kids a hands-on way to learn about science. Whip up your own volcano with materials you already have at home for an inexpensive and exciting activity.

Making the Volcano Base

Before you can make an eruption, you need the volcano structure. This part of the experiment is very flexible. Start with a bottle or jar to hold the ingredients that actually cause the eruption. A container with a wide opening makes it easier to add the ingredients. Then, you can build the mountain-like volcano structure around it using several different materials.

Choose from one of these options:

  • A party hat in a cone shape with the top point cut off
  • Clay shaped like a volcano around the container
  • Papier-mâché built up around the container
  • Wet sand or soil packed around the container
  • Poster board rolled into a wide cone shape
  • Other moldable materials you have on hand

Put the container in a shallow pan to keep the mess from going all over your space. Use the material to build the volcano shape, being careful not to cover the opening of the container. If you use papier-mâché, ball up newspaper to create the basic shape. Keep it in place with tape. Put your layer of papier-mâché over the base newspaper shape.

Adding Decorations

Make your volcano realistic-looking with extra details. The material you use is a factor in how to add details. For a clay volcano, you might carve details into the clay before it hardens to make it look like a rocky volcano. A coat of paint on hardened clay, poster board or papier-mâché gives the structure a mountain-like look. You can also add accents such as mini trees, rocks and mini dinosaur toys to any type of volcano.

Creating the Eruption

Creating the volcano structure is fun, but you're finally ready for the step the kids are excited about: Make it erupt. For this part, you need the following materials:

  • Water
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Orange or red food coloring
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • A funnel

Use the following steps to create the eruption:

  1. Carefully

    fill your container almost to the top with warm water. Use a funnel for easier pouring.
    2. Squirt a few drops of food coloring into the water.  3. Squeeze about six drops of liquid dish soap into the water. 4. Pour about 2 tablespoons of baking soda into the container using a dry funnel if the opening is small. 5. Pour about 1/4 cup of vinegar into the volcano through a clean funnel. Do this quickly, and move out of the way because the eruption happens quickly.

Extending the Fun

Just one eruption is never enough. Have fun with the volcano by testing different theories. You might change the amounts of each ingredient to see if it affects the results. Swap out ingredients for different materials like soda water instead of plain water. Challenge older kids to make the eruption bigger or longer. Encourage your kids to get creative with their experiments.