We have two hands-on volcano activities to share with you today. Both of them help demonstrate how the release of pressure causes lava to flow.
We had already spent a lot of time learning about plate tectonics. Earth’s volcanoes are generally found where Earth’s plates are expanding or converging. We looked closely at the parts of the volcano and also learned about the four types of volcanoes: shield volcanoes, cinder cone volcanoes, composite cone volcanoes, and caldera.
For our first activity, we made small “volcanoes” out of gelatin. To make our molds, we used 1 package of Gelatine (also spelled gelatin) and 1 cup boiling water. Stir til dissolved, pour into small cups or bowls and chill in the fridge for a few hours.
We cut a circle out of a paper plate and poked a hole in the middle before resting the gelatin volcano on top. Then we took a medicine syringe and filled it with water (dyed red). We pressed the water/dye up into the gelatin mold and watched as a “magma chamber” formed. Then we could see streaks as small “vents” were made.
What we didn’t remember at first, was to form a “crack” in our volcano!! Actually, I’m SO, SO glad we forgot because that drove home the point that volcanoes form along plates where there are large cracks in the surface of the Earth. We were unable to get the “lava” to explode out of the top of our volcano, until we got a needle and formed a “crack” in the gelatin! From then on we TRULY understood how/why volcanoes explode!!! So, if you’re willing to get your fingers pretty red (like ours are above)… I highly recommend doing it “wrong” and trying to figure out what went on when much of the “magma” squirts out along the bottom of the volcano.
Then, take a needle, puncture your gelatin volcano and try again!
Of course, we also had to do the well-known baking soda – vinegar volcano. As always, the kids loved this! Don’t forget to mix the dish soap, dye and vinegar together before adding it to the baking soda. We did it backwards and our volcano was much pinker than it should have been!
What else did we do for this portion of our Earth Science unit?
We filled out these pages from the Earth Science Packet I made for the kids:
And as always, we read a number of books and science texts. ED especially loved Pompeii…Buried Alive! (Affiliate Link)
Some of the videos we watched for this portion of our unit included:
- National Geographic: Colliding Planets
- National Geographic: Forces of Nature
- How the Earth Was Made: The Ring of Fire
Our 50+ page Earth Science Packet is finally here!!
Learn how to make a earthquake shake table, more than a dozen hands-on activities on the layers of the earth, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate movement and more!
Topics include: Solar System, Layers of the Earth, Earth’s Axis and the Seasons, Latitude and Longitude, Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, 4 Types of Mountains
If you haven’t already checked out our hands-on activities on Plate Tectonics, be sure to visit this post!
You Might Be Interested in These Related Posts:
- Learning about the Solar System – Including the hands-on kit the kids loved assembling and painting.
- Earth Science: Timeline of Earth Activity – A Montessori activity that is meant to impress kids with the enormity of time on Earth.
- Earth’s Geologic Timeline – Earth’s history separated by eons in a way the kids could really understand
- Earth Science – Layers of the Earth Activity
- Learning about Latitude and Longitude, Using a Compass
- Earth Science: Plate Movement Hands-On Activities
- Tissue Paper Volcano – Create a 3-D volcano image. The kids LOVED this craft
- Hands-On Volcano Activities: Gelatin Volcan0 & Paper Mache Volcano – We learned SO much from the gelatin volcano activity. I highly recommend doing this for understanding how lava flows as it does.
- Making a Shake Table for our Earthquake Studies – This post has a short video on how we made our shake table
- Earth Science Activities: Earthquakes, Plate Movement, Mountain Formation, the 4 Types of Mountains
- Free Earth Science Packet: Layers of the Atmosphere This is a 19 page packet with activities we did when learning about the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere