Easy Science Experiments for Kids: How to Make a Volcano Erupt

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We love easy, simple science experiments that we can do right in our kitchen.  This volcano experiment required two easy recipes that even very young kids can help put together. Once you have the volcano set up, you can create lava explosions over and over again.   

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What could be more exciting than that?  I’ll tell you! This activity (and 149 more) is part of a brand new book that I am so thrilled to be a part of called Learn With Play. (Ordering instructions below.) 

kids activities

Learn With Play:  150+ Activities for Year-round Fun and Learning, a book for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners. To order:

Print version
Ebook
Kindle

Now, lets build our volcano.

Ingredients for Easy no-cook play dough:

2 c. flour
1 c. salt
2 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. cream of tartar
1.5 c. boiling water
Washable paint or food coloring

kitchen science experiments for kids

First, we mixed up our play dough by putting everything into our stand mixer (except the paint/food coloring).  Once the dough was mixed well, we added washable tempera paint in brown. We chose paints since brown is a hard color to get with food coloring. Because the paint is washable, it didn’t stain the mixer blade.

You can skip the step of making the dough if you have other play dough on hand. This project would be great for upcycling that lump of play dough we all have where the kids mixed up the colors and it’s a brownish gray mass. 

Once, the dough was ready, my son began forming it around the empty medicine bottle into the shape of a mountain.  Now it was ready for some volcanic action!

Ingredients for Lava

For each lava explosion, you will need:
1/2 c. vinegar
2 tbsp. liquid dish soap
red food coloring
1/2 c. baking soda
an empty plastic or glass bottle (we used a cough medicine bottle)
a funnel and a tray

kitchen science experiments for kids

How to Make a Volcano Erupt

In one bowl, we put plain baking soda.  In a second bowl, we combined the vinegar, dish soap and food coloring.

Placing the funnel into the top of the “mountain”/bottle, my son first dumped the baking soda in, then the vinegar mixture. Instant lava!

Since the explosion carries out all the ingredients, it leaves the bottle empty so you can keep creating explosions over and over again. My son added some toy people and animals and set up a pretend play scene about escaping lava. 

The Science Behind It 

The baking soda reacts with the vinegar to produce a gas: carbon dioxide. The gas builds up enough pressure to force the liquid out of the top of the bottle. The bubbles from the soap help carry the mixture down over the sides of the volcano.  

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