Fun Hands-on Volcano Activities You Can Do at Home

Tweens will love these volcano activities. They’re some of the easy science experiments that should be a regular part of your homeschool.

One of the best known (and go-to) projects for older kids has to be the classic baking soda volcano. Although it’s frequently studied as part of earth sciences, it also fits into other subjects like middle school geography and ancient history.

It seems every year we find a reason to break out the vinegar, baking soda, and red food coloring so we can make our own volcano. Who knew there were so many ways to study this geological marvel at home?

Three tweens watching a sandy volcano that they built erupt with orange lava.

Not sure where to start? Keep reading for various ways you can add a volcano science project to your homeschool lesson plans.

Kids of all ages will have a ton of fun with these ideas.

Volcano Activities

Hands-on activities like the ones below are the perfect way for older students to learn about volcanoes and see an example of a volcanic reaction.

Keep reading for a free printable for a simple volcano experiment that will make it easy for you to do this project at home with your middle schoolers.

How Are Volcanoes Formed?

The Earth’s crust is cracked and broken into pieces, called tectonic plates, that are constantly shifting, causing friction. Therefore, most volcanoes form where two plates meet. They’re formed when the molten rock (magma) from beneath the Earth’s surface comes up through an opening in the crust.

A volcanic eruption occurs when that melted rock (now called lava) and gas shoot up through the opening and spillover.

There are two types of eruptions. Lava can explode through the opening, shooting debris miles into the air, or it can be effusive, like our experiment, where lava just pours or flows out, called lava flow.

Volcanic ash is made up of tiny pieces of rock, minerals, and glass.

It forms when a volcano erupts and the hot gases escape violently into the air. The force of this breaks the magma into smaller pieces and shoots it into the air where it cools and turns into fragments of rock and glass.

Ash can also be made when hot magma touches water during an eruption. When this happens, the water boils very quickly and shatters the magma.

Collage of 3 homemade volcano projects for school

Different Kinds of Volcanoes

There are three types of volcanoes – cinder cone, composite, and shield.

Cinder Cone Volcano

A cinder cone volcano is made up of explosive lava that builds up around a vent. It has very steep sides and a crater at the top, which is usually filled with ash and rocks called cinders.

Cinder cone volcanoes tend to be relatively small compared to other types of volcanoes.

Composite Volcano

A composite volcano is made up of many alternating layers of lava and ash. They usually have steep sides and can be larger than other volcanoes.

Because of the different gasses in the magma chamber, composite volcanoes often produce explosive eruptions.

Shield Volcano

A shield volcano is a type of volcano that’s made up of layers of lava. It has a gently sloping shape because the lava that makes it is often very fluid. This gives it a slope instead of a steep peak.

Shield volcanoes are some of the largest in the world.

Ready to build your own erupting volcano?

Homemade volcano erupting. Text box reads volcano activities for middle school.

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Volcano Project for Kids

The most exciting way to learn is to build your own model volcano. While there are different ways to go about it, this is how to build a simple soda bottle volcano.

You’ll need:

Mix the red coloring and baking soda in a small bowl until it’s pink. Use a funnel to put this dry mixture into the bottle. When you’re ready for it to erupt, add in the vinegar and watch the lava ooze out.

The idea is to get the vinegar in as quickly as possible.

If you want a bigger eruption from your vinegar volcano, you can use more of the vinegar and baking soda mixture or even a larger bottle.

Also, you can add some dish soap into the bottle before you pour in the vinegar as another foaming ingredient. Want to use red food coloring instead of the crystals? Like the soap, add it to the bottle before the vinegar.

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So how does it all work?

It’s a basic chemical reaction. When the vinegar and baking soda combine, they react to each other, creating carbon dioxide.

This gas quickly spreads and expands, but there isn’t enough room in the bottle for it to spread out like it wants to, so it follows the path of least resistance, the opening. It leaves the bottle fast, causing an “eruption.”

Volcano Experiment

Here are step-by-step instructions for this easy volcano experiment that you can print and use, along with a scientific method sheet.

Use them together to round out this chemistry lab.

How to Make a Paper Mâché Volcano 

To create a more realistic looking volcano, have your kids use paper mâché or a flour mixture to create a volcano shape around the empty bottle. This is an excellent summer science experiment!

  1. Glue the bottle onto a base (scrap piece of wood, old baking tray, plastic cutting board).
  2. Use chicken wire to build the frame of a volcano around the bottle. Make sure to leave the opening clear. Don’t forget to add in some bumps and craters for a more realistic look.
  3. Cover the wire in paper mâché. Allow to dry completely.
  4. Paint the volcano with acrylic paint.
  5. Follow the directions above to make your volcano erupt.

Acrylic PaintAcrylic PaintAcrylic PaintInstant Paper MacheInstant Paper MacheInstant Paper MacheChicken Wire NettingChicken Wire NettingChicken Wire NettingFoam BrushFoam BrushFoam Brush


How to Make a Volcano With Flour and Water

  1. In a bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of water, and 2 tablespoons of canola oil.
  2. Stir together with a spoon until it’s mixed well.
  3. Add drops of food coloring to the dough to make it look more like a volcano.
  4. Glue the bottle onto a base (a scrap piece of wood, old baking tray, plastic cutting board).
  5. Use the dough to start molding a volcanic cone around the bottle, leaving the opening clear.
  6. Allow to dry completely.
  7. If you’d like, paint the volcano with acrylic paint.
  8. Follow the directions above to make your volcano erupt.

This short video that walks through a volcano science experiment.

Build a Volcano Kit

If your teens are looking for an easier way to build a volcano, consider buying a volcano making kit.

It’s a great way for kids to learn how a volcano works, without a lot of time and planning on your part.

Ultimate Volcano KitUltimate Volcano KitUltimate Volcano KitBuild & Color Your Own VolcanoBuild & Color Your Own VolcanoBuild & Color Your Own VolcanoUnder Water Volcano EruptionUnder Water Volcano EruptionUnder Water Volcano EruptionVolcano Science Lab with Plastic VolcanoVolcano Science Lab with Plastic VolcanoVolcano Science Lab with Plastic Volcano


Volcano Project Ideas

Ready for even more fun ideas? Here are some things you can add to your study of volcanoes.

Student volcano erupting. Text overlay reads 10 volcano activities for middle school.

If you’ve never made a volcano as part of your homeschool science or geography lesson plans, it’s time to break out the supplies.

This classic experiment is the perfect way to study these amazing natural disasters. It’s the perfect science lab activity and a great way to make geography fun for tweens.

What is your family’s favorite volcano activity?

Megan Zechman
I love homeschooling! Learning is a way of life for our family. Most days you will find us exploring our Central Florida community, having fun while learning. I am constantly looking for new and interactive ways to engage my older children.
Megan Zechman
Megan Zechman
Megan Zechman

Latest posts by Megan Zechman (see all)


  1. My boys LOVE making volcanoes! We made them often and have learned so much about them; our favorite was the day we attended a college level class put on by one of our homeschooling friends where the boys learned all about using Google Earth to explore the world’s volcanoes, where they’re all located, and how to tell if they’re active or not. It was very neat. The teacher had so many additional slides and pictures of volcanoes that my boys were completely enthralled.

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