Geography Knowledge and Understanding of the World Montessori with Mother Science The Environment


Volcanoes are a fun topic which can incorporate lots of different mediums, materials, skills and ideas. And mess.

To make a mini eruption

  • First make up some salt dough with 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup water. We use the dough to mould around the plastic bottle.
  • small plastic bottle
  • 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp washing up liquid
  • red food colouring
  • white vinegar
  • big tray or bowl to contain it all
  • lots of cloths/tea-towels

Pre-activity work: Learning about volcanoes. Try National Geographic for brilliant resources.

Pre-activity discussion: When magma escapes from deep inside the earth through the crust or surface of the earth it creates a volcano. When the pressure increases it causes the volcano to erupt and the magma becomes lava when it reaches the surface.

Variations by age: Those under the age of 3 will enjoy watching and making the dough, and pouring the ingredients but will probably try to eat it/cover themselves in it. Older children can have the activity linked to geography, science and history.

Vocabulary: magma, lava, eruption, pressure

Step 1: Once s/he’s made the salt dough (using lots of pouring skills and fine motor control) and spent an eternity playing with it, mould the dough around the bottle to look like a volcano, leaving the top of the bottle open. We used a little yellow food colouring in this one to make the landscape sandy.

Step 2: Decorate the bowl or tray with a layer of dough, and maybe some model animals if you’re feeling ruthless. We add little snips of leaves to make trees (fine motor skills and scissor practice)

Step 3: She spoons the bicarbonate of soda into the top of the bottle (prepare 2 tbsp worth into a container so she can use a child sized spoon)

Step 4: She adds a few drops of red food colouring into the top of the bottle, and a squirt of washing up liquid.

Step 5: Pour the vinegar into a child sized jug, and she pours it slowly into the top of the bottle, stands back and watches the reaction. The mixture should froth and erupt over the volcano. Add more bicarbonate of soda and vinegar for further eruptions.

Step 6. She delves both arms into the bowl, and is dyed red for the next two days. She revels in submerging the model animals in the lava and becomes alarmingly blood-thirsty. Covered in red dye and grinning manically while surveying her mass destruction she reminds you of something from the Lord of the Flies. The smell of vinegar will pervade for days. You will go over the words magma, lava, eruption again and again and she will remember none of them. There will be endless mess to clear up and she will refuse to have a bath.