components that make up an erupting volcano

Build Your Own Volcano

Volcanoes are openings in the earth’s surface that sometimes shoot out very hot rock, smoke and ash. Help your child understand how a volcano forms and what causes it to erupt in this classic science fair experiment.



  1. Show your child the picture of a cross-section of a volcano and identify the parts together including:

    -Magma: melted rock under the surface of the earth – it is more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling water is only 200 degrees)!
    -Lava: magma that reaches the earth’s surface during a volcanic eruption.
  2. Make a mountain out of playdough (or dirt) and use your thumb to press down at the top, forming an indentation for the volcano’s opening.
  3. Use a small spoon to pour about one teaspoon of baking soda into the top of the volcano.
  4. Next, use a small measuring cup to very slowly pour a small amount of red-colored vinegar onto the baking soda.
  5. Observe the chemical reaction and describe what you see!

This activity comes to you from the creators of Dinosaur Train.

Iowa PBS STEAM Activities and Crafts provided by PBS KIDS Parents.