Erupting volcanoes in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on May 19, 2012

in Erupting Volcanoes, Outdoor Play

The number one request my students have had over the past few weeks was to make volcanoes. I would have let them make them sooner but it seemed with Mother’s Day and all the other things we were wrapping up, I just couldn’t fit them in.  Finally, I took an entire part of one day and made sure that we dedicated it to our volcanic adventure…

My husband is in the process of doing a little landscaping in our outdoor area and so right now there are large piles of dirt everywhere. This was a perfect setting for our volcanic adventure! To create our volcanoes, each child started by filling a plastic water bottle with a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar. Did you know that you do not have to use pure vinegar to create a bubbly reaction? Watered down vinegar will do the trick quite nicely too…

Then each child chose one food color to add to their water and vinegar mixture. We added the food color so the children could more easily see their volcanoes when they erupted plus it is just more fun to have colorful bubbles…

Once the bottles were all ready to go, the children went outdoors and picked a spot on the peak of our big volcanic mountains (dirt piles)…

The children dug a hole in the mountain with their hands and then buried their bottles up to the neck or as deep as they could get them to go.  The dirt was very soft which made this process work out very well…

After the bottles were buried, then the children went back down the mountain to get a teaspoon of volcanic ash (baking soda) to add to their bottles…

And then they stood back and watched the eruptions begin…

Each time the bubbles would slow down, the children ran back down the mountain to get more baking soda on their spoons and back up again to make the volcano erupt once more…

And once the baking soda no longer did the trick, the children ran to empty out their bottles and start all over again…

This process brought together outdoor play and large motor skills (climbing in the dirt); science  (exploration, flow of gravity and the mixing of different properties); problem solving (asking questions and seeking answers to how to keep the bubbles going);  math (measuring out the ingredients)…

But above all else, this process was something the children found meaningful because it was their idea!

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Promoting excellence in early childhood education at home and in the preschool classroom!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 andiejaye May 20, 2012 at 1:15 am

i LOVE this! we’ve been meaning to do the baking soda/vinegar thing for a while…but this takes that idea to a whole new level!

2 Ali May 20, 2012 at 5:57 am

Thanks for the tip about mixing the vinegar with water, I didn’t know it would work that way. I must do this with my girls.

3 Mud Hut Mama May 20, 2012 at 6:48 am

That looks like so much fun! We will have to give it a try.

4 Allison May 20, 2012 at 10:42 am

I LOVE that you took this outside and buried the bottles! Genius!

5 Teacher Tom May 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I love the idea of burying the bottles and I never thought to dilute the vinegar — we tend to go through 2 gallons with each volcano session.

One thing we’ve added to our eruptions is liquid dish soap. The chemical reaction agitates it causing it to foam. Each eruption can last 5 minutes or more this way as the soapy solution continues to ooze down the sides of our volcano.

6 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 20, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Great idea to add liquid dish soap. I will have to give that a try – I only wish you would have told me that sooner:)

7 Amelia Mello May 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I did not know we could water down the vinegar, that’s a good tip, thanks. And I loved that the kids dug the hole to place the bottles it. The whole process was great!

8 School Sparks Renee May 20, 2012 at 11:26 pm

This is always a winner! Thanks for sharing the pictures. Burying the bottles is a great idea, Renee

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