How to Make an Easy Volcano from Modeling Clay

Updated April 17, 2017

Nothing makes learning more exciting than recreating the world around you. Creating a volcano out of modelling clay is a fun way of introducing physical science. It isn't every day that you get to see a volcano erupt, so this activity can be stimulating, especially for younger students. This would be an ideal science fair project for third or fourth graders. This kind of activity is really hands on and very easy to do.

Put on old clothing; modelling clay and food colouring can stain clothing.

Prepare your workspace. Modelling clay can stain porous surfaces, so place a plastic cover over your table.

Choose a solid, strong base for your volcano project. An ideal foundation would be a baking pan or baking tray. It helps for the base to have boundaries because the lava will erupt out of the volcano and you do not want a mess.

Use either a plastic bottle or a plastic funnel to mimic the structure of the volcano. If using a funnel, turn it upside down and place it on the base. If using a plastic bottle, place it upright on the base. Secure either the funnel or the bottle tightly with as much duct tape as necessary. You want it to be stable.

Mold brown, black and red clay around the funnel or bottle. Use real pictures of volcanoes as references. The funnel and the bottle already have the structure of a volcano (wide on the bottom and narrow on the top), so layer the clay around it until it begins to take shape. Leave an opening at the top of the volcano because you will be pouring liquids inside.

Mix seven drops of dish detergent with a drop of red food colouring. Combine this mixture with a cup of warm water. The water amount will vary depending on the funnel or bottle size, but you want the solution to fill up two-thirds of the container.

Add two tbsp of baking soda to the water mixture. Wait about three minutes.

Slowly add the vinegar one tbsp at a time. Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the show. You will have a front row seat to a volcanic eruption.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 7 drops dish detergent
  • 1 drop red food colouring
  • Baking tray or baking pan
  • Plastic funnel or plastic water bottle
  • Duct tape
  • Modelling clay in brown, black and red
  • Plastic table covering
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About the Author

Tina Cisneros began writing professionally when she accepted a job that included grant writing in 2007. Her writing was featured in an anthology released by the Society Muse of the Southwest. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in English from the Colorado College then went on to receive an alternative license in elementary education from Northern New Mexico College.