How to make an easy volcano model without eruptions

Written by jonra springs
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How to make an easy volcano model without eruptions
Volcano top peeking through the clouds (aerial view of volcano image by MAXFX from

Elementary school teachers use volcano models for geology lessons. Students are often assigned to make volcanoes out of modelling clay or dough that show the structure of a mountain that emits lava. The volcano made from clay can be used to illustrate eruptions with vinegar and baking soda, but many teachers simply focus lesson on the characteristics of volcanic structure. Make simple model volcanoes with realistic features to explain these extraordinary geological landmarks.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 0.454kg. clay
  • Styrofoam or plastic plate
  • Spoon
  • Butter knife

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  1. 1

    Place a 0.454kg. clump of clay on a plastic or styrofoam plate. Use fresh clay or clay dough for pliability.

  2. 2

    Form the basic upside down volcano mountain cone shape by hand. Give each side of the cone a different slope for realistic shaping. Leave a blunt point on top and press a hole the centre with fingers.

  3. 3

    Make wide indented trails down the lower sides of the volcano with a spoon to show large lava trails. Make some of the gullies deeper than others.

  4. 4

    Etch smaller lava trails into the upper mountain with a butter knife. Make some of the etchings straight at the top, and then add sharp angles and curves to the lines as they trail down the slopes.

Tips and warnings

  • Allow 3 days for the clay to dry and paint the model volcano to further illustrate its structure. Use dark brown and red for the rocks. Consider using red to suggest flowing lava, or white at the top to suggest an extinguished volcano like Mt. Fuji.

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