How to Explain a Volcano Eruption to Kids

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Volcanoes are an exciting topic for kids. Most children have a mental image of a volcano but may not understand what a volcanic eruption is and why it occurs. Plenty of visuals and the correct vocabulary, used over several lessons, help explain an eruption to a group of kids.

  • Volcanoes are an exciting topic for kids.
  • Plenty of visuals and the correct vocabulary, used over several lessons, help explain an eruption to a group of kids.

Ask the kids what they think a volcano is to clear up misconceptions. Define what a volcano is. Provide them with a simple definition and show images of volcanoes, either through a PowerPoint presentation or from a textbook.

Provide a vocabulary list of important terms. Key words that kids should know to understand volcanic eruptions are: magma, lava, crust, mantle, core and plates. Be certain that students understand each word and can identify them visually.

Explain what causes a volcanic eruption. Describe the Earth's crust as large pieces, or plates, that fit together like a puzzle. Explain the process of an eruption: When these plates shift, they slide on top of another, pushing a substance called magma between the plates. Magma, which is found between the Earth's crust and the mantle, is called lava when it erupts onto the Earth's surface.

  • Explain what causes a volcanic eruption.
  • Explain the process of an eruption: When these plates shift, they slide on top of another, pushing a substance called magma between the plates.

Show detailed visuals of a volcanic eruption as you explain.

Design follow-up activities to reinforce learning. Activities can include making a model volcano, drawing a volcano, showing a video depicting a real volcanic eruption, or allowing students Internet access to research volcanoes.

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