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Making a volcano experiment is a fun and easy way to teach your kids of all ages about science. All you need is baking soda, vinegar, and a little creativity! This is a great simple science experiment for kids of all ages, including pre-schoolers. And the best part is that it never gets old – You can make simple volcanoes with an empty soda bottle, or get creative and make them with dirt, sand, or snow!
Below are the steps to make your own volcano experiment at home. You can jump right to the instructions if you want.
Essentially, it’s where you use your creativity to create a volcano base and you create a chemical reaction by mixing a baking soda slurry with vinegar. The reason there’s an eruption is that baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a base, but vinegar (acetic acid) is an acid. First, the reaction makes carbonic acid. This is an unstable reaction, so it breaks down into a gas called carbon dioxide and water… This is the bubbly and fizzy reaction you see! The foamy bubbles are created as this reacts with the soap, making it bubble up and overflow.
This is totally optional, but you may want to head over to my TpT store and download the Scientific Method worksheet for free. This way, you can emphasize key learning moments while introducing your preschooler to the scientific method. By practicing this, they will become confident in their ability to hypothesize, test, and evaluate experiments!
Plus, if you write down the step-by-step instructions and tuck this away in a folder for later, they can re-create the same activity another time.
I’ll list the basic ingredients and materials for a volcano, but remember – For the base, you can get as creative as you want! I’ll share some ideas for that below.
Here is everything you will need to make your own volcano experiment at home:
Not at all. The food coloring just makes things more exciting. Usually, I’ll opt for red food coloring so it looks like lava pouring out of the top. But if I’m doing this with a small group then I’ll let the kiddos decide.
As for the soap, adding it increases the reaction time and creates more bubbles than without. But, that being said, I did this experiment for many years without the soap and it was just as fun!
This baking soda volcano is super easy! With only 3 supplies needed, it’s also one of my favorite science experiments. All you need to do is make a baking soda slurry then pour the vinegar in at the end and you’ll have volcano eruptions!
In the photo above, we went all out and made our own paper mache volcano. Am I usually this extra? Nope! But, there was a pretty intense heat wave at the time and we needed a good activity to keep us busy over the week. Making this meant we could spend lots of time designing and crafting before we actually saw an eruption.
As for the base, you can use whatever you have available! Here are some ideas to get you started though:
Unfortunately, your carbon dioxide mixture won’t erupt forever! In fact, the eruption time is pretty short. But, the nice thing about this easy volcano experiment is it’s easy to re-make.
First, try adding vinegar to the dormant volcano. It will likely cause another eruption because there will be a leftover baking soda mixture in the bottom of the container.
Then, try adding more baking soda. You can always mix vinegar in after to use it all up, but I find that even though kiddos love watching this fun activity, they’ve usually had enough fun after a few eruptions!
Volcano science should probably be an outdoors experiment if you can. Because you’ll probably add red food coloring, for example, you don’t want your counters to be left orange from a stain. And, the eruption can be pretty messy! It’s easier to deal with inside than wiping up the vinegar and baking soda from the floor.
Also, do this experiment in a well-ventilated area if you choose to stay indoors. Realistically, you could make the baking soda and vinegar volcano in a tub to contain the mess. But, since you create carbon dioxide when the vinegar reacts with the baking soda, you’ll want to avoid breathing it in.
We hope you’ve loved this easy science experiment! Kiddos love to watch the lava ooze out of their homemade volcano and love hearing the chemical reaction take place as the baking soda and vinegar erupt.
This experiment is great for children of any age because it can be as basic or as complex as you make it. Kids can choose to make a base out of an empty water bottle and simply enjoy watching the volcano erupt, or you can get super scientific about it. For example, you could make this for a science fair project where the kids go into detail about the chemical reaction happening here while comparing it to real volcanoes. Or, you can use it as an experiment during a unit where you are exploring rocks and volcanoes.
However you choose to incorporate this easy baking soda volcano into your science time, we would love to see what you created!