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Exploding Volcano Activity: Get Your Little Scientist Thinking Big

During our Dinosaur unit, our preschoolers will learn about cause and effect by experimenting with baking soda-and-vinegar volcanoes.

In our centers, the classic “explode-y volcano” experiment (ahem, that’s the technical term) gets little minds thinking big: About the form and function of actual volcanoes (a hole in a mountain that burps lava, ash, and hot gas) as well as what our planet looked and felt like when dinosaurs roamed. We also explore scientific concepts like cause and effect: Mix vinegar with baking soda and you get a natural (and non-toxic) chemical reaction—plus bubbles galore!
Turn your own kitchen into a lab with this easy volcano how-to:

Materials 

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Food coloring (orange or red—and optional)
  • Baking sheet
  • A cup or measuring cup with a spout
  • Spoon or dropper
  • Aprons or shirts that can get dirty, and dish towels for clean-up

There She Blows! 

  1. Put a pile of baking soda on the baking sheet.
  2. Put a small amount of vinegar in the cup and add a drop or two of food coloring.
  3. Have your child use the spoon or eye dropper to drop (or just pour) a little vinegar solution onto a pile of baking soda and watch your volcano erupt!

Let Your Imagination Roar

Build a mountain: For longer-lasting fun, build a volcano base using a bottle and a simple playdough recipe—you can even paint the slopes once it’s dry. Our volcano hack-of-the-day: Try an upside-down funnel over a pile of baking soda. Boom. Volcano.

Suds up your lava flow: The chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar produces carbon dioxide gas, which, by the way, is also a byproduct of real volcanoes. Adding a squirt of dishwashing liquid to your concoction traps the gas and changes your “lava” flow. Check out these detailed instructions.

Make a dino diorama: Dot your baking sheet with plastic dinosaurs and get them in on the fun!

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