Objective: Simple sensory play for exploring volcanoes and incorporating chemistry. This can be used as a fun sensory STEAM activity for kids, and even for a Dinosaur theme!
- Air dry clay
- Red liquid watercolor (or food coloring)
- Brown acrylic paint
- Red acrylic paint
- Paint brushes
- Squeeze bottles
- Plastic tray
- Clear acrylic spray (optional)
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Old marker caps
Building the Clay Volcano
1. Hand a small clump of the clay to the kids and have them roll it into a ball. This is great for fine motor skills and really gives them a hands-on sensory experience.
2. Have them hold the ball into the air and drop onto the table. Splat! This creates the cone shape volcano. Everyone’s volcano can look a little different. We had tall thin ones, ones with a larger base, etc. It’s more about the fun process and them learning along the way than the look of the final product.
3. Upcycling: Reuse old marker caps and place them on the ball with the large opening facing up. You could also use empty K-cups or even mouthwash bottle caps.
4. Hand the kids more clumps of the clay to pinch in small clumps around the marker lids. Remind them not to fill in the hole on the top, as this is where the volcano will erupt.
5. Once the mini volcano has been formed, allow to dry overnight. If the clay is still really cold to the touch, then it’s not dry yet. Placing the volcanos on a metal rack or in front of a fan will help improve air flow and speed up the drying process.
Painting the Volcano
1. Once dried, have the kids paint the flat bottom (underneath) of the mini volcano with brown acrylic paint. The acrylic paint will act as a shield and protect the clay when creating the science experiment of erupting this later on.
2. Continue to paint the volcano with brown acrylic paint until completely covered and allow to dry. To make sure there isn’t any uncoated clay, you can spray all sides of the volcano with clear acrylic spray. This part should be done by an adult in a well ventilated area.
3. Once dry, allow the kids to drip red acrylic paint from the top of the volcano. They can do this directly from the bottle or with paint pipettes. If the acrylic paint is too thick to drip, mix in small amounts of water until you get the right consistency. This becomes their very own lava!
1. Here’s where the real fun begins. When all of the paint is dried, place the mini volcano on a plastic container. Kids can scoop spoonfuls of baking soda into the tops of their volcano.
2. In a squeeze bottle, mix white vinegar and red liquid watercolor or food coloring.
3. You can talk about the chemical reactions between baking soda and vinegar. You can also discuss what lava is or where volcanoes are located around the world. What volcano is closest to where you live?
4. Let the kids squeeze in the vinegar mixture into the top of their volcano and watch it erupt with lava! Super exciting!!
About the Author:
Randi is the founder of How 2 Play Today. She created this online community to share ideas and help inspire others to create. Randi has always had an interest in child psychology and has been following that passion since she was a kid herself. Over the years, Randi has been capturing adventures of her and her children and sharing these ideas on her website at how2play.today. This helps busy parents and caregivers who want to play more with their kids but need ideas, product suggestions, and a simple guide for activites.