A baking soda volcano – Mt. Fuji erupts in our kitchen

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Maia and I made a volcano the other day. She was home sick from school and we had plenty of time to build Mt. Fuji out of lavender playdough, add an ecosystem of trees, flowers, and shrubs, and then set off a series of eruptions. She hasn't stopped talking about it.

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First we shaped the volcano by wrapping playdough around a quart glass mason jar. We used a batch of no-cook playdough that I was not so thrilled with (more on that later), and didn't mind sacrificing to make a volcano. I've wanted to make one out of paper mache forever now, but this was a last minute project so we used what we had at hand. I've also heard of people mixing a quick batch of salt dough to use for this part or just crumpling aluminum foil around a soda bottle for the mountain.

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After the last of the lavender playdough was used, we decided to cover the platter with the rest of the playdough we had in the house. Quite an artful volcano, no?

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And then we added landscaping to Mt. Fuji by poking various nature items into the playdough for trees, flowers, and bushes. We also included pebbles for boulders and a bridge made of sticks.

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For the quantities of baking soda, etc, I followed this tutorial I found on Weather Wiz Kids. When I was a child, we made our volcano with just baking soda and vinegar, but this tutorial calls for a little more and I think it was was worth doing.

First we mixed red food coloring with warm water…

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Then poured it into the jar hidden inside the volcano. We added six drops of dish soap, two Tablespoons of baking soda, then the vinegar.

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It was an awesome eruption! Quicker and bigger than I expected — I didn't photograph it quick enough.

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We wrapped towels around our platter, to catch the overflow I wasn't expecting, and proceeded to set off a total of seven volcanic eruptions in our kitchen!

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Fun times can be had wearing pajamas in the middle of a sick day.

We need to do some more fun science experiments! I'd love to hear your favorites…

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  1. says

    Baking soda and vinegar eruptions are always a favorite. Here’s another…but you need to do it outdoors with lots of space…drop Mento’s candy in a litre bottle of diet coke. EXPLOSIVE!!! The boys LOVE this! And James just generally likes to cook up potions from various combinations in the kitchen. Sometimes he freezes them, or leaves them to sit and “brew”.

  2. says

    This is one of our favorites. Sometimes I just give them baking soda and vinegar in the bathtub and let them go to town (gets the tub clean in the process). You can also put raisins in a glass with water and a bit of vinegar and baking soda and the raisins “dance”. And, like Julie’s kids, mine love to make “mixes” of various stuff. Eleanor was just saying yesterday that she wanted to try a recipe that she made up — so looks like we are going to be doing some experimental baking! We also have a book of kids science projects but I can’t remember what it is called and it is packed away (we are moving next week — ugh).

  3. says

    awesome fun I love the last picture pure joy on her face
    we like to freeze a big block of ice (use a bread loaf pan or wipes container) then pop it out and add rock salt and pipe warm colored water all over it. rainbow glazier. you can also use it to talk about how the earth is warming up and ice is melting and animals are in trouble with out their homes and habitats
    or we did a oil spill lesson too: http://lettersnumbersandbooksohmy.blogspot.com/2010/05/everyday-is-earthday-oil-spills-and.html

  4. says

    Lovely messy stuff!
    Have you ever tried the cornflour-and-water trick? We used to do it when were were young and now my children are intrigued by it, and always ask to do have a play when I’m making a white sauce and they spot the cornflour!
    Adding just the right amount of water to a spoonful of cornflour gives such a weird liquid/solid/liquid consistency. Loads of fun for kids to scrap it up then watch it drip liquid back to its solid state.Feels great on little fingers too – silky, powdery then cold and liquid.

  5. says

    Those eggs you made look awesome, thanks for posting. It reminds me also that we used to grow alum crystals as kids. I’ll have to try it with my guys now!

  6. says

    That is the loveliest volcano I have ever seen <3 Good work, guys. And I love, love, love that last photo, so full of emotion and the joy of the moment!

  7. Rachel says

    oh how fun!!! i love all the layers/aspects of this problem. want to try this soon with the boys for sure!

  8. says

    oh i’m so inspired! you better watch out making sick days so fun… i can see future fake outs. : ) just kidding… but, i would if i were your kid!

  9. says

    Funny you should mention this…it’s a favorite in my house as well. My guys just went wild with this the other day, and they are 11 and 8!…big enough to venture into the kitchen, pull out the ingredients, and do it on their own. Much to my surprise, they used the entire container of cornstarch and made an enormous quantity of the stuff (with yellow food coloring so it looked disgusting), and then got carried away, having a “food fight”. Ack! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came in the kitchen. The upside…this was the first time in a long time that the two of them have had fun spontaneously playing together! I was happy to have them bond over a giant puddle of goop! (and they did their best to clean it up in the aftermath)

  10. Ronnie says

    What a pretty volcano! I did a similar activity last week with my children (and it was also very last minute). They were playing in their sandpit and we mounded up the sand to make the volcano shape, put in the bicarb soda and then added the vinegar. No mess or clean up because it was outside in the sandpit. My 22 month old even had a go. We went through 3L vinegar and a box of baking soda in about 10 minutes, but they loved it.

  11. says

    Love the volcano! We just tried the milk, liquid dish soap and food coloring. My daughters loved watching the colors move and swirl all on their own. I posted it on my blog.

  12. says

    Last summer I helped my six-year-old make a volcano out of plaster of Paris, which she painted with acrylic paints–we use that thing SO much! After she’d memorized how to make the eruptions, I’d just send her and her little sister outside on a nice day with a gallon of vinegar and a box of expired baking soda, and they’d make volcanoes everywhere–in the sandbox, in the mud, in holes they dug in the dirt, etc. Wonderful exploration!