How to Make Volcanoes With Play-Doh

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Things You'll Need

  • Cookie sheet or sturdy cardboard
  • Masking tape
  • Paper cup
  • Scrap paper
  • Foil
  • Scissors
  • Play-Doh in a variety of colors (at least red, green, blue, orange, black and yellow)
  • 3 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • Red food coloring

Children are fascinated with models of all shapes and sizes. Make a model of a volcano for a fun afternoon of science experimentation. Volcanoes have long been a standard for elementary school science fairs and classroom activities due to the fun factor of the eruption. You can make a functional model volcano or a model with a cross section from Play-Doh with just a few colors. Not only will your child enjoy the process of building the volcano, they will be learning at the same time.


Place the cup in the center of the cookie sheet and use masking tape to hold it in place. Put the end of the tape just inside the lip of the cup and run it down the side. Secure the other end to the cookie sheet. Repeat in three to four places around the cup to hold it in place.

Tear the scrap paper into pieces and wad them up into little balls. Build the mountain out of these to provide a rough, rocky-looking surface.

Tear pieces of foil off the roll and place them over the paper mountain. Wrap the foil over the lip of the cup to cover the masking tape.

Work with the Play-Doh until it is pliable. Roll out the color you want to cover the mountain with, such as black or green, and drape it over the foil. Cut the Play-Doh away from the center where the cup is and wrap it around the lip of the cup to cover the foil.

Use red Play-Doh to create a ring around the opening of the volcano. Roll out a chunk of red Play-Doh until it is about 1.5 to 2 inches wider than the opening, remove the center and place it on the volcano. Repeat this with yellow and orange, decreasing the size of each one so you can see the layers below.

Roll out some red “snakes” to look like lava flowing down the mountain.

To Make it Erupt:

Place the baking soda into the cup in the center of the model.

Mix 3 to 4 drops of red food coloring with the vinegar so it looks like lava.

Pour the vinegar into the cup and watch the volcano erupt.


  • Talk to your children about volcanoes while you are building them. This ensures they are learning while they are playing.


  • Safety glasses should be worn when erupting the volcano.