How to Make a Volcano

The following steps will show you how to make a volcano at home, using readily available materials.

Make a volcano that erupts!

These powerful forces of nature can be incredibly violent and destructive, but they also help to create our environment and even bring many benefits. Volcanoes have been around for billions of years, helping to shape the surface of our planet and they are fascinating to learn about! Making your own erupting volcano is a great way of finding out about their many geological features in a fun, safe way.

Time Needed:
Making the Volcano: Approximately 30 mins.
Drying time: overnight in a warm place.
Painting: Approximately 30 mins + drying time.

What you’ll need:

  • Cardboard box / Cardboard
  • Newspaper or scrap paper
  • Sticky tape
  • A plastic bottle
  • Tissue paper / Toilet tissue
  • PVA Glue
  • A brush
  • Mixing pot and water
  • Red, yellow and blue paint
  • A tray for mixing paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Bicarbonate of soda (approximately 6 spoonfuls)
  • Red food colouring
  • A teaspoon
  • Vinegar

Building your Volcano


Preparing the base and making a mound for the volcano

First of all, take the cardboard or lid that you’ll be using as the base of your volcano scene. Then screw up some scrap paper into a ball and fix it onto the centre of the card with some tape.

You can now start building up the sides of your volcano with more paper.
Place the base of a plastic bottle or cup on top of the mound.

This will become the centre of your volcano where the magma will be stored.

Make the base.

Step 2

Paper mache the volcano

Mix PVA glue and water in a pot. Paste a few layers of tissue paper over the sides, giving it a rough texture. Put tissue paper over the edges and the inside of the plastic bottle / cup. Paper mache all around the sides of your volcano (so you don’t see the cup).

Allow your volcano to dry, preferably in a warm place.

Make a volcano.

Step 3

Painting the volcano

If you’re not using acrylic paint, it will need to be mixed with PVA glue so that it doesn’t run when the volcano erupts.

Before starting to paint your volcano, make sure it’s completely dry!

Mark out in pen where you would like the lava on your volcano to be painted – then paint this area red. Next, using red, yellow and orange paints, load up your brush and let the paint dribble down the sides of your volcano. This will make a nice running lava effect. Paint the lava inside the cup, covering all of the white paper mache. If you want, you could fill the cup with some paint and push some over the edge with your brush, allowing it to drip down the sides, adding to the lava effect.

Now mix several tones of brown using different amounts of red, yellow and blue in a mixing tray. Paint different tones onto both the volcano base and card base. You can make different textures by dabbing the paint on or even using a sponge. Giving it some texture will make it look more realistic. This part is a great opportunity to experiment with some different brush techniques. Using darker and lighter tones will create areas of shade and highlights. Finally, mix green (blue and yellow) and paint some foliage areas onto the base. Allow your volcano to dry out completely before the final step.

Painting the volcano.

Step 4

Making the volcano erupt!

To make your volcano erupt, spoon bicarbonate of soda into the top, filling the cup/bottle base to around halfway. Mix a few drops of red food colouring (or red paint) using a spoon. Drip some malt vinegar into the mix until the mixture bubbles and froths up. Your volcano should then appear to be erupting!

Erupting volcano.
Extension Idea:
If you want more of a challenge, you could try creating a 3D cross-section model of a volcano using the same techniques.

Have a look at our Interactive Fact Sheet for some fun facts about volcanoes!

8 Fun Volcano Facts