How to Make a Plasticine Volcano

Two Parts:Basic plasticine volcanoMaking the volcano explode

Plasticine is a perfect modeling medium to make a volcano for fun, science class or for making a diorama. It's safe for kids to work with and if you make a hole in the center, you can even add a mini explosion to the volcano.

Part 1
Basic plasticine volcano

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    Choose the plasticine. You'll need brown plasticine for the bulk of the volcano, white plasticine for the snow cap and red or orange plasticine for the lava. If you want a green landscape around the base of the volcano, you'll also need some green plasticine.
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    Make a construction paper or thin cardboard base for shaping the volcano. You'll need a basic cone shape for the volcano, so make a basic cone with a large opening from either construction paper or thin cardboard. This can be taped together or stapled. The cone is probably best then sitting around a bowl, to provide something firm underneath for you to press into when adding the plasticine.
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    Using the cone as the base for the volcano. Start adding the brown plasticine to the cone, smoothing it around the cone shape from the base to the top. Aim for the same thickness all the way around, with more plasticine layered at the base and finer layering at the top.
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    Add a snow layer to the top of the volcano. Use the white plasticine to make a snow cap around the top of the volcano, using a wavy line around its base area.
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    Add some lava. Stick some lengths of red or orange plasticine running down one side of the volcano, to give the effect of lava.
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    Done. You can stop here; the volcano is good for a diorama or display model as it is. Or, you can go ahead to the next phase and add materials that will allow the volcano to explode for real.
    • If adding vegetation, place the volcano on its display base, then shape some trees, fields, and perhaps add some small houses, model farm animals, etc.

Part 2
Making the volcano explode

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    Find a plastic bottle that is able to sit underneath the volcano, with its mouth sitting in the open mouth of the volcano. If you do want the volcano to work this way, design the volcano according to the size of the bottle from the start, to save you having to hunt high and low for a bottle of the right size.
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    Add baking soda to the bottle. Fill it about halfway with baking soda. This will be the substance that reacts with the vinegar, to create the "lava".
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    In a separate container, mix the lava ingredients together. This consists of a good squirt of washing up liquid and a few drops of red food coloring. Then add 2 tablespoons or so of white vinegar. This is now known as your "lava mix".
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    Place the volcano onto a safe surface. When the lava flows, it is going to make a mess, so that volcano must be on a surface that won't stain and can be cleaned with ease. A good surface is a portable plastic tray with high edges, or a bowl, allowing you to transport the volcano with ease and perform the explosion.
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    When you're ready, add the lava mix to the bottle of baking soda. Stand back as it bubbles up and bursts forth with red lava, which will cascade down the side of the plasticine volcano.
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    To clean up, wipe down the sides of the plasticine volcano with a wet cloth or wipe. Dab up any liquid around the base of the volcano. Remove the bottle and wash the contents out. The plasticine volcano can be kept for another explosion some other time.


  • If keeping the plasticine volcano for any length of time, store away from dust and fluff, inside a container or behind a glass cabinet, etc.
  • You will probably need to remove the paper or card from inside the volcano after it explodes, if it gets wet. Simply peel off the wet portions and discard.
  • A Mentos (scotch mint) candy and fizzy lemonade can be used as lava if preferred. Add the candy first, then pour in the fizzy lemonade and quickly move away.


  • Don't stand too close when the lava erupts; the "lava" substance may irritate or harm the eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • Brown, white and red or orange plasticine
  • Construction paper or thin cardboard
  • Tape or staples/stapler
  • Plastic tray with a rim/sides or a large bowl
  • Plastic bottle (clean)
  • Baking soda
  • Red food coloring
  • Dish washing liquid
  • White wine vinegar
  • Cloth or wipes for cleaning up

Article Info

Categories: Science for Kids