How to make a papier-mâché volcano

After watching an awful lot of Maddie Moate (this video in particular) I finally agreed to make a volcano with the kids. It was a project we managed spread over a few days, and it really did keep their interest throughout. 

You will need:
Plastic bottle 
Newspaper strips 
Bicarbonate of soda 
Washing up liquid
Food colouring (optional)

Day 1
We taped an old plastic bottle to a piece of cardboard. Using strips of cardboard we created a rough volcano shape and stuffed the gaps with scrunched up paper.

We created a paste using equal measures of flour and warm water (make sure you mix well to get rid of any lumps) and then dipped in strips of magazines to cover the outside of the volcano - I think we did about 3 layers of paper. I would recommend a matte paper, such as newspaper, over the shiny magazine paper we used, but it’s all we had to hand. It was quite soggy by the time we had done so it was left overnight to make sure it had dried properly.

Day 2
The easy bit - painting. We just used kids washable poster paints, but you could use whatever you have. As we’d used old magazines the paint didn’t stick as well as it could have and cracked a bit, but if you use newspapers then I think you’d have less problems. 

Day 3
Eruption time! 
We were a little experimental with our measurements here, but for us that added to the fun. We messed around with quantities to try and work out what created the best eruptions. However, if you want to be less hit and miss, mix 1tbsp bicarbonate of soda, 2 tbsp water and 1 tbsp washing up liquid and add it to the bottle inside the volcano. In a cup, or jug, mix 1tbsp of food colouring with 1/2 cup of vinegar. When you are ready for your volcano to erupt, pour the vinegar into the bottle. I would recommend you do this on an easy to clean surface. We opted for a Tuff tray in the garden. I hosed the tray down afterwards...and it did turn our grass brown for a few days. Just a word of warning! 


To talk through the science of what was going on we used this video. The experiment also opened a discussion about volcanoes. We’ve found that this is a really good book.