A homemade papier mache volcano.

How to Make a Paper Mache Volcano

A classic craft for kids, this paper mache volcano is an excellent science experiment too! Your kids will love creating their own mountainous scene and then making the paper mache volcano erupt, spilling frothy lava all over the place.

Needless to say this is a hugely fun activity, but it can be super messy too. Be sure to check out our tips for paint removal here before getting started, and be sure to protect clothes and surfaces to avoid sticky accidents.

You will need:

  • A small plastic drinks bottle (without lid)
  • Newspaper
  • White glue
  • Water
  • A bowl
  • A large cardboard box
  • Scissors (always supervise kids when they’re using scissors)
  • Paint and brushes
  • Small toys (optional)

For the lava:

  • Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of soda (also known as "baking soda"; not "baking powder")
  • Red food colouring (optional)
  • A funnel or rolled up paper

How to Make a Paper Mache Volcano – Step-by-Step

how to make a paper mache volcano

  1. Cut a large square out of your cardboard box to make the base board.
  2. Using white glue, stick the bottom of the drinks bottle to the base board.
  3. Rip half of the newspaper into inch-wide strips.
  4. In a bowl, create a mixture of thin white glue and water.
  5. Scrunch up sheets of the remaining newspaper, submerge it in the glue mixture and stick it on to the cardboard around the base of the bottle.
  6. Continue to use scrunched-up newspaper to build up the volcano around the sides of the drinks bottle.
  7. Next, dip strips of newspaper into the glue mixture and lay them on the top of each other, covering the scrunched-up paper, from the bottle opening to the cardboard base.
  8. Add several layers of torn paper until the shape resembles a volcano.
  9. Leave to dry for at least 24 hours.
  10. Once the paper mache is completely dry, use paint to decorate the volcano.
  11. Optionally, use little toy dinosaurs or foliage to make the volcano look more realistic.

how to make a volcano out of paper mache

Now for the fun part – read on to find out how to make paper mache volcanoes erupt. Tip: Put your volcano on a tray or a take it outside – this could get very messy!

How to Make Lava:

  1. Using the funnel add two or three tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda to the bottle in the centre of the volcano.
  2. Next, add a couple of drops of red food colouring.
  3. Finally – get ready for your volcano to erupt – and add the white vinegar!

making a paper mache volcano

The Science:

When you add vinegar to bicarbonate of soda a chemical reaction occurs – the result is 'carbonic acid'. This is an unstable substance – you can tell from all the fizzing! The mixture instantly separates into a gas and a liquid, producing carbon dioxide and water.

Discovering how to make a paper mache volcano erupt is a simple and safe way to teach your kids the basics of how a chemical reaction works. If you enjoyed learning how to make a volcano out of paper mache why not try out some of our other paper mache activities, like the mini versions of our paper mache dinosaurs and dinosaur eggs – they’ll look great alongside your volcano!

How did you get on making a paper mache volcano?