Make a Color Mixing Volcano

By Eliot Kersgaard

In our last post, we counted down the Top 5 Reasons Screen Time Hurts Kids. In this post we’ll walk you through a simple activity to help kids learn and think creatively. This STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) activity for your home or school is a fun-for-the-whole-family way to learn about colors through imaginative play and experiment.

We recommend starting with the following two printables, pages from our create-your-own adventure book, Journey to Cloud City ($14). These pages provide context and help kids connect the concept of colors to a fun fantasy world in which the power for an island is provided by different colored lava from a volcano:

Activity Length:

45 minutes

Materials Required:

Hot glue

An old juice or other bottle (we used a 1 liter orange juice bottle)

A piece of vinyl or other waterproof sheet to cover the bottle

Art supplies to decorate it (we used crayons which stuck to the vinyl quite nicely)

A bin to collect the lava after it erupts so it doesn’t make a huge mess

White vinegar

Baking soda

Food coloring in the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue)


Step One: Print and Complete the STEAM Printable Above

Using the printables above at the very beginning of the activity will help kids get into the imaginative spirit and also give guidance for the colors which need to be mixed to achieve the desired results.

Step Two: Make the Volcano

Glue your vinyl sheet in a cone around the bottle to make a volcano shape, decorate it with paint or markers, and you’re done! We also added a green foam core skirt to make it look like a forest below the volcano. If you and your kids like crafts, you can build out your volcano with even more detail by adding trees, lava, rocks, and other diorama elements. One more element we would suggest is building a diorama city and some characters which live there to help set the scene for the color mixing activity. See our post about making a diorama for imaginative play for more diorama ideas.

Step Three: Set the Scene

The idea behind this activity is that the city at the base of the volcano is powered by lava, and the residents need different colors of lava at different times in order to keep everything functioning properly. Since we are using the primary colors of food coloring, the colors we are trying to make for the city are green, purple, and orange. Get your kids excited about the idea of mixing different colors together to power the city.

Step Four: Erupt the Volcano to Power the City!

Finally, it’s time to erupt the volcano with the appropriate colors of lava (make sure to place your volcano in a bin, in a tub, or do this part outside to avoid making a big mess). In the morning, the residents need green lava to power the city. Have your kids add a few drops of the food coloring colors they think are needed to make green lava, then add some vinegar (you might need about 1/2-1 cup per eruption), stir the vinegar up to make sure the colors are mixed inside, and add the baking soda (just add a few spoonfuls until you see the lava erupt over the top. It works best if you add all of the baking soda quickly). Then move on to making the orange and purple lava for the afternoon and evening power.

Step Five: Let Imagination Take the Stage

Once you’ve successfully found the right colors to mix together to power the city, it’s time for free play. Let your kids lead the play and ask guiding questions so they can further develop the city, continue erupting the volcano, or create their own stories.

We Hope You Enjoyed This Activity!

Please comment below to share pictures and stories about how your family enjoyed making this color-mixing volcano to learn STEAM skills. This activity is based off of a couple of pages from our create-your-own adventure book, Journey to Cloud City. If you liked it, please check out the book for more fun ideas!

Journey to Cloud City:

A Create-Your-Own Adventure Book


Super fun for kids and adults alike

Builds 21st century skills

You are the hero!

Learn More
Learn More




About the Author:

Eliot Kersgaard is an artist, educator and entrepreneur working to facilitate a cultural shift emphasizing justice and play. He is the founder and director of Myra Makes.

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