Emotions Volcano

Learning Areas:

  • Science


What is this activity?

ECSEL Standards

What skills are being enhanced? What knowledge is gained?


What do you need to prepare for this activity?



Step by step guide

ECSEL Prompts

What questions can you ask to promote ECSEL thinking and discussions?

Extended Learning

How can you extend children’s thinking?


The volcano represents a metaphorical container for our emotions. The “lava” represents our big emotions. When the volcano “erupts,” it’s a metaphor for a big emotional expression like a tantrum or a meltdown – it’s a “feelings eruption!”

ECSEL Standards & Learning Goals

What skills are being enhanced & what knowledge is being gained through this activity?

Emotional Identification

Students will be able to identify their feelings preceding, during, and after the experiment

Emotional Understanding

Students will be able to understand different emotional experiences and responses

Cause & Effect

Students will be able to make a connection between events, emotions, and reactions and behaviors

CASEL Standards



  • One recycled plastic liter bottle
  • Newspaper 
  • Scissors
  • School glue diluted with water
  • Paint
  • White vinegar
  • Food coloring of choice
  • Baking soda


  1. Secure the recycled plastic liter bottle to a tray using tape.
  2. Support children in cutting out strips of paper.
  3. Use school glue mixed with water to adhere the strips to the upright bottle, forming a volcano shape. Make sure to keep the bottle opening unobscured!
  4. Paint the volcano once the glue is dry.
  5. Once the paint on the volcano has dried, discuss children’s hypotheses about what might happen (see ECSEL prompts).
  6. When the volcano has dried, pour vinegar into the bottle opening and add desired food coloring. Lastly, add baking soda and observe your student’s reactions as they watch what happens!

ECSEL Prompts

ECSEL Prompts are helpful questions & guiding statements you can use to provoke children’s thinking about emotions. These prompts are related to this specific activity.

What emotion does the eruption remind you of?

What does anticipation mean? What feelings do you have while you wait for the reaction?

What did you feel when the volcano erupted? Were you excited? Surprised? Scared? Nervous?

Was the reaction what you expected? Did everything go according to plan?

Make a hypothesis! What do you think will happen?

Did everyone feel the same emotions when the eruption happened?

Extended Learning

Use these questions & ideas to extend children’s learning!

What emotion does the reaction remind you of? What else makes you feel that way?

What is a reaction? Can you think of any other reactions?

Preschool/Pre-K – Emotions Volcano

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