Studying volcanoes was an exciting activity for my 3-8th grade class. We did a lot of research about different kinds of volcanoes and how they are labeled. Finally, we studied the Ring of Fire. After we took the final test, we went out onto the playground and drew the world, adding our own Ring of Fire. Each student formed their own volcano with a plastic cup and clay.
The class was broken into multi-age groups. Each group received a copy of a world map and had access to a large cache of sidewalk chalk from the Dollar Tree. Every group was responsible for drawing a different section of the world. When the class was finished, the art work had to represent the actual world, so they had to figure out where to draw each section. The drawings included the major continents and some major islands.
The kids spread out to create a giant world. When they were finished, the kids each placed their own volcano-they had made them a week before-along the Ring of Fire in the Pacific. Every student erupted their volcano. For students who received an A or B on their test, this was a great time. Their volcanoes actually erupted with fire and ash. For the rest of the volcanoes, we added red food coloring to the vinegar. They enjoyed a fun eruption that simulated flowing lava.
This is the beginning of a major cinder cone eruption. We were joined by grades K-3 before the excitement began.
Final results were worth the work! We had a great time, but, more importantly, they gained a greater understanding of the Ring of Fire and where it was located. They had seen the area on maps, but it clicked when they produced their own giant map.