Volcanoes are an exciting topic for kids. Most children have a mental image of a volcano but may not understand what a volcanic eruption is and why it occurs. Plenty of visuals and the correct vocabulary, used over several several lessons, help explain an eruption to a group of kids.
Ask the kids what they think a volcano is to clear up misconceptions. Define what a volcano is. Provide them with a simple definition and show images of volcanoes, either through a PowerPoint presentation or from a textbook.
Provide a vocabulary list of important terms. Key words that kids should know to understand volcanic eruptions are: magma, lava, crust, mantle, core and plates. Be certain that students understand each word and can identify them visually.
Explain what causes a volcanic eruption. Describe the Earth’s crust as large pieces, or plates, that fit together like a puzzle. Explain the process of an eruption: When these plates shift, they slide on top of another, pushing a substance called magma between the plates. Magma, which is found between the Earth's crust and the mantle, is called lava when it erupts onto the Earth's surface.
Show detailed visuals of a volcanic eruption as you explain.
Design follow-up activities to reinforce learning. Activities can include making a model volcano, drawing a volcano, showing a video depicting a real volcanic eruption, or allowing students internet access to research volcanoes.
Scholastic Printables offers several worksheets with detailed descriptions of volcanic eruptions. Use one of the printables or design your own visuals.