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Montessori Inspired Volcano Study

Since Henry has started school, I haven't created anything that looks like Montessori work for him. He gets enough work at school, so home is for a different kind of work -- opened play and exploration. But, recently, an intense interest has been sparked in Henry which has led me to create this Montessori inspired volcano study.

A Montessori inspired volcano unit study. This small study includes some Montessori friendly, hands-on ways to study volcanoes.

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This interest in volcanoes was first sparked in Henry when he read a Magic Treehouse book about Pompeii. The book discusses the disaster in a very shallow and age appropriate way. But, it led Henry to ask so many questions about volcanoes that I knew we just had to explore them further here at home. However, I knew that I wanted to stay away from going to much deeper about the tragedy at Pompeii so we are sticking to the earth science side of things!

A Montessori inspired volcano unit study. This small study includes some Montessori friendly, hands-on ways to study volcanoes.

Felt Models 

The first thing I made for Henry is a set of felt models. When we read the book, it occurred to me that Henry really had no idea what a volcano is. So, we needed to start at the beginning. One of the models I made was simply a mountain, while the other is an erupting volcano. The mountain is only brown felt attached to a sheet of stiffened green felt.

The next was the volcano. The volcano itself was stitched together. I included some common elements of a cross section of a volcano including the magma, conduit, and layers of ash that make up the conical shape. I also added lava and ash to the outside of the volcano. I could have added others but wanted to keep it fairly simple. Then, I included a cover for the volcano so that you could only see what would be happening on the outside. Finally, I included labels to arrange on the models.

A Montessori inspired volcano unit study. This small study includes some Montessori friendly, hands-on ways to study volcanoes.


Next, we explored the concept of eruption with some good old fashioned baking soda and vinegar. Instead of making or buying a model volcano, I wanted something where Henry could see they reaction rise, as if he was looking at the center of the volcano itself. So, I used his test tubes and rack to experiment. This allowed him to see the reaction flow to the outside of the container. I was also able to use a stopper {under very close super vision and only very lightly placed} to show what would happen if the gasses inside a volcano get trapped -- hint the topper flies off and you get a little pop of liquid.

Henry really really enjoys this work and has been repeating frequently.

Real Volcanoes and Map

I also included pictures of real volcanoes and a world map labeling where they can be found. This makes the concept of volcanoes very concrete by showing very specific examples. Plus, Henry still loves geography so this speaks to him. I highlighted Mount Vesuvius -- the volcano that started all of this -- with a small card holder. Henry can either match these cards to his map, or just look at and think about them.


I also included some books in our study now that Henry is starting to read. I want to make sure he knows where and how to get information on topics that he is interested in. For this study, I included three books on his shelf. First, a children's encyclopedia opened to the volcanoes page. This was the first resource I pulled out when Henry showed an interest in volcanoes. I showed him the index and a bit on how to use the book before exploring content.

Next, in the book stand, I included an atlas. I opened the book to Italy since he is so specifically interested in Mount Vesuvius. However, he could easily find any of the countries found on our volcano cards and map. Finally, I included the Magic Treehouse book that started it all.

And, that's it! It's been a simple little unit that helps to satisfy that interest that he is having while still not focusing too much on academics here at home. It's really the most perfect compromise for us.

A Montessori inspired volcano unit study. This small study includes some Montessori friendly, hands-on ways to study volcanoes.

12 Months of Montessori 

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series. This month's theme is earth science. Don't miss these Montessori and Montessori-inspired earth science posts! 

Montessori Inspired Volcano Study | The Kavanaugh Report
Montessori Science: Fruit Dissection | Christian Montessori Network
DIY Agate Candy Slices: Candy Science | Sugar, Spice & Glitter
Water cycle and weather unit | Welcome to Mommyhood


Unknown said…
I was looking through your post's links but didn't see where to find the volcano photo cards. Do you have a link for those?
This is a very nice unit study! I also enjoy using felt to teach concepts with. The test tubes are so much fun!

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