Volcanic Wonders

Program Name: Toddler 2

This month the winter seems to hide from us, and the playground was barely covered with snow, which allows the children to spark their imagination and creativity in the sandbox. Over the past couple of weeks, the children have been interested in building castles with sand. Therefore, Wendy engaged the children in building a volcano together and provoked their interest in vinegar and baking soda science experiments.

While preparing the activity, Wendy encouraged the children to help with pouring the baking soda into the hole of the bottle. Lincoln and Noah were eager to take this opportunity to be great helpers. After the bottle was filled, it was time to build our volcano! Gathering the children in the sandbox, Wendy gave them a quick lecture about what a volcano is and where a volcano could be. “Mountain,” Noah repeated after Wendy explained that a volcano is in a mountain. The children then were engaged in making a mountain by piling sand with shovels, demonstrating their hand-eye coordination skills. Very soon, a mountain was made, and a bottle of baking soda was buried inside. The volcano was ready to explode! The children were asked to wait for a turn to choose the color for the vinegar and squirt it into the hole on the bottle. Each child’s name was being called when it came to his or her turn.

Observing a peer do the experiment, the children not only challenged their patience but also learned about taking turns. Besides, new vocabularies were introduced to the children, such as “lava,” “volcano,” “explode” and “vinegar.” Bella was eager to repeat the words that Wendy emphasized to the children. Using observing skills, Rose pointed to her exploding volcano and declared, “bubbles.” As the colour of the volcano constantly changed, Noah seemed to enjoy observing the changes and labeling the colours. Finally, it was his turn! Noah showcased his great hand-eye coordination skills and aimed vinegar right into the hole. The children who already had a turn decided to stay and observe. Noah and Lincoln both joined the little cheerleaders' crew. Every time the volcano exploded, they cheered for the explosion with the other children. “Wow, wow, wow!” Their cheers were filled with satisfaction from observing cause and effect. This is the magic of science.

Although understanding scientific facts might be challenging at a toddler age, these science experiences offer meaningful opportunities for toddlers to explore the world and foster a sense of wonder, which lays the foundation for children’s interest in science in later years. In addition, this activity allowed the children to learn about using social skills to solve peer stress from limited resources. By being asked to wait for your name to be called and watching the peer whose name was called have a turn, the toddlers were able to understand the meaning of “a turn” and then accept the idea of taking turns. During the activity, the children seemed curious about the texture of bubbles and tried to touch it. In the future, we can make fake snow in the sensory bin, made of baking soda and hair conditioner, and encourage the children to spray vinegar on it. The children would have an opportunity to explore the texture of bubbles produced by mixing baking soda and vinegar.

A child squeezing coloured vinegar into the hole of a bottle top

A small group of children observing the volcano they created

Children in the sand box working collaboratively to dig a hole

A child pouring baking soda into a bag