How to build a volcano when a book falls on your kid

Those dinos have no idea what they are in for.

Unschoolers use the term “strewing” to describe sneaking education into their kids’ lives. They leave books, magazines and other materials around the house for their kids to find. The kids see these materials, become interested, and dig into learning about string theory, or botany (swoon), or painters of the 19th Century.

I’ve been doing this, too. Admittedly, my strewing is more like letting things pile up because I am too lazy to put them away. And we sold our bookcases and other storage devices when we thought we’re moving into an R.V. But, messiness seems to work as well as planned strewing for me.

This week, Anders found a book (or did a pile fall on top of him?) about exploring nature. I wanted to check it out at the library, but neither the Livingston nor Bozeman library carried it. I end up buying a lot of books for that reason…

Since he has to read everything he sees – his brain just works that way—he read Nature Explorer and found an activity he wanted to do: make an erupting volcano. We’ve done this before, but it’s been awhile so it was time to try it again.

My favorite part of this project is when I told the boys to start gathering supplies. I came out to the kitchen to find measuring spoons, a cup and two dinosaurs. The dinosaurs weren’t on the “what you need” list; they were improvised.

How to make a volcano

• Bury a bottle in sand.
• Fill it 2/3 with water.
• Add a few tablespoons of baking soda
• Add 5 or so drops of red food coloring.
• Squeeze in some dish soap (this was new to me; I’ve used flour to get things frothy, but the soap worked great, too)

Once your bottle–I mean volcano–is prepared:

• Using a funnel, pour .5 cup (or more) vinegar into the bottle
• Jump back!

In a real volcano situation, very violent eruptions are caused by gas bubbles, just like the ones created when our baking soda and vinegar reacted. When molten rock is trapped underground, high pressure keeps the gas dissolved inside it. If lava breaks through the surface, the pressure drops and the gas forms bubbles, pushing up the lava, and causing an explosion.

I’m a fan of this strewing thing. Would it be wrong to leave out my copy of “100 Ways to Make Your Mom Happy?”

Disclaimer: That book link is to my Amazon affiliate account. I get a tiny, tiny percentage if you buy it. I need that money since I can’t find anything I want at our charming, yet small, library.

3 thoughts on “How to build a volcano when a book falls on your kid

  1. minor catastrophes

    Apparently I’ve been “strewing” for many years now…I’m not sure how well it works with older kids — they seem like they catch on to such motives. What I CAN attest to working is shipping your teenage son off for a semester or more to a second-world Latin American country where the amenities/distractions of American life are fewer. In such a situation, you might find your child more than happy to read any box of books from home sent his way.(Got him going on David James Duncan, Rick Bass and more! Should have totally sent something on the virtues of cleanliness, though. Opportunity lost.)

  2. Debi

    This looks like a ton of fun, especially for my explosion-loving sons. Did I mention we finally tried the “what happens when mentos meet diet soda?” experiment. HUGE hit! You’d have been so proud!

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