volcanoes and earthquakes

Exploding Mountains Mini-Lesson

Objective: Students will learn that the powerful forces of a volcano can cause massive destruction.

Suggested Time: 15 minutes

Reading Level: Upper Elementary

Teacher Background

The most explosive volcanoes pour clouds of ash high into the sky. The ash is formed because gas dissolved in the magma escapes MORE

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Print or Project

  1. A Visual Overview: Show the slideshow of photos to your class. Each has a descriptive caption and kid-friendly copy for your students to read. (Please note that there is also more extensive teacher note copy just for you.)
  2. Creative Caption Review: Once you've been through the slideshow for an overview, go back through it again. This time ask students to explain why the captions do (or do not!) work. (Example: Is it a good idea to label the first slide of Mount St. Helens before its eruption as "Slumbering Giant?" Why or why not?)

Click the thumbnail slides below to see the captions and kid-friendly copy up close.

  1. Continue the Conversation: Ask students if they've ever heard about a volcano erupting—be sure to point out that volcanoes erupt regularly in such places as Hawaii. Ask students why they think people are still willing to live around volcanoes. Points to discuss might include a) the beauty of the mountain is worth the rare risk of eruption and b) scientists can now better monitor volcanoes to warn of pending eruptions.
  2. Write about it: Ask students to write a paragraph about how people might have felt when the ash blocked the sunlight after the Mount Pinatubo eruption. Encourage them to use descriptive language.

Extension Activities

Reinforcements: These worksheets will be useful as you further develop your teaching unit. The Word Power worksheet will give your students vocabulary practice with key terms from this mini-lesson and the related activity will help reinforce key concepts on volcanoes and earthquakes.


Word Power Vocabulary
Grade: 4 - 6
Students practice vocabulary relevant to volcanic eruptions by using each defined word in a sentence.



Volcano Labeling Worksheet
Grade: 4 - 6
Students label the parts of a volcano diagram using words provided in the word bank.



Excerpted from:

Eyewitness: Volcano & Earthquake

Discover the power of volcanoes and earthquakes, from hot spots to tsunamis, in this visually-stunning guide.

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