For our dough, I followed my recipe HERE, with just a few minor adjustments.
To make enough dough for our scene, I whipped up approximately six batches (based off of that exact recipe) and I did not add the food coloring until after all the dough was well kneaded and cool enough for the kids to handle.
Then, we had a lesson in color-mixing. (Note: this part gets messy! So if you don’t want stained little fingers or clothes, dress everyone appropriately and possibly consider the option of rubber gloves.) I just let them go at it.
I divided the dough into four equal portions and allowed the kids to add drops of food coloring (just a little at a time) to the dough. They marvelled as it kneaded through the salt dough, in an array of patterns.
They experimented with mixing the dye to create new colors on the spectrum, or by not fully kneading every color through to cause tie-dye effects. They excitedly hypothesized what color the dough would turn when they added specific colors, or mixed portions of already-colored dough together. When everyone was satisfied with the color of their dough, we began to build our dinosaur scene.
I used a small glass vase as a base to stick the volcano dough to (this also served as a container for our science dino-day finale.) They worked together to design the prehistoric terrain and fashioned huts and protective jackets for the cavemen.
They discussed the names of each dinosaur, their diets and habits… even which prehistoric eras they would have lived in, as the scene grew from a bare volcano to include vegetation and water.
Finally, we were ready for the great volcano to erupt!
Approximately, one ounce of baking soda was added to the belly of the volcano. Red and yellow food coloring was mixed with three to four ounces of vinegar and a few drops of dish detergent, in another container. Then everyone stood back, wiggling in eager anticipation, as we poured the vinegar mixture into the volcano.
When the roaring volcano finally fell quiet again, we surveyed the damage, looked for survivors, and then cleaned up together. After all the soggy dough was disposed of and our dinos and brave cavemen were thoroughly scrubbed (this process took a while because what kid doesn’t like to play in a sudsy sink?) we placed the vase onto a cookie sheet and repeated the experiment so they could observe the chemical reaction that took place inside the volcano through the clear glass of the container alone.
If you’d like to give this experiment a go, all you will need is flour, table salt, cooking oil, water, white vinegar, food dye, baking soda, dish detergent and enthusiasm for learning through play.