How Understanding Volcanoes Help Students Learn Self Control

Ms. Ryan taught a multi-step lesson about the systems and processes that shape the earth and blended it with an experiment to tap into social-emotional exploration. She explained to her 4th grade science class how volcanoes and people are alike.

“In a time like this, the children are facing a lot of different challenges that they may not even realize are causing them to feel overwhelmed,” Ms. Ryan said. “Throughout the lesson I noticed them relating to each other and to me.” 

three students leaning on a table with red sheets of paper and a silver bowl in the middle

Ms. Ryan used a paper model to create a visual about things in her own life that may build up to cause her “volcano to erupt” with emotions. The next step was to share different coping strategies that she uses in order to keep her “volcano from erupting”. 

“They were very engaged when I shared some of my own personal struggles and coping strategies. One student even said, ‘I’m going to try that!’ when I talked about how much I write in a journal almost every night,” Ms. Ryan said. 

three students leaning over a project to make a volcanoThe students followed her lead by drawing volcanoes on paper and wrote different things inside the volcano that may lead to an emotional “eruption”. Next, they drew lava erupting with the words of different emotions that those events may cause such as: sad, mad, frustrated, tired, and anxious.

For the finale, students had a blast working in groups to make model volcanoes erupt on dinosaur figurines by combining vinegar, baking soda, water, dish soap and food coloring. Ms. Ryan said, “they were thrilled and yelling for more baking soda and vinegar. It was awesome to have our principal, Mrs. Irwin, in the room at the time. It means a lot to the students and myself to have her around helping out and forming relationships in the classroom.”

a classroom doing group projects and close to the screen are four students looking over a volcano experimentPrincipal Irwin was impressed and said, “The students demonstrated a sense of self-awareness and benefited from an opportunity to express their emotions in a meaningful and fun way, all while learning about science. It was a great example of embedding social-emotional learning into content area material.”