Types of Volcanoes

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11769

Can you imagine a river made of fire, or a mountain making its own fireworks display? Volcanoes usually look peaceful, but when they wake up, look out! Watch videos and make your own (safe) volcano!


Earth Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Have you ever seen a mountain blow its top? Did you know rocks could get so hot they melt? Watch some of creation's most powerful explosions!

Volcanoes are shaped like innocent mountains or hills, but watch out!

They have craters or vents where lava, smoke, and rock emerge. When lava is under the surface of a volcano, it is called magma.

Volcanoes can be found in many places around the world. Can you think of a place on Earth where there is a volcano? Volcanoes can be found in many different countries, and even under water. Ask your parent or teacher to help you view and read Dorling Kindersley Limited's webpage Where are Earth's volcanoes?

volcano eruption

There are three types of volcanoes.

The first volcano you will learn about is called a composite volcano (also known as a stratovolcano). This is a type of volcano you may recognize. These volcanoes have steep sides and are cone-shaped. Composite volcanoes have craters at the very top. The crater is where the lava, rock, and smoke come out when the volcano erupts. Inside a composite volcano, you will find cinders (ash and stone) and flowing lava. Composite volcanoes have explosive eruptions. The picture below shows Mt. Fuji, a composite volcano located in Japan:

Mt. Fuji

The second type of volcano you will learn about is the cinder cone volcano. A cinder volcano is shaped like a hill. They are not nearly as steep as composite volcanoes. Cinder cone volcanoes are shaped by volcanic debris from previous eruptions. This type of volcano usually has a large, bowl-shaped crater. Cinder cone volcanoes only erupt once and do not have strong eruptions. The picture below shows the Capulin Volcano in New Mexico:

Capulin Volcano

Image by the National Park Service, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

The third volcano you will learn about is the shield volcano. If you were to look down from above onto a shield volcano, it would look like a warrior's shield. Shield volcanoes are cone-shaped, but their slopes are not very steep. This type of volcano has many vents (pathways) where flowing lava can be found. When a shield volcano erupts, all the lave flows out of the top and forms multiple different rivers of lava that head down the slope of the volcano. The shield volcano, Erta Ale, can be found in Ethiopia:

Erta Ale

Image by filippo_jean, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Did you know there are three types of volcanoes? Which volcano has the steepest slope and stands the tallest out of all three types? Share your answer with your parent or teacher, then move on to the Got It? section.

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