Volcanoes: Good Grief!

During my teaching practice as part of my teacher training (a long time ago now!), I designed my first creative teaching and learning activity:

To illustrate the life cycle of a volcano, students had to draw simple cartoons to represent active, dormant an extinct volcanoes. It was always a favourite with my Geography students, even with my older learners! 

It was simple — and, definitely took indirect inspiration from other sources — but was lots of fun and very effective!

Over the years, this activity has evolved:

  • Students would use their cartoons to create comic strips to tell the story.
  • When our iPad programme began, we also used emoji to represent the different stages. 
  • When Apple Pencil and the Logitech Crayon became compatible with the base model iPad (6th Gen - 2018), some students drew their volcanoes on iPad using Keynote, Notes or Sketches School. 
  • Students recreated their drawings using shapes in Keynote, and then animated their volcanoes — which was particularly effective with an active volcano! 

My latest evolution of this activity was based on the awesome ‘Today at Apple, At Home” video:


Students created Peanuts-style cartoon drawings of the 3 stages of a volcano’s life cycle.

Learning Objectives for this lesson:

  • Understand the stages in the life cycle of a volcano.
  • Identify key characteristics of a volcano at each stage.
  • Create Peanuts-style cartoon drawings of the 3 stages of a volcano’s life cycle.


A cartoon active volcano, drawn in the style of the Peanuts TV show with Apple Pencil on iPad.

 Students demonstrated their learning by drawing volcanoes in the style of Peanuts / The Snoopy Show to illustrate the stages in the life cycle of a volcano — active, dormant and extinct.



A cartoon dormant volcano, drawn in the style of the Peanuts TV show with Apple Pencil on iPad.

They used either Pages, Keynote or Sketches School using Apple Pencil, Logitech Crayon or their finger to draw.


A cartoon extinct volcano, drawn in the style of the Peanuts TV show with Apple Pencil on iPad.

They added headings, definitions, key words and examples below their drawings.  


Volcanoes: Good Grief! 3 cartoon volcanoes drawn on iPad in the style of the Peanuts TV show.

This lesson formed part of my Apple Teacher Portfolio as an ‘Explore’ lesson, but could be easily adapted and used as an ‘’Activate’ or ‘Apply’ lesson depending on the age, skill level, positioning of the activity, and has lots of opportunities for extension activities. 

I used this lesson with my 1st Year Geography class (12-13 years old), but it could easily be used in different contexts with other age groups too!

10 replies

November 17, 2022

Love the use of the Peanuts characters to explain stages of Volcanoes. The drawings are so fun! Engaging lesson, thanks for the steps, Eoin!

November 19, 2022

Thanks so much, Cheryl!

It’s a fun challenge: Personalise your drawing — within a certain style — whilst demonstrating subject content knowledge.

Students really enjoy it! 🌋 😊

November 18, 2022

I love this lesson activity Eoin! The Peanuts characters have such a specific style to them that is so fun for students to replicate. Thanks for sharing!

November 21, 2022

Thanks, Jessica!

I love the classic Peanuts-style character designs and how students can really personalise their drawings/designs (of both volcanoes, and of themselves too!) in such a recognisable and iconic style! 🌋 😊

November 22, 2022

I love how you were inspired by the At home with apple videos and used it as inspiration for this project. I am always amazed by your creativity.

November 26, 2022

Thanks so much, JJ! 😊

I just always try to do that with all sorts of resources, media and activities. Think how it could fit into or be adapted for my classroom context and subject areas, or that of my colleagues.

For me anyway, the more I look and keep my eyes open, the more ideas I find! 💡👀

November 28, 2022

I love this but I would also get the students to annotate the explanations so it builds as a video. A great application. Playing the Disney “I lava you” song in the background would be nice too.

November 30, 2022

Thanks, Heidi!

Love the idea of adding annotations and turning it into a video! We do that with volcanoes and other topics (particularly in physical geography).

I love using the ‘Lava’ song in lessons as I get to combine so many of my favourite things into my teaching: Music, Geography and playing ukulele! 😊

November 29, 2022

I thought of Eoin’s creative assignment as I read about the current eruption of Mauna Loa. (NPR News: Mauna Loa. Hawaii's Mauna Loa, the world's biggest active volcano, erupts after 38 years).

Students may want to follow this story by creating a iMovie Magic Movie with the images from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) most of which are public domain. Here is a link to the site:

Photo and Video Chronology - Mauna Loa -The site “provides visual updates of eruptive activity, field work, and more.” Students can download the images to their Photos app and upload into iMovie to watch the progress of the flow. Adding music and narration would be a creative plus!

December 06, 2022

Thanks, Cheryl! These are wonderful resources on the ongoing Mauna Loa eruption. 🌋

This would be a great complement to my adaptation of the Today At Apple Peanuts activity and/or, as you mention, extended through other iPad activities such as iMovie video projects! Great ideas!

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