Lesson Plan

Creating your own volcano .gif file!

Children use their artistic and tech skills to develop an erupting volcano animated .gif file
Jonathan K.
Technology coordinator
Jerudong International School, Brunei
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My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, English-Language Learning, Health & Wellness

Students will be able to...use the paint tools in Paint.net to create 7-10 erupting volcano images. Also use an online .gif generator to order the volcano images into a pleasing animation.


Grades 3 – 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook: Setting the scene!

As children arrive into the classroom have an erupting volcano video playing.  This acts as the 'hook' and gets the children excited.  Ask them which colours they see.  Be surprised that there is so much grey/black from the smoke!  

2 Direct Instruction

Show how to load the paint package you will be using. In my case I used paint.net but others will work well.  Show the children the blank 20x20 square and get each to load one up into paint.net.

Examine together the example of the 20x20 square decorated to look like a volcano in full-eruption.

Familiarise/re-familiarise the children with both the eyedropper and flood fill tools.

Get them to turn the 'tolerance' down to under 10% when filling - this will stop dark colours leaking across the whole grid.

Provide a copy each of a completed volcano grid. Issue the challenge that they have to replicate it.  Some will want to copy it exactly, and that's fine; others will want to go their own way with it. The key message is that they must end up with a volcano in full-eruption.

3 Guided Practice

Children will develop their volcano 20x20 grid.

Regular saving a must!

When they have finished (this may take a while) children need to save their work with a different name, eg volcano2.

They then alter the picture to remove some lava and make it look like it has not erupted so much.

Repeat this process until the children have 8-10 images, (volcano1, volcano2, volcano 3) each with slightly less eruption than the previous image.  Remember the higher the number in the filename when saving, the less lava there will be. Replace the lava with sky or similar.  The final image the children save will just be a volcano before the eruption. Just the crater.

4 Direct Instruction - making the .gif file

Show the children an Animated GIF maker website such as the one provided.

**Warning** some of the these sites can contain inappropriate adverts so choose carefully.

Children will upload their 8-10 images and reorder them to create an animated pattern they are happy with.

This gif file can be downloaded to be used digitally, perhaps as a profile picture or as a display on the school website.  The first image they created would look great on a classroom wall display as well, incidentally!


This 'lesson' in reality does take several sessions but it is worth the effort as the result can be quite spectacular, with a bit of perseverance.  Having the grid as well makes this accessible for even the most reluctant of artists.  My quick example here on the Slides presentation should give you an idea of what you could end up with.

Happy filling!