1. Have students start the Venn Diagram.
Distribute a copy of the worksheet Venn Diagram to each student. Ask students to write the following labels:
- Left circle: Composite volcanoes
- Right circle: Shield volcanoes
- Overlapping circles: Both
If students already know any information about the two types of volcanoes, enourage them to write it. Tell students they will have an opportunity to check their information when they watch a video.
2. Introduce and watch the video.
Explain to students that they will watch a short video about two types of volcanoes. Encourage them to pay attention to descriptive phrases about the volcanoes. Show students the National Geographic video “Volcanoes 101,” which profiles two of the most common volcano types—with Vesuvius and Kilauea as examples.
3. Have students complete the worksheet independently.
Ask students to complete the Venn diagram with the information they learned in the video. If needed, show the video a second time. Students should include information such as:
- Composite volcanoes: steep slopes; thick, sticky lava; lava does not flow quickly or far; erupt violently
- Shield volcanoes: gentle slopes; runny lava; lava flows quickly; lava may flow far; erupt less violently
- What type of volcano is Mt. Vesuvius? What are the characteristics of that type? (composite, or stratovolcano; erupts violently)
- What type of volcano is Kilauea? What are the characteristics of that type? (shield volcano; erupts less violently but still dangerous)
- Who or what is in danger from volcanic eruptions? (people, property, and wildlife)
Have students add any new information to their worksheets.
Extending the Learning
Have students check on the real-time status of some of the volcanoes tracked by the USGS by going to the provided online Volcano Status Map.
Subjects & Disciplines
- Earth science
- define terms
- explain how shield and composite volcanoes are similar and different
- Multimedia instruction
What You’ll Need
Materials You Provide
The resources are also available at the top of the page.
Background & Vocabulary
Volcanoes are natural hazards in many parts of the world, and throughout human history. Different types of volcanoes erupt in different ways. Geologists usually group volcanoes into four main types: cinder cones, composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes, and lava domes. You can learn about some of the different types of volcanoes in order to understand the dangers of volcanoes.
Recommended Prior Activities
|Term||Part of Speech||Definition||Encyclopedic Entry|
steep volcano made of hardened lava, rock, and ash. Also known as a stratovolcano.
molten rock, or magma, that erupts from volcanoes or fissures in the Earth's surface.
molten, or partially melted, rock beneath the Earth's surface.
|Encyclopedic Entry: magma|
large, gently sloping volcano made from fluid lava.
steep volcano made of hardened lava, rock, and ash. Also known as a composite volcano.
For Further Exploration
The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.
Mark H. Bockenhauer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Geography, St. Norbert College
Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
Jenda Johnson, Geologist
adapted from National Geographic Xpeditions lesson “Volcano Hazards: Describing a Dangerous Mix”
For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service.
If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact email@example.com for more information and to obtain a license.
If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please visit our FAQ page.
Some media assets (videos, photos, audio recordings and PDFs) can be downloaded and used outside the National Geographic website according to the Terms of Service. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the lower right hand corner () of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.
Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.
Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.