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Take a piece of PVC pipe and cap one end with a cap to make it water tight. Paper mache around a piece of PVC pipe a volcano (cap end down). Paint and seal the paper mache so it is somewhat water tight if you need to repeat the effect.
Mix red and yellow food coloring to create lava orange and add it to a mixture of water, baking soda, and dish soap.
When you need the volcano to erupt and create lava just add vinegar, a bit of lighting, and sound effects.
The vinegar and baking soda react to form CO2 gas, causing the dish soap to foam and be forced out of the PVC pipe. The pipe doesn't have to be tall, just tall enough to give you the volume of lava you want.
It should be pretty cheap to make and non toxic. The worst part is the food coloring stains.
With a bit of planning the vinegar holder can be concealed in the volcano.
Hope this helps.
We just finished Lava Lava last night. We had a large 8 foot paper mache volcano that had a fog machine inside it. Worked great! Had a red spotlight inside pointing out so that the fog looked red.
On the other side of the stage we had another 8 foot paper mache volcano. Had red and orange streamers attached to the top. Used a house fan inside to blow out the streamers.