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Teacher Feature

Teacher Feature

Forming the Grand Canyon


Using the Grand Canyon National Park quarter as a starting point, students will understand the concepts of erosion and sedimentary rock.


The Grand Canyon National Park is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.  This site was established as a national site on February 20, 1893.  The Grand Canyon National Park quarter illustrates a view of the Nankoweap Delta, with a hiker walking along a path.  Even on the quarter, it’s easy to see the depth of the Grand Canyon and the uneven surface of the canyon walls.

Use full color photos to examine the features more closely.  Brainstorm as a class how the Grand Canyon might have formed. Using supporting library resources, have the students research and gain an understanding of the terms "erosion" and "sedimentary rock."

To study the effects of erosion on land masses, assign each student a different time period and ask them to illustrate what the Grand Canyon looked like at that time.  Line up the illustrations sequentially to see the effects of erosion and how it formed what is the Grand Canyon today.

To learn more about the park without leaving the classroom, take advantage of the interactive classroom provided by the National Park Service.

Make a Connection

Do you know that we have a collection of lesson plans based on the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program for educators and students to enjoy? The America the Beautiful Quarters Program lesson plans are ready for you to use in your classroom! Check out the FREE, online, project-based lesson plans on the page linked above, in sets designed specifically for grades K and 1, 2 and 3, and 4 through 6.

Are you a secondary school teacher interested in introducing the America the Beautiful Quarters Program into your curriculum?  Well, now you can!  Our lesson plan starters for grades 7 and 8 and 9 through 12 will help your students use this program to explore the rich history of national sites.

Related Subject Areas: Science

Descriptions: Students will use the Grand Canyon National Park quarter to understand erosion and sedimentary rock.

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