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Teacher Feature

Teacher Feature

Rock Solid Vocabulary


Students will use the Arches National Park quarter to learn vocabulary related to rocks and rock formations.  Students will apply their knowledge to other lesson plans. 


Display the Arches National Park quarter coloring page to show details of the coin image.  Tell the students that the quarter's design features Delicate Arch, a 65-foot freestanding natural arch.  It is widely recognized in Utah and the most famous arch in the park, depicted on postage stamps and license plates.  The Olympic torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics passed through this arch.  The La Sal Mountains are visible in the background. 

Display color photos of Arches National park and read the June Coin of the Month as a class.  Use a timeline to discuss the longevity of rock formations and the process of erosion and weathering. 

Using available online and classroom resources, have the students learn more about Arches National Park and geology-related vocabulary.  Suggested vocabulary terms include geology, rock cycle, erosion, weathering, fins, pinnacles, arches, strata, desert varnish, manganese, classify, sandstone, mineral, metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary.  Discuss the students' findings and record them on chart paper. 

Have the students use their research findings to create large illustrated dictionary pages.  Have them write summary statements based on their research and class discussions.  Display the illustrated pages in the classroom.

As an extension, have students create a crossword puzzle using the vocabulary words. 

Make a Connection

Have the students apply their vocabulary knowledge to other lesson plans relating to rocks, rock formations, and erosion, such as: 

  • "Let's Build an Arch" (grades 2 and 3):  Learning how patterns of erosion affect the landscape. 
  • "A Delicate Arch" (grades 7 and 8):  Solving problems involving the circumference of a circle and scale drawings of geometric figures. 
  • "Rock On!" (grades 4 through 6):  Investigating common rock types, especially igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. 
  • "Layer by Layer" (grades 4 through 6):  Identifying the geological materials that comprise the various layers of the Grand Canyon. 
  • "Forming the Grand Canyon" (Teacher Feature, grades 3 through 6):  Understanding the concepts of erosion and sedimentary rock using the Grand Canyon National Park quarter. 
  • "Neither Wind Nor Rain" (grades 4 through 6):  Exploring the effects of wind and water on landforms in the Badlands and elsewhere. 

Be sure to use all the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program lesson plans to explore the rich history of the states and of other national sites with your students.  There are more than 75 of these free downloadable lesson plans available for grades K through 12. 

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