Effigy Mounds National Monument: Explanatory Texts


Students will write an explanatory text summarizing facts about Effigy Mounds National Monument.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters


Students will write an explanatory text summarizing facts about Effigy Mounds National Monument.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts


  • 2nd
  • 3rd

Class Time

  • Sessions: One
  • Session Length: 30-45 minutes
  • Total Length: 0-45 minutes


  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic understanding of explanatory texts including introductions, supporting facts and conclusions. Students should also have a basic understanding of Native Americans.

Terms and Concepts

  • America the Beautiful Quarters program
  • Effigy Mounds
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)



Lesson Steps

  1. Display and examine the 2017 Effigy Mounds National Monument quarter reverse image.
  2. Explain that this coin is worth twenty-five cents.
  3. Ask the students what information may be inferred from the inscriptions. As students make their inferences, list them on the board or chart paper.
  4. Explain that Effigy Mounds National Monument was established in 1949. The park protects one of the largest remaining concentrations of ancient American Indian earthworks in the United States. It is considered a sacred landscape by members of many modern-day tribes whose ancestors once lived here. The park is home to more than 200 mounds in a wide variety of forms, including more than 30 animal or bird-shaped "effigy" mounds for which the park is named. Often more than 100 feet long individually, many of these animal and bird shaped mounds are perched high atop rugged bluffs overlooking the adjacent Mississippi River. Aside from preserving these tangible links to an ancient and highly creative people, the park features outstanding views of the Mississippi River Valley, and hosts many of the native plant and animal communities that sustained people in this area for millennia.
  5. Referencing the image, explain that the 2017 Effigy Mounds National Monument (IA) Quarter reverse coin design depicts an aerial view of mounds in the Marching Bear Group. Inscriptions are "EFFIGY MOUNDS," "IOWA," "2017," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."
  6. Using the websites listed in "preparation," have a class discussion about the mounds and their significance.
  7. Hand out the "Effigy Mounds Explanatory Texts Checklist and Worksheet" and explain that the class will write a short explanatory sample of writing that summarizes facts about Effigy Mounds.
  8. Explain that their summary must have the following: An introduction, facts supporting a point and a conclusion.
  9. Have the students complete the checklist as they work.
  10. Collect the worksheets.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Provide printed texts for review during assignment.
  • Allow students to use computers to write text.
  • Have students work in pairs or groups.


Technology Extensions

  • Have students create multimedia presentations using materials from the websites listed under preparations.


Effigy Mounds: Explanatory Texts Checklist and Worksheet


Directions: Circle each as you complete.

  • I used an introduction.
  • I added at least one fact.
  • I used a conclusion

Common Core Standards

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RH.8-8.1 Language
Grade(s): Grades 6– 8
Cluster: Key ideas and details

  • RH.6-8.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • RH.6-8.7. Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
  • RH.6-8.8. Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.


National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.