Faces of Mount Rushmore


Starting with the Mount Rushmore National Memorial quarter, students will demonstrate an understanding of how to compare and contrast. Students will demonstrate an understanding of scale measurements.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters


  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of how to compare and contrast.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of scale measurements.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Math
  • Social Studies


  • 4th
  • 5th
  • 6th

Class Time

  • Sessions: Two
  • Session Length: 45-60 minutes
  • Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Pairs
  • Individual work


  • Worksheets:
    • "Mount Rushmore National Memorial Quarter"
    • "Measuring Mount Rushmore"
    • "Measuring Mount Rushmore Key"
  • An age-appropriate text that gives information about Mount Rushmore, such as:
    • Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose: Growing Up on Mount Rushmore by Tina Nichols Coury
    • Rushmore by Lynn Curlee
    • Who Carved the Mountain: The Story of Mount Rushmore by Jean L. S. Patrick
  • Age-appropriate, relevant Web sites, such as:
    • Mount Rushmore National Memorial: www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm
    • Mount Rushmore National Memorial carving history: www.nps.gov/moru/historyculture/carving-history.htm
    • Library of Congress image of scaled sculpture: www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ cph.3c05079/



Worksheets and files (PDF)

Lesson Steps

  1. Display and examine the "Mount Rushmore National Park Quarter" page or use the zoom feature at www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/atb/?local=Mount Rushmore. Locate this national site on a class map. Note its position in relation to your school's location. Tell the students that the front of a coin is called the "obverse" and the back is called the "reverse." As background information, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 designs. Each design will focus on a different national site— one from each state, territory and the District of Columbia.
  2. Locate and display an image of Mount Rushmore. Ask the students to identify each president. Distribute one "Measuring Mount Rushmore" worksheet to each student. Have the students record their predictions on the worksheet while studying the image. Have the students share their predictions with the class. Read a chosen text on Mount Rushmore to learn about the monument's history and how it was carved.
  3. Using the "Measuring Mount Rushmore Key," give the students the correct measurements and have them record them on their worksheets. Encourage the students to compare and contrast their predictions to the correct sizes.
  4. Using various measuring tools (yardsticks, rulers, measuring tapes, string or yarn cut to the correct lengths), have the students mark the width of the eyes of the sculptures (11 ft) by laying the measuring tools out on the classroom floor or outside on a large open space such as a playground. Repeat this for the mouth width (18 ft.) and the nose length (20 or 21 ft.). As a class, discuss the size of the mountain that might be needed to create four faces with these dimensions. Explain how the creators used a scale measure of 1 inch to 12 inches from the original scaled sculpture to the final sculpture. Show students the photo of the scale model from the Library of Congress Web site listed under "Resources" below. Have students complete the problems on the "Measuring Mount Rushmore" worksheet.
  5. Have students work in pairs to measure and record the width of their eyes, nose and mouth using centimeter measurements. Have students draw a scale model portrait of their face using a scale of 1 cm to 10 cm on poster board.
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  • Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions and activities.
  • Evaluate the students' worksheets for understanding of the lesson objectives.

Common Core Standards

Discipline: Math
Domain: 4.MD Measurement and Data
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit

  • 4.MD.1. Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm, kg, g, lb, oz, l, ml, hr, min and sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two column table.
    • For example, know that 1ft is 12 times as long as 1in. Express the length of a 4ft snake as 48in. Generate a conversion table for feet and inches listing the number pairs (1, 12), (2, 24), (3, 36), ...
  • 4.MD.2. Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.
  • 4.MD.3. Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems. For example, find the width of a rectangular room given the area of the flooring and the length, by viewing the area formula as a multiplication equation with an unknown factor. 

National Standards

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: 6-8 Measurement
Cluster: Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.
Grade(s): Grades 6–8

In grades 6–8 all students should

  • use common benchmarks to select appropriate methods for estimating measurements;
  • select and apply techniques and tools to accurately find length, area, volume, and angle measures to appropriate levels of precision;
  • develop and use formulas to determine the circumference of circles and the area of triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids, and circles and develop strategies to find the area of more-complex shapes;
  • develop strategies to determine the surface area and volume of selected prisms, pyramids, and cylinders;
  • solve problems involving scale factors, using ratio and proportion; and
  • solve simple problems involving rates and derived measurements for such attributes as velocity and density.

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: 3-5 Measurement
Cluster: Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.
Grade(s): Grades 6–8

In grades 3–5 all students should

  • develop strategies for estimating the perimeters, areas, and volumes of irregular shapes;
  • select and apply appropriate standard units and tools to measure length, area, volume, weight, time, temperature, and the size of angles;
  • select and use benchmarks to estimate measurements;
  • develop, understand, and use formulas to find the area of rectangles and related triangles and parallelograms; and
  • develop strategies to determine the surface areas and volumes of rectangular solids.

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: 3-5 Measurement
Cluster: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement.
Grade(s): Grades 6–8

In grades 3–5 all students should

  • understand such attributes as length, area, weight, volume, and size of angle and select the appropriate type of unit for measuring each attribute;
  • understand the need for measuring with standard units and become familiar with standard units in the customary and metric systems;
  • carry out simple unit conversions, such as from centimeters to meters, within a system of measurement;
  • understand that measurements are approximations and how differences in units affect precision; and
  • explore what happens to measurements of a two-dimensional shape such as its perimeter and area when the shape is changed in some way.