ARTSEDGE Lessons for Elementary School

Mountain Creation: A Drama Exploration

Explore the world of mountain creation through art and science


Key Staff

Can be taught by a classroom teacher without outside assistance.

Key Skills

Making Art: Performance Skills and Techniques
Developing Arts Literacies: Applying Vocabulary
Global Connections: Connecting to History and Culture
Creative Thinking: Communication and Collaboration


After examining a poem about mountain creation from a Native American perspective and watching a scientifically-accurate film about mountain formation, students will write their own mountain-creation legend and use dramatization to demonstrate their understanding of one of the three ways a mountain can be formed. Additionally, they will create a mountain-shaped poem to conclude the lesson.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Learn about mountains and geological time.
  • Demonstrate understanding of connections between fact-based information and fictional sources.
  • Work collaboratively with others to write a creation legend and produce a creative dramatization.
  • Write a formatted poem about mountains.

Teaching Approach

Arts Integration

Teaching Methods

  • Discussion
  • Experiential Learning
  • Large or Small Group Instruction
  • Direct Instruction

Assessment Type

Performance Assessment


What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Classroom
  • Internet Access
  • Projector
Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

  • Obtain a copy of The Way to Make Perfect Mountains: Native American Legends of Sacred Mountains and read the poem of the same name by Byrd Baylor.
  • Review video: How Mountains are Formed [http://videos.howstuffworks.com/hsw/17733-mountains-how-mountains-are-formed-video.htm]

Prior Student Knowledge

Students should know the definition of “legend” (unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical).

Physical Space



  • Large Group Instruction
  • Small Group Instruction


Prepare open area for dramatization.

Accessibility Notes

Hearing impaired students may require signing or a transcript of the video. The video uses scientifically-accurate terms, which may be intimidating for some students, especially ESL.

The teacher may wish to spotlight certain terms from the video on the board and explain them once more.


Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.

Build Knowledge


1. Read “The Way to Make Perfect Mountains” by Byrd Baylor located within the Resource Carousel. Have students close their eyes while you read this poem to them. Ask them what they envisioned as the words were read. Guide the discussion by asking about colors, direction, birds, etc. You may want to recreate the legend on the blackboard using the four directions. Ask them if they think the mountains were actually created this way.

2. Discuss the definition of a legend. Explain that a legend is an unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical. It is fiction as opposed to factual. Ask students if they know any other legends.

Build Knowledge

1. Watch the video How Mountains are Formed about mountain formation. After viewing the film with students, reinforce the three types of mountain formation (folded, fault-block, and dome/volcanic) and terminology that is age- or grade-appropriate. Refer to Mountain Formation worksheet. (NOTE TO TEACHERS: The film ends abruptly but all needed information is present.)

2. Locate major mountain ranges and state- or region-specific mountains on a map or globe. If possible, use a 3-D relief map to show mountain ranges. Have students “feel” the elevation. Identify the type of mountain, if possible.

3. Demonstrate mountain folding using flexible foam board. With the four layers of foam atop one another, apply pressure to two opposing ends. The layers will either bend upward or downward, to create folded mountains.


1. Write an original legend about mountain formation. Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group a type of mountain formation. Ask them to refer to the Mountain Formation worksheet for the science behind their type of mountain formation. Remind students that a legend is a fictional story that cannot be verified. Encourage them to be as creative as possible.

2. Produce and present each original legend as a dramatization. Each group will present its legend in dramatic form. You may choose to limit students to movement only (no verbalization), no props or costumes, etc. Ask the audience if they can determine the type of mountain formation by the presented legend.


1. Write a mountain poem. Use the Mountain Poem worksheet as a guide.

2. Display the final poems for the class (and others) to see.


Assess the student's work using the Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education

Grade K-4 Theater Standard 1: Script writing by planning and recording improvisations based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history

Grade K-4 Theater Standard 2: Acting by assuming roles and interacting in improvisations

Grade K-4 Theater Standard 3: Designing by visualizing and arranging environments for classroom dramatizations

Grade K-4 Theater Standard 4: Directing by planning classroom dramatizations

National Standards in Other Subjects
Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

Language Arts Standard 2: Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing

Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes


Science Standard 2: Understands Earth's composition and structure



Mary Beth Bauernschub
Original Writer

Carol Parenzan Smalley
Orignial Writer

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Use this collection of resources and articles to devise an approach for supporting individual needs in the classroom: from English Language Learners or students with disabilities, to conflict resolution and giving feedback.



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