All About Mount Rushmore


With our All About Mount Rushmore lesson plan, students learn all about Mt. Rushmore, including how and why it was built and when. Students also learn why it is still important today as a monument.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to invite someone who’s been to Mount Rushmore to speak to your class about the monument.

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What our All About Mount Rushmore lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: All About Mount Rushmore lesson plan introduces students to one of the most interesting and unique monuments in the United States and perhaps the world, Mount Rushmore. The lesson lists the four faces carved into Mount Rushmore and the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum. The lesson also provides some history of both the monument and mountain on which it is sculpted. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify the presidents of Mount Rushmore, explain the significance of the monument, list interesting facts about Rushmore, and summarize history. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade, 4the grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are colored pencils, markers, construction paper, scratch paper, Internet access, and the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One optional addition to the lesson activity is to have students vote on each other’s posters to decide which is the best, most creative, most colorful, and more. If you’d like to add an additional activity to this lesson, you can have students use soap bars or other materials to create their own Mount Rushmore with one or more president’s heads. You can also assign one of the presidents on Mount Rushmore to each student to research and share additional information about. You could also have your students create a PowerPoint, brochure, or 3D model of Mount Rushmore. Finally, you can invite someone who’s been to Mount Rushmore to speak to your class about the monument.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Mount Rushmore

The All About Mount Rushmore lesson plan includes five pages of content. In the United States, we have a few very significant presidents who represented some of the most important events in the country’s history, like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Because of their contributions to the U.S., the designer of the monument at Mount Rushmore chose the four of them for the monument.

Every year, almost three million people visit the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This monument symbolizes freedom and hope in America. A sculptor named Gutzon Borglum created the carved sculptures of the faces of the four presidents. He led this project from 1927 to its completion in 1941.

They carved the memorial into the southeastern face of Mount Rushmore. We sometimes also call this monument the “Shrine of Democracy.” It’s one of America’s most popular tourist attractions. You can find it just north of Custer State Park in the Black Hills National Forest in North Dakota. They named the mountain after Charles E. Rushmore, a lawyer in New York who traveled to the Black Hills in 1884 to inspect mining claims in the region.

While Rushmore was there, he asked a local man about the name of the mountain. The man told him that the mountain never had a name, so the Rushmore named it after himself, calling it Rushmore Peak. Later, they called it Rushmore Mountain. Today, we call it Mount Rushmore.

A South Dakota state historian named Doane Robinson wanted to attracted visitors to the state in the 1920s and had the idea to sculpt the state’s natural granite pillars into historic heroes of the west. First, Robinson suggested sculpting Red Cloud, a Lakota chief, into the mountain. However, in August 1924, an American sculptor named Gutzon Borglum who they had contacted about the project suggested that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would attract more visitors. Later, they added two more presidents to the project.

Carving the Mountain

Next, they needed to find a location for the monument. Borglum visited the Black Hills in August 1925 and chose Mount Rushmore as the site for the project. People, including the local Native Americans and environmentalists, opposed the project because it would desecrate the natural landscape.

Robinson, the state’s historian, raised the money for the project along with the mayor of Rapid City, a local senator, and many other people. Calvin Coolidge, the president at the time, visited the area and the sculptor convinced him to give an official dedication speech at Rushmore.

Coolidge gave the speech on August 10, 1927, and they began carving the mountain on October 4, 1927. At the end of his term, Coolidge also signed legislation that allowed $250,000 of federal funds for the project and created the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission to help the project along.

Almost 400 men and women worked on the project as messengers, workers, drillers, blacksmiths, and housekeepers. They earned about $8.00 a day. They worked in very harsh conditions, like heat and cold and wind. Every day, they climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to work.

Workers lowered each other down the front of the face of the mountain using 3/8-inch thick steel cables in “bosun chairs,” which suspended the workers in the air so they could work. This work happened during the Great Depression, so even though the work was very hard and dangerous, people were happy to have jobs.

They carved about 90% of the mountain using dynamite, which was exciting but dangerous. Powdermen cut and set the dynamite charges to specific sizes in order to remove the right amount of rock each time. No workers died during the 14 years it took them to complete the monument.

They used dynamite until they only had three to six inches of rock to remove during carving. Drillers and assistant carvers drilled many holes in the granite, using a process called honeycombing to weaken the granite. They then removed the remaining granite by hand. They removed about 450,000 tons of rock total from Mount Rushmore. Some of this removed material is still in piles near the base of the mountain today.

They held dedication ceremonies as they completed each head. On July 4, 1930, they held a dedication ceremony for Washington’s head. Next, on August 30, 1936, they held a dedication ceremony for Jefferson’s head. They originally meant to put his head to the right of Washington’s, but moved it because the stone was too weak. Next, on September 17, 1937, they held a dedication ceremony for Lincoln’s head. Finally, on July 2, 1939, they held a dedication ceremony for Roosevelt’s head. They finished all final drilling on October 31, 1941 and held a final dedication ceremony for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Unfortunately, Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941, before the final dedication. However, his son, Lincoln Borglum, completed the final details.

More About Mount Rushmore

They chose the four presidents carved into the mountain of Mount Rushmore due to their accomplishments during their lifetimes and presidencies. People suggested many different figures for the monument, but they settled on Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.

George Washington (1732-1799) led the colonists during the American Revolutionary War and won independence from Great Britain. We sometimes call him the “Father of the Country,” and he was the first President of the United States. They chose him to represent the birth of the U.S.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) wrote most of the Declaration of Independence. He also purchased the Louisiana Territory from the French, doubling the size of the United States. They chose him to represent the growth of the U.S.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) led the United States during a period of rapid growth. He helped lead the construction of the Panama Canal which linked the east and west, and also focused on the rights for the common man. They chose him to represent the development of the U.S.

Finally, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) led the nation during the Civil War and preserved the union of the United States. He also worked to abolish slavery. They chose him to represent the preservation of the U.S.

Other Interesting Facts

There are so many things to learn about Mount Rushmore. It’s about 5,725 feet above sea level. They wanted to carve the figures from head to waist, but couldn’t because of the cost (the project cost about a million dollars). They monitor Mount Rushmore for cleaning and sealing cracks every year. The monument itself is 60 feet high, Each of the heads are about six stories tall, the eyes are 11 feet across, the noses are 20 feet across, and the mouths are 18 feet wide.

Located behind the monument, the Hall of Records cave includes a vault with 16 porcelain enamel panels with the text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, biographies of the presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S.

Mount Rushmore is an iconic symbol of the United States. It’s in movies and books. It represents the birth, growth, development, and preservation of the Unites States.


The All About Mount Rushmore lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will work with a partner to complete the activity worksheet. Each pair will create a poster that encourages people to visit Mount Rushmore, including facts about the monument, drawings or images, text, and more. They will create a rough draft of the poster before creating the final version. Once they completed the poster, they will present it to the class or share it with another pair of students.

Students can also work either alone or in groups to complete this activity.


The practice worksheet asks students to first answer ten questions about Mount Rushmore. They will also look at a list of ten numbers and describe their significance as they relate to Mount Rushmore.


For the homework assignment, students will complete two short exercises. For the first, they will place ten events related to Mount Rushmore in chronological order. And for the second, they will match ten statements with the correct President.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies

State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Great Material

I homeschool five girls and we are travelling to Mount Rushmore soon. This was a great addition to our studies; the NPS has broken links to curriculum on their own website, so this was a very exciting find for us. It is a good overview of the monument as well as homework and questions related to studying the monument.


Mt. Rushmore

My students loved learning about Mt. Rushmore. Most had heard of it but they were all amazed at how much they didn't know about it.

Georgia W.

Mt. Rushmore

Hello. My name is Georgia Whitacre and I'm a Special Needs Education Teacher. This was a wonderful topic on presidents day and my student was happy with it when we read it together and the questions that went with it was very enlightening. There were facts in the paper that even my husband and I shared over dinner. So, this was an excellent source of information. Thank You.

star g.

Excellent Worksheets

Honestly, this was the best website to find a great worksheet for my daughter to learn more after-school. Thank you Clarendon Learning!

jaqlyn p.

Great info

Very helpful tool