Mountain Facts & Definition: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 What Makes a Mountain?
  • 0:43 Volcanoes
  • 1:19 Fold Mountains
  • 1:48 Black Mountains
  • 2:18 Some Mountain Facts
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jonathan Crocker
We all love to spend time in the mountains. In winter, we are thrilled to slide downhill on sleds, skis, or snowboards. In summer, we hike, climb, and camp. But what makes mountains so special? How do they get to be so unique and inspiring?

What Makes a Mountain?

Not everyone agrees on what qualifies as a mountain. To some, it doesn't need to be very tall, only that it is much higher than everything around it. To others, a mountain must be a certain height, known as elevation, such as 1,000 or 2,000 feet above sea level. But there are some very flat places that are already that high, such as the Great Plains in western Kansas and Nebraska, so some definitions also require that a mountain has a certain height as well as a slope. Remember that slope is a measure of how steep something is. One thing is for sure: you know a mountain when you see one!


One type of mountain is the volcano. Volcanoes form when magma comes up through the Earth's crust to erupt as lava at the surface. This can happen underwater or on land. The eruptions can be slow and gurgling or fast and violent, but each eruption adds more and more rock to the mountain when the lava cools and hardens. Volcanoes can be very impressive to see, especially if they're erupting!

Sometimes magma doesn't quite make it to the surface and hardens underground. When the dirt and rock above it erodes away, it can still make a mountain.

Fold Mountains

Imagine laying a blanket out on a floor and having a dog or cat jump on it from one side - it would cause ripples in the blanket. This is similar to the way fold mountains are made. The Earth's crust (represented by the blanket) is put under pressure from the side because one of Earth's plates is moving into or underneath this crust, and ripples form along fault lines, which creates fold mountains. These types of mountains are known for having ridges that run parallel to each other.

Block Mountains

A third type of mountain range is created when a large block of rock is lifted up higher than the area around it, called block mountains. This also happens along fault lines. After the block has been lifted, it's then subjected to erosion. Erosion is when the surface gets scraped, blown, or washed away by glaciers, wind, or water. This is how mountains get worn down over time and also how valleys are made. You can't have mountains without valleys!

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