Whether you live near the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the Black Hills of South Dakota or the Tetons of Idaho and Wyoming, mountains make the world more beautiful and interesting. They’re fun to hike and they offer a haven for many animals and birds.
During war, people have often fled to the mountains for safety and refuge.These fascinating landforms have unique climates and support interesting plants and animals. Read on to learn more!
Fun Facts about Mountains for Kids
- Any land mass that rises 1,000 feet above the surrounding area is considered a mountain.
- Some mountains are caused by volcanoes spewing lava over and over again. The lava cools and hardens and builds up to form a mountain. The islands of Hawaii are actually volcanoes.
- Sometimes a volcano doesn’t erupt through the crust, but just sort of leaks lava underneath, pushing up a rounded area. This type of mountain is called a dome mountain. The Adirondacks in New York and the Black Hills in South Dakota are dome mountains.
- The summit or peak is the highest point of a mountain.
- A mountain range is a string of mountains near each other. The Rocky Mountain range is the second longest in the world. It stretches more than 3,000 miles from northern Canada through the Southwestern United States.
- Plateau mountains look like tall squares. Plateaus form when tectonic plates collide with each other but don’t buckle the surface.
- Fault block mountains occur when the tectonic plates collide with each other and form cracks in the earth’s surface. Rocks are pushed upward when this happens. The Sierra Nevadas in California and Nevada, and the Tetons of Wyoming are fault block mountains.
So, what exactly are mountains and how are they made? Firstly, a mountain is a natural geological land formation that forms over millions of years. It is kind of like a hill, but much bigger. To be classified as a mountain, the land formation must be at least 2,000 feet (about 610 meters) high.
The highest mountain in the world is Mount Everest at 29,029 feet tall. When mountains are formed next to each other, it is called a mountain range. Some of the most popular mountain ranges around the world include the Himalayas in Asia, the Andes in South America, and the Rocky Mountains in North America.
Mountains form over millions of years in several different ways. Some mountains form when volcanoes erupt over and over again. These types of mountains are called volcanoes, of course.
When lava beneath the earth’s crust builds up pressure, it erupts out of small vents in the crust. Sometimes these vents are at the bottom of the ocean, and sometimes they are in the middle of a landmass, like a continent. The islands of Hawai’i are all merely the tips of volcanoes that started under the ocean.
When lava erupts, it cools and forms a rock layer. This happens over and over again over millions of years until finally the mountain becomes an island. This isn’t how all islands are formed, but there are many volcanic islands around the world.
Other mountains are formed when these enormous plates in the earth’s crust slam up against each other. They are called tectonic plates and they are kind of like 17 gigantic puzzle pieces that make up the crust.
They are always moving, but just very, very slowly. When two plates collide, or bump into each other, rock gets pushed up, and up, and up until a whole mountain is formed. These are called fold mountains and they don’t grow overnight. They take millions and millions of years of tectonic plates pushing against each other.
The Himalayan mountains began forming this way about 55 million years ago. This impressive mountain range in Southeast Asia has 30 of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest!
When tectonic plates move, they aren’t always running into each other. Sometimes they are moving away from each other forming faults. This is how block mountains are formed. Basically, as these faults open up, some rock can be pushed up while others are pushed down.
Block mountains have a long slope on one side and a steep cliff on the other side. Again, because tectonic plates move so slowly, it takes millions of years for these mountains to form. Most mountain ranges are millions of years old.
The Sierra Nevada mountains in California and Nevada are block mountains that began forming about 40 million years ago.
Mountains are land formations that not only grow, but they also shrink over time. Plateaus are special mountains that are formed from rock and material being removed rather than rock being added.
They look a lot like sanded down mountains, and that is kind of what they really are. Wind, rain, rivers, snow, and glaciers can all slowly remove rock over millions of years. This is called erosion, and it happens everywhere in the world. The Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York are plateaus covered in lush green forests.
If you’re lucky enough to live near mountains, you probably know there’s something special about them. Towering majestically above the surrounding area, they provide shelter from stormy weather and play a major role in moving water into rivers and major waterways as the snow melts. They offer a sanctuary for animals and plants, and don’t forget the skiing!
- Haven: safe, protected place
- Refuge: comfort, safety, protection
- Erupt: blow up
- Collision: when two things run into each other
- Majestic: awesome, large, grand
- Stormy: storm-like, rough
- Sanctuary: place of shelter, safety and peace
- Collide: run into
- Buckle: collapse, fold, break
Easy Science All About Mountains for Kids Video
Check out this video all about mountains:
A fun exploration video about mountains and how they are formed. Watch this video to learn more all about mountains!
Question: Do mountains affect weather?
Answer: Mountains can slow down storms moving from one ocean to the other, causing rain to drop over them and the surrounding land. The other side of a mountain is usually drier because the rain clouds don’t quite make it that far. Mountains often have unique weather patterns themselves.
Question: Are mountains dangerous?
Answer: Weather conditions change rapidly on mountain ranges. Lightning and rain storms are common in the summer and fierce snowstorms rise up quickly in the winter. The air is thin on tall mountains, making it hard to breathe. Always hike with someone who is experienced with mountains.
Question: How high are mountains?
Answer: If you’ve ever gone hiking, you might have heard of “14-ers.” Many hikers set a goal of climbing a 14-er, which means climbing a mountain that reaches 14,000 feet high. At this height, the air is thin and thunder storms are frequent.
You have to know what you’re doing and plan carefully. If you visit the Rocky Mountains, the Tetons or the Sierra Mountains, you’ll find lots of tall mountains to climb.
But, the highest mountain peak in the world, Mt. Everest, stretches almost 30,000 feet into the air – over 5 ½ miles! Climbing to this height is downright dangerous and many people have died trying.
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