Lesson 1001: Slickrocks and Monuments in the Four Corners

Nowhere else in the world offers a more graphic view of deep forces of geology at work than the Four Corners portion of the Colorado Plateau. The arid climate, the peculiar volcanoes, the powerful forces of erosion, and the clashes of Earth’s tectonic plates makes for the highest concentration of national park features in the United States. We travel from wind-swept deserts to dense forests as we move through the spectacular formations. In the process we witness the slow death of a modern lake.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the Colorado Plateau in the Four Corners area of the Southwest United States.

Social Studies Standards

People, Places & Environments: E, F, I

Discussion Prompts

  • Discuss how the Colorado Plateau is unique including the national parks and features of the landscape. Why does the host recommend this as a place to cherish, visit, and study?
  • If you were able to visit the Four Corners area, what sights would you want to visit the most and why? What questions might you have for a geologist who is familiar with this area?
  • Explain this statement from the video, “Where there is water, people live.” Expand on this statement to give examples from the video about the power of water formations.
  • What geological factors created the colorful landscape in this area? Could these colors exist in another part of the country such as the Northeast or Southeast part of the United States? Why or why not?

Lesson Activities

  • Create a landscape booklet that includes notes and illustrations for the following terms: canyons, hillside, forest, monuments, plateaus, slickrocks, valley.Research at least four national parks in the Four Corners area and create a digital brochure with photos and information for an audience of potential tourists.
  • Create a series of Instagram posts of a two-day trip to the Monument Valley area that shares the beauty, uniqueness, and history of the area. Share what you would see and what features make it worth the trip.
  • Imagine you have the possibility to travel through the Four Corners area by helicopter, vehicle, and on foot. Create a 3-way Venn diagram and describe what you would see from each perspective and the pros and cons of each mode of transportation.


  • arid
  • compression
  • erosion
  • formation
  • kaleidoscope
  • pedestal
  • peculiar
  • remnant
  • sandstone
  • tectonic plates


In the Americas Season 10 Lesson Episode 1