Home learning focus

Learn how mountains are formed and explore the highest mountains in the UK and mountain ranges of the world including The Rockies and The Alps.

This lesson includes:

  • one animation about mountain ranges and how they're formed

  • one child-led short film exploring life in the German Alps

  • two activities to build on the knowledge


What are mountains?

Mountains are areas of land that are much higher than the land surrounding them. They are higher and usually steeper than a hill and are generally over 600 metres high. They are often found together in a group called a mountain range.

Some well-known mountain ranges in the four countries that make up the UK include:

  • the Cairngorms in Scotland
  • the Pennines in England
  • the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland
  • Snowdonia in Wales

Sue Venir is climbing to the top of Mount Elbert, the tallest of all the Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountains is a mountain range that stretches all the way from the USA into Canada. Watch this short animation to find out more about mountains.

Learn about mountains with Sue Venir.

How are mountains formed?

The highest mountain ranges are created by tectonic plates pushing together and forcing the ground up where they meet. This is how the mountains of the Himalayas in Asia were formed.

Tectonic plates are also at work under the Atlantic Ocean, but instead of forcing the ground up, the two plates in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean are actually moving apart in opposite directions. This causes lava to erupt out of the gap that is left. As it cools down, the lava creates a long line of mountains - the longest mountain range on Earth.

Other mountains - usually those that stand on their own - are created by ancient volcanoes. Ben Nevis in Scotland was once a very large active volcano. It last erupted millions of years ago and the eruption was so violent that it caved in on itself.

The highest mountains in the UK are:

  • Ben Nevis in Scotland (also the highest in the UK)
  • Scafell Pike in England
  • Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland
  • Snowdon in Wales
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK.

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK.

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The German Alps

Inzell lies in the Chiemgau region of Bavaria in the German Alps.

Josephine, 11, who lives in the area, likes to ski in winter and wave-board with her friends in summer.

In this short film she shows us the mountain ranges and the traditional Bavarian farms with their cows that graze the Alpine meadows in the summer and come into the stalls for the long harsh winters.

Find out what it is like to live in the German Alps.


There are lots of fun things to do to help you remember what you've learnt about mountains.

Here are a few you could try.

Activity 1


How much have you learnt about mountains?

Have a go at this five question multiple choice quiz to find out.

Activity 2

Colouring activity

For this activity you will need coloured pencils.

Download the activity sheet and colour in the mountain ranges listed on the world map.

This resource is from Britannica Digital Learning.

Colouring mountains activity sheet

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

More lessons for Year 3 and P4
KS2 Geography on BBC Bitesize
KS2 Geography on BBC Teach
Race to defeat the baddies in the Danger Mouse Full Speed game
The awesome animals living on mountains
Home learning resources
Investigating mountains and volcanoes