Renewable vs. Non-Renewable Resources
This could be done in any grade, but will probably be most successful in between ages 7 and 10.
- Make cards with examples of renewable and non-renewable resources, each card containing a word and (hopefully) picture format.
- Example resources could include: coal, gasoline, water, wind, sunlight, soil, clay, sand
- Example products could be steam heat, fabric, electricity, cookies, glass, aluminum
- Label areas on a board or easel as “Renewable Resource”, “Non-Renewable Resource”, and “Product”. Come up with an easy way to stick the cards to the board. (Magnets, tape, etc…)
- Discuss the differences between resources and products.
- Break down how resources are used to create something useful (products).
- Try to get the students to talk about what makes products different from resources.
- Try to get the students to discover why some resources are renewable and others are not.
- Ask them to discuss what happens to products when there aren’t enough resources.
- Once they students have discussed the subject, put the cards in a bowl and ask each student to choose one.
- Have each student one at a time put their card on the board or easel under one of the three categories.
- Ask each student to defend why they put their card in the category they chose.
- Ask other students to try to explain why it might belong in a different category.
- Explain that they’re allowed to change where they categorized their card if they are properly convinced by another student that it belongs in a different category.
- Discussion topics:
- What kinds of products use renewable resources?
- What kinds of products use non-renewable resources?
- Can some products be viewed as resources?
- Are some products renewable?
- How does resource renewability fit in with sustainability and recycling?
By giving the students something tangible (a card) and a physical action (categorization) and then asking them to explain why they chose that category (critical thinking), we’re getting our kids to parse their world into resources and products.