Renewable vs. Non-Renewable Resources

This could be done in any grade, but will probably be most successful in between ages 7 and 10.

  1. 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
  2. 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…)
  3. 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.
  4. Once they students have discussed the subject, put the cards in a bowl and ask each student to choose one.
  5. 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.
  6. Discussion topics:
    1. What kinds of products use renewable resources?
    2. What kinds of products use non-renewable resources?
    3. Can some products be viewed as resources?
    4. Are some products renewable?
    5. 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.

Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

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