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Uses of Earth Materials

Lesson Plan

Uses of Earth Materials


In this lesson, students will come to understand how we use the earth’s materials and their importance. Students will:

  • identify natural resources and their importance.
  • compare products that are made from natural resources.
  • differentiate between renewable and nonrenewable resources.
  • develop ways in which humans can conserve natural resources.

Essential Questions


  • Conserve: To protect from loss or harm.
  • Natural Resources: Materials found in nature that can be used by people in many ways. Fresh water, soil, plant, animals, minerals, air, and energy sources are examples of natural resources.
  • Product: Something made by means of human work or a machine.
  • By-product: A thing or result that comes from an action intended for another purpose.
    • Renewable: Types of resources that are usually living and therefore can renew themselves, assuming they are not killed off or over-harvested. Good examples of renewable sources are trees (forests and woodlands), crops, and livestock. Water and soil are also renewable sources, but they are classed as nonliving.
    • Nonrenewable: Types of resources that cannot be replaced once they are used up or harvested. This includes things such as fossil fuels, coal, and petroleum.


60–90 minutes/3 class periods

Prerequisite Skills

Prerequisite Skills haven't been entered into the lesson plan.


o   paper plate, one per student

o   Mobile Picture Cards, one set per student (S-K2-12-1_Mobile Picture Cards.doc)

o   yarn, 36 inches per student, cut into eight pieces

Related Unit and Lesson Plans

Related Materials & Resources

The possible inclusion of commercial websites below is not an implied endorsement of their products, which are not free, and are not required for this lesson plan.

  • Crayon video

Formative Assessment

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    • Assess students’ general knowledge of natural resources and their products. Also assess their understanding of how to conserve these resources.
    • Make observations while circulating around the room; see whether students are engaged in large-group and paired discussions. Make note of student responses throughout your observation.
    • Individually assess each student’s knowledge of natural resources by checking student responses on the Resource to Product student sheet.
    • Monitor student responses on ways to conserve natural resources.

Suggested Instructional Supports

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    Scaffolding, Active Engagement, Modeling, Explicit Instruction
    W:  Students demonstrate knowledge of natural resources and the importance of conserving these resources. Students are engaged in locating products in their classroom made from natural resources.
    H:  Students are given magazines and asked to locate pictures of natural resources.

    Students are engaged in activities that allow them to identify natural resources and their products and by-products. Students have multiple opportunities to examine the relationship between natural resources and the need to conserve the resources.

    R:  Students reflect and share ideas with others in a small group and with you. This provides an opportunity to ask guided questions to help students understand the importance of natural resources.
    E:  Group demonstrations, stories, videos, and discussions are used to determine whether students understand the lesson.
    T:  This lesson plan is flexible and relates to different learning styles because it includes demonstrating, singing, observing, discussing, modeling, creating, and using creative thinking.
    O:  Students are engaged and can participate in many ways, including group discussions or working with a peer. This lesson provides active and creative learning experiences.

Instructional Procedures

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    Day 1: Introducing Natural Resources

    Begin the lesson by writing the word resource on the board. Ask students, “Who do you go to when you need help? That person is a resource.”

    Next, write the words Natural with the word Resource, and ask, “Do you know what a natural resource is?” Explain what a natural resource is. Students may give answers such as oil, water, air, coal, trees, and animals. Post the Natural Resource Picture Cards (S-K2-12-1_Natural Resource Picture Cards.doc) on the board to help students remember important natural resources. “Natural resources provide us with what we need to live.” Explain to students that one of the most important natural resources is soil. Say, “Soil is a natural resource found in earth.”

    Activity 1: Finding Other Natural Resources

    Review with students why soil is a natural resource. Say, “A natural resource is material that is found in nature and that can be used by people in many ways. Fresh water, soil, plants, and animals are all examples of natural resources.”

    Give students several magazines and have them look for pictures of natural resources. After students have cut out several pictures of natural resources, place the following heading on the board or chart titled Water, Plants, Animals, Soil. Have individual students place their pictures under the correct heading and explain why they chose to place the picture under the selected heading. Note: Students should begin to identify natural resources found on Earth.

    “What other resources do we get from Earth?” Record student responses on the chart or board, and leave them displayed throughout the lesson. Lead students to understanding that Earth provides other natural resources such as air, minerals, and energy sources. Ask students to give examples of products that may come from these resources. Note: Students may not be able to give examples of products. Have pictures available, such as various minerals and sources of energy (solar, wind, oil). You may add the pictures to the chart to display students’ examples of natural resources.

    Show the completed chart, and ask students, “Look at these resources. People sometimes use natural resources to make things. We call these products.” For example, you may want to hold up a piece of paper and explain that it was made from pulp, which comes from plants. Other examples of natural resources and their products are trees (lumber) and minerals (glass, coal). “Let’s look at our chart. What products can be made from the resources on our chart?”Allow students the opportunity to suggest various products that can be made from natural resources. Suggest additional products after students have had time to share their ideas.

    “Now I want you to search the room for a product that was made from a natural resource. Take your time and find one item, and bring it back and sit in a circle.” Have students share what product they found and what natural resource it came from. Have students assist other students. Let each student have a turn to share. Students may find a product and need help determining where it came from. The class may have to do some research to find information.

    Activity 2: More Uses of Natural Resources

    Show students a glass. Ask, “How do you think this was made?” Have students give suggestions. Then read the story Sand to Glass by Inez Snyder. Stop periodically during the reading of the story to discuss questions students may have and to check for understanding.

    Have students complete the student sheet Resource to Product (S-K2-12-1_Resource to Product.doc) and discuss it.

    Have students review what are natural resources and give examples. Show students a crayon. “This crayon was made from a natural resource. Do you know what natural resource a crayon is made from?” Students may know that crayons are made from wax, but may not know that crayons are made from a fossil fuel. Tell students that crayons are made from a product of a natural resource. “We call this a by-product. A by-product is a result that comes from something else. Let’s look at the crayon again. It comes from wax, wax comes from a fossil fuel, and fossil fuel is a natural resource. We can say that crayons are by-products of fossil fuel. Let’s watch this video and see how a crayon is made. Show students the following video

    After the video, show students the chart created earlier in the lesson. Have students brainstorm any by-products they might know of that come from the products they listed.

    Day 2: Taking Care of Our Gifts from the Earth

    Review natural resources with students by showing students again the chart that was created earlier. Ask students, “How do people use natural resources?” Ask students for suggestions. Guide student discussion. Possible ideas could be to make things, produce energy, and provide water, food, and shelter. Say, “People and animals depend on natural resources for survival. It is very important to conserve natural resources. Do you know what the word conserve means?”

    Show students the book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Tell students you are going to read a story about a natural resource called the “Truffula Tree.” Point out during the story how the pictures change. Discuss with students what happened to the Truffula, and what the author is trying to tell readers about conserving natural resources. 

    “The natural resources of Earth can provide us with everything we need to live. It’s up to us to educate ourselves about them and utilize them efficiently. On April 22, we celebrate Earth Day. Earth Day should not just be celebrated one day a year but every day. So here is a poem about Earth, our special home.” A copy of the poem is available for making photocopies (S-K2-12-1_Earth Day Poem.doc).


    Earth Day

    by Jane Yolen

    I am the Earth
    And the Earth is me.
    Each blade of grass,
    Each honey tree,
    Each bit of mud,
    And stick and stone
    Is blood and muscle,
    Skin and bone.

    And just as I
    Need every bit
    Of me to make
    My body fit,
    So Earth needs
    Grass and stone and tree
    And things that grow here

    That’s why we
    Celebrate this day.
    That’s why across
    The world we say:
    As long as life,
    As dear, as free,
    I am the Earth
    And the Earth is me.

    Copyright © 1995 by Jane Yolen.
    First appeared in THE THREE BEARS HOLIDAY RHYME BOOK, published by Harcourt.
    Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.


    • Students who might be going beyond the standards can select a different natural resource and create a mobile tracing the resource to its by-product(s).
    • Students who might be going beyond the standards can illustrate the poem “Earth Day.”
    • Students who may need additional learning opportunities can make a collage of products that are made from natural resources.
    • Students who may need additional learning opportunities can make a mobile that will show how natural resources go from the Earth into a product. Materials for each student’s mobile include one paper plate, one set of Mobile Picture Cards, and 36 inches of yarn cut into eight pieces.

    1.      Give each student a paper plate. Tell students to cut out their pattern of the Earth and glue it on the paper plate.

    2.      Cut out the Mobile Picture Cards (S-K2-12-1_Mobile Picture Cards.doc).

    3.      Have students arrange the cards in order to show how materials can go from a natural resource to a by-product.

    4.      Punch a hole in the upper and lower center of each card and paper plate.

    5.      Attach the cards to each other with a small piece of yarn.

    6.      Tie the cards together and attach them to the paper plate globe.

Related Instructional Videos

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DRAFT 04/14/2011
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