Teach your students all about renewable and nonrenewable resources this school year with printable worksheets, activities, vocabulary guides, and more created by teachers for your elementary science lessons.
Aligned to the NGSS, this collection of teaching resources has been created with differentiated options and editable versions to make your lesson plans easier to create and save you time! Each resource in this collection has been thoroughly reviewed by a member of the Teach Starter teacher team to ensure it's classroom-ready.
New to teaching this section of the elementary science curriculum or looking for fresh ideas to explain the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources and why these are so important? Read on for a primer from our teacher team!
In order to explain renewable and nonrenewable and the differences between them, students have to understand what it means to have a natural resource to begin with.
Natural resources are materials or substances that are naturally occurring in the environment and are valuable to humans for their economic, environmental, or cultural benefits. These resources are generally classified into two categories — renewable and nonrenewable resources.
Need a kid-friendly way to explain this concept? Try this one: A renewable resource is a natural resource that we can use over and over again without running out. It's sort of like having a cookie jar that never runs out of cookies. Only in this case, the "cookies" provide the energy we need for things like heating our homes and running the electrical items in our schools.
Sometimes renewable resources will be regenerated naturally, while others require human intervention (for example, tree planting replenishes the supply of wood but requires people to do some work!).
Some examples of renewable resources include:
As the prefix "non" would indicate, nonrenewable resources are essentially the opposite of the renewable type. These natural resources that are used to create energy cannot be easily replenished or replaced.
Some may be used up entirely over time, and once they're gone, they will be gone for good. Others may come back, but the time it takes to come back is so long that it won't happen for thousands or even millions of years, which means we will run out too quickly.
Many nonrenewable resources create other issues, such as the harm that burning fossil fuels represents to the environment. Nonrenewable resources are often considered unsustainable, and their use is a major contributor to environmental degradation, climate change, and other global issues.
Some examples of nonrenewable resources that you can share with your students include:
Read and learn about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with a reading comprehension passage and worksheet pack.
Teach about Arbor Day or Earth Day with an infographic poster and a cloze note-taking worksheet about the importance of trees in our environment.
Display this poster when learning about sustainability.
Practice reading comprehension skills and learn about microplastic pollution in our oceans with a reading comprehension activity.
Use this flip book to build awareness of actions that are good and bad for the environment.
Make an Earth Day mini book that your students can complete to explain how they can help the planet.
Explore where natural resources are found with a pair of differentiated natural resource worksheets.
Discover the world of water with a 15-page resource pack of posters, worksheets, and activities for teaching about how we use water and where it comes from.
Teach your students about the things we do that affect the Earth with an ecological footprint reference sheet.
Write about why we recycle and create this recycling craft to display in the classroom.
Build comprehension skills and learn about human impact on ecosystems with a reading passage and worksheets.
Show your students the process materials go through when they are recycled with printable recycling posters.
Display different ways to save water with this water conservation foldable.
Build your students’ vocabulary around the topic of recycling with this recycling-themed word search.
Help your young students learn about recycling and conservation with an illustrated word wall.
Make a promise to protect the planet with a printable Earth Day flip book.
Create a more sustainably-friendly classroom with this 18-page teacher's guide.
Learn about The Great Barrier Reef with a comprehension and note-taking activity.
Show off your procedural writing skills with a pack of recycling writing prompts.
Explore how natural resources are used by humans in the 21st century with an instructional slide deck.
Investigate water pollution and discover the effects of oil spills on wildlife with a hands-on science lab!
Learn about the importance of water to life on Earth, along with where our water comes from, with an instructional slide deck.
Discover the advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy sources with a cut-and-paste sorting worksheet.
Examine renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, including wind energy, hydro energy, solar energy, natural gas, oil, and coal with a pair of printable posters.
Explore the characteristics of natural resources and what makes them useful in products and materials with this worksheet.
Learn about environmental changes and how they affect living things with this worksheet.
Discuss processed and natural materials and their differences with an instructional slide deck.
Explore the process of recycling plastic with a printable recycling worksheet.
Read and learn about conservation with a reading passage and comprehension worksheet on the Amazon Rainforest.
Compare and contrast different types of renewable energy sources with a printable graphic organizer.
Boost vocabulary skills and understanding with an illustrated water cycle word wall.
An art activity to use for discussions about ocean pollution and environmental impact.