Lesson Five: Renewable & Nonrenewable Resources

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Grade Level:

4th Grade


45-60 minutes


  • Introduction options:
  • “Energy Consumption in the U.S.” worksheet (one per small group)
  • Energy Consumption/Production graphs (optional)
  • Pictures from Lesson Three (each small group needs one picture representing each resource)
  • “Energy Sort” page (one per small group)
  • “Renewable or Nonrenewable?” graphic organizer (one per student)
  • Exit ticket (one per student – note: there are two per page)

Suggested Teacher Preparation:

  • View and select introductory video
  • Optional: Have a method to display Energy Consumption/Production graphs

Activity Type


Purpose Statement (content Focus & Enduring Understanding/Knowledge/Skills and connection to the unit and preceding lessons):

Students will learn the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources and the importance of stewardship for current and future generations.

Explanation of how the activity enables students to answer the overarching question:

By better understanding the role of renewable and nonrenewable resources in Wyoming, students will be better equipped to be stewards.

Essential Question:

How can we be stewards of Wyoming’s minerals and energy to benefit current and future generations?

Suggested Question:

How do minerals and energy impact Wyoming’s culture? How might minerals and energy change in the future?


Science: 4-ESS3-1 (explicitly taught) ELA: SL.4.1.d (practiced/encountered) Math: SMP.4 (practiced/encountered)


(use as a reference as needed)

  • Renewable Resources – resources that are capable of being replenished
  • Nonrenewable Resources – resources that cannot be replenished (made again) in a short period of time
  • Conservations – the careful utilization of a resource in order to prevent waste and leave some for future generations

Instructional Procedure/Steps:

  1. Show students one of the videos (see links above) as a warm up.
  2. Review vocabulary and key concepts from the previous lesson. Students can reference the posters that they created.
  3. Pass out the sets of picture cards of energy resources from lesson 3 and the “Energy Sort” page. Students work in small groups to sort the pictures on the “Energy Sort” page. When all groups are finished, discuss as a whole group the placement of each resource, and why it belongs in the category that it does.
  4. Pass out the “US Energy Consumption by Source” statistics chart to pairs or small groups. Have students analyze the data and discuss their takeaways. The teacher can then opt to display the graphs provided to students as an additional tool for building their understanding of what portion of our energy comes from each source.
  5. TEACHER NOTE: The U.S. mix of energy production changes from year to year. The most current statistics can be found at the U.S. Energy Information Administration website https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=us_energy_home (source 3). An optional additional activity is that students can use the data in the chart to create their own graphs rather than looking at those provided.

  6. Reconvene the whole class and have students discuss/share their observations of the data. Ask: What are the implications of having such a large portion of our energy coming from nonrenewable sources? Review the meanings of the vocabulary terms: conservation and stewardship..
  7. Students will complete the Renewable or Nonrenewable graphic organizer, drawing their attention to the column with ideas for conservation and stewardship of each resource. Remind them of the presentations that they did in their previous lesson, and to include any stewardship efforts that they learned about when they did their research. (e.g., part of the process for mining coal is reclaiming the land after the mine is no longer in use.)
  8. After students have completed their graphic organizers, have students pick a nonrenewable resource and conservation idea from their sheet. Have students turn and talk to a partner or visit with a small group explaining why it is important.
  9. Students will complete an exit ticket to show their knowledge of conservation and renewable and nonrenewable resources.


Completed Graphic Organizer and Exit Ticket


  1. Morse, E. National Geographic. (2013, February 14). Non-renewable energy. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/non-renewable-energy/
  2. Crabtree, R. (2012, February 6). Stop Motion Film: Renewable vs NonRenewable Energy Sources . Retrieved June 26,2017
    from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBTnVoEIb98
  3. U.S. Energy Information Administration-EIA. (2017, May 19). Americans use many types of energy. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=us_energy_home