Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about natural resources. It is designed to complement the Natural Resources topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Natural resources are something of value people get from the environment, such as air, water, plants, animals, rocks, and minerals. This movie will introduce and explore different renewable and non-renewable resources and explain how people use them to meet their needs. Help your children understand how people’s need for natural resources and their activities impact the environment. Encourage your children to practice ecologically conscious habits that help conserve natural resources.

Remind your children that air, water, and sunlight are natural resources that nearly all living things need to survive. Brainstorm different natural resources together, such as soil, land, plants, and animals. Some resources are renewable, which means they can be replaced or grown back. For example, many crops are renewable natural resources. After they are harvested, more seeds can be planted and grown. Wind power is a renewable resource that has been used for thousands of years to pump water, irrigate crops, and also to sail boats. Other resources, however, are non-renewable. They cannot be replaced or they take a very, very long time to be replaced or grow back. Fossil fuels are non-renewable natural resources. There are three major forms of fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas. Explain to your children that fossil fuels are formed in the Earth from the remains of plants and animals. It takes millions and millions of years for fossil fuels to form, so they are non-renewable natural resources. We are using fossil fuels that have existed for more than 300 million years, since before the time of dinosaurs.

Brainstorm different ways people use natural resources with your children. It is important that children learn how much in their daily lives comes from the Earth and its environment. We use plants for food, clothing, and many other uses. We use trees to make paper products, but we also harvest wood for building materials and to make furniture. We use animals like cattle for food and dairy products, but we also rely on them for leather. We use rocks and minerals to make a variety of materials, including glass, metal, and ceramics. We convert fossil fuels into energy to power and heat our homes and fuel modes of transportation, including planes, buses, boats, and cars. We also use petroleum, a fossil fuel, to make a variety of materials, including plastics.

Help your children understand that people are using up natural resources faster than they can be replaced. For example, forests are being cut down in order to supply our demand for wood and land. Experts say our rainforests, often called the “lungs” of the Earth, are being cut down at the rate of 50 million acres a year. You can share more information about the environmental importance of the rainforest by watching our Rainforests movie. Our dependence on natural resources is creating many problems in the environment, including pollution and the loss of habitat for plants and animals. Collecting and burning fossil fuels for energy can damage the environment, polluting air, water, and land. Children should understand that finding and using renewable sources of energy will be one of the most important tasks of future generations.

Natural resources take time to replace, so it is important that we use them wisely. Brainstorm different ways people can conserve natural resources. We can conserve water by taking shorter showers, turning off faucets when we do not need running water, and fixing leaky pipes. We can recycle glass, metal, paper, and plastic to conserve and protect our natural resources. We can reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use by turning off lights and appliances when we do not need them. We can also cut down on emissions and save fossil fuels by using public transportation and carpooling, and riding bikes instead of driving. Encourage your children to come up with more ways to conserve our natural resources. We recommend watching the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle movie to reinforce ideas and concepts.

Teach your children about ways people use alternative sources of energy. Solar power and wind energy come from sustainable, renewable natural resources. Many homes, buildings, and even appliances use solar energy. Geothermal energy extracts power from the heat within the earth, and provides sustainable energy for more than 25% of Iceland, the Philippines, and El Salvador. About 5% of the electricity in California comes from geothermal sources. Some vehicles run on biodiesel, a fuel that is made from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled greases. These alternative sources can create less pollution than burning fossil fuels. Together research other renewable sources of energy.

We depend on natural resources to live, and it’s important that we conserve them. Help build your children’s awareness of how their actions and choices affect the environment. Instill ecologically conscious habits and encourage them to find new ways to help protect natural resources.