Teachers help elementary-age children learn to identify natural and human resources as part of their social studies curriculum. Natural resources are critical to the survival of humans, animals and plants, and human resources explain how people at work produce goods and provide services. Students should learn what types of natural and human resources exist and why they need them.

Natural Resources: Plant Exploration

Image of bean plants growing.
Image of bean plants growing.

Divide your class into groups of three and give each group a small paper cup of water, a small flower pot of soil, a sealed empty plastic bag and several germinated lima beans. Germinated lima beans have little sprouts, resulting from exposure to moisture. Discuss how lima beans need natural resources, such as water, soil, air and sunshine to grow. The objective is to teach students that these resources exist in the natural world and life is dependent on them. Have each group inspect their beans with a magnifying glass, plant them in the soil and water them with the small cup of water. Place the flower pots in a warm place, near a window, so students can observe the growth and development over time.

Natural Resources: Nature Walk

Students skipping through the forest.
Students skipping through the forest.

Take your class on a nature walk around the school or at a local park. Give each student a small plastic bag to collect five items that are found in nature. Instruct students not to collect stinging insects, such as bees or wasps. Gather the students in a circle to discuss the items they chose. Explain the term "natural resources" and ask students why minerals, air, soil, water, wind, sunlight and plants are important to humans and animals. Ask older elementary students what would happen if natural resources didn't exist and discuss the importance of energy-related natural resources, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Human Resources: Classroom Market

A boy is sitting at his school desk.
A boy is sitting at his school desk.

Organize a classroom market to help students learn about human resources and how people provide products and services. Provide art supplies, such as cardboard tubes, empty soup cans, pipe cleaners, empty tissue boxes, construction paper, markers and glue. Ask students to create two or three of their own products or artworks to "sell," such as covering a soup can with construction paper to use as a pencil holder. Help students set up desks and tables around the classroom to display their goods. Encourage students to offer services, such as desk-cleaning or pencil-sharpening, as part of the classroom market. Give each student three tokens to shop with, so they can select items of their choice. The objective is to teach students the value of human resources and how productivity leads to a better way of life.

Human Resources: Picture Collage

A boy is presenting his poster to the class.
A boy is presenting his poster to the class.

Ask students to create their own picture collages of human resources. Instruct them to cut images out of magazines and glue them to poster board, print examples from the Internet or draw their own. For example, they might select images of people working in office settings, in outdoor environments, in manufacturing plants or in schools. Have the students share their posters with the class and explain how the images represent human resources. The objective is to help students learn the importance of human resources and the vast variety of jobs that humans perform to provide goods and services.