We use different energy sources all throughout our days. Whether turning on a light, typing an email, or riding the bus to school… energy is consumed to make these things happen! Teaching your renewable and nonrenewable resources lesson plans does not have to be complicated because you can pull in all of these scenarios around you to help students easily grasp the concepts.

Some of the topics that are part of the Virginia Science SOLs related to renewable and nonrenewable resources include—

  • Identifying sources of energy that are considered renewable and sources of energy that are nonrenewable.
  • Comparing the benefits and limitations of energy sources.
  • Identifying types of energy used in everyday life.
  • Analyzing energy consumption and creating an energy conservation plan.

Renewable Energy STEM Challenge

One of the most engaging ways to teach about renewable energy is to have students create their own renewable energy resources and models.

During my renewable and nonrenewable resources lesson plans, I have students complete a STEM challenge where they design, build, and test a solar oven. If you are short on time, other activities that work well for this STEM challenge include creating a wind turbine or a water wheel.

I have instructions for how to create all of these renewable energy models in my Sources of Energy Lesson Plans.


Fossil Fuels Model

Fossil fuels are formed from decayed plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Sometimes, it can be difficult for students to wrap their brains around the concept of using the remains of something that lived so long ago in our lives today.

To help students better understand fossil fuel formation, I have them make models with clear plastic cups and cereal. As they layer different types of cereal on top of each other, we discuss how objects such as rocks, minerals, and other remains pile up over time. The heat and the pressure from the top layers push down on the bottom layers, forming fossil fuels.

This fossil fuels activity is included in THIS unit.

This hands-on, visual model helps students quickly grasp how fossil fuels form and why they are nonrenewable.

Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources Sort

Typically, I will teach renewable and nonrenewable energy sources separately. Then, I will have a lesson where students compare the two.

Comparing energy activities can be simple. I like to use a sort to help them compare and contrast the types, formations, benefits, and limitations of renewable and nonrenewable resources. You can also send students on sources of energy scavenger hunt throughout the school.

This energy sort is included in THIS unit.

Energy Consumption Activity

One of the best ways to help students understand energy consumption is to have them track their own energy consumption.

During my renewable and nonrenewable resources lesson plans, students create an energy consumption notebook. For a few days, they keep track of all the ways they consume energy in their daily lives. Later, they analyze the information in their notebooks to assess how much energy they are consuming and what types of energy sources they use most.


After students have had time to analyze their data, they should create a conservation plan. I like students to consider at least three ways they can conserve energy in their daily lives.

BONUS: Incorporate technology into this lesson by having students create a slideshow presentation of their data and action plan. When doing this, you can show students how to create tables and graphs within the slideshow (which incorporates math skills).

Sources of Energy Review Games

Every science unit should end with fun review games to help students practice what they have learned. I have listed the review activities I use with my renewable and nonrenewable resources lesson plans below.

Jeopardy Game

All students love reviewing with Jeopardy games, whether at the end of a unit or before science SOL testing at the end of the school year. Students can play a digital, self-checking Jeopardy game independently, against a partner, or as teams.

My Sources of Energy Jeopardy game features five categories, totaling 25 questions. The presentation is coded so that students can easily navigate between the category board, questions, and answers. They can also type points into a scoreboard, even when in presentation mode. The resource comes with two versions—one for PowerPoint and one for Google Slides.

The following video is a short tutorial that shows how my science Jeopardy games work.

Escape Room

I’ve shared a lot about classroom escape rooms here on this blog. Classroom escape rooms get students up and moving, incorporate critical thinking skills, and always get students excited about learning.

In my Sources of Energy Escape Room, students find themselves trapped! The only way to escape is for students to successfully complete six challenges that require them to use critical thinking skills as they review science concepts.


Activities included:

  • matching science terms to their correct definitions
  • sorting examples of renewable energy and nonrenewable energy
  • analyzing a graph about energy to answer questions
  • identifying true statements about sources of energy
  • solving math problems to create a code
  • decoding terms related to sources of energy
  • reading a passage about fossil fuels and answering questions to create a code

You can find my Sources of Energy Escape Room HERE.


Task Cards

Task cards should be a go-to for any science review. They are perfect because they are no-prep, can model the types of questions students will see on the science SOL test, and can be used in a variety of different ways.

You can find my Sources of Energy Task Cards HERE.


Forms of Energy Test Prep

After you have finished teaching your renewable and nonrenewable resources lesson plans and played review games, it’s time to take a unit test.

Remember to send home a study guide so that students can continue reviewing on their own before testing. My Sources of Energy Study Guide defines terms, provides visual aids, and explains important concepts related to this science SOL. It also comes with two pages of review questions.


Often, I hear parents don’t help their students study at home because they don’t understand the science concepts. My study guide breaks the standard down into small, easy-to-understand pieces and provides a list of comprehension questions with answers that parents can ask.


The renewable and nonrenewable resources lesson plans are some of the easiest science lessons to put together because students use energy sources all the time in their everyday lives. All you have to do is get students to apply the concepts to things around them.

The real-world applications of the sources of energy SOL make science fun and relatable for students.

Looking for more about the experiments or games referenced in this blog post? You can find more information in the following resources:

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