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Grade 3-5

Learning Economics with Minecraft: Productive Resources

Updated: September 1 2017,

Economies depend on the availability of resources. This lesson introduces the concept of productive resources to students through discussion. Students learn how the use of natural, human, and capital resources impacts outcomes while building houses in Minecraft.

This lesson is also posted on Minecraft Education's website of lesson plans.  For more lesson plans using Minecraft, please visit: https://education.minecraft.net/class-resources/lessons/ .


Understanding productive resources, the resources required to produce goods and services that people want, is important to understanding the economic world around us. There are three kinds of productive resources: human, natural, and capital.

Human resources are the strength, education, and skills of people. Natural resources are the gifts of nature that are used to produce goods and services. Water, land, and minerals are examples of natural resources. Capital resources are the goods needed to produce or provide access to other goods and to supply services. Examples include buildings, equipment, tools, machinery, ports and other manufactured and constructed things.  

In this lesson, students will learn the definitions of resources and analyze their use in building a home in Minecraft. The Minecraft activity will take up the bulk of the lesson time.

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Learning Objectives

  • Define productive resources.
  • Give examples of natural, human and capital resources.
  • Apply the use of productive resources when building a house in Minecraft. 
  • Demonstrate understanding of how uses of productive resources can enhance or diminish end products.

Resource List


1.                  Ask students what things are necessary to produce or build a house. [Answers will vary but should include such things as lumber, nails, saws, carpenters, drywall, roofers, land, and so on.] Tell students that productive resources are the things used to produce a good or service. Point out that productive resources can be placed into three groups: human resources, natural resources or capital resources. 

2.                  Define the types of resources as follows:

– Human resources are people who work to produce a good or service. Examples of human resources are a truck driver, plumber, teacher and nurse. Ask the students for other examples of human resources. Write the students' responses on the board. Then show them Visual 1 – Human Resources in Minecraft.
– Natural resources are things that occur naturally in the world and can be used to produce a good or service. These resources are gifts of nature and are present without human intervention. Examples of natural resources are natural gas, granite, deer and minerals. Ask the students for other examples of natural resources. Write the students’ responses on the board. Then show them Visual 2 – Natural Resources in Minecraft. 
– Capital resources are goods produced and used to make other goods and services. Examples of capital resources are an office building, computer, oven, and wrench. Ask the students for other examples of capital resources. Write the students' responses on the board.  Then show them Visual 3 – Capital Resources in Minecraft.
3.                  Recap by saying that productive resources are used to make goods and services that people buy every day.  Ask students what resources are necessary to produce a haircut.  [Answers will  vary  but should include  things such as a comb, razor, clippers, electricity, scissors, hair stylist and so on.]

4.                  Ask students to classify the productive resources used to produce a haircut as natural, human or capital resources.  Record their answers on the board.  [Answers will vary but should include the following: capital – comb, razor, clipper; natural– water; human –  hair stylist. If students name the person whose hair is cut or the hair, explain that the consumer is not considered a resource.]


Before giving directions to students, read Handout 1–Background Information for Teachers

1.      Divide students into teams of 4. Tell them they will be working together to build a home in Minecraft using natural, human, and capital resources. The game should be set to multi-player mode so each student can build simultaneously. The instructions below and the Assessment exercise are also included in Handout 2 for students.

2.      Tell them when they finish their houses they will compare them to those of the other teams in terms of 

a.      Living space (Number of bedrooms? Living room? Kitchen?)

b.      Design and amenities (Flow? Decoration? Functionality?)

c.       Valuable additions (Farm or garden next to the house? Mining tunnel under the house?)

d.      Property selection (Near a waterfall? Near a beach? Does the nearby landscape add or subtract from the home value?)

e.      Which type of resource was most valuable for making the house special?

3.      Tell students they will have 25 minutes to gather resources. They will then have 30 minutes to build their homes.

4.      Tell them their first task is to gather resources and decide who uses which tool, who gathers which resources, and how they allocate their resources during the building process.

5.      Each team should choose four iron tools to be used by the team communally. Emphasize to them that they are not allowed to make their own tools. [Disable tool/weapon crafting, if possible.]

6.      Give each team 2 furnaces and 1 crafting table.

7.      After 25 minutes, tell students to stop gathering resources and meet at their intended building location to decide on how they will build their home. [Depending on the length of your class period, you may want to stop here and continue next time you meet.]


When time is up for building, each team should give a tour of their homes and the class should decide which home they liked best based on the elements in Instruction #2.

Extension Activity

There is no extension activity for this lesson.


Each student should write a reflection on the uses of productive resources in their team project. [These questions are also on Handout 2.]

1.      Reflect on the capital resources you selected. Were they the right ones for your house? How did they affect the outcome of their home? [Answers will vary: tools, i.e. pickaxes, hoes, shovels, and axes; picked a hoe and ended up not building a farm, thus not making full use of their tools; picked two pickaxes but needed a hoe for their farm.]

2.      Reflect on how human resources were allocated during the material-gathering process: did you spend enough time and have the right number of people on the tasks?

3.      Reflect on how you prioritized natural resources and how those resources contributed to your home value. How did your gathering process affect the physical appearance of the house? Were materials well allocated or does the house look unremarkable?

4.      Which resources did you find most valuable in the construction and gathering processes? Can any connections be drawn between how you valued your in-game resources and how resources are valued in the real world?