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Grade 3-5

Where did that pencil come from? The Study of Natural Resources

Updated: January 22 2016,

The students will determine what goods can be produced from physical features such as rivers, lakes, mountains, and plains by looking at maps. Additionally, they will discuss the process these goods go through from nature to consumer.


Introduce the lesson by asking these questions: Have you ever considered where your desk came from? Did you ever wonder how your pencil became a pencil? Where your water was before it came out of your faucet? Which items in nature give us our desks, pencils and tap water? (The students may mention trees, lakes, and rivers, etc.) Tell the students that these items are called natural resources. Ask them to click on the following link to read the definition of ural resources. By selecting maps from the range of possibilities provided, the students will be able to determine which goods people in the selected state can produce in order to make a profit.

Learning Objectives


  • List the goods that can be made using natural resources.
  • Identify which natural resources contribute the production of a particular good.
  • Identify natural resources located in selected map’s physical features.

Resource List


 1. Students will access the State Maps page and choose which state they want to research from the list of states provided.

Note: This site provides maps of different types for every state. The highway maps and topographic relief maps are the best choices for identifying natural features. The highway maps show where such natural features as lakes, rivers, forests and mountain ranges are located. The topographic relief maps provide a better understanding of how these features affect the landscape. Be sure to help the students with the interpretation of the maps.

2. Students will need copies of the worksheet to transcribe their findings from the maps they have chosen. In section 1 of the worksheet have the students do the following:

  • List any major rivers, lakes, mountain ranges, valleys or plains. logging
  • List natural resources that would be near these features.
  • List finished goods that can be produced by refining these natural resources.

3. To complete section 2 of the worksheet, the students should do the following:

  1. Choose a natural resource
  2. Draw pictures to show how this resource can be processed to produce a finished good.
  3. Write a short description of the process they have just illustrated.


Once the students have completed their worksheets, ask them to share their findings with the entire class. Encourage the students to describe and explain the process of production associated with the respective natural resources. Taken together, the students’ reports should inform the class about a wide variety of resources and production processes.


riverHere the students will complete this interactive drop and drag activity, pairing goods with the natural resources used to produce them.