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Grades K–2

In this activity, students learn how energy is used in US homes and brainstorm ways to help reduce their own family’s energy use.

  1. Start by asking students the following questions:
    • What is energy? (It is the ability to do work. It’s also power we can use.)
    • What do we use energy for? (Lights, running appliances, charging phones, watching TV, cooking, heating, air conditioning, cars, buses, elevators, etc.)
    • Where does the energy for these things come from? (Fuel, such as electricity, gas, wind power, oil, fire, etc.)
    • How can saving energy help the planet? (Explain that it can help conserve or save natural resources, such as gas and oil, and reduce pollution.)
    • How else can using less energy be helpful? (Energy also costs money, so we don’t want to waste it.)
  2. Copy and distribute the student reproducible. The page features a pie chart of how energy is used on average in US homes. Read the page as a class. Explain to students that all homes and families are different. This information is general, and a chart for their home might look different. Review the answers as a group.
  3. Have students work in teams to complete the second part of the page and brainstorm ideas for saving energy at home. Have them share their ideas. Tips might include washing clothes in cold water, running the dishwasher only when it is full, using fans instead of air conditioners, walking short distances instead of driving, using reusable shopping bags, etc. Also consider creating a list of tips for saving energy in the classroom and hanging it on the wall as a reminder for students.