Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Peanut Mining

Terrie Lyons
Santa Rosa District Schools


In this hands-on activity, students come to understand the implications of using a nonrenewable resource, as well as some of the problems associated with mining an ore.


The student knows that some resources are renewable and others are nonrenewable.


-Thirty 3 X 5 index cards. On ten cards write PAST, on ten cards write PRESENT, and on ten cards write FUTURE. You may adjust the number of cards to suit the number of students that you have in your class.
-A five-pound bag of peanuts in the shell
-Food processor or blender
-Saltine crackers, enough for each student to have one
-Small bottle of peanut oil or water
-Wooden tongue depressors for each student
-Paper towels or newspaper to cover the work area
-Student worksheet (See attached file.)
-Grading rubric (See attached file.)


1. Download and duplicate the worksheet and grading rubric. (See attached file.)
2. Obtain peanuts, index cards, food processor or blender, peanut oil, tongue depressors, saltine crackers, paper towels, or newspaper.
3. Pre-label the cards with PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.
4. Before the class comes in, hide the peanuts.


1. Before the class arrives, hide the peanuts in the classroom. This activity can also be done outside if you wish. In that case you should scatter the peanuts on the ground in a prescribed area.

2. When the students arrive have them define the terms nonrenewable resource, ore, and mining. Discuss these terms and ask them to state examples so that you can check for understanding.

3. Divide the class into three groups by passing out the labeled index cards.

4. Explain to the class that they are going to become miners for the day. Explain that there will be three generations of miners: the PAST group, the PRESENT group, and the FUTURE group.

5. Beginning with the PAST group, explain that they will have one minute to locate as many peanuts as they can find. They should keep their peanuts. Repeat the process with the PRESENT group, and finally with the FUTURE group. By the time the FUTURE group begins their search, there should be very few, if any, peanuts left.

6. When the groups have completed their searches, have them total the number that they found per group. Write the totals on the board. At this point it is a good idea to stop and question the students as to why the number of peanuts decreased with each group search. Ask them to explain how the peanuts are like a nonrenewable resource. Responses should indicate that they understand that peanuts were being taken away and were not being replaced.

7. Review the definition of an ore. Explain to the students that the peanuts that they have just mined represent an ore. Explain that their ore has to be processed to be used. Instruct the students in each group to shell their peanuts, removing the outer husk, as well as the shells. Have them put the shelled nuts in a community pile, and the shells and husks in a pile.

8. At this point discuss the difference in the two piles. Explain that in a real mining situation, the waste products would have to be disposed of and that this would affect the amount of profit that could be gained from the ore. This can also be a good time to discuss the need for conservation of resources and recycling if you wish to include it.

9. Now explain that your ore is going to be going through its final phase before it is ready to be marketed. Take the shelled nuts and place them in the blender or food processor. The teacher should do this step. Process them on high until they are of a fine consistency. Add a little peanut oil or water to get the consistency that can be spread.

10. Allow the students to use the tongue depressors to spread a little bit of the peanut butter on a cracker and sample the product.

11. Have students clean up the work area.

12. Conduct a follow-up review by going over the vocabulary terms you have covered and by having a class discussion on the implications of using a nonrenewable resource. Have students complete the worksheet activity.


As a formative assessment, students can be observed participating in the mining and processing of the peanut samples. They can also be checked for participation in the class discussion of the vocabulary terms and concepts. A summative assessment can be given to each student based on the answers they give on the worksheet using a rubric.


An extension of this lesson could be done in cooperation with the math class having the students graph the number of peanuts each generation mined. They could also determine the percentage of the finished product in comparison to the amount of shells and husks.

Attached Files

The worksheet and the grading rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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