What does our home produce?

1. Real Life Situation

Uma has just started in my class at school. They moved here from a long way away, so his parents had to buy a new house for the whole family and their dog to live in.

I am going over to play at Uma’s house later, I wonder what his house will be like. Mine is quite small and I have to share a room with my brother, he leaves his stuff lying all over the floor. In winter it gets really cold and I have to wear my pullover indoors, mummy says it is better to wear a pullover than turn up the heating. Uma was very surprised when I said I wear a pullover inside because his house is so warm.

The best thing about my house is the back garden. I have a great den at the bottom made from lots of things I have found. The shed has all my dads tools in for looking after the garden where we grow lots of flowers, but also food to eat.

Uma said his house is brand new, and has lots of gadgets. Everyone has their own room and they have a huge garden. Uma says the energy comes from the sun!

If I move house I am going to tell my parents exactly what I want it to be like and where I want it to be! It will definitely have a room of my own!

2. Introduction

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Have you ever had a power cut? Was the gas service stopped for any reason? Has the water supply been shut down?

If there is no electricity and the lights aren't on then a lot of other things won’t work either, like the TV, computer, fridge, freezer, perhaps the central heating system and warm water, the oven, toaster, kettle...

Gas is important in most homes for heating and cooking.

We need water for drinking, cooking, washing ourselves and our clothes.

Most of us are connected to and rely on systems of services and couldn't imagine it any other way but not very long ago it was very different.

What would our home look like if it was “self-sufficient”? If it was independent from those services? What could we produce and how?

Let’s explore this.

3. Task

Let’s work in groups of 3-4. First everyone will investigate the idea of a self-sufficient house, then, in your group, choose one of the following questions and work on it in more detail.

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Activity 1: Self sufficient home

Activity 2: Energy

Activity 3: Water


We want to try and find the answers to these questions:

a. How are homes / schools self-sufficient at the moment?

b. What ideas of change can we find on the internet?

c. Which of these ideas can we use at home or in the school?

d. Do we have any of our own ideas?

e. Each group should present the results of their investigation to the rest of the class! This may be done using the computer, making posters, or giving a short talk.

4. Activities

Activity 1: "Self-sufficient" home
Activity 2: Energy
Activity 3: Water


 Activity 1: “Self-sufficient” home

 a1_flickr diametrik

Why would be it good to have a "self-sufficient” home and be more independent from energy and water supply systems?

Look at the options for a self-sufficient house. Do you know any families who already live like this? Is there anyone you know, whose family is making changes so that they live in a self sufficient house? Write down some of your experiences.

So, let’s see what our homes could produce:

There are many things we could investigate but we will concentrate on two of them: Energy and Water




 Activity 2: Energy


We use energy for almost everything: lights, heating, cooking, warm water, household appliances, computers etc. We are always hearing that we should use less energy because of the environment, but also because of the cost. We will discover lots of different ideas in our investigation, but first lets see how much we energy we use at the moment.

a) Try to find out how much energy you use at home and in school in a month.  What about in a year! You can ask your parents and school staff for help.

Use this table to help you record the amount of energy used.

b) What ideas can you find on the internet about saving energy and producing energy?a2_flickr rural learning center

 There are some ideas on the Energy Saving Trust website.

You can also find good hints and tips here.

c) What can we do at home and in school?

There are lots of ideas on websites about saving energy but which of these ideas can we actually use?

Write these down on a piece of paper.

d) What other ideas do you have?

Do you have your own ideas for reducing energy usage? You can continue your list on the same piece of paper.

Some simple tips to help you get started:
- Switch off the lights when you do not need them for example when you leave a room.
- Unplug your mobile charger when the battery is full and you no longer need it.
- Ask your parents about insulating the windows.

e) Present the ideas you have collected to the rest of the class. You can give a talk from your notes, design a poster or prepare a presentation on the computer.


Activity 3: Water


Water is a very precious commodity.  You have probably heard this said many times before.

If we want to be self-sufficient the best solution would be to use water straight from a spring or a well because then we wouldn't need to depend on water suppliers. However, most people do not have access to a natural spring or well so this is not really possible nowadays.

But we can consider lowering our water usage and reusing some of the water.

a) Try to measure, how much water you use in one day. Record you findings in this table .

b) What kind of ideas can you find on the internet for saving water?

In most households water comes straight from the tap, so its quite difficult to see how much you are using. See if you can think of a way you could monitor it! You may find some ideas on this website for saving water.

 a3_flickr david blackwell

This website provides ideas about 'rainwater harvesting' where you collect rainwater to use around the house and garden.

Some websites, such as this one, show ways in which people can reduce their water consumption.

c) What can we do at home and in the school?

You will be able to find lots of ideas on the internet but which of these can we actually do? Write down the ideas you could try on a piece of paper.

d) What other ideas do you have?

What ideas do you have for saving water? Continue your list on the same piece of paper.

Some simple tips to help you get started:
- Use “grey” water for flushing the toilet
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
- Have a short shower instead of having a bath
- Drink tap water instead of bottled water

e) Present the results of your investigation to your class. You can give a talk, design a poster or prepare a presentation on the computer.

5. Reflection

Write down three things you have learnt about what our home can produce.

Write down two things you would like to find out more about.

Choose one of these things, how could you find out more about it?

Buildings and Grounds learning wall

6. Conclusion

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We live in a very convenient but lavish world, where if we want, we don't need to think about where and how all our services come from. But if we don't pay attention or take care we will harm future generations by exhausting the Earth's resources.

By considering now how to reduce our over consumption, we are already taking a big step in our own and in our Earth’s interest.

7. Teacher notes

Age:  8 - 12


Activity 1: “Self-sufficient” home (15 minutes)

Activity 2: Energy      

2a: 15 minutes

2b: 15 minutes

2c: 15 minutes

2d: 10 minutes

2e: 20 minutes

Activity 3: Water      

3a: 15 minutes

3b: 15 minutes

3c: 15 minutes

3d: 10 minutes

3e: 20 minutes


Curriculum / subject (cross-curricular links):


Learning Objectives:

By the end of the quest all students will:

Have considered the questions:

How can we reduce our water and energy usage.
What can be produced at home?

Teacher assesment framework


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