Agriculture in the Classroom

Cotton as an Educational Resource

Cotton touches us in more ways that we can think of. The denim and shirts we wear comes from cotton. Cotton is fun to teach to kids. Children can learn how the cotton plant looks, what a cotton boll looks like and other things about this wonderful plant.

Lesson Plan Ideas for Schools:

*Discuss the origins of cotton. Create a list of products that are derived from cotton.
*Read labels on clothing. How many of the clothes contain cotton? Discuss how cotton is grown and processed into fabric.
*Discuss the history of American cotton and the key events. .
*Write biographical essays on Eli Whitney and Samuel Slater.
*Create a model of a universal density bale, (dimensions 55″ x 21″ x 26″). Determine its volume and density if a standard bale is 500 lb.

Educational Activities for Grades 1 to 8

1. Give each student or group of students one cotton boll. Have your students examine the cotton fiber. under a magnifying lens. They will notice that these short fibers have almost a silky appearance.
2. Have students grow 3 to 5 cotton seeds in a pot and watch it germinate in 10 days. Discuss different parts of the plant and the life cycle of cotton plant.
3. Share the background information about cotton picking and cotton ginning. Have students actually remove cotton from the boll and separate seeds from the cotton boll using a roller gin.
4. Have your students weigh their fibers from one boll, and then compare it to the weight of a pair of jeans. Ask students to consider how many cotton bolls are needed to produce a pair of jeans.
5. Discuss the invention of the cotton gin and its significance in history and cotton production in United States. Demonstrate the roller gin to show how it separates seeds from fiber.