Cotton in Classroom

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 aboutvuid this wonderful plant. It is also a great resource for Ag in the Classroom.
The history of cotton is not exactly known. Scientists have found bits of cotton bolls and pieces of cotton cloth in Mexico believed to be at least 7,000 years old. In the Indus River valley in Ancient India, cotton was being grown, spun and woven into cloth 3,000 years BC. At about the same time, natives of Egypt’s Nile valley were making and wearing cotton clothing. Arab traders brought cotton cloth to Europe about 800 A.D.
Cotton Gin is a machine designed to separate the seeds from the cotton harvested from the plant. The process uses a small screen and pulling hooks to force the cotton through the screen. It was invented by Eli Whitney on March 14, 1794, one of the many inventions that occurred during the American Industrial Revolution. The cotton gin is a machine designed to separate the seeds from the cotton harvested from the plant.
The bales of cotton are sent from the gin to the textile mills. These textile mills process raw bales of cotton in stages until they produce yarn (fibers twisted into threads used in weaving or knitting) or cloth (fabric or material constructed from weaving or knitting).

Cotton Facts

How much does a bale of cotton weigh, on average?

A universal density bale weighs between 480 and 500 pounds.

What are cotton gins for?

They separate the seeds from the lint fibers.

Who invented the first cotton gin?

Eli Whitney

How can one tell when a cotton flower has been pollinated?

The petals turn from white to light pink.

What state plants the most cotton?


What kind of places convert cotton fibers to yarn?

Textile mills.

Educational Activities for Grades K-12

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 the 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. Quiz students if the average weight of a bale is 500 lb, how many T-shirts can be made from one cotton bale if their average weight of each T-shirt was 6.5 oz.

6. 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.

Lesson Plan Ideas for Schools

# Grades Activity Subject
1 K-12 Discuss the origins of cotton. Create a list of products that are derived from cotton. Science
2 K-12 Read labels on clothing. How many of the clothes contain cotton? Discuss how cotton is grown and processed into fabric. Science
3 K-12 Discuss the history of American cotton and the key events. American History
4 K-12 Write biographical essays on Eli Whitney and Samuel Slater. American History
5 K-12 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. Mathematics

Video Player
Cotton Information Video

Cotton in the Classroom Brochure (Page 1)

Lesson Plans for Elementary & Secondary Grades K-12 Students

Cotton in the Classroom Brochure (Page 2)

Lesson Plans for Elementary & Secondary Grades K-12 Students
Educator testimonial

The Cotton education kit is an awesome educational resource I used to teach my   class about cotton. Kids got to touch the cotton and grow seeds to see the plants. Now they know where their shirts and jeans come from!

Barbara Smith

“The cotton gin helped my students understand how the seeds seperate from cotton and the significance of the invention of the cotton gin and its impact on slavery.”

Rebecca Williams

“The kids grew cotton seeds in pots with compost, regularly watered them and fertilized them. In 6 weeks, it grew lovely yellow flowers and then fluffy cotton bolls.”

Brian Joseph

Subjects you can learn with ‘Cotton in the Classroom’
World Geography
Language & Visual Arts
US History
Educational products
Cotton Boll, Seed & Lint

Model Cotton Bale

Lint, Sliver & Cloth

Great Educational Resource for K-12
Model Gin
Simplified Eli Whitney gin model

Assembly is simple and fun

Suitable for Grades 3-8

Educational Projects & Science Fairs