Classroom Resources

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. Read and print the Farm to Fabric  brochure and Buy Education Kit for Cotton to answer all your questions about “What is Cotton?”


Educational Activities for Years 1 to 8

1.Give each student or group of students one cotton boll. Have your students examine the cotton fibre. under a magnifying lens. They will notice that these short fibres 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 fibres 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 fibre.


Cotton Facts

How much does a bale of cotton weigh, on average?
A universal density bale weighs between 480 and 500 pounds (227 kg)

What do cotton gins do?
They separate the seeds from the lint fibres

Who invented the first cotton gin?
Eli Whitney

Who built the world’s first factory to produce cotton?
Sir Richard Arkwright at Cromford.

Who invented the ‘Flying Shuttle’?
John Kay in 1733 invented the ‘Flying Shuttle’ which allowed wider cloth to be weaved and at a faster speed than ever before. John Kay was able to develop this machine using this his knowledge as a weaver.

Who invented the ‘Spinning Jenny’?
James Hargreaves is the inventor of the ‘Spinning Jenny’ in 1765. Within a period of twenty years, the number of threads one machine could spin rose from six to eighty.

Which county or town in the UK had the highest number of cotton factories?

What is the Lancashire Cotton Famine?
In the early 1860’s, the Lancashire cotton industry, which dominated the mid-19th century British economy, was devastated by a political event beyond its control, the Civil War in the United States of America. In April 1861, President Lincoln ordered a blockade of the Confederate southern ports, the outlet for the raw cotton on which Lancashire’s mills was dependent. Mill closure, short time working and mass unemployment resulted. The crisis reached its peak in 1862-63.

How can one tell when a cotton flower has been pollinated?
The petals turn from white to light pink

What country produces the most cotton?

What kind of places convert cotton fibres to yarn?
Textile mills

How many pairs of jeans can be made from one bale of cotton?

Buy Education Kit to learn all about Cotton