Cotton Bolls

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Classroom kit:
Includes enough materials for 35 students.
Cotton Bolls

Grades 1-11
Help your students understand how the fiber in their clothing, towels, and sheets comes from cotton plants. The seeds must be removed from the cotton fibers to make cloth. This process is called ginning (after Eli Whitney's cotton gin; gin is short for engine). The cotton bolls in this kit may be hand ginned, or dissected, helping students to appreciate what slaves did in the past, understand the significance of the cotton gin, and explain how machines help us today to be more productive. Each set contains 35 individually wrapped cotton bolls. Each cotton boll can easily be pulled apart into four distinct sections so that a group of four students may use one cotton boll.

View Cotton Ginning Tutorial on YouTube

Lesson plans associated with this kit can be found on the National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix.

Approved for College & Career Awareness.

5 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews

  • 5
    Cotton Bolls

    Posted by Diane Fuller on Jul 30th 2019

    I bought these for a lesson on slavery in the south leading up to the Civil War. Haven't used them yet but am very pleased with them. I like the fact that the base of the flower is still on them, showing how prickly they are. As the slaves were forced into quickly picking the cotton bolls they would prick their fingers all day long. Also, being able to tear the seeds out of the cotton is such a laborious process and the students will be able to experience that for themselves. They also are easily recognizable as the plant they are the way they are presented.

  • 5
    Cotton bolls

    Posted by Kim on May 13th 2019

    Great price for so many bolls! I teach in Ohio, and my students had no clue why the cotton gin was such a great invention. They had no idea where cotton can from. I bought these and had the kids remove the seeds. They have a new respect for what people had to do to get cotton in the "olden days". What a wonderful experience for them!

  • 5
    Plantation life lesson

    Posted by Michael on May 6th 2019

    I got this idea from another teacher and it works great. To feel the sharp cotton shell and go through the work of cleaning out seeds really helps students imagine at least part of what the life of an African slave was like on a Southern plantation. This year I borrowed a scale from the science department and had them weigh their product against the quotas slaves would have in a day. A great hands-on lesson!