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, allowing students to experience the process of hand ginning, 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.

Teacher Note: The purpose of this activity is to investigate cotton, the process of hand ginning cotton, and the impacts of the cotton gin. Adjusting this investigation into a role-play or simulation of a slave activity is absolutely discouraged. In addition, no student should be required to participate in hand ginning cotton. For more information concerning teaching about the history of African Enslavement, refer to research conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center Teaching Hard History: American Slavery.

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.

10 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews

  • 5
    Cotton bolls

    Posted by Joanne K Frost on Feb 22nd 2021

    Kids love trying to get the seeds out!

  • 5
    Excellent for hands-on learning

    Posted by Kristy on Nov 24th 2020

    My students love learning about cotton. These bolls give them a hands-on learning experience that demonstrates how difficult it is to get the cotton clean of seeds. Excellent resource!

  • 5
    Cotton Bolls

    Posted by Julie on Apr 13th 2020

    I have used these to teach American History for quite a few years. My 5th grade students have a stimulating hands-on learning experience about the Civil War and the effect the cotton gin made. Please continue to provide these.