George Washington Carver Lesson Plan: Peanuts, Agriculture, and Inventions

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 3-5, K-3

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-5, students use BrainPOP resources to explore key events in the life of George Washington Carver. Students will also explain the meaning of agriculture and invention, and create graphic organizers with at least five uses for the peanut.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Understand key events in the life of George Washington Carver.
  2. Explain the meaning of agriculture and invention.
  3. Create graphic organizers with at least five uses for the peanut.

Materials:

  • Bag of unshelled peanuts
  • Blank paper
  • Computer and projector/TV to watch the BrainPOP Jr. movie
  • Copies of Annie's Notebook and Word Wall words, if needed
  • Magnifying glasses (optional)

Vocabulary:

agriculture; crop rotation; nutrients; invention

Preparation:

Check students’ health records to make sure no students have peanut allergies, as these can be life-threatening. Preview the George Washington Carver movie on BrainPOP Jr. to familiarize yourself with the content and set up the computer so students can view it.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Hold up an unshelled peanut and ask if students know what it is. Demonstrate how to crack open a peanut and explore the contents inside.
  2. Give each child a peanut and allow the class to open their shells and examine the peanuts up close. Provide magnifying glasses if desired to help children make observations and describe what they see.
  3. Tell the class that the peanuts they hold in their hand can be used to make all kinds of amazing products. Ask students to name items that are made from peanuts.
  4. Explain that a man named George Washington Carver discovered hundreds of uses for peanuts, including paint, laundry soap, shaving cream, lotion, ink, paper, and mayonnaise.
  5. Allow children to eat their peanuts and clear away their trash while you introduce the vocabulary in the BrainPOP movie using the Word Wall. You can pass out photocopies of Annie's Notebook questions and Word Wall Words to help scaffold learning if needed. Students can sketch or write key words to take notes. Alternatively, invite students to add new vocabulary words to their personal dictionaries or a class word wall.
  6. Watch the George Washington Carver movie on BrainPOP. Use closed captioning to reinforce the concepts. Pause the movie during key concepts and vocabulary to discuss with students.
  7. After the movie, have students (either independently or in partners/small groups) use blank paper to create thinking maps or graphic organizers to show possible uses for the peanut. Encourage children to draw or write at least five uses.

Extension Activity:

Have students use the back of their thinking maps to invent a new use for the peanut. They can draw a picture of their invention and/or write about how it works. Students can also explore the additional interactive BrainPOP Jr. features throughout the week in centers or partnerships to reinforce this study.