Cotton, wool, silk and hemp - Ancient India Projects
Quatr.us answers questions
Upgrade /Log in
Options /Log out
Print
About
Africa
Egypt
Mesopotamia
Early Europe
Greece
Rome
China
India
Central Asia
Medieval
Islamic Empire
Native Americans
S./Central America
American History
Biology
Chemistry
Geology
Math
Physics
Weather
Food
Judaism
Christianity
Home

Cotton, wool, silk, hemp

People in India were the first to grow cotton, about 2500 BC. It took four thousand years to spread cotton growing from India to China and Europe. But wherever people were, when they did get cotton they really liked it.

Why is that? What is it about cotton that makes it different from wool, or hemp, or silk (the main fabrics people used before they had cotton)?

Why not let the children try to discover differences for themselves? You might want to have them work in pairs. Give each pair a small square of cotton, one of wool, one of silk, and one of hemp cloth. (You should be able to get parents to send in scraps of cotton, wool, and silk; make sure they are 100% cotton, not cotton polyester). You might have to get the hemp yourself, but a yard should be plenty for a whole class.
(Or, give each team only one kind of cloth to find out about, and then compare later?)

Then let the children come up with ideas for what to test. What would make one piece of clothing better than another? Is one of the pieces more waterproof? (They could try pouring water on them and measuring how much drips through in a certain amount of time) Is one of the pieces thinner or thicker? Does it matter whether it is knitted or woven, or how tightly it is woven? If they look at the cloth under a microscope, do they notice any differences? What might those differences mean for clothing? If they compare their own results with those of the other people in the class, do any general conclusions result from that? Can they graph their results? What kind of cloth would you want for hot weather? Cold weather? Rainy weather?

More about the history of cotton

Other activities:

* The Ramayana (putting on a play)

Bibliography and further reading about cotton:

Cotton and Silk, by Jacqueline Dineen (1988). Easy reading.

Cotton, by Guinevere Healy-Johnson and Nancy Shaw (1999). Also for kids.

Cotton Now & Then, by Karen B. Willing (1996).

A day in ancient India
More about ancient India
Quatr.us home


Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

Help support Quatr.us!

Quatr.us (formerly "History for Kids") is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

Now that the weather's nice, try some of these outdoor activities! How about bicycle polo, or archery for a Medieval Islam day? Or kite flying or making a compass for a day in Medieval China? How about making a shaduf for a day in Ancient Egypt? Holding an Ancient Greek Olympic Games or a medieval European tournament? Building a Native American wickiup?