George Washington Carver


George Washington Carver teaches students about this significant inventor, who is best known for his work related to peanuts. Students will learn about Carver’s early life and education. They will also discover facts about his other innovations and why he has left such a lasting impact.

The “Options for Lesson” section on the classroom procedure page provides several suggestions for additional or alternative activities for this lesson. One such suggestion is to plan to hold this lesson on January 5th, Carver Recognition Day. You could provide students with peanut-related snacks and meals, depending on classroom allergies. Another suggestion is to play games that involve peanuts. For older students, you might also want to discuss the issues Carver faced because of his skin color.

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What our George Washington Carver lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: George Washington Carver explores the life of the famous inventor who is most well known for his work related to peanuts. Students learn who he was and why he is important, as well as some more facts about his life. This lesson is for students in the 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The only supplies needed for this lesson are the handouts. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can divide students into their groups for the activity and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. For this lesson, these options include letting students work in pairs for the activity, planning the lesson for January 5th, which is Carver Recognition Day, and planning snacks or meals using peanuts or related products as the main ingredient (depending on classroom allergies). These snacks or meals could include peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cups, brownies with peanuts, and more. You can also invite parents to a George Washington Carver Day in class or use this lesson during Black History Month (February). You can also plan games using peanuts, like peanut toss, peanut on a spoon race, guess the number of peanuts in a jar, and more! If you’re teaching older students, you can also focus more of your time during this lesson on the discrimination Carver faced during his lifetime due to the color of his skin.

Teacher Notes

The Teacher Notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. It reminds teachers that many students may not be familiar with Carver and his legacy, and that they should emphasize that many of his inventions and innovations are still used today. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Peanuts Are Not Just for Eating & Carver’s Early Life

This lesson includes three content pages that teach students about George Washington Carver’s life. The first section of this lesson focuses on peanuts and Carver’s work with them. Students will learn how he thought of many ideas for how farmers could use peanuts, such as for paste, insulation, and soap. Carver is credited with saving the agricultural economy of the American rural South in the early 1900s and is hugely important to Southern history.

The second section describes his early life and childhood. Carver was born into slavery in Missouri. His parents were both slaves as well. Students will discover that a Confederate raider kidnapped George Washington Carver, his mother, and his sister when he was just a baby! George was eventually found and returned to the original plantation that he was born on. He mostly worked in the kitchen garden with his foster mother, tending plants and making herbal medicines. It was during this time that he began experimenting with farming techniques, like natural pesticides and soil conditioners. He helped many local farmers improve the health of their plants.

George Goes to School & Carver’s Work and Inventions

The next section of this lesson focuses on Carver’s time in school and his journey to becoming a college student. He was fortunate to attend a school called the School for African American Children in Neosho, Kansas, and then went to high school in Minneapolis, Kansas, paying for his education by working in the kitchen at a local hotel at the age of 13! He graduated from high school at 16 years old and received a full scholarship to the Highland Presbyterian College. Unfortunately, he was turned away on the day he arrived for his skin color. He then worked for a few years before deciding to find a college that would accept him. Next, Carver attended Simpson College and Iowa State University, earning both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. He then worked for Iowa State University as a member of the faculty.

Students then learn about his many inventions, like crop rotation. While working for the Tuskegee Institute, Carver became passionate about helping Southern farmers. Carver saw the issues farmers were having with cotton, which was causing the soil to lose nutrients year after year. This led to his discovery of crop rotation, or changing the plants that you planted year to year to help the soil stay enriched. This was a huge discovery for farmers!

Carver then began his work with peanuts and peanut plants. Peanut plants were disliked by a common pest, the boll weevil, and Carver decided to create all sorts of new things out of peanut plants so that more of them could be planted and used. He discovered hundreds of new uses, like cooking oil, clothing dyes, plastics, fuel for cars, and peanut butter! People started to call him “the Farmer’s Friend” and even helped Mahatma Gandhi grow crops throughout India. Students will also learn that when Carver died, his life savings were used to found the George Washington Carver Institute for Agriculture at Tuskegee. There is also a monument to Carver that they can visit in Missouri!

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • School for African American Children: The school that Carver attended as a child in Neosho, Kansas.
  • Highland Presbyterian College: Located in Kansas. Carver was granted a full scholarship but was turned away due to his skin color.
  • Simpson College: Located in Indianola, Iowa. Carver was the first Black student to attend.
  • Botany: The study of plants.
  • Iowa State University: Carver earned his Bachelor of Science degree here in 1894. He later earned a Master’s Degree and became a member of the faculty.
  • Booker T. Washington: Invited Carver to work at the Tuskegee Institute.
  • Tuskegee Institute: One of the first African American colleges in America. Carver worked here for almost his entire career.
  • Mahatma Gandhi: Carver helped Gandhi grow crops in India.


The George Washington Carver lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


As an activity, students will work in groups to answer questions about Carver’s life and inventions. You can have them work alone or with partners instead if you prefer. Students will explain crop rotation using pictures and words. They will also look at a list of products Carver created from various foods and discuss which are the most important and which are their personal favorites.


For the practice worksheet, students will place important events from Carver’s whole life in order. They will also answer reading comprehension questions that relate to the content pages, which will require some critical thinking.


In the homework assignment, students will first write a thank-you letter to George Washington Carver. They will then read some of his quotes and write what those quotes mean to them.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The end of this lesson plan includes answer keys for the activity worksheet, practice worksheet, and homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Biography, Social Studies

State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of
most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact
your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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    Debbie S.
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    George Washington Carver

    This resource is wonderful. It added so much more to my unit on George Washington Carver. The kids really enjoyed it.

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