Celebrate the Peanut -- A Unit Study
Getting Nutty over America's Favorite Legume -- the Peanut!
The average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year. WOW! Americans love to snack on peanuts. In fact, four of the top 10 candy bars manufactured in the USA contain peanuts or peanut butter.
Because of their popularity and versatility, peanuts contribute more than $4 billion to the USA economy each year. And around the world, peanuts are an important source of protein and edible oil.
Actually, the peanut is not a nut, but a legume related to beans and lentils. But you already knew that! Do your children? How about a peanut unit study or a peanut lapbook? You can cover geography, history, botany, nutrition, and language arts through a thematic unit on the peanut.
Peanut History, Geography, and Nutrition
The peanut plant originated in South America but has since traveled the entire globe. In fact, the largest peanut producer is not even in the Western Hemisphere!
Today, China grows the most peanuts at an annual yield of over 13 million tons! WOW! Next in line is India, then Nigeria. USA comes in fourth with well under 2 million tons of peanuts each year. Visit Wikipedia for a nice chart with these facts. Print a world map and have your children identify the largest peanut producers in the world.
The peanut is so popular around the entire globe because peanuts are full of nutrition, specifically vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein, and manganese.
The peanut is sometimes called a ground nut because it grows under the ground. Another nickname is goober or goober nut. Although it sounds like a silly, the name goober actually comes from "nguba," the Bantu (African) name for peanut. The scientific name is not nearly as fun to say as goober -- Arachis hypogaea.
Learn more about the the geography and history of the peanut at Knowledge Base.
Peanut Printables & Lesson Plans
You can design an entire unit study from free things on the Internet. Try these links for lesson plans, worksheets, images, and more.
- "The No-Nut Peanut" Teacher's Kit
Virginia Carolina Peanuts offers these free teaching resources. There are teachers guides, lesson plans, and activity sheets that cover peanuts in these academic areas: nutrition and health, social studies, geography, science, and language art. There
- National Peanut Board
In teaming up with Weekly Reader, the National Peanut Board has developed two lesson plan guides to help teachers and students learn about USA-grown peanuts. This program is designed for use with students in grades K through 6. The National Peanut B
- Peanut Life Cycle Sequencing Activity
This PDF's last page is a really nice diagram with cut outs showing the life cycle of a peanut from seed to harvest.
- Peanut Coloring Page
A simple peanut (in the shell) outline, this page would make a good shape book pattern.
- Peanut Math
Simple one digit addition and subtraction worksheets with a peanut theme.
Other people have created peanut lapbooks. See their finished products for inspiration.
- All Boy Homeschool
Two proud boys show off their wonderful peanut lapbooks! Mom shares some links to where she got her information. Be sure to read this post too where she shares more about the peanut unit study.
- Living and Learning Blog -- Peanut Lapbook
Another blog post with plenty of links and photos of a peanut inspired lapbook.
George Washington Carver
Known as "The Father of the Peanut Industry," Dr. George Washington Carver researched and developed more than 300 uses for peanuts.
Visit the George Washington Carver National Monument website for views of his boyhood home, quotes from Dr. Carver, and more.
There are a multitude of free educational resources about this great man. Here are links to the best.
- George Washington Carver Coloring and Activity Book
Diagrams, crossword puzzles, coloring pages, and activity pages!
- George Washington Carver Coloring Page
A free printable from Crayola.
- Homeschool Helper's George Washington Carver Notebooking Page
A single lined writing page with a black and white photograph of the scientist.
George Washington Carver Biographies
From Peanuts to Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is the leading use of peanuts in the USA. So, how is peanut butter made? There's quite a process from the peanut plant to our favorite peanut food item. The following information was gleaned from this site. Click over to get more details.
Peanut seeds are planted about two inches deep in rows. The plants grow best in sandy soil.
When the peanuts are ready to be harvested, the farmer drives his digger up and down the rows, loosening the plants and cutting the tap roots. Just behind the blade, a shaker lifts the plant from the soil, gently shakes the dirt from the peanuts, rotates the plant, and lays the plant back down in a "windrow" with the peanuts sticking up. The plants are left this way for 2 or more days to dry the peanuts before the farmer uses his combine on them.
The image to the right shows the combine driving over the windrows of dried peanut plants. The combine lifts the plants, separates the peanuts from the vine, blows them into a hopper on the top of the machine, and lays the vine back down in the field. The peanuts are then dumped into wagons after drying a bit more are sold at peanut buying stations.
How Peanut Butter is Made
HT to Sherry who first found this great video.
Crunchy or Creamy?
The National Peanut Board says creamy peanut butter is preferred by women and children while men generally like chunky. But regional differences exist too! Americans on the West Coast like chunky, but on the East Coast, creamy is the favorite.
How about you? Do you fit the norms of peanut butter preference?
By the way, this would be a great graphing activity for your children. Have them poll friends and family about their favorite peanut butter. Then record your results.
There's only one main question when it comes to peanut butter.
Peanut Butter - Printables & Activities
According to the Skippy Peanut Butter website, it takes 772 peanuts to make a 16.3 oz jar of peanut butter! Here are some printables related to our favorite use for peanuts.
- A Jar of Peanut Butter
A simple coloring page of a jar of peanut putter that says peanut butter on the label and has some whole peanuts around the base.
- Peanut Butter Coloring Page
Another jar of peanut butter coloring page.
- Make Your Own Peanut Butter
With a food processor, some peanuts, and a bit of oil, you can make homemade peanut butter. Try it!
Two peanut farmers have been elected president in the United States of America - Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
- Peanut Fact Sheet
This factual page from the National Park Service has some nice images and loads of details about peanuts and Jimmy Carter.