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Celebrate the Peanut -- A Unit Study

Updated on June 30, 2015

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.

photo credit

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 Life and Times of the Peanut
The Life and Times of the Peanut

Pretty much all you'd ever want to know about the peanut is in this volume written just for children.

 

Peanut Lapbook

Other people have created peanut lapbooks. See their finished products for inspiration.

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 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.

Presidental Connection

Two peanut farmers have been elected president in the United States of America - Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Read about Ardil Fiber from shells made in the 50's by ICI at Dumfries, fault was it lasted too long and wouldn't weaar out,

    • Image Girl profile image

      Image Girl 5 years ago

      There was a peanut butter quest today and I found yours was the best!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      What a fun and educational unit of study. I learned a great deal here. Thanks for the resources. Appreciated!

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      A subject tastefully done. Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      used this easy access info to help 64yr old learn something new...

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Ah, I am absolutely nutty about peanuts ... you know?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      GREAT MATERIAL FOR MY AG IN THE CLASSROOM PROGRAMS - THANKS!!

    • LilliputStation profile image

      LilliputStation 7 years ago

      Great page! My daughter just completed the peanut lapbook put out by HOAC, so I'm thinking of doing a little study on Carver. How about adding a recipe or two? My husband loves anything with peanut butter so we are always trying new things.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 8 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      What a great unit! My little guy will enjoy doing these activities with our plant unit we just started. Thanks, Jimmi!

      Pamela

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks so much for all this info! :D

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      I've been buying almond butter lately, which is supposed to be much better for you, but is a lot more expensive. I still buy peanut butter from time to time too. I used to like Jif, but I've been buying that Skippy Natural one that's pretty good. Squid Angel blessed, nice work!

    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Devereux 8 years ago from Columbia Mo

      Thanks for the peanut info!