Free Science Studies: Spinning Machines

Free Science Studies: Spinning Machines
Free Science Studies: Spinning Machines

Hargreaves, Arkwright, Crompton and others invented and adapted the spinning machines that launched the Industrial Revolution.

Read the following:

“Invention of Spinning Machines”

  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
  • View an illustration of a distaff and spindle.
  • Explain (or narrate) how the distaff and spindle are used. You might want to watch the video below first for better understanding.
  • Can you think of a Bible verse that mentions the distaff and spindle? (Proverbs 31:19).
  • Explain part of the work of the distaff and spindle the spinning wheel replaced.
  • Read how hand carding works at
  • Learn the parts of a spinning wheel at
  • Explain how the spinning wheel saved time.
  • View a photo of a spinning jenny.
  • Read more about the contribution of the spinning jenny in this ThinkQuest.
  • List the consequences of the invention of the spinning jenny — both good and bad.
  • Tell the story of Hargreaves’s invention.
  • Compare and contrast the warp and the woof. You’ll find resources below.
  • Learn more about Richard Arkwright at the BBC.
  • View a photo of a water frame.
  • Explain how the water frame works. What was its contribution to the Industrial Revolution? You may want to watch the video below before explaining.
  • Tell the story of Richard Arkwright.
  • Explain the problem the mule was invented to fix.
  • View an example of the spinning mule made by Crompton.
  • View a video of a working spinning mule.
  • Tell the story of Samuel Crompton.
  • Explain the challenges the inventors mentioned in the chapter faced and why.
  • Create a timeline of the progression of spinning through the Industrial Revolution.
  • Choose one of the inventors mentioned and create a character sketch. You’ll find resources below.
  • More about the results of the invention of spinning machines from the Book of Knowledge:

    One of the first men behind the textile industry of England was a Lancashire genius who could neither read nor write — James Hargreaves…. The cotton trade at that time depended largely on work done in cottages and little farms. Part of the cotton had to be spun into thread to make the warp, and part into the weft (or woof) which crosses the texture. It happened that one day Hargreaves knocked over the simple little machine his wife was using for spinning weft, and to that action we may trace the work he did for himself, for his country and for the world at large….

    He made his first machine, the original spinning-jenny, and secretly began to manufacture yarn in such quantities as no other spinner had ever made before. The result was that the Hargreaves household was soon making eight times as much materials as before, and so helping the prosperity of everybody concerned in the mill, for yarn was the one thing they all needed.

    But the narrow jealousy of the people of the neighborhood was aroused at the suggestion, whispered abroad, that Jim Hargreaves was using machinery. Machinery — why, it would rob honest hand workers of their living; it would drive all folk away from Blackburn and the surrounding towns!…

    [The weavers and local men] forced a way into the house, they smashed the machine, they demolished the furniture, and then they marched down to Peel’s mill, where Hargreaves was at work, and they wrecked that.

    Hargreaves went to Nottingham and joined hands with a man named Thomas James, who had a little capital and a great faith. Together they began the manufacture of the spinning-jennies, but having hounded him out of home and occupation, Lancashire was now using his jennies wholesale without paying him a farthing royalty.

    The desperate inventor began an action to recover damages, but when his lawyer found how many dishonest cotton-manufacturers in Blackburn alone had stolen the device, he gave up in dismay, saying he could not fight an army. Hargreaves did not die in poverty, but we know that wealth did not come to this man who had placed at the disposal of his native country a device for building up unparalleled prosperity.

    “Some Other Famous Inventors,” The Book of Knowledge


Further Investigation

The Spinning Jenny
Really a compilation at of each of the inventions mentioned and how they worked together to launch the Industrial Revolution.

The Spinning Jenny
Background and its impact on the Industrial Revolution at

The Water Frame
ThinkQuest look at the role Arkwright’s invention played in the Industrial Revolution.

Sir Richard Arkwright
Summary of his contributions at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England.

The Spinning Mule
ThinkQuest background on Crompton’s invention.

The Basic Effects of the Textile Industry
Simple ThinkQuest explanation of the role of this industry in the Industrial Revolution.


Tool Demonstration: Spinning Wheel
Interactive from the Memorial Hall Museum that explains how it works.

Tool Demonstration: Hand Cards
Another interactive from the Memorial Hall Museum.

Activity: Compare & Contrast
To compare and contrast warp and woof as suggested above.

Use this interactive at to create a timeline showing the advances in spinning as mentioned above.

Trading Card Creator
Interactive at to create a summary of one of the inventors.

Weaving with a Simple Homemade Loom
Not too easy, but doable at

Spinning Wheel Plan
Make your own…or just see how they are put together with free plans at


“A Story of the Spinning Wheel”
From Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plan

Musical unit at the Wisconsin Music Educators Association put together around the song that mothers sang while their daughters spun their first thread.

Free Nature Studies: Sheep and Their Shepherds

Free Nature Studies: Sheep and Their Shepherds
More on wool, wool processing, and weaving from our free nature studies based on the book Our Wonderful World.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Map of Europe
At for locating England.

United Kingdom
PAT map for locating Lancashire, England.

Spinning Machines Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the entire series: