There are many black inventors that have contributed greatly to our society.  I chose to focus on Garret Morgan and George Washington Carver.  I even found a recipe that ties the two inventors together!

Before getting started, explain what an invention is (a new device, method, or process developed from study and experimentation) and what an inventor is (someone who comes up with inventions) to your child.  Make sure to share the real photos with your child so he/she can put a face to the name.  I have included some main points for each inventor, but there is a lot more information out there!
Garret Morgan

There is no doubt that Garret Morgan did invent a traffic signal in the 1920's, but he did not invent the first traffic signal.  Several other people had invented and even patented traffic signals by this time, but Morgan's design was unique in that it consisted of a "T-shaped pole that had a signal on the top, with three positions. These three positions were Go, Stop, and All-Stop. This last position applied to people coming from every direction, and was used to make sure that pedestrians could cross the street safely. Morgan received a patent for his device in 1923..." (taken from here). 

Morgan's traffic signal was used throughout North America until all manual traffic signals were replaced by the automatic red, yellow and green traffic lights in use today. 

Have your child color in a picture of Morgan and his traffic signal.

Click picture for link.

If you have the ability to do something, why don't you do it?

Garret Morgan

by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1906
George Washington Carver

While George Washington Carver did not originally invent peanut butter as many of us may have thought, he did play a significant role in making it popular.

Carver came up with over 300 uses for peanuts (and hundreds more for soybeans,  pecans and sweet potatoes), but he only patented three.  He believed his discoveries with food products were all gifts from God.   “God gave them to me.”  He would say about his ideas, “How can I sell them to someone else?” (taken from  

Carver's work also laid the groundwork for organic farming and today’s research on plant-based fuels, medicines, and everyday products.

I also read that Carver did not have a lab notebook, so how to create his numerous inventions were never recorded.

Among some of his inventions using peanuts included:  adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes (a biofuel), ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, shaving cream and wood stain. 

For some more facts, check out  The Field Museum has an Educator Guide that is very informative and has some real photos of Carver

Here is a picture of Carver for your child to color.

Click picture for link.
The primary idea in all of my work was to help the farmer 
and fill the poor man’s empty dinner pail. 

Carver, in a 1929 letter.

This snack ties in Morgan's invention of the traffic light and what they look like today with Carver's use of peanuts--in this case, peanut butter!
Peanut Butter Traffic Light Snack
idea from

Ingredients:  Graham crackers, M&Ms, peanut butter

Supplies needed:  plastic knife or spreader

What to do:
  1. Break the graham crackers into little rectangles.
  2. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on the "broken" cracker.
  3. Add a red, yellow and green M&M to look like a traffic light.
  4. Repeat until you have made several traffic lights.
  5. Enjoy!

Take it further:  
  • Make a construction paper stop light by letting your child trace and cut out the circles for the traffic light.  
  • Play Red Light, Green Light. 
  • Crack peanuts and make peanut butter at home.  
  • Learn about how peanuts grow.  
  • Ask your child if he/she could invent something, what would it be and why?  Have him/her draw a picture of the invention.

**All photos and text are property of Angela Pounders and can not be distributed without permission.  

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