I love cotton candy.
Where can I buy cotton material for handicrafts?
The cotton is sticking out of this stuffed animal
The kanji and the word are exactly the same. That means they share meanings as well.
The reading can be either the kun'yomi or on'yomi reading, so you have a choice there. Let's learn the わた reading, though. Just think what (わた) is cotton? What is it? What does it mean? Ask a lot of "what" questions about cotton to yourself.