It’s popcorn month! And that is way cool, because it means some awesome things for both parents and teachers. Here’s how to make popcorn, yes popcorn, educational AND fun!
Where is popcorn grown? Which states and/or countries grow the most popcorn? You, or your child, can find out through a simple search. The next step? Print out a world or US map and color in the places that produce popcorn. For older students, you could even ask them to color code the map to show how much popcorn each place produces.
Popcorn has been around for a good long while. Like over a thousand years long! Even the littlest kiddos can enjoy reading a book about popcorn! Popcorn.org has a great list of books that covers all ages and reading levels.
Older children might enjoy making connections between popcorn and cultures that they study in school. Many third, fourth, and fifth grade students study American Indians in social studies class. There is also evidence of popcorn in prehistoric South and Central America, formed a nifty bridge to middle and high school world history.
For students of all ages, creating a timeline of popcorn for whatever time period will help to solidify history in their minds by creating the link to a fun food. For little, you could even make the actual line using real popcorn kernels or popped popcorn.
You can do all sort of math with popcorn.
Percents/Fractions: Have students look at the total amount of popcorn produced in the US. Then compare the amount that each major popcorn producing region produced. Next reduce the numbers to create simplified fractions. Then, divide the denominator by the numerator, and move the decimal points two places to the right or multiply by 100. This makes a percent. Rank each popcorn producing region by the percentage of the total popcorn produced in a given year.
Geometry: Make shapes using white school glue, then place pieces of popped or unpopped popcorn over the glue outlines. Let dry and label each shape.
The way that popcorn works is insanely cool. There is a small amount of water inside of each kernel. As the kernels are heated, the water turns to steam and then expands, causing the inside of the popcorn to expand and the outer shell to burst. So experiment! Go ahead and try different methods of popping your corn.
You can also practice measuring the ingredients and creating flavored popcorn using different toppings. I really like mini chocolate chips, mini peanut butter chips, and shredded coconut.
Another way to work the science angle is to make popcorn into a nutrition experiment. This is awesome for student athletes or anyone interested in fitness. Calculate the calories per serving, as well as other nutritional information and factor it into your daily diet. This will require a larger scale project that involves tracking your eating over a period of time, figuring out the calories and nutrients of all of your food.
Popcorn is super fun to make art and music with!
For art, dye a bunch of popped corn different colors. Using glue, and whatever other materials you want, create a collage or picture. You could also take popped corn and dip the kernels into different paint colors, then use the paint-dipped corn to “paint” on paper in a variety of ways: smearing, dotting, dabbing, throwing at the paper, shaking inside a container on the paper. Use your imagination, art with popcorn can go in so many different directions and is only limited by your own creativity!
You can also make beautiful music with popcorn. If you are feeling traditional, make a rain stick or shaker. For the shaker, fold a paper plate in half. Staple half way around, then pour a handful of unpopped corn inside. Finish stapling and let your child decorate her new noise maker with anything you desire. If staples aren’t your thing, you could also punch holes at close intervals around the edge and weave colorful yarn through the holes to keep the plate shut.
To make a rain stick, get a sturdy tube. I like heavy cardboard. Use the flat, old fashioned metal pushpins and stick them into the tube at regular intervals. Cover one end of the tube securely, pour in the popcorn kernels, and then close the other end, too. You are now ready to have a delightful rainstorm any time!
Popcorn is a seriously cool food: fun to make and fun to eat, with a great history and multiple uses to boot. Why not make it a part of your family fun this month?