September 18, 2016

Popcorn Fun!

Due to a miscommunication I found myself with 40 minutes of unscheduled time the other day. Opps! I pulled out one of my favorite cross-curricular activities, Popcorn Fun: A Hands-on, Integrated Learning Activity, and saved the day! I've used this resource for years and it's always a hit with the elementary crowd. I make copies to have on hand at the beginning of the year for occasions such as this.
In order to be prepared I keep a 99 cent bag of popcorn in my cupboard. I'd be scared to tally up how many times the popcorn in that bag has been handled, drawn and counted by my students.
There are several reasons why this unit is a hit with kids. First, everyone has an opinion about popcorn - and most kids like it. Second, there are no wrong answers. Third, kids get excited to learn new facts about something they are really familiar with from both book and video resources. Teachers like this unit too! Kids are actively engaged and and there is a lot of sneaky learning that goes on -- how to take notes, generating parts of speech, non-fiction text features and math. Popcorn Fun can be completed in an afternoon (fine for older kids) or divided into smaller chunks (better for younger kids). Each year is a little different but this is how the lesson went this year...

Day 1 1:00 - Panic!! The art teacher left early. I've got the kids for 40 mins. What am I going to do? Deep breath. Calm. Get out Popcorn Fun papers.
1:05 - Gather in a group and discuss the variety of ways to prepare popcorn. Make a list of background knowledge facts. Students record their own background knowledge on the paper.
1:15 - Pass out popcorn kernels in cups. Draw diagram. What a great time to discuss labels!
1:30 - Make popcorn kernel predictions. Watch kids count the actual number of kernels in the cup is always fun to watch. Since I do not give instructions on how to do it those kids come up with a variety of problem solving solutions.
1:45 - Back to the regularly scheduled program
Day 2
2:00 Read book about popcorn - as a whole group, we remember new facts we learn from the book. I project a word document to record the facts, modeling note taking skills.
Show video about popcorn - as a whole group, add additional facts to the word document
2:30 - Teach kids how to cite their sources
2:35 - Students choose the facts they find most interesting to write on their paper. Differentiate as needed.

Day 3 - In small groups, complete the popcorn parts of speech sections.
Later in the day, eat Kettle Korn - using the included recipe. Yum!
Popcorn Fun: A Hands-on, Integrated Learning Activity puts many skills and strategies into motion with an authentic experience. Fellow teachers have used this a regular back to school activity and is great for observations. Happy popping!

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