- Have students do a research project on the Native American groups that used popcorn. Ask them to report different ways popcorn was used. How many varieties did each tribe use? Have them report their findings in class.
- Ask students to research different kinds of popcorn poppers. When were they invented? Who used these poppers? How do they pop popcorn? How do they compare to today's poppers?
- Have students draft a chronological study on the uses of popcorn from the early days of the Indians to the number of places and ways popcorn is used today.
- Discuss ingredients which could be used for making flavored popcorn -- either sweet or savory, or both. Decide which flavors to try and write up the recipe ideas.
- Hold a contest in the classroom to find the perfect popcorn. Create different categories for winners, i.e., most nutritious, most indulgent, most creative, etc. Pick a panel of judges to determine the winners.
- One quart of popped popcorn costs only 4-9 cents, making popcorn one of the most economical snacks around. Ask your students to compare other favorite snack foods by cost and determine which are the best bargains.
- For younger grades, play unscramble the words with the letters spelling out places that relate to popcorn; i.e., where popcorn was first identified, where the first popcorn popper was invented, key locations where popcorn is grown, manufactured, etc. Follow with a discussion on each location's role in popcorn history.
- Give students a list of geographic locations that have played a part in popcorn's history. Ask them to locate these spots on a map.
- Have students research the major popcorn producing states. Ask them to report why popcorn grows so well in these areas. Is it the soil, climate, planting methods, etc.
- Divide the class into groups of countries. Compare the differences and/or similarities of how popcorn is used, eaten, grown and sold in United States as compared to other countries. Try to locate popcorn products, packaging labels and advertisements to add to the discussion.
- Divide the class into groups. Have students find out where popcorn is sold in different states, both as kernels and as ready-popped corn. List the available range of flavors. Devise a questionnaire to find out when and where people eat popcorn, and their favorite flavors. Write a report on your findings.
- Ask students to make a list of popular snack foods. Have them check those snacks they feel are most nutritious and star the ones they feel are most caloric. Analyze the nutritional value and calorie count of each snack on the list with your students.
- Have students locate actual fitness and healthy eating plans that recommend popcorn as a nutritious and low-calorie snack.
- Let your students act as reporters. Have them contact nutritionists, dieticians and members of the American Dietetic Association and interview them. Find out why they feel popcorn is a smart snack choice and how they would incorporate it into their diet. Report the findings to the class.
- Find out which information must appear on a package. Collect packaging examples to help. Have the class research the legal requirements for food labeling and write up a summary of their results.
- Have your students research what it takes to go from the processing company to the stores and movie theaters that sell popcorn. Identify the major processing companies and largest retailers.
- Have students visit a grocery store and pick out three different types of popcorn. Ask them why they picked the ones they did: was it brand name, packaging, advertising, etc.
- Ask students to find advertisements for popcorn in magazines and on television. Discuss what they liked and disliked about the ads. What motivates them to want a particular brand/product.
- Have students locate retail outlets that sell popcorn. Do they advertise. How much, if at all, has advertising increased sales.
- Divide the class into groups and have them do a marketing campaign for a new popcorn product. The campaign should include choosing a flavor and a name, and creating a logo and package design.
- Plan an advertising campaign for the new product. Decide which groups of people are most likely to eat it, then develop ideas based on these groups – the "target market." Write down the ideas and decide which media – magazine, newspapers, posters, television, radio or cinema, or a combination – to use.
- Have students develop and plan the advertisements. Write the words and design the page for a press advertisement, write the script or words for a jingle or produce a story board (small pictures that outline the plan of the film) for television.
- Consider promotional ideas to help sell the product – t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc. – to tie-in with your theme. Where would these items be offered. Have students make plans and designs of their ideas.
- Do an experiment to find the proper oil temperature necessary for perfect popcorn.
- Have students conduct an in-class popcorn popping demonstration. Follow the instructions in the Program. Make notes to record the volume of kernels before and after popping. To do this, place them in a measuring cup and make a note of the level, then pop the kernels and record the levels again.
- Divide the class into teams and compare "regular" popcorn and microwave popcorn (i.e., taste, cost, popping procedures, etc.) What makes the two different. Which is considered "better or "more nutritious."
- Discuss environmental issues relating to packaging materials and their disposal. Which are considered the "best" and "worst" from an ecological standpoint.
- Have your students contact popcorn growers and interview them about the process of planting popcorn. If possible, have them keep a journal of an actual crop, from planting time, harvesting and processing.
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