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This multidisciplinary unit has been designed for use in first grade. It will be done in October to coincide with National Popcorn Month.

Activities covered in this unit will encompass the areas of Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and music.

Language Arts
* Students will read with fluency stories and poems introduced,and charts created during this unit.
* Students will sequence steps followed to make popcorn.
* Students will be able to read and write words that contain the short o sound.
* Students will work in groups to write a new ending for the book Popcorn by Frank Asch.
* Students will become familiar with vocabulary words introduced in stories read during this unit.
* Students will compose, as a class, an Email letter to author Frank Asch.


* I usually introduce this unit with the poem "The Popcorn Hop" by Stephanie Calmenson.
The Popcorn Hop
Put your popcorn in a pot.
Wait till it gets really hot.
When you start to feel the heat,
Listen for the popcorn beat:
Come and do the popcorn hop!
Stephanie Calmenson

We read this poem often during the unit, and put actions to the words. We also pick out the words that contain the short o sound.
*As a class we create a plan as to how we will make popcorn. On chart paper we list the materials we need and the steps we will follow to make popcorn. After we have completed the chart I use the computer to record the steps in mixed up order. I then run copies of the steps and give them to the students. They cut the steps into sentence strips and glue them onto popcorn shaped pages for a book.
* We do word and sentence dictation that focuses on short o words especially the -op and -ot word families.
* Popcorn by Frank Asch is one of the main books I share with the students in this unit. After I have read the book to the class I split them into groups and have them come up with new endings for the story. These endings can be shared with the rest of the class by having them read or told by each group, or if you wish the students could act out the new ending they have created with their group. If they act out the ending make sure you capture their preformances on video tape.
* Another activity we would do to go along with Popcorn would be to write an Email letter to author Frank Asch. There is a place on his web site to do this easily. To visit his web site go to
* The book Thematic Unit Popcorn by Janet Hale published by Teacher Created Materials
has several good poems, and piggy back songs. This the main resource book I use in this unit.
* Popcorn also becomes a topic for daily journal writing. Students can record interesting facts, or answer question prompts given by the teacher.

Students will practice estimation.
* Students will create and compare graphs.
* Students will demonstrate an understanding of addition by writing original story problems.


* To practice estimation start by counting how many kernels of popcorn fit in a tablespoon. Then have students estinmate the number of kernels that would fit into a 1/4 cup measuring cup. I have the students write their predictions on sticky notes, and then post them on the board. We count the kernels by sorting them into groups of ten. We then compare our estimations to the actual number of kernels measured out.
* There are many different possibilities of things to graph for this unit. The one we use is favorite popcorn flavor. I prepare and bring four different flavors of popcorn to school for the students to taste. After selecting their favorite flavor we record the results, and form a bar graph using the data. We also gather data on the favorite flavors of the staff in our district. I bring samples of the same flavors the class is testing to the break room with a note asking the staff to try the different flavors, and put a tally mark next to the flavor they like the best. We compare and contrast these graphs. Other graphing possibilities to use with this unit would be graphing the popping method prefered by most of the class, (air popper, regular popper, microwave) favorite places to eat poopcorn, and the number of kernels of each color in a bag of colored popcorn. Graphs may also be created using a computer program of your choice.
* Students can also write story problems using popcorn as the subject. These story problems can be illustrated as well.

* Students will become familiar with the scientific method.
* Students will observe how water can change things.
* Students will observe how heat changes things.
* Students will understand what makes things sink and float.


* This experiment shows how water changes popcorn kerels, and is best started right away in the morning. Begin with the question "Can popcorn push the lid off a jar?" Fill a baby food jar with popcorn kernels, and add water to fill the jar to the top. Place a square of aluminum foil over the jar. Have the students predict what will happen to the kernels as they sit in the water. Leave the jar for several hours, and observe what happens to the foil, and to the kernels. Have students record what happened to the lid on the jar, and discuss why the lid was pushed off of the jar.
* After reading The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola, review what makes popcorn pop. Include in your discussion the fact that heat has the capability of changing things. To demonstrate to students how steam builds up place the lid on an electric wok with some water on the bottom. When the water has had time to heat lift the lid and have students observe the cloud of steam that rises from the pan.
* Ask students for predictions as to whether popcorn kernels and flakes will float or sink. Record predictions. Drop kernels and flakes in water and observe what happens. Explain to the students that the flakes float because they are lighter or less dense than the water, and the kernels sink because they are denser or heavier than the water. It is also fun to show the students how you can make kernels float by putting them in soda water. The kernels will sink when they are first dropped into the water, but then when enough of the gas bubbles from the bottom of the glass attach to the kernel it will float to the top. When the kernel reaches the surface and the bubbles burst the kernel will sink again.Students may predict how many times the kernel will rise and fall in the glass.

Social Studies:
* Students will learn about the history of popcorn, and how it has been used in many different ways by many different cultures.
*Students will use map skills to locate different countries, and states we read about.


* I use The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola to teach the social studies portion of this unit.This book contains a wealth of information on the history of popcorn.
* After reading The Popcorn Book we use the U.S. and world maps to locate the states and countries mentioned in the book.
* Another fun activity is predicting how far a popped kernel will travel from its heat source once it has been popped. In
The Popcorn Book dePaola writes about how people used to throw kernels into fire and catch them as they exploded from the file.I bring an airpopper into the classroom and take the top portion off before dumping the popcorn in. The students mark a spot on the floor with a sticky note showing how far they think the popcorn will fly.

Unit Assessments:

** I use observation, participation, and quality of completed assignments as the basis of my assessment for this unit. Check lists for short o words are also an evaluation tool I use.

Related Web Sites:

** Tomie dePaola's home page www.tomiedepaola.com

** Frank asch's home page www.frankasch.com

** Jolly Time Popcorn's home page www.jollytime.com

** Popcorn Fun www.kidswebsite.com/popcorn_fun.htm

** Popcorn Board home page www.popcorn.org/mpindex.htm

** Popcorn recipes www.free-recipes.freeyellow.com

Related Bibliographay:
Popcorn by Frank Asch

The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola

Thematic Unit Popcorn by Janet Hale Published by Teacher Created Materials


Related South Dakota Content Standards:




1.use the concepts of equal to, greater than, and less than to compare numbers and sets.

4.use +, -, and = symbols to write number sentences and solve problems.



4.compare and order a group of objects by measurable attributes.

5.identify various tools used to solve measurement problems.



1.count by number groups. (example: 2s, 3s, 5s, 10s)

2.count objects in a given set and write the corresponding numeral.

3.identify ordinal positions using an ordered set of objects, 1st through 20th.

5.recall basic addition and subtraction facts through the 9s.

6.select the appropriate operation to solve specific problems involving whole numbers.

9.explore problem situations using concrete materials, drawings, or words.

10.explain or justify estimates to everyday quantity problems. (example: how many jelly beans may be in the jar)

11.explain how one arrives at solutions to problems.

12.use words, models, and expanded notation to represent two-digit numbers.



1.sort and classify objects according to one or more attributes. (example: color, size, shape, or thickness)

5.find patterns or relations in data organized in tables or charts to determine what should come next.



1.gather and record data from various sources or situations including surveys and simple experiments.

2.organize data into tally charts, picture graphs, and bar graphs.

3.describe represented data in terms of most often, least often, and range.



1.recognize that people contribute to scientific knowledge.

2.ask questions and explore the world around them.

3.use investigations in science to produce knowledge.

4.enhance observations by using senses and simple instruments to identify differences in properties.

6.conduct simple experiments safely to answer questions about familiar objects and events.

7.use scientific thinking skills. (example: observing, communicating, classifying, comparing.



2.compare relative mass of objects. (example: which object is heavier, lighter)

4.experiment with water to determine how common materials interact with it. (example: floating, sinking, dissolving)

6.observe physical changes in matter. (example: making popcorn)

13.explore heat sources and the effect on matter.



1.understand the relationship between spoken and written work.

2.use knowledge of basic capitalization and punctuation when reading.

3.blend beginning, middle, and ending sounds to form words while reading.

4.read to confirm initial predictions about text.

5.describe how personal knowledge and experience affects understanding of materials read.

6.compare settings and characters presented by different authors.

7.identify the problem or central idea in stories.

8.explain the sequence of events in familiar stories.

9.identify patterns of rhyming words and repeated phrases in various texts.

10.explain what authors and illustrators do.

14.explain the difference between fantasy and reality in print materials.

15.restate the main idea of simple expository information.

16.use appropriate sources to locate specific types of information. (example: calendar, newspaper, encyclopedia, dictionary, atlas)



1.write complete sentences for a specific purpose.

3.write to organize information and ideas.

4.begin sentences with capital letters and use ending punctuation in final copies.

5.use descriptive words and a variety of sentence types when writing about people, places, things, and events.

7.use writing to demonstrate understanding of various topics in science, social studies, and mathematics.

8.write to clarify what is known about different places, customs, and traditions.

11.use pictures and text to tell a story.

12.generate personal and formal letters, thank you notes, and invitations.

15.review personal work with others to revise and edit.



1.follow two and three step oral directions.

2.recognize and demonstrate the importance of focusing on the speaker when listening.

3.use appropriate volume and tone of voice when interacting with others.

4.summarize what others say with courtesy and respect.

6.distinguish between true and false information.

7.explore ways to find factual information. (example: encyclopedias, CD-ROM, Discovery Channel)

11.ask appropriate questions to clarify information.

12.restate information in a sequence similar to how it was presented. (example: simple directions)

13.apply vocal patterns to information for recall. (example: rhymes, songs, rhythm)



1.tell/retell stories in a logical order or sequence.

2.participate in a variety of oral language activities. (example: role playing, pantomime, choral speaking)

5.use appropriate voice when asking and responding to questions in small-group settings.

6.express ideas in complete and coherent sentences.

7.follow simple rules for conversation. (example: taking turns, staying on topic)

8.use facial expressions as a means of non-verbal communication.

9.use pictures or drawings when telling or retelling stories.

10.recognize the speaker's role in assisting others to see and hear a presentation.



2.compare the lives of people and events associated with major holidays, including Native American Day, Thanksgiving, Veterans Day

and Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Presidents' Day.

3.recall people and events from the past and make inferences about everyday life of the time period.

4.compare everyday life in school and community and recognize that people, places, and things change over time.



2.use the globe to identify cardinal directions, the four oceans, the United States, South Dakota, and the local community.