The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola

The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola
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Tomie de Paola, popular children’s author and illustrator, has written a handy teaching tool, The Popcorn Book, if you are studying different kinds of plants, gifts from the Indians or if you just want to have a reason to pop some corn! The twin boys in the story are popping corn and learning facts about this remarkable plant. In this lesson, students will learn the uses of corn, how the plant is grown and the history of the plant. Lesson plans for phonics word families and making a picture graph are also included.

Use Two “Corny” Books!

Over a two day period, read two corn books to your students to complete their study of corn:

Corn Is Maize: The Gift of the Indians by Aliki. This is a “Let’s Read and Find Out Science Book”.

The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola

Here are the facts that children can learn:

1. A corn seed is called a kernel.

2. Kernels need sunshine, rain and soil to grow.

3. Corn silk changes colors to indicate when it’s time to harvest.

4. Corn kernels are not spread in the wind like other seeds.

5. Corn was the main food of the Indians.

6.The Pilgrims learned about the uses of corn from the Indians.

7. Popcorn may have been discovered by the Indians. Some corn was found in a cave that was thousands of years old.

8. There are many kinds of corn.

9. Corn is used for animal feed and to make corn syrup, corn meal, medicine, glue, cereal, fuel and other things.

***Although the dePaola book shows two young boys making popcorn on the stove with hot oil, it is important to stress kitchen safety to your students. This type of cooking should always be done with adult supervision.***

Graph the Favorites

Use a page from a flip chart or space on a chalk board, bulletin board or white board. Write these categories:


Corn on the cob


Canned corn

Corn bread

In soup

Don’t like corn

Give each student a cutout of a corn kernel or popped piece of corn. Instruct the students to write their names on it. Then one at a time, students should place their corn nametag next to their favorite way to eat corn.

1. Which kind has the longest line of names?

2. Which has the shortest?

3. Are there any categories with none?

Word Families

Write the word POP on the board. How many words can you think of that rhyme with POP? Write the words down that are given. What do they have in common (op at the end). If someone suggests a word that does not rhyme, write it down and discover why it doesn’t rhyme. If some of the words from the list aren’t suggested, give clues to have students guess the words. Here’s a wordlist:

bop, chop, cop, crop, flop, hop, drop, mop, slop, shop, plop, prop, stop, top, lollypop

Do the same with the word CORN:

born, horn, morn, sworn, thorn, torn, adorn, worn, scorn, forlorn

Extra Activities

Extra Activities to Make the Lesson POP!

1. Pop some corn to share with the class.

2. Play a form of “Duck, Duck, Goose” using the phrase, “Pop, Pop, Corn!”

3. Bring in an ear of corn to show the parts: cob, silk, husk, kernel

4. Fill a jar with corn kernels and guess the amount in the jar.

5. Play bingo using kernels or popped corn as markers.

6. Draw a design on paper and glue on different colors of corn kernels to fill in the design.

You’ll have fun with The Popcorn Book and your students will learn some science facts about this wonderful plant. Check out another Tomie de Paola book here.