The Popcorn Book by Tomie De Paola
It is your option to use the book. I really only use one page of it due to time constraints. I share that one page as the premise of this challenge.
The book tells about an archeological team that finds preserved popcorn inside a cave. The students must find a way to make the perfect container to exactly fit the popcorn.
The teams have a sample of the popcorn and must make a container that is the perfect size for a large number of popcorn pieces. I give them a cup with ten pieces in it and watch as they trace those pieces to find the size their containers will need to be.
TIP: One large bag of microwaveable popcorn is probably all you will need. I pop it and pour it out onto my countertop at school. I then just rake five pieces at a time into a bowl until I reach the number used for this challenge. That bowl is hidden from students.
Containers are made in all sorts of sizes!
Almost always there will be a group that decides to make a cylinder-shaped container. The outside wall of these is fairly easy to make. It’s the bottom and the top that create a problem!
The Unusual Shapes
We end this fabulous challenge by talking about the word volume and what it really means. This lesson is a well-learned one! I use it with third graders and even when they make it to the fifth grade they still remember their popcorn containers.
They definitely finish this task knowing that volume is dimensional and all directions – height, width, and depth- must be considered when measuring for volume.