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.