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Pick-Up-the-Popcorn Game

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What happens when you rub a balloon on your head? Your hair stands up! Now turn that static electricity into a game. Your kids will have a ton of fun rubbing their hair with a balloon and using the static electricity to collect foam peanuts. You may also see some Einstein-esque hairstyles as they play, so keep your camera handy!
Pick Up the Popcorn Game

What You’ll Need

  • Paper bag decorated to look like a popcorn bag
  • Foam packing peanuts (the “popcorn”), enough to fill the paper bag halfway
  • Balloons (one per player)
  • Paper cups (one per player)
To Play

Fill the bag with popcorn, then spill the popcorn on the floor or on a table. Rub the balloon on your hair or clothing and move the balloon close to the popcorn. Watch the popcorn jump to the balloon! Pick the popcorn off of your balloon and put it in your cup. The first player to fill a cup wins the game!

Extend the Fun

Younger children: Get them thinking with these questions. How many pieces can your balloon pick up at one time? What happens when you rub the balloon on your hair for a long time? What happens if you rub the balloon on your hair for only a little while? Do you think you will pick up more popcorn if you rub the balloon for a long time or for a short time? Why?

Write the numbers 0 to 10 on the packing peanuts and spill them on the floor or table. Call out the numbers in order, and ask your child to find that number on the popcorn and pick it up with the balloon. Once your child has picked up number 10, review the numbers. After your child has mastered that, try the game again but count backward from 10.

Older children: Collect other small items and guess if they’ll stick to the balloon or not. Then test your guesses by trying to pick each item up with a staticky balloon. How many of your guesses came true? What do you notice about the items that did stick? What do you notice about the items that didn’t stick?

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