Free Fun With Kids: A Popcorn Party! comments

By Wendy Mihm | Thursday March 24, 2011

It’s been raining here for days, which has called for some extra creativity to entertain our kids without spending a ton of cash on indoor playgrounds. Sure, those can be fun in a pinch, but they’re really crowded on rainy days.  Plus, maybe I’m imagining this, but it seems like one of my kids gets sick right after we go to an indoor playground, no matter how clean it seems to be.  It’s gotta be hard for the employees to follow hundreds of miniature nose-pickers around with a can of Lysol all day.  But I digress.

One of our family’s favorite indoor activities is The Popcorn Party. Depending on your viewpoint of television, this can be accompanied by a family viewing of the kids’ favorite TV show.  Here’s how it generally goes at our house.  Clue:  note the importance of the sell job and the prep.  You want to maximize the effect of this.  Remember, it’s raining out there!

Step 1: The Enthusiastic Announcement of The Popcorn Party.
“Hey guys, who wants to have a Popcorn Party?!”  This is followed by hands flinging into the air and a fair amount of jumping.

Step 2: The Prep.
Next, involve the kids in rounding up the popcorn making equipment.  If you have a popcorn making device, make an event out of getting that.  Ours happens to be a gift from our Super Nanny, which we keep in the basement (it’s kind of big).  So that’s a whole thing. Then round up the kernels, the oil, the butter, the salt and the bowls.  Let the kids pick which bowls they will eat their popcorn from—this should also be fun!

Step 3: The Popping.
This part is huge for our kids.  They love to see the little metal piece in our popcorn popper spin around the bottom of the pan while it moves the kernels in circles.  The first kernel to pop is greeted with screeches, plenty of pointing, and our daughter repeatedly asking her little brother “Did you see that?”  Just as the popping begins to slow down, be sure to take the popcorn off the heat source so it doesn’t burn.  (Look at me—I’m passing out cooking advice, yo!)  Dish it out into some kid-friendly bowls and venture into the family room, or wherever you like to watch TV as a family.

Step 4: The Family Entertainment Segment
We don’t watch much more than 2-3 TV shows a week in our house, just because our kids are so young (4.5 years and 23 months), so when we do watch TV, it’s a fairly big whooop.  When we have a Popcorn Party, we like to put pillows and blankets on the floor like it’s a picnic.  Then we choose an episode of Sesame Street from the On Demand list and let it roll.  We also try to get really involved with the show by singing along to the songs and getting up and dancing or stomping or marching or doing whatever it is the kids on the show are doing.  If you notice, Elmo and the other characters often invite the kids who are watching to join in, so we try to take him up on it, to keep the fun going.  Note: this part tends to go especially well if the parents pour themselves a glass of wine as part of the picnic.

Step 5: Post Party Canine Cleanup
Bt the time Sesame Street is over, our bowls are usually empty, and roughly 8% of the popcorn is on the floor.  This is perfectly fine because we have a dog.  While we are carting our bowls back to the kitchen, we invite her in to eat up what we’ve spilled.  This is greeted by delighted peals of laughter from both kids and commentary from our toddler son, “Daag eeet pop ooorn, daaag eeeet pop ooorn!”

So there you go!  Another way to have free fun with kids, even if it’s crummy weather outside—your very own Popcorn Party!

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