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Popcorn Geography



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Mathematics
    --Applied Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Use corn kernels to create a "Top Corn-Producing States" map or graph.


Students will

  • read and round off numbers.
  • identify on a U.S. outline map the location of corn-growing states.
  • create a visual (map or graph) illustration of the top corn-producing states.


resources, natural resources, corn, popcorn, grains, production, economy, economics, fall, autumn, farm, farmer, rounding, place value

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

Corn is produced in most states in the United States. A total of 21 states produce at least 50 million (50,000,000) bushels of corn each year. In this activity, students use corn production data and corn kernels to produce a "U.S. Corn Production" map or graph.

Begin by sharing with students some samples of product/natural resources maps.

U.S. Crop Production Maps
Oil and Natural Gas Production in the United States

View the maps by

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  • using a computer with a projector attached;
  • printing the map, then copying it onto transparency film and using an overhead projector to display it; or
  • printing a copy of the map for each student or pair of students.

    Discuss how the maps show the products that are important to a particular area.


    After talking about your state's map and its symbols, you might check out maps for neighboring states or for states in other parts of the country.

    Next, provide an U.S. outline map for students to use to complete this activity. In addition, provide one of the following two work sheets (depending on the grade level of your students):

    • U.S. Corn Production by State #1 (for younger students -- grades 2-4).
      Students will not comprehend the large numbers that appear on the chart, but you can help them understand by using 17 kernels of corn to represent 1.7 billion (1,700,000,000) ears of corn, then 16 kernels would represent 1,600,000,000 billion ears, 9 kernels would represent 900,000,000, and so on. Complete the chart with students. Then let students glue the appropriate number of kernels to each of the top ten corn-growing states.
    • U.S. Corn Production by State #2 (for older students -- grades 5-up).
      You might work with students to round off the large numbers on the chart and to determine the number of kernels of corn that represents each state's corn production. Then let students glue the appropriate number of kernels to each of the top corn-growing states on the outline map.

    Extension Activities

    • You might do this activity as a class. Instead of using individual U.S. maps, print the U.S. outline map on a transparency. Place the transparency on an overhead projector and have a few students trace the map onto a bulletin board covered with white paper. Instead of using popcorn kernels on the copy of an outline map, use pieces of popped popcorn on the bulletin board map. (You might even spray paint some popcorn in advance so the map will be colorful.) You could map corn production statistics for every state instead of only the ones listed on the work sheets. You can find U.S. corn production data here
    • Students might create a bar graph illustrating the top corn-growing states. The graph will provide a visual reference point to help students see which states grow the most corn. They might create their graphs using popped popcorn on colored paper.

    More Map Resources

    U.S. Crop Production Maps
    These maps show production of a variety of grains.

    Oil and Natural Gas Production in the United States
    Discuss with students how this map illustrates the areas where oil and gas is produced.

    Census 2010 Population Profile Maps
    These U.S. Census maps do not show products; they show population. Students might find these maps to be of interest. Share with students the map of your state.


    Check students' maps for accuracy. Post the maps on a bulletin board.

    Have students write a paragraph describing the meaning of the maps they created.

    ANSWERS to U.S. Corn Production By State #1: Iowa - 17 kernels; Illinois - 16 kernels; Nebraska - 11 kernels; Indiana - 9 kernels; Minnesota - 8 kernels; Ohio - 4 kernels; Kansas - 4 kernels; South Dakota - 4 kernels; Missouri - 3 kernels; and Wisconsin - 3 kernels. ANSWERS to U.S. Corn Production By State #2: Colorado - 100,000,000 (1 kernel); Illinois - 1,600,000,000 (16 kernels); Indiana - 900,000,000 (9 kernels); Iowa 1,700,000,000 (17 kernels); Kansas - 400,000,000 (4 kernels); Kentucky - 200,000,000 (2 kernels); Maryland - 100,000,000 (1 kernel); Michigan - 200,000,000 (2 kernels); Minnesota - 800,000,000 (8 kernels); Mississippi - 100,000,000 (1 kernel); Missouri - 300,000,000 (3 kernels); Nebraska - 1,100,000,000 (11 kernels); New York - 100,000,000 (1 kernel); North Carolina - 100,000,000 (1 kernel); North Dakota - 100,000,000 (1 kernel); Ohio - 400,00,000 (4 kernels); Pennsylvania - 100,000,000 (1 kernel); South Dakota - 400,000,000 (4 kernels); Tennessee - 100,000,000 (1 kernel); Texas - 200,000,000 (2 kernels); Wisconsin - 300,000,000 (3 kernels).

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    Submitted By

    Gary Hopkins

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    MATHEMATICS: Representation
    GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas
    NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Economics
    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-EC.K-4.1Productive Resources
    NSS-EC.K-4.18 National Productivity
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-EC.5-8.1 Productive Resources
    NSS-EC.5-8.18 National Productivity

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.2 Places and Regions

    Find more popcorn activities in Education World's article, Popcorn Isn't Just for Movies Anymore.

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