I know…that sounds a little daunting. But I’m here to tell you that, yes, you can make a popcorn garland with kids, even preschoolers. You just need two things; the right mindset and the right tools.
I have to admit, I was a little (ok a lot) concerned about the possibility of successfully stringing a popcorn garland when my 4 year old daughter first asked me if we could do it. But I decided it was at least worth a try. If we didn’t succeed, at least we’d have popcorn to eat!
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So I did some research, and went through a lot of trial and error before we got it right. Now we’re ready to share with you.
Kernels of Wisdom for Making a Popcorn Garland with Kids
- First of all, get your head in the right place. There will be some frustration from broken kernels. Don’t expect perfection.
[bctt tweet=”Making a popcorn garland with your family is more about the process than the final product.”]
Stringing a popcorn garland is a longstanding family holiday tradition, and the real point of it is spending quality time together. Make sure everyone knows that it’s a time for having fun together, and if their popcorn kernels keep breaking, that’s ok. (It just means more popcorn for them to eat, after all.)
- Successfully making the popcorn garland is easier if you’re using the right tools. Consider the needle, the string, and the popcorn.
The popcorn: From what I’ve gathered, it should be completely plain (no butter, salt, or other flavors) and stale…so leave it out for several hours, or even a day, after it’s been popped before stringing it.
The needle: I started with a blunt plastic darning needle for kids. I knew it was the safer option for little hands, however, it was way too big to go through a popcorn kernel without breaking it. Next, I tried a small needle out of my sewing box. It was nice and sharp and went through the kernel with ease. However, it was extremely difficult to thread, and too small for little fingers to grip well.
After a trip to the craft store and an experiment with several different needles, we decided the best one for kids to use while stringing popcorn is one that has a blunt tip and large eye, but is not much bigger than a regular sewing needle. Ask for tapestry needles at your local craft store, or order these ones from Amazon.
The string: While not as crucial as the other factors, having the right string can certainly help. First I tried a decorative twine I had found in the dollar bin. It had a strand of silver thread wrapped around the white twine, which was very pretty until it started to unravel. So we switched to regular sewing thread which we doubled up and knotted once we passed it through the eye of the needle. This worked beautifully. I have heard that fishing line also works well. I didn’t have any on hand to test.
Other kernels of wisdom
- Choose the fattest popcorn kernels for stringing. Push the needle through the largest part of the kernel.
- Work on small segments of the garland at a time so you’re not trying to push the popcorn to the end of a very long string. About three feet of garland at a time is a good length (6 feet of thread doubled up).
- Once you thread the needle, double up the string and tie a large knot on the end. Consider threading something other than a popcorn kernel first (such as a cranberry) so it will be less likely to slip over the knot on the end of your string.
- Keep an eye on the string as it can easily get tangled. Adjust/tighten the string as needed after each kernel (especially early on) in order to keep the tangles to a minimum.
- Demonstrate to the kids how to hold the kernel in such a way that the needle won’t poke their fingers once it pushes through the kernel.
- For tougher items like cranberries, have the child hold it down against a table or other flat work surface and gently stab the needle into it. (This allows the child to push hard without risking stabbing their fingers as they would if they were holding the cranberry in midair.) Then lift it up and finish pushing and pulling the needle through the cranberry.
- Don’t expect the child to finish the garland in the first sitting. Allow them to add to it a little at a time over multiple sessions.
And now you’re ready to string a popcorn garland with your kids. Get poppin’!
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