Uses for expired popcorn kernels

How many times have you thrown away old popcorn kernels that had been sitting in the cupboard for years?  There are many uses for those old popcorn kernels and I am going to share those with you.

Keep the old kernels and use them for a multitude of projects around the house.  They can be used for kids’ games, decorations, or even an ice pack.  My grandma used them in a piece of fleece at the bottom of the door as a draft stopper. The opportunities are endless!

Now let us review all of the ideas for how to put your unpopped kernels to good use around your house.

1. Create Bean Bags for Games

A great idea for using unpopped kernels is to make bean bags.  I will show you a way to make a no-sew bean bag in under two minutes.  Use a child-sized sock (size 9-12) that has decorations on it. 

Turn the sock inside out and tie a knot just below the heel line.  Turn the sock back to the right side out.  Add kernels, leaving enough space to be able to tie another knot at the top.  You are done. 

You can then play games with your new bean bags:

  • Balance them on your head while walking or dancing and see who can keep them on their heads the longest. 
  • Create a line and but a bin or can a good distance away. Toss the bean bags and see how many you can make in the bin.  You can increase the distance after each round or play for the best out of ten tosses.
  • You can stack plastic cups or tin cans in a pyramid and then take turns throwing the bean bags until the pyramid has fallen.
  • You can use the bean bags to learn to juggle.
  • Mark a target on the ground and then draw a line. Take turns throwing the bean bags at the target to see who can get the closest.

Note:  Remember to occasionally pull tightly on the knot to ensure it does not come loose.

2. Have a Guessing Contest for Who Gets to Pick the Movie

You can use popcorn kernels to select a winner to pick the movie for the night, based on who estimates the correct number of kernels in the glass.  You can have a different person grab the kernels each time, and it is a fun way to engage everyone in the family and avoid fighting over who gets to pick the movie. 

Give everyone a scrap piece of paper and a pen.  Set the timer for 10 seconds. 

Keep your kernels in a jar or container and then have one person grab a handful of kernels and put them in a clear glass. Put the glass on the table and start the timer.  Everyone has 10 seconds to write down how many kernels they think are in the glass. 

The closest guess wins and gets to choose the movie.  You can also play The Price is Right style, which means the closest guess without going over the number is the winner.  You can decide.

3. Make a Draft Stopper

Create an easy, inexpensive solution to stop the draft under your doors or windows.  My grandmother loved to sew so she made a long thin tube of fleece, filled it with popcorn kernels, and used it to block the draft from her back door. 

Since I do not have the patience to sew, I just use men’s socks, fill them with popcorn kernels and tie a knot at the open end.  I then place two filled socks side-by-side along the bottom of the side door during windstorms here in the PNW.

You could also find an old pillowcase and fill it with kernels.  Roll it up until you get a long tube of kernels and tie a knot at the open end.  Then place in front of the door or window.

4. Make an Ice Pack

Ice bags tend to be messy and can get wet quickly.  They are also not very flexible, especially when you are using them on your face.  Maybe you want to form the pack around your nose and have it not slide down your face. 

When I broke my nose, the coach recommended that I use blueberries.  Blueberries are expensive, so my mom suggested peas.  Well, as the peas started to thaw, they got wet and mushy. 

You can place popcorn kernels in a zip lock bag, freeze them, and use it just like you would an ice pack.  I would recommend putting them in a big Ziplock bag to freeze and if you need a smaller bag, just transfer them. 

Use a thin towel between the kernel pack and your skin to avoid irritation. 

5. Make Fall Decorations

Making decorations with your kernels is easy and looks good.  Depending on the color of your kernels, you can use them year-round.  I like to place them in the bottom of glass vases to add color and texture to my dried flowers arrangements.

6. Make a Shaker

This is a great activity for kids and is basically free to make.  Kids love to make music and creating their own musical instrument is even better. 

Take two empty cardboard toilet paper rolls and using one of the paper rolls, cut out two circles to be glued to both ends of the other toilet paper roll.  Glue one circle onto the end and let it dry (you can also use sticky tape). 

Next, put about 20 or so kernels in the roll and then seal up with glue or tape and the remaining circle you cut.  Next grab your favorite markers, paint, ribbons, and glitter, and decorate the outside of the shaker.  Turn on some music and let your kids have fun.

7. Keep Salt Fresh

Have you ever opened a saltshaker and found a lump of salt stuck at the bottom?  Well, an easy solution is to put some popcorn kernels in your saltshaker with your salt.  This will keep the salt from clumping at the bottom or on the sides. 

8. Play a Sensory Game

Creating a sensory game for your kids can provide lots of entertainment for them.  You will need to get a small bin you can place on the ground.  Place all the kernels in the bin. 

Add different plastic scoops or measuring cups, small ice cube trays, a funnel, and plastic cups/jars.  Allow the child to scoop the kernels and put them in the cups or ice cube trays. 

They can also use their hands with this sensory play.  Depending on the age of the child, you will need to supervise them to ensure they are not eating the kernels.

There are many uses for your unpopped popcorn kernels and I hope this article has helped you start planning for how you are going to use your kernels.


Learn More – Read These Articles:

How To Use Popcorn to Create Fun Learning Activities

Eight Uses For Unpopped Popcorn Kernels – Do Not Toss Them

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