How to Make Colorful Popcorn for Kids

by Molly Thompson

    If your kids have only ever experienced light yellow popcorn, they'll be thrilled with colorful versions of this tasty snack. Since popcorn is a choking hazard for toddlers and young preschoolers, this project is best reserved for your older preschoolers. With a little help from you, this age group can create a rainbow of popcorn colors. Make popcorn in school colors for a class party, neon colors for movie night or red and green to make Christmas tree garlands, to put a new twist on this inexpensive, healthful, easy-to-make family snack.

    Items you will need

    • 8 to 10 cups popped popcorn
    • Large bowls
    • Small saucepan
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • 1/2 cup white or brown sugar
    • Small bowls
    • Food coloring
    • Flavored, colored gelatin powder, optional
    • Aluminum foil
    • Baking sheets
    • Wooden spoon
    Step 1

    Make a big batch of plain popcorn and set it aside.

    Step 2

    Mix the corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts, then stir in the granulated sugar. You can use white or brown sugar, but the colors are usually brighter with the white. Keep cooking the syrup for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Step 3

    Pour the coating syrup evenly into small bowls, depending on how many colors you want to make. Help your little one stir a few drops of food coloring into each bowl of coating until it is the color she wants.

    Step 4

    Help your youngster divide the popcorn into several large bowls, one for each color of popcorn you're making. Drizzle the colored syrup over the popcorn in one bowl, then give her wooden spoons to gently toss the popcorn to coat it with the syrup. Help her do the same thing with the other colors, until all the popcorn is coated.

    Step 5

    Spread the popcorn out on a foil-lined baking sheet and use the edge of the wooden spoon to break it apart. Heat it in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the popcorn cool to the touch.

    Step 6

    Break the popcorn apart to use in garlands or crafts. Or let the kids smoosh the cooled, sticky popcorn into colorful shapes -- green cones for Christmas trees, orange balls for their peewee basketball team party or any color to create goofy-looking aliens.

    Step 7

    Let your little one use her imagination to create yummy snacks or colorful crafts with the popcorn. She might want to mix a variety of colors together to layer in glass jars for rainbow-hued teacher gifts. At holiday time, poke holes in the popcorn pieces, then give them to your little decorator to string onto stiff fishing line, then let her hang her colorful garland on the Christmas tree. Or cut the center out of a paper plate, leaving a 2-inch circle. Give her green popcorn and let her paste it onto the circle to make a wreath, with little red candies as berries.


    • For a quicker, easier-to-make version, toss the popped popcorn with butter until it's coated, then toss again with flavored, colored gelatin powder or finely ground colored sugar.

    About the Author

    Molly Thompson has been writing for classified U.S. government presentations and publications since 1980. She holds B.A. degrees in psychology and political science from Wellesley College, as well as an M.A. in Russian area studies from Georgetown University. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis/research company and is also a professional genealogist.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/ Images