Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
- Grades: PreK–K
My favorite children’s book is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. I can recite the book by heart and amaze my students at how I can "read" the book without ever looking at the words.
The repetition of “Chicka chicka boom boom, will there be enough room” encourages students to chant along as it is read. I love the rhythmical rhyme of this alphabet chant. There’s something about a bunch of lowercase letters racing up a coconut tree that just screams "kindergarten" to me.
At the beginning of every school year, I use this book to create a theme in our classroom. Many of my students are unable to recognize the alphabet yet. This book is a fun, creative way to begin our learning of the letters. In this week's post, I have listed some of my favorite ideas for bringing this book to life within the walls of a kindergarten classroom. I usually spend an entire week on the book itself; however, many of these activities reappear throughout the school year with other alphabet books.
Using a magnetic board or cookie sheet and magnetic letters, students retell the story.
The Big Book
This is one of my students' favorite centers to visit.
I wanted my students to describe the coconut. Before we brainstormed our words, I placed a coconut in a bag and had my students reach inside the bag and describe what they felt. Some students described the contents of the bag as "scratchy," "pokey," and "stickery." I then had them discuss with their partner what they thought might be in the bag. Many students thought it was a coconut. Next, I passed the coconut around for the students to observe. The students used describing words to tell about the coconut. Using a sentence frame "The coconut is_______," will help all students develop descriptive vocabulary and talk in a complete sentence. You can later use the coconut for science and math exploration.
Students might not be familiar with some of the vocabulary in this book, especially English language learners. Using the book as a reference, demonstrate and discuss vocabulary words such as "flop," "stooped," "twisted," and "tangled." Ask students to pretend to be the letters and act out some of these words.
In the CD version, Ray Charles brings the story to life as the narrator. Place several copies of the book and the CD in the listening center for students to listen and read along with. After students listen to the story, have them listen again and invite them to point to the letters on the pages while they listen.
Pocket Chart Activities
Using the pocket chart, have students:
- Match upper and lowercase alphabet letters.
- Match pictures to beginning sounds of letters.
- Use the phrase "Chicka chicka boom boom, (student name) is in our room," to practice student names.
"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look Who’s in Our Room" Bulletin Board
Using green, tan, and brown felt, make an interactive tree. I took pictures of my students and placed them in the tree. The tree is in our hallway to greet the students each morning as they arrive. Later in the school year when we begin to learn sight words, I will place felt letters at the base of the tree for students to use to build words.
Student Name Trees
Using page 30 from Teaching Reading With Bill Martin Books, we created our name trees.
Copy the tree from page 30 for each child. After they have colored their tree, give them their name in a strip of letters to cut out and glue on the tree. Stamps or letter stickers could also be used.
Using a Word document, create a page with each student’s name using an outline style font, or by selecting Outline from the text effects toolbar. Have students rainbow-write the letters of their name using several different colors of crayons. Next, have them count the letters and write the numbers. If you are doing this activity with preschool students, you may want to add the number onto the name page when you create it. My students love our "Look Who's in Our Room" book. I took photos of each student and printed their name on separate sheets of card stock to make a class photo book. My student love to look through the book and read the names of their friends.
Bring several coconuts into the classroom for the students to study. Pass the coconuts around and ask the students to describe how a coconut feels, sounds, and smells.
Sink or Float
After all the students have had a chance to study a coconut, ask them to predict if it will sink or float. The students’ predictions can be incorporated into a math lesson by having students graph their predictions. Next, fill a clear tub with water and place the coconut inside. Watch your students’ faces and listen to their excitement as they watch the coconut float. Coconuts are less dense than water, and therefore, they will float. You may, however, want to try your coconut out a few days before. The first time I did this, my coconut sank. I didn't notice the small crack until I saw a few air bubbles emerging from the sunken coconut.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Who Likes Coconut in Our Room?
After giving each student a small piece of coconut to try, graph whether they like it or not. I made coconuts using oval shapes and brown construction paper.
Student names can make two separate graphs. Graph the names according to the first letter of their name or make a graph according to how many letters are in each student’s name. This is a great activity to see which students can count one-to-one and who can follow along with the concept of counting the letters in their name and placing their name under the correct number. After graphing our names, I ask the following questions:
- Who has the longest name?
- Who has the shortest name?
- Which group of names is the largest?
We took three coconuts of different sizes and arranged them in order from smallest to biggest.
Other activities include:
- Weighing coconuts.
- Measuring the circumference.
- Measuring the height with unifix cubes.
Visual and Performing Arts Activity
Make large, colorful letters to hang as necklaces. Have students act out the story. They can pretend to climb the tree. When the tree falls, have them gently fall down onto the floor.
There are a variety of foods that can be used to create edible Chicka Chicka Boom Boom snacks. Your students will have a blast making and eating their chicka trees and alphabet letters.
- Tree trunk: celery with peanut butter or cream cheese, graham crackers, pretzel rods, bananas cut lengthwise.
- Leaves: apples slices, green beans.
- Coconuts: grapes, raisons.
- Alphabet letters: cereal, crackers or cookies in letter shapes.
Our 3rd grade reading buddy class gave us a present after hearing about our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom week: Boom Chicka Pop. The kids loved this delicious snack and so did their teacher.
- Create a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree using squares, rectangles, and triangles. (Click through for directions.)
- Using toilet paper tubes painted brown and green construction paper for leaves, make small chicka trees. Add brown pom-poms for the coconuts and letter stickers.
- Make alphabet letters using play dough stamps or cookie cutters.
- Make chicka shakers using rice, beans, or pasta in a recycled plastic water bottle. Have students practice shaking their bottles in a rhythm.
For more ideas about teaching with the alphabet, be sure to check out Teaching With Favorite Alphabet Books. I've also included a list of some of the books that are in my alphabet box. These books are great resources for reinforcing the alphabet.
- Old Black Fly
- The Letters Are Lost
- LMNO Peas
- Goodnight Moon ABC
- Eating the Alphabet
- The Alphabet Tree
- ABC I Like Me!
- Tomorrow’s Alphabet
- Alphabet Rescue
After reading through all my activities, can you tell how much I LOVE this book? We will be following up with other activities and revisiting some of the students' favorite activities throughout the school year. Do you have ideas and activities for this book or other alphabet books? If so, please share them with me.