Chicka Chicka Boom Boom preschool activities

May 27, 2016

This week we’ve been reading and playing with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault, a classic ABC book with great rhythm. After searching Pinterest we tried out an simple sticking craft, a home-made coconut tree board game, a sensory bin, an alphabet matching mat and a coconut tree counting mat: all very easy and helpful for inspiring interest in the book. 

chicka chicka preschool activities

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was a favourite in our house for months last year. I felt it was due a reboot so picked it for our ‘book of the week’ this week. In case you’re not familiar with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, it’s a very simple story told in a wonderfully lively style that kids enjoy. All the letters of the alphabet climb a coconut tree, and tumble out again, shown in bright and simple images. Check out this video for a taste:

Before I describe our activities, I want to say that I’m actually very hesitant about teaching letters to toddlers, because they’ve got so much else to learn in their first years and can pick up letters very quickly a little later. I got this book for my older son after he turned 3 when we started to explore the alphabet, but his younger brother enjoys it too, probably because of the sing-song style.

Another reservation I have is that the book calls the letters by name (i.e. Ay, Bee, See) rather than phonetic sound (a, bu, cu). It’s generally accepted that it’s better to start by teaching alphabet sounds rather than names, so it might be worth remembering that this book is more for fun exposure to the alphabet rather than a systematic teaching tool!

Okay, with those doubts out of the way, the book made a nice focus for a few alphabet based activities for us this week.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom simple loo roll craft

chicka chicka craft

This craft was inspired by this photo. For the craft you’ll need:

  • Loo rolls
  • Green paper cut into big leaf shapes
  • Glue
  • Alphabet stickers

It’s very simple: just show your little one how to put glue on the end of a leaf, then stick it onto the loo roll. Once all the leaves are on, they can put on the stickers. I recited the first half of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom while they stuck on the letters. (It’s one of those books where the words get lodged in your brain after a few readings!)

I thought my kids (aged 2 and 3) did a great job without much help. We’ve found that crafts using glue have gone much better since I started to give them a small pot of glue with a spreader each, rather than expecting them to use the squeeze bottle directly. Squeezing a bottle is tough for little ones. It’s much easier for them to handle a spreader and judge how much glue to use.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom home-made board game

Following the idea at The Many Little Joys, I made this coconut tree board game with a long strip of brown cardboard, and gluing on some simple leaves cut from green paper. I then divided the trunk into 26 spaces and wrote a letter of the alphabet in each. You can see it’s very rough and ready and not exactly Pinterest bait – I should have followed the original more carefully!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Board Game

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Board Game

Here’s how to play our simplified version:

  1. Along with the coconut tree board, you’ll need a dice and a counter for every player (we used wooden letters).
  2. Everyone chooses a counter (we used the first letters of our names).
  3. The first player roles the dice, and moves their counter the number of spaces up the board. They then say the names of the letters they have passed and the letter they are now standing on.
  4. The winner is the player who reaches the top of the tree first!

I bet that sounds simple, but for a 3yo and 2yo playing together, not so much! Actually my older son loves board games, but this one turned out to be surprisingly tricky for him because I think he was muddled by having to count and say letter names! We kept it light-hearted and fast, but I did think this game might work better with an older preschooler.

Alphabet sensory bin

Alphabet sensory bin

Alphabet sensory bin

We played with a themed sensory bin using pasta and plastic letters (these are from the Lacing Alphabet by Learning Resources). After some time for simple pouring and scooping, I gave my older son an alphabet matching mat.


The idea came from Kinder Tribe. I just drew simple coconut trees and surrounded them with bright letters. I put them inside plastic sleeves for more durable play.


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom alphabet match mat

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom alphabet match mat

Counting trees

We followed up the alphabet matching with some counting trees: the task was simply to add the correct number of letters to each tree.

Coconut tree letter counting mat

Coconut tree letter counting mat


Now for some honesty. My older son completed these matching and counting activities quickly, but I don’t think he gained much from them, as they were too easy. Meanwhile my younger son seemed irritated by the activities, even though I wasn’t asking him to do them. He had been enjoying the sensory bin, but asked me to put it away when I brought out the matching mats! So I’d suggest that if you want to use these ideas with little ones, be more careful than me in timing the activities. They might be best for a child who is learning letter recognition and one-to-one correspondence for low numbers. For us, this might have suited my older son about a year ago, and my youngest isn’t ready yet.

chicka collage

Choosing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for our book of the week was a mixed experience. The book doesn’t really lend itself to imaginative play, so we missed that element. On the other hand there’s a huge amount of inspiration for activities for the book out there, which helped: check out the results of a simple Pinterest search on ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Preschool’! In case you’re not already using it, I recommend Pinterest for book-themed activity ideas: just search your title + activities / toddler / preschool as you prefer. Also, if you sign up to follow the Word Boosting board you’ll see these kinds of ideas in your feed!

If you’re looking for more reading-based activity ideas, check out my book, which includes a big section on using reading to promote language learning.

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This post is shared at Preschool and Kindergarten CommunityTot School Gathering Place, Hip Homeschool Hop, Littles Learning, A Little Bird Told Me and Montessori Monday.

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