If there is one book that I think every child should own……OK, I could never decide on just one book, but if there was a short list of books that every child should own, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault would definitely be on that short list! It is not only a great way to introduce the letters of the alphabet, but it also differentiates between uppercase and lowercase letters, all in a rhythmic, rhyming fashion, which makes the whole experience so fun it’s nearly addictive. Plus, all that rhyme and rhythm is great for building phonological awareness (read more about that peculiar sounding term here).
Before reading this book with children, it’s a good idea to practice the text first, so that you can read it aloud smoothly and with the right “em-PHA-sis on the right syll-A-ble”, as my mom always says. Also, while reading this story, it’s really helpful to point to each letter in the illustrations as it is introduced in the story, reinforcing to the child the letter shape and letter name.
After reading this book, it’s great to have children make their own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom trees. Preparation for this activity is really simple! First, I turn a sheet of construction paper on its side, so that I’m cutting shorter strips rather than longer strips. I curve them a bit as I go so that they look a bit like the bending coconut tree trunk. I’d say I cut them about 1-1 1/2 inches wide. (There’s no scientific formula here.) You could even pile a couple papers on top of each other if you need a lot of trunks! Next, I cut zig-zag leaves from two different colors of green paper. Again, there’s no pattern, I just cut in a zig-zag, make a point at the end, and then zig zag back.
Provide these pieces, along with self-adhesive foam letters, sheets of paper for the background, as well as glue sticks for putting it all together. Have the children select and attach a trunk, then several leaves. Then have them get some letters to climb up the tree! Talk about the letters as they choose them. Label them and compare them (the letters, not the children :)). “That’s an M, just like at the beginning of Matt’s name! Oh, that R looks a lot like Peter’s P, but it has an extra “leg”.” Some children will point out the letters in their names, others will want to match “Mamas and Babies”. One of my own sons even decided not to put any letters on because “they already fell out.” That’s OK too. He’s showing story comprehension, and we could still talk about some of the letters as he played with them, he just didn’t want any on his tree.
Almost inevitably, when you’re letting children place random letters on a project, you’ll end up with some unintentional spellings. If the word is something they will get excited about or something you think they spelled intentionally, point it out (“Hey, you spelled cat!” “I think you almost spelled your whole name here!”) . However, there are times to ignore spellings and recognize them for the random arrangement they were intended to be. I’m sure you can think of plenty of examples, and trust me, it does happen. Don’t discourage their innocent effort by removing their letters. Just accept it as a random accident, that doesn’t need to be turned into something else by pointing it out.
So enjoy one of the best books for preschoolers and create your own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree to go with it!
For more favorite fall activities, click here!