One of my favorite ABC books is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. It is simple, colorful, and rhythmic, and my kids have a blast with it. We’re doing ABCs for preschool again this year, focusing on a different letter each week. But first, as an introduction to the alphabet as a whole, I’m going to start our year off with a Chick Chicka Boom Boom unit. And I wanted to share some of the ideas we used last year that were successful.
My boys seem to interact better with a little bit of visual stimulation, so when I make a unit study like this I usually try to incorporate some sort of a bulletin board aspect that we can leave up all week long while we do the different activities. For Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, I made a large palm tree out of construction paper, laminated it, and taped it up to the side of the fridge. Each day as we read the story together, the kids pick up magnetic letters out of a pile on the floor, and have them climb up the coconut tree. I’ll admit their favorite part is to knock them all off when the tree gets too heavy.
In the story, it is the lower case letters who climb the tree, and when they come crashing down, the capital letters come rushing to the scene to make sure everyone is all right. This part of the story provides a great opportunity to do capital/lower case letter matching. We used our letter magnets and put up all the capitals on the fridge in alphabetical order. The kids took turns drawing a lower case letter out of a bag and then matching it with the right capital.
Sometimes, I like to throw a little drama into the mix, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is an easy one for the kids to act out. The kids took turns standing on a chair pretending to be the coconut tree. Whoever was not the coconut tree would find the appropriate letters as I was reading the story, and hand them up for the coconut tree to hold. In the end the coconut tree gets too full and all the letters come crashing down. Then the kids switch places and we do it all over again.
Anyone that knows me, knows I’m a sucker for handprint art projects. My kids get a kick out of them too, and so we can make handprint art out of almost anything! Coconut trees are no exception. All you need is a piece of card stock, green and brown poster paint, and some alphabet stamps and ink pad (I think we got our stamps at WalMart for pretty cheap.) Paint the child’s hand green and arm brown, have them spread their fingers wide and press down onto the cardstock. Use some brown thumb prints for coconuts, and the alphabet stamps and ink pad to make the letters climb up the tree.
In another activity, we combined fine motor skills and math and came up with coconut counting. Basically, I printed out cards with empty coconut trees and a number in the top corner. The kids had to cut out the correct number of coconuts and glue them onto the tree. I was a little over ambitious our first go around and made cards numbered 0-20, but I think 0-10 would have been more appropriate for the attention spans I was working with. They can count to 20, but cutting out 20 coconuts was an entirely different story. Live and learn, right?
Our last activity was everyone’s favorite by far, probably because it was edible. Using 4 apple slices, 1 Pepperidge Farm Pirouette stick, 3 pieces of coco puffs cereal, and a handful of alphabet cereal, we made our own chicka trees. They didn’t last long, but they sure were cute.