I first heard about this book in the staff room of a school I was working at when a teacher visiting from the US mentioned it to me, saying that it was one of her favorite books.
I looked for it, ordered it and when it finally arrived, was amazed by its simplicity that was at the same time attractive and rich. I loved the rhyming scheme and the repetition so important when dealing with little ones in a foreign language. Children love to see how the coconut tree can’t hold all the letters and all fall down and preschool students love to act out what they see and fall down with them.
Let’s have a look then at how we can exploit this book in our English class.
(Once again, keep in mind that this lesson plan is only a suggestion, as every group is different in size, time available each week and so on. Feel free to pick and choose activities and create your own lesson plan)
- Very young learners. From 3 to 7 years old.
- Get to know a story.
- Enjoy listening to a story.
- Act out the story. Participate.
- Learn the alphabet.
- Chicka, chicka boom boom book, optional Chicka chicka boom boom & other coconutty songs. Worksheets below. Pocket chart. Cardboard, markers, crayons and glue. Magnet and tile letters.
Stage 1: The story
We can create our own picture board just by using a magnetic white board, a picture of a coconut tree and magnet alphabet letters (see picture above). We can either play the CD while moving the magnet letters or just tell the story.You can find some suggestions on how to use stories by clicking the tab above.
There is a beautiful video available where we can get the sense of the rhyme and can help us to know how to tell the story if we decide to do so. We can also use the sound while showing the book or if we get the CD, we can just play it while turning the pages. There is a lovely version sung by the one and only Ray Charles that I particularly like.
If we have a TV or an IWB in our class and we want to show just the video instead of the book there is another video more suitable for that purpose.
Stage 2: Circle time
This book can be considered as the main target and we can work with it for several months. I prefer the idea of using it as a long term project. I like to start the school year with it and work on each letter throughout the year. Maybe one session a week or every two weeks where we revise the letters viewed until then. This way students can assimilate the alphabet little by little and we can refer to it when dealing with other topics in the other sessions as we will see in the activities below.
After listening to the story we take the letter we are dealing with that day and put it in the interactive chart. We can have a chart like this one (from http://www.hubbardscupboard.org) with a stripe with all the alphabet and let the children look for the letter just by moving the stripe down. I prefer the idea of using the pocket chart. That way in later sessions we can put up the sentences as well as the letter we will deal with that session.
While still sitting around you there are some activities we can do to practise pronuntiation and recognition of the letters. Let’s us as an example that we are dealing with the letter b
- Have as many letters b as you have students printed on cardboard or even better laminated. Distribute them by saying b and making them repeat it before you hand out the card. Then act as follows:
Teacher: B up (students hold the card letter up)
Teacher: Down, down, down, down… (students put the card on the floor and will repeat it with you, they usually love this part)
…B up. (students hold the card letter up)
Keep on repeating by changing the rhythm by saying quickly down, down, down down or slowly by saying dooowwwnn, dooowwwn…I have noticed that after some sessions they often acquire and can produce quickly and slowly in other situations without these words having been part of my target language.
- Distribute letter a the same way you did with b. Take letters b from half of the group and letters a from the other half. Call a letter and make students with those cards stand up. They will start to recognize and respond to the letter they are holding.
- Put in the middle of the circle magnet or card letters all scrambled. Tell students to pick and give you b (there should be as many b’s as students or we should put some back after a while). Some groups love to do several rounds, others with one round is enough and they’re ready for another activity.
Stage 3: Individual activities
Working with the letter… B
There are many books and websites where we can find worksheets working on a specific letter. Some examples are:
– My first alphabet, Hugh Kingsley. Award publications limited.
– My first writing, Hugh Kingsley. Award publications limited.
I’m in the process of making some worksheets specially designed for this book for each of the letters. Make a copy for each student of the worksheet: letter a, letter b and so on. You can work on a letter every day or focus on one every week (depending on the time available). Ask students to colour the letter we are dealing with, raising awareness of the letter shape. Then ask them to trace the letter. Finally ask them to colour the corresponding letter in the tree. Go around the tables asking students which letter is which.
Make a poster of each letter
You can create a poster for the classroom with each letter and stick pictures of the items you deal with in other topics in other sessions. These posters will contain the sight words that appear through the year. Children will find them familiar, will read them often and we will handily have a way to revise the vocabulary at any moment. Children need to use all their senses when learning and can be active participants by cutting out the material and putting the new vocabular on the correct poster we are dealing with.
Related to this activity, there is one that children particularly like that is Read the room. On the page www.makinglearningfun.com there is a suggestion of how to do this within the book Chicka chicka boom boom. The activity consists on making a coconut tree mask and go around the class reading aloud the words they see through the mask. Older students can complete the list included in the activity.
Resouces: (from http://www.makinglearningfun.com)
This book can not only be used to teach the alphabet, but can also help us with numbers . We can make a counting book to teach children the numbers by counting coconuts that fall from the tree. Make a copy for each student of worksheet: number 1, number 2, number 3, number 4 and number 5. You can work on a number every day or focus on one every week (depending on the time available). Give children round shaped labels. Ask students to stick the labels on the number, raising awareness of the number shape. Then ask them to trace the number. Finally ask them to colour the corresponding number in the tree. Go around the tables asking students which number is which.
There are some ideas about counting books related to this book in the following website
Another example we can find it in Ilovekindergarten
Just as a last word, careful with this book…it can be extremely addictive!