Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Magnetic Sensory Bin | Mama Papa Bubba

Something I’ve recently started making sure we make time for is fun, hands-on book activities.  I’ve always loved extending favourite read alouds with fun learning activities in my classroom, and Miss G absolutely adores reading books, so I’m not sure why it took this long, but heh – here we are.  

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Last week, we read the beloved Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons and did a really fun button sewing activity that Gracen is actually still working on {I think she likes it}. This week, we pulled out the classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.  If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a lively alphabet rhyme where lowercase letters race each other up to the top of a coconut tree until ‘Chicka chicka… BOOM! BOOM!’ – they all fall out of the tree!  Mamas and Papas and Aunts and Uncles (the uppercase letters) come racing to the scene in order to rescue their little ones, which lends itself perfectly to all sorts of upper- and lowercase matching activities.  After doing some brainstorming, I decided we’d incorporate the letter matching {and letter recognition} into a full-on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom sensory bin that would allow for lots of play, some magnetic fun, and a scent!  {Because why not, right? ☺}

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But before that, we had to take the opportunity to smash open a fresh coconut.  Grae was so excited about this part as she loves coconut and smashing things open with a hammer.   She gave it a good long go with this regular hammer, but it didn’t get her very far.

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When she decided she’d tried her best, I took out a mallet and gave it a couple of thwacks with that.  Sure enough, it cracked and Gracen was able to pry it open.

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The unfortunate part and the reason why I got this highly-disappointed-and-on-the-verge-of-tears face?  It was totally rotten inside.  Oh, the stink.  Oh, the sadness.  {There are photos, but I’ll spare you.  It was disgusting.}

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With that stellar start to our fun Chicka Boom Boom morning under our belts, we moved right along to the next part  – pulling together our sensory bin.  First, I got Gracen started on sorting our wooden alphabet magnets.  She decided that uppercase letters {aka ‘mama letters} would go on the baking sheet, while the lowercase ones {aka ‘baby letters’} would stay on the table.

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With her happily engaged, I moved onto putting together our magnetic palm tree.  First, I gathered up the 3 tin cans I’d spray painted brown the night before, plus a straw, 6 leaves I cut out of tissue paper, some brownish pompoms, a pair of scissors and some scotch tape.  I also plugged in our ultra low temp glue gun and poked a hole in the top of one of the tin cans by hammering in a large nail and removing it.

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To get started, I placed the straw through the hole on the can so that it would stay upright and began {messily} taping the leaves to the very top.  There was no real rhyme or reason to this step…  I just sort of made my way around the straw, adding and taping on 2 stacked leaves at a time.

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Meanwhile, my little alphabet master had finished sorting the uppercase from the lowercase letters, so she began something new – putting the mama letters in alphabetical order.

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To finish off our tree, I trimmed off about a third of the straw so that the palm fronds weren’t sticking up so high, then glued the other two cans below the top one…

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Then glued a couple of pompoms at the top to serve as coconuts.

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While Grae finished putting her last few letters in order, I added the tree and the lowercase letters to a bin of green coconut-scented rice I’d made the night before.  If you’ve not dyed rice before, it’s really quite easy {as long as you’re up for a lot of shaking / a little arm workout}.  I always use our go-to vibrant dyed rice method, and this time I simply added in several drops of a coconut perfume oil (similar to something like this or this for munchkins who may still put things in their mouths).

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With the mama letters in order, it was time to play!

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She decided that she’d like me to read the book again while she played so that she could reenact the story’s events in her bin.

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And so up the coconut tree the letters went!

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Sometimes she’d ask me to put the story on pause so that she could make sure she had the right letters in cue to climb the tree…

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And then up they’d go, chatting with one another along the way.

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Before long, our magnetic coconut tree was full.

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And ‘Chicka chicka… BOOM! BOOM!’, all of the letters came crashing down!

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Luckily the mamas and papas and aunts and uncles weren’t far away.

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Grae made sure each pair was happily reunited, most of the time with a little commentary like, ‘Little r, little r, where are you?!’, ‘Mama R, Mama R, I’m right here!’, ‘Oh, I love you so much little r’, ‘I love you too, Mama.  Thanks for coming to save me’ during the process.

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Soon our letters were all safe and sound with their adults.

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That didn’t mean that our play stopped, however.  Next up, Miss G decided that the adult letters would play a game of hide-and-seek, with several burying themselves in the coconut-scented grass and the others searching for them when ready.

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After that, they all tried standing in the grass.  The play went on all morning and the only way we were able to leave the house was because I promised that the bin would stay out and that we’d make lots more time to play with it later in the day.  Needless to say, I think this book activity gets the Gracen stamp of approval too.

And because this book is part of the Preschool Book Club Miss G and I are taking part in with a bunch of awesome blogging families, here are 5 other fun Chicka Chicka Boom Boom activities for you to try at home:

Book Club  Chicka Chicka

life-sized sticky tree  |  play dough letter learning  |  homemade alphabet soup  |  paper roll play set  |  alphabet bean bag toss

See the entire series here.

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7 thoughts on “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: A Sensory Bin

  1. Jill

    This is so much fun! I love this book and hope my daughter loves it when she gets a little older so we can do this fun activity, as well!!

    Reply

  2. Chelsey

    Seriously the coolest idea!!!! And I love that you let your daughter explore a real coconut (great sensory experience..except for the rotten part- what luck!) :)

    Reply

  3. Penny

    Sweet! Another awesome book. When I read your post about Chicken Soup with Rice, I went to vpl.ca and requested it. Book was a hit and now chicken soup with rice is somewhat of a staple in our house. On this Mother’s Day I have to say that you are like a Mama of mamas. Passing your great mama wisdom on to the likes of me :)

    Reply

  4. Jennifer

    This is great! We borrowed the “real” Chicaboom tree and it was such a hit — I love this idea to make an easy DIY one! So much more accessible! (And a gorgeous invitation.)

    Reply

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