I've only heard storyteller, Elizabeth Ellis, tell this story. It can be found in the out-of-print book Anansi Stories by Philip Sherlock. It one of my favorite stories to tell from Pre-school to second grade (7 year olds). It has action, humor, and lots of participation. After telling it to my second grade class in the early 1980's, I noticed ways to have some fun with the story in my lesson plans. To read about those lessons, just click on "Study Guide for Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom."
Before I start the story, I teach the kids the main participation - "Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom POOF!" While snapping (or flicking) your fingers, say in a sing-songy way "Ticky-Picky" then pound on your thighs as you say, "Boom-Boom." Repeat that 3 times and, at the end, raise your hands with clenched fist, and then with palms out, yell, "POOF!" I do this with the kids one part at a time, and then we do it all together. There are other areas where the students spontaneously join in with the participation after you say it the first time. Those parts are printed in italics.
*Because the participation doesn't happen until I'm well into the story, I usually say. "Are you ready?" as I raise my hands to start snapping and chanting. That gives them a spit second to realize that their part is about to begin.
*Yams and sweet potatoes are two very different plants, but the terms are use synonymously in America. I do talk about those differences but not in the story. Saying that yams are like sweet potatoes gives the young listeners a frame of reference.
Long ago, in Jamaica land, there lived a spider. His name was Anansi - Anansi the Spider. Anansi was a very happy little spider because he had a big beautiful garden. Anansi worked very hard in this garden. He hoed between the rows, he pulled the weeds, he watered his garden every day. And now Anansi had ripe, red...ah ripe, red...can someone tell me something red in a garden? (point to the kids with their hand up and accept any answer you get) Yes, (add those things not mentioned) and radishes and red peppers. And, he also had long, green...ah long, green...can someone tell me something green in a garden? (do the same as before) Yes, and he had cabbages and peas, too
But, today, Anansi was not happy. No, Anansi was sad (make a very sad face). For today was the day when he was suppose to dig up his yams. Anansi loved his yams. You may remember those orange yams at Thanksgiving. Sometimes we call them sweet potatoes. Well, Anansi was so sad, so sad because his yams grew underground, and he would have to dig them up. But, you see, Anansi was so small (take your index and thumb and make the space smaller as you say)..so small...sooo small, he could not dig up those yams. And, yet, if he did not dig them up, they would all go bad. Can you make a face like sad Anansi? (pointing to the audience) Yes, that is how sad he was.
Just then the sun began to rise in the east and who should Anansi see walking, walking, walking through the jungle but Tiger. Anansi looked down from his web and said, "Tiger, Tiger come here!"
(looking up) "Yes, Anansi, what do you want?"
(looking down) "Oh, Tiger, you are just the one I want to see. You see, I need for you to dig up my yams for me. I will keep half for planting them, and you can keep half for digging them up!"
Now. Tiger loooved yams. He liked yams with butter dripping off them, he liked yams with candied sauce, but he especially liked yams with those little marshmallows burned on top. So, he looked up at Anansi and said, "Okay, Anansi, I will dig up your yams for your, and you can keep half for planting them, and I will keep half for digging them up."
Tiger went and got his Tiger shovel and he commenced to diggin'...and he... dug, and he dug, and dug - dirt, rock, sand flying every which way! (pretend digging and then arms flaying in the air - the next time the students will say this with you - just pause a nanosecond after you say slowly "and he...")
Finally, the sun rose to noon day. And Tiger was sweaty, and he was hot, but when he looked down and saw all those yams, he forgot all about that, He bent down to pick them them. Suddenly - (take your arms and show them burrowing back down). boogity, boogity, boogity - down went those yams back into the earth.
This made Tiger angry. He took his shovel...and he...dug, and he dug, and dug - dirt, rock, sand flying every which way! Now the sun was four o'clock in the afternoon, and Tiger was hot, and sweaty, and, oh - did he have a sunburn. But, he forgot all about that when he saw the backs of those yams and thought of the delicious supper he was going to have. He bent down to pick them up when boogity, boogity, boogity - down went those yams back into the earth.
This made Tiger furious! (more determined) He took his shovel... and he..dug, and he dug, and dug - dirt, rock, sand flying every which way! Now the sun was six o'clock in the evening, and Tiger was hot, and he was sweaty, and he was sunburned...and... oh, did his muscles ache! But, this time, when he saw the orange backs of those yams, he did not bend down to pick them up. Oh no! This time, he reached behind him and picked up his hoe, and he picked up his shovel, and he (pretend like you are chopping with a hoe) chop, chop, chopped those yams into hundreds of tiny, little pieces. Then he threw down the hoe, and he threw down the shovel, and he began to walk home through the jungle.
But, now the sun was setting in the west, long shadows crossed the jungle floor. As Tiger walked (make hands look like they are walking like a Tiger) along, he thought he heard something. Suddenly he stopped! When he looked around, there they were... all those yams...(with one finger up, then two, then three) on one leg, two legs, three legs. And, as they came they sang...."Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom POOF!
Tiger was so scared he ran and he ran until finally he saw his friend Brother Dog.
"Brother Dog, Brother Dog! Hide me those yams are after me!"
Now, Brother Dog was lying down in front of his dog house. He looked at Tiger and said, "Okay, Tiger, you can hide behind me, but bend down low and don't move a muscle." So, Tiger got behind Brother Dog...and moved not a muscle.
Just then, those yams, hundreds of them came up to Brother Dog and they said, "Brother Dog, Brother Dog...have you seen Tiger?"
"Well," said Brother Dog, "I look up and I look down, but I don't see any Tiger."
Just then, Tiger couldn't stand it a minute longer. He jumped up from his hiding place and said, "Don't tell them where I am!" And, whippity-cut he ran off into the jungle. He ran and he ran. Suddenly he stopped, and when he looked around, there they were...all those yams..(with one finger up, then two, then three) on one leg, two legs, three legs. And, as they came they sang..."Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom POOF!
Tiger was so scared, he ran and he ran until finally he saw his friend Sister Goose.
"Sister Goose, Sister Goose, hid me. It's those yams. Those yams are after me!"
Now, Sister Goose, who was sitting on her nest at the time said, "Oh, all right Tiger. You can hide behind me but bend down low and don't say a word."
Just then all those yams, hundreds of them, came up to Sister Goose and they said "Sister Goose, Sister Goose (sniff the air) Have you seen Tiger?"
"Well, I look to my left and I look to my right, but I don't see any Tiger."
Just then, Tiger couldn't stand it any longer. He jumped up and said, "Don't tell them where I am!" And, whippity-cut, he ran into the jungle. He ran and he ran. Suddenly he stopped, and when he looked around, there they were...all those yams..(with one finger up, then two, then three) on one leg, two legs, three legs. And, as they came they sang..."Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom POOF!
Tiger was so scared he ran and he ran until he ran across a bridge. And on the other side of that bridge was his friend Brother Goat.
"Brother Goat, Brother Goat, you've got to hide me. It's those yams, those yams are after me!"
Brother Goat just looked at Tiger and said, "Tiger, I don't need to hide you. Just stand over there." Tiger was sooo scared...he just stood over there.
Just then all of those yams, hundreds of them, came halfway across the bridge, but Brother Goat was there to greet them on the other half. The yams looked at Brother Goat and said, "Brother Goat, Brother Goat - let us get by we want Tiger."
And Brother Goat said, "Well, you're gonna have to get me...first!"
So the yams tried to come past Brother Goat on either side, but Brother Goat lowered his head and knocked those yams off that bridge and down, down, down to the rocks below.
And when all the yams were gone, Brother Goat and Tiger went and got some gunny sacks and they walked down to those rock and they (pretend to pick up a yam and throw it into a sack) picked up those yams and threw them into sacks...they picked up those yams and threw them into sack...they picked up those yams and threw them into sacks! Until they had three, great, big, gunny sacks filled with yams.
Then they decided to have themselves a party. Party! Party! Party! And they invited Brother Dog and they invited Sister Goose and they even invited little Anansi from the top of the tree and, oh, did they have yams. They had yams with butter dripping off the sides, they had yams with candied sauce, they even had Tiger's favorite, yams with little marshmallows on top. And Tiger ate and ate...(big stomach) until he could eat no more.
Now, it was time for Tiger to go home. A full moon had risen in the sky casting gray shadow across the dark jungle floor. And as Tiger was walking...he thought he heard something. Suddenly he stopped, he looked (look both ways) but there was nothing there. But, even to this day, no matter how quietly Tiger tries to walk, he thinks he hears...(very, very softly)..."Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky Picky Boom-Boom, Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom (very loud at the end) "POOF!"
For more information on study guides to go with other programs and stories, click on Teacher/Teller Pages and go to Study Guides at the end of the page.
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