Study Guide for Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom

Years ago I heard Elizabeth Ellis tell this story, when she visited the school where I was teaching. She told stories to my class and one of the stories was "Ticky-Picky Boom-Boom." I knew immediately that it was story I wanted to tell. Elizabeth was so gracious. She gave me the reference for the story and I began my telling of it. Unfortunately, since that time, the book is out of print. It was in a book called Anansi Stories by Philip Sherlock. It is one of the many Anansi stories that were transported to Jamaica. To read my version of this story click on Ticky-Picky Boom Boom.

The story was an immediate success and became a "keeper." Soon after, I discovered that the many elements of the story lent themselves to certain lessons I had in the classroom. I began by taking my existing lessons and "adding on" a lesson with ties to the story. They were just for fun and maybe for extra credit at the end of a test. Others evolved into a lesson all on it's own and one actually took several days to complete. Soon I noticed that I had a lesson for each of the subjects.


bulletAdd any five words from the story to the spelling list for the week. The students can even help pick the words.
bulletWrite sentences using the spelling words and the words from the story. (Ex. - tiger, shovel, yams, spider, goose, doghouse, etc)

Vocabulary. Write these words from the story on the side of the chalkboard. Anansi, Jamaica, island. Tell the class that anytime they catch you saying those words this week to raise their hand. Have a jellybean prize for anyone recognizing the word.


bulletMake up some mad-libs using sentences from the story. Ask the students for the word in parenthesis ahead of time, put them on the board and then read the sentences with their words. Other suggestions include (color, animal name, feeling, adjective or describing word, adverb or word ending in "ly.")

Ex. Tiger ran when he saw the __________(thing -plural noun) running after him. He _______(past tense action verb) until he saw a dog sitting in his ______________(place noun). Tiger cried out ___________(exclamation).

bulletMake your own Tiki-Piki-Boom-Boom" book for each child. This an extended activity. You must have the cooperation of the principal to use of the Xerox machine. Write on the chalkboard every scene in the story. There are over 20 of them. Assign one scene to each child. They must draw a picture of the scene with a thin-tip, black marker and write a sentence or two about it at the bottom of the page. Xerox each picture times the number of children in the class. Each child will have a complete story. Give them time to color in the pages. While they are waiting for the Xerox copies they can work on the title page for their books.


bulletAnansi had four rows of yams in his garden. Each row had 10 yams. How many yams were in Anansi's garden? (Add 10 four times or, if they have had multiplication, multiply 10x4)
bulletHave a paper with several dozen yams drawn on it. Circle the yams in groups in four, five, or six. How many groups are there? How many are left over?

Reading: Based on Question Answer Response.

When telling the story, be sure that the story includes the answers to the questions.

Pre-On My Own: (accept any relevant answer)

Have you ever had anyone chase you? What does that feel like?

What kind of things grow in a garden? What kind of things do you pick that grow above the ground. What grows underground. If they grow underground, how do you get them out? (talk about digging plants out of the ground and how hard it is to do)

Right There:

Why did Anansi say he couldn't dig up the yams? (he was too small and the work was too much for him)

What was the dog sitting in front of? (his dog house)

What was the goose sitting on? (a nest)

Where did the goat live? (across the bridge)

Think and Search:

How long did it take for Tiger to dig up the yams? (all day) How do you know that? (starts out in the morning and goes until the sun is low in the sky)

Name the animals Tiger saw when he ran from the yams. (dog, goose, goat)

How would you describe Tiger when he asked the animals to hide him? (scared) How do you know Tiger was scared? (he ran away, the tone of his voice, he was shaking, etc)

Why didn't Goat try to hide Tiger? (he was big and knew he could knock them over the bridge)

What parts of the story could be real? (the animals really exist, the setting could be real, spiders live in trees, tigers walk in the jungle, dogs live in doghouses, etc.)

What parts of the story are not real? (animals talking; tiger digging, liking yams to eat, showing human emotions; yams running and chanting and falling off a bridge, etc)

Author and You Questions:

In the story the goat was not afraid of the yams but tiger was. Why?

Was there any other way that Tiger or Goat could have stopped the yams? How?

At the very end of the story, Tiger walks in the jungle but stops when he thinks he hears something. Does he really hear anything? If you were there in the story at that moment, would you hear anything? Why or why not?

The storyteller gave each animal and the yams a human quality. What were they? (Tiger was angry and scared; Yams were vengeful; dog was lazy; goose was persnickety; goat was a bully; Anansi was helpless)

Aft-On Your Own:

Do you think the yams were treated fairly in the story, why or why not?

What are some other Anansi stories that you have heard or read? How is Anansi different in this story? (plays a minor character; is not a trickster; appears helpless)




There are differences between yams and sweet potatoes. In America, the two words are used to mean the same.

bulletTry to find real yams and compare them to sweet potatoes. (size, color, texture, taste, weight, smell, etc) Discuss what a root vegetable is. Find other root vegetables. What other parts of plants do we eat?

Information on yams vs. sweet potatoes



Grow a Sweet Potato Plant (I don't know if this will work for yams, but, if they are available, have a yam plant and a sweet potato plant and compare the growth).

Use toothpicks to suspend the sweet potato over a clear glass of water with the tip down, having enough water in the glass to cover the bottom of the sweet potato. Keep it in a warm, sunny spot. Soon vines with morning-glory-shaped leaves will appear and climb anywhere you train them. Keep the water level constant (covering just the bottom of the tuber). Change the water occasionally and DO NOT plant in soil. When the individual slips put out four to five leaves, you can snap the new plants off the mother potato.

After the plant sprouts leaves add some food coloring to the water. As the leaves change color discuss how the micro roots transport water and nutrients to the leaves.




There is a children's game called "Duck-Duck Goose" I adapt the game to "Tiger-Tiger Yam". Children form a ring. One person is the Tiger and prowls around the outside of the ring tapping the other children on their backs saying "Tiger....tiger...tiger" but when the tiger taps a child and says "Yam" the child has to chase the tiger around the circle. If the tiger makes it back to the child's place, he is safe and the other child takes over as the tiger. If the tiger doesn't make it around, he/she is tiger once again.



Pulling the movement from the story. Discuss a movement in the story. Ex. Tiger digging the yams. Have one child come forward and show what that looks like. Have everyone in the circle do the same action 4 times. Discuss another movement Ex. Tiger running (in place). Have everyone in the circle run in place to the count of four, plus digging four times. Keep adding new movements and repeating the others. Usually, the class can do up to 5 or 6 of these movements. It can be a real workout. If you add music (Jamaican music) and do the movement it can add to the fun.*



Potato Prints (you can use sweet potatoes)

You'll need
Poster paint or tempera
Paper, cardboard, or wood
sharp knife
1. Cut potatoes in half or thirds.
2. Draw desired design onto potato with the pencil.
3. Young children can carve their whole design with 
the pencil but if more detail is preferred, 
an adult needs to cut around the pencil outline.
4. Place paint in tray or paper plate in a thin layer.
5. Press potato design into paint and firmly press 
onto paper for impression.




Ask two children to do just a scene from the story. Ex. Tiger talking to Sister Goose. The teacher may need to give prompts Ex. What did tiger ask Sister Goose to do?


This story lends itself nicely to a narrative play. The teacher can simply tell the story and the characters - spider, tiger, goose, dog and goat act it out. The rest of the class can be the "yams" and chant and do hand clapping.


It can be made into a reader's theatre. This will take time. The language needs to be at their reading level. Some lines need to be memorized when the characters come to the front of the stage.

Social Studies:

Jamaica is an island country. Find it on the globe. What other islands are close to Jamaica? How far is it to Jamaica? What languages do they speak? Are tigers actually found in Jamaica?

When I went started to do teacher workshops at conferences, this is the story and ideas I passed on.

I no longer teach school, but have developed many study guides to go with various programs and stories. They are listed on the "Teacher/teller" pages at the bottom of the page.


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