Boom Chica Boom is an awesome call-and-response chant.

I use it in the Child’s Play NY classroom and in my parenting.  Indeed, it is one of those great “on the go games” that subtly helps with EQ (emotional intelligence) and literacy, above all…it is really fun.

Watch this video to to learn why I love it in class and on playdates!

Script for the Chant of Boom Chica Boom

This is in call-and-response style so the words below get repeated!

I said a Boom Chica Boom (x2)
I said a Boom Chica Rocka Chica Rocka Chica Boom
Oh Yeah
One more time
 _________ Style  (insert any emotion or character!)

Boom Chica Boom is Great for Emotional Intelligence

At its most rudimentary level, I love Boom Chica Boom because it helps teach kids emotional vocabulary.

Moreover, it exposes kids to the variety of ways these basic feelings can be expressed.

The more words we can give our kids to identify their emotions, the easier it will be for them to regulate themselves.  Vocabulary is crucial for impulse control and those all-important executive functioning skills.I’m sure you know the go-to phrase, “Use your words!”.  We say it when kids are about to hit or act out violently with their body.  Well, this advice will be all the more useful if they actually have rich language for the feelings they are experiencing.Indeed, a robust emotional vocabulary is just another tool in our kids’ toolkit should a complex situation arise at home or school that needs to be talked through.

Don’t be abashed to really be silly and bold as you model these feelings – especially for little ones (ages 2-4) who will benefit from seeing a range of feelings as well as the playfulness inherent in the game.  Here are some emotional “styles” to try:

  • Excited
  • Brave
  • Nervous
  • Powerful
  • Shy
  • Goofy

Alternatively, you can help introduce words for feelings that your kids might not know even had a name.  So, for those who want to use it as a vocabulary booster, try these more sophisticated words which are equally exciting to act out.

  • Vulnerable
  • Potent
  • Wily
  • Ambitious
  • Elated
  • Kooky

Furthermore, kids can really take ownership of the game and propose different “styles” to you.  When they do this, you’ll get a sense of the feelings that they need to voice.  Additionally, this format gives kids a means to express more negative emotions like anger or sadness, but in a safe and even creative context where there is no judgement.

For example, you can practice the “mad” version – and then give them even more subtle words like frustrated, cranky, and intimidated.   Hopefully, when they are actually feeling one of these emotions, they will be able to pinpoint it since they have the vocabulary.

Mirroring our Children is Bonding

Boom Chica Boom – with it’s verbal mirroring – can make for an incredible opportunity to practice listening to our kids and make them feel heard!

Reflecting emotions is great for our kids’ confidence: Watch our expert Dr. Belinda Bellet chime in about this in the Magic Mirror game.

When we play Boom Chica Boom our mirroring neurons are firing.  Mirror neurons are essential for understanding the actions and intentions of  others.  Additionally, they help humans learn new skills by imitation.

This can be especially crucial during childhood.  The neurons are involved in planning and controlling actions, abstract thinking, and memory.*

Boom Chica Boom is a Secret Literacy Tool

The English major in me loves Boom Chica Boom, here’s why:

Vocabulary Boosting

Rather than just telling kids what a “hard” word means – you can play Boom Chica Boom with any and all vocabulary!

Suggest some advanced words as you play back-and-forth.  Also, you can keep a running list of active vocabulary that comes up for them when you read together.

Physically and vocally embodying an emotion is so much more active and will help with recall of that word.  Moreover, practicing words like “empowered” or “defiant” in your body will invariably help kids retain the words and enjoy using them in the future!

By the way, this game doesn’t have to be just for young kids:  When I was an SAT tutor I used Boom Chica Boom to get my students thinking in a kinesthetic way about the challenging words that they had to memorize!

Narrative Structure Work-out

Once kids have mastered a certain emotional style, move on to playing characters.  When you do the chant in this way, the game teaches about story sequencing and narrative structure.  Beyond that, it helps kids understand characters in a playful way.  I love to have kids lead this as a warm-up in our Musical Theater and Shakespeare classes.  For more specifics, watch the video of Boom Chica Boom to see how this works when we play it with the character of  Little Red Riding Hood).

  • First, challenge kids to make a clear journey from beginning to end with their characters
  • Then, have them highlight a moment of conflict (when Moana puts the heart of Tefiti back, or the Wizard of Oz is exposed) so the characterization is filled with drama.
  • Finally, encourage them to use their body so that the arc is really clear and physicalized.

Where can you play Boom Chica Boom?

Play this game…

  • In the car
  • On your way to or from school
  • On a playdate
  • As a sleepover game
  • As a birthday party game
  • In the classroom (if you are a classroom teacher) to get kids to focus
  • As a brain break during homework or in class.
  • Anytime you want to avoid (or delay!) screen time.

More Tips For Playing Boom Chica Boom

Keep it Simple to Keep it Playful

This game doesn’t have to be really elaborate for kids to have a blast. When playing Boom Chica Boom, simply enjoy the goofiness and your children will reap the benefits!  Watch this video to see how!

Feeling Flashcards

Use Todd Parr’s feeling flashcards or make your own words that you want to help your child identify.

Love the Nonsense

As a theater teacher, I appreciate that the different gibberish-like sounds lend themselves to a wide range of feelings.  Kids don’t need to think about what they are going to say and the sounds of these words are so expressive.  In other words, this simple script lifts any obligation to come up with language, and they are free to just use the chant to release a range of the given emotion.  So just give over to the gibberish chant!

Turn-Taking Practice 

It is helpful for an adult to start off as the leader.  However, even if kids don’t initially know the chant, after a few rounds they will surely able to lead it themselves.  You can then encourage turn-taking, especially if siblings or a class is playing together.

Keep it Positive

Finally, although I love using this to get big and bold with “negative” emotions, I try to strike a balance with the positive ones as well.  I especially like to end the chant on an uplifting word. Another subtle benefit to this game, is it can help boost optimism.  So much so, that it is a good idea to play this if the mood needs lifting or even before bedtime.  As you practice a range of positive styles, kids will internalize that happiness and get a jolt of joy!

I’d love to hear more about how and why you play Boom Chica Boom.  Chime in below!

Thanks for watching and playing!



*Child Development Club, Paula Tarver, OTR/L

Banner Photo by Spencer Moses