Rhythm & Isolations with the Picture Book: Cha-Cha Chimps

pb-cha-cha-chimpsI fell for Cha-Cha Chimps the first time I read it to my son. This raucous little rhyming countdown book by Julia Durango (illustrated by Eleanor Taylor) is made for little movers. (Recommended for preschool through lower grade classes…ages 2-9.)


Like the Bojangles book Rap A Tap Tap (which I blog about here), Cha-Cha Chimps has a refrain on every other page that lends itself to audience participation.

10 little chimps do the cha-cha-cha.

Cha-Cha Chimps in a Dance Classroom

  • Pick any 4 gestures/isolations to use in the refrain, depending on the age and skill of your group. A basic version while sitting could be: hands go “knees-knees-clap-clap-flash-flash-flash” (flash = closed fingers to thumb then flash/flick open), and then one shoulder up alternating on “cha-cha-cha.”
  • Use the refrain to talk about even versus syncopated rhythms (and even versus syncopated shuffles in a shuffle hop step, for instance). Try reading with both the even and the syncopated rhythms of “ah-ah-ah”……a.k.a.






  • To extend the activity, have students help point out all the action or dance style words in the book, and then stand up and dance those words around the room. This book has lots of action words. Warning: be ready to explain the differences between Latin dance rhythms before you attempt this activity. Action words in Cha-Cha-Chimps include:
    Sample page from Cha-Cha Chimps by Julia Durango

    Sample page from Cha-Cha Chimps by Julia Durango

    • sneak
    • mambo
    • hustle
    • shake
    • cha-cha!
    • slither
    • sway
    • limbo
    • belly dance
    • strut
    • jitterbug
    • samba
    • conga line
    • hokey-poke
    • tango
    • tangle
    • macarena
    • shimmy
    • jig
    • Irish clog
    • polka
    • whirligig
    • stomp
    • hide
    • skitter
    • run
    • tumble
    • kiss
    • tiptoe
Happy Reading!  ~Ms. Linda

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