An ice cube “accidentally” escaped from my son’s water cup the other day.  It slid across the floor until it crashed into the wall. My son erupted into a fit of laughter.  (Who knew sliding ice could be so funny). As his giggling subsided he turned and grinned, “It slid just like you tell me to slide my sounds together to make words.” It was an “ah ha moment.” He connected the movement of ice sliding together with how we blend sounds to make words. Using the ice and sliding sounds idea, I searched in my cupboards to find supplies.  I had an idea for an extremely cold, but super fun word building activity for kids.

Slide a sound, an ice word building activity for kids. Learn to read, hands-on sensory reading activities for kindergarten

Recommended Grade Level:

Materials for the Ice Cube CVC Word Building Activity

  • Ice Cube Tray
  • Alphabet Beads
  • Water
  • Gloves

Slippery Ice Word Building Activity for Kids

Learning Objective: Children will put three letters together to make a word.

Previous skills needed: This activity is best done with children who know the majority of their letter sounds. If you child is still learning their alphabet, read on for the word building activity adaptations.

Note: this word building activity for kids needs time for the ice to freeze.  I recommend to start preparing it several days before you plan to do use the letter cubes to build words with your child.

pouring water in an ice cube tray for slippery Ice word building activity for kids

To Prep: First, fill the ice cube tray half full with water and freeze.  I was hoping that my letters would either sink or float, but mine bobbled. I wanted the letters to be flat and visible so that kids could easily see them. If your letter beads stay straight, you can fill the tray completely with water and skip the next step.

pouring water into letter cubes for slippery Ice word building activity for kids

Then, when the ice is frozen, place the letter bead on top and fill with a small amount of water, enough to hold the bead in place when it is frozen and FREEZE AGAIN.

Slide a sound, an ice word building activity for kids. Learn to read, hands-on sensory reading activities for kindergarten

To play: Brrr – ice is cold. Have your child don their gloves and help to remove the letter ice cubes.  Have them grab the ends and twist. The letter cubes should pop out.

Dumping out letter ice cubes for slippery Ice word building activity for kids

Encourage your child to say the sound of each letter as they place the letter ice cubes into a plastic bowl.

Watch out, as the ice melts, everything gets a little wet.  Put your bowl on a tray to contain some of the water! Keep the towel close by to mop up as needed.

Making a nonsense word - slippery Ice word building activity for kids

Then, have the child take three letters out of the bowl; 2 consonants and a vowel.  Let them pick – it doesn’t have to make a real word.

Making a nonsense word - slippery Ice word building activity for kids

Next, have the child slide the letter ice cubes across the tray until they meet each other in a line. They should be in consonant, vowel, consonant, or CVC, order.

Say the sounds of each letter. nnnnnnnn aaaaa ssssssssss. Slowly slide the sounds together. n-a-s and say the word. Then ask your child, “Is the word real or nonsense?” If the word is nonsense ask them, “What letter could you change to make it a real word.”

Making CVC words with ice cubes with slippery Ice word building activity for kids

Then,have them pick another slippery letter to make a real word. My son took out the n and slid an h to the beginning of the word to build the word has.

WARNING – the ice gets slippery! That is part of this word building activity fun.

Finally, put all the letter cubes back into the bowl and select three more letters to build another CVC word. Repeat.

In conclusion, you can orally review the words your child built.

MORE slippery ice letter fun with a Customizable Name Game

No cold fingers for this activity. This word building game comes with a set of ice cube letters to print. Children use their ice cube letters to build their own names.

Word Building for Kids Activity Adaptations

Does your beginning reader have siblings?  (I have 3 kids and try to think of ways to adapt word building activities so all can have fun sliding letters!)

Younger children can send just one letter sliding across the tray.  Encourage them to say the sound of the letter as it slides. SSSSSSSSSSS

Challenge older children to build the longest word they can using the letter ice cubes. My oldest came up with three, five letter words. “If only I had a _, then I could make the word _,” she kept sighing. She spent a good 15 minutes after her younger siblings were done making words.  “It’s kind of like ICE Boggle” she commented.

When you are done building words, plop the letter ice cubes into a bowl of water and let your kids make floating words.

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Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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