Summer is for sunshine, swimming, Popsicles–and reading! Although school is out for summer, it is the perfect time for young learners to strengthen their phonics and reading skills. This beach theme word building activity allows students to segment and blend sounds to make CVC words. These word building mats would be perfect for at-home practice over the summer or for summer-themed kindergarten literacy centers.

Summer themed CVC Words for Kindergarten

Recommended Grade Level:

Materials for the CVC Word Building Mat

  • Paper
  • Laminating Materials
  • Paper Cutter
  • Dry Erase Marker

Teaching Phonics in Kindergarten:



Phonics is the relationship between written letters (the alphabet) and spoken sounds (phonemic awareness). In order to be a successful reader, students must learn to associate a written letter with a spoken sound. Phonics instruction teaches students to segment sounds and blend them back together into a complete word. Phonics instruction needs to be explicit and engaging.

Kindergarten phonics instruction often starts with simple short vowel words called CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant). Typically, kindergarteners learn about one short vowel family at a time. The teacher introduces the short vowel sound and gives students repeated practice identifying and making the sound. Next, the teacher models sounding out and building CVC words with that short vowel sound. For example, the teacher can present a picture of a CVC word with the target short vowel sound. Representing CVC words with pictures is extremely beneficial for young learners. Then, the teacher shows students how to segment the sounds in the word and represent each sound with a letter. Letter tiles or cards are super helpful for whole-group word building.

Once children have lots of practice with one short vowel family, the teacher will introduce another short vowel. Kindergarteners will eventually learn to build CVC words from each short vowel word family.

Summer word building mats cvc words

Word Building in Kindergarten:

KINDERGARTEN Reading and Spelling


After children have experience segmenting sounds and building words in a whole-group setting, they need continued hands-on practice. Kindergarteners can practice their word building skills in small guided reading groups or independently in literacy centers.

This summer word-building mat is a perfect literacy activity for kindergarten because it is visual and hands-on. Each CVC word list includes colorful pictures to help students as they are sounding out words. Students are able to physically build each with letter tiles, cards, or magnets. After building the word, students write it using a dry erase marker. As children complete the word building activity, they have repeated practice segmenting and blending sounds.

Beach themed word building mats

The Importance of Word Building:

Building CVC words in kindergarten is so important because it builds other essential literacy skills.

Improves Decoding Skills: Word building requires children to segment a word into individual sounds. This skill is essential to reading! When children know how to break apart a word and “sound it out,” they won’t be stuck when they encounter a new word.

Develops Blending Skills: Word building helps children break apart the sounds in a word and blend them back together. The more children practice breaking apart and blending sounds, the more natural it will become.

Encourages Writing: Children are more excited to write when they know they can spell words on their own. Children can use their word-building and decoding skills when they are writing, too.

Encourages Reading: Word building builds children’s confidence and encourages them to read independently. When children are able to break apart words and segment sounds, they have the tools they need to figure out new words.

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How to Use the Summer Beach CVC Word Building Activity:



To set up:

  • Print and laminate the word building mats, picture cards, and word lists.
  • Cut apart the word lists and picture cards.
  • Gather the other added materials: a letter set and dry erase marker.
  • Depending on your learners’ readiness, you may want to separate each short vowel family so that students are only focusing on one vowel at a time.

To use:

  • Children choose a picture card and name the word.
  • Children place the card in the box at the top of the mat.
  • Children say each sound in the word and place the correct letters into the “build it” box.
  • Children copy the letters into the final box using a dry erase marker.
  • Erase and repeat with a new card!

Other Ways to Use the Summer Beach Word Building Mat:

Sounds Only

Some students might not be ready to connect sounds with letters, but they can still benefit from this activity! Instead of placing letter cards in the boxes, students say the sounds and place counters in the box.

Partner Activity

Partner One chooses a word from the word list and reads it aloud. Partner Two will find the correct picture card and build the word. Partner One makes sure that Partner Two built the word correctly. Then, partners switch roles and continue the activity.

Review Game

Place all the sunshine cards in a bucket or basket. Students take turns drawing a card from the bucket. On their turn, students stretch the sounds in the word. Some students may even be able to spell the word out loud.

Summer themed CVC Words for Kindergarten
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author avatar
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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