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Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

By Chrysta Naron

I scream, you scream, we all scream, “Ice cream!” And, if you’re like me, you might also be screaming for a break from the summer heat. However, I still want to make indoor play fun, creative, and, if possible, educational. Enter scoop sentences!

When kids are learning to read, they can begin to identify sentences by capitalization and punctuation. Yet, when they begin to write and construct their own sentences, it can be difficult to know what a sentence needs. This super fun reading activity helps children learn how to build a sentence (or words for younger kids) by incorporating one of summer’s greatest joys—ice cream!

Just follow the simple instructions below.

paper bag, scissors, and craft paper

Materials

  • Several different types of colorful or patterned paper or cardstock
  • Paper bag or cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • An awesome book about ice cream (optional)
  • Cup (optional)

Cost: $10 for paper or cardstock

Start with Story Time: Introduce your ice-cream-themed reading activity by coming inside from the heat and enjoying a picture book about ice cream with your child. Great choices include Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis, Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems, What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla, and Shave Ice in Hawaii illustrated by Mariko Merritt. (There are also a plethora of cookbooks you can use to learn how to make your own ice cream.) As you read, point out a few of the sentences.

Step 1: Draw the shapes of two ice cream cones onto the paper bag or cardboard, then cut them out. (It’s good to make two so that you can play along with your child.)

Two ice cream cones made out of a paper bag

Step 2: Draw scoops of ice cream on various colors of paper, as in the picture below, then cut them out. You should make about 20, so your sentences will have some variety.

Tip: If drawing isn’t your strongest skill, you can also just trace a cup to make circles and use those as your scoops.

Two ice cream scoops drawn on pink paper
Ice cream scoops cut out of patterned craft paper

Step 3: On each scoop, write a single word. Choose a variety of nouns (e.g., dragon, cake, alien, ocean), verbs (e.g., sings, flies, slithers), conjunctions (e.g., and, but, so), prepositions (e.g., to, on, behind), articles (the, a), adjectives (e.g., red, slimy, fuzzy) and adverbs (e.g., quickly, slowly, loudly). Let your child help you come up with the words and write them down. 

Optional: If you like, you can put different types of words on different types of paper. For example, put all your verbs on pink paper, all your nouns on patterned papers, etc.

Scoops of ice cream cut out of patterned craft paper with words written on each one

Step 4: Mix up the scoops and place them in front of your child. Let them create a sentence with the word scoops they like best. Here is a great opportunity to guide them on what makes a sentence and what doesn’t. Gently help them add words until they have a full sentence. Once they have made a sentence, read it, pretend to eat it, and start again! 

Paper ice cream cone

Now you have a delicious and super fun reading activity that you can play with over and over! Extend the activity by setting up different challenges: What’s the longest sentence they can make? The silliest? The shortest? There are so many combinations to make.

Adaptation for younger children: If you have a younger child, write individual letters on the scoops and try to build an ice-cream word instead!

We highly recommend rewarding yourself with some ice cream at the end too. And I wouldn’t be mad if you saved me a scoop of mint chocolate chip. 

What sentences was your family able to create? Share your sentence creations with us!