Monday, January 11, 2016

CVC Mystery Balls

The Animated Step-by-Step Game,  CVC Mystery Balls, is available on the Teachers Pay Teachers Site ( in four formats: Regular (no symbols), SymbolStix, Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) and a high contrast version intended for children with Visual Impairments:

This title is based on a ‘hands on’ kit by Lakeshore Learning called Mystery Word Builders. As illustrated, the original kit included several colored plastic balls each containing a miniature object (reflecting a CVC word) and the three foam letters required to build that CVC word. 

The kit is reportedly no longer commercially available.  Occasionally, fans are able to find a used kit through Amazon or Ebay. As the kit seems to be very popular with young students, I am contemplating using the Internet to try to assemble a facsimile of this kit (see links at bottom of post).  
In the meantime ….  I have created a digital Animated Step-by-Steps® version of this activity using the same 20 CVC words linked to two sets of 10 colored balls.

In the Animated Step-by-Steps™ version, students are invited to choose a colored ball from a field of 10 different colored balls that each link to a page where a ball of the chosen color rolls on to the page and is then rattled to produce a mystery sound. Can students guess the mystery CVC object, based on its sound? 

Students are then invited to open the ball; the object revealed is then announced, e.g., “cat”.  

Next, students are encouraged to sound out/spell the three letters that make up that CVC word. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways depending upon the needs of the student or the group of students.  The most obvious option is to provide the three foam letters that must be assembled to 'sound out' the target word; the final word can then be written into the three blanks provided on the interactive whiteboard. The Microsoft PowerPoint app also has an option for writing.  If you are not 'technically ambitious',  you can always resort to the good ole paper and pencil method. 

As a final step, a click is then required to ‘drumroll’ the correct spelling, e.g., c a t necessary for cross checking your written answer.   

This is a fun activity .... with mystery sounds, mystery objects and mystery words.
It is therefore not a mystery as to why this format seems appealing to young children. 

…’til the next post …  (new posts every Monday)

Follow me on twitter @AnimStepbySteps

©2016 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator


For some chlldren there are real benefits to experiencing a ‘hands on’ version of an activity before introducing the digital, Animated Step-by-Steps™ version.

Here are some links that might prove helpful if you are attempting to assemble a hands-on version of the kit (reportedly, no longer commercially available).  

- jumbo eggs (substituted for the balls) CVC miniatures 1” letters