ABC Learning for Kids with Icy Fizzing Letters

Kids love learning about letters in fun, engaging ways! So why not combine baking soda and vinegar with a “secret” ingredient to create some fun abc learning for kids!

ABC Learning for Kids - an incredibly fun way to mix literacy, science, and sensory play!

ABC learning for kids that uses science and hands-on play

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I found these alphabet ice cube traysas well as their numbers counterpartwhen I was cleaning out a closet recently.  I’ve had them for sometime, but it’s been a while since I used them!  So I was excited to incorporate them into a science activity.  I thought it would be so much fun to make fizzing letters!

ABC learning for kids using letter ice cube trays

While Snoopy and Engineer were still at school, Little Hurricane hung out with me.  He had a ton of fun helping me get our experiment started.  We mixed baking soda, water, and Jell-O powder all together in a bowl.  Little Hurricane studiously mixed and mixed and mixed!  We made blue raspberry, orange, and strawberry mixtures.  From there, Little Hurricane helped me spoon the mixtures into the ice cube trays.  We ended up having extra leftover, so that all went into the regular ice cube trays.  Everything went into the freezer at that point.

The “Recipe” = 3 parts baking soda + 1 part water + Jell-O powder (however much you’d like to add)

ABC learning for kids that lets kids use science and sensory play as part of a literacy experience

One note — It’s best to make the mixture kind of like a paste.  If it has too much water in it, the icy letters turn out a little too soft.  This makes it difficult to remove from the ice cube trays.  If the mixture seems too liquidy, just add more baking soda until it’s pastier. 

ABC learning for kids using hands-on science

Little Hurricane went down for a  nap before the ice was fully frozen, but he’d helped out with his favorite part anyway.  Snoopy and Engineer came home and seemed pretty excited when I told them I had “fizzy letters” for them!  Neither of the boys had any idea what I was referring to.  They’re used to my random activities and experiments, so they didn’t even bat an eye.

Use letter ice cube trays as part of an ABC learning for kids project

I popped the letters out into a plastic bin on the kitchen table.  Bowls of vinegar, measuring spoons, and eyedroppers.  Engineer and Snoopy just observed the frozen letters and numbers at first — poking at them, stacking them up, smelling them, and commenting about everything.

ABC learning for kids with science and sensory paly

After about 10 minutes of this, they decided to see what happened with the vinegar.  They were SO thrilled when the letters started fizzing!  We’ve done these kinds of experiments quite a bit, but they never fail to be excited!  The boys spent about almost an hour making the letters, numbers, and cubes fizz and “melt”.  Each time they broke down a set, they requested more . . . until all of our fizzing ice was gone.

ABC learning for kids using icy, fizzy letters

Some fun comments Engineer and Snoopy made during this activity:

  • “Wow!  These are really cold letters, but they’re not melting like ice.”
  • “They smell good, can we eat them?”  [They technically taste-sade, but I doubt they taste good!]
  • “The blue letters are melting much faster than the orange ones!”
  • “I’m melting my name!  I’m melting my name!”
  • “Hey, I wanted to melt the 8!  OK, can I melt the 5 then?”

Using science as part of an ABC learning for kids experience

Of course, Snoopy and Engineer weren’t done yet!  They loved the “slime” at the bottom of the tub and wanted to explore it with plastic Skylanders (not the ones for the game, but some cheapo versions).  They added lemon Jell-O powder and glitter to the mix, thus creating a “sparkly, smelly swamp” for the Skylanders.  It was hysterical watching them cover the figures with “slime” and act out all sorts of silly stories!

An ABC learning for kids project that couples science, sensory, and pretend play

I loved how the icy fizzing letters included science, sensory play, literacy, math, AND pretend play!  So much learning packed into such a FUN activity for different ages!

As I was about to publish this post, a variety of other Jell-O/gelatin activities were showing up around the web!  Great minds think alike, I guess.  Here are a few such activities from blogs that I love:

Frozen Gelatin Fossil Excavation and Frozen Gelatin Sensory Play from Fun at Home with Kids

Frozen Jello Sensory Play from The Imagination Tree

Summer Fun – Jello Ice Play from Growing a Jeweled Rose


    • says

      Of course, Crystal! My son saw your post at the bottom of mine, so we went over and read all about your frozen Jell-O. It’s now on his (long) list of things to do this summer!! :)

    • says

      Thanks so much, Eric! Yes, the bigger kiddos around here are way into Skylanders. :) Thank goodness we have some of the cheapy figurines that can get down and dirty in our sensory experiments!

  1. elizabeth baker says

    try adding jello powders to homemade clay or playdough recipes! they smell good and the colors turn out very bright…they are a bit stain-ish on fingers,though.

    • says

      Surprisingly, adding them to play dough recipes hasn’t happened yet, but I am sure that it will. :) When we painted with it, we didn’t have any issues with stains, but maybe that’s because it was diluted with water. Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth!

  2. Rachel says

    Did you have a recipe you followed or was it just a little of this and a little of that? I love this idea and want to try it out.

    • says

      Thank you!!! I loved them, too! I’m visiting my sister right now, and my nephew (who’s the same age as my Engineer) saw that post and has requested we do that tomorrow. Thank goodness Engineer brought the alphabet ice cube trays with us. :)

    • says

      You have totally made my day! Thanks so much for stopping by with those incredibly kind words. :) Yes, we had an absolute blast with these fizzy letters, and Engineer has asked multiple times to make them again. I will definitely pop by the After School Linky again!

    • says

      Thanks so much, Allison! I really appreciate being included in your summer bucket list. My son, my nephew, and I made a slightly different version today. We did some of the letters, but we also did some icy, fizzy space invaders!! Check it out on here on my Facebook page if you get the chance. :)

    • says

      Thanks, Sarah! Let me know how it goes when you try it out for yourself. We’ve had fun doing this many times since that original post. :) The kiddos looooove it!

    • says

      Yeah, I don’t think they would have enjoyed the taste! :) I really was expecting that to happen, though! Thanks for stopping by Melinda.

  3. Lori says

    I do home childcare and love these ideas and many others I’ve found through Pinterest. With younger tots (1-3 years old) I don’t like to use flavored jello mixes because they add sugar-resulting in an end product that may, once tasted, be desirable enough to eat in quantity. The vinegar in this project should solve that, but some of the other suggested activities below the main post look a bit too tasty, and I fear the activity will be more of a junk food fest than a sensory one. Even if the project does not include inedibles like glitter, the sugar and artificial ingredients are not something I want them to eat much of.

    My tip is to use unflavored gelatin for its sensory properties, and add color and scent with unsweetened kool-aid packets. No sweetener in the final product should discourage more than an experimental taste!

    • says

      Thanks, Lori! I mostly work with the pre-k crowd (ages 4-5), but I’ve been watching two toddlers for almost a year now. For some reason, we tend to have Jell-O in the house, even though we rarely eat it! That is what originally led us on this Jell-O science exploration. I actually haven’t had much of an issue with the toddlers really wanting to eat the items with Jell-O, but maybe that’s because there’s only two of them. They both have tried the items listed at the bottom of this post, but it never was more than a taste — even with the items that were sure to taste good. The vinegar here would most definitely discourage too much tasting! Your suggestion is a great alternative for parents and caregivers concerned about too much taste-testing! :)

  4. morgane says

    Wow you have so many great ideas! That would be so much fun for my 3 y-o!
    What is the jell-o for? We don’t get it in France, and i’d love to try this fizzing material, do you reckon i can replace it by something else?
    Thank you!!

    • says

      Thanks, Morgane! These icy letters are still a hit with my son, my nephew, and my preschool children! :) I used the Jell-O to make the letters colorful and scented. It added a few different sensory aspects to the experiment. If you have any local American markets in your area, they might carry Jell-O. I believe it’s referred to as “jelly” in many other countries, too. I’m sure you can find something else to replace it — anything that’s colorful and scented (and non-toxic). The fizzing mixture should be easy to make — just baking soda (bicarbonate de sodium) and vinegar!

  5. laura says

    How much of each should be added? Am I missing the amounts somewhere? haha How much baking soda, vinegar, water, jello etc. Thanks can’t wait to try this with my kids.

    • says

      Hi Laura! Let me know how it goes when you do try it out! The “recipe” we perfected is 3 parts baking soda, 1 part water, and however much jello powder you’d like to add! :)

  6. says

    Hi, I just stumbled upon this post, it is such a great idea to turn jelly into a learning experiment! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Could someone please post a list of what Jell-O consists of? I am not from USA, so I don’t know what this particular food stuff is made of, and what ingredients I need to look for in a jelly when I’ll be looking for a substitute brand. Thanks!


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