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The Spelling Bee and Variations

The spelling bee has made a resounding come back in recent years ... if had truly ever been gone ... as a popular activity. Both the state and national championships get a great deal of press. But, you don't have to you don't have to want to be an international spelling champ to have fun with this activity. Below I've include directions for both a classic spelling bee and some fun variations of the traditional rules to liven things up..

Number of Players: 2 or more, plus an adult or older child to play "teacher"
Place: Anywhere
Equipment: None really unless you want to have a dictionary on hand

Game Directions:

A spelling bee can be a dreaded activity, or one that is much anticipated. A highly competitive child may thrive in a "bee" while a child who is easily stressed may positively dread the very idea of any kind of "test." Making sure your rules are well known and understood before your bee starts as well as making sure everyone usese their good sportmanship manners can go a long way towards emptying the situation of any potential stress. Also make sure that this is supposed to be FUN and not a chore.

Traditional Spelling Bee:

The "teacher" or "facilitator" uses a list of words that are prepared in advance. This list should be appropriate to the participant's abilities. This is especially important if you are trying to create a fun learning environment. After the child regains their sense of joy in learning, you can slowly stretch the list to include words that aren't normally found in their vocabulary work, progressing to more advanced lists upon mastery of the previous level.

Players line up up in a row and face the "teacher". Next, the child farthest from to the teacher's left is given a word to spell. In answering, the player should say the word, spell it, then say the word again. For example" "Special. S-P-E-C-I-A-L. Special."

If the word is spelled correctly, the next player is given a new word. If the player does not spell the word correctly, he is out of the game and sits down and the next player has the opportunity to spell the same word.

The last player to remain standing wins.

Greedy Spelling Bee:

This variation can keep a great speller on their feet for a long time. If a players spells a word correctly, they score a point and are given another word to spell. This goes on until a mistake is made. Then the next player starts with the last player's incorrectly spelled word. This continues until one of the players reaches a predetermined score and is the winner. Alternately, the person with the highest score wins.

Backward Spelling Bee:

This variation is played the same way as the traditional spelling bee, only the words must be spelled backwards. In this game its important to start with very easy words until the players are comfortable and get the hang of spelling words backwards.

Right or Wrong Spelling Bee:

This variation of the traditional spelling bee is both more complicated and requires more players; at least six. Also, this variation is always played in teams.

The two teams line up opposite each other, and the "teacher" calls out the first word to one of the players. After that player has attempted to spell theword, the person standing opposite him must decide if the player has spelled the word correctly and calls out "right" or "wrong." If the second player misjudges (calls a correctly spelled word "wrong" or an incorrectly spelled word "right) that player is out of the game and must sit down. If the correct call is made, the caller get the next word to spell. The speller stays in the game even if they spell the word incorrectly. One strategy is to spell a word incorrectly to fool the opponent into judging it "right."

As players drop out, their places are filled by their teammates, so that a speller is always standing opposite a caller. The last team with a player still standing is the winner.


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