Ideas to Make Spelling Bees Fun
You enter your class and announce yet another spelling bee exercise. You eye your students as they drearily pull their spelling books from their bags, fumble for their pens, and finally stare back at you, waiting for you to start enumerating the words.
You don't have to dread this familiar scene materializing once again! Creating attention-sustaining spelling bee exercises is all about how to add a twist to your routines to make your students look forward to being challenged with spelling tests. Here are three ideas that you can use in your classroom:
Shout It to Spell It
Arrange everyone in the class to stand in a circle. Then, announce the word that is going to be spelled in that round--exaggerate, for instance. Assign someone in the circle to start spelling the word by shouting out its first letter. The next person shouts the second letter, the third shouts the third letter, and so on until the word is completely spelled. The next person after the "E" student in the previous word then starts to spell the next word that you will assign.Those who don't get a word right are asked to sit down. Each student who shouts out the wrong letter is eliminated by asking him/her to sit down, until only two among the class are left.
The two shall then have a one-on-one match with spelling words given to them in a rapid, alternate manner. The one who blurts out a wrong letter is eliminated, making the remaining student left the champion for that round.
This is an activity that my students always crave in class whenever it is spelling practice day. The individual competition and the challenge to think quickly intensely motivates them to go over their spelling lists everyday to win in this spelling circle activity. Do three rounds of Shout it to Spell It as practices before your actual drill -- or let this be your drill itself!
You will be needing the help of some of your colleagues for this activity. The objective of this game is to find out a secret that is vital to spelling. Students go through three stations with one teacher each. The teacher asks the students to spell out five words before they move on to the next station. Once they get through these stations, the students go back to you to claim the secret. Once the secret is revealed, they are to follow the instructions listed in the secret note to get their prize.
This is more challenging than the first activity, in that Spelling Secrets requires the students to exercise both their physical and mental faculties. The different environments that they are exposed to in each station present them with visual clues that they can associate with difficult words, making recall quicker during tests.
Give the students a feel for the actual bee by simulating a formal spelling bee in class. Clear the front part of the room. Position ten chairs to seat the ten finalists in your class. These finalists may be selected through game 1 or game 2 described above. The finalists are seated facing the board, their backs turned away from the audience.
As each of them is called, s/he goes to the mike stand, which is also turned away from the audience. You then give the word to be spelled, which the contestant spells by pronouncing the word in full, spelling the word, and saying the word again. As in the standard spelling bees, the contestant is allowed to ask about the word's etymology, definition, and usage in a sentence before s/he spells the word. Once the student has started spelling the word, they only have 30 seconds to finish enumerating the letters.
Creating a Love for Bees
Practicing with students for spelling bees need not be all-too-rigid and black-and-white. Creating fun additions and variations to your spelling bees, always helps students change their paradigms in approaching spelling bees, as well as how to prepare for these contests.
You can download a categorized list of sample 5th grade spelling bee words for your immediate use.