Three Spelling Games

Here are three games that make a game of spelling, add a bit of fun to the endeavor and give students a competitive incentive for getting a handle on their letters.

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Words can be intimidating. It's frustrating to take a spelling quiz and receive a D or an F. Many students struggle with spelling and many teachers struggle to find ways of helping their students master this skill. The following three games can help students improve their spelling skills while having fun.

Spin and Spell

It's a game for students from kindergarten to grade 12. The object of the game is to earn points and there's an element of chance that adds suspense and surprise, as well as opportunities for the not-so-strong speller to get ahead. And this game can be adapted to use in foreign language classes.

You'll need a list of words (it's best for the flow of the game not to try and wing it), three dice and a place to keep score. (A piece of paper works fine if you're at home, but in a classroom full of kids it's best to use the chalkboard.)

First, divide your students into three teams and have them sit together and number them 1 to 3. (Have them choose a team name if they want to!) Team one will go first, then 2, then 3. Give each team one of the dice. They will use it to determine how many points each spelling word is worth (1-6 points).

Choose a team to go first and ask the first player to roll the die. Announce the number of points the question will be worth (as determined by the toss) and read a spelling word. You could put it like this: 'For three points, spell 'Anonymous'.' The student who rolled the die attempts to spell the word. If she gets it right she gets the three points determined by the die toss. If she gets it wrong, the first student on the next team gets a chance to win the points by spelling the word correctly. Then team 2 gets to roll the die again for their own try at spelling a word correctly. Keep playing until you get through your list, or until time runs out.

Count on Spelling

Also for students from kindergarten to grade 12, in Count on Spelling, students use the letter tiles (like the ones from a Scrabble board game) to determine which spelling word has the highest mathematical value.

You'll need letter tiles (they don't have to be actual Scrabble tiles, you can make your own), a pencil and some paper.

Students use letter tiles to build the spelling words for the week. The idea is to come up with the words with the highest mathematical value. While you don't need actual Scrabble tiles for this game, the rules for the game are helpful in assigning a numerical value to the letters. Suppose a student chooses the word 'forest'. Using the numerical values for the the letters in that word (F (4) + O (1) + R (1) + E (1) + S (1) + T (1)), the total value is 9 points. With a dictionary and a list of the values assigned to each letter, students can set out to come up with the words that have the highest numerical value. Older students can try to make the ultimate word score by using all their letters any way they want to.

Musical Spelling

The last of the three games is for grades K through 5. It's similar to Musical Chairs. You play a recorded song while students write down the words you call out. They keep writing until the music stops. It's a fun alternative to the writing drills that simultaneously builds a students memory of how a word is spelled and bores him out of his skull.

You'll need the classroom chalkboard, some chalk, a piece of paper and a pencil for each student, and a selection of music with something to play it on.

Choose a different word for each round and write it on the board. Then start the music. The idea is for your students to write the word correctly as many times as possible before the music stops. If they make a mistake they can't count the word. When the music stops, everyone must stop writing and put all pencils down. You can reward the high scorer if you want to, but one object of this game is to make spelling fun for the kids who don't take to it easily, so remember to give them something too. 'Most Improved' is always a great way to encourage the ones who lag behind.

These spelling games can help students to enjoy the act of spelling and can aid teachers in their search for ways to connect with students on spelling assignments.

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