Count Down to the National Spelling Bee

Spelling bee lesson plans can get students into the spirit of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and spell, spell, spell.

By Kacie Archer

national spelling bee lessons

If you heard the word ‘Laodicean,’ would you know how to spell it, or even how to pronounce it?  Laodicean was the winning word at last year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. If you're a spelling bee enthusiast, you've been following the countdown on Scripps National Spelling Bee's website. This annual event can be as exciting to watch as an athletic event. The participants might not be throwing a ball and scoring, but you can feel the anticipation as the students dive into their knowledge base to beat their opponents by spelling words like pfeffernus. In the beginning of June, students and parents from all over the nation gather in Washington, D.C., to see children compete. These students have spent countless hours studying and working to get ready. They've scoured reference sources, such as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to prepare. 

The National Spelling Bee was first held in 1925. Scripps acquired the rights to the program in 1941. Scripps publishes a yearly collection of thousands of words to help scholars prepare for the spelling bee. This collection of words is called Paideia. The words are categorized and divided into three levels of difficulty, and are representative of those that will be used in most spelling bees. The source for all of the words comes from the Webster's Third New International Dictionary.

The words in the Scripps National Spelling Bee are chosen by a committee of 12 people.  It takes the committee nearly a year to compose a finished list of the 1,000 words to be used at the spelling bee.  Each entry includes the word, pronunciation, part of speech, and definition.

After students have learned more about the National Spelling Bee, they can have their own spelling bee in their classrooms. This can be a way to inspire students to practice spelling, learn new vocabulary, and have some fun along the way. What follows are more spelling bee lesson plans.

National Spelling Bee Lessons:

Speedy Spelling Bee

I like this lesson because it is a game that allows students to work together as a team to spell words. The class is divided into different groups. Each group of students is given a spelling word that they must spell correctly. 

Spelling Free Throw

This lesson allows students to practice spelling and get exercise all at the same time. This activity allows students to spell a word correctly, then dribble a basketball, make a free throw shot, and dribble back to where they started, while racing against another student.

Sparkle-Spelling Game

I enjoy playing this spelling game with the students in my class the day before a spelling test to review. Each student correctly says a letter from the spelling word. This lesson allows the students to practice their spelling words aloud as a class.

Spell Check

This lesson plan allows students to research different circumstances in which misspelled words can cause problems and have an unexpected outcome. The students are given an opportunity to write a paper with misspelled words to demonstrate to others that spelling can affect the outcome of any written statement.

The Spelling Bee 

This lesson requires students to record spelling words that they have problems with into a database each week. They must choose ten words each week to add to the data base.

Middle School Writing Guide

Kacie Archer