Tips for Organising a Spelling Bee
A Spelling Bee is a competition where contestants are asked to spell words. They provide a great way for students to learn new words and raise money at the same time. The competition standard can be set to suit primary or secondary school students. Charge students to take part and parents to come and watch
Initial heats can be held within the school with each classroom holding a class Spelling Bee . The top 3 students from each class can qualify to compete in the school Spelling Bee which could be divided into a junior and senior section, i.e. first to third class/year and fourth to sixth class/year.
- Gather a list of words to be used for the competition. You might consider an overall theme or different themes for different rounds of questions. The list should include the pronunciation of each word, the definition and a sample sentence that uses the word correctly.
- All spellers competing in the competition are given a number to determine their spelling order. The numbers are randomly drawn from a hat.
- Spellers are seated in numerical order facing the pronouncer and the audience (if there is one). Starting with speller number one, each speller is called in turn to the front of the group and the pronouncer reads the word they are to spell.
- The speller is given the opportunity to ask for the word to be repeated, the definition of the word and for the word to be used in a sentence. The speller then spells the word. Once the speller has started to spell the word, he or she may stop and start over from the beginning, HOWEVER, there can be no changes of the letters already spelled or the order in which they were first spelled.
- If the speller spells the word correctly they return to their seat. If they spell the word incorrectly, the pronouncer gives the correct spelling of the word and the speller then joins the audience.
- A bell can be used to acknowledge an incorrect spelling of the word. If no bell is sounded, the speller is correct and returns to their seat. If the bell sounds, the speller is incorrect and returns to the audience. The bell is not rung until the speller has finished spelling the word whether correctly or incorrectly.
- The next speller is then called to the stage and given their word to spell. Once all spellers have had a chance, the round is over and the next round begins with the remaining spellers. This is done until two spellers remain.
- The two final spellers are given words until one spells a word incorrectly. The other speller is then given a chance to spell the word that the other speller spelled incorrectly. If they spell it right they are given one more word. If they spell the second word correctly, they are declared the winner. If they spell the second word wrong then both spellers are still in the competition and the process continues.
Judges may be teachers, principals or any other adult deemed to be qualified. It may help to have more than one judge. As the students spell the words, the judge(s) should write down the letters the speller says and check them against the correct spelling. The judge(s) has the final say on whether the speller is correct and deals with any disputes.
How to compile a word list:
Begin with simple words.
Take care not to mix easier words in with more difficult ones.
Do not backtrack after progressing in difficulty.
Spellings, definitions and pronunciations should be taken from the Oxford Dictionary,
If you are going to have the competition in an open area (ie: a gym) and invite parents and other students to attend, it is recommended that you have one microphone for the spellers and one for the pronouncer. Try to ensure that the microphones are clear.
Students have a two-minute time limit to spell their word.. This ensures that your classroom Spelling Bee will move along without undue delays. Judges provide time warnings to the speller and ring a bell or announce when two-minutes are up, so you will want to have a stopwatch to help monitor the time.
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