Tips for Organizing a Spelling Bee 

If you've been tasked with organizing a SpellingBee, you already know there's a lot to do! But the job can be low-stress (notice we didn't say stress-free) when you plan ahead and when use our organizational list.

looseleaf calendar and pen

6-12 Months Before the SpellingBee

Ideally, a team of 2-4 people will share the organizational responsibilities.

  • Decide who will compete in your spelling bee. (one classroom, one grade, several grades, several schools, etc.) This should be done at the beginning of the school year.
  • Reserve the facilities and set a date for the spelling bee.
  • Publicize the date and eligibility rules for students. Notify teachers, students, parents, administrators.
  • Contact local businesses, if necessary, to help sponsor your event.

3-6 Months In Advance

  • Decide what word lists you will use. Let spellers know in advance. The well-known Scripps National Spelling Bee uses only Webster's  Third New International Dictionary of the English Language. 
  • You may want to use your school's spelling workbook word lists, some of the word lists on this site, or make your own list. Whatever you decide, be sure that students have this information in advance, as early as possible.  Keep in touch with sponsors throughout the process.

Keep in touch with sponsors throughout the process.

  • Choose your Spelling Bee pronouncers and judges. Double-check their availability for your date.
  •  If your bee will be held at a location other than your own school, arrange to have someone attend your event who is familiar with the building. Be sure you have someone to run the sound system. 
  • Decide on your spelling bee rules. Send written copies to students, parents, teachers, judges and pronouncers.

1-2 Months In Advance

  • Decide on prizes. Order medals, trophies and certificates at least 6 weeks in advance. Or print your own from online sources. Print or make name tags.
  • Check back with all participants frequently. One month before the spelling bee, send a note to all classrooms, pronouncers and judges reminding them of the date. Tell them what time to be at the competition.  
  • Get a list of students who are expected to participate.
  • Call local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations to let them know about the SpellingBee.
  • Invite sponsors to attend.
  • If you're feeling unprepared, we're here to help! There's still plenty of time to order our Spelling Bee Toolboxes! Each one has all the resources you need for a successful spelling bee. The graded volumes are extremely well-priced and are available for immediate download.

1-2 Weeks In Advance

Be sure to announce the bee on your Facebook page!

  • If you're using a stage, be sure you have chairs, a podium, microphones, and tables for the judges.
  • Make name tags.
  • Print out word lists for the pronouncers and judges. Gather dictionaries, pencils, and recording charts for them
  • Contact media personnel again and encourage them to cover your big event.

The Day of the SpellingBee

  • Arrive 2 hours early. Take with you word lists, dictionaries, recording charts, pencils, awards and name tags.
  • Check the sound system.
  • Double-check seating.
  • Welcome your spellers, staff and audience.
  • Publicly thank sponsors, spellers, teachers, parents, staff and media.
  • Enjoy the bee!

After the Spelling Bee

  • Clean up the facility, if necessary.
  • Thank everyone who helped via snail-mail handwritten notes, or at least with a personal email.
  • Recover and start planning for next year!

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› Organizing a SpellingBee


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