What is a Spelling Bee?
(And other frequently
Kinds of Bees
all the buzz about? Just what
is a spelling bee, anyway?
spelling bee is simply a contest to find out who can spell
there more than one kind of spelling bee? Must we always
follow the same rules for a spelling bee?
there is more than one kind of bee. No, you don't always
have to follow the same rules. But you do need to make the rules clear
to all participants in advance. The Scripps National Spelling Bee uses
the format is perhaps most familiar. There are also simpler,
less rigid formats that you can use.
Why are there different kinds of bees? How do you know which
kind to use?
fun spelling bee in a single classroom, try a
Spelldown. For this contest, divide the students into two teams. Read
the first word to a player on Team 1. If he spells it correctly, he
goes to the end of the line for his team and awaits another turn. If he
incorrect, the same word must be spelled by the first player on Team 2.
If that player cannot spell the word, both players remain in the game.
The teacher provides the correct spelling.
Note: There are lots of
variations that work well with this format.
Rules and Numbers
are the general rules for a more formal bee?
Usually all players compete against each other. If one player misspells
a word, he is out of the bee and leaves the contest at the end of the
round. When only two players remain, the rules change slightly. Read my
general rules here.
How many students should you have in a spelling bee?
number is very flexible. You could have as few as 8-10 or as many as
200! But remember, when 1 student is spelling, the other 199 are
gettting very bored. So I would advise keeping the group size down to a
maximum of 40 or so.
For very large groups, it's best to
divide the group for separate competitions. Then bring the winners of
those together for a final spelling bee.
For example, each middle school class could have a bee to determine its
top speller. Then the school could hold an all-school bee where those
classroom winners compete against each other in front of the entire
group of students to find the best speller in the school.
Words, Words, Words
do you know what words to use for a spelling bee?
is perhaps the most frequently asked question of all. Here at
Spelling Words Well, I've compiled several free lists that you can find
of these lists contains about 100 words that are appropriate for a
certain grade. The lists begin with easy words and end with very
How many words will I need?
Plenty!!! The actual number depends on the skills of the spellers and
the difficulty of your word list. For example, if you have very capable
spellers and a slightly easy word list, you'll need LOTS of words. If
you have average spellers with a very difficult word list, you won't
need nearly as many because spellers will drop out of the bee quickly.
In a classroom bee with 25 spellers of varying abilities, you should
have at least 100 words.
you want a really BIG list of words, consider one of my Spelling Bee
eBooks. I also have extra eBooks of just words and
Be sure to have some extra, super-tough words available in case you
need them. When you're down to just 2-3 spellers, it's possible they
will know all the remaining words on your list. That's when you need to
pull out the challenge words. I've compiled a list of 100 Difficult
Spelling Bee Words
that is suitable for final rounds and/or
adult spelling bees.
words should be avoided?
Don't use words with more than one acceptable spelling. I also think
it's best avoid words with apostrophes, hyphens and capital letters.
You won't be short on words if you eliminates these!
Note that in the
materials here at Spelling Words Well, we use the American spellings.
If you are accustomed to British spellings, you'll have to alter a few
of the words.
Do you have more questions? Please submit them. We'll try to answer
quickly as possible!