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Scripps Spelling Bee

By Mary Blow on January 25, 2011
  • Grades: 6–8

Do your students compete in a spelling bee? After months of preparation, the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition is under way. Last week, Lowville Academy hosted a local level of the spelling bee. Mrs. Petzoldt, our 8th grade English teacher, coached the students and chaired the event. Read on to find resources to support students in their quest to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, an annual event.


Liam petzoldt

LACS Local Spelling Bee Winner

For the past three years, I have been fortunate enough to be one of the three spelling bee judges. The entire middle school attends an assembly to watch the exciting competition. This year was exceptionally exciting as two students battled each other word after word for first place. In the end, a 6th grade boy, pictured with Mrs. Petzoldt at the right, won the competition and will go on to the regional spelling bee competitions in March. You can bet that he will be studying feverishly. Students who participated in the spelling bee each received a yearlong subscription to Britannica Online for Kids and a free online foreign language course.

Introducing Students to the Spelling Bee

 Introduce your students to the Scripps National Spelling Bee by watching Akeelah and the Bee starring Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, and Keke Palmer. The inspirational movie portrays a young girl who overcomes barriers in her life by focusing on her one talent, spelling, and competing in the National Spelling Bee. If you don’t have time to watch the entire movie, excerpts can be downloaded for educational purposes at WingClips. You will need to sign up for a free educator’s account.

Registering for the Event

To see if your students are eligible to participate, read the eligibility guidelines on the Scripps Web site. Registration information and student study materials are also available there. The annual registration period is from mid-August to early December. It is too late to register for the 2010–2011 school year; however, it is not too late to begin training.

Getting in Shape for the Event

Big_iq_kids1 Serious competitors study for the annual event. Scripps provides a student resource, “How to Study for a Spelling Bee,” which is a great place for students to start. Scripps partnered with Merriam-Webster to create the Spell It study site. Select the language of origin and practice in a simulated spelling bee format. Other online resources that make spelling fun include:

  • Kids Spell: select a premade spelling list or customize your own. Create lists with the top 100 misspelled words.
  • BigIQ Kids offers a free spelling program for individuals or teachers (limited to 32 student accounts). Create a spelling bee avatar and compete in simulated spelling bee competitions.
  • Scholastic Spelling Wizard: Type in a word list and the wizard will convert it into a scramble or word search puzzle to practice spelling.
  • Spelling Bee (Learner.org Interactives): This site has interactive games. Select word lists by grade, from 1–12.
  • Harcourt Brace Spelling: Animated spelling practice available by grade level.

The spelling bee is a great way to motivate middle school students to engage in etymology. If you want more information, please feel free to contact me. And please list your own great ideas below.

Comments (4)

Mindy, you are welcome. I'd be interested in hearing more about the Spelling Bowl. Do you have a link you could share? ~Mary

I coach Spell Bowl, but we do not do this spelling bee at my middle school. Thank you for the links to find more information and words to study.

Hi, Kristy, I am so glad that the information was useful to you. Tell your students that I wish them luck. ~Fondly, Mary

Thanks for your information! I have been using the myspellit.com website for my students to prepare for their spelling bees, and several of my students were very inspired by Akeelah and the Bee! I enjoyed seeing your other resources and look forward to incorporating them into my lessons.

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