Here are some ways to get their pulse quickening and the letters in the right order.
Unmix It Up
Have students unscramble letters to make an English word. Using a current vocabulary list, have each student write the letters for one word on index cards – one letter per card. Then under the flap of an envelope, have each student write out the correct spelling of their word. Students then tuck the flap into the envelope, shuffle their letter cards and put them into the envelope in front of the flap. Now you have a learning center game ready for your students. Just put the envelopes out in a box or basket. Students using the center should pull out the index cards and arrange them to make a correctly spelled English word. They can check their answer by lifting the flap of the envelope when they are finished. As the year progresses, add words to the collection while leaving those that are already there and it becomes a way to review vocabulary as well.
Unmix It Up Relay
Using the envelopes your students made for the ‘unmix it up’ learning center, have a spelling relay race. Divide your class into teams of five, and put a stack of ten envelopes on a desk across the room for each team. One at a time, students run to the desk, take the cards out of an envelope and unscramble the letters to make a word. When they think they have a correct word they call “check”. You should see to be sure they have a correctly spelled English word. If so, he should put the letters back in the envelope and put it on the floor before running back to their team. The next person then runs to the table and choose his own envelope to unscramble. Whichever team finishes unmixing all their words first wins the game.
If your whiteboard is also a magnetic one, this game will get your students excited about spelling. Divide your class into two teams. Each team should have a set of magnetic letters (the simple kind you find at the dollar store) on their half of the board. On your go, announce one word for each team to spell. One person from each team runs to the whiteboard and uses the magnetic letters to spell out the word. Just be sure you have enough duplicate letters to spell the words you call out. (For example, “taller” would require two letter ls.) The team that gets the word first scores a point. Then two other players take a turn. Play until everyone has had at least one turn. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. If you want to make the relay even more challenging, blindfoldeach person and position them at the board before calling out the word. They will have to feel the letters on the board to spell their word correctly.
This game is just as much a test of pronunciation and listening skills as it is of spelling skills.Divide your class into two teams, and have each team sit or stand in one long line. You whisper a word to the person at the back of the line, and she must carefully whisper it to the person in front of her. That person whispers to the person in front of him and so on until the first person in line hears the word. When he does, he should go to the whiteboard and write the word that he heard using the correct spelling. If he gets the word right, his team scores a point. If not, he does not score for the team. He then goes to the back of the line and the teams play again with a new word and a new player.
This game requires a small whiteboard or flipchart that you can face away from the students in your class. Set the flipchart up so it is opposite the front wall of the classroom. Put your students in pairs and have them choose one person to be the speller and one to be the writer. On the flipchart, write five to ten words that are difficult to spell or pronounce. When you say go, the speller from each team runs to the front of the classroom and looks at the list of words on the flipchart. He tries to remember as many of the words and their spelling as he can and runs back to his partner. He must then help his partner write the words on her paper, but the speller is not allowed to look at the paper. He can run back to the flipchart as many times as necessary to check spelling or remember words. When the pair thinks they have all of the words right, they call check. You should then look and tell them if the words are all correct or if there is a mistake. Throughout the game, the speller and the writer can say anything they want, but the speller can never look at the writer’s paper. The first team to get all the words written correctly on the writer’s paper wins.
Scrabble Slam is a fun spelling game that also builds vocabulary. Each card has one letter on the front and another on the back. (You can also create your own Spelling Slam cards by writing one letter each on index cards. Have more copies of common letters like vowels, t, s, r, n and l in your set, also omitting q and z.) Play starts with any four letter word laid out on the table and each player holding ten cards. The remaining cards go in a pile on the table. On go, players add one letter at time to the word to create a different four letter word. For example, pole may become poke which becomes pike which becomes bike. Every time a letter is laid down, it must correctly spell an English word. Up to four players play at one time trying to get rid of all their cards as quickly as possible. If someone plays a word that is not spelled correctly, players stop and that person must take a three card penalty from the draw pile. If no one can play a new word and everyone still has cards, each person draws one letter from the draw pile. The first person to use all her cards wins.
This classic grade school game gives your students a fun way to practice spelling. For the traditional rules, look here. Start by playing with your entire class, you putting a word or phrase on the board. Players guess letters trying to decipher the words. If a student calls a letter that is in the phrase, you fill in all the places where it belongs. If they call a letter that is not in the phrase they receive a penalty. After a practice round with you leading, have students break into groups of three and play on their own.
Why have a spelling test with pencil and paper when you can use play dough, beans, toys or other fun items to write out the words. You call out a word to your class, and they race through the items in their desk to spell the word out on their table. They might spell the word by arranging crayons, paper clips or other items in their desk. If they do not have enough items in the desk to spell the word, they can use items from around the room though collecting items will take more time. The first person to spell out each word correctly gets a point. The person with the highest score at the end of the spelling test wins.
In traditional Battleship, you sink your opponent’s boats. In this spelling version, you sink their spelling words. Each person needs two 10 by 10 grids. Have students start by labeling the rows letters A-J and the columns 1-10. Then each person writes the same set of 5-7 spelling words on one grid, in random order and location, either vertical or horizontal. On the other grid, he tracks his opponent’s words. Players take turns calling out a coordinate, for example D-5. His opponent checks his grid and announces whether D-5 was a hit or miss. The first player should mark that square on his blank grid – red for a hit and blue or black for a miss. Play continues until one person finds every letter of all the words on his opponent’s grid. (For more detail on how to play as well as a printable grid, see Salvo - the complete rules.)
This game tests spelling as well as listening skills. Have your students arrange themselves in a circle. Announce a word from the current vocabulary unit. The person to your left says the first letter of the word. The second person says the second letter. The third person the third and so on until the word is completed. The next person says ‘sparkle’. Then you call out a new word. If at any time a person says the wrong letter, he is out and returns to his seat. If a student does not say sparkle when the word is completely spelled or if he says it too soon, he is out. Play continues until only one person remains in the circle.