Compete in the National Spelling Bee!

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Each year, more than 11 million students across the nation compete for a chance to win Scripps National Spelling Bee. With a grand prizes including $42,500, all expense paid trips to Hollywood and New York to appear on television, a reference library and a trophy, who would not want to compete?

If you are an elementary or middle school student who would like to participate in Scripps National Spelling Bee, but do not know how to get started, don’t worry! Scripps provides teachers and students many free resources.

To begin your spelling bee journey, talk to your teacher and parents. Let them know you are interested in Scripps National Spelling Bee. The first level of the competition starts with class spelling bees from registered schools and homeschool groups across the nation. 

Once your school or group is registered, teachers have access to spelling lists for each grade level. Each grade level list contains 100 spelling words. Begin by learning the list of words for your appropriate grade level. Once you have mastered that list, continue learning additional grade level lists, until you have mastered ALL the words! Remember, preparing for a Spelling Bee takes work. Talk to your teacher and parents about scheduling time for word study and spelling practice, including using powerspelling.com for practice.

Scripps National Spelling Bee recommends student practice spelling by participating in online activities at www.myspellit.com.  This site will help students learn language origin, important spelling rules, hear word pronunciation, and provide tips for understanding English spelling words.

Mastering the grade level lists and practicing words at www.myspellit.com will get students off to a great start. To compete at the national level, students first must compete and win at their class, school, district and state level competition’s. Most National Spelling Bee winners do not win first place at the national level during their first attempt. If you lose, do not give up! Learn from your mistakes and keep trying.

Reading and spelling go hand in hand. Reading books will expose you to new vocabulary and spelling words that could be including in a spelling bee. For this reason, Scripps provides a list of recommended reading books for each grade level. Click this link to access the Bee's Great Words, Great Works book list.

Once you have mastered the words from www.myspellit.com, move on to the website sponsored by Merriam Webster, Word Central, http://wordcentral.com.  This site will allow you to play games while learning pronunciation, definitions, synonyms and antonyms, helping to prepare for the next level of competition.

Dr. Jacques Baily, author of How to Study for a Spelling Bee, https://spellingbee.com/sites/default/files/inline-files/How%20to%20Study%20for%20a%20Spelling%20Bee.pdf

Suggests you start practicing spelling words at a level that is right for you. Starting with words that are very easy or too difficult will leave you feeling bored or frustrated. While it is important to have time to study and concentrate on your own, make sure to include practice time that involves other people. Have friends and family quiz you. Practice spelling aloud in front of an audience, remaining calm and focused, even if you are not sure how to spell a word.  Start noticing patterns in words. Baily suggests you start with Greek and Latin roots, identifying words or word parts that make up other words.

You may consider keeping your own journal of words, collecting list of words that follow similar patterns and list of words that do not follow the rules.  It is also helpful to study words that come from different languages. Learning diacritics, or the pronunciation symbols, found in the dictionary, is also very important when learning spelling patterns.

Many students who have won the national title say that they spent hours each week, over several years studying the dictionary to prepare for championship title.

Whether your next spelling be is at the class or national level, a few principles hold true:

·        Set small goals.

·        Use a support system.

·        Dig deeper a word at a time to fully understand the English language.

·        Be persistent!

 

Still considering whether to compete in a Spelling Bee? Think of it this way, you might win but you will definitely learn! Learning is always a win! Now you know what it takes to become an un-BEE-lievable speller!

The History of the Spelling Bee

While Noah Webster may have not coined the phrase Spelling Bee, he can certainly claim credit for the beginning of English-language reformation that has led to over nine decades of national spelling competitions. In 1786, Webster published The Blue-backed Speller. The purpose of this book was be used to educate children in an American form of English spelling and pronunciation. Along with Webster’s Dictionary, these books were widely used as curriculum for elementary students for decades. Nearly 100 million copies of The Blue-back Speller have been printed to date.

As early as 1808, there is evidence of spelling competitions referred to as a spelling match or spell-downs. Around 1850, the phrase Spelling Bee became the lasting name for referring to spelling contests. The word bee, describing a group of people socially gathering for a single purpose, was common during this time when describing activities like quilting, spinning, husking, apple picking, sewing and barn raising.