More Details About Spelling Bee Competition

What is the Spelling Bee?

A spelling bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell out from a wide range of words which have different degrees of difficulty. The competition, though, had originated in the United States, is now held in many countries across the world such as Africa, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Nigeria, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates among others. Most languages have a predictable spelling system unlike English. Thus, the competition is common in English speaking countries where English is either the native language or is taught as the second language.

Why choose Spelling Bee?

The main purpose of the Spelling Bee is to improve students’ spellings, enhance their vocabularies and also help with the accurate usage of grammatical concepts in English that they would use throughout their lives. The Spelling Bee is about 90 years old and is said to promote literacy since 1925. It reaches out to 11 million students every year.

Why is spelling important?

Being able to spell correctly is an essential skill that everyone needs to develop in their lives. It is also an important sub-skill of being able to write well. In English, the pronunciation of many words depends on their spellings but there is also a high percentage of words whose spellings are irregular and have to be learnt separately. By participating in the Spelling Bee competition, students can also learn the spellings or difficult words in an interesting way.

How to prepare for the Spelling Bee?

The official Spelling Bee website recommends 18 books that they have chosen to help students prepare. These are picked because of their rich vocabulary as well as content descriptions that have been presented in an engaging manner. Also, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has partnered with Kindle to create a new spelling bee study experience. Each of the recommended titles can be found on the Kindle e-readers as well as the Kindle app. It also has features such as the Word Wise to help spellers master the meanings of words as they see them in context. Also, students need to carry heavy bags to schools as all the books they need are available in a convenient, easy to use, electronic format.

Here are the selections listed according to the student’s grade:

First Grade:

  • The Antlered Ship, Dashka Slater
  • What Pet Should I Get?, Dr. Seuss
  • Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, Dr. Seuss
  • Through with the Zoo, Jacob Grant
  • Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged, Zetta Elliott
  • Shark Lady, Jess Keating and Marta Álvarez Miguéns
  • A Book of Bridges: Here to There and Me to You, Cheryl Keely and Celia Krampien
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst

Second Grade:

  • The Infamous Ratsos, Kara LaReau
  • Mercy Watson to the Rescue, Kate DiCamillo
  • Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, Julie Sternberg
  • I Love My Hair!, Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
  • Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu
  • Give Bees a Chance, Bethany Barton
  • Catwings, Ursula K. Le Guin

Third Grade:

  • Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker, Shelley Johannes
  • Wishtree, Katherine Applegate
  • Cody and the Fountain of Happiness, Tricia Springstubb
  • Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud, Suzanne Tripp Jurmain and Larry Day
  • The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon, Greg Pizzoli
  • The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Roald Dahl

Fourth Grade:

  • Word of Mouse, James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
  • Rules, Cynthia Lord
  • Catstronauts: Mission Moon, Drew Brockington
  • The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, Uma Krishnaswami
  • Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers, David Stabler and Doogie Horner
  • The Black Stallion, Walter Farley

Fifth Grade:

  • The Magic Misfits, Neil Patrick Harris
  • The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo!, Stephen Bramucci
  • Matylda, Bright and Tender, Holly M. McGhee
  • Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s Upstart Island, Loree Griffin Burns
  • The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, Mark Twain, Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead

Sixth Grade:

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill
  • Restart, Gordon Korman
  • The Player King, Avi
  • Flying the Dragon, Natalie Dias Lorenzi
  • The Red Bandanna (Young Readers Adaptation), Tom Rinaldi
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken

Seventh Grade:

  • My Brigadista Year, Katherine Paterson
  • Roller Girl, Victoria Jamieson
  • Hour of the Bees, Lindsay Eager
  • Lincoln’s Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America’s First Private Eye, Samantha Seiple
  • Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates, Mary Mapes Dodge

Eighth Grade:

  • The Glass Town Game, Catherynne M. Valente
  • Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard
  • Cloud and Wallfish, Anne Nesbet
  • Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb, Neal Bascomb
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Also, every year, the Bee publishes the School Spelling Bee Study List which is a list of 450 words to help students prepare for school-level spelling bees. These words are interesting and age appropriate. They appear in the recommended books as well and are shared separately on the official website too.

These words come from a list of books carefully selected by the Bee for their engaging and age-appropriate content as well as their rich vocabulary. The booklist is called- Great Words, Great Works and is available on the official website.

How to register for the Spelling Bee?

There are seven simple steps to register for the Spelling Bee. They are listed below in chronological order:

  • A teacher, staff member or administrator of a school enrols the school when the registration opens.
  • Teachers or parents may log in to the official website to access educational resources, preparatory materials, and valuable study tips.
  • Teachers and parents can then chare instructions with the students.
  • Teachers and administrators then conduction the competition in their schools using the competition guides.
  • Schools complete championships across the country and local sponsors select participants to participate at the National level.
  • All local spelling bee champions of an area prepare for the Scripps National Spelling Bee which is held in May every year.
  • At a live television broadcast from the Washington, D.C. area, students prove their spelling skills and a national champion is selected from that lot of students.

How to conduct the Spelling Bee?

There are three important components in any Spelling Bee competition. These are:

The participants: The Spelling Bee competitions are open to all. Both expert students and those who are complete beginners can participate in this competition. Basically, any student learning English is eligible to take part in a Spelling Bee competition.

The judges: The judges’ job is obviously to control the contest and to keep it going. It is necessary to have two judges for intraschool contests and three for interschool contests. However, in some cases, having one judge may also be okay.

The pronouncers: The most important role in a Spelling Bee is that of the pronouncers. Two pronouncers, preferably teachers, are recommended, by the creators although having one is also fine in certain situations. The pronouncer must know the perfect pronunciation of all words, this is a mandate for anyone eyeing this position in the competition.

The specifications of the competition

The Spelling Bee competitions consist of a series of rounds. Each participant must spell one word per round. Listed below are the general rules for each round:

Rounds 1–3

There are three initial rounds where participants can collect points according to the number of words spelled correctly. Here is the points chart:

  • Correctly spelled word = 5 points (green flag)
  • Incorrectly spelled word = 0 points (red flag)
  • In rounds 1–3, participants are allowed to start again even if they have misspelled the word, as long as it is during the time frame specified and before the second repetition. After this point they are flagged and cannot repeat the word. Note that this is only permitted during the first three rounds and does not apply to the final round.
  • After rounds 1–3, the judges add up the participant’s points in order to see who moves on to the final rounds. Only the students with 15 points in this segment would pass over to the next rounds.

Final Rounds

The final three rounds take place according to the rules mentioned below:

  • Once the pronouncer gives a participant a word to spell, he or she has to pronounce the word both before and after spelling it. If he or she fails to do so, he or she would be eliminated.
  • The participant can ask for the word to be repeated. This is allowed for up to three times only.
  • If a participant starts spelling a word, he or she may also stop and start over. In retracing their steps, however, there can be absolutely no change of letters, or their sequence, from those in the first attempt. If the letters or their sequence is changed in the subsequent attempt, the participant is eliminated.
  • Participants have only one minute at the microphone for their attempt. If a participant exceeds this time limit, the judges can decide whether or not to request an immediate spelling. They may also disqualify any participant who ignores a request for an immediate spelling.

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