A spelling bee is a popular competition you can hold with your students in primary school. A spelling bee is a contest/game to put spelling skills to the test. When hosting a spelling bee, students are given words they must attempt to spell correctly. This is usually in front of a moderator or impartial judge (the perfect role for teachers and teaching assistants).

This can be done individually, with each student being asked to spell the given words, or in teams for a fun, competitive streak! Typically, once a player/ student misspells a word, they can sit back down as they are disqualified. This continues until you find your winner who can spell all their terms correctly!

The origin story of why we call it a spelling ‘bee’ is unique. The ‘bee’ in ‘spelling bee’ is an alteration of a word that meant ‘the voluntary help given by neighbors toward the accomplishment of a particular task.’ This descends from the Middle-English word ‘bene.’ Before we had the term ‘spelling bee,’ we had a few other terms that sounded much more competitive such as ‘trials in spelling,’ ‘spelling combat,’ and ‘spell down.’

Why is it called a spelling bee?

The spelling bee and its name have come to us from America and first appeared in print in 1875 – that makes it a pretty old tradition! The name spelling bee is said to have originated from the Middle English word ‘bene,’ which means ‘a prayer’ or ‘a favor.’ In England, this has developed into a dialect of this word – ‘been.’ This refers to the voluntary help given by neighbors toward the accomplishment of a particular task.

This word, like many others, has developed and changed over time. By the late 1700s, the term ‘bee’ was used to describe a group gathering together to accomplish a task – words such as ‘spinning bee,’ ‘quilting bee,’ and ‘husking bee’ were pretty standard. So, as it turns out, a spelling bee is just one of the endless types of ‘bees’ you can plan. All that matters is that you and your students are coming together to achieve something!

How can I host my Spelling Bee?

Here at Twinkl, we love a fun spelling bee! They are a creative opportunity to plan a fun and interactive spelling lesson that gets everyone in the classroom excited and engaged in their spelling revision.

Putting on a spelling bee for kids can be a great way to motivate them to learn their spelling and adds fun to the process. If you want to plan and host your spelling bee, check out our range of resource packs containing everything you need for a brilliant spelling bee!

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