Literacy-Related Event

National Spelling Bee Finals are held this week.

May 29
Calendar Activity Type
Literacy-Related Event

Event Description

Nine contestants participated in the first National Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal in 1925. Now, over 250 student champions, ranging from 9- to 15-years-old, travel to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Spelling Bee. The competition takes place during May each year. The National Champion receives $28,000 in cash and savings bonds as well as reference resources for his or her home library.

Classroom Activity

The National Spelling Bee competition has been broadcast nationally on ESPN and during primetime on ABC. In his article "All I Need to Know about Teaching I Learned from TV and Movies," Kenneth Lindbloom compares the competition to shows like Jeopardy. Lindbloom explains, "One might speculate that these events garner interest because they are contests with one winner and many losers. But more difficult contests-Westinghouse science winners, for example, or creative-writing contest winners-don't get the kind of publicity memorizers of trivia get." Ask your students to consider this with the following questions:

  • Why do some contests get more publicity than others? What makes the National Spelling Bee interesting to the general public?
  • Is the National Spelling Bee a sports event? Why has it been broadcast on ESPN?
  • What counts as knowledge on television? What knowledge is seen, and what kinds of knowledge are not seen?


The official homepage for the competition includes details on the student spellers, their sponsors, the rules for the competition, and statistics. During the competition, photos of the events will be added to the site.


By Margaret Y. Phinney, this page from the Natural Child website explains invented spelling and emergent writing and includes suggestions designed to encourage children's writing and use of invented spellings.


This Scholastic website features essays that contain strategies aimed at integrating spelling into the reading and writing curriculum and helping students to improve their spelling skills.


ReadWriteThink's Word Wizard interactive allows students to spell words based on four favorite children's books. Students can read and listen to clues and click the hint button if they're stuck.


Related Resources