We are ramping up again to participate in the 2010 HEN (Home Educators Network) Spelling Bee for homeschoolers of the Omaha area. I found out about this event last year through my Christian homeschooling support group: The Discovery Group. Gabe, who is a natural speller, was interested in trying out. Since it was his idea, he had the motivation to study the word list and finally our subject of spelling (a subject he used to hate) became a self-motivated subject of interest – one he excelled in.
We downloaded the spelling bee list for the appropriate grade last year and used that as our study guide. He studied about 500 words in a two month period. We watched Akeelah and the Bee as an encouragement and so he could model how to actually participate in a bee. Not only did he practice spelling words, but he practiced how to stand properly and how to say the word, spell the word, say the word. We also went over rules such as when to ask for a sentence or a definition.
The experience was well worth it. It was the best unschooling experience we’ve had! He came in second place for the Second Grade category and – that same week – got to actually see The Scripps National Spelling Bee on television – a serendipituous coincidence (or God moment as I like to call them!) that it happened to be the same week! Gabe and Lily spent the rest of the evening “playing” spelling bee and this motivated Lily to want to enter the First Grade category this year.
So that has been our spelling for the year. We do not work out of a workbook or follow a specific program. I print out their specific grade list for the year and break it down into sizeable chunks (smaller for Lil – about 10-15 words per week, larger for Gabe – about 30-60 words per week). They work on these at SpellingCity.com – a wonderful FREE resource on the computer where they practice their words. They type all their words in, thus reinforcing the spelling, and press the Teach Me button to have the words spelled aloud to them and used properly in a sentence (vocabulary practice). They play two games of their choice to practice using the words, seeing the words by repitition, and never seeing the words spelled incorrectly (a Charlotte Mason technique) which helps firmly set the picture of the word in their mind to recall later. Last they take a test to see if they’ve mastered their list of words. This takes about a half hour to do (a little longer for Lily who is a slower typer and needs more time to think about the answers in a game) and the kids LOVE it. They look forward to spelling. We never have to spend any money on curriculum for this subject and they get to practice spelling, vocabulary, typing, and other various computer skills all at the same time.
I am excited to see how they fare this year. Gabe is going for the gold. The time and day for anyone who is interested (hint, hint aunts and uncles!) is Friday, January 30 at Sorenson Library (48th & Cass) at 10:30 AM. Here’s a pic from last’s year competition.
Our favorite Spelling links…go check them out!
- howjsay.com (Get it..how’d you say dot com!!! A pronunciation dictionary for all of us out there who look at that foreign word in our novel and have NO idea how to pronounce it! Come on…I know you’re out there!)
- Spelling Rules
- Scripps National Spelling Bee – the spelling bee of spelling bees!!!