9 Fun DIY Spelling Word Games for the Classroom

Spelling can be fun to practice in the classroom. These spelling games are perfect for specific spelling words or for reinforcing spelling rules in class. Keep reading to find ideas for fun spelling word games for all levels.

spelling word game with letter pieces spelling word game with letter pieces
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Baseball Spelling

Everyone loves a nice game of baseball! Use baseball terminology and rules to reinforce important spelling words in your language arts lesson.

  1. Draw a baseball diamond on the board (home, first, second, third plates).
  2. Split the class into two teams. Assign one team as the fielding team and the other as the batting team.
  3. Have each team write up a “batting order” that includes everyone’s names.
  4. Have the fielding team choose one “pitcher” to read the words.
  5. The pitcher reads the first word to the person who is listed first on the batting team’s batting order.
  6. If the batter gets the word right, they’re on first base. You can indicate this on the whiteboard baseball diamond.
  7. The pitcher reads the next word to the next batter. If they get it right, they move to first and the previous batter moves to second.
  8. If someone spells a word wrong, they strike out. When there are three strikeouts, the teams switch and the fielding team gets to “bat.”

Play as many innings as you need for everyone to get a turn and to review all the spelling words. Students can either stand in front of the class when they’re “at bat,” or they can spell from their seats.

Board Races

Students love writing on the board, running in the classroom and competing against each other – it’s a perfect fit! You can play board races with any subject, but it’s especially helpful for spelling because it’s so visual.

  1. Split the class into two or three teams, depending on how many students you have.
  2. Read the first word on the spelling list.
  3. The first student on each team races up to the board and writes out the word with its proper spelling. This includes capitalization for proper nouns.
  4. Whoever spells the word correctly (and legibly) gets a point for their team.
  5. Repeat the game until you’ve run through all the spelling words a few times.

For an extra challenge, use alphabet magnets instead of dry-erase markers for students to arrange in the correct spelling. You can also use this game to practice dictionary skills by calling out extra hard words that they’ll need to look up.

word game using alphabet magnets on board

Catch the Spelling Word

Work on your students’ hand-eye coordination as well as their spelling. All you need is a spelling list and something soft to throw back and forth.

  1. Divide the class into small groups of 4-5 people.
  2. Get an inflatable ball, stuffed animal or anything that students can throw without hurting each other for each group.
  3. Have one group come to the front of the class with the ball.
  4. Set a timer for one minute.
  5. Read the first spelling word.
  6. The student with the ball says the first letter of the word.
  7. If it’s correct, they toss the ball to another student, who says the next letter.
  8. If it’s incorrect, they sit down and the next group stands up.
  9. If they drop the ball, they sit down.
  10. Once they’ve correctly spelled the word, read the next word.
  11. Repeat until the group’s minute is up. The group gets points for every word it has successfully spelled.
  12. Have the next group come to the front of the class.

You can adapt the game for groups to play at the same time or even for pairs to play. Middle and high schoolers may especially enjoy the physical part of tossing the ball back and forth.

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Disappearing Spider

Disappearing spider is played like hangman (or hang spider) in reverse. This is an entertaining and competitive game that is perfect to play right before a spelling test.

  1. Split the class into two teams.
  2. Draw two stick-figure spiders on the board, each with the same 10-15 body parts.
  3. The first person on the first team says the word, spells it and says it again.
  4. If they are correct, they erase one part of the other team's spider. If the word is spelled wrong, it is the next team's turn. Keep going until one spider is no longer visible on the board.

If your class wants to be more creative, have them choose another animal to be their team mascot. One student can draw the animal on the board, and the other team can erase parts of it when they get the spelling words right.

spider for spelling word game
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Kaboom

If you need a whole-class spelling game to play with a list of spelling words, try kaboom. This game requires enough Popsicle sticks for every student to have at least two.

  1. Write the spelling word on Popsicle sticks and put them in a cup. For every five words, add a stick with "KABOOM" on it. If there are 20 words, there would be four extra “KABOOM” sticks.
  2. The first student picks a stick without looking and hands it to the teacher.
  3. The teacher reads the word. The student spells it out loud.
  4. If the student spells it correctly, they keep the stick. If they spell it wrong, the stick goes back into the jar.
  5. When a student picks the “KABOOM” stick, they have to put all the sticks that they have collected back into the pile.
  6. The game is over when there are no sticks left in the jar. The student with the most Popsicle sticks is the winner.

If you don’t have Popsicle sticks, you can use pieces of paper or other supplies. You can also assign a student judge who has all of the words available to double-check their classmates’ answers.

Sparkle

Sparkle is a great game to practice spelling with a little competition. You can play sparkle as a whole class or split the students into smaller groups. It’s also a great way to pass the time when students need to wait in line for a long time.

  1. Have students stand in a circle or straight line.
  2. Choose a student to call words out or call them out yourself. For example: “window.”
  3. When the first word is called out, the first person starts spelling it, saying only the first letter (“w”).
  4. The second person says the second letter (“i”). If a student says the wrong letter, they sit down or leave the circle.
  5. The third person says the third letter (“n”) and so on, until the word is spelled correctly.
  6. Whoever says the last letter of the word turns to the next person and says "Sparkle!” The person who would have been next is out because he or she got "sparkled."

The game continues with the leader calling out another word. The game continues until everyone is out except for one player, who is the winner.

sparkle magic wand for spelling word game
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Spelling Bee

Little kids can participate in a spelling bee game without the pressure of competition. This elementary spelling game is fun for young readers and older elementary students alike.

  1. One student is the bee and buzzes around the room while the students chant: "Buzz, buzz, spelling bee, you can't sting me!”
  2. The bee stops behind a desk and the teacher gives that student a word to spell.
  3. If the student spells it correctly, then the bee has to sit down and the student is the new bee.
  4. If the student is wrong, the whole class spells it together.
  5. Continue until every student has a chance to spell.

Another thing to do to keep the other students involved is to have them do a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" after the student spells the word. You can also have the students sit in a circle in a similar way to the game duck, duck, goose.

Step and Spell

Step and spell uses a shower curtain that has the letters of the alphabet taped or written on it. You’ll also need a "start" and "finish" spot written onto the shower curtain.

  1. Spread out the shower curtain on the floor.
  2. The students sit on the floor around the shower curtain.
  3. One student stands on the "start" box. The teacher reads the first spelling word.
  4. The student goes to the first letter of the word, stands on it, says the letter, and goes on to the next one, finishing on the "finish" box.
  5. If they make a mistake, they start all over again.

For an extra challenge, arrange the letters on the shower curtain in keyboard (QWERTY) order. If you don’t have a shower curtain, you can write the letters on pieces of paper and spread them on the floor. If you’d like to play outside, write letters in chalk on the asphalt and have kids jump to the right ones.

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Treasure Words

Spelling words correctly can be a treasure, but students don’t always know that! Send them on a treasure hunt for new spelling words with a game of treasure words.

  1. Write the spelling words on index cards and hide them in plain sight all over the room. You can tape them to walls, windows or wherever.
  2. Put the students in pairs and give each pair a spelling list.
  3. They find the word and one student turns his back to the word and spells it.
  4. The second student puts a check by the word if it was spelled correctly. Then they switch places and do it again.
  5. If the student spells it wrong, have them look at it again and do it over.
  6. By the end of the game, they will have two checks by each word.

This is a great activity because the students are seeing, saying and hearing the word. It’s best used when introducing spelling words to the class at the beginning of the week or a language arts unit.

Games Make Language Arts Fun

Drilling spelling words is boring for students, making it ineffective. Engaging class activities help students internalize spelling rules and practice high-frequency words. Use this list of fun spelling games for the whole class and small groups.

After playing these games in class, students are sure to enjoy language arts a lot more. Keep the fun going with these cool grammar activities, or reinforce parts of speech with a collection of noun games.