- Keywords: Spelling, primary school, reading development, competitive classroom
- Learner maturity: Elementary third to sixth grade, most in fourth or fifth grade
- Learner English level: Intermediate
- Preparation time: five minutes
- Activity time: 10 minutes
- Materials: Dice, paper, pencils, a whiteboard, whiteboard erasers, and whiteboard markers
This game encourages students to write on the whiteboard. The main focus is to address the important skill of spelling, but it also necessitates communication between students to address multiple skills in a short amount of time.
Step 1: Make teams of four to eight. The lower end of this figure is optimal for maximizing opportunities for students to be the writer, but the high end of this figure is still effective.
Step 2: Each team should have a sheet of paper, pencil, and one dice (the larger the number of faces the better. I use 20-sided dice, which gains attention because it is not a commonly seen object; however, any type of dice can be used).
Step 3: Have students number the left-hand side of the paper from one to the maximum number on the dice. They then select words from those targeted for the game and assign each a number. For example, the program in which I use this game has 26 vocabulary words per topic unit and from those 26 words the students select 20, placing each word next to whichever number they like. The students also select a team name to add a more competitive aspect to the game. Give students a time limit of three to four minutes to control the amount of time taken to complete this step of the preparation.
Step 4: Upon completion of their list, students make a line with the first student at the whiteboard and the last student next to a desk with the list and dice.
The last student in line rolls the dice and yells out the word associated with the rolled number (i.e., Roll 5. “Seed”, the student then yells “seed”). The student at the front of the line then writes the word on the whiteboard and has the teacher check the spelling. The teammates waiting in line can help the student writing by giving instructions, such as explaining which letter to replace or erase. Students are not allowed to spell out the whole word for the writer, and if a team uses this strategy, do not award them a point. When a writer shows the correctly spelled word, award their team one point and have the writer move to the dice rolling position. The next student in line erases the previous word and becomes the new writer. After a pre-determined amount of time, end the game and calculate points. Usually the best time frame is 10 minutes to keep students focused.
- Meaning focused: Have the second student in line draw a picture to connect the word with meaning as well as the spelling, or provide pictures for each word that the student shows to the teacher with the spelled word.
- Advanced level: Use the word in a sentence instead of only spelling the word.
This game engages students in a competitive classroom environment, which brings out their best efforts and improves essential language skills. My students enjoy playing this game in class, and I hope your students will too. Please feel free to use and enjoy the Spelling Dice game in your classroom.