ESL Spelling Games

Backdraw

ESL Spelling Game - Writing and Spelling Activity - Any Level - 20 minutes

This entertaining ESL spelling game is useful for practicing the spelling of recently studied vocabulary. Arrange the class into teams of equal size. Have the teams sit down in rows facing the board. There are two actions that the students need to know before playing the game. Tapping the shoulder means repeat the spelling. Nodding the head means okay continue. Show a different word with the same amount of letters to the student at the back of each row. That student draws the word, letter by letter onto the back of the person in front of them. For example, if the word was 'taxi', the student would draw the 'T'. If the student in front of them knows the letter, they nod their head. If they are unsure of the letter, they tap their shoulder so the student can re-write the letter on their back. This continues until the word is complete. Then, the next student draws the word onto the back of the person in front of them. When the word reaches the person at the front of the line, the student stands up and writes it on the board. The first team to spell the word correctly scores a point. The student at the front then moves to the back and everyone moves up one space. The game then continues with a new word and so on. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. For higher-level students, you can have them write complete sentences.
 

Blind Speed Spell

ESL Spelling Game - Writing and Spelling Activity - Any Level - 20 minutes

Here is an amusing team game for practicing spelling. Divide the students into four teams. Have one player from each team come to the board. Give each player a chalk or marker and have them put on a blindfold. Say a word you want the students to spell. The players then race to spell the word as quickly as they can on the board. If you want to make the game more entertaining, you can have the players start further away from the board. You can also have the players spin around a few times and have their teammates direct them to the board by giving directions. The first player to spell the word correctly in a readable format scores three points for their team, the second player scores two points and the third player scores one point. A new player from each team then comes to the board and the game continues with a new word. Continue the game until everyone has had a chance to play. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. For higher-level students, you can give the players sentences to write.
 

Chopsticks

ESL Spelling Game - Any Level - 20 minutes

Here is a fun game to help students practice or revise spelling. Position two desks at the front of the class and place a pair of chopsticks on each desk. Spread out two sets of letter cards on the floor. Divide the students into two teams. Allocate a desk and set of cards to each team. Call out a word for the two teams to spell. One player from each team stands up and runs to their assigned desk, picks up the pair of chopsticks, runs to their set of cards and tries to pick up the first letter of the word with the pair of chopsticks. When a player has managed to pick up the letter card, they place the card face up on the desk using the chopsticks and run back to their seat. As soon as a player has sat down, another member of the teams stands up and repeats the process with the second letter of the word. The first team to place all the letters of the word on the desk in order wins the round and scores one point. A new word is then called out for the teams to spell and so on. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Flower Power

ESL Spelling Game - Writing and Spelling Activity - Young Learners - 20 minutes

This spelling game is ideal for young learners. Draw three flowers on the board. The flowers should have six petals each. Write a letter in the centre of each flower and write one letter on each petal. The three flowers should contain different letters. Divide the students into three teams and give each team a chalk or marker. Have each team stand in a line facing their flower. The first player from each team runs to the board and writes a word beginning with the centre letter and containing a letter from one of the petals. The player then runs back to their team and the next student goes to the board and writes another word beginning with the centre letter and containing a letter from one of the other petals. This continues until one team has written a word for all six petals. Each team scores one point for every letter in a correctly spelled word. Play several rounds using different letters each time. The team with the most points wins the game.
 

Remix

ESL Spelling Game - Any Level - 15 minutes

This is an engaging ESL spelling game for students of all ages. Arrange the students into two teams. A player from each team comes to the board. Give each player a marker or chalk. Read out a jumbled word, depending on the students' level you could read or spell the word. The players write the jumbled word on the board and race to put the letters in the right order. The first player to put the letters into the correct order scores a point for their team. Then, two new players come to the board and so on. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
 

Spell or Draw

ESL Spelling Game - Spelling and Drawing Activity - Any Level - 15 minutes

This ESL spelling game can be used to review vocabulary. Divide the students into two teams. Assign each team member with a number. Call out a student number. The two students with that number run to the board. Ask the two students if they want to spell or draw. Once the students have chosen what they want to do, give them a word you want them to review. The first student to successfully spell or draw the word scores a point for their team. Then, call out another student number and so on. The team with the highest number of points at the end of the game wins.
 

Spelling Grid

ESL Spelling Game - Any Level - 20 minutes

Here is a Tic-Tac-Toe style spelling game to help students practice vocabulary. Divide the students into two teams. Draw a three-by-three Tic-Tac-Toe grid on the board and write a different letter in each square. Have the two teams play rock-paper-scissors to see who will play first. The winning team chooses a letter from the grid. Give the team a word to spell that begins with the chosen letter. The team then has 20 seconds to spell the word. If the team spell the word correctly, they win the square and mark it with an O or X symbol. It's then the other team's turn to choose a letter and so on. When a team gets three squares in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, they win the round and score a point. If there is a tie, the team with the most squares wins. Play several rounds changing the letters in the grid each time. The team with the most points at the end wins the game.
 

Spelling Knockout

ESL Spelling Game - Any Level - 20 minutes

Here is an elimination style spelling game for students of all ages. Draw an elimination chart on the board for the number of students in the class. Give each student a slip of paper and ask the students to write their name on the paper and then hand it back. Mix up the names. Then, draw the names out one by one and write them in the chart. Each student competes against the classmate they are paired with in the chart. Pairs take it in turns to come up to the board. Give each student a marker or chalk. Call out a word for the two students to spell. The first student to spell the word correctly moves onto the next round. Continue until there is one ultimate champion. That student is named the class spelling champion until the next time you decide to play.
 

Spelling Race

ESL Spelling Game - Any Level - 15 minutes

Here is an energetic spelling game to play with large classes. Divide the students into four teams. Have each team stand in a line in front of the board. Hold up a flashcard with a picture on it and ask the teams to spell the corresponding word. The first student in each team runs to the board and writes the first letter of the word. The student then runs back to their team and tags the next person, who runs to the board and writes the next letter and so on. If a student makes a mistake, the next student can correct it but cannot write the next letter. The first team to spell the word correctly scores a point. Play several rounds. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

The Spelling Game

ESL Spelling Game - Any Level - 20 minutes

Here is a highly amusing game for revising spelling. Divide the students into equal teams. Have the teams sit in rows facing the board and assign each team with a number. Give the teams a word to spell. Teams then take it in turns to attempt to spell the word. The student at the front of each team always starts with the first letter of the word. The next student in the team says the second letter and so on, down the line until the word is complete. If it is a long word and the spelling has reached the last student, the spelling goes back to the player at the front. Students are not allowed to help each other or write anything down. Each student must be focused on the spelling of the word and his or her position in the team for the team to spell the word correctly. If a team member is too slow to respond, is not paying attention or says the wrong letter. Immediately go to the next team. When a team spells the word correctly, they score a point. Play several rounds. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. The game may sound easy, but even the most basic word may take a few attempts before it is spelled correctly. This is because all the students must concentrate and know the correct spelling of the word.
 

Up the Ladder

ESL Spelling Game - Elementary and Above - 15 minutes

This entertaining game is ideal for revising spelling and categories of words. Divide the students into four teams. Draw four ladders on the board. Each ladder should have six rungs. Have the teams line up in front of their ladder. Choose a category, e.g. jobs. Ask each team to give you the name of a job. This will be the team's starting word. Each team's starting word should be different. When you say 'go', the student at the front of each team runs to the board and writes their starting word on the bottom of the ladder. The student then races back and gives the chalk or marker to the next student, who uses the last letter of the word as the beginning letter of the next word. If a student misspells a word, the next student can correct it, but cannot write a new word. The first team to get to the top of the ladder with all the category words spelled correctly wins the round and scores a point. Play several rounds choosing a different category each time. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Word Chain

ESL Spelling Game - Spelling and Speaking Activity - Young Learners - 10 minutes

This is a quick ESL spelling game that is very simple to set up and play. Have all the students stand up. One student begins by saying a word in English. The next student must then say a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word. This process is repeated from student to student. If a student answers incorrectly, repeats a word or can't think of a word, they are out and have to sit down. The game then restarts with a new word. The last student left standing is the winner.
 

World Cup Spelling

ESL Spelling Game - Any Level - 15 minutes

Here is a fast-paced spelling game based on the game football. Create a space in the classroom to play the game. Divide the class into two teams. Play rock-paper-scissors to see which team will kick off. Give a ball to a player in the starting team. The player starts the game by saying a letter, e.g. 's'. The player then throws the ball to a teammate. That player has three seconds to add another letter to try to form a word, e.g. 'e'. The ball is then thrown to another teammate who adds another letter, e.g. 'n'. This continues until a word is formed. If the team manages to make a word, e.g. the next player says 'd' to form the word 'send', the team scores a goal. Award one point for each letter in the word, e.g. send = 4 points. Play then passes to the other team. If a player drops the ball or says a letter which cannot go on to form a word, the team loses its turn and the other team takes possession of the ball. The other team then has a chance to score a goal from the letters already formed or they can start a new word. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
 
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