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Having A Ball While Spelling

Updated: Mar 18

This is the 3rd article in a 5 part series on how to gamify spelling. The first article looked at teaching jumping and spelling, the second was a more sedentary activity using spelling bingo but this week we are getting physical again with a throwing and catching spelling game.


Having a ball while Spelling!

Spelling is one of those skills which seems to be slowly fading into non-existence or at least lacks the importance placed on subjects like STEAM. Yet it is a very important skill especially when it comes to any form or writing. All too often I read Facebook posts, news articles or blogs and see people have used the wrong form of a homophone. How often do you see “to” where they mean “too” or “their”, “there” and “they’re” used interchangeably seemingly regardless of the actual meaning or context in which they are placed. This is why we teach spelling in schools so that our students know the difference and can use the correct form of each word when required. Well hopefully anyway.

But you are not here for a lesson on grammar you are here to find out how you can gamify spelling using a ball.

Today’s activity allows students to practise and improve their hand eye coordination while reading or orally spelling each of their list word. This is a great activity for reluctant writers and students who do not like sitting for extended periods of time. This activity also builds teamwork and sharing and tolerance of others who may be less physically adept.

This activity can be completed inside or outside and any ball can be used or a balloon for added gamification – more about this later. Students can be matched by ball handling skills or spelling level ability and can be in groups of 3 or 4 as suits your space and number of balls available. Each group will need a ball and a copy of their words to be practised and a pencil to mark any words that need to be revised later.

To begin, 2 students stand fingertip distance apart with the 3rd student on the side holding the list of words.

The students with the ball take it in turn to spell one letter each of the word called to them by the student with the list. The student with the list can record who started spelling the word and if either student made a mistake as shown below.

If the students are able to spell the whole word without dropping the ball they can take a step away from each other to practise throwing over a longer distance. Students should not be more than 4 paces apart as hearing each other spell the words may become challenging and interfere with other teams spelling practise.

Once the word has been spelt students rotate so that the student with the list is now throwing and catching and each student has an equal turn of throwing, catching and recording. This activity can be repeated a number of times to allow all the students in the group to spell each word and possibly even to change who starts spelling each word depending on the time available and how often the ball is dropped and retrieved during this activity.

As an added gamification technique, and additional learning, students could be given a balloon and a ball. You have a timer and when the spelling game starts all teams use their balloon but if they pop you call out the time when they pop.

The announcer at the time records when the balloon popped and the teams keep a graph of this time over the term to see if they can increase the time they can keep their balloon from popping over future games. This will be a record of improved hand eye coordination and teamwork at its best.

Let me know how long your class is able to keep their balloon from popping and any other additional gamification strategies you have such as limiting the time students have to complete all their list words thus adding the element of scarcity of time to the activity.

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