Spell It

The Basics:

Spell It is a game for large groups. I have played it with groups as large as 100 and as small as 30. The teacher prepares cards (Standard printer paper is good…) with one letter per page. The cards need to be heavy on the vowels, light on letters that would score high in scrabble. Everyone gets a card and is asked to stand and mill about in a large open area. (A gym, cafeteria, or outdoor field would work.) The leader then calls out a number between 3 and 6. Players must then run around and arrange themselves into a real, school appropriate word with that many letters in it. They must do this in a limited amount of time (2 minutes?). When time is up, anyone who is not part of a word is out as well as any group that did not produce an actual word. At this point the game continues with the leader calling out a different number and the groups that are left have two minutes to reform into a word with that many letters. The process continues until there is only one word left.

In the Classroom:

  • This is a great “mixer” game for large groups. I play it as a first day of school activity for a team of 100 middle schoolers. They move around, interact, cheer on team mates.

  • The key is to keep it moving quickly. Don’t waste any time discussing—call out the next word.

  • Get the kids who are out involved by “voting” for the best word with how loud they can cheer…

Curriculum Connections:

There are not a ton of connections to be made here, but in my opinion, any time you have a group of students having fun and interacting by spelling out words it is a win for education and literacy!!!!


I found this game in one of my favorite books. It is called Play It! by Wayne Rice and Mike Yaconelli. It was written as a resource for church youth pastors. The best part about it was how it was organized (first by group size, and then by outdoor and indoor games. They also had special chapters for relays and mixers.) The worst part is that it is no longer in print. They expanded it and broke it up into a series, which I am sure are fabulous, but I have stuck to the original, even though it is falling apart.