Spelling in English isn’t much fun for native speakers, let alone for those learning English as a foreign language. This is a game that turns spelling into a fun puzzle game and is intended to make the process interesting and memorable.

The example below is for a class of eight to ten-year-olds of mixed ability revising animal vocabulary. Everything you need to play the game can be downloaded here and here. This is a template that could be used with any vocabulary set.


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Tile holder and vowel cards

First print out and cut up enough game pieces so that each student has a tile holder and a set of vowels. Then print and cut out enough word cards so you have a set for every pair of students. The word cards should be cut up and glued so that each card has a puzzle on one side and the solution on the other. I recommend laminating them or using thick card so they are durable enough to be re-used.

To introduce the game to the class show an example on the board: write a word your students will recognise but with the vowels missing. Then add numbers above the spaces.

spelling exampleIn my example I’ve picked football and drawn a quick visual cue. Students place vowels in the number slots on their tile holder to complete the word correctly. At this stage some students will want to shout out the answer but we want them to use the vowel cards so that they won’t reveal the answers to the other students. Monitor your students to check understanding and then write the correct answer on the board.

Example: students match the vowels with the numbers on the card by putting them on their tile holder. They then tun the card over to check their answer.

Students should now have a good grasp on how to use the vowel cards. Now hand out the word cards, with a set for every pair of students. These cards work exactly the same as our example on the board except that once students have made their guess they can turn the card over and check their answer. Students continue until they have completed all the cards. Early finishers can work together to make and solve their own spelling puzzles. With careful monitoring you should be able to see which words students are finding difficult.

There are two avenues for development with this game. Firstly, I plan to make further vocabulary sets aimed at younger learners. Secondly, I plan to make a version for adults with particular focus on the difficulties that Arabic speakers tend to have. This version would focus on phonemics and matching sounds to spelling.

The game pieces can be downloaded here. For my set of word cards I’ve used powerpoint, with subscript and superscript to position the numbers. You’re free to adapt these for your own vocabulary sets. However, it would be just as easy to make the cards by hand if you prefer. If you try the game with your class please let me know how it goes. I’m very keen to get feedback on all of my games.

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The pictures on the word cards were taken from pixabay.com.

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