“Bee-me up, Scotty! Let us conquer the dictionary!”

Spelling is one of the first educational activities any child is exposed to, sometimes even before starting school. Research has found that spelling, reading, writing and comprehension skills are all closely linked. Exposing young minds to a vast number of words can reap gigantic benefits - success in school, on standardized tests, and indeed, in life. After all, words are the basis for knowledge of any topic.

English is the primary language of human communication across the globe even though it is a hodge-podge of many world languages. One can learn many things by preparing for and participating in a spelling bee. Learning spelling expands the speller’s vocabulary with many new words derived from prominent languages resulting in spellers becoming voracious readers, excellent writers and speakers. In addition, digging deep into the etymological information can help us understand the history of various geographical regions and their cultural evolution and become more tolerant of others..

An estimated 11 million kids participate in the annual Scripps Spelling Bee. As many world class spellers point out, the ultimate goal is to defeat the dictionary - the Merriam-Webster Unabridged 3rd edition, by being able to learn to spell as many words as possible. Preparing for spelling bees can span multiple years of effort and learning the tricks and tips can cut down the preparation time tremendously.

Rote-memorization can be the first step for a speller. However, learning better techniques and concepts such as etymology, diacritical marks and their relation to phonemes and graphemes to ingest the 470,000+ words in the dictionary is a must to be able to formulate the spelling for words that the speller may have never seen or studied. In addition to gaining the knowledge, the preparation helps master important life skills such as time management and motivation.

With the spelling bee program, the student will be able to learn the fundamentals of these skills. Using this foundation, they will be able to delve into more advanced material as they progress through their spelling journey.


The coaching program will be a total duration of 8 hours over 8 weeks with 1 hour session each week.


Reading books to collect words and etymological information.
Study word lists with an understanding of groupings.


  • JSB - Grades 1 through 3
  • SSB - Grade 4+ or exceptional in Grade 3

SSB Syllabus

The structure of the program is as follows:

Session 1 and 2 : Basics
Spelling Bee competition format and overview of preparation plan
Introduction to diacritical marks and Etymology using Merriam-Webster online dictionary and/or Merriam-Webster unabridged dictionary
Etymology practice using NorthSouth provided word list (~1000 words)
Building a study plan for long term success
Students will spend time exploring hands-on

Sessions 3 and 4 : Rules
Common Spelling Rules covering troublesome words
Foreign Sounds and Language Specific Rules
Student led quiz - Purpose: learn to say diacritical marks properly and learn to quiz

Sessions 5 and 6 : Roots
Learning roots the right way - recognizing the root “family”
Roots practice with the most common languages (Middle English, Greek, Latin, German, Italian and French)
Student led quiz to learn to say diacritical marks properly and learn to quiz

Sessions 7 and 8 : Advanced Topics
Rules and roots for non-common languages
Dealing with unknown words and sounds
Review study plans and provide tips
Mock bee

Please contact coaching@northsouth.org for any further questions