10 key points you should know about Spelling Bee


Spelling bee competitions have always garnered the interest of a large part of the population in the United States of America.
From aspiring students to their enthusiastic parents, Spelling Bee has evolved from just a contest to a popular culture that affects every school, neighborhood and child in the country. 

The lure of deep media coverage along with a hefty cash prize is known to intensify the Spelling Bee spirit with children spending hours in preparation, every week before the contest.  

Spelling Bee, which is now a popular feature during the academic years of every child, throughout the country, has been part of the American folk tradition for more than a few hundred years.  

1. Origins

The earliest evidence of Spelling Bees can be traced back to the 1700s as a part of Colonial Education by the Puritans.
Throughout the mid-18th century, spelling contests which were often called as spelling matches were quite common in schools.
Even Benjamin Franklin recommended the use of such contests in a school proposal published in 1750.

The National Spelling Bee or more commonly known as Scripps National Spelling Bee has been regularly held since 1925. 
Since its inception, Spelling Bee has amassed a massive following and is seen as a platform to fulfill academic aspirations. The main reason for popularity- parents want to see their children succeed and want the world to acknowledge their brilliance and might. 
Every year, more than 11 million kids fight their way to the top, dodging spelling challenges at school, city and regional level spelling bees to become one of the few hundred finalists for the national finals. The Spellingbee Contest is not just an event, it is the story of our culture, language and hard work of millions of kids who experience the first taste of persistence, commitment, resourcefulness, discipline and even failure, to evolve in life. 

2. Spelling bee and Language

Spelling Bee is the story of modern English language which has been an instrumental part of the American lifestyle for years. The aspiring students are not just competitors, they turn into passionate etymologists who learn to dig deeper into lingual patterns, scrounge the history of words, master the mysteries of the language and find their way to lingual supremacy.

In a way, Spellingbee is not just about spellings of some random words- it’s about how our language was built, developing vocabulary, grammar, leading and comprehension skills and evolving oneself as an individual who is highly analytical and pragmatic. 
Moreover, it’s not just about how the language evolved over the years, it’s about how the national challenge evolve a child’s skills and how he deals with the challenges beyond. It wouldn’t be wrong to say participating in Spellingbee is like an adventurous saga that requires a child to invest countless hours into research, mastering his fears of spontaneous recitation and tackling the unforeseeable challenge.  

In the end, all of this hard work and dedication colludes into an annual gala where hundreds of promising young minds gather to find out who has been the most committed to achieve something great in life.

Spelling Bee participants
Hundreds of promising young minds gather to find out who will be the spelling champion for this year.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Spelling Bee gives a child a glimpse into realism and the American lifestyle.
It defines who we are, what it means to nurture an American dream and how to make the best out of available resources.
This folk tradition which started centuries back has taught many generations the value of never giving up on dreams and be the best version of themselves. 

This website is, as well as the home of our training application, a tribute to the Spelling Bee culture, hundreds of winners and millions of children who have nurtured Spellingbee into a global phenomenon, today.  In this website, you will find many information on Spelling Bee Contests and how to prepare effectively for winning a contests 

3. The Bee in the USA

Spelling Bee has been on the American academic landscape for more than two hundred years.
According to several sources, the first usage of a similar word like ‘spelling bee’ dates back to the year 1769 when it might have been called the ‘spinning bee’.

Spelling competitions were a common feature of the American landscape by the middle of the eighteenth century.
Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers even suggested Spelling Bee Contests to be a regular part of schooling curriculum in one of his proposal in the year 1750.
By the nineteenth century, Spelling challenges had been a popular aspect of American life, both for children and the adults. It was part of the pop culture and even found mentions in novels like The Hoosier Schoolmaster- a bestseller published in 1871 in which the hero falls in love with a woman competitor in a spelling match. Spelling fights was even mentioned in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

4. The Term ‘Bee’

Spelling Bees were commonly known as spelling matches at that time. The phrase got the modern uplift in the mid 1870s where first time the match was called as a Spelling Bee.
The earliest known documented evidence of the phrase “spelling bee” dates back to 1850 and appeared in print in 1875.  

The Term ‘Bee’ referred to a social gathering or event with a common goal, back then, which in this case was to compete on knowledge of spellings. 
A key motivation for the competition was The Noah Webster’s spelling books which were first published in 1786 and known informally as ‘The Blue-backed Speller’. 
The Webster’s spelling book was a prerequisite part of the syllabus of all elementary school Kid in the United States for five (5) generations. As of now, the main-key reference for the competition is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary which contains approximately 473,000 words presently, which students should have the capability to spell.  

5. Growth of the Spelling Bee

National Spelling Bee, the way we see it today, is a national event held in Washington D.C. every year, where winners of local and regional bee contests congregate to compete in the national level competition. Managed and run by E.W. Scripps Company,
The National Spelling Bee contest has an interesting history attached to it.  

The first known instance of a nationwide spelling competition is known to date back to the year 1908 which was organized by the National Education Association.
But the initiative failed to gather much attention at that time. 
Later, during the year 1925, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, a famous newspaper house and organizer of state-level spelling contest in Kentucky for grade school children, asked other American newspapers to collaborate and sponsor children for participating in a national level contest. 

By the end of June 1925, more than 2 million children participated in local level competitions out of which 9 were shortlisted- representing one of the nine participating newspapers in the national initiative. These nine contestants competed at a national-level contest in Washington. 
Frank Neuhauser, an 11-year-old kid from Louisville won the inaugural contests by spelling the word Gladiolus’.  He won a cash prize of $500, back then
The event proved extremely popular and soon other newspapers joined forces to conduct national-level competition every year. 
In the year 1941, Scripps Newspaper group, won the sponsorship for National Spelling Bee contest, while local newspapers continued representing students at the regional level.
In 1958, National Spelling Bee contest became more structured when Merriam Webster affiliated with the National Spelling Bee to launch Webster’s Third Unabridged dictionary as the official arbiter of any word’s spelling.
Along with that, the company also began publishing a Spelling Bee study guide for contestants. 

Over the years, Scripps National Spelling Bee has turned into a national phenomenon. In its 92nd edition held in 2019, more than 565 contestants from all over the country participated against each other for the winning price.  

6. Prizes

The prizes have also been raised from nominal $500 in its first edition to $50.000 in its latest edition. Naturally, the popularity and media attention it receives has grown over the years too. 
Today, National Spelling Bee is a major television event with ESPN broadcasting the event annually since 1994
The journey of Spelling contests from a regional competition to a national (and even international) phenomenon has been exciting and phenomenally grand.People are fascinated by the Spelling Bee contests. The event has been broadcasted to millions of viewers globally.
Several documentaries and features have been made on the concept. Still, the passion and interest of the people hasn’t faded over all these years, even in the age of auto fills and spellchecks. Maybe, the dream of doing something big in life is what drives all these passionate children. Who knows what we have in the future? 

With increased interest from the students as well as the parents, the bar gets raised every year.
Incidentally, now contestants do not only need to have deep orthographic knowledge, but also a knack for spelling and great concentration levels along with the capability to deal with the pressure. 

7. Spellingbee Timeline

  • 1750 – Formal suggestion by Benjamin Franklin to include Spelling Contests in schools 
  •  1769 – Earliest mention of contests similar to Spelling Bee  
  •  1786 – Publication of the first Noah Webster Spelling Books  
  •  Mid 19th Century – Spelling contests became more popular and found mentions in novels, journals and newspapers. Coining of the term Spelling Bee 
  •  1908 – First national spelling competition held by National Education Association  
  •  1925 – The Courier Journal collaborated with other newspapers to begin a national level contest.  
  •  June 1925- First collaborative national level spelling contest won by Frank Neuhauser.  
  •  1941 – Scripps Newspaper Group won sponsorship rights for National Spelling Bee Contest  
  •  1946 – First broadcasted on NBC  
  •  1958 – Affiliation of National Spelling Bee with Merriam Webster to launch Webster’s Third Unabridged dictionary as official arbiter for spellings.  
  •  1994 – First broadcasted live on ESPN  
  •  2005 – First national bee held in USA with international participation from Bahamas, Jamaica, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Canada, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Germany, Canada & New Zealand2 

8. Spelling Bee preparation

As you probably understood at this point, this website is about spelling bee and spelling bee preparation, we do our best to deliver great resources to assist you in your journey toward the victory of your next spelling bee.

Here you will find many useful information and resources related to spelling bee: spelling words list, tutorials, information, techniques, articles about the most prestigious international spelling bee competitions and much more.

Last but not least: on this website you will also find our very special spelling bee preparation web app and a spelling bee preparation manual, a full book dedicated only to spelling bee.  Let’s see in details these valuable resources we are offering:

9. Spelling Bee Ninja webapp

This website is home of our very special spelling bee preparation web app, called Spelling Bee Ninja (or SBN).
Our web app is a very powerful tool that will boost your spelling skills and maximize your odds of succeeding very quickly.

Spelling Bee Ninja app dashboard
Spelling Bee Ninja app dashboard

SBN offers plenty of tools for spelling bee preparations as spelling tests, spelling list builder, spelling flashcards and a self learning trainer that can keep track of your progresses, SBN is very special cause it can learn about how difficult a word can be for a particular student.

Feel free to create a free account and explore the possibilities offered.

10. Mastering Spelling Bee

Mastering Spelling Bee is a manual dedicated to all the students studying for the next spelling bee, it is also a book for those willing to improve their spelling capabilities.

mastering spelling bee book

Find out more about the manual and checkithe official page.