Spelling Games for 2nd Grade

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Second grade students are eager to be good spellers, but sometimes lack the necessary tools to be proficient. This lesson provides engaging games students will love to play over and over.

Games and Learning

Second grade students' reading and writing skills are emerging. As they learn to decode and encode, they need a strong foundation and understanding of how letters come together to form words. Teaching students the alphabetic principle, the concept that letters are representations of sounds and these letters form words in writing, allows students to understand phonetic rules necessary to be successful spellers.

The rules of phonics can sometimes seem like a moving target. Think about the long /a/ sound, which can be made by combining 'ay,' 'ai,' 'ey,' and 'a' as a standalone, to name a few. When children understand the rules of spelling and phonics, they will read, spell and write confidently. Sound boring? It doesn't have to be. Using games to help students practice spelling skills is a great way to keep them interested in learning. Let's take a look.

Rolling Along

This game is played using an existing spelling list and a die. Assign each number on the die an activity. Use these as a starting point:

1=write spelling words in rainbow colors

2=write spelling words 3 times each

3=write spelling words with your non-strong hand

4=say your spelling words while standing on one foot

5=create a four sided shape with your spelling words

6=write your spelling words in cursive

Create a simple sign to hang up in the spelling area, or send home as a homework assignment. Change the criteria up often to keep students interested. Watch for specific ways you can tap into your students' particular needs with this game. For example, if you have students who are tactile learners, incorporate activities that allow students to touch and feel.

  • Tip - Allow students to suggest or create criteria to increase engagement. Students of all levels can come up with ideas they'd like to see on this game. Have a host for the week, or a suggestion box.


To practice a spelling list, students will choose from three activities you list on 3 by 3 grid sheet to make a tic-tac-toe. To create, choose 9 activities, each tapping into a different learning skill. For example, you may choose to have one art activity, one writing, two rote practice, one movement, etc. Here's an example:

Write spelling words with a red pen Shine a flashlight on letters to make words Do jumping jacks as you spell your words
Type your words on the computer Use each word in a sentence Make a caterpillar with your words
Give a friend a spelling test Make your words using letter tiles Write your words in ABC order
  • Tip - If you notice students choosing the same type of activities over and over again, yet they're succeeding in spelling, that's okay. This lets you know it's working!

Pick Up Sticks

To play this game, write each spelling word on a craft stick - colored ones are best. Place in a cup. Students play the same way pick-up sticks is played. At a table or on the floor, tip the cup so sticks gently fall out. Students need to pull one stick out without moving the others. Before they pull a stick, they should name the word, close their eyes, and spell it. If they can remove the stick without disturbing others, they get to keep it.

  • Tip - Teach students they'll need to put their patient pants on to play this game. It often takes a few rounds before sticks are far apart enough to be picked cleanly.

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