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Witnessing Excellence: An Incredible Spelling Bee

Last week we were blessed to participate in something few people experience in real life:  We witnessed excellence in action.  The homeschool spelling bee was almost as breathtaking as a beautiful music or figure-skating performance.

In our homeschool spelling bee, the students traditionally spell words in rounds of ten, with those achieving 7/10 being allowed to participate in the next round.  Usually the bee is over after the second round.  This time Miss 10 made it to the second round and did well, which was a great accomplishment in itself.

Four spellers, including Miss 13, moved on to the third round.  Then the real competition began.  We were astonished by Miss 13’s spelling.  She earned third prize by correctly spelling words like ‘carcinogenic’, ‘germicidal’, and ‘icteroid’, although she missed ones like ‘rhabdomancy’, ‘verapamil’, ‘sfogato’, and ‘pyxidium’.

The top two spellers flawlessly spelled words like ‘tomentose’, ‘agnathia’, ‘wallaroo’, ‘dioecious’, ‘atractaspis’ and ‘nacreous’ and only stumbled over ‘tuatara’, ‘rillettes’, ‘cuadrilla’, and ‘pargasite’.

Witnessing such skill at a local spelling bee was an exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime experience and we are blessed to have been a part of it.  We are also very thankful for the accomplishments of our two spellers.

This post is part of the Carnival of Homeschooling .  Please visit to  read more posts from the trenches of daily homeschooling life.


  1. kat says:

    Oh, you are making me very nervous indeed! Our son (12) is going to be in his first spelling bee (homeschoolers only) on Thursday and he wouldn’t be able to spell any of those words. Well, he has learned to spell a good deal more words now than he did back in October.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Oh, Kat, I’m sorry! This was absolutely NOT how most HS spelling bees work. Usually the words are much, much simpler.

      It’s because it was so amazing and incredible that I posted about it. Apparently the level of competition at our little HS bee was at the level of a national bee because some of the spellers were so gifted.

      Don’t worry, your son will do well if he learned the words on the lists. I always tell my children that the goal is to learn to spell, to learn to conquer the nervousness of speaking in front of a group, and to learn to compete in a generous way.

      Annie Kate

  2. Sarah says:

    Spelling bees are not something you come across very often here in the UK. In fact, I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever heard of one. Spelling is not championed here at all. Mind you, if there were words like those you mentioned I would struggle and I’ve always been a good speller – not even heard of half those words – oh dear!

  3. Annie Kate says:

    Hey, I hadn’t heard of most of those words either! Nor had my daughter, but after asking the language of origin of the words, the good spellers were able to puzzle out the spelling of many of them.

    Usually spelling bee words are much simpler. Here’s information about the bee in Canada: http://www.canada.com/canspell/index.html The study guide is called Spell It! 2011 and is available in the sidebar. You’ll see that the words are not easy, but I used to pick out the easiest ones for the younger kids to learn. (It’s for grades 4-8.) This year, I was hardly involved at all. It’s a good way for kids to learn to spell and adds some shine to an otherwise less-interesting subject.

    Annie Kate

  4. Briana says:

    Congrats to your daughters! Sounds like a fun night.

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