Most Little Hearts kids are enjoying the long annual break from school, but in order to keep their minds sharp and their spirits high, head teacher Rosahlee and caretaker Roxanne organised a challenging spelling bee on October 12th. The game was not only fun and competitive, but also a perfect educational activity, especially for anyone interested in arcane words and rare vocabulary.
All the kids (minus those preparing for their national baccalaureate exams or busy with university work) were placed in three teams, each team dressed in one of the colours featured in the Little Hearts logo – red, blue and green.
The first team, outfitted in red, named themselves Team BEE-Utiful. They were led by Michael, and their slogan was Spell It Right, Win the Crown. The second team, clad in blue, were The BEElievers. They were led by Noah and competed under a banner that read Don’t Stop Beelievin’. But it was the green team, led by Dalin and known as The BEEtles, sporting the slogan Let It Be (of course!), who were the overall champions of the spelling bee, winning in four of the five categories.
The first of the five contests was a regular spelling challenge, where each team in turn was given difficult words to spell out. This was followed by a game of Dice & Letters, where teams must form a word using letters drawn at random. The third category was Body Spelling, in which team members must bend, twist, arch and stretch themselves to form individual letters with their bodies so as to spell out a given word (think of this as an acrobatic human alphabet).
The fourth contest was a word scramble, in which each team was given a long and difficult word with the letters all jumbled up. The fastest team to solve the puzzle and correctly form the word won the round. For example, the BEEtles were able to solve the anagram of ‘silicosis’, a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny silica particles. (Did you know that “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” is the longest word to be found in an English dictionary? This 45-letter monster was invented in 1935; it refers to a particular type of silicosis contracted from the inhalation of fine silica particles from a volcanic eruption.) Another doozy featured in the word scramble contest was “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, an adjective that means grand, splendid, or wonderful. This deliberately nonsensical word was made popular by the 1964 Disney musical Mary Poppins, in which it appears as the title of a song. The fifth and final category was a straight-up vocabulary contest, in which the kids had to guess the meaning of the words they were assigned.
The winning team received a big box of cookies, as well as individual achievement certificates. But Tony was so pleased with the enthusiasm with which all the kids participated, their eagerness to learn, their creativity with the names, slogans and banners of their teams, and the camaraderie that was demonstrated by all despite differences in age and language skills, that he also gave pizzas as consolation prizes to each runner-up team. Three kids were chosen as the best individual players based on their contribution to their teams: Raphael (BEElievers), Charlie (BEEtles) and Michael (BEE-Utiful).
After completing the five language games (each with ten rounds), the children seemed quite spent! As the saying goes, “A tired mind is a sign of a day well spent”, and indeed everyone had a good time while taking part in the spelling bee, and many new and unusual words were learned by all.