Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bee a Speller!

I was always good at spelling. Very good! And what a life raft on the sea of Catholic elementary education that skill proved to be for me, to whom early instinct registered "i before e except after c" inside my third grade head. Had no eighth commandment admonishment on the delivery of falsehood accompanied my talent, I truly think I'd dare to say today that spell check itself was invented by "Miss Smarty Pants" - me!

Those school days were like none other....a roller coaster ride fraught with peril that ensured a moment's warming bask beneath the beaming gaze of a no-nonsense nun evaporated the second math books were opened. Ecstasy to agony. A leper without a colony. One who breathed the litany of the saints in prayerful hope of not being called upon for an answer she never had. The sweetest sound inside those rooms was sister's flustered sigh, "All right, (insert boy's name here) tell them the answer!" Whew! Safe for another day!

You'll never see me sponsoring a family Math-a-thon. Forget it. But a spelling bee? Let me at 'em! With the grandkids as my competent assistants, I pulled one off very successfully last Sunday afternoon for grandpa, our three daughters, and their husbands.

First step - Compile a list of dictionary words - not too easy, not too hard. Print them out. Figure on 10 words per person....less if you'll be serving beer or wine!

Secondly - For as long as it lasts, have grandkids pull words. Get them used to the idea that someday they'll be doing the spelling while today's contestants toss words to them!

Thirdly - When spellers "buzz out," have kids deliver a consolation prize of a bagged and beribboned cookie to take away some of the sting of "bee-ing" a loser.

Use a 4" Easter egg cutter for body and a 1.5" spice bottle cap for wings. Cut shapes from rolled sugar cookie dough. Cut circles in half.

Bake, cool, then dip wings in Royal icing. Divide icing. Tint half yellow. Frost bodies, leaving area on pointed end for head. Tint remaining icing black. Pipe head. Place sugar eyes immediately on top. Pipe stripes. Lay wings immediately on top.

Finally - Provide a grand prize to the Queen Bee -
or King Bee!

The winner's prize bag was decorated with a hand made "Champ-bee-un!" medal. Inside was a little hive of honey, a handful of cookies, a bumblebee notepad, and a gift card.

The results, in order of elimination:

1. Uncle Keenon? Well, not a very consistent speller!
2. Send Uncle Joe a memorandum! He needs to learn how to spell that word!
3. Aunt Christy couldn't handle syllable. Thought the word had far more than three of them!
4. I hope buzzing out on indelible doesn't leave a permanent mark on Mary Jo's spelling confidence!
5. Uncle Tom went out for a ride on equestrian. But!........
6. When Aunt Karen contracted a case of tuberculosis, the diagnosis was a sudden death playoff between her and Tom......
7. Which ended in a lopsided victory for him when Karen subbed a "b" for the "p" in that word!

L to R the buzzing bees of  Bree, Nick, and Sae

One more thing! To commemorate the event, each grandkid hand made a framed collage/potato print for use as a raffle prize. They sold their own tickets to eager customers, pulled winning names, and awarded prizes at contest's end

I sometimes reflect on early days of my education as described above. I weigh the benefits versus the cost to me in anxiety expended. Thanks to the good sisters, I have never (NEVER!) been late for a single appointment of any kind throughout my entire life. But I have an insufferable need to compete and win, sometimes at unpleasant cost. That obsession is matched with not only wanting things done right, but having them done right my way. I suppose the sisters believed they finished well with me, yet I'm not sure I endorse all of the methods they employed. Still....part of me often wanders into the territory of speculating outcomes for education today if nuns were allowed to greet students at the door, cheerfully relieving them of contraband with a hearty, "God Bless You, dear child!" and not a care in the world for the wrath of salivating lawyers. How evident might those results bee (oops! I mean "be!") at family spelling gatherings?

Any thoughts?......Just mind your spelling, young lady!


  1. This is wonderful. Spelling is so important and you have great ideas for making it more fun. Those cookies are absolutely adorable. I did not go to Catholic school. But I have won every single spelling bee in which I have ever competed. It's a little source of pride in my life. :)

  2. I bee-lieve that Bree is bee-utiful! Once again you have out done the rest of us with your spelling bee!

    While I had some great nuns for teachers over the years -- there were some others who were not so great - the ones that were into bee-littling and humiliating their students. I do think that overall I got a great education.

  3. I am not going to do this / it is too hard, lol!

    Would you just do something NORMAL for a change. Can't you just put cheerios onto construction paper like the rest of us ha ha ha

    Love you and all that you do ! You are AMAZING! :) I always hold my breath waiting for your next amazing post! :)

  4. You sure make learning fun and creative! Kids can learn without thinking it's hard! Enjoy your weekend and 'bee' happy!

  5. I also have a Catholic school to thank for my spelling abilities. Like you I cringe at the thought of doing mathy stuff. This spelling bee is elementary school-worthy. Great idea! !!

  6. These are the cutest cookies! What a great encouragement tool!

    I'd love if you linked up to Manic Monday tomorrow at 8pm EST.

    Renea (

  7. This is such a great idea - what a fun way to encourage little ones to enjoy spelling! My eldest has just started having spelling tests at school, we help him at home but he really doesn't like the learning them. I really need to try this as I think it will really encourage him to learn the words, maybe he could test US on the words but at the same time, it is sinking in to him how to spell them. Just brilliant, as always! Thank you for sharing such brilliant ways to make learning fun!

  8. What a fun idea! We have a family reunion in two weeks, and we might just have to use this!

  9. Oh how CUTE! And the second BEE-yootiful BEE idea for grandkids I've spotted today. I'm adding this to my Pinterest board, Grandparents & Grandchildren, for when I go to visit my younger grandkids. Thanks for the BEE-tastic idea :)

  10. Cute post. Love the pictures, your cookies look too cute to eat. Great idea to get involved early with the idea education is fun. Each and everyday, opportunities abound and I think many parents, grandparents, baby sitters etc loose opportunities. Kids learn best when they don't know they're "learning". I would have done better at math then spelling, at least during those early years. Thanks for swinging by. Love to have you join us Memory, I think you might enjoy my Flat Stanley Blog....with the kids in mind.

  11. I am a horrible speller.
    Those bees looks great.. and a great idea.

  12. Wonderful idea! I'm sharing this with my daughter who is a teacher (and former spelling bee champ!). Thank you. Now I must go eat a cookie...

  13. First - again a prize winning activity at your house - you have so much fun.

    And yes, spelling and punctuation have always been some of my strong points. Let me find an errant apostrophe and I almost go ballistic.

    And don't get me started on "unique" - the meaning of unique - existing as the only one. So why do people insist on saying "so unique", "very unique" etc. It can only be "unique" - which is one of a kind. Drives me completely bonkers - Don has been around me for so long (50 years now) that he catches himself before he says "very unique" - or even before he says "man hole cover" - (it is properly called utility worker cover) - women's lib is another favorite of mine. :-)

    I fear for our language as we use things like E.V.O.O (extra virgin olive oil) or U R in stead of you are - and then there is "I and me" - the rule being if it can stand alone in the sentence, it is correct. John and I went to town. John went to town, I went to town - correct usage. A picture of John and I - A picture of John, a picture of I - ohhhh so wrong. Or how about John and me went to town - John is correct but you can't say me went to town. Basics people, basics. And I didn't even go to Catholic School - I got my "learnin'" in public school.

    Ok - I'm done now.

  14. These are just darling cookies! I love your clear instructions. I was always smug about being a good speller until I read the book about how dictionaries are created and found out a dictionary is descriptive - how people do use words - instead of what I thought - prescriptive - how people should use words.

  15. What a great idea! I would love for you to share this at our kids linky I hope to see you there!

  16. You've got so many fabulous ideas in this post! :) I especially love your bee cookies - they're absolutely adorable. I'd be thrilled if you'd come on over to Pink Recipe Box and link up at Creative Wednesdays:

  17. How fun! I used to love spelling! I am finding now in my old age (haha) I am not quite as good as I used to be. It doesn't seem like spelling is as important in school as it used to be...I guess because everyone is on computers and there is spell check. But I love your idea and I love those adorable bee cookies! Visiting from Friendly Friday and A Dish of Daily Life!

  18. Always so fun at your house! LOVE the cookies!

  19. As we studied spelling last year, my oldest said, Mommie, I don't even know why I have to learn to spell, they have this thing on computers that spells for you!
    Then on the other hand, my husband spells so poorly spell check doesn't even know what he's trying to spell!!
    These are great cookies, I pinned to my group cookie board!

  20. Sounds like our elementary school experiences are very similar. These bee cookies are adorable and I love your idea of making spelling fun. I found you through Paula's GYB Saturday Dishes.

  21. I, too, loved to spell and read. Math did not come easy until well into my Masters degree and all of a sudden it clicked. My teacher heart (27 years in public ed) was touched. It is so very important to let our children and grandchildren know we value them and their education Blessing to you and yours! Marie

  22. I had to read this twice because I was chuckling, and I didn't want to miss something. Love the idea of a family spelling bee, and the cookies are absolutely wonderful. Again, you are in a league all by yourself with your bees! Now - Catholic schools. I attended from K-12 wearing plaid skirts, navy shorts underneath of course, white blouses, red clip on ties, and blazers in high school. Wouldn't the nuns of our days have loved Ipods, Iphones, and Angry Birds to name a few? But, besides the spelling, there was the diagraming of sentences. I can still do it in my head. LOL. Thanks, Joyce, for the trip down memory lane and the opportunity to wonder 'what if' as it applies to education today.

  23. Great ideas, and the cookies are so darn cute!! : )

  24. This is such a great idea! You are so creative, and your cookies are beautiful. My cookies never turn out, but maybe that is something I can work on. One of my goals is to become a better baker. I'll let you know how they turn out if I do!

  25. Love the bee cookies & great idea! Thanks for sharing @DearCreatives Theresa

  26. Super cute cookies! No way I would get my family to participate in something like that, but maybe one day my kids will have to have one!

  27. We so love your grandma projects! Great job and thanks for linking it up in the Bowdabra Crafty Showcase! Check out the new linky!

    Have a super week,
    Susie @Bowdabra

  28. Thanks for linking to Saturday Dishes.

    Linda @ Tumbleweed Contessa

  29. These are SO good! and FUN! I cant wait to try them out.
    Thanks for sharing on the hop!
    -Reshama @

  30. These cookies are absolutely adorable! Almost too cute to eat.

  31. Hi~ Just wanted to stop by and say Thanks for stopping in for a visit at Turnips 2 Tangerines:) Your cookies are so cute~ Having 2 teachers in my family they will love this idea! Also, there are several counties in Michigan that have Barn Quilts; go to and click on Michigan:) Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  32. OH gosh! If it weren't for spell check I couldn't write to save me, nope can't spell. I could do a pretty good job before Fibromyalgia got me, but after 25 yrs of it my brain is pretty slow. You though my friend, are very witty and I do love to read you. Love those cookies too, they are so perfectly made and pretty. A very fun time you had and created some great memories too.

  33. these cookies are beeyond beeutiful and unbeelievably cute! heehee :) did i spell that right?