“Spelluride” Games

Written by Barboria Bjarne

You may not have been to Telluride in Colorado, named for the gold telluride mineral found in the region, but you can mine for the golden treasure of knowing how to spell. Even better than gold, knowing how to spell lets the student concentrate on forming ideas on paper. Spelling should be effortless and become second nature while writing.

The easiest way to learn to spell and to increase vocabulary power is to play games aimed at memorizing short rhyming words and then creating amusing sentences to practice wordsmithing. Then a wonderful thing happens: new topics to discuss are discovered which whet the appetite for learning more about the subject touched on in the whimsical games (for example, sports scoring).

Game #1 – Rhyming Short Words

Rhyming short words is the most basic and easiest game. Start by going through the alphabet, for example at, bat, cat, fat, hat, (Kit)Kat, mat, pat, rat, sat, (tit for) tat, and vat

Then change the vowel and continue with bot, cot, dot, got, hot, jot, lot, not, pot, rot, and sot

Then change again, but this time use a new consonant like bod, cod, God, mod, nod, odd (note the consonant doubling), pod, rod, sod, and Todd.

Game # 2 - Playful Sentences with Short Rhyming Words

Create playful sentences using very short rhyming words like the following example.

“I wish I had gotten more rotten batten. Then I could add soot and hoot and make a goop.” 

The talk may lead to make-up ingredients, the role of make-up in everyday life or in the theatre, its history, and the career of a make-up artist.

Here is another example.

“I don’t snore, but I adore to yell ‘Fore!’ and pore over the golf lore of under par score of 54.”  

This may generate a discussion of the golf game, its type of scoring (and that of other sports’ games), and what it brings to golfers (easy exercise, spending time in nature and in beautiful places, an opportunity to talk, companionship, etc.).

Or the student could try this.

“I am a humble bumblebee, so wee that you can hardly see me, be I ever so well-dressed in a stripey tee. Hee, hee! Excuse me, I will buzz a loud zee, being a busy wee bumblebee.” 

The discussion may turn to the sound of insects, their fancy colours, or perhaps even the butterfly metamorphosis cycle.

Here are more rhyming examples.

“When I borrow a book, I love to read it in a quiet, cozy nook.” 

“We booked a trip for five and took a ride with a guide to the other side of the Great Divide.” 

Note the silent u in guide and that the sayings opened the opportunity to rhyme and to introduce subjects of favourite reading spots and geography about the Great Divide. Before you know it, the family will be at the end of the trip.

Game # 3 - Silly Poems

Once you get to longer, multi-syllable words, create more silly or funny poems just for the laughter points. 

“My witty kitty, I bet you can’t get your soft mitty on my pretty little ditty.” 

“The private pirate ate my bait for the fish dish to make a cake for a winner of a dinner.” 

“Golly Molly, a ride on the trolley with your dolly is a jolly folly.”

Game # 4 -  Identify Rule Exceptions

Identify if an exception to the rule exists such as the same spelling but different meaning, for example, the word steer as in “Snorting noisily, young steers pawed the ground.” as opposed to “The ship captain steers the large vessel to the lakeside dock.” You may also explain that these two words represent two different parts of the speech: the former is a noun and the latter is a verb.

Game # 5 - Same But Different 

Look for words which are spelled almost the same but pronounced differently such as giver and fiver, river and rival, bitter and biter, litter and lighter – each word can be used in a simple sentence, introducing a fresh topic to discuss. 

Game # 6 - Spelled Different, Sound the Same

Identify words with the same pronunciation but different spellings like pretty and witty, smite and right, volley and Polly, soup and goop. This game may take some preparation from the mom or dad to be aware of different pairs of words fitting this pattern and may be better played at home with a dictionary at hand. 

An example of using such a pair of words would be the following.

“A driver led a sled loaded with lead, full speed ahead, with plans to make a coal bed.” 

OK, what is a coal bed? Aha, who would have known that it is a survival technique in the wilderness, making it an opening for a discussion of living in the wild.

Game # 7 - Find the Adjectives

Find the greatest number of adjectives for a noun. This is not a rhyming game, but it encourages expanding the description of objects and increasing vocabulary power. Select an object, let’s say a car, and describe it. Use the following possibilities.

  • colours (red, green)
  • patterns (striped, checkered, polka-dotted) 
  • moods (personify it – smiley, happy, shy) 
  • sizes (tiny, narrow, humongous, mammoth, giant)
  • kinds (police car, fire truck, van), etc.

Benefits to Rhyming Games 

There are many benefits to playing rhyming games.

  1. The vocabulary “jogging” creates a memory of fun times rather than that of a boring chore.
  2. The creativity is unleashed to produce memorable funny rhymes and ditties.
  3. The “spelluride” games make time pass faster while traveling long distances.
  4. Increased vocabulary and confidence in spelling contribute to better reading and writing skills. These skills spill into other areas of learning, allowing the homeschooler to concentrate on idea development and argument support in essay writing.
  5. Children have different gifts and styles of learning. Even those students who are leaning more toward the technical side might enjoy the challenge of coming up with creative rhymes rather than just straight memorization of spelling the words.
  6. The games speed up the response time when playing games like Scrabble and Bananagrams.
  7. Parents and children can match wits creating playful rhymes.
  8. The “spelluride” games engage children to make up their own games and postpone the inevitable “Are we there yet?” question. That may be one of the best reasons for playing these games during long trips. 

Go ahead and try some of the “spelluride” game suggestions on your next trip. Happy learning while traveling!

Find more ideas on teaching spelling in How to Help Young Children Learn To Spell.

Barboria Bjarne is a freelance writer and artist. She has written, illustrated, and self-published two children’s books: Quanny and Danny (rhyme) and Grayson and the Crumbly, Grumbly, Rumbly Cookie (prose).

Before she had started writing essays and children’s books, Barboria has had many roles: professional tennis player and tennis pro, accountant, homeschooling mom, medical researcher, raw food nutritionist, and tutor…but now she’s engaged in her two favorite endeavors – fine art and writing for children and adults.

Barboria Bjarne lives with her family close to the Rockies, growing lavender on her urban homestead when not writing or painting. Visit her at

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).