These spelling games for kids are a fun way to practice spelling words at home or in the classroom! They make even something as mundane as spelling words fun enough that kids will be beginning to play these balloon word spelling games again and again!
This post has been sponsored by Balloon Time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Fun Spelling Games with Balloons
My son just started first grade and for the first time ever has lists of spelling words to learn. He doesn’t necessarily hate practicing his spelling words, but he definitely doesn’t like it either.
Just like when he was in preschool and I created letter based activities, I thought it would be fun to come up ways to make practicing his spelling words and sight words for reading more fun. Combine with these 1st grade learning games for fun + learning all in one!
I did a quick walk through the house to get some ideas and noticed that I had four, yes four, Balloon Time Standard Helium Tanks (two standard and two jumbo!) sitting in my garage. Somehow I forgot that I had one in the garage and bought another one. And another one. Pretty sure one of them is leftover from these balloon candy grams I made last year!
Not sure how I forgot though because honestly I always have at least one sitting around. We’re always using balloons around here whether it be for birthday party games, minute to win it games, or just to play keep the balloon in the air. And when you have lots of balloons, it only makes sense to have helium to go along with them!
It’s also way faster! Last time I went to a party store to get balloons inflated, it took me forever. And if you’ve been reading my blog long, you know I’m a last-minute kind of girl — so calling in an order ahead of time isn’t happening.
I brainstormed with my husband and we came up with nine different spelling games you can use to make practicing spelling just a little more fun!
These all use things I know we always have around the house so I’m guessing you do too. And if you don’t have a Balloon Time helium tank at home, I recommend you get one or two. Helium balloons make everything from parties to Mondays just a bit more fun.
You can watch the video in this post to see how easy it is to use balloons in these spelling games. Or just take it from my son’s impression in these photos.
These spelling games were way more fun than just practicing writing lists.
Spelling Games Supplies
All you need for all of these spelling games is:
- Spelling words (I just printed mine out on white cardstock from my son’s spelling list)
- Bag, bucket, or bowl of some sort of hold the words
- Large latex balloons
- Balloon ribbon (if you want a color other than white – each Balloon Time tank comes with white ribbon included)
- Balloon weights
- Buckets (to put the balloons in)
- Vinyl letters, stickers, or a permanent marker (I prefer one of the first two)
- Balloon Time Standard Helium Tank (you can use the jumbo one too!) – buy it here!
Spelling Games Setup
All of these games requirement the same amount of setup, and that’s very little.
Since you’ll be using helium in the balloons and helium doesn’t last forever, I recommend blowing up the balloons maybe an hour before you’re going to play. This would be the perfect thing to do right before school pickup!
And be careful – adult supervision is required when using balloons. Please read all warnings and precautions on the Balloon Time box before use.
While the tanks are super lightweight, they’re still not safe for kids to use. Let the kids help with something else – not filling up the balloons with helium!
Here’s all you need to do to get ready to play.
- Print or write out your spelling words on little cards
- Fill balloons with helium using the Balloon Time tank.
- Tie ribbons and balloons weights onto the balloons.
- Add letters to balloons using vinyl, stickers, or just write on them with permanent marker.
Once you have your balloons all ready to go, put all of your letter balloons on one side of the room where you’ll be playing and small buckets on the other side.
It’s ideal to play these games outside or on a patio/deck of some sort so you can combine spelling practice with a little activity but if the wind is too strong, just move it inside so the balloons don’t hit the grass and pop.
We found that one out from experience.
Individual Spelling Games
I came up with games that work well for individuals, like how I played with my first grader, as well as games that would work well for entire classrooms or big groups of kids. Let’s start with the less complicated of the two: games for individuals!
1 – How Do You Spell Game
This is one of the games shown in the video and one of the easiest. Simply pick out a card from the bag and yell it out for the kids to hear.
The kids then need to go over to the letter balloons and pick out, one at a time, the correct letters to spell the word. They should run the balloons to the other side of the room and put the balloons in the buckets to spell the word they heard.
2 – How High Can You Go?
For this game, put out like five different letter balloons (a mix of consonants and vowels) and see how many different words kids can make out of the balloons. Just like the game above, they should grab the balloons and bring them to the other side of the room, yell out the word, then take them back.
Want to make it even more active – run across the yard between every word. This would make a great relay, too!
The goal is to spell as many words as possible out of the letter balloons they have available. Keep track of how many words they spelled and see if they can beat their record with the next set of letters.
3 – Time for a Replacement
In this game, you start off the game by spelling out a word with the balloons. Put the word in the buckets at the end of the room.
When you say go, have whoever is playing go to the remaining letter balloons and pick out one balloon that they can use to replace a letter in the current word to make a new word. Or add a letter to make a new word.
For example if the original word was hot, they could replace O with A to make hat. Or they could add S to the beginning to make the word shot.
See how many new words you can make with just one replacement.
4 – Opposite Day
This opposites game is about helping kids to understand both how to spell words and know what they mean. It’s one of my favorite spelling games for that reason.
It works just like the how do you spell game except you are going to call out the opposite of what you want the kids to spell. So if you want them to actually spell hot, you’d say cold. They have to think about what the opposite would be and spell the opposite.
Thinking, spelling, and comprehending. All good for things for elementary schoolers!
5 – What A Sight
Last but not least this game focuses more on reading and sight words than spelling, but it’s still a fun one! Just like in the time for a replacement game above, in this game you should make a word with the balloons while the kids aren’t looking.
When you say go, they need to go over to the balloon, read the word (say it out loud!), then head over to the table of words to find the correct word.
Since they aren’t spelling the words in this game, you could make these words a little tougher. But make sure they’re still ones that are age appropriate. Just like Balloon Time tanks are only for adults, so are words with silent letters and crazy spellings like hymn and benign.
Group Spelling Games
If you’re looking for spelling games for a large group of kids or an entire classroom, these are for you! These games really only work with a big group of kids because you’ll want to have quite a few letter options.
For these games, you’ll want to give every kid playing a different letter balloon. If you have more than 26 in the group, give out some extra Ts, Ns, Rs, and vowels. You know, those letters you get for free in popular phrase solving game shows.
I also recommend a Balloon Time Jumbo Helium Tank because filling up that many balloons calls for a little more helium and the jumbo tank fill up to 50 9″ latex balloons or 27 11″ latex balloons! It also comes with white ribbon so all you need to get are the balloons — or two standard tanks work as well!
6 – R-E-D Rover
Red rover, red rover – send an E over. This spelling game is just red rover but with a spelling twist. Each kid should tie a balloon to somewhere on their clothing so the balloons are hanging above them.
When you say red rover, red rover send a “letter” over, that letter has to run to the other side and try to find a place in the other line where their letter will either:
- Spell a word by going between two people (e.g., the letter E going between the letters T and N to spell ten)
- Spell a word by going next to someone (e.g., the letter E going next to the letters N and D to spell end)
If they can find a place in the line where they can do that, they run to that location in the line (not trying to break through, just going and tagging hands with the other team) and then get to take their choice of player back with them. If they can’t find a place that makes a word, they join the new team.
7 – The Longest Word
Split into two groups making sure to divide the vowels and consonants across both teams. When you say go, teams must work together to try and form the longest word they can using only the letters they have on their balloons.
Once they have their word, stand together in a line showing your word.
8 – Spelling Bee Game
Spelling bee game is a version of one of my favorite outdoor games called Cannonball. Well, sort of.
The idea is that like in a spelling bee where words tend to get longer and harder as the spelling bee goes on, the number of letters in the words you’ll be spelling increases as you keep playing.
Here’s how it works.
Everyone should get their own balloon with a letter on it but instead of just doing all of the letters of the alphabet, I recommend doing half consonants and half vowels so there are a lot of vowels out there and available. I would also stick with popular consonants, not letters like Z, X, and Q.
Start by yelling out three. Everyone has to search around the room and find two other people that they can join together with to make a three-letter word. If anyone can’t find someone, they’re out of the round.
Once everyone has found their trio for the three letter word, yell out four. Everyone then has to find a group to make a four letter word. Same rule applies – can’t find a word, they’re out.
Go up to five and do the same thing. If you have enough people, you can do six and seven as well.
Instead of going in sequential order (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) you could always mix it up as well and start with four, go down to three, go up to five, etc. so people don’t know what’s coming and can’t plan ahead. That’s how the cannonball game works, and it’s a blast!
Keep playing until you only have one group of three people left.
9 – Spelling Tag
You’ve heard of blob tag right? Or maybe you haven’t heard it called that, but it’s a popular one. The idea is that when someone gets tagged, they become part of the blob and have to stay with the person who is it and try to tag people together.
Because we’re talking spelling games, this is called spelling tag. Give everyone a balloon – same as the spelling bee game above, I recommend doing a lot of vowels and popular consonants.
Pick one person to be it and have that person stand in the middle. When you say go, that person has to try and tag someone else but the key is that they can only tag someone that would start spelling a word. That person then becomes part of the it team.
The first person is easy. After that you have to be careful about who you tag because you can only tag someone who would create a word.
So for instance, if the first person who was it was the letter T and they tagged H – they could tag quite a few letters but they couldn’t tag someone like G or P because THG and THP don’t spell, and can’t spell, anything.
Try to keep going and tagging as many people as you can to build the longest word possible. Once there are no more letters left to be tagged that would make a word, pick someone else to be it.
Want to make it easier for the person who is it? Give people multiple balloons – one with a vowel and one with a consonant. Or put two letters on one balloon so they have more options for people to tag.
Tips for Foolproof Spelling Games
Just a few notes for making sure that these games are fun and as easy to play as possible for people.
- Keep a Balloon Time tank on hand when you’re playing. Balloons are balloons and they pop. It’s just what they do. If you have a Balloon Time tank on hand you can easily fill up another balloon and be on your merry way in no time.
- Use vinyl or sticker letters if possible on the balloons so they’re big, chunky, and easy to read. If you don’t have either of those, permanent marker works but make sure it’s legible and big enough for people to see from far away.
- Avoid being outside with balloons on really windy days. Balloons and grass don’t mix. If it’s really windy, relocate into a gym, patio, or inside.
- If you’re playing with kids of different ages, keep that in mind as you’re choosing words. You want these to be fun (and somewhat challenging) for all ages. It might even make sense to have a separate bag of cards for each age.
More Games for Kids
- Saran wrap game
- Fun outdoor games
- Swimming pool games
- Dr. Seuss games
- Games to play at school
- Camping games