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Spelling Competition: Rules and Format


  • The Pronouncer, judge(s) and other officials will be in complete charge of the contest. Any questions or protests about the spelling(s) of a word or the running of the contests must be referred to the officials immediately. Their decisions will be final in all matters.
  • The competition will be digital and words will be spelled on the iPad mobile application. Contestants may use pens and/or pencils and paper. These will be provided to each team.
  • No other mobile devices, computers, laptops, cellular phones may be used once the competition starts. Only the iPad provided by Lukinzo’s Playground.
  • In competition, all words will be chosen from the Playground’s internal Dictionary of approximately 298,000 words and will be provided prior to the competition. This is the Official List and is the final spelling authority for the competition.
  • The following word selection criteria are used to determine the Official Word List for grades 3 and above
    • No plurals or proper nouns are allowed
    • Past and future tenses as well as past and future particle words are allowed
    • A letter can be used more than once when spelling any word
    • The minimum word size is 3 letters and the maximum word size is 7 letters
  • The Official Word List will be split into two sections. The Competition set of 9 letters apply for Challenges 1. The full set of 10 letters, including the Special Letter, apply for Challenge 2.
  • In the event of any words being omitted from the Official Word List, contestants are to record the word in the notepad provided. These words will be cross-checked with the Oxford English dictionary and scores adjusted accordingly.
  • An arbiter will be on duty to hear any protests as they arise and decide on them before the contest continues. The arbiter’s decision shall be final.
  • Contestants must attend a school on the North Coast of KwaZulu Natal.
  • Team members can confer however please take heed of the official’s calls to keep noise to a minimum.
  • Competition time is controlled by the application. Additional time may be provided due to technical difficulties. The arbiter’s decision is final in this regard.


  • The practice and competition sessions will be held in school running in 1hr30min sessions.
    • 5 minutes : An official will read rules aloud before the beginning of each contest
    • 10 minutes : Learners to enter details as necessary
    • 45 minutes to make as many words as possible and score as high as possible
    • 30 minutes for technical difficulties, collate results and to set-up for next session.


  • Teams are to only comprise of 3 learners in the same grade.
  • Each session can accommodate a maximum of 20 teams, or 60 learners
  • Multiple groups (ie lots of 60 learners) will be accommodated in multiple sessions.
  • The Official Word List will be provided to each learner before or during the practice session.
  • Separate word lists are available for the following grades:
    • Grade 1 – basic words with easy phonetic structure
    • Grade 2 – basic words but at a higher level than grade 1
    • Grade 3 – comprising of 3, 4 and 5 letter words formed using the set of 9 Competition Letters
    • Grades 4 and above – comprising of 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 letter words formed using the set of 9 Competition letters
  • There are 2 challenges for each group to compete:
    1. Challenge 1
      • Grades 1 and 2 : First 20 words are pre-selected and test score is out of 20
      • Grades 3 and above : Unlock Bonus Letter “Y”
      • Spell a set of words comprising of 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 letter words and the Bonus Letter “Y” will be added to the set of 9 Competition Words
    2. Challenge 2 – Maximise your score
      • Grades 1 and 2 : Words will be presented at random and learners have a chance to take their score well above the test score of 20
      • Grades 3 and above : Learners will now be able to spell words including the letter “Y” and should spell as many words as they can remember!