Borrowing Letters

Purpose: This activity provides practice in spelling clarification and requesting to borrow something.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Materials: a set of 5 word cards for each team of 3-4 people (each team should have different words, but the vocabulary should be familiar); one set of alphabet cards that contains all the letters used in the words given to the students (if each group has a word with “i” in it, then you need multiple “i”s in your set of cards).

Prep: see above


1. Divide the class into teams of no more than 3-4 people. Send each team to a separate area of the classroom.

2. Give one word card to each team.

3. The goal is for each team to collect the letters it needs in order to spell the word on its card.

4. Shuffle the alphabet cards and deal 5 alphabet cards to each group. Place the remainder of the cards face down in a pile in the center of the room.

5. Teams check to see if they have any of the letters they need for their first word. They put those aside and decide which letters they still need.

6. Then, one team sends a runner to one of the other teams. This student asks to borrow a letter that the team needs by asking, “Can I please borrow an ‘a’?”

7. The other team responds, “Sure. Here you are.” Or, “Sorry, we need our a’s” or “We don’t have any a’s.”

8. If the runner doesn’t get the card he/she needs, she picks a new card from the pile in the middle of the room and takes it back to the team.

9. Then it’s the next team’s turn.

10. When a team completes a word, it sends a runner to the teacher to get another word from the set of word cards. The first team to complete its word list wins.


More advanced students can use forms like, “Would you mind lending me…” or “Could I borrow…”
Ask students to clarify their request by asking, “May I please borrow an a as in apple?”
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