Playing Scrabble and reading mysteries are just two ways Alison Scheiderer, Douglas County Spelling Bee champion, has been preparing for the All-Kansas Spelling Bee coming up Saturday.
"I read a lot, and when I come to a word I don't know, I pronounce it and spell it," said Alison, an eighth-grader at South Junior High School.
She's currently reading "The Cat Who Knew A Cardinal," a mystery by Lilian Jackson Braun. She said one new phrase she picked up is "faux pas," which is something she hopes not to commit at the state spelling bee.
In the Douglas County bee, Alison misspelled "mischievous," adding an "e" at the end. Her opponent spelled that word correctly but then misspelled another word, and Alison went on to win the contest.
After that experience at the March 6 bee, Alison plans to take her time spelling words Saturday.
"I pretty much took my time the last time except on that one word," Alison said. "The only reason I misspelled that is because my tongue slipped. It was a really dumb mistake."
Over last week's spring break from school, Alison visited some relatives, and they all ended up playing Scrabble. She said she learned quite a few words, including a word or two from her grandfather.
Alison also has been studying a list of words put out by the organizers of the national spelling bee. The list includes words that have tripped up past contestants as well as words that students have spelled to victory.
Alison said that spending a lot of time studying a dictionary just isn't effective for her.
"I just learned a lot of scientific terms, like `staphylococcus,'" she said. "I'd rather look at a few words that actually will probably help me in the spelling bee than look at a lot of words that probably won't help me at all."
The All-Kansas Spelling Bee will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Garvey Fine Arts Center at Washburn University in Topeka.