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Ages 5 to 7 An addictive way of teaching syllables involves football.

Ask children to suggest two teams, for example, Chelsea and Liverpool. The result here would be Chelsea, 2 - because there are two syllables in the name. Liverpool scores 3.

Once you put that idea in front of a class, they start devising their own games, seeing how their own teams fare. They even start announcing it like the results on the radio.

Extensions of this involve exploring how the use of syllables can help us spell the names of teams. Manchester United, Wigan and Everton all provide good examples of this - though it galls me to see Man U notch up so many syllables. The idea can send children away searching for the team that scores the most. One clue: if you include the Scottish divisions, you can find some high scorers


Searchlights for Spelling by Chris Buckton and Pie Corbett, Cambridge University Press (August 2002), provides various multi-sensory ways of teaching spelling.

Website provides a good resource for team names and news.

Children can also bring in league tables from newspapers at home.

Huw Thomas is head of Emmaus Primary, Sheffield

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