Spelling for footy nuts

The Australian Football League season is about to kick off, and little footy nuts around the nation will be out playing kick to kick, taking screamers, watching footy for hours on TV, and still too much footy will never be enough for them, for about the next six months.

Footy nuts tend to be boys, and boys tend to have the most difficulty learning spelling and literacy more generally, so it makes sense to use footy words to teach Aussie kids, especially boys, spelling patterns.

Spelling worksheets containing footy words

I've thus been busy googling the AFL player list so I can make spelling worksheets out of the names and mugshots of this year's AFL players, to help motivate the little footy nuts on my caseload to improve their spelling.

I'd like to make these worksheets available free on this website to celebrate the start of the footy season, but I understand I'd be in court in five minutes if I did, because the AFL and its players don't let just anyone use their photos.

So instead I will just have to tell you how you can make your own footy spelling worksheets, and hope the AFL one day puts out its own free spelling workbook along these lines, to help little footy nuts everywhere with their literacy (If you know AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, please tell him I'll design the worksheets for free if he'll put them out):

  1. Choose some footy words that fit the spelling pattern you are working on. For example, if you're working on Consonant-Vowel-Consonant (CVC) words with "short" vowels (my Level 1 type words) you could use player first names like Ben, Chad, Dom, Jack, Jed, Jeff, Josh, Lin, Mitch, Nick, Sam, Ted, Tom and Will, or surnames like Bell, Bock, Hodge, Jong, King and Ross. You can also use other footy lingo, like big men, kick, long, ruck, run, set shot and wing, but finding pictures to illustrate some of these words can be a lot harder than finding player photos to illustrate names.
     
  2. If you can't think of a player with each of the names you've chosen, go to a list of AFL players, such as the 2012 one on the Footywire website, or for older or completely footy-obsessed learners, try the AFL hall of fame. Use the page search function (Control-F in MS Word) to find a player with each name.
     
  3. Now open up a word processor page and insert a table with three columns and five rows. Highlight the top row and merge the three squares into one (in MS Word this is done using the right-click menu).
     
  4. Number the 12 smaller boxes from 1 to 12, if you plan to use the worksheet with a group, so you can refer to the boxes by number.
     
  5. Change the font into one that suits your learners e.g. Comic Sans or Sassoon Primary Infant, or you can download Australian school fonts for non-commercial use here.
     
  6. Centre the text.
     
  7. Go to an image search on the internet, such as Google Images, and type each player's name. Copy and paste a suitable photo of each player in his footy gear, or a picture that illustrates one of the words you've chosen, into each box on your page, adjusting the size as necessary. I'll have to use emoticons instead of footy players in my illustration below, but you get the idea.
     
  8. Type each player's full name under his picture, adjusting the font size to fit.
     
  9. Decide what learners are going to be writing on each worksheet e.g. first sounds/spellings? Last sounds/spellings? Middle sounds/spellings? Replace these with a dash in the boxes, and type the spellings you've deleted in alphabetical order in the top box.
     
 ck      d      ff      ll      m      n      sh      tch

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Be_ Surname

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Cha_ Surname

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Do_ Surname

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Ja__ Surname

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Je__ Surname

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Jo__ Surname

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Li_ Surname

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Mi___ Surname

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Ni__ Surname

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Sa_ Surname

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To_ Surname

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Wi__ Surname

10. Save and print off your worksheet, then use "save as" to make any additional sheets using the same pictures e.g. you might want to have a set of four worksheets for these pictures:

  • The first where learners have to write the first sound/spelling,
  • The second where they write the last sound/spelling (as above),
  • The third where they write the vowel spelling and
  • The fourth where they write all the names themselves.

If your learners can spell these basic words (CVCs with "short" vowels), but need to work on harder spellings, I suggest considering the following words:

Level 2 (CVCCs): bench, Cats, Cox, Dogs, dragged, dropped, Gold, Hams, Hunt, Kent, kicked, Max, Punt, Suns, Ump.

Level 3 (CCVCs): Black, Brad, Brand, Brant, Brent, Bret, Brock, Crisp, Cross, drop, flags, Frost, Golds, Grant, Greg, Gwilt, Smith, snap, switch, Trent, trip.

Level 4 ("long" vowel spellings):

  • "ay" sound: Bail, Blake, break, Cale, Clay, Craig, Dale, Dane, Day, Hale, Jake, James, Jay, Kade, Kane, May, play, Ray, Saints, Shane, Tape.
  • "ee" sound: Blee, Chee, Dea, Dean, field, free, Green, Heath, lead, Lee, Leigh, Reid, Shiel(s), Steve.
  • "I" sound: Bryce, flight, Fyfe, Giles, Grimes, high, Hine, Kyle, Mike, Miles, Pies, Pyke, time, Wines.
  • "oh" sound: Beau, Boak, Cloke, Close, coach, Coast, Crows, goal, home, Joe, Jones, low, Rowe, Stokes, throw.
  • "ooh" and "you" sounds: Blues, boo, boots, Bruce, Drew, Dukes, Jude, June, Luke, Roos, roost, (wooden) spoon.

Where there aren't enough footy words on the following lists to fill up a whole worksheet, you might like to add names and pictures of kids from your school (in their team colours if you can get them), or just some other non-footy words, which you can get from this website's lists.

Level 5 (other vowel spellings):

  • "ar" sound: Clark, Glass, half, mark, Marsh, pass, Saad, shark.
  • "er" sound: Kurt, Hurn, Kerr, term, turf.
  • "aw" sound: ball, baulk, Corr, Daw, Faulks, Hall, Hawks, Moore, draw, Ward, Norm Smith, Paul, score, Sean, Shaun, Shaw.
  • "ou" sound: Brown, Couch, Crouch, crowd, ground, Howe, out of bounds.
  • "oy" sound: Boyd, point, spoil, Troy.
  • "air" sound: Blair, fresh air kick, Laird, Pears.
  • "u" sound: son, ton, touch, Young.
  • "ear" sound: I can't find any words! and the same for "e" as in "dead".

Level 6 (extra consonant spellings):

  • ce: Ayce, bounce, Bryce, Joyce, Lance, Pearce, Pierce, Rance, Reece, Vince.
  • se: Blease, loose
  • wr: Wright, sorry, I can't find any more.

Of course footy isn't the only thing that you can make themed spelling worksheets about. The names of people and places your learners know about are also potential material for spelling worksheets, especially if you're in a quite big school so that you have plenty of name choices. But in small rural schools, the names of everyone in town are also fair game (if they'll let you take and use their photos).

Making these worksheets is the easy, cut-and-paste part once you have a template, but finding words that fit both the spelling pattern and theme you want can be more difficult and time-consuming.

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