Introduction to Prefixes Suffixes and Root Words

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This lesson was origianlly designed to introduce 4th graders to the basics of root and bases words, prefixes and suffixes.

  • Show the class a copy of an Eyewitness book such as Knight by Christopher Gravett. Talk a little bit about the subject and get them engaged.
  • Tell students that you are going to be talking about prefixes suffixes and root words today. Ask them to tell their partner everything they know about prefixes, suffixes and root words. Then share as a whole class, ensuring that they know prefixes come at the beginning of a words, suffixes are at the end and root/base words are what is left.

(As an aside: The difference between a root word and a base word depends on who you talk to. Some say a base word is a word that carries meaning all on its own while a root word has to have a prefix or suffix to make sense. Others say that root words and base words are one and the same. I tell the kids that the experts can't even agree and we will use the words interchangeably. I always tell the students that if we are ever unsure about a question of if something is a prefix, or isn't, or is a base word or not, that it doesn't really matter. The one thing that really matters is that we are using word parts to think about words.)

  • Pass out a copy of the [Media:Fixes.pdf|prefixes and suffixes] list that comes with the REWARDS program. Students who have done REWARDS will recognize this list. Also pass out a photocopy of one page from the book you are reading (page 6 from Knights works perfectly).
  • As a class look at the first sentence and find words that have prefixes and/or suffixes. Highlight them. Do another sentence or two together and then have students do the rest of the page on their own.
  • Pass out a blank piece of paper and have students make a tree map labeled Word Parts. It should have 3 branches, Prefixes, Root/Base Word, Suffixes.
  • As a class look at the first word you highlighted. (In Knights it is invaded) Show kids how to put the word on the tree map: In goes under Prefixes, "Vad" goes under Root/Base Word, and "ed" goes under suffix.
  • Work together to put another word or two on the tree map. Then give students a chance to do 2 or 3 more words that they highlighted on their own, onto the map by themselves. This is a great time to walk around the room and strike up some good conversations.
  • Then pass out photocopies of some other pages to the class. I copy a few different pages and then give the students a chance to select one that looks most interesting to them.
  • Have them work independently to find words with prefixes and/or suffixes on their page and add them directly to their tree map (no highlighting neccesary) This is when you really want to be walking around and talking with kids, bringing the classes attention to any really interesting questions that come up. (Some words have double suffixes like increasingly, and some words like bed may end with a suffix but really that suffix is just part of the word)
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