Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Teaching Roots and Affixes

If you follow me on my blog or Teachers-Pay-Teachers, you know that I am a bit of a "word nerd."  I  have always been fascinated with etymology and love sharing this interest with students.  Teaching morphemes (specially, prefixes, roots, and suffixes) is one of the most impactful things we can do as educators.  Not only does it empower students to decode unfamiliar words, but it also allows them to understand the subtle nuances of word meanings.

Here are just few tips, tricks, and tools that you can easily incorporate in your vocabulary instruction.

  • Matching Word Parts: This is a hands-on activity and can be easily adapted for a wide range of learners.  Students are given a variety of prefixes, roots and/or base words, suffixes, and word meanings.  They must find as many combination of words as they can and then match the words to the correct definition.  Answers can be recorded on a separate sheet of paper and discussed in class.  I made a bank template of this game that you can use for any word parts and definitions you want!  You can download this for free HERE.

  •  Divide and Conquer: For this activity you’ll need to choose 4-8 preselected words.  The words should all contain the same root; the example shown uses “sens, sent” (Latin – “to feel, sense, perceive). Any affixes that are part of the words should be ones your students already know the meaning to.  Take for example the word "sensible."  Students the  break down the  word into its meaningful parts (e.g. sens + ible).  The meaningful parts are then defined (e.g. to feel + able to be).  Students will then provide a literal definition based on the meaning of the roots (e.g. able to feel).  The last step requires students to provide a dictionary definition of the word (e.g. capable of being made aware of or of feeling).  Divide and Conquer allows students to examine the meaningful parts of words to determine their meanings. They can then compare the literal definition of words (based on the root and affix meanings) to the dictionary definitions, which allows them to see how similar the definitions are (in most cases). You can grab this free Divide and Conquer graphic organizer HERE.Greek and Latin Roots
  • Vocabulary Builder Flip-book: This resource is so handy for students!  It is a user-friendly flip-book with the most common affixes and roots.  Definitions and word examples for each morpheme is provided.  This is a FREE download that I made exclusively for my email subscribers.  If you would like to get your free copy, just subscribe to my newsletter HERE.
  • Online Games:  There are so many great games and activities online for roots and affixes.  I really like this one for "Fun English Games."  It requires students to match a correct affix with a base word and then it explains the meaning of the word parts and the word created from them.

I hope you find some of these ideas useful with your students!

If you're interested in implementing a robust and thorough vocabulary program, click on the resources below!