The English Language
English is a mix of several languages including French, Italian, Greek and Latin, Vietnamese and so on. This makes the number of words linguists estimate the English language to have extremely large —- approximately one million words. About 170,000 of these words are in current use. The average adult English speaker has a vocabulary between 20,000 to 35,000 words. Ninety-five percent of everyday writing and speech in newspapers, most books, movies, etc. use only about 3,000 words. So…how do we prepare our students for college entrance exams when everyday life exposes them to so such a narrow list of vocabulary words? —- We teach students prefixes, suffixes, and Greek and Latin roots.
This post includes several activities and ideas you might wish to try when teaching prefixes.
Activity #1 – Flip Books
- Cut paper into approximately 1 by 5 inch strips.
- Cut an additional piece of paper 1 by 7 inches long.
- Stack the pages together with the 7 inch piece on the bottom.
- Line all the pages evenly at one end and staple them together to form a book with turning pages.
- Students write the prefix on the 7 inch piece of paper. On each page of the stack, they write an additional word (base word) that can be used with the prefix.
- The book flips where each word can be read and discussed. Our books contained 8 pages; however, you can make them with more or fewer pages.
Activity #2 – Online Practice
Websites such as Scholastic, BBC, Hartcourt School, and Houghton Mifflin offer free online games for students to practice skills. This webpage contains links to fourteen online games which practice prefixes, suffixes, and/or root words.
Activity #3 – Interactive Anchor Charts
- Using large flip chart paper, draw three to four vertical lines to form columns.
- Label each column with one prefix.
- On sticky notes, write base or root words that form real words when added to one of the prefixes listed on top of the anchor chart. Note: When completing this activity for the first time, using base words that only form one real word works best. For example, turn only forms a real word when the prefix re- is added. Nonturn, unturn, and disturn are not real words.
- Students place the sticky notes onto the anchor chart in the column that forms a real word.
This activity may be completed in small groups, as part of a learning center, or as an early finisher project.
Activity #4 – Foldable Graphic Organizers
Three versions of this organizer are available from the links below.
Activity #5 – Prefixes that Express the Negative Booklet
Students will enjoy creating this 12-page mini-booklet. Students practice with 10 prefixes that mean ‘not’ or ‘the opposite’ by completing charts. On the charts, students list words beginning with the designated prefix, create a simple drawing of the word, and write the word’s definition.
Activity #6 – Prefix Spinner Game
Students play this free Prefix Spinner Game like BINGO. Students take turns spinning a spinner. (A collection of 5 spinners increasing in difficulty are provided.) After the spinner lands, the player must think of a word that contains the prefix s/he has landed upon. [Optional: Students must tell the meaning of the prefix, tell a word that begins with the prefix, and define the word named.] If the group feels the player has answered correctly, s/he may color in the box on his/her game board with the same prefix. The first player to have a vertical, horizontal or diagonal row colored is the winner. This game may easily be adapted for your grade level by using fewer spinners and cutting off unneeded columns on the game board.