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 such a narrow list of vocabulary words? —- We teach students prefixes, suffixes, and Greek and Latin roots.
To prevent readers from becoming lost in a tackle of links going all over the Internet to each activity that I mention in the post, I have created this pdf file with links to all prefix activities or resources.
Many prefixes have to do with numbers. Learning these prefixes can help students figure out the meanings of many unfamiliar words.
groups of musicians “-tet”
quartet (4 musicians)
octet (8 musicians)
number of events in an athletic competition “-athlon”
biathlon (2 events)
triathlon (3 events)
decathlon (10 events)
bi- or di- (2)
quad- or quart- (4)
quad bike quadrilateral
deca- or deci (10)
kilo – (1,000)
poly- or multi- (many)
Prefixes Video Lesson with Organizers
This lesson introduces students to prefixes related to numbers. This mini-lesson is a vocabulary-building exercise for upper elementary and middle school students.
In this mini-lesson, students watch the video. The video goes over several examples of words with number-related prefixes. Next students pause the video to complete either the digital or printable organizer. After completing the organizer, students continue watching the video to check their responses. This mini activity is a great introduction to a prefix lesson.
Activities in this free series are set up as individual lessons making them great to assign through Google Classroom. Click here to download the free activities from Google Drive.
Are you still looking for prefix teaching ideas and materials?
Activity #1 – Flip Books
- First, cut the paper into approximately 1 by 5-inch strips.
- Next, 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.
- Finally, 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 – Prefixes – 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 several online games that 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.
- Next, 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.
Complete this activity in small groups, as part of a learning center, or as an early finisher project.
Activity #4 – Foldable Graphic Organizers
Activity #5 – Prefixes that Express the Negative Booklet
Teaching students to use correct negative prefixes can be both fun and challenging. Here are three resources to help teach negative prefixes:
- A mnemonic device anchor chart helps students remember when to use il-, im-, in-, ir-, and ig-.
- A teaching video ~~ I found this video extremely helpful. Its length is a little under 15 minutes long. This might lose some students, but I found watching it helped me to know how best to present the material to my students.
- A free printable booklet to use in the classroom ~~ This mini-book takes just three sheets of paper plus an optional cover for each booklet. Students can use this to make their own reference book.
I ran across this mnemonic device and knew that it would be a great way for my students to remember when to use il-, im-, in-, ir-, and ig-.
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. Next, they 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, the player 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.
Plan for a small group activity. Runoff the spinner boards for each group onto cardstock. Add spinners to the center of each. These may be purchased spinners or simply a brad and paperclip will work.
Make one copy of the game board for each student. [Optional – Duplicate the game boards onto cardstock and laminate for repeated use. With laminated boards, students will need markers such as BINGO discs to cover their boards instead of coloring in the spaces.]
Note: The game board has prefixes that should be mastered at lower grade levels to the left. Each column becomes more difficult. You may wish to cut column(s) off the game card depending on the level of your students. Elementary teachers may wish to use only the first three columns. Middle school teachers may wish to cut off the column to the far right and the far left. Middle school teachers may wish to cut off the two columns to the left. [Adjust the rules of the game depending on how large the game board you have decided is appropriate for your students.]
Instructions for Students:
You are going to move into small groups in a moment to play a game similar to BINGO.
Every group will receive spinners. Each player will receive a game board. The players will determine who goes first, and then take turns moving in a clockwise rotation.
When it is a player’s turn, s/he will spin a spinner of his/her choosing. After the spinner lands, the player must think of a word that contains the prefix s/he has landed upon.
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. [Note: Only the player who is taking a turn, colors in a space. If everyone colors in a space everyone would win at the same time.]
The object of the game is to get [3, 4, 5 — Here is where you might wish to adjust the rules depending on the size of the game board.] squares colored in a row. The row may be vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The first player to have [3, 4, 5] colored boxes in a row is the winner.
- Did anyone in your group think of words you were unfamiliar with? What were they?
- How can learning the meanings of prefixes help you with the meanings of unfamiliar words?
This trail game themed on The Wizard of Oz practices with the prefixes con-/com-, uni-, and ex-.
Activity #8 – Still Need More – Activities on Teachers Pay Teachers