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Teaching Prefixes and Suffixes

Introducing new vocabulary skills to students each year is crucial to their success in school. Sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming when trying to decode words and learn new concepts, but it doesn’t have to be! Teaching prefixes and suffixes is a great way to help your upper elementary students master vocabulary and unknown words.

incorporate teaching prefixes and suffixes into your classroom language and vocabulary lessons and watch your students word skills soar.

A Key Language Skill

One of the most important language skills we can provide to students is the ability to figure out a word meaning. They will come across lots and lots of unknown words in their life, and we must give them some tools for figuring out word meaning.

teaching students to break down words can help them figure out unknown word meaning

One of the first strategies that is often taught is context clues. It is very important for our students to be able to use the context of the sentence to try to figure out an unknown word. But we shouldn’t stop there. Teaching our students how to break a word apart is another important skill.

Breaking a word apart involves prefixes, suffixes, and root words. As students learn how to break a word down into its different parts, they can slowly decipher its meaning. Incorporating prefixes and suffixes into our language study is very important.

As students learn to determine the meaning of unknown words, many things happen.

  • increase reading comprehension
  • broadened vocabulary
  • better word choice in writing
  • better spelling of unknown words

With all of these benefits in language skills we owe it to our students to teach them how to break down words. Teaching a variety of prefixes and suffixes is key.

Incorporating Prefixes and Suffixes

These suffix posters can be used in many different ways to support teaching prefixes and suffixes

There’s no right or wrong way to incorporate teaching prefixes and suffixes, unless of course, you just aren’t teaching them at all. Some curriculums have a unit on prefixes and suffixes, while others weave it into spelling instruction.

If you don’t already have a plan, try teaching 2-3 prefixes or suffixes each week, all year long. Kind of like a word of the week concept, but instead of a word you are teaching word parts. Begin by introducing the prefix or suffix and its meaning at the beginning of the week. Everyday do a quick 2-3 minute activity where you review of the meaning and then practice determining the meaning of different words. Not only will students learn the prefixes and suffixes, but you will also be teaching them how to think through determining the meaning. Before you know it, they will using these word skills in their own reading and writing.

Tools for Teaching Prefixes and Suffixes

1. Anchor Chart or Bulletin Board

Creating an anchor chart or bulletin board is a great tool for teaching prefixes and suffixes

As you are teaching about prefixes and suffixes, it is really helpful to create a bulletin board or anchor chart that your students can refer back to. Not only will this help them learn but it becomes a great classroom tool they can use all year long.

Students will learn that they can refer to the prefix and suffix board as they are reading or writing. By providing this reference tool, students can build confidence in their word skills as they independently figure out unknown words during reading. They can begin applying these language skills to their writing as they learn to add prefixes and suffixes to root words in order to build new words.

Teaching students to use resources like this is a great life-long learning skill. Whether in the classroom or the world, there are always things around us that we can use to help us.

2. Interactive Notebooks

Print the posters in a smaller size to use in student notebooks

Did you know that you can print a full page poster in a smaller size? Yep! Right from your printer settings you should be able to choose 2 to a page or 4 to a page options. Some programs allow you to go even smaller, or to choose your own size with the Scale feature. By printing multiple posters to one page, you can quickly create the perfect size for student notebooks.

If you are going to be copying a class set, it’s a good idea to print in black and white instead of color. No sense using that color ink if you don’t need too. It will also help you copies to come out nice and clear if you make that change as you print.

Students will then add the mini posters to their interactive notebook. This gives them a place to not only refer back to, but also to document their learning. Students can write example words for each prefix and suffix, they can show the process for taking apart a word or they can practice using words in sentences or longer writing.

3. Game Cards

Kids love playing games, so incorporating games into learning can be very effective. By printing off the prefix and suffix posters in a smaller size you have the perfect learning cards for a classroom game. If you print off two sets, students can play a memory style game. However, if they make a match, they must give an example of a word with that prefix or suffix and give its meaning.

Printing these posters as small cards to play games

You can also use these cards to set-up a Write the Room activity. Simply post the cards around the room. Students will search, scavenger hunt style, for cards. When they find a card they will write a word and sentence using that word on a piece of paper.

These cards can also be used to create an individualized bingo game. This is a great review activity after students have learned multiple prefixes and suffixes. Give each student a blank bingo card and let them write in words in each square. Each word must use a prefix or suffix that you have learned. Then, instead of drawing bingo balls, draw a prefix or suffix card. Students can mark off one word on their card that matches the prefix or suffix called. When someone gets a bingo, they must say the prefix or suffix and its meaning for each word in their bingo.

4. Secret Password

teaching prefixes and suffixes doesn't have to be confined to a lesson or worksheet

Display a full sheet or smaller sized poster outside your classroom door for a prefix or suffix you have already learned. When students arrive in the morning, they must give a word that uses that prefix or suffix as the secret password to get in the room. You can add a little challenge by having them give a word and its meaning. It’s a great way to review what you have learned while having a little fun too!

Ready to Print Posters

While you can easily create prefix and suffix posters for your classroom, sometimes it is nice to just have something that is already done. These prefix and suffix poster packs are your no prep, ready to print option. Depending on your need, or your style preference, you can have all your prefix and suffix teaching tools ready to go. These different poster options can be found in the Appletastic Learning Store.

Teaching prefixes to your students is important for them when learning about word study and reading. This common prefix poster set has prefixes, their meanings and examples for students to learn and study.
These prefix posters with notebook cards are a great way to introduce and reinforce prefixes in the classroom.
These suffix posters are a great way to introduce and teach the concept and meaning of commonly used suffixes. Use the guide sheet, posters and note cards to reinforce this skill.

You can also find all of these posters in a bundle with other language skills posters.

These reading posters will help you teach a variety of reading skills and concepts and create reference tools for students to use all year long.
Teaching prefixes and suffixes in upper elementary is a crucial part of their learning experience. These posters and note cards help guide them through meanings and examples of prefixes and suffixes

Save These Resources for Teaching Prefixes and Suffixes

Save these tips and ideas for teaching prefixes and suffixes to your favorite classroom Pinterest board and have them on hand for later!

Shelly Rees

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I'm Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning. First and foremost, I'm a mom of 4 boys, wife of 25 years to Aric, and Wyoming girl at heart. I love being creative, making resources for teachers, baking cookies, Diet Coke, teaching, public speaking, and spreading kindness wherever I can. After teaching in the upper elementary grades for over 23 years, I retired early and focused on creating and helping teachers around the world with my teaching ideas and resources. I also serve as a mentor to hundreds of teacherpreneurs and help them get focused on growing their own successful businesses. With 100% honesty, I LOVE my life! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. Read More

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