Oh, the English language can be frustrating! There are at least seven different prefixes (un, dis, im, il, in ir and non) that all mean “not.” It is all so confusing. However, this is why it’s important to teach students about prefixes. While I was teaching upper grades, I incorporated prefix activities into my daily lessons. Learning about prefixes can help children figure out of the meaning of unknown words. Also, anyone who has ever taken a SAT knows prefixes are something you need to know. Thus, here are some engaging prefix activities for elementary school students.
Students should know that, by itself, a prefix is not a word. However, a prefix goes before a base word and acts as a helper to change the meaning of a word. You can also help introduce the term prefix with the fun picture book If You Were a Prefix (Word Fun) by Marcie Aboff. The book reveals the important role of a prefix and all the things it can do.
For this activity, teachers, or parents, can have students pick a prefix to write in the center of the page. Next, have them write the meaning of the prefix underneath. Then, give them kid-appropriate magazines to find pictures that use their prefix. For instance, using the prefix tri- (three), kids could find a picture of a tricycle, a tripod, or a triple scoop of ice cream. For sub- (under), kids could find a picture of a submarine, a subway (not a sandwich), and submerge (someone/thing going underwater). If you don’t have access to a lot of magazines, you can also have children draw the pictures or use clip art on the computer. You may want to give students a list of words using the prefixes to help them.
Educators can write prefixes and base words on stiff paper. Then, they should give each child five prefixes and five base words and mix them up. Next, they can tell students to put one prefix with one base word until each one has a match.
Prefix Board Game
Kids love to play games. This Prefix Pitfall Vocabulary Game is an engaging way for kids to practice making words using prefixes. The object of the game is to roll the “prefix dice and match them to root words on the game board.” Then, they can write the word on a wipe-off game card. The student with the “most words wins.” This game is recommended for second and third graders.
These prefix activities can help make learning fun!
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