“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” —Henry Van Dyke
The sale at my store continues today! Stop on by.
Many struggling readers need explicit instruction in how a prefix or suffix can change the meaning of a word. Learning clusters of words that share a common affix can help students understand their reading and connect new words to those already learned. Students need direct instruction of these skills. This helps them not only with the words being presented, but provides a strategy that supports them in figuring out difficult words on their own. This tool for word analysis should be practiced and reviewed often, especially during class read alouds and small group lessons.
There are far too many affixes to directly teach them all. It is important to realize that these few affixes account for the majority of affixed words in English:
|Prefix||Meaning||% of All
|un||not; opposite of||26||unhappy|
|in / im||in, into, not||11||inactive|
|dis||not; opposite of||7||discover|
|en / em||to cause to be in||4||entrust, enslave|
|Suffix||Meaning||% of All
|-s, -es||more than one; verb marker||31||songs, works, brushes|
|-ed||in the past||20||talked|
|-ing||when you do something||14||finding|
|-ly||In a way that is||7||softly|
|-er, -or||one who, that which, comparison||4||teacher
|-tion, -sion||State of being, quality||4||action, expansion|
|able to be||2||teachable, reversible|
Once these basic affixes have been mastered, it might be useful to explore more complex or less frequently used word parts with some or all of your students.
Information in charts, with my adaptations for third graders, came from Allen, J. Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4–12. York: ME Stenhouse 1999.
My students have been delighted in their role of “Word Detective” to discover that the word “mistake” actually means to take wrongly and the word “display” does indeed refer to something that is not for play. The word “prefix” itself can cause an interesting discussion of the word ”fix” and its meaning of fasten. These are such meaningful lessons. What can be better than knowing your students are having fun learning and exploring words!