Suffix Sort

“There was once an editor of the Chemical Society given to dogmatic expressions of opinion, who once duly said firmly that ‘isomer’ was wrong usage and ‘isomeride’ was correct, because the ending ‘er’ always meant a ‘do-er.’ ‘As in water?’ snapped Sidgwick.”— Nevil Vincent Sidgwick

I love this quote’s boring vocabulary. It makes the ending that much better. And being married to a chemist, I do find the quiet wit an essential element.

This reminded me of an “example/non-example” activity I often do in my classroom. Using a list of words, I write the words one at a time on the board, giving the class the opportunity to determine why each word belongs in the list where I placed it. Once they have determined the rule, I let them tell me where the next words belong and/or provide their own examples for the list.

This Suffix Sort involves the -er suffix, which is not always a suffix. I create 3 lists: words that mean “a person who or a thing that,” words that mean “more or less,” and words where -er is just a part of the word.

Possible lists:

1.  walker, runner, worker, farmer, builder, teacher, singer, writer

2.  sweeter, funnier, taller, smaller, happier, luckier, softer, redder

3.  water, bother, father, wonder, sweater, weather, sister, after

A few words fit into both category 1 and 2, for example “wetter” could be both “a person who wets” and “more wet.” This small skill can help grow vocabulary independence in struggling readers.

Here is an activity sheet I created for practice after the lesson:

Have a great Sunday. Listen for humor in words.
Ann
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