By fourth grade, when kids start reading more sophisticated literature, chances are, they're also encountering unfamiliar words that are longer and hard to decode. Words like "transportation" and "pre-determination" can be daunting on paper, but don't let that discourage your child.
Here's an activity that will help your fourth grader tackle complex words by looking at their prefixes and suffixes. All you need is construction paper, a stapler, and markers to start. The result? An easy-to-use prefix or suffix flip-book for your child that will help her improve her reading and vocabulary!
What You Do:
- Fold a piece of construction paper in half vertically. Turn it so that the fold is at the top, like a tent. This will be the flip-book cover.
- Choose a prefix or a suffix to focus on, and write it on the front cover. See the lists below for some ideas.
- Open the flip book. Stack several pieces of the cut copy paper into a neat pile. Staple them inside the flip book on the bottom half of the page. If you’re working on a prefix, staple them on the right side. If you’re working on a suffix, staple them on the left side.
- Use a marker to write the chosen prefix or suffix on the construction paper in the space next to the stapled papers.
- Now that you've created the flip-book, it's time to fill it in! Encourage your child to look for words that have that prefix or suffix. He can listen for these words in conversations or in movies, or look for them in books, newspapers and magazines. You can even help him by making it a family event and giving a point to each family member who correctly identifies a word with the featured prefix or suffix.
- Repeat these steps to create new flip books for other prefixes and suffixes.
With a little observation and some family help, the flip-book will be filled in no time! Keep it as a handy reference for spelling words, comparing words for meaning and structure, and for generating new and interesting words to include in a written piece.
Notes on Prefixes and Suffixes:
- Some common prefixes: pre-, un-, re-, dis-, trans-, pro-, tele-, sub-, inter-, semi-, bi-, tri-, super-
- Some common suffixes: -ed, -ing, -tion, -ly, -ment, -able, -ible, -ful, -or
Prefixes are word parts placed at the beginning of a word to change its meaning. For example, add the prefix “pre-” (meaning “before”) to the word “wash”, and you get “prewash", a word meaning "to be washed in advance".
A suffix goes at the end of a word to change its meaning or part of speech. If you add the suffix "-tion" to the adjective "determined", for instance, it becomes the noun "determination".
Prefixes and suffixes are good for breaking down big words and making the reading process easier.
Liana Mahoney is a National Board Certified elementary teacher, currently teaching a first and second grade loop. She is also a certified Reading Specialist, with teaching experience as a former high school English teacher, and early grades Remedial Reading.