Lesson plan

Perfect Prefixes!

This lesson introduces young learners to prefixes. It also gives them hands-on experience with building words using prefix and root word cards.
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Students will be able to identify words with prefixes and determine their meaning.

(5 minutes)
  • Gather students together. Tell students that today, they will learn about prefixes and root words.
  • Have students recall previous knowledge about prefixes and root words.
  • Write this list of words on the board: refill, rewind, reenter, redo. Ask students to describe what they notice about these words. Students will most like say that words all begin with “re.”
  • Have students turn and talk to a partner about the meaning of each word written on the board. Ask them to share their thoughst with the class.
  • Explain to students that there is a prefix on each of the words, and that the prefix changes the meaning of the root or base word. Tell students that today we will learn about several different prefixes.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain to students that a prefix is a group of letters that come before a root or base word. The prefix is a special group of letters because it changes the meaning of the root word and makes an entirely new word.
  • Emphasize that the root word is a word on its own. A prefix is a group of letters and not a word that can stand on its own.
  • Hold up the word wrapped written on an index card. Tell students that the word wrapped by itself means to be covered completely by something.
  • Hold up the prefix “un.” Tell students that “un” is an example of prefix. Explain that by adding “un” to the beginning of this word, we can change its meaning. “Un” usually means “not” or “opposite of.” Whenever we see the letters “un” together at the beginning of the word, we know it means “not” or the “opposite of” the root word.
  • Demonstrate putting the two cards together. Tell students that now you have a new word, “unwrapped.” Discuss the meaning of this new word: the opposite of covered completely by something.
  • Tell students that if you take the prefix and the root word apart, the word “wrapped” can still stand by itself and have meaning. Emphasize that a prefix cannot stand on its own or be substituted in a sentence for a word with similar meaning.
  • Show students the word “cooked” on a card, and discuss the meaning of “cooked.” Tell students that once again, we can use our prefix card with “un” to change the meaning of the word.
  • When we put the prefix and root word together, we create a new word with a new meaning. We have the word “uncooked,” meaning not cooked.
  • Now show students the word “uncle”. Tell students that the letters “u” and “n” are present at the beginning of “uncle.”
  • Refer back to the definition of a prefix. Point out that if we remove the “un” from the word uncle, “cle” cannot stand on its own as a root word. Therefore, this is not a word that includes a true prefix.
  • Introduce students to the most common prefixes and teach their meanings: re, in, im, dis, pre, mis.
  • Repeat several examples using the steps above, making sure to include a discussion about the meaning of the new word formed when a prefix is added. Make sure to include non-examples.
(10 minutes)
  • Display index cards with the prefixes: re, in, im, dis, pre, mis, un. Display index cards with the root words: wind, play, behave, place, school, polite, agree, connect, possible.
  • Display an anchor chart with the meanings of each prefix.
  • Explain that together, they will as a class try and build some new words.
  • Have one student pick a prefix, and have another student pick a root word.
  • Have the students hold the cards together. Ask the other students to determine if they have made a new word and tell what the meaning of the new word is.
  • Practice this several times before continuing onto the next portion of the lesson.
(15 minutes)
  • Tell students that they know many words that use prefixes. Explain that each pair of students will be given a list of prefixes and root words.
  • Tell students that in pairs, they will need to build as many new words as they can. They will need to record their words and their meanings on the recording sheet.
  • Alternatively, for a more hands-on approach, you may prepare a class set of index cards with the prefixes and base words that students can mix and match to build new words.
  • Enrichment: Encourage advanced students who need a challenge to see if they can list words and meanings for these prefixes: il, anti, non. Students may add additional root words to the independent activity. Have them define all the words they come up with.
  • Support: For students who need extra support, you may choose to limit the amount of prefixes that they are working on at one time. Additionally, you may give a student one prefix to work on and several root words. Have the student focus on determining meaning rather that building many words with different prefixes. Labeling the meaning of the prefix above it on an index cart would further support student learning. Include images to support student understanding of the words' meanings as well.
(15 minutes)
  • Make sure to circulate as students are working.
  • Collect and check the recording sheet for accuracy.
  • Use this information to determine if students used the prefixes correctly and were able to determine new meanings of words.
(10 minutes)
  • Call students together and invite them to share their favorite words that they built.
  • Ask students how they were able to find the meaning of the new words. Ask students if they noticed anything special about the word “prefix.”
  • Remind the class that in order for a word to have a prefix, it has to have two parts: a prefix and a root word that is a word by itself.

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