Lesson plan

Super Suffixes

Suffixes can do some amazing things. They can turn "power" into "powerful," "big" into "bigger," and "fear" into "fearless." This hands-on lesson allows young writers to build their own words using different root words and suffixes.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to identify common suffixes and determine the meanings of words that include those suffixes.
(5 minutes)
  • Write "breakable," "comfortable," and "washable" on the board.
  • Ask students what they notice about this list of words. Guide them towards the idea that all three words end in "able."
  • Explain that "-able" is a suffix, or a group of letters that comes at the end of a root word and changes its meaning.
  • Explain that a root word doesn't have a prefix or suffix. List some examples like the words color, form, and art. Show how adding "-ful" (which means "full of") to "color" changes its meaning.
(15 minutes)
  • Choose a root word index card and suffix index card that are compatible, then model the process of putting them together to make a new word. Explain the meaning of the new word in the same way that you explained the meaning of the word "colorful": state the meaning of the suffix, then show how it affects the root word.
  • Repeat this process with two more sets of root words and suffixes.
  • Go over some other common suffixes: -er (more or a doer of), -less (without), -ly (in this way), -y (characterized by), and -ness (the state of).
  • Clarify that groups of letters like "-ful" and "-er" can be suffixes, but aren't always suffixes. For example, the "er" in "person" isn't a suffix.
(10 minutes)
  • Show students the rest of the root word index cards and suffix index cards.
  • Display the lists of root words and suffixes.
  • Tell the class that the following activity will involve working together to build new words.
  • Have one student choose a suffix from the list, then have another student choose a root word.
  • Hold the corresponding index cards together and ask the other students whether you've created a real word. If so, ask them to determine its meaning.
(15 minutes)
  • Have students partner up. Distribute a list of root words, list of suffixes, and suffix addition sheet to each pair.
  • Ask the pairs to build as many new words as they can using the items on the lists. They will record their new words using the suffix addition sheet.
  • Enrichment: Advanced students can be given the additional challenge of adding more root words and suffixes to their lists. They can use the backs of their suffix addition sheets to record any words they create with the new root words and suffixes.
  • Support: If you encounter a struggling pair during your observation, combine some root words and suffixes for them. Have them focus on defining the new words you made instead of making more words.
(15 minutes)
  • Walk around the room and observe students as they work. Stop every now and then to ask a pair how they determined the meaning of a certain word.
  • Collect the suffix addition sheets after the activity. Review them later to assess your students' understanding of the suffixes and their meanings.
(10 minutes)
  • Have the class regroup.
  • Ask for volunteers to share some of the words they built. Ask for other volunteers to share methods they used for defining the new words.
  • Remind students that a word with a suffix needs to have two parts: a suffix and a standalone root word.
  • Challenge students to think of words that have both prefixes and suffixes.

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