Lesson plan

Word Meaning with Common Suffixes

Are you careful, caring, or careless? A suffix is a word part that changes the meaning of a word. Use this lesson with your students to teach them how to determine word meaning based on their understanding of the meaning of common suffixes.
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Students will be able to determine the meaning of words with common suffixes.

(5 minutes)
  • Instruct students to take out a whiteboard and a whiteboard marker.
  • Display the following words on the board, and number them: 1. caring 2. careless 3. careful
  • Assign each student a number from one to three, which corresponds to one of the displayed words.
  • Have students write down a definition of the word which they were assigned.
  • Call on non-volunteers to share their definitions. Confirm or adjust their definitions, explaining how the suffix on the word helps to formulate the word’s meaning.
  • Instruct students to put away their whiteboards and markers for now.
(10 minutes)
  • Inform students that today’s suffix lesson will focus on the most common ones. A suffix is a letter or group of letters that is added to the end of a word, and it changes the meaning of the word.
  • Share a list of common suffixes by displaying the chart at the top of the It’s Grammar Time: Suffixes worksheet.
  • Show example sentences that use words with these common suffixes, pointing out the suffix and what the word means. Some example sentences include:
    • Seeing the sunshine after days of rain made us cheerful. (full of cheer)
    • The girl was fearless as she climbed the mountain. (without fear)
    • I cleaned my room yesterday before I went out to play. (past tense of clean, already happened)
    • He is talking on the phone to gather information. (present tense of talk, happening now)
    • This apple is fresher than that one. (more fresh)
    • She is eleven years old, the oldest cat we have. (most old)
    • Our new puppy is so cute and lovable. (able to be loved)
    • I talk quietly so I don’t wake the baby. (in a quiet way)
  • Emphasize the fact that the sentence context must match with the suffix used. For example, “I cleaned my room yesterday before I went out to play.” The suffix -ed signifies that the verb is past tense. The context of the sentence shows that it was past tense because it says the word “yesterday.”
(10 minutes)
  • Put students into cooperative learning groups of three students. Assign each student a job in the group.
    • Recorder. Tthis person will record the words on a whiteboard.
    • Presenter. This person will read the words when it is time to share with the class.
    • Timekeeper. This person will monitor the time and keep the group on task. The job assignments will rotate in each round of the game.
  • Inform students how to play The Suffix Brainstorming Game. Explain that a timer will be set for one minute in which students will brainstorm a list of words that have a certain suffix. The Recorder will write the words on a whiteboard, and the Timekeeper will keep everyone on task and monitor the time. At the end of one minute, the Presenter in each team will call out words while the teacher records the words on the board or chart paper. The goal of the game is to see which team can come up with the most words with a certain suffix, while creating a master list of example words with each common suffix.
  • Play The Suffix Brainstorming Game with the class. Offer praise and redirection with the brainstorming as needed.
  • Instruct each student to choose a word from the class list that was created during the brainstorming activity. Have them use their whiteboards and whiteboard markers to write the word, the definition, and a sentence. Circulate and observe student definitions.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute a copy of the It’s Grammar Time: Suffixes worksheet to each student. Review the directions for each section. Circulate, observing and noting which students show mastery and which students struggle.


  • Use the Common Suffixes 1 Exercise, which gives students multiple choice options as they work to understand the meaning of words with suffixes. (See Suggested Media.)
  • Highlight the context clues in sentences to support students as they determine which suffix is best to put onto a word.
  • Reduce the assignment length for struggling students.
  • Have students read aloud the sentences so that they hear the root word with the suffix.
  • Front-load vocabulary of certain root words that students may be unfamiliar with, such as brave, predict, or bright.


  • Offer enrichment to students by allowing them to complete the Common Suffixes 2 Exercise. (see Suggested Media)
  • Challenge advanced students to think about words that have more than one suffix. Have them create a list and then discuss and record their meanings. Next, have them write sentences with these words.
  • Use the Team Shake app to create random student groupings and partnerships.
  • Use the ClassDojo app to randomly select students to share answers.
(3 minutes)
  • Complete a comprehension check with the class using whiteboards and whiteboard markers. Say aloud a few words with suffixes, such as beautiful, sleepless, and running, and have students jot down their definitions to display on the whiteboard.
(2 minutes)
  • Guide students through a quick Whip Around activity in partnerships.
  • Put students into A-B partnerships, and instruct Partner A to speak for thirty seconds about what was learned during the lesson with examples. While Partner A talks, Partner B is an active listener. When the time is up, reverse roles. Partner B talks about what was learned during the lesson, sharing examples. At that time, Partner A is an active listener.
  • Call on a non-volunteer to share out with the class.

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