Teaching prefixes and suffixes in first grade can be a challenge. There are many ways to go about it, but I’m here to share with you what I have found works for me!
Why did I stop teaching words in isolation?
I feel that when I teach words in isolation, students aren’t grasping it. For example, if I teach my students about the suffix -tion, and then send them off on their merry way, will they comprehend or remember it? Probably not. Of course they need application as well, but I don’t mean with just a work sheet where they practice adding -tion to word. Worksheets like that are fine for practice, but I don’t think that is where the true learning is.
Give them texts with the word
Many books that first graders read don’t have prefixes and suffixes in them. So, when you’re teaching these words, you may have little context. To expose my students to these words in context, I use short reading passages.
I created these reading passages specifically for my first grade students. Each passage has words containing a certain prefix or suffix.
To introduce, I place my passage on the SmartBoard so all students can see. They also have the passage in front of them. I tell them they can either follow along on their own passage or can watch me read and track on the SmartBoard. We simply read the passage first; nothing else. Then, we will look at the box with the prefix/suffix words. We read the words and discuss what they mean. Then, we read again (same as before), but this time we stop and highlight the prefix/suffix words. Then, we read it again and talk about what the words mean in context.
It sounds like a lot (and it is!), but I truly believe teaching this concept with exposure and in whole group (or small groups) is important.
Send them off to be detectives
In addition to using passages, I do like to send my students off to search for words with the prefix/suffix inside books. For this particular activity, I might grab a handful of books (if I have time in my prep) that I know have these words. If not, I have them look through their books in their book tubs to find the word. To add a little excitement, I give each student a magnifying glass (if you don’t have some, you will constantly find uses for these!). I got mine here.
Like I said previously, it can be a challenge to find them in first grade texts. However, I do think it’s important for them to look inside books as well. When they find one, have them write it on a sticky note and place it on the page in the book. Then, have students gather in a group and share what they found and write it down. Together, you can create a discussion about what the words mean, what the sentence was (so they have context), and so much more.
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Related Post: Teaching Prefixes and Suffixes