Being able to recognize Greek and Latin roots, is an essential skill for building reading comprehension and word recognition skills. However, that does not mean students should spend hours studying word lists. While memorizing word lists should be a part of the lesson plan, adding in a variety of games can aid in student understanding and enjoyment of the task.

Evaluate Root Words

Increase student comprehension by evaluating root words in their context. List compound words with a prefix or suffix and ask students to identify the root word. This activity provides just enough context to allow them to take a guess, especially if they already know the definition of the compound word. Provide a list of compound words and have the students race to find as many root words as possible. Be prepared to provide hints for the first few rounds, until they get used to how a root word should look.

Matching Game

Provide students with a special version of the classic matching game. One set of cards should have root words, while the other should contain the definition. Play with the same rules as the childhood game Memory. Each students turns over two cards, hoping to find a match between a root word and a definition. If they do not get a match, they turn the cards back over and the next student takes a turn. If they do make a match, they get to go again. This exercise will help them connect the two together and will assist them in memorizing those connections.

Crossword Puzzles

Create crossword puzzles and word searches that provide the root words, their origins and their definitions. There are several programs available online that can create them based on teacher-provided word lists, or you can take the time and make your own. In order to complete crossword puzzles or word searches, students have to recognize roots and origins and know the root definition in order to correctly interpret the clues. Also, once the students become familiar with root words within family groups, they can create new puzzles for themselves or exchange them with their classmates.

Use Technology

Employ the student's love for technology and video games to teach them the relationships between base words, root word origins, definitions and root word families. There are several educational software programs available online that are entertaining and also allow the students to track their own progress. For example, in Jelly Fish, students are given a root word and they must choose the correct prefix, base and suffix to fill the page with jellyfish. Rooting Out Words and Digger and The Gang: In The Maze, are two other similar games for created for early readers.

Make Up Words

Build nonsense words once the students have compiled a fairly large list of known roots. Have them combine various roots and assign their words definitions based on the base words they chose. For example, ‘biocredography”is defined as a believable book about someone’s life. This reverse engineering will solidify their understanding of how roots, prefixes and suffixes work together to build meaning. In a slight twist, have students exchange their words, sans the definition, and guess the meanings of others' words based on the meaning of the root.