Common Core Standards specify that third graders should recognize and understand the meaning of common prefixes and suffixes. Classroom activities help the third graders become familiar with the additions to root words. By understanding what they mean and how they change words, the students are better able to read fluently and understand what they read.

Building Words

Activities that engage students in building words using prefixes and suffixes gives them hands-on experience with the skill. Create three sets of index cards: one with prefixes, one with root words and one with suffixes. The third graders can use the cards to build words. For example, a student might combine the prefix "pre" with the root word "view" to create "preview." Have the students write down the words they create. This activity helps students better recognize words with prefixes and suffixes, see the individual word parts and put them together into a longer word. This type of chunking is a useful decoding skill while reading.

Word Definitions

Third graders need to understand how the meaning of the word changes with the addition of a prefix or suffix. Provide a list of common prefixes and suffixes along with their definitions. For example, "bi-" means two and "-ous" means "full of." Give students a list of words using some of the prefixes and suffixes. Have them write a definition of the word using the meanings of the prefixes and suffixes. For example, they might write "heat again" for the word "reheat." Have students draw pictures to go along with the definitions to reinforce their meanings.

Prefix and Suffix Search

This activity focuses on finding and understanding prefixes and suffixes in reading material to reinforce the idea of decoding those words. In your reading groups, have the students identify words that include a prefix, suffix or both. Stop at the end of each page as you read with the group to list those words. Discuss how the prefix or suffix affects the meaning of the word and how that affects the overall meaning of the story. For instance, if the story says that two characters disagree, discuss how the story would be different if it said they agree instead.

Grouping Words

To emphasize the meaning aspect of prefixes and suffixes, have the students group words together. Provide cards with words containing prefixes or suffixes and have the students sort them out based on common prefixes and suffixes. Have them compare the words and see how the prefix or suffix has a similar effect on the meaning. For example, "unequal," "unfair" and "uneven" mean not equal, not fair and not even. For another activity, name a specific prefix or suffix, and have students write as many words as they can think of that use that prefix or suffix within an allotted time.