Prefixes & Suffixes Games & Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

A solid understanding of prefixes and suffixes can go a long way in helping students understand and correctly use new vocabulary. This lesson provides teachers with games and activities designed to teach students about prefixes and suffixes.

What are Prefixes and Suffixes?

In order to prepare your students for the games and activities that follow, it's important to review prefixes and suffixes are and how they are used. Prefixes and suffixes are also known as affixes because they are affixed to existing words. To begin a class discussion, write the following words on the blackboard:

Prefixes

  • Agree
    • Disagree
  • Sense
    • Nonsense
  • Friendly
    • Unfriendly

Suffixes

  • Comfort
    • Comfortable
  • Fear
    • Fearless
  • Kind
    • Kindness

Next, ask students how both the prefixes and suffixes change the meanings of the words. Then go over the definitions of prefixes and suffixes.

  • Prefix - a group of letters that comes before a word that changes the meaning of the word.
    • Common prefixes include un-, multi-, over-, mis-, super-, dis-, re-, sub-, in-.
  • Suffix - A group of letters that come at the end of a word that changes the meaning of the word.
    • Common suffixes include -ish, -er, -est, -less, -ize/ise, -able.

Find the Affixes

This game will challenge your students to find prefixes and suffixes in common classroom texts.

  1. Divide students into small teams.
  2. Each team should have a copy of the same text (a textbook or novel will work well).
  3. Set a timer for 2 minutes and tell the teams tell find and write down as many words as possible that begin with the prefix un- or that end with the suffix -less. Teams should write down the page number of each word they find that meets the search criteria.
  4. When time is up, ask for one representative from each team to come up and write his or her team's answers on the board with the corresponding page number.
  5. As the students are writing on the board, each team should verify the words the other teams found by looking them up.
  6. After the representatives have finished writing on the board, teams can challenge any words other teams wrote which they think are incorrect or not on the right page.
  7. Award five points to the team(s) who found the most words, three points to the team(s) who found the second most words, and one point to the team(s) who found the third most words.
  8. Repeat these steps with the following prefix and suffix pairs.
  • multi-, -ish
  • over-, -est
  • mis-, -able

At the end of round four, tally the points and award the winning team(s) a prize.

How Many Words Do You Know?

To prepare for this activity you will need to write down the following prefixes and suffixes on pieces of paper (one prefix or suffix per paper) and put the pieces of paper into a hat or box.

  • Prefixes
    • anti-, de-, dis-, en-, fore-, in-, inter-, mid-, mis-, non-, over-, pre-, re-, semi-, sub-, super-, trans-, un-, under-.
  • Suffixes
    • -able, -ible, -ed, -est, -ic, -tion, -less, -ity, -ment, -ness, -ious.

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