Prefixes and Suffixes Teaching Ideas for First Grade and Kindergarten

Prefixes and suffixes in first grade? Kindergarten? What?! I'm not sure who decided teaching them so early was the way to go but never fear, you're a teacher (a.k.a. superhero who does the impossible on the daily). We've got this.

Teaching prefixes and suffixes in first grade and kindergarten does seem a little crazy to me BUT there are lots of ways to make them more comprehensive and fun for your students.

Having kid friendly pictures of prefixes and suffixes that present them in a simple way is a big help! All of these ideas would work even in second or third grade - all kiddos love need visuals!

I made a ton of prefixes posters in both full page and 4 to a page format.
I print the full page posters like above (1 of each prefix and suffix - just one for re-, one for pre-, one for -able, etc.) to hang up and then I print all of the 4 to a page cards as little reference cards. I'm thinking of laminating the little cards and putting them on a binder ring as well! They're a great tool to keep at your small groups table for reinforcement.

Prefixes posters that are perfect visuals for teaching prefixes

I tried to make them simple but information-ful :) Yes, I know that's not a real word but I figured it's festive. Each card has the prefix, its meaning, an example, and a picture of that example. 

Prefixes posters that are perfect visuals for teaching prefixes
You can get them here: Prefixes Posters and Visual Cards

I also have them for suffixes:
Suffixes posters that are perfect visuals for teaching prefixes and suffixes

There are A TON!!
Suffixes posters that are perfect visuals for teaching suffixes
You can get them here: Suffixes Posters and Visual Cards

I love them because they have a visual to go along with each suffix to show how the word changed and how the suffix gives the root word a new meaning.

The little reference cards are easy to have students grab a couple and use them to write sentences at a center or in small groups as well. You can also hang them around the room and have students use them to write the room. If you're unfamiliar with writing the room, all you do is hang some picture and/or word cards around the classroom and give students a sheet of paper. Then, they go around the room finding the cards you hung and writing down what they say. I have them in my store for various things like shapes, frog life cycle, etc. They're just a fun activity that gets kids moving around but learning - I recommend trying it out if you haven't before! You can do it with anything - sight words, spelling words, math problems (they write the answer), anything!

If you need more visuals or need something to hang up in your writing center that's a bit more compact, I also have Prefixes and Suffixes Word Charts in my store that come in both full color you can hang up or a black/white version your students can color and keep in their writing folder.

You know what I'm going to say by now, right? 
PUZZLES! Puzzles, puzzles for everything :)Prefixes and suffixes puzzles that are so much fun and a lot of other ideas for teaching prefixes and suffixes

I love puzzles! They're challenging, hands-on practice that look like a game - win, win!

You can get these here: Prefix and Suffixes Puzzles

These puzzles are a super fun way to practice because the kids get to build the prefixes and self-correct by making sure the picture matches the word they built.

You can easily differentiate them by choosing which puzzles and how many to put out at a time. For young learners, I would just give them 2 or 3 at a time.

Prefixes and suffixes activities and fun ways to teach it to 1st grade or even kindergarten students

I made a ton of them so you can use them in centers or small groups for weeks and weeks for a lot of practice if you want to! 

I also like to make this little book to practice sorting and reading words with prefixes. You can print it already made where all of the words are already sorted and they just color, cut, and assemble but I totally recommend adding the extra step of them sorting the little pictures under the correct flap to tell which prefix the word has in it. The already made one is good for you to print as an example book to keep in the library or somewhere they can take it to read.

So what they do is color and cut out the pictures. Then, they sort their words into 3 piles: words with the re- prefix, words with the un- prefix, and words with the dis- prefix. 5 words go under each flap (15 words total).

When they're all done, they have a little book they can read to their friends or take home to read to their family or keep in their desk to read to themselves. I have little sorting books like these for a lot of different topics (phonics sounds, math concepts, grammar concepts, etc.) and I just love making them!
You can get it here: Prefixes re- un- dis- Book

The sounds of -ed are often some of the first suffixes taught so, going back to the prefixes and suffixes puzzles, this is an easy way to practice whether the -ed in the word says d, t, or ed. These are fun because they take the word and figure out which sound of ed to add to the end of the word.
Sounds of ed puzzles and ideas for teaching the 3 sounds of -ed

It's also good to have some visuals to use as little reference cards to practice the inflectional endings.

Ideas for teaching inflectional endings -ed and -ing

I also like to make a little book for this skill! Students color, cut, and sort the 15 picture words as to whether the -ed in the word says d, t, or ed to make a fun book to read!
Sounds of -ed book where kids sort picture words into what sound ed makes

You can get it here: Sounds of ED Book

An easy way to practice the sound of -ed in small groups is to have students separate their board into 3 sections with lines and write (or use magnets like here) d, t, and ed at the top of their columns. Give them a base word (walk, jog, etc.) and have them say it out loud to figure out which sound the -ed makes when they add it to the word then write it in the right column - it's great practice!

Fun Ideas for teaching the 3 sounds of -ed (d, t, and ed)

I also love to practice skills with cutting and pasting activities. They're fun and kids know glue is "permanent" so they think before they glue a lot more than they think before they write, or at least I think so!

Fun Ideas for teaching the 3 sounds of -ed (d, t, and ed)
This page is from my Grammar Sorts cutting and pasting activities pack! There are 2 sounds of ed sheets in there for practice.

For a review of reading -ed words in context (that's the tricky part!), I wrote a passage that practices all 3 sounds -ed can make. I recommend having them go through and highlight the words with -ed before reading like this:
FREE reading passage to practice inflectional ending -ed and the 3 sounds ed makes

Then, have them read each sentence, figuring out which ed sound the word uses (d, t, or ed). As you can see below, you can also have them write a little d, t, or ed above it for help. The thing I love about my reading passages are that each one focuses on a target phonics sound/skill found in the corner (in this case ed) and use that phonics sound to also practice fluency and comprehension. They're great quick checks because even though they're trying to read fluently, you'll know if they understood what they read by their answers to the questions below.

FREE reading passage to practice the 3 sounds of ed with reading comprehension practice

You can get this passage free here: Sounds of ED Reading Fluency and Comprehension Passage

If you want more, I have a ton of these! I have a huge bundle of reading fluency and comprehension passages that have all the different phonics sounds, short vowel word families, long vowel word families, beginning blends, ending blends, etc. - if you need a passage for it, I've got you covered!

Another little chunk of the puzzles I like to use for practice are the plurals puzzles. They're in the prefixes and suffixes puzzles pack as well. For these puzzles, students look at the base word and figure out if they'd add -es or -s to the end to make it plural - your kiddos will think it's soo silly to try to say brushs (brushes) and beees (bees) so they're fun practice :)
Love these plurals puzzles and other fun plurals activities

They can also practice by sorting/reading/referencing the little prefix poster plural cards:

Some fun cutting and pasting activities from my Grammar Sorts pack again...
Plurals -s or -es worksheets activities and ideas!

And obviously a book :) Students sort 5 pictures under each flap whether they end in -s, -es, or -ies.
Plurals activity book where kids sort picture words by what plural ending they have

You can get it here: Plurals Book

There are a ton of puzzles included in the prefixes and suffixes puzzles pack though so you can practice as many prefixes and suffixes as they can handle!

I also love making little books for things because a) they're fun, b) kids love making them, c) kids love reading them, d) kids love sharing them with others, and e) they actually keep them!

Here are some fun little books I like making:

Get it here: Prefixes Book

Get it here: Suffixes Book

Each page has an example of a word with that prefix (or suffix for the suffix book) that they write a sentence using and then illustrate. Then, on the next page over, they fill in a base word to create their own word using that same prefix they just practiced, write a sentence using their word, and illustrate. Simple targeted practice!

A fun review is to give students mini white boards and pick a prefix or suffix to practice. Here, re- is being practiced. You could have them come up with as many words that start with re- as possible OR even race to write as many as they can.

You can also have them draw a line down the middle of the whiteboard and write a prefix on each side (or a suffix on each side) and then give them words. Have them put the prefix in front of it and decide which one is the real word.

For example, they write re- and un- at the top and you give them the word read and they decide whether reread or unread is the real word and write it in the right column. They'll think the nonsense words are funny so it's a fun activity!

I hope this gave you some good teaching ideas for prefixes and suffixes! I know it's a difficult thing for the littles but with a lot of pictures and hands on activities, I think they can get it! :)

How do you teach prefixes and suffixes and in what grade? Share in the comments!

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  1. These are SO adorable!!! I would be blessed if my daughter ever has a teacher like you!

    1. Thank you so much, Heather - that is so sweet of you to say!!

  2. I can't find the plural prefix posters anywhere!

    Your material is so easily adaptable to my EFL classes! Will certainly keep my eyes on your plural work, my kids are going to love it!

    Just LOVE your stuff and follow you on TPT!

    1. Thank you so much, Carol! The plural posters are in the suffixes posters pack. I hope your students love them! :)

  3. Love it all! I just started out selling on TPT and I've got all these fabulous resources on my wishlist! I can't wait to sell a few more products I created, so I can buy yours! Thanks for all you do to educate kids and share your skills with other teachers. :)

    1. Congratulations on starting your TpT journey!! It is so much fun connecting and sharing with teachers all around the world - you will love it! Let me know if you ever have questions or need help!

    2. So creative! I am a ESL Montessori teacher and this goes so well with scaffolds and sheltering students need.

  4. I absolutely love all your stuff! Thank you!

  5. I am a pre-service teacher, studying a bachelor of education in early childhood. I never comment, but I wanted to say that your resources have helped me so much during my pracs, study and writing lesson plans. Thank you for your creative ideas!