Vocabulary Through Morphemes:
Suffixes, Prefixes, and Roots for Intermediate Grades
Vocabulary Through Morphemes:
Suffixes, Prefixes, and Roots
for Intermediate Grades

Approved by Florida and other states

Written by Susan Ebbers
Published by Sopris West (Cambium Learning)

Order Vocabulary Through Morphemes    
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Sample instructional pages from CD:
suffix -some 
suffix -ion (-sion, -tion)
prefix un- 
prefix ex- 
prefix mono- 
root -bio-  
root -press-
root -script-

Sample black line practice pages:  
suffix -ize 
prefix com-   
prefix post-  
root script, tract 


Free: English Language Poster


Set includes Lesson Planbook, Practice and Assessment Masters, and Instructional CD, with permission to copy for single classroom use. The CD is the main teaching component.

Curriculum Goals, Usage, and Pacing:    

  • Become linguistically aware and word conscious
  • Chunk words into their meaningful morphemes: prefix, root, suffix
  • Learn the meaning of the most common prefixes and roots
  • Explore word clues revealed through the meaning of the prefix or root
  • Develop academic language through word roots, analogies,  word families, synonyms, and antonyms
  • Improve spelling skills, fluency, vocabulary, and ultimately, comprehension
  • Analyze the derivational suffixes and the role they play in function (i.e., most words ending in -ity are abstract nouns, as in purity, simplicity, masculinity)
  • Analyze the structure of academic and specialized content vocabulary

Curriculum Components and Design:

  • Book: The actual teaching content. is found on the CD, located in the back of the book.  The book contains the plans for each lesson and provides thumbnails of the content  located on the CD, as well as thumbnails of the reproducible blackline practice pages, along with answer keys. Each lesson plan in this book is structured to contain standards-based objectives, a warm-up activity, teaching suggestions, and practice or assessment ideas.
  • Instructional Pages on Compact Disk (CD): rich in content, containing each new morpheme in context. Formatted in large font for overhead transparency use. Mac or PC ready. The CD is the key component.
  • Additional Practice on Reproducible Pages: for extra application and extension, as well as assessment. 

Suggested Pacing:

  • 10 or 15 minutes a day for ~165 school days (~20 for intensive instruction)
  • Teach a lesson one day (82 lessons total) and provide the practice page the next day as warm-up work
  • Occasionally, apply skills with the suggested games and activities
  • Use the assessments provided and monitor progress as needed

Summer School or After School:

  • 40 minutes a day
  • Teach two or three lessons each day (shorten each one)
  • Teach the prefixes and roots, skip most of the suffixes, unless grammar is a weak spot
  • Follow each lesson with opportunities to practice and apply in context
  • Use the practice pages, suggestions for games and activities, and student reading materials
  • Use the assessments provided


Keep in mind the notions of developing word consciousness and constructing networks of related words. Try not to get  caught up in memorizing meanings, especially for abstract suffixes, because they don't always "fit" and then what shall we do?? Instead, provide opportunities for your students to practice using morphemic cues, along with context clues, to solve unknown vocabulary. Above all, keep it playful and exploratory.

I have developed a seminar related to the materials in this book. 

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Teacher Feedback

Grades 4/5:  I have been using your book, Vocabulary Through Morphemes, this year. My class has transformed into a classroom of word wizards! I spoke to you briefly at the CORE Conference in S.F. this year. I have basically extended the use of the book providing more exposure to the words and meanings with fluency drills, and using lessons as our spelling program in my 4/5 combination classroom. Thank You!   ~Pam Smedley, Sierra Schools, California
Middle School: I have loved being able to use Vocabulary through Morphemes both with my "gifted and talented" students and my  reading intervention class. With different instructional guidelines, both 6th grade groups have been able to successfully build their vocabulary and understanding of affixes and roots. I have also REALLY appreciated having this type of pre-organized and ready to use instructional material.  ~Karen Romney, Clover Middle School
High School Summer School: I'm teaching summer school and I'm using your book Vocabulary Through Morphemes.  It is absolutely wonderful.  I  love that I am able to to tie my knowledge of Language! with your  curriculum.  It supports the instructor and I see that  the students seem to be challenged but excited about learning the content as well.  They  really got a kick out of the introduction and the history of the  English language.  ~Grace Kevorkian, Pasadena High
High School: I love this book! Now I have a step-by-step plan to follow, and the short segments are so easy to use and not time-consuming. It really is a user-friendly book! I wish that I had had it last year! Thank you so much for developing the materials. They really are a gift to teachers everywhere!   ~Lisetta Wallace, Intervention Reading Teacher,  Tracy High
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