Resources needed:

  • List of common prefixes and suffixes
  • One dictionary per child


  1. Give each group of four children a common prefix such as ‘re’, ‘bi’, ‘dis’, ‘mis’, ‘pre’, ‘over’ and ‘un’. Ask them to list as many words containing that prefix as they can in 5 minutes. No dictionaries allowed at this stage!
  2. Give one point for each correct word (spelt correctly too!) and then give each child a dictionary and let them extend the list they have made.
  3. Have a brief discussion about what each prefix does to the word, for example, ‘mis’ means ‘wrong’ so a word like ‘understood’ becomes ‘misunderstood’
  4. Repeat the activity with the suffixes ‘ful’, ‘est’, ‘ing’, ‘less’, ‘ly’ and ‘er’.
  5. Now give each group a different prefix or suffix and let them create an A4 poster to give examples of words containing it, along with an explanation of its effect on a root word.
  6. Use the posters to generate either a book or a display which can be referred to during SPaG work.


Further Activities:

Have a prefix or suffix of the week and challenge the children to find as many examples of its use as possible.

Ask the children to create a word search, using words containing a particular prefix or suffix

Give pairs of children a selection of words to sort into three groups, each headed with a particular prefix or suffix.


Curriculum Areas covered:

During years 5 and 6, teachers should continue to emphasise pupils’ enjoyment and understanding of language, especially vocabulary, to support their reading and writing.

Pupils should understand nuances in vocabulary choice and age-appropriate, academic vocabulary. This involves consolidation, practice and discussion of language.

When teachers are reading with or to pupils, attention should be paid to new vocabulary – both a word’s meaning(s) and its correct pronunciation.


Pupils should be taught to:

  • apply their growing knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes (morphology and etymology), as listed in English Appendix 1, both to read aloud and to understand the meaning of new words that they meet.


Pupils should be taught to:

  • use further prefixes and suffixes and understand the guidance for adding them

Children may need to be reminded of the meaning of the word ‘prefix’ and ‘suffix’ and the effect each of these has on a root word.