6 Simple Activities For Learning Root Words

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Last Updated on February 4, 2022 by Editorial Team

Whether your student is just a toddler or a grown-up pursuing English as Foreign Language, you require teaching them about root words. The root word is the main part of any word minus the suffix/prefix or any other modification. For example, in the word activity, “active” is the root word derived from the Latin word activus. One of the ways of learning root words is to refer to etymology.

But, won’t that be a little too overwhelming and taxing process?

A better approach will be to do activities to learn root words. These activities stimulate the mind much better way and improve the learner’s working memory. Before we jump on to the activities list, let’s explore a bit about how activities prove effective in teaching root words.

Root word activities – Their role in building language skills

Vocabulary is a crucial skill to attain to develop language skills. According to National Reading Panel (NRP 2000), it is one of the comprehension skills that make any person a good reader. Root words knowledge and its usage in making words help in enhancing vocabulary skills. Activities help in doing the required playing with additions and replacement of prefixes, suffixes, etc. so that the learner can understand how to make newer and otherwise unpredictable words.

Some of the meaningful root word activities that can make the vocabulary-building process easier and drive learners into becoming avid readers are explained here.

List of Root Words Activities to Enrich Vocabulary Skills

1. Read Storybooks

Stories act as an entertaining storehouse of words. Hence, if you want to build your repertoire of root words, include story reading activities in your daily schedule. The learners, according to their pace, can pick the suitable lengths of story parts and create their lexicon of root words which they come across in the chosen passages. We have mentioned sight words books in one of our posts; reading beginners can employ those books too for doing story reading activities. It helps improve comprehension skills and develops an interest in reading.

2. Break the Word

Root words are modified in several ways using suffixes, prefixes, and various inflected endings to make new words. Doing this very act of breaking the words is nothing but the morphemic analysis strategy. Break the word is based on this strategy. In this activity, you prepare an anchor chart with the help of students. Write the root word on the top of the board and encourage students to come forth and add suffixes, prefixes, or other possible modifications to make newer words. This activity based on collaborative learning offers a better idea of vocabulary building.

3. Play Scrabble

Scrabble is one of the most loved board games helpful in building vocabulary and enriching spelling skills. Root words activities’ main outcome is learning the formation of words and mastering the correct way to spell the word. We can modify the Scrabble game by choosing two to three root words as ‘words of the day,’ and make new words by adding suffixes or prefixes and replacing letters with other options. This activity is suitable for both adults and kids, who suffer from learning disabilities and want alternative ways to demonstrate their spelling skills.

4. Make a root word tree

It is an activity with an enhanced participatory feel. You require a few things like a model tree and a few labels on which you write the words formed by adding prefixes, suffixes, etc, to the root word. For instance, you write ‘run’ at the top of the tree. Then, ask the students to make new words by using ‘ing’, ‘er’, or other prefixes applicable and place them as branches of the tree. It is how you disseminate the idea of making words by modifying root words with appropriate suffixes and prefixes.

5. Find partner

It is a gamified group activity. The students are given a bunch of cards carrying words and the expressions that convey the meaning of those words. For example, one student says, I have ‘react’, Who has ‘it means to respond’. The one carrying the ‘it means to respond’ card will readout I have ‘it means to respond’, then he will inform ‘I have recur’, who has ‘it means to try again’. This is how the activity will continue and the students will grasp the idea of how roots words change meaning-wise once a prefix is attached to those. When all are done, students carrying the cue word and meaning will come together to make a pair. It is aimed at teaching the change in meaning by the addition of ‘re’ as a prefix.

6. Task card activity

It is a rip-off from the worksheet assignment, hence it interests students more deeply. Teachers may provide a sentence in the task card, underline it, and ask the student to pick the correct prefix or suffix and note down the answer in their answer cards. On completion, the students can discuss the words they got and may try to make meaningful sentences using the answer. Apart from the meaning, they can tell other words possible to make from the root word.

Root words activities: Serving the learning needs quite right!

Being able to read from books is not the only way available to learn. An inclusive model of education promotes this idea of finding alternatives to learn with required affirmation. Activities are the proven ways of building language skills because:

  • Activities engage kids to learn but in an entertaining manner. Thus, they don’t feel stressed out by challenges offered by reading.
  • There is distinct stimulation of thinking process happening while doing an activity; thus, the reasoning and logic-building skills are developed.
  • Some activities offer added advantage of better coordination of mind and limbs. Thus, coordinated working of mind and limbs enhance learners’ working skills.
  • Activities provide premise for applying the conceptual knowledge attained. Thus, the students can develop practical utility of the language skill learnt by performing root word activities.


Every child is born with different learning abilities, and cannot be measured with the same benchmark of performance. They cannot be expected to learn things in the same manner too. Activities offer a learner-centric approach and make it easy for all to grasp the intended topic. That is why root word activities are worth including in the study kit; these make the learning pain-free and a lot of fun for all. Take care while intervening in these activities so that learners are not carried too away by their fun quotient!

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