Prefix Activities for 4th and 5th Grade

Looking for engaging and simple ways to teach prefixes? If you’ve been searching for prefix activities and prefix lesson plans for your upper elementary classroom, but don’t have the time to spend hours planning out a 4th or 5th grade vocabulary list, along with enough engaging prefix activities to ensure mastery – look no further!

Before I started using these prefix lesson plans and the corresponding prefix activities with my 5th graders – I was spending way too long scouring the internet for prefix lessons, prefix activities, and prefix assessments. Only to find that my students were bored, I was bored, and they definitely weren’t mastering prefixes.

So where does this leave us? To solve my problem, (and yours too!) I created a comprehensive prefix vocabulary unit. It has literally everything you need to teach prefixes from start to finish. Think six weeks’ worth of prefix word lists, prefix activities, prefix lesson plans, and prefix assessments – all with minimal prep from you! Click here to see it for yourself first.

Don’t have time for full prefix lessons? Don’t worry! Grab a set of simple, no-prep prefix worksheets here to work into your lesson plans throughout the year instead.

Here’s a simple, day-by-day, week-long scope and sequence for teaching prefixes in upper elementary.

Day One Prefix Activities

For the first day of the week teaching prefixes, I did lots of frontloading, so that I set my students up for success the rest of the week! This first day is mainly making sure our vocabulary notebooks are set up for the week, and that my students have had multiple exposures to the new prefix-focused vocabulary words for the week.

First, when students enter the classroom on Monday morning, I’ll have the prefix introduction slideshow playing on a loop on the front board. The slideshow shows the prefix and meaning, and each of the vocabulary words for the week with the definition, a sentence with the word, the part of speech, and a picture.

prefix activities introduction slide show

As students come in and unpack, on their desks is the new vocabulary list for the week and a new notebook divider for the prefix. Each week of the 6-week unit focuses on one or two prefixes, and the vocabulary word list aligns with the chosen prefix(es). As students come in on Monday morning, they will cut and glue the divider and weekly word list into their vocabulary notebook, and then add the current week’s prefix to their vocabulary chart at the front of their notebook.

As they do all of these things to prep for the week, the slideshow with all of the week’s vocabulary words and definitions continues to play (so they see each word WAY more than once!) I’d also have a student add the word wall words to the bulletin board at the back of the room.

5th grade vocabulary list word wall words

By the end of day one, here is what has been accomplished:

  • Prefix word list slideshow shown and reviewed
  • Current week’s prefix added to vocabulary chart in notebooks
  • New divider glued into vocabulary notebooks
  • New vocabulary word list glued into notebooks
  • Word wall words posted in the classroom

Day Two

On day 2, we start really using the week’s prefix and corresponding vocabulary words. First, for morning work, I’ll let my students partner up, cut out, and play the matching game. Since it is only day two, a lot of times I’ll let them use their word list to help them if needed. The purpose is to just make sure they are getting more exposure to the words in multiple ways.

Prefix activities matching game

Also on day two, I’ll pass out a vocabulary homework choice board. I would have my students complete three of the activities in a row for the week in their vocabulary notebooks, then turn in their homework on day five (typically Friday.) I liked to change up the choice board each week so that they are not always completing the same activities. You could also laminate a choice board and glue it in the front of their notebooks so that they always have it available throughout the year!

Vocabulary homework choice board

Lastly on day two, whenever we have about 15-20 minutes of spare time in the day, I’ll have my students complete one of the aligned prefix writing prompts for the weeks, also in their vocabulary notebook. Again, this is just giving them another opportunity to use their vocabulary words in a meaningful way.

prefix writing prompts

Prefix Activities for Day Three

On day three (typically Wednesday), I’ll use two vocabulary review activities. Depending on the week, my students would complete these for morning work, or I’ll squeeze them into the last 30 minutes of class – you definitely don’t need a ton of time!

The first activity (and quite frankly my favorite of the week) is a vocabulary color by number activity. Students will answer each of the questions about the week’s prefix or vocabulary words, and then color the corresponding picture according to the answers they chose. This is great because if your students are anything like mine, they love any excuse to color and be creative, AND it’s a super easy formative assessment. You can see if they’re on the right track just by looking at their completed picture. You can even use this as a partner activity and have partners take turns answering and coloring.

Vocabulary color by number prefix activities

Want free color by number prefix activities to try with your students? Click here!

Next, during our reading block, I’ll have my students work on the corresponding prefix close-read activity. Depending on the week I’ll have them work individually or with partners. This is a fiction reading passage that uses all of the prefixes and vocabulary words for the week, and even some words that are not on their word list but are easily decodable by using their knowledge of the week’s prefix. Students will read the passage and fill in each blank with the appropriate word.

To extend this activity, you can have your students continue the story, or have them write their own story using the vocabulary words from the week. If you really want to boost the lessons – have students apply a reading skill they’re currently learning to the passage! Discuss characters, character traits, setting, plot, text structure, mood, and tone – the possibilities are endless! All while your students are gaining a robust vocabulary. All of these prefix practice activities align to the weekly prefix and word list.

Prefix activities reading comprehension passage

Day Four

On day four, I keep it simple with a couple of review prefix activities or prefix worksheets and that’s it – since my students have been working with the prefix and word list all week! First, I’ll throw another writing prompt into the day somewhere, just for some quick practice.

Then, I’ll set aside some time to allow students to play the prefix board game for the week. I print and laminate the game boards and game cards (though you could totally just print them and have your students cut them out on the spot and use them that way).

I’ll have my students partner up or get in groups and play the board game through. If they finish early or need a bigger challenge, have them create their own game cards and questions! I like saving the board game for the last of the prefix activities since it’s the most engaging and a great culminating review for the week!

Prefix review board game

Day Five Prefix Activities

Day five, I use as assessment day! On this last day of the week, I start by reviewing the week’s prefix and all of the prefix vocabulary words. I use interactive boom cards for this! I project each card up on my smartboard and call students up to answer each one. These are great because they give immediate feedback! Using an interactive, whole-class review is my favorite prefix activity for the day of the prefix assessment. You can also have students work through these interactive task cards on a tablet or computer!

prefix practice boom cards

Lastly, the prefix assessment. I have my students turn in their vocabulary notebooks for the week first – they just stack them up! Then they take the assessment on the week’s prefix and vocabulary words. If you don’t need/want to take it for a grade, you could just use it as a culminating prefix activity! I typically check through their notebooks while they’re taking the prefix assessment, and then we’re done for the week! The following Monday, we start the process all over again with the next prefix and vocabulary list.

prefix assessment

Other Ideas

  • Instead of sending the vocabulary choice board home for homework, have them complete one activity each morning for morning work.
  • Use the coloring activity, reading passage, and writing prompts for homework rather than the choice board.
  • Instead of an assessment on day five, have students create their OWN PowerPoint presentation for each prefix and vocabulary word to show their understanding.
  • If you don’t have time for full prefix lessons and activities – use this set of no-prep, engaging prefix worksheets instead!

Or, Grab all of the above prefix activities, lesson plans, and word lists here to use in your own classroom!

Looking for more ELA lesson ideas? Come click around the blog!

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