Morphology Games: What making up words reveals


The purpose of this lesson is to raise awareness of morphemes, specifically suffixes. It should get the students to recognize that suffixes carry meaning, and that they can use this meaning to give them clues about about unknown words that they encounter.


Lesson Plan

1. I write the sentence The girl was langiful because of the flartity on the board then cover it up before the students see it. We will use this for the assessment at the end. I will number off the students so that they form nine groups of 2 to 4 students.
2. I give each group of students a plastic bag with cards in it. Each card has one word of a sentence written on it. The kids need to put the words in order to form a correct sentence. I ask the students to begin the sentence with the girl was...
a. In the sentence there will be an adjective and a noun that are invented. The kids will not know what the invented words mean, but they will recognize where to place them because of their suffix endings. They will eventually learn that the endings they recognize are suffixes that denote a category (adjective and noun), and that\&\#180;s why they implicitly understood where to put each word.
b. The kids will all form a sentence that goes The girl was_______-ous because of the _______-ion (the list of invented words with -ous and -ion is below).

Invented adjectives-
gragous tiganous
livanous baltous
nalous charous
valgous larous
pulous beluterous

Invented nouns-
nirition taltation pirition lintion
tigation palgaation
tulation pretation

3. The first group will read their sentence, and I will fill in the blanks with the correct words, minus the unknown adjective and noun. I will ask a member of each group to come up and stick the unknown noun and adjective on the board where they think it fits. It will look something like this:

1. The girl was beluterous because of the nirition
2. Galgous calation
3. Valgous tulation
4. etc. etc. 

4. I will ask the kids how they knew where to put the words they didn\&\#180;t know in an effort to raise their awareness of the suffixes. The kids usually see the pattern right away when they are listed in columns like this. They usually realize that the common suffix is giving them a clue to the meaning, and I will talk about this further. I will tell them that the suffixes they see in the patterns make the words adjectives and nouns, respectively, and I will talk about what an adjective and a noun is. Ask them if they can think of any other words that end in -ous and -ion.
5. Comprehension check: I give the kids a bunch of real stems, and have them sort them into two categories: Those that go with the noun ending (-ion), and those that go with the adjective ending (-ous). 


6. I have a stem on a card that has velcro next to it. I use this stem as an example to show that I can stick the correct suffix on the stem to make a recognizable word. 

7. Each group gets another bag of stems (listed below), and the velcro suffixes -ion and -ous. The kids will repeat what I've done in number 6, combining stems with suffixes. This time, however, they have to decide which stem-suffix combinations (at least one for the noun and one for the adjective) work in the original sentence. Once they figure out the correct suffix-root combination, they can insert the real adjective and noun back into the original frame to make a real sentence. With the stems that they are given, there are only a few possible sentences that the students can make. 

New stems:

Goal sentences: The girl was nervous because of the attention
The girl was famous because of the attention
The girl was nervous because of the investigation
Other possibility that is not as strong: The girl was famous because of the investigation

8. Assessment: I uncover the sentence on the board listed under #1. This is to see if students can apply their awareness of suffixes to a new set of suffixes. I ask the students if they can identify the adjective and noun, respectively, and what it is that lets them know that each one is an adjective and a noun. The students should answer that it is the suffix that allows them to know that the unknown words are a noun and an adjective, respectively. Ask them if they can think of any more -ful (adjective) and -ity (noun) words. The children might say something like city, at which point it would be a good idea to discuss the difference between city and generosity. You should talk about morphemes, that -ity adds meaning to the word generous. They will see that generosity contains a separate morpheme, the suffix -ity, which is different from the ity on the end of city. Ask them to take off -ity from the word city. If they are left with the letter c, they will realize that the -ity in city is not a separate morpheme, as c has no meaning by itself. In contrast, show them that they can take the -ity off of generosity, and they get the word generous.

Class Time Needed

1 hour



Grade Level

Grades 3-5