Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about prefixes. It is designed to complement the Prefixes topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Help children become active readers and pay attention to how words are constructed. Teach them the skills they need to decode unfamiliar words. This movie will explore common prefixes. We highly recommend pausing throughout the movie and allowing children to brainstorm other words with prefixes.

Review with children that a prefix is a letter or group of letters that is attached to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. Write the word rewrite, then point out the root word and have children identify its meaning. Next point out the prefix re- and explain that it means “again.” So the word rewrite means “to write again.” Come up with other words that use the prefix re- and define them together. Words may include rebuild, retell, replant, and reappear. Explore other prefixes together. Review with children that the prefix mis- means “wrong” or “badly.” So the word mistreat means “to treat badly.” The prefixes super- and extra- can intensify the meaning of a word. Someone who does well in school or on a team might be called a superstar, and something that is extraordinary is extremely special. Come up with other examples together, and help children understand that a prefix can change the meaning of a word.

Some prefixes give root words an opposite meaning. Write the word unsafe and have children identify the root word. Explain that the prefix un- means “not.” It gives the root word an opposite meaning. So unsafe means “not safe or dangerous.” Come up with other words that have the prefix un-, including unequal, unlucky, unwrap, and unafraid. There are several other prefixes that give the root word an opposite meaning. What does it mean to dislike something? What happens when something disappears? Have children make an inference about what the prefix dis- means. The prefixes il-, im-, in-, and ir- usually mean “not.” For example, the word illegal means “not legal or against the law. Brainstorm different words together, and add prefixes to explore how the meaning changes.

Children may be familiar with prefixes that denote amounts or numbers. For example, a bicycle has two wheels and binoculars have two lenses. Help children understand that the prefix bi- means “two.” Similarly, a tricycle has three wheels, a triangle has three angles, and a triathlon is a competition with three events. Have children infer that the prefix tri- means “three.” Then ask how many centimeters are in a meter and how many cents are in one dollar. The prefix cent- or centi- means “one hundred.”

Help children use prefixes to help them read new or unfamiliar words. If a word seems unfamiliar, they can break apart the word into its parts and read each separately. The term subzero might be new to some children. To infer its meaning, they can separate the prefix sub- and find other words they know with the same prefix, including subway or submarine. These are modes of transportation below ground. Children can infer then that the prefix sub- means “below” so subzero means “below zero degrees.” Repeat this thought process with other words that may be unfamiliar to children to help develop the skills they need to be active readers and explore words on their own.