Root Words as Clues


In this lesson plan, students will learn how to identify the root word in known and unknown words. This skill is important for deciphering the meaning of words with the same or similar root. Students will use appropriate tools (dictionaries, etymologies, etc.) to find the meaning of root words they are unable to identify. By the end of this lesson, students will be able to confidently use root words to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.

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This lesson plan uses Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon root words to find the meaning of words with similar roots or unfamiliar words. Root words are not the same as base words. Base words can stand alone and make sense. In general, root words cannot stand alone. For example, the word ‘pre’ meaning before needs to be paired with a base word such as ‘test’ to complete the definition. The technicalities of the distinctions between the root or base word are not as important as the student knowing the meaning of common root words and that students can use one root word to comprehend a word they may not be familiar. The lesson focuses on teaching students the definitions of common roots and how to apply them to understand similar words. By the end of this lesson, your students will be experts at using root words as clues to unlock the meaning of new words!

Additional information


3rd Grade, 4th Grade


Language Arts

State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.