Greek and Latin Root Words

Prefixes, Suffixes, and Greek and Latin Root Words. Sounds scary. Sounds difficult. In reality, knowing the origin and breaking down larger words can help children learn new vocabulary quick and easy.

Look at the word autobiography. If we break it down into smaller parts, it is easier to determine its meaning without having to look it up or guess. Auto- is the Greek root meaning “self,” bio- is the Greek root meaning “life,” and graph is the Greek root for “written.” Piece it together and an autobiography is written by a person about his own life. Take away the root “auto” and a biography is written about a life.

An example of a prefix would be “un-,” which means not. So breaking down words like unsaid, unequal, undone, and unclear it’s easier to see that these words actually mean not said, not equal, not done, and not clear.

When children are learning to read, it is important for them to have a background knowledge of these prefixes, suffixes, and root words so they can comprehend the vocabulary words they are reading. It’s one thing to read the words on a page, but the second part to reading is comprehending.

Here is a fun way to practice prefixes, suffixes, and root words using paint chip samples from the paint or home improvement store. Just write the “root” on the top of the card, and using the other colors, write words that come from those roots. You can punch a hole in them and create a book of words. Whenever your child comes across a word using a specific prefix, suffix, or root, add it to the card.


Laugh, Play, Read at the Library

Laugh, Play, Read Literacy Night has begun again. If you haven’t attended a Laugh, Play, Read program at our library, here is a snippet of what you can expect.

Once a month at our Main Library and once a month at a branch location, I set up a couple tables with different literacy-based activities designed to let children have fun playing and exploring while their parents learn ways to replicate them at home. Most of the programs have a make-it-take-it component that allows parents to create a project to take home.

Last night, we did Sensory Explosion at North Branch. Sensory Explosion is one of my favorites because it involves making playdough, playing with puzzle pieces in the colored rice tub, making letters in sand and exploring rough surfaces to draw and write. We made Bubble Dough, an extremely easy to make form of playdough. I used hair conditioner (the brand that costs less than $1), corn starch, and a little olive oil. According to the recipe, shower gel or hand soap will also work in place of conditioner (but it is what I had on hand). The children had so much fun pretending it was a turtle or hat, but they also used playdough mats to practice forming letters and numbers.

The programs are designed for children 3 to 8 years old. Most of the activities we do can be tailored to any of the ages and grade levels within that range.

Keep a lookout for a program nearest you. We will be doing several different themes:

If You Build It: Laugh, play, and learn new ideas for teaching early reading skills to your children by building with blocks and other materials. Make your own literacy games to take home.

Games, Games, Games: Laugh, play, and learn new ideas for teaching early reading skills to your children with homemade and repurposed games. Make your own literacy games to take home.

ABCs 123s: Laugh, play, and learn new ideas for teaching early reading skills to your children. Make your own literacy games to take home.

Storytelling: Laugh, play, and learn new ideas for teaching early reading skills to your children by bringing the pages of favorite stories to life. Make your own literacy games to take home.

More Great Teacher-Approved Apps

In October, I shared with you three apps perfect for your preschooler who is working on his/her early literacy skills. Today, I will be sharing three more great apps for your school-ager (Kindergarten through 2nd grade). These apps come from a teacher workshop at one of our local school districts.

k123 1. Kindergarten BINGO: Letters, Numbers, Shapes, & Colors –
Ages: 4 to 6
Cost: Free!
Purpose: Teaches shapes, alphabet, and numbers. Children can choose BINGO games based on colors and shapes, alphabet letter or sounds, and numbers. Parents can choose the difficulty settings.



grammarjammers2. Grammar Jammers Primary Edition – Pearson Education, Inc.
Ages: 5 to 7
Cost: Free!
Purpose: Animated songs and chants that explain adjectives, contractions, nouns, pronouns, verbs, punctuation, and sentence structure. Quick checks at the end of a song help with review.



pbsparents3. PBS Parents Play & Learn – PBS KIDS
Ages: Birth to 5
Cost: Free!
Purpose: An app for both children and parents to use together. The app comes with just a couple games that can be played on your tablet. The rest of the information teaches parents how to turn everyday activities like taking a walk, bathtime, and a day at the zoo into literacy- and math-based experiences.

*Links take you to the Apple iTunes App Store.

Homemade Monday: Make a Book

We’ve talked about great books to read with your children in the last four months. And there will definitely be more lists to come; however, it is just as easy to make your book and the benefits outweigh the energy and little cost it requires to make.


So why make your own book? It goes along with the idea of repetition, shape/color/object recognition, motivation, and bonding. If children are helping co-author the book with you, they will be more likely to recognize the shapes or objects in the book. If they are able to choose the topic, there is more motivation to want to read it–over and over again. And if they are reading it over and over again, there is repetition–a key skill in the early literacy process.

Making your own book requires just a few things: pictures, markers or crayons, glue, paper, and a stapler or rings to bind it. Next, you need to choose a topic. This can range from going on a walk and taking pictures of things you see together to cutting out pictures from a magazine to letting your child draw the pictures (or illustrate). If you are going to take pictures, try letting your child take a couple photographs or at least let them point to the things they want to have photographed. If you are going to cut out pictures from a magazine, let your child try using the scissors–guide them, but let them do the work. This helps build small muscles and leads to better handwriting. After you have your pictures, glue them on construction paper or cardstock. Make sure you label each page with a specific word or sentence–depending on the age of your child. Then staple the book together or punch holes in the pages and keep them together using a ring from the office supply store.

The possibilities are endless. Some suggestions though…if you are doing a shape book, take pictures of familiar places and then have your child point out specific shapes in the pictures. Outline them and label the page with the shape name. Go on a nature walk and take pictures. Ask your child what each picture is about and write down what he/she says. Write a sentence leaving out one word. Let your child fill in the blank and then color a picture to go along with that sentence. Use old greeting cards, paint samples, wallpaper books, junk mail, cereal boxes, book covers (free at the library!!), or pictures from those books from your collection that are falling apart to save them from the trash.

Here are so more tips for creating your own homemade book.

And don’t forget to show your local librarian what you made!!

Homemade Monday: This is Not a Box

How many times have you purchased an expensive new toy for your child only to find them playing with the box  with great enthusiasm leaving the new toy tossed to the side? Why do they do that? What is it about that box that makes it so much more fascinating than the fancy new toy? I think I may have found the answer:

this-is-not-a-boxGraphic Source:

While the toy is really just a toy (unless it’s a set of blocks or Legos or something that could serve more than one purpose), the box is so much more than just a box. It can be a car at the “drive-in” movie theater (your living room); it can be a Jeep on Safari; it can be a secret clubhouse; it can be a super special reading nook. Remember, the simpler the toy the more complex the learning; the more complex the toy, the simpler the learning.

So don’t throw away those boxes from Christmas just yet! Here are a sixty other ideas for cardboard boxes in all sizes from Red Ted Art; just click HERE!

Don’t forget to stop by the library and pick up a book about the fun in a cardboard box.


Play Provides…

If you have been following this blog the last four months, then you know play is so important in the life of a child, especially in the first three years. Play is learning. Play is exploring. Play is experimenting. Play is fun. I could say more about play, but I found this great graphic that summarizes everything I need to say:


An infographic from First Things First.