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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:30 by NZTecAdmin
Word building (word families) (PDF, 26 KB)

The purpose of the activity

In this activity, the learners decode unfamiliar words by identifying root words and exploring the patterns that can be formed when they are changed. The purpose is for the learners to become familiar with the way in which words may be built around a root (for example, jump, jumping, jumps, jumped) to assist them in decoding.

The teaching points

  • Identifying word roots while reading.
  • Decoding words that have a known root.


  • A reading text, whiteboard, markers.

The guided teaching and learning sequence

1. Choose several regular, everyday words that appear in the texts the learners are required to read.

2. Write one of these words on the board. Model the way a word family can be created from that word.

3. Ask the learners to give examples of sentences that contain each of the words you have added.

4. Write a different word root on the board and ask the learners to suggest other words that could belong to the same family.

5. Discuss the way the word roots change and, with the learners, look for patterns.

6. Discuss verbs that have irregular past tense formations, for example, run, ran; hold, held.

7. Ask the learners to highlight roots of words in their own reading and record the root and the additions to it (the word family).

Follow-up activities

Include compound words as well as inflected endings, prefixes and suffixes. Examples can include:

  • run: runs – running – ran
  • play: plays – played – playing – player – playful
  • stand: stands – standing – stood – grandstand cake-stand – standard
  • work: works – worked – working – worker workers – workable – workshop – housework overworked – teamwork
  • create: creative – creation – creativity – creator creating – recreation.


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