Discover, Decode, DISSECT, Develop, Discuss, Define

Posted by on Jun 14, 2013 in Freebies | 0 comments

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
― Stephen King

I love dissecting words! I love sharing Greek and Latin roots with my third grade students. They like to know that “manuscript” literally means “hand writing”.

Word Detective

Children need to look at words, known and unknown, to determine what it is they know about them. Dissecting words, to me, is going beyond decoding. I not just looking at the letter clue, the context clues, and the visual clues to decide what the word might say. I am looking at the word to think about what it IS saying.

Compound words are so fun. The two parts are supposed to make meaning together. A “bluebird” is indeed a bird that is blue and a “mailbox” is a box for mail. But we need to let kids recognize that “breakfast” is the time when we break our fast from the night before. They may need to learn a new meaning for fast, and that’s a good thing. “Necklaces” started out as lace for necks.

I like to think that “island” is a compound word that came about when sailor thought they saw land, but they weren’t sure, then they thought maybe it was, and then finally somebody shouted , “It is land!” It makes a good story to help the kids remember how to spell it anyway.

Some fun words are what I call “fake compound words”. For example, carpet is NOT a pet to keep in your car and while you will have to pay for each person to enter the amusement park, you are not being asked to pay per son.

Kids can dissect a word by covering part of it with a finger and thinking about the rest.

Look for prefixes. We learned un-, dis, re-, in-, mis, for a reason. And the reason is to use what they mean to help explain the word. I love the the word “mistake” actually means to take wrongly and the word “display” means not play.

So many suffixes and inflectional endings to give us more meaning for our words! -less, -ful, able, -ness, -ment, and could we, would we pay attention to -tion and let it help us with our spelling?

Maybe you already know that “triangle” means three angles. And, maybe, it won’t surprise you to know that quadrilateral literally means 4 sides. But I tell you, I was so excited when I was reading a list of suffixes recently and discovered -gon also means angle! So polygon is literally Greek for many angles! So then we have pentagon, hexagon, octagon, decagon, oh and my favorite dodecagon!

This word play can be fun for your kids! You just have to be excited by words.


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