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How to Teach Suffixes

Welcome to our mini teaching guide on suffixes! In this post, you’ll find many different tools to help you teach suffixes to your child, as well as downloadable resources and activities. Let’s dig in!

What Is a Suffix?

A suffix is a word part that is placed at the end of a base word. Common suffixes include ED, ING, and EST. Take a look at more suffix examples below.

Suffixes Table 1

A suffix often transforms a word into a new part of speech. In the examples above, baby (a noun) is changed to babyish (an adjective); run (a verb) is changed to runner (a noun).

The Four Most Common Suffixes

The most common suffixes are S, ES, ED, and ING. These four suffixes are the most useful for beginning readers and spellers to learn because they appear frequently in words, and their meanings are easy to understand and remember.

-s and -es suffixes

Suffix S and ES indicate plurals.


-ed suffix

Suffix ED indicates past tense.


-ing suffix

Most often, suffix ING is added to verbs to indicate that something is happening in the present.

Interested in seeing more suffixes? Here’s a list of 30 common suffixes you can download and print.

click to download a list of 30 common suffixes

Adding Suffixes Is Different from Adding Prefixes

When adding a prefix to a word, you simply add the prefix to the beginning of the base word (as in unhappy). The spelling of the base word never changes. Super easy, right?

But adding a suffix to a word isn’t quite as straightforward. That’s because when you add a suffix, the base word often changes. For example:

Suffixes Table 2

Thankfully, there are some solid guidelines to follow when adding suffixes to words. Before we dive into those rules, though, let’s take a quick look at the two types of suffixes.

Two Types of Suffixes

You may have noticed on the free download that the suffixes are divided into two categories.

Two Types of Suffixes

It’s important for kids to recognize whether a suffix is a consonant suffix or a vowel suffix since the rules for adding them to base words are different.

Rules for Adding Suffixes

Rule 1: Add a consonant suffix directly to the base word.

The word 'mouthful'

Rule 2: Check the base word before adding a vowel suffix.

Here are the first three guidelines we teach for adding vowel suffixes.

  • If the base word ends in two consonants, just add the vowel suffix.
The word 'jumping'
  • If the base word has 1 syllable, 1 short vowel, and 1 final consonant, double the final consonant before adding the vowel suffix. (We teach this as the “1-1-1 Rule.” Although it may sound complicated, this rule is actually quite easy to follow when you have an understanding of syllable division rules.)
The word 'winning'
  • If the base word ends in a Silent E , drop the E before adding the vowel suffix. (Again, this is an easy rule to understand: you don’t want to have two E’s in a row, so you have to drop the first E.)
The word 'smiled'

Rule 3: If the base word ends in a single Y, change the Y to an I before adding the suffix. (This rule applies to both consonant suffixes and vowel suffixes.)

The word 'silliness'

There are more rules regarding vowel suffixes, but they apply to a smaller number of words. We teach them thoroughly and incrementally in All About Reading and All About Spelling, with plenty of hands-on practice.

What does hands-on practice look like? We use letter tiles for demonstration, and then we move on to interesting activity sheets! 

Printable Activities for Learning about Suffixes

Would you like to see some examples? Here are a few great suffix activities from All About Reading and All About Spelling.

Go Nutty activity cover

Go Nutty Activity

Sort suffixes into vowel suffixes and consonant suffixes with this hungry elephant.
Download this activity from All About Reading Level 3 (Lesson 15).

Sleeping Mice activity cover

Sleeping Mice Activity

Practice locating the base word by covering the sleeping mice with a blanket.
Download this activity from All About Reading Level 3 (Lesson 15).

Suffix Word Flippers activity cover

Suffix Word Flippers

Practice reading words with two suffixes with these Word Flippers .
Download this activity from All About Reading Level 4 (Lesson 4).

Word Trees activity cover

Word Trees

Use Word Trees to create longer words by adding prefixes and suffixes.
Learn more in this blog post, and download this activity from All About Spelling Level 7 (Lesson 17) to let your child practice building words with Word Trees.

Have you started teaching suffixes to your child yet? How is it going? Let me know in the comments below!

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Gina

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Great techniques sometimes it’s just so hard to figure out how to teach ur kids new things

This is VERY helpful! Thank you!

Kristen

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My kiddo struggles so much with reading and spelling. Great ideas!

Tanya

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Love these fun tricks!

I love this tool, would be very good for the kids.

Doug

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This looks like a great tool for learning!

Georgia Stapleton

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Great resource

Vicky

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Seems to be going well with my 2nd grader

Juanita

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Oh this is so helpful! My son struggles with understanding these! We are loving AAR!!!

Sasha

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Awesome information!! Will use it soon!

Leanne

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This will be great when we get to suffixes!

Dalila

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I have loved your blog posts, thank you so much! This has helped me to teach my children.

Lisa Ellious

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Thanks for the great ideas!

Jacquie Forrer

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I’ve been working on adding ed with my second grader. There’s some fun ideas here!

Saph

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No, not yet cause she’s not on the level yet.

Steph

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Thank you!

Keri

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I’m so thankful for your curriculum and all the tips and suggestions you provide. You’ve made teaching phonics and spelling so much more manageable!

Jenni C

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Wonderful ideas! Thanks for the printables!

Jessica

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I so appreciate the helpful tips you give for us as we teach our little ones about the wonderful world of reading and spelling. Thank you!

Anastasiia Balan

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What a great resources for suffix learning/ thank you for your inspiration!

Lauren M

says:

Thanks for the free printables! They will help as a review for my son on suffixes. We’ve passed that in Level 3 but I think it’s always good to review the rules from time to time.

Robin E.

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Lauren,
Yes, occasional review of previously mastered concepts is very important for long-term mastery!

Amber

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I am so thankful for all your fun and free printables! I am teaching AAR 2 now and this will go great with it!

Marissa Strewart

says:

Wonderful ideas!! We love this program!

Joy H

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Very helpful. Thank you!

Sarah

says:

This printable will be an excellent quick reference!

I just started suffixes with my oldest reading student. This is very helpful. I have 4 reading students that are using All About Reading.

Stephanie K

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Suffixes are definitely harder than teaching prefixes. Great tips.

Heather

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Great ideas!

Amy A

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Thanks for this post! In addition to helping my daughter next year when she reaches this level, it will help me next week as I teach an intermediate English class for adults (we live in Ukraine).

Robin E.

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Amy,
You are welcome! Knowing the rules for suffixes does make learning English as a second language easier.

Deborah

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Just in time for learning this concept at school this week.

Ginger G

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I am amazed at the valuable resources that AAR offers. Thank you so much.

Mommytwo

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This is a great resource for this skill! Thank you!

Felicity

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Adding suffixes to words is right where we’re at in AAS #3! Thanks for the helpful resources.

Robin E.

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Glad this is so timely for you, Felicity!

Zorah

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This is a great and comprehensive resource on teaching suffixes. Love this!

Jenny

says:

We’ve recently been reviewing adding suffixes in AAS 5 with my oldest and I’m so glad to see how much has stuck. If anything I only have to give him a small reminder of a rule and he immediately remembers how to spell the word. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jenny,
That is one of the results of doing the diction with each Step of All About Spelling. The dictation regularly includes patterns and concepts previously taught, so they are reviewed regularly so very little is forgotten!

We are happy to know that AAS has helped your student do so well with suffixes and other spelling!

Erin

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This is a great help :)

Wren

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Thank you for this helpful post!

Liz Humble

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Thanks for this blog post!

Dana

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I’m so glad I run across this blog! Can’t wait to read through everything. Thank you for providing this!

Ann

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Sounds so detailed and thorough- like it takes the guessing out of how to teach all those rules. Sounds like a wonderful resource.

Robin E.

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Ann,
Yes! That is our number one goal, to take the struggle out of learning to read and spell!

Karen Miler

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We love AAR! It’s made a big difference for our children!

Camille

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This is great information

I use these all the time. They are a great way to learn.

Lisa

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This info looks really helpful for when we get to prefixes and suffixes. Thank you!

Holly

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Useful for ESL teaching

Tamara

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Love the activities!

Marsha Hayes

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This is very good information. Thank you.

Nancy Schmieder

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Just taught the 1-1-1 rule with AAS. Thankful for an extra visual aid.

Alisha

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Thank you!

Stacie

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Thank you for the always helpful information!

Heather

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This resource is very helpful!

Tanya scoggjns

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Changing to AAR for the new year- can’t wait to get started

Cindy

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This will be helpful when my little reader is ready. So far we’ve only encountered the S suffix.

This is very helpful. Thank you.

Amy

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Thanks! Great resource.

Heidi K

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I’m learning so much by planning to teach my kids. ☺️

Wanda Brown

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I’ve used All About Spelling and look forward to learning more about your All About Reading program.

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Thank you for all of your wonderful tools and now gracious you are with giveaways!! We have loved levels 1,2,3 and now are ready for level 4 with our 4 school aged kids!

Dawn Taylor

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Thank You for such a wonderful explanation on suffixes this should help my daughter!

C Jimenez

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I love all the tips you guys give in addition to your wonderful program! Love your blog! Thanks for going to extra mile!

Alice

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Thank you for your help with reading. I always appreciate the clarity and fun of your explanations and help. :)

Karla Coriano

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We started last week to teach suffixes. My son is not doing so well, but reading isn’t his strength.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Karla,
If your son needs further help than the rules and activities in this article, please let us know. We can help you help him master suffixes.

Sally Chancellor

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Wow, that is a lot more information than I remember learning! I bet this will help my oldest :)

Allison

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I would love to try this program!

Becky Thomas

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I have not started yet, but there are good ideas here! Thank you!

Karen

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This sounds very helpful

Beth

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This is so great! I didn’t even know some of these rules, just was taught to memorize. Looking forward to starting level three with my daughter soon.

Heather Walter

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My son enjoyed the sleeping mice activity. Thanks!

Robin E.

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Heather,
Thank you for coming back and letting us know your son enjoyed the Sleeping Mice activity! We love hearing that our activities are enjoyable for students.

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These materials look great!

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Thank you

Patty Martinez

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This explains alot. Thank you

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Thank you!

Ellen Theiss

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Haven’t used allaboutlearning but have heard good things about it! Looking into using it for my 10 year-old.

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Thank you for your wonderful help in teaching my children! I’m always pleased to see your emails on my in-box.

Robin E.

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You are welcome, Erin. We are happy to be able to send emails that are pleasing and not bothersome!

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Thank you! This is so helpful!

Beth

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This has been super helpful with my daughter. Thank you!

Jessica

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We haven’t gotten to this yet, but I will keep this in mind! Very helpful! Thanks!

April

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We’ve been learning suffixes so I’m so glad I found this blog post :)

Connie

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Great resource!!

Melissa

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Thank you for sharing these ideas!

Lisa Dorsett

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Thank you for this post! This will help with me teaching my children about suffixes! I love this!

Heidi Johnson

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Love the word flippers!

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This is so clever! Thank you for sharing.

Anne

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Thanks. My kids totally love the word flippers!

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We are HUGE fans of AAR & AAS! Favorite part of our HS!

Tawnya

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So helpful! For I am about to teach this, this week.

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Wow! I’d love to try this program!

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We are loving AAR!

katie

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This seems like such an easy way to teach this topic and make it understandable for both me and my child!

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We love all about reading!

Pat

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I love that the lessons are so simple! Thanks for the support!

Kelly

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This looks great. :)

Shereen

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I’m just starting teaching prefixes and suffixes. Thank you for the resources.

Deb

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Awesome, thank you!

Alicia

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This post is so helpful! This is why I love All About Learning Press! Not only is the purchased curriculum fabulous, but the extra support is priceless! Thank you!

Abigail

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Great, factual information ! Excited to implement these resources during our school days.

Crista

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I am so happy that I found this website and program. I am excited to start using the resources and materials on the site!

Dawn

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Just started on suffixes in AAS and this method is WORKING-we are having great success after years of frustration with other programs!

Robin E.

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Dawn,
Thank you for letting us know that All About Spelling is working well for you!

Summer

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Perfect timing to find this! Thanks!

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All about reading has given my 7 year old son the confidence he was missing to excel in reading. Thanks for creating such a seamless program.

Robin E.

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Marlucia,
We love confident readers! We are so pleased to hear that your son is doing well with All About Reading.

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I like this a lot.

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We can’t say enough good things about All About Reading. We are simply amazed by how well our son is doing with reading as a result of using this program. We recommend it to all our homeschool friends.

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Thank you for the recommendations, Kevin!

Rachel

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Thank you so much for making this easy! I never learned these things as a child and it made spelling so frustrating and difficult! It makes it much easier to explain it to my children when i know what is going on and have a plan of attack! Thanks for all your great resources!

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I look forward to trying this in my classroom.

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Very helpful, thank you!

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Interesting

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Very thorough.

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Helpful – thanks!

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Spot on explanations with examples makes it so easy to follow…..thank you….

Kelly Potter

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I’m excited to introduce this topic. You’re downloads have been so helpful!

Amanda E

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Great explanation! Bookmarking for when I need this!

Keri

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I wish the rules would have been taught this clearly when I was a kid.

Meggan

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This makes teaching my kids to read SO much easier!

Christina Lopez

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Thank you for the great ideas!

Joy

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Your ideas are so helpful for all students. They need the keys to unlock words as they increase in intensity.

Carmen

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This is a very helpful article and I love the printable activities! Thank you!

Andrea

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This is great timing! My child is just now working on a prefixes/suffixes unit in school. I was so happy when we started to go over one example and he said “Oh yeah, I saw that on Nessy.” Thanks!

Robin E.

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Andrea,
I love it when our blog articles are so timely for someone! We also have a prefix article that may help your child as well.

Donna Nabipour-Erickson

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This program has helped me be a better teacher and my students understand the complexities of our language. Thank you so much!

Robin E.

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You are so welcome, Donna! We love helping parents, tutors, and teachers help their students succeed with reading and spelling!

Kathy

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Thank you for sharing these activities. I am teaching suffixes to a couple students I tutor and will enjoy using these tools.

Robin E.

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We’re happy to know that these are timely for your students, Kathy!

Allison

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Brilliant and fun to do! thank you!

Lauren

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This is such a helpful article. Thank you!

Tara

says:

Great resource!!

Lori

says:

I really appreciate how you break things down and make it simple to understand and teach. I don’t remember learning many of the rules when I learned to read and write, so I was nervous about teaching my child, but you have made the process so much easier and enjoyable than I ever imagined it could be. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lori,
You are so welcome! So many learn-to-read-and-spell programs teach some things explicitly and leave other things for children to sort of figure out for themselves. All About Reading and All About Spelling are designed so all aspects of reading and spelling are explicitly taught.

Leah

says:

Great resource!

tracy

says:

We had so much fun learning about suffixes!

Lara

says:

Thank you for laying all of this out so clearly! We are right in the middle of lessons on vowel suffixes in level 3, so this is helpful!

SarahD

says:

I’m interested in teaching the “bits” of words (affixes) to my struggling reader/speller. How much morphology is involved in AAS?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
Great question!

All About Spelling teaches a number of effective spelling strategies to help young learners spell with confidence, and morphology is one of them. AAS teaches suffixes and prefixes, works with compound words, and more. A large portion of level 7 is spent on Latin and Greek roots. Our Word Tree blog post shows some of how we approach them.

Here are some ways that All About Reading and All About Spelling can help students with that struggle:

– Each lesson time is simple and explicit and will include 3 simple steps: the review of what was learned the day before, a simple new teaching, and a short practice of that new teaching.

– Incremental lessons. AAR and AAS break every teaching down into its most basic steps and then teach the lessons in a logical order, carrying students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on what the student has already mastered.

– AAR and AAS are multisensory. Research has shown that when a student is taught through all three pathways at the same time, a method known as simultaneous multisensory instruction, he will learn significantly more than when taught only through his strongest pathway.

– AAR and AAS use specially color-coded letter tiles. Working with the letter tiles can make the difference between understanding or not understanding a concept.

– AAR and AAS are scripted so you can concentrate on your student. The script is very clear, without excess verbiage.

– AAR and AAS have built-in review in every lesson. Students that struggle generally need lots of review in order to retain concepts. With AAR and AAS, your student will have a Review Box so you can customize the review. This way, you can concentrate on just the things that she needs help with, with no time wasted on reviewing things that she already knows.

– All About Reading has lots of fluency practice. One of the things that Marie noticed when she was researching reading programs is that few programs have enough review built in for students who struggle to gain fluency. AAR has fluency sheets or a story to be read with every lesson, so students can practice reading smoothly with expression and confidence.

– All About Spelling has a gradual progression for increasing the student’s stamina and fluency in writing, from words and short phrases in Level 1, to phrases and short sentences in Level 2, to 12 dictation sentences per step in Level 3. Partway through Level 3, the Writing Station activity is introduced. In this exercise, students write sentences of their own that they make up using some of their spelling words. In this way students have begun to use words in a more real-world context through dictation and writing, to help them transition to longer writing assignments.

All About Reading and All About Spelling have a one-year guarantee. You can try them, and if for any reason you feel that they aren’t the right match for your student, return them for a full refund.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Tamara Abboud

says:

Thank you for this article… it explains suffixes clearly :)

Danuja Hanangalaarachchix

says:

Thank you very much for your mini lessons.
Very useful. As a ELT teacher and a parent I really appreciate your support and help.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Danuja,
We are happy to help!

Stacey Mureay

says:

My son could really use this program. Spelling and writing is such a challenge for him.

Emily

says:

These are fantastic! Thanks so much.

Maribel

says:

This is great for the kids to understand how it works.
Thanks!!!

Barbara

says:

Love this clear info about understanding the way to spell it right

Thanks a lot! Great material! I’d love to read about prefixes soon!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We have a prefixes blog post already!

Erika

says:

Pinning this one for future use!

Nadia

says:

We will try Sleeping Mice today, because for Non-English speaker kid it’s hard to find the base word and my daughter tried to add everything to everything without system. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nadia,
I hope the Sleeping Mice activity helps your daughter practice this concept. It becomes very important with spelling. However, if she continues to have difficulties, let us know. We may be able to help.

Gale

says:

Such a great page. Pinned it for later!

Tricia Quinn Tebboth

says:

Very creative and helpful and fun!

Karen

says:

My son loves the suffix tiles. Although he thinks it is hysterical to build nonsensical words with suffixes. Thanks AAS!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Karen,
Building nonsensical words that correctly use suffixes shows a great level of understanding how English works. Maybe your son will be the next Shakespeare! Shakespeare invented more than 1700 words still in common usage today, mostly by doing things like adding suffixes to change verbs into nouns and other parts of speech changes, making compound words, and so on. Lewis Caroll did similar wordplay in his words as well. Being able to make up words is one of the things that makes English great!

Debbie

says:

Your teaching guides are so eye pleasing and it appears to me that my son would have fun learning from the activities.

Elin

says:

Thank you, this is so helpful for my students

Ann

says:

I love these ideas. Downloaded and will try using tomorrow! Thanks.

Stephanie Dorn

says:

Great tools for learning!

Nancy Hawkins

says:

This looks like a neat way to teach my grand daughter. She is only four but is spelling and reading already.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nancy,
You have a wonderfully advanced granddaughter! It is especially important with little, advanced learners like her to keep the instruction fun and with as much hands-on as you can manage. This instruction and especially these activities should help.

Michelle Jardine

says:

Love reading your posts and implementing the ideas! Thank you!

Sandra

says:

Good ideas thanks

J. Lea

says:

This is very helpful. Thank you.

LaTrese Williams

says:

Thank you for sharing these great teaching tools.

Raiza Melchor

says:

Thank you for sharing such helpful information! I can’t wait to review and practice these activities with my children.

Jennifer

says:

Thank you for the downloads.

RH

says:

Thank you for the great teaching tools

Beth

says:

Thank you for the free resources and teaching advice.

Sara

says:

Thank you! We haven’t reached this level yet but it won’t be much longer. Another perk to homeschooling…I learn so much right along with my children! A lot of these rules I didn’t remember. And I’ve always considered myself a horrible speller. Using this curriculum has me excited myself to feel confident in my own spelling. :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sara,
You are welcome! Suffixes are pretty straightforward when reading, but they do become quite tricky when spelling. However, All About Spelling covers them all, in detail, with plenty of review and practice. Your children and you will be great spellers! (And I agree about learning so much alongside my children. I was a good speller before, but I am understanding grammar for the first time in my life!)

Amber

says:

Thank you for this blog. So many helpful tips to teach my kids. ☺

Stacy

says:

This makes teaching suffixes so easy! Thank you!

Miranda

says:

Great tips!

Shelly

says:

Great Info! Thanks so much for sharing!

Carly Doggett

says:

Great resource!

Carolyn

says:

Using AAS1 and would love to check out the reading program.

Teresa

says:

Thank you for the resources.

Jade P

says:

I was wondering how I was going to go about teaching suffixes. Thank you for making it so much easier for us to understand! All about Reading has made reading so much fun to get through. That is again for a great curriculum!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

No need to wonder now, Jade. All About Reading makes suffixes as straightforward as possible!

Kari

says:

Wonderful tips! Thank you!

Beverly Brown

says:

Thank you for your curriculum! My son is an amazing reader b/c of it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We’re glad to hear it, Beverly!

Patricia

says:

Wonderful resources and tips! I enjoy seeing my students grow in their abilities when I teach using Ortin-Gillingham based/inspired resources and approaches.

Brandy Pethel

says:

Thank you for such a great program!

Juill

says:

We’re not to this activity yet, but I’ll hold on to this in the meantime. Thanks.

Rena

says:

We just did these activities in Level 3 today and were much enjoyed by my son. There is a definite genius to all the learning activities. They are motivating to kids learning a new concept. This curriculum makes teaching reading so easy and enjoyable.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Rena!

Christy

says:

A helpful resource!

Vanessa

says:

Thanks for the great resource!

Mari Bolton

says:

I love this help! We have started with suffixes and he seems to get them. I’m sure the 30 Common Suffixes and their meanings, will help me much in helping my son how to break down the word to read and spell it out. Your curriculum has really helped me out in how to teach him to read step by step. Rule by rule. He has some dyslexia and so this curriculum has come as a blessing. Thank you for the great free printables.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Mari. And we are happy to hear that our curriculum is helping your son become successful with reading and spelling!

annie sauer

says:

Good info!

Holly

says:

I loved learning the meanings of suffixes to help build vocabularly as a student. I am glad to have tools to teach my own children.

Sarah

says:

Thanks for the helpful info! :)

Sheilah Scott

says:

Absolutely love these programs…our now 16 yr old with apd has done well…now reading and comprehending. Preparing to begin Level 4…can’t go wrong with this!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sheilah,
Thank you for letting us know how your 16-year-old has done with All About Reading. As level 4 is the last level, you may like to know What Happens After All About Reading.

Samantha

says:

These are some great free printables! Thanks for sharing :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Samantha. We hope these printables help you student learn suffixes.

I really need to win this for my students!

Beth Stamper

says:

I really need to win this for my students!

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