Morphology is a powerful tool for teaching older students both decoding longer words and understanding new vocabulary words. A base word is the starting point of morphology. Morphology is the study of the smallest units of meaning in words. It is different from phonics, but just as important.
In this lesson, you introduce students to base words. Base words are a great way to start with morphology because students are already familiar with base words. They are the nouns, verbs, and adjectives they have been using for years. As a side note, base words can be other parts of speech as well, but we are keeping things simple. The challenging fun will begin when you start teaching students how you can add prefixes and suffixes to base words to change their meanings or how they are used in sentences.
It is helpful for students to know the parts of speech as they work on morphology. If your students need to work on parts of speech, I highly recommend this writing program. It teaches writing complete sentences based on parts of speech. If you need to, you can even use these two programs at the same time.
Teaching Base Words
To teach your students about base words, display the presentation below. You can access the presentation from this website for free. You can also purchase the Canva presentation for use at school.
The first slide explains that base words are words that cannot be separated into smaller parts of meaning. As a counterexample, walking can be separated into walk and ing. Walk is a base word. Walking is not. Walked is also not a base word. The suffixes -ing and -ed give the word walk additional meaning. You may also point out that one base word can have multiple meanings. For example, play can be a verb as something kids do on a playground, or play can be a noun as a theatrical performance. This definition may be hard for your students to understand, so the next slide gives examples. You can also get examples and non-examples from students.
The final five slides in the presentation show pictures. Students will make lists of the base words they see in each picture. They can do this on whiteboards or their writing notebooks. After students record what they see, give them the opportunity to share their lists with those around them. This is also a great time to incorporate sentence writing.
The Presentation on Base WordsMorphology: Base Words by Cate O’Donnell
A video example of the presentation is coming soon!
More Morphology Practice
Do you love this lesson? You can access all of the morphology lessons for FREE on this website! You can also purchase the presentations!