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Introduce: The Prefix pre-

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Lesson Type: Introduce
Grade: 2, 3
Group Size: Small Group, Large Group, Whole Class
Length: 15 minutes
Goal: Given the prefix pre-, students will generate and use words that contain pre-.

What to Do


Write the prefix pre- on the board or on a piece of chart paper for the students to see.


1. Introduce the prefix pre- and solicit examples of words that contain pre-.

Today we are going to learn about prefixes. Who knows what a prefix is?

2. Allow time for students to respond.

A prefix is a word part added to the beginning of a word. It changes the meaning of a word. Pre- is a prefix that is used in many words. Prepay, preview, and pre-war are all words that have the prefix pre- in them. Do you know of any other words that have the prefix pre-?

3. As students share, write the responses on the board or on a piece of chart paper. Circle the prefix pre- in each word as it is given.

4. Define the meaning of pre-, as well as words containing the prefix pre-.

Look at the list of words with the prefix pre-. Who knows what pre- means? Pre- means “before.” Look at prepay. Prepay means “pay before.” When the prefix pre- is added to pay, it changes the meaning of the word. Can anyone tell us what preview means? What about pre-war?

5. Solicit the meanings of the remaining words from the first step.


6. Connect words to students’ prior knowledge. Ask students a variety of questions to help them connect their experiences to the words in the list generated in the first step. For example:

Has anyone prepaid for Girl Scout Cookies?

Have you ever previewed a movie?

Can anyone use pre-war in a sentence?


For Advanced Students:

Encourage these students to use each word on the class-created list in a sentence.

Explain how the parts of speech may change when a prefix is added. In the case of the prefix pre-, the part of speech sometimes changes. For example, the verb pay becomes the verb prepay. The verb view can become the verb preview or the noun preview depending on how it is used in the sentence.

For Struggling Students:

For the students who have difficulty understanding what a prefix is, try presenting the word list above as a series of math equations. For example:

  • pre + pay = prepay
  • pre + view = preview
  • pre + war = pre-war

For ELL Students:

Point out that some of the same prefixes may exist in their native language. If the prefix or suffix is not the same as in English, there may be an equivalent in their native language.

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