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Latin Word Origin Activities for Fifth Grade

By Audrey Alleyne

Latin word origin activities for the fifth grade motivate students to improve their literacy skills in a fun way. Learn some word origin activities for your fifth grade class.

Use Vocabulary Building Games

Latin word origin activities for the fifth grade can incorporate vocabulary building games which help students to master new vocabulary. Prefixes, suffixes and root words can be used as building blocks. Students can learn to recognize families of words with these word origin activities for the fifth grade.

Games With Latin Roots

Teach your fifth graders that ancient Latin and Greek words that live on in the English language which they use every day. Following are a number of ways to encourage them to learn words effectively.

Family Word Games

Choose some common roots that are featured in everyday words and see students enjoy finding families of these root words. Start with the root word aqua, for example. Tell students the meaning is water, and give them a few examples like aquatic and aqua marine; then let them do their own word search and see how many words they can come up with incorporating this root. Divide them into teams and give points to the team that submits the most words Give two roots at a time and limit them to five words per root, so they will not be burdened with too long a list of words to learn in one lesson.

Use the root audi- (hear) to play a syllable game. Teach fifth graders that the root word audi- is found within the word meaning to hear. Give them example of words broken into syllables like auditory--au-di-tor-y and audience--aud-i-en-ce. Then let them search words, break them down and give meanings. Once again, divide them into teams and give points to the team with the most words. Give two roots and a limit of five new words for each team. Another common root word you can use is cent--one. Words which can be broken into syllables are: percent, percentage, century and centenarian.

Prefix and Suffix Games

Have students match the correct meanings to the following prefixes and suffixes. Then add at least one word to each prefix and suffix.

Per: good

Circum: against

Auto: around

Anti: self

Ante: before

Bene: through

Answers: per--through, circum--around, auto--self, anti--against, ante--before, bene--good.


Ous: pain

Algia: state of

Ette: female

Ess: full of

Ward: in the direction of

Ness: small

Answers: ous--full of, algia--pain, ette--small, ess--female, ward--in the direction of, ness--state of

Word Examples

Following are examples of words for each prefix and suffix:


Per: perforate

Circum: circumference

Auto: autobiography

Anti: antibiotic

Ante: antenatal

Bene: beneficial


Ous: gracious

Algia: neuralgia

Ette: statuette

Ess: heiress

Ward: homeward

Ness: happiness

An added activity to one of the lessons on Latin word origin activities for the fifth grade can be to present each of the above words to students, discuss the meanings with them, and then encourage them to find families of words for each one.

The Value of Building Vocabulary

Fifth graders are usually receptive and eager to learn about the world around them. Teaching them to discover how to build words from roots, prefixes and suffixes is an exciting adventure for them in their eagerness to learn, and will be of great value to them throughout their years of learning.