We use the Houghton Mifflin reading program in my district, which often leaves much to be desired for our gifted learners.
The year opens with a Structural Analysis skill of “Suffixes: -ful, -less, -ly.” The built-in lesson emphasizes the meaning of these suffixes, however this lesson would take about one second to remind my students that the word “careful” means “full of care.”
So what do we do?
I adjusted the lesson to an inductive exercise in which students examine how suffixes change a word’s part of speech.
Find The Pattern
For example, I might ask my class to observe the patterns in adding -ful to care, peace, and beauty. I’d ask them to note the part of speech before adding -ful, and then after. They should come up with:
- care is a noun (and a verb), but careful is an adjective
- peace is a noun, but peaceful is an adjective
- beauty is a noun, but beautiful is an adjective
The pattern is that -ful turns nouns and verbs into adjectives.
Do the same with -less:
- care is a noun/verb, careless is an adjective
- pain is a noun, painless is an adjective
- bottom is a noun, bottomless is an adjective
The suffix -less turns words into adjectives, also.
- quick is an adjective, but quickly is an adverb
- quiet is an adjective, but quietly is an adverb
- calm is an adjective, but calmly is an adverb
The suffix, -ly turns adjectives into adverbs.
I know my students love finding the exceptions. See if they can find any words that end in -full or -less that aren’t adjectives. Likewise for -ly and adverbs.
-less: bless and unless both go against the pattern -ful: awful goes against the pattern -ly: fly, lily, and curly go against the pattern
Looking for changes in part of speech is an easy way to incorporate patterns into your lesson, and reinforce the fundamentals of grammar. It can also serve as a bridge to thinking more deeply about the way our language functions as well as other langauges. Which can then lead to students developing their own languages. Fun!