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Going Greek & Loving Latin

Combine art and wonderful words! Students will love creating big words and combining them with beautiful illustrations!

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. When focusing a lesson on word roots and prefixes/suffixes, often the most logical & literal visual image is that of a tree and its roots. Review the concept of a root word, including the origin of that word using the tree visualization. Ask students to share what they already know about root words.
    2. Provide students with a list of roots. List sources you'd like them to use when researching each and demonstrate how to research the origin and meaning. Allow time for research or assign date to be completed.
    3. Once this research is complete, give students with Crayola Dry Erase Boards and Pencils and have them brainstorm affixes. They can color-code prefixes and suffixes if desired. They will research the meanings of these as well.
    4. When information has been gathered for both root words and affixes, organize students into small groups. Ask students to use the information from their Dry Erase boards to create their 'root' trees. These will hold all the pieces of the words that they put together.
    5. Begin by having students rip different width strips from a brown paper lunch bag. Demonstrate how to glue these to a background piece of Crayola Construction Paper using a Glue Stick, thus creating their 'tree'. Show them how to begin with the thickest strips near the bottom center, to represent the tree trunk, then continue adding strips spreading out from this base and splitting, much like the letter 'Y.' Encourage students to add as many branches as they have room for, to fill the background.
    6. Have students add a half sheet of a dark colored construction paper to the bottom edge of their background piece. This addition will represent the image of the tree's roots. This is where the root place cards will rest. They should continue the basic idea of the branch gluing, with fewer pieces, for the underground section.
    7. Provide students with index cards and have them cover one side with pieces of the lunch bag paper, matching the tree. These will be cut in half and each half then folded in half with the brown on the outside; these should stand up like a place card. Students write the Greek or Latin root words on this side. The meaning of that root word written on the inside, the white index card side.
    8. Students then create a series of prefixes and suffix leaves. Fold a 4" (10cm) strip of paper in half. Demonstrate how to cut a leaf set; begin cutting on the folded edge, cut half a leaf shape, and end on the folded edge so that thin area is the stem. Write the word on the outside of the leaf and the meaning inside. Each student should have at least 4 of each prefix and suffix for variety.
    9. Demonstrate on one student/group set as an example and set the root place card on the underground roots. Ask them to provide you with the meaning. Place the prefix leaves on the left side of the tree branches, suffix leaves on the right, explaining (if necessary) that they are in order of placement to form a word.
    10. Demonstrate one word by adding a prefix/suffix or both to a root and creating a word. Ask the students to write the word and meaning on an index card then illustrate the meaning of the word. They could write the actual meaning, or actual word, on the back of the card and use these cards in the future for a quizzing activity. Challenge the students to see who/what group can come up with the most words with detailed illustrations!
    11. This would also made a fabulous bulletin board display!
  • Standards

    LA: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).

    LA: Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

    LA: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

    LA: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.

    VA: Brainstorm multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem.

    VA: Collaboratively set goals and create artwork that is meaningful and has purpose to the makers.

    VA: Identify and demonstrate diverse methods of artistic investigation to choose an approach for beginning a work of art.

    VA: Experiment and develop skills in multiple art-making techniques and approaches through practice.

  • Adaptations

    Plan a goal to have 100 different word cards created by the 100th day of school!

    Use these word cards in a poetry writing assignment; allow use of non-traditional word use, such as a prefix, suffix or root as a word on its own! Refer to e.e. cummings for ideas.

    Keep a running tally throughout the year of the group that creates the most word cards or the tree that has the most word parts!

    Have the students research and find a word root used in a local news story; have them create a card (and appropriate tree pieces) for this word; refer back to this assignment whenever you come across a word that has been made into a card, as you progress through the school year.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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