Explicit and systematic instruction in the reading and spelling of words with suffix -s and -es is the most effective way to ensure that students become skilled decoders.
When should suffix -s and -es be introduced?
A great time to teach the reading and spelling of suffix -s and -es is after students have mastered reading and spelling of three sound words closed syllable words such as duck, wish, and pan.
How do I teach students to read words with a suffix -s or -es?
When teaching how to read and spell words with the suffix -s or -es, it is important for students to understand the idea of a base word. A base word is a word that has meaning and can stand alone. For example, if a student reads the word ‘dog‘, the student can attach meaning to this word (i.e. an animal with four legs and a tail. This animal barks).
- Show the word ‘cat’.
- Ask the students what ‘cat’ means.
- Ask, “How many cats?” (Answer: one)
- Show the suffix -s and explain that when -s is added to the base word ‘cat‘, it changes the meaning to mean more than one cat.
- Tell students that the word ‘cats’ now has two elements: the base word and the suffix -s.
- Explain that when we read and spell words with a base word and a suffix, we only tap or sound stretch the base word (i.e. /c/…/a/…/t/, cat). Then we add the sound of the suffix (cat…cats).
- Point out that the sound of -s in cats is /s/.
- Repeat this procedure with the word, dogs.
- Point out that the sound of -s in dogs is /z/ because the suffix-s can say /s/ or /z/.
- Show the word ‘rips’.
- Ask the students what ‘rip‘ means.
- Tell students that the word ‘rip’ is an action word. It is something that can be done. Add a multisensory component and tell the students to act out the word rip.
- Show the suffix -s and explain that when added to the word rip it doesn’t mean more than one rip. It changes the form of the action.
- Write on the board – I rip. Sam rips. Depending upon who is ripping the suffix -s will be added.
- Tell the students that the word ‘rips’ now has two elements: the base word, ‘rip’, and the suffix -s.
- Remind students that when tapping a word with a suffix ending, only the base word is tapped. (i.e. /r/…/i/…/p/, rip, rips)
Provide multiple opportunities for students to read words with suffix ending -s.
- Tell students that sometimes a suffix -es is added to the word to mean more than one or to change the action.
- Words that end with certain sounds/spellings (ch, sh, s, ss, x, or zz) require an -es suffix.
- Show the word ‘box‘ and then add the suffix -es.
- Model reading the base word, box, then model reading the word with the suffix -es, boxes.
- Point out that the suffix -es says /iz/.
- Provide multiple opportunities to read words with suffix -es.
Is there a multisensory tool students can use to help them determine whether to us -s or -es?
Adding a multisensory component to your teaching gives students one more opportunity to retain the information. Because every syllable must have at least one vowel, adding suffix -s will not change the number of syllables. However if suffix -es is used, the number of syllables will increase by one.. Try the following procedure where students can actually feel whether to add suffix -s or -es:
- Students rest their elbows on the desk or table top.
- Students layer one hand over the other and put their chin on top of the hands. (as shown below)
- Students say a word (i.e. dog) and count the number of syllables (the number of times their mouth opened).
- Students say the same word with the suffix (i.e. dogs) and count the number of syllables.
- Did the number of syllables change? No. Then add -s.
- Now students say another word (i.e. box) and count the number of syllables.
- Then students say the same word with the suffix and count the number of syllables.
- Did the number of syllables increase? Yes 1 syllable to 2 syllables. Then add -es.
How do students mark words with suffix -s or -es?
As we have mentioned in previous posts, marking the text is a powerful visual tool that reinforces the phonetic component. To mark words that have a suffix -s or -es, students underline the base word and circle the suffix. For students who are having difficulty reading words with suffixes, it is especially helpful to provide them with texts that they are able to mark up first. As they read and reread the text, these markings are a helpful scaffold and help to solidify their understanding and meet with reading success.
Are there any tools for helping students to spell words with suffixes?
Our sound to letter matching tool is a perfect way to help students remember to tap the base word only and then add the suffix. This resource is designed for base words that remain unchanged when adding suffix -s, -es.