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Here's a Great Way to Work on Morphological Awareness in Speech Therapy

Updated: Apr 20

Research is showing that teaching kids morphological awareness packs a powerful therapeutic punch in speech therapy

*Free download - and a free morpheme spinner game - below*

an activity for morphological awareness in speech therapy

In the past few years, I've been inhaling all the journal articles, newspaper articles, and podcasts on the Science of Reading. It certainly feels as though the way literacy is being taught in this country is going through a positive, albeit bumpy, transformation.

Through my research, I've discovered how critical both phonological and phonemic awareness are to the process of learning to read. Here's a useful infographic that explains all the different (and similar-sounding!) terminology around phonology in our field.

But lately, another shift seems to be taking place; I'm seeing more and more articles about morphology and morphological awareness and how we should be targeting this important skill in speech therapy. So much so that I wonder if it may start to be included as part of the skills that fall under the umbrella of phonological awareness.

And rightfully so. I've seen firsthand the amazing boost it can give kids in the areas of:

  • vocabulary

  • reading comprehension

  • decoding (reading)

  • encoding (spelling)

And there are so many kids on our caseloads that need help in these areas!

Lately, I have been using a great little workbook that has been perfect for some of my older students. It's called Improving Morphemic Awareness, 2nd Edition and it's by Sandra Donah, Ed.D. A colleague of mine who is working on her Orton Gillingham certification turned me on to it. You can order it online and, when I bought it, it was $29. (For a free list of roots and affixes, there are great lists on the Reading Rockets website here.)

The manual contains a list of Greek and Latin roots, paired with activities that remind me a bit of the word-chaining activities I've done with my students to work on phonemic awareness. So for example, it'll give you the Latin root "form," and you then ask your student(s) to make incremental changes to the word by changing one morpheme at a time (for an explanation of what a morpheme is, see this post), like conformed, conformer, informer, informing, informed, misinformed, misinform, perform, performing, reforming, transforming, transform, form, and formless.

The book encourages you to use colored chips to represent each morpheme. I like this approach, but I've modified it to include spelling after reading a recent article about the SLP's role in word reading by Colenbrander & Kohnen (reference below), which states, "...evidence shows that phonemic awareness instruction is most effective when taught in conjunction with letters and when focused on only a few (i.e., two or three) phonemic awareness skills." I'm also reinforcing the meaning of roots and affixes as we go.

One strategy that has helped me tackle morphological awareness skills at those times when I have less time to prep, or I've got a group of kids with mixed language needs: StoryWhys book companions! The comprehensive book companions all contain morphology sections that use words from the book that feature common prefixes and suffixes. Your students will have a chance to work with words in a meaningful context, think of other words with the same affix, explore the meaning of the affix, and invent a new word with that affix. Here’s a link to all of the book companions that contain morphology sections, and here's a free book companion that includes three morphology pages for you to try!

Try this cool (free!) morpheme spinner game I made here.

And if you want even more ideas for activities that will help you address your students' morphological awareness goals, check out this blog post!


Did you find this blog post helpful? Subscribe below to get the latest blog posts, which feature lots of speech therapy ideas for busy SLPs who want to provide fun, impactful, and meaningful speech-language therapy.

Have you heard? StoryWhys now offers the Speech and Spell series of resources. I am always trying to tie articulation work and spelling together in my therapy and I've never found any good resources out there to help me do this. So I made my own! Many more speech sounds and spelling rules to come. They'll be 50% off for 48 hrs when new resources are added to the StoryWhys store. Find them here.

Did you know book companions can be among the best speech therapy materials for elementary students? Explore all of the StoryWhys book companions for speech therapy in my store. You'll find comprehensive book companions that target many different language skills or Spotlight Series book companions that focus on one type of skill, all using high-quality, beloved storybooks.

And get your FREE, 71-page book companion for speech therapy on the free download page.


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Colenbrander, D., & Kohnen, S. (2023). Word Reading: The Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 8(6), 1-18.

Collins, G. (2023). Morphological Interventions to Support Literacy From Kindergarten to Grade 12. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 8(6), 1205-1219.


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