Vocabulary Builders

A Subsidiary of Children’s Literacy Publications

Serving Schools and Families Since 2001


A True Story AND Why I Am Telling It


A couple of months ago, I took my grandson (6 years old) to the library.  Of course when we passed the vending machine, a snack was called for.  


What he wanted cost $1.25.  I didn't have a dollar bill, but I did have some quarters.  So (knowing the importance of "teachable moments") I asked him, "How many quarters do we need if it cost $1.25?"  

He said he didn't know.  Did I tell him?  Of course NOT!  

But I DID tell him,  "Whenever you hear a word that has  'quart or quad' in it, it means 4 of something.  So, how many quarters do you think are in a dollar?"

He told me 4.  

I asked how he knew that and he said, "Because it had "quart" in it."

Then I said, so how many quarters are in one dollar and 25 cents?  He said, "5." (He's good at math!)


I told him that was right, made a fuss over it, and  gave him the 5 quarters.  He loaded them into the machine, got his snack and started walking out the door.   Did I stop this teachable moment?  Of course NOT!  

I asked, "So, how many sides do you think there are in a quadrilateral?" 

He said, "4."

I asked, "How did you know that?"

He answered, "Because it has quad in it."

I asked, "How many quarts do you think there are in a gallon?" (I doubt if he knew what a gallon really was.) 

He said, "4.". 

I asked, "How many angles do you think there are in a quadrangle?" (His class will be learning this soon, but MY GRANDSON will already know it!)

He said, "4." 

I asked, "How many feet would a quadraped have?" (I think I made that one up. Is there such a word?) 

He said, "4."

I asked how many babies would have been born at the same time, like twins are 2 babies, if the babies were quadruplets?"

Of course, he said, "4."


THEN, I said, "Now, this is a hard one. If a bicycle has 2 wheels and a tricycle has 3 wheels and a unicycle has 1 wheel, what do you think we could call a vehicle with 4 wheels?  (This is higher order thinking because he has to use what he has learned and come up with 2 word parts that have meaning and make a word that he has never heard before.  Do you think he did it?)

Yep, he actually said, "A quadcycle?". 

AND I said, YES!!!!"  


I believe that our little conversation is going to make my grandson a better reader, a better thinker, and a better learner.  That day he developed a concept of quart and quad meaning the number 4, but he also was exposed to the fact that word parts can mean something and when you put those word parts onto other words, it changes the meaning of those words. He also started building word consciousness, which means that he became aware that you could actually think about words, and you can change words, and that how you put words together is important.


I couldn't have seized that teachable moment if I hadn't known that the morphemes "quad and quart" mean 4.  Your teaching day is full of teachable moments no matter the grade.  


After teaching the first 50 high frequency morphemes to my third grade class and then taking them to 4th grade and continuing with other morphemes, I came up with an interesting way to teach them and put my classroom tested activities and assessments into a book, Word Analysis:  Unlocking the Meaning of Words. If YOU learn even the first 50 of these high frequency morphemes, you will never think of words the same way again.  You'll be able to seize many, many teachable moments, which will greatly enrich your students’ lives and YOURS!


This is a systematic, EASY way of learning these morphemes.  The more of them you know, the more teachable moments you can seize.  Even if your students are older - high school or even college age, you can help them if YOU know these morphemes.  Feel free to let your students ages 9 - adult learn them with you!


You should hear what I can do with the morpheme "tain"!  Email me and I'll tell you.



P. S. Brayden is now 10 years old, just as precious and still remembers!




For Teachers and Students Grades 4 - Adult

Everything You Need to Teach And Learn These 110 Interchangeable Word Parts and Increase Your Students' Reading and Listening Vocabulary By Thousands of Words... Really!

Teacher Edition, student pages, activities, assessments, review sets, and electronic flashcards