Science root words

For the past two years I have been working at an international school. It is wonderful to work with and teach learners from such diverse backgrounds and cultures. The new challenge for me has been working with many learners whose first language is not English, and I have embraced this opportunity to work on an area that I wasn’t exposed to as much while teaching in the UK.

I recently took an 8 week BML (bilingual and multilingual learners) course. There were some useful strategies that I picked up and started implementing in my classes. While flicking through the book of strategies, this one on Greek and Latin roots immediately caught my attention.

In Science so many of the words that we use in our lessons are derived from Greek and Latin roots, and while I sometimes make a point of linking to words we have used before (for example when discussing protostars, I make the link to prototype), I really wanted to start going deeper into root words with my classes.

As with many strategies, what is recommended for a specific group of learners is usually also good to use with other learners as well. I will not be restricting the usage of root word exploration to my English as a second language learners, but I will be using it in all of my classes across all year groups.

To that end, I started making root word cards which I will place around my teaching lab. I have made 55 cards so far, but this is a work in progress and I will be adding more as I think of them.

SET 1. You can access the pdf of the first 26 cards here:

SET 2. You can access the pdf of the next 14 cards here:

Update: October 28th 2022. SET 3. You can access the pdf of cards 41-55 here:

Update: November 20th 2022. SET 4. You can access the pdf of cards 56-70 here:

Update: December 17th 2022. SET 5. You can access the pdf of cards 71-85 here:

I will continue working on these cards as I think of some new words to include, and I am sure I have forgotten some very obvious ones in the process! I am always open to feedback, so do let me know what you think.

24 thoughts on “Science root words

  1. Hi! I love your cards. I teach science in a school where I work with mostly ESL students so these are terrific. I have a few more for you to add to your list that come up in my lessons a lot! Here they are…

    inter (between eg intermolecular), intra (within eg intramolecular), hetero (different eg heterolytic), homo (same eg homolytic, homologous)


  2. These are BEAUTIFUL!! I teach science in inclusion classes for ELs, and these are absolutely perfect. Simple, clear, straightforward imagery, AND example words… I am in love. Can’t thank you enough for these.


  3. I would love to start working on a math set to use along with these. Would you mind sharing what fonts you used?


  4. Thanks so much! This will certainly support my vocabulary instruction for my 5th graders!


  5. These are awesome, and I would love to utilize them in my classroom. However, I can only get 12 of the first set to print and none of the 2nd set. I have tried multiple times over the course of two weeks. What am I doing wrong?


  6. LOVE these. Last school year, I taught 6,7 & 8th grade students 100 root words in science class. I taught 10 new words each week, building up to 100 words. They did amazing on the test that was made of the 100. Please keep up this amazing resource.


  7. The vocabulary program “Word within a Word” is based on greek and latin stems has more ideas – you should sell them your work – it is amazing and would have made teaching with that resource more fun. Your poster swill be decorating the stairwell of my school within the week!


  8. Fantastic resource – I love the simple style. These are now stuck all over the corridor for students to absorb. Thank you, Andy


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