"The secret of Latin and Greek roots is as simple as looking within a word to find its meaning!"

                                             - Maureen Riley

founder of The Latin and Greek Roots Challenge

Program features of the Latin and Greek Roots Challenge include:

  • A unique school-wide, community-building program that encourages team work and collaborative learning.
  • An easy-to-implement format requiring minimal preparation time and no required Latin or Greek experience on the part of the teachers.
  • Differentiated materials designed to reach every child at every grade and skill level.
  • Multi-sensory components addressing visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic learning styles.
  • An introduction to etymology designed to introduce students to many of the Latin and Greek roots that are the "building blocks" of the English language.
  • The inclusion of “high-frequency test words” (sourced from SAT, PSAT, ISEE, HSPT, and GRE tests) to strengthen students' readiness for standardized tests.
  • Visual graphics and sample words on each Root Worksheet designed to make the roots easier to understand and to remember.
  • Fun Challenge Exercises that reinforce root meanings.
  • Color coding of all roots and meanings that acts as a mnemonic device.
  • Addresses the importance of teaching students about Latin and Greek roots, as recommended in the Common Core Standards.

The Latin and Greek Roots Challenge is a fun, educational program designed to introduce students to Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes and their meanings ... the "building blocks" of over 60% of the English language. The underlying intent of the program is to instill in students the discipline to “deconstruct” words into their component roots and, therefore, to unlock the meaning of those words.

Each week, three Latin and/or Greek roots and their definitions are posted on the 
Master Root Challenge Board and Classroom Root Challenge Boards. For each root a Visual Root Worksheet is posted. The “Challenge” is for students to identify as many English words as they can that contain each Latin or Greek root and write them on the Visual Root Worksheets. We refer to the words the students list as “Constructed Words” to convey the sense that the students have constructed them using their knowledge of roots.

After a few days of brainstorming, the Visual Root Worksheets are collected and Constructed Word Lists are posted on the Boards.  Each list contains a sample of 10-15 Constructed Words containing that root along with the Constructed Word definitions. Constructed Word Lists are intended to give the students an idea of what words they might have suggested. However, they are not intended to be an exhaustive list for that root. The fact that students may construct other words should be recognized and encouraged.  Constructed Word definitions are structured to reinforce their component roots and the root meanings. 

​The Program includes three levels of Challenge Exercise Workbooks that are used to reinforce root meanings, as well as laminated Early Elementary Root Posters used to introduce the Roots Challenge to younger students in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade. 

The Latin and Greek Roots Challenge:

  • Stregthens vocabulary by teaching students the underlying meanings of Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes. 
  • Develops critical thinking and brainstorming skills as students identify words containing a common root.
  • Sharpens students' ability to decode unfamiliar words.
  • Stregthens students preparation for standardized tests and entrance examinations by expanding vocabulary and developing critical thinking skills.
  • Increases working and high leverage vocabulary
  • Facilitates future learning of formalized Latin, Greek, or other foreign languages.
  • Enables students to understand how the English Language evolved.
  • Creates an engaging, fun, interactive school-wide program.

Program Benefits

The Latin and Greek Roots Challenge is typically run on a weekly schedule, with a set of three new roots posted on the Master Board and Classroom Boards every week.  The program consists of 25 weeks of roots, with built-in review weeks after every five-week period, for a total year-long program of 30 weeks.

The Latin and Greek Roots Challenge is designed to be a three-year cycle of 75 roots per year.  After a school completes the three-year cycle, it would return to work on Year 1 again.  Students who have already covered a given year of roots will be three years older when they return to that same set of roots, will be able to approach the program's content at a different level of maturity, and will be working with a higher level of Challenge Exercises and more challenging Constructed Words.  See also 
Training Videos #1 and #2.

Program Structure

Program Features

Program Overview