Affix Dominoes!


  • word building (prefixes and suffixes for nouns)


  • High upper-intermediate and stronger(CEFR B2-C2)
  • Ages 12 yrs and older


One of the most useful skills that ESL / EFL students take away from the Cambridge main-suite exams (FCE, CAE and CPE) is word building.  I’ve always found students struggle with these tasks and practicing always seemed like a bit of a chore.  That’s why I decided to gamify it a bit.  Word building + game = Affixominoes!

There are three sets of dominoes here: negative prefixes for lower levels (B2) as well as some more advances prefixes and some noun suffixes.  I’ll add other sets as and when I make them.  Alternatively, if you make any, dear reader,  i’d be happy to post them too.  To be honest, these work best if they are directly linked to whatever vocabulary has come up in the course of the class, so feel free to appropriate the template as you wish.  You can find an blank template at the bottom of this page as well, so feel you can make your own.

I’d recommend printing your Affixominoes on some decent card, ideally put sets in different colours so you can use them over and over.  Put your class in groups of 3-4 students, give them a set and get them to take 6 dominoes each.  Allow them to play for a while and monitor to act as adjudicator or help them check answers.

For early finishers, you may have noticed that the domino sets are also a chain which forms a loop.  Crafty huh! You can set this as a puzzle challenge for teams: who can make the longest chain or – the holy grail – make the loop.  The whole activity is going to take about 20 minutes.


  • A little tip I always share with my students for remembering to check their answers for word formation tasks: mis-Use-s of English!  The (mis-) prefix helps them to remember that prefixes can modify the meaning of a word, so that they should check the context carefully to make sure that it doesn’t need a prefix.  Likewise, the (-s) suffix reminds them to check the verbs in the sentence about whether or not  plural.


Compared to other games, the best thing about dominoes is that most ESL / EFL students already know the rules.  We’re just adding a linguistic element to a very simple and very playable game.  Give it a try!


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