Multisensory Activity: Exit with Prefix “Ex-”

Multisensory Activity: Exit with Prefix “Ex-”

Posted by Tammi Brandon on 4th Jun 2024

The prefix ex- is commonly attached to the start of words. It is a language tool meaning separation, exclusion, or a former state of being. Whether it's an 'ex-president' leaving office or an 'exoskeleton' providing structural support, understanding the meaning of the prefix ex- opens a window into the vast world of language.

Understanding the Meaning Prefix Ex-

At its core, prefix ex- carries the meaning 'out of,' 'from,' or 'beyond.' It can set the stage for a transition or a state of being something and no longer being that thing.

The lineage of the prefix ex- is rooted in the Latin language. To etymologists, this prefix provides a window into language transformation as it is derived from classical roots and is used in modern usage. In Latin, ex- is added to the beginning of a word to form a preposition or as a prefix to change the word’s meaning. It is often attached to nouns, adjectives, and verbs to show separation. Over centuries, the prefix migrated into English, adapting to diverse applications while preserving its original intent.

The pronunciation of ex- can vary. It is influenced by succeeding letters. In some cases, the 'e' in ex- is pronounced distinctly, as in 'exit.' In others, it may blend more seamlessly with the following sounds, such as 'extend.' Ex- may also produce the /ĕgz/sound when the ‘x’ is followed by a vowel like ‘exam,’ ‘exert,’ and ‘exotic.’ There are always exceptions.

More Than Just a Prefix

The prefix ex- is essential in English. It serves as a prefix and an important part of word construction, impacting the ultimate meaning of the terms it forms.

Whether it denotes the act of exiting a location, such as in 'exit,' or transforming a simple word like 'employee' into 'ex-employee,' the connotations of separation, removal, or past status are immediately evident. The prefix 'ex-' is critical in changing the essence of words, thus enriching the language with its descriptive power.

Our everyday language is filled with prefix ex- words. Here are a few:

  • Examine: To look at or consider carefully and in detail.
  • Excerpt: A short extract from a text.
  • Exhale: To breathe out.
  • Exotic: Originating from a distant or foreign country.
  • Expand: To increase in size or volume.

Each of these words carries a sense of 'outward' movement or 'beyond' the ordinary, precisely what the prefix ex- indicates.

The prefix ex- can significantly influence our perception of the words it adjoins. An 'ex-partner' or 'ex-friend' instantly communicates a transition from a present and ongoing relationship to one in the past. The use of 'ex-' indicates a change in status, which alters the emotional and psychological impact of the term it modifies.


When teaching prefixes and suffixes, remember to incorporate a multisensory activity. The stronger our multisensory activity is, the more likely our students will remember it. Here is an idea for teaching the prefix ex-.

Directions for the Prefix Ex- Multisensory Activity

Print out a copy of this FREE DOWNLOAD for each student in your group.

DOWNLOAD Prefix Ex Activity

Instruct students to cut a straight line between the stick figure and the door of their printout. Students then cut out their stick figure and tape/glue it on to a wooden craft stick. Next, students cut three sides of the door (top, bottom, side with the doorknob) and glue the door "frame" to a piece of construction paper or card stock.

Prefix Ex- Multisensory Activity

Once everything is cut and glued, read a list of words to your student. If the word read has the prefix "ex" in it, the students open their paper doors, and move their stick figures under the exit sign to show the stick figure is going "out of" or "away from". Students especially enjoy personalizing their stick figure!

List of Prefix Ex- Words to Get You Started:

The words below are a combination of simple and challenging words with the prefix "ex". Choose words that are appropriate for your students.

extract                      exit                       existence                  hyperextension

extraterrestrial       exist                      exceed                      external

existential                expanding           expected                  extra

example                   extemporaneous  exaggerated          expression

extraordinary          expatriate             exude                      examination


Written by Tammi Brandon, M.Ed., CDP

Tammi Brandon is a Master Instructor and Education Consultant with Brainspring Educator Academy.

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