Captain Ahab's Weird Wide World: Nose Place Like Home

article by Geoffrey McSkimming , photo by Alamy


Learning Intention:

I am learning about vocabulary choices made by authors so that I can read for understanding and enjoyment.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify unfamiliar words in a text and use the surrounding words to infer meaning
  • I can check my understanding of new vocabulary using a dictionary
  • I can understand puns in a text and explain their purpose

Essential knowledge:

More information about Nasotheks can be found in this article from the Smithsonian Magazine.


Prior to reading the article, distribute sticky notes to students.
Read the article as a class or listen to the audio version if you have an online subscription. As they read the article, students are to write down unfamiliar words on the sticky notes. One word per sticky note. (Sample words: exhibited, vandalism, marble, replica, sculpted)
Ask students to go back to the article and find the unfamiliar words they noted down. Students are to look at the whole sentence, read it aloud and then write down what they think the word means based on the context. They can write this on the back of the sticky note.
When students have used the text to infer the meaning of all the unfamiliar words identified, they are to use a dictionary to look up the dictionary definition. Students may need to deconstruct the words so that they can look up the base word. For example, ‘exhibited’ becomes ‘exhibit.’
Encourage students to stick completed sticky notes onto the board. When they do this, ask them to stick like words together (all sticky notes with ‘exhibited’ on them can be in a row.)
After completing this vocabulary exercise, engage the class in a whole class discussion. Ask the following questions:
• Why was it important to look at the unfamiliar word in the sentence to help guess its meaning?
• Did you find that after looking at the dictionary you had guessed an unfamiliar word’s meaning correctly? Did anyone find the opposite?
• Did anyone use any other strategies to guess the meaning of an unfamiliar word?

Understanding text:

Look at the article again. This time the focus will be on the headings. Ask students the following questions:
• What do you notice about the words used in the headings? (The words all relate to noses)
• Why do you think that the author decided to base all subheadings on the same topic/subject? (The article is about the existence of replica noses in museums.)
• What does the phrase ‘Nose place like home’ remind you of? (The phrase ‘no place like home).
• What kind of language device is this example in the main heading? (It is a pun)
• Can you see another pun? (‘Nose it all’ which is a play on ‘know it all.’)
• What is the effect of using a pun? (Tt is playful and makes the article feel fun and enjoyable to read)
• What do you notice about the final heading ‘Nostrils, nostrils, nostrils’? (It is an example of repetition.)
• Why does ‘Nostrils, nostrils, nostrils’ works as a heading for that paragraph? (It is attention grabbing, it sounds more dramatic, and it refers to the fact that the Nasothek collections have lots of nostrils.)


Write the word ‘Nasothek’ on the board. We know this word refers to the collections of replica noses because it tells us in the article.
What is the clue in the word that tells us that this word refers to noses? (Naso – refers to the nose. See the entry. Explain this word comes from the Latin, nāsus, which means nose.)

Assessment for/as learning:

Complete an exit ticket using the 3-2-1 exit ticket form from the digital learning selector using the focus question:
What is the place and purpose of pun usage in writing? Can you recall any other examples of authors using pun in their writing?