Dossier of Discovery: Do You See Faces in All Sorts of Places?

article by Melissa Salisbury , photos by Alamy

Prior to the lesson, prepare enough hexagonal templates for each group as explained below. Templates can be found on the NSW Education webpage on Hexagonal Thinking


Learning Intention:

I am learning to explore word origins and spelling patterns so that I can spell unfamiliar words.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify and define the prefix of Greek-based words.
  • I can identify and define the root of Greek-based words.
  • I can connect ideas related to word etymology using hexagonal thinking.


Essential knowledge:

  • For more information and templates, visit the NSW Education webpage on Hexagonal Thinking.



After reading or listening to the audio recording of Do You See Faces in All Sorts of Places? direct students’ attention to the first instance in the text of the word pareidolia. Ask what the bracketed information next to the word conveys (answer: how to pronounce the word). Ask students to attempt pronouncing the word using the guide. As a class, brainstorm how the word might be broken up into morphemes (such as prefixes, suffixes and the root word), what the origin of the word might be and what the meanings of each morpheme could be. Students will have a range of answers, but they might consider that “dolia” means face, the word originated from Greek or that “lia” is the suffix.


Understanding text:

Instruct students to get into groups of two or three. Hand out the following table with each word prepared in a hexagon as shown on the NSW Education webpage on Hexagonal Thinking.

pareidolia Greek apophenia
Image/reflection par- idol
German eidolon prefix
para- closely resembling -ia

Give groups time to arrange the hexagons so that related tiles are next to each other. They can find all connections by visiting the Merriam-Webster page on Pareidolia.


An example answer is below.

Creating text:

Explain that students will be creating another group of hexagonal tiles using a new word and their own key words. Encourage them to look at root words, origins, prefixes, suffixes, definitions and related words when selecting their key words to connect. Students should connect around 5-10 hexagonal tiles and can use online resources to guide them.


Words for students to choose from:





Oesophagitis (students may have to look up oesophagus and -itis separately)





Assessment of learning:

When their hexagonal tiles are connected, students do a gallery walk to view others’ work. As a class, discuss commonalities and interesting things between the various examined vocabulary.