Hats Galore!

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – History, Women’s History, Trades,  Science – Endangered Species,  Wind, Language Arts – Literature

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Rene Magritte, Skills – Paper Sculpture, Elements of Art – Shapes, Forms


Does your school ever have a Crazy Hat Day? Or, is there a hat themed story in your language arts unit?  If so, you might want to make hats a theme in your classroom for a day.

You could begin by looking at Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”.  While visiting the Renoir and Friends: Luncheon of the Boating Party Exhibit at the Phillips Museum last year, I was intrigued by a display of hats included in the show. Hats were worn by all but two of the people included in the “Luncheon of the Boating Party” painting. A close up of most of the models can be found in this slide show.  While viewing this painting, why not throw in a little math? How many models are there? How many models are wearing hats? How many models are women? How many are men? The men are wearing both formal (top hats and bowlers) and casual (boater’s hats) hats. Pictures of these kinds of hats can be found here. Can your students find the different kinds of  men’s hats in the painting? Which kind of hat is painted most? The women’s hats were produced by crafts people called milliners. Because hats were so popular during this time period and Impressionists painted everyday life, other artists also included hats and milliners in their works. You can find more information about hat paintings in this video about the Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade Exhibition.

With the popularity of hats and feathers and taxadermied birds on hats during this time period and beyond, many birds were being killed, especially egrets, just for their feathers. This was bringing this species and others very close to extinction. Two women, Harriet Lawrence Hemenway and Minna B. Hall, started a movement to save the birds. This group later became the Audubon Society. To learn more about these extraordinary women  look here. Add these women to a Famous Women unit or an Endangered  Species unit.

Hats could also be included in a literature unit. I used to always read Old Hat, New Hat by Stan and Jan Berenstain to my students on Crazy Hat Day.  Recently, I discovered Bridget’s Beret  by Tom Lichtenheld. Find a video of this story here.  After reading one of these books to the students in your class, have them create their own creative hats. You might want to try Art is Basic‘s idea found here. Or, you could use the idea that I used to use by The Color Lab found here. Students could also create a getting to know you hat by using Cassie Stephens pdf’s found here and hereSide Note: Another painter famous for a bowler hat is Surrealist painter, Rene Magritte. Magritte’s Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson is another picture book about a hat. Find a video of this story here.

I hope this post has provided you with some new approaches to teaching mathematics, science, language arts or social studies. I would love to hear any of your thoughts on the subject. Just highlight the title of this post, scroll down to the bottom and add your comment.

Stop by again real soon!