Hats Off to You!

Hats Off to You!

by Judie Haynes

Why do people wear hats, caps or bonnets? Teach a unit about occupations, world costumes, sports, or idioms around hats.

The study of various types of hats can be a springboard to learn about different cultures in grades 1-4. They can also be used to teach idioms in grades 4-8. Try some of these ideas to welcome Spring.

Introducing Hats, Caps and Bonnets in Grades 1-3

I keep a collection of hats in my room. At the beginning of the unit, students are invited to pick a hat they like and put it on the table in front of them. We discuss when each hat is worn and who would wear it. The group brainstorms a list of the other hats in the pile and add any other kind they can think of.

Next, I read a fiction book about hats. Younger children love Caps for Sale and Three Hat Day. Then, I read Hats, Hats, Hats by Ann Morris. We review why each hat is worn. Is it for fun? Does it serve as protection? Is it worn at work or play? We also read A World of Hats which is published by Curriculum Associates. This book tells about hats around the world and offers additional information to that presented in "Hats, Hats, Hats."

Instructional Sequence

Hat Idioms for Students in Grades 4-8

To celebrate Spring, I often have older students draw hat patterns of various shapes. Cowboy hats, chef hats, Easter bonnets, baseball caps, beanies, ski caps, clown hats, police hats, visors and even earmuffs are popular choices. Students choose a sheet of colored construction paper and trace their hat pattern on the paper. They cut out two copies of their shapes; one in color and the other one in white. They write their idiom on the front and draw a picture of it inside. Under the picture they write the definition and an original sentence. Here are some of the idioms we use.

1. “Hold onto your hats” means to get ready for a surprise.

Example: Hold onto your hats! Here comes my teacher wearing a clown costume. I wonder what we’re going to do in class today.

2. “You’re talking through your hat” means that you are saying something silly or foolish.

Example: You’re talking through your hat when you say that you can get an “A” in Math without ever doing your homework.

3. “Keep it under your hat” means to keep a secret.

Example: We could both get in trouble if you tell this secret to anyone. You must keep it under your hat.

4. “I’ll eat my hat if you do that” means that you don’t think that another person can do something and that you’d be willing to eat your hat if he or she really could do it.

Example: I’ll eat my hat if you can come to school on time every day.

5. “You’re as mad as a hatter” means you’re wrong, or you’re crazy.

Example: You’re as mad as a hatter if you think you can finish that report on time.

6. “Put on our thinking caps” means to think carefully about a hard problem and try to figure it out.

Example: It’s time to put on our thinking caps. We’re going to do five very difficult math problems and I’d like you to get all of them right.

7. Something that’s “old hat” is old information.

Example: If someone told me that school is going to be closed the last week of April, I would tell them that information is old hat. I’ve heard it already.

8. “Pass the hat” means to collect money for something.

Example: I’m hungry, but I forgot my lunch money. I might have to pass the hat.

9. “That’s really a feather in your cap” means, “Nice job!”

Example: You did a great job on that difficult social studies test.

10. “Hats off to you!” means “We respect you”

Example: Hats off to you for getting first place in the music competition.

11. “At the drop of a hat” means to do something right away with question.
b Example: If you ask her, she will help you at the drop of a hat.

12. “Wear more than one hat” to have more than one job or hold more than one office.

Example: My teacher, Mrs. Green, is also a mother. She wears more than one hat.

13. "Toss one’s hat into the ring” means to announce that you are running for an elective office.

Example: My neighbor tossed his hat into the ring and ran for Mayor.

14. "Have a bee in one’s bonnet” means to have an idea or thought that you can’t get out of your mind.

Example: Jim has a bee in his bonnet. He can’t stop talking about his birthday party.


Activity Downloads

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PDF fileHat Drawings (86k .PDF)

PDF fileHats Around the World (2k .PDF)

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