Thinking Caps


Activity Description

Children will design and create hats that fit ‘just right’.


30-45 min.

Key Outcome(s)

Use various fine motor skills along with critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Materials and Preparation

Prep Time

10 min. 


  • You find: Scissors; Glue; Tape or masking tape; Various craft materials to create hats (e.g., construction, white, shiny, and/or scrapbook paper; cardstock or cardboard; aluminum foil; pipe cleaners); OPTIONAL: Colouring tools (e.g., crayons, pencil crayons, or markers); OPTIONAL: Various materials to decorate hats (e.g., stickers, sequins, pom-poms, buttons, yarn)


  1. Gather scissors, glue, tape, and various craft materials to create hats.
  2. Gather optional colouring tools and materials if you would like the children to decorate their hats.

The Activity

What will we learn?

 “I wonder if we could make hats that fit our heads. I wonder how we could make them not too big or too small so they fit ‘just right’. I wonder what materials would be best to use. I wonder how we could find out?”

What do we know?

  1.  “What can you tell us about hats?”
  2. “What type of hat would we wear in the winter when it’s cold? In the rain? In the sun? What are some other types of hats?”
  3. “Have you ever worn a hat that was too big for you? Too small? How can you tell if a hat is too big or too small?” (e.g., It feels too tight. It covers your eyes. It falls off in the wind. It sticks up on your head.)

Watch me first!

  1. “Today we’re going to make thinking caps! Can you create a hat that fits ‘just right’? Let’s brainstorm how we could do this to make sure it would fit!” ‘Brainstorming’ is when we think of ideas to solve the problem or challenge on which we are working. It helps to think with friends because ideas from friends can help us think of more and new ideas.”
  2. “Now that we have some ideas, we need to create a plan in our heads or drawn out on paper.”
  3. Show children the various materials. “Help me make a plan. I want my hat to fit my head so it’s not too big or too small. Can you help me think of what materials I should use and what I should do with them?” With the children’s help, model choosing materials and creating a plan.
  4. “Now it’s your turn to think of a plan to create your hat that fits ‘just right’.” Optional: Once the children have thought of a plan, they can share it with a partner.     


Ask the children to use the provided supplies and materials to create a hat. Remind them that their hats should fit ‘just right’, and should not be too big or too small.

How can we test and modify?

  1. “How can you test your hat?” (I can try it on to see if it fits.)
  2. “What can you do if your hat doesn’t fit?” (I can change my hat so it fits better.)
  3. Model effective feedback: “Sometimes when we are stuck, we ask friends for feedback or ideas to help us. Does anyone need some feedback?” Select a child and ask what specific feedback he or she wants. For example, “How can I make my hat smaller?” Select other children to give feedback.
  4. Ask some or all of the following questions as the children test and modify their hats: “Are you stuck?”; “Do you need a friend to give you some feedback on your design?”; “Is your hat too big, too small or ‘just right’?”; “Can you modify your hat to make it better?”

What did we learn?

  • “What did you discover, or learn, about designing and making a hat?”
  • “Did anyone modify or change their hat to make it fit better? How did you do that?”
  • “Did you get feedback from a friend to help with your design? Did you use the feedback? If so, how did the feedback help you?”
  • “What can you tell us about your thinking cap?”


To make this activity MORE challenging:

  • Once children have tested their hats to see if they are too big, too small, or ‘just right’, they can test them for different weather conditions.
    • “Can it keep you dry in the rain?” (Test with a spray bottle of water.)
    • “Can it keep you warm and cozy?” (Test with an electric or paper fan or wear it out in the cold for a few seconds.)
    • “Can it keep the sun off your head?” (Test using a light or wear it out in the sun.)
    • “Will it stay on in the wind?” (Test with a hair dryer or fan, or wave a clipboard or binder back and forth.)
  • Ask the children to work with a partner to create a hat that could be adjusted to fit either one of them.

To make this activity LESS challenging:

  • Provide children with pre-made headbands (e.g., from cardstock or construction paper) as a starting point for their hats.
  • Children who need extra support could start with pre-cut materials.
  • Hats could be provided as a visual for the children to look at while they plan and create their hats.