Friday, June 15, 2012

Wearing Lincoln’s Hat

When my son started his presidential dollar coin collection, an interest in the presidents was ignited. At a recent trip to an area presidential museum, his grandmother bought him a deck of cards with all the presidents. Of all the trinkets he could have picked out, that’s what he wanted. I love that about him.

To take his interest beyond just their names and order in the lineage of presidents, I checked out a book on my absolute favorite president: Abraham Lincoln. Looking at Lincoln isn’t just another boring book, it’s a journey of discovery.

A child spots a man while on a walk that reminds her of someone but she can’t recall just who until she pays for breakfast with a five-dollar bill. Eureka! The man she saw looked like our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln! Curious, she heads to the library to do a little research. The book reveals all her discoveries about his life, his contribution to the history of the United States, his death, and the Washington, D. C. Lincoln Memorial.

The book pushed us into lots of heavy discussions about things like what it means to be poor, what slavery was, and what the civil war was about. I didn’t try to overwhelm him with detailed explanations, remembering that he’s only almost-seven years old. I could tell my son was really listening and thinking when he said, “People don’t have slaves today, do they?” We could have stopped our learning there and I would have chalked this whole activity up as a success.

But we didn’t. Instead we made a hat like Lincoln used to wear.

It’s amazing what you can do with two pieces of black posterboard, some gray ribbon, and a low-temp glue gun. Here’s how we did it!

Cut a rectangle of black posterboard (1) so it’s slightly larger than the circumference of your child’s head.

Draw two lines roughly an inch and a half away from the edge of each long side of the rectangle. Make several cuts straight in up to the line on each side, approximately ¾-inch apart. If you’ve done it right, your rectangle will have fringe (2).

Roll your rectangle into a tube and glue together (3). Gently trace the circle formed by the tube onto another piece of black posterboard. Set that aside for later.

On one end of the tube, fold the fringe back (4); this is the base of the hat. On the other end, fold the fringe flaps in for the top of your hat (5).

Now cut out the circle you drew earlier. Then trace that circle again inside a larger circle (we traced a dinner plate to make our outer circle [6]). Now cut both out. The small circle is the top of your hat. The donut-shaped circle is the base (or brim of your hat).

Then slide the donut-shaped circle down the hat (7). You may need to re-trim the inside circle to make it bigger. It should be snug.

Tip the hat over and add dots of glue to the flaps (8). An adult should carefully press down onto the donut brim (even though it's a low-temp glue gun, it's still hot!). If your flaps stick out past the brim, trim the excess away.

Add glue to the fringe flaps at the top of your hat (9) and attach the small circle.

Now add a wide gray ribbon around the base of the hat, above the brim.

Before our learning time ended, I gave my son some small business card-sized “Abraham Lincoln …” slips of paper.

Download a PDF of the Abraham Lincoln Fact Recording Cards here.

It was up to him to complete the sentence. He wrote out six sentences. Abraham Lincoln …
was tall.
liked reading.
was kicked by a mule.
was 16th president.
was shot.

Because Maira Kalman’s book shared that Abe used to write notes and stuff them inside his hat, we glued our fact slips onto the bottom side of our hat’s brim.

When his father came home, my son put on the hat to show him (it may be just a wee bit taller than Lincoln’s). Then he promptly took off his hat and read the facts to share what he’d learned. He was so excited!


  1. That's a fun and educational activity. I bet it was memorable for him.

  2. It sounds like you have wonderful discussion. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall. The book and hat look great!

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

  3. This activity is AWESOME. I have a slight obsession with historical non fiction. Pinned and shared....well done, mama!

  4. Very cool! Love the hat, and the facts attached to the brim!

    Thanks for sharing with Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles =)

  5. So fun! I love a good history project that ties in some art. :)

  6. OH, that is great!! So much fun filled with so much learning. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  7. Super fun! What a perfect project! I featured this at TGIF this week ( Thanks for linking up and I look forward to seeing what you link up today!! Beth =-)