Early C hildhood Studio Lesson
Caps for Sale
Left to right: Andrew’s finished cap; Caps for Sale parade and celebration; Genesis
removes stickers to reveal the masked fabric of the cap; Ariel shows her excitement at
the discovery of the masked design.
One year, I found denim
caps for sale online for
only 19 cents each, as
long as I bought the whole
gross. For less than $50, I became
the proud owner of 144 stone-washed
berets. Since our first graders have a
unit based on the book Caps for Sale
by Esphyr Slobodkina, I began a tradition of painting hats.
I usually have students sketch
designs for their hats on paper first.
It helps to trace the area on their
papers upon which the design will
be painted to give them an idea of
then transfer their
designs to their
hats with chalk,
and paint them
paint. It takes two class periods to
complete the project, and students
wear their caps at the end of the unit
celebration—a “Hat Party.”
the hats using masking tape, then
paint over the fabric and tape.
When I went to our supply closet
looking for tape, I came across leftover adhesive labels, stickers, stars,
dots, and tape (gum reinforcement
stickers for notebook paper also
work). Students had a great time
applying all of these embellishments
to their caps. I reminded them to be
careful when stroking the paint over
the stickers so as not to lift them
or distort their shapes. I showed
students how to wash their brushes
between colors and dab them on a
paper towel so the paint remained
thick enough not
It was gratifying to see to bleed under the
how students’ personalities tape.
It was gratify-
emerged in their caps. ing to see how
alities emerged in their caps. One stu-
dent made a symmetrical design out
of her stickers, using a gold reward
seal with rays of thin rectangular
labels radiating from the center.
Another student created a landscape
with his, complete with a sticker of
the setting sun on the horizon.
paint. The next day, I could hardly
wait to remove the stickers and reveal
the designs, but I decided if it was fun
for me, it would be even more fun for
students. So we saved the big reveal
for their celebration. The room was
full of squeals as students pulled off
their decorations to expose the color
of the cap underneath.
Note: I tested the stickers on the caps
beforehand to make sure they would
peel off after painting. We waited
more than a week to remove them,
but some were difficult. Removing
them immediately after the paint
dries may work better.
Slobodkina, Esphyr. Caps for Sale: A
Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and
Their Monkey Business. New York,
NY: Harper Trophy, 1987.
Dale Wayne teaches art at the Geneva
School in Winter Park, Florida.
Improvising with Tape
This year, not only did I run out of
caps, but I was short on time. Thankfully, I found three dozen caps for $22
on eBay, but we only had one week to
paint them before the party. I decided
to have students tape off sections of
Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art.
The Hat Party
We let the paint dry overnight to keep
little fingers from smearing the wet