Author: Laurie Carlson
Illustrator: Holly Meade
Make sure to check out the "How To" page before beginning.
Sketch and collage. Use construction paper to cut shapes and glue to make a collage picture. You can draw the shapes for your child to cut and glue if they want a little help with that.
More info on Holly Meade: http://www.eduplace.com/kids/hmr/mtai/meade.html
In the 1840's John was 12 years old. It was 1859 when he left St. Joseph Missouri. You could use either, or both of these dates or his birthday, 1828.
Active Game or Activity
Hat Toss Game! Put a laundry basket on one side of the room and toss a hat from the other side of the room. Keep points if you like or just toss for fun. If you have a soft enough hat you can also do the toss the hat on each others head game. Ha!
Find as many different types of hats as you can around your house. Decide which ones would offer the most protection in different types of weather.
Here's a video on how to make felt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNMs2LSXq70
And here's a really cool video on how to make a felt hat:
This story starts with John Stetson working in his families hat making shop in Orange, New Jersey. Next John goes to St Joseph, Missouri to prepare to head west. From there he walks and travels all the way to Pike's Peak, Colorado. Finally John ends up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he builds his factory. Mark your maps for these places or just look them up. You can also always see how far these places are from your house, as well as how you'd get there, by using Google Maps.
Let's figure out how many miles John traveled, much of it walking! When he left Orange, NJ and traveled to St. Joseph Missouri he traveled about 1200 miles. The book tells us it was another 750 miles to Pikes Peak. How many miles did John travel total? Then later he traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to set up shop and make his hats. It was about 1713 miles for that trip. Add that in for the grand total of miles traveled by John Stetson.
Search and Find
Find a picture of a campfire. Is there more than one campfire in this book?
How many hats can you find in this book? There's a bunch!
How many dogs can you find?
How many cats are in the book?
Find the woman selling apples.
Find the real picture of John Stetson in the book.
How old was John when he was working in his families hat factory?
Why did John want to go west?
What kind of skins did John use to make the felt tent?
What kind of tools did John use to make the felt for the tent?
Did John get rich finding gold?
What did John say about the hat he would make out west?
Did the miners tease John about his new hat because it looked so different?
How much money did the horseman pay John for his new hat?
How many names of hats can you think of?
What kind of jobs could cowboys use their Boss of the Plains hat for?
How did the people out west have to order the hats from John?
John's hat, The Boss of the Plains, was the most popular hat west of the Mississippi. Find the Mississippi river on the map and mark it all the way from it's beginning to it's end. How many states does it go through?
Research the gold rush at Pike's Peak, Colorado.
Find out more about the Stetson factory in Philadelphia. How many employees did it have at the height of production? Where did the factory move to? Why and when was that?
Find a picture online of a cowboy wearing a Stetson Boss of the Plains hat.
In the days before phone and internet people would receive catalogs and make mail orders for what they needed. Many people lived in rural areas where there were no stores so mail order was very important. Can you find an old mail order catalog online? Compare prices for things then, and now.
Search the internet and see if you can still buy a Boss of the Plains hat. How much do they cost? What color do you like the best?
John was paid a $5 gold piece for his hat. You can go to this website and see what that gold piece/coin might be worth now. It was probably about 1860 so look down the list to see where that date is listed and what kind of coin is it may have been.
There was no internet in the 1800's or even a phone for people to order hats from John Stetson, just good old fashioned mail order. This is a good opportunity to discuss how life was in those days and also to let kids know how things were when you grew up.
The kids could save a piece of felt in their box, a small hat or this origami cowboy hat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjXBxrtI4PE
This is the Hat: A Story in Rhyme is a cute book also illustrated by Holly Meade in her collage style and also about a hat.
John Stetson did what most entrepreneurs do; find a way to improve upon something that people need. He made a better hat that people liked and needed. This is a good opportunity to discuss people who invent, innovate, successfully produce and sell their product. For kids who like inventions; I have several more good stories coming along these lines! I bet you didn't know the idea of television had been around for quite some time but we didn't have the technology to build it. Then a 14 year old boy gazed across a potato field he was working in and saw the answer. That's a good one!