mad hatters paper plate hat activity

Mad Hatters

Take paper plates through the looking glass to find silly and fantastic hats of all kinds. In the process, your preschooler will discover adventurous uses for everyday items while honing small motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. White paper plates, at least 8 inches wide, one for each hat.  Thin, flat, and inexpensive paper plates like these on Amazon work best. Deep, heavier plates with a lip are not flexible enough for hat making.
  2. Tape - Clear, cellophane tape like this or masking tape found here work equally well.
  3. Cotton string, thin ribbon or colorful yarn like this - for your hat's chin strap
  4. Scissors - For Adult use only!
  5. Fun decorations (or in this case, haberdashery), such as child-safe, washable markers like these, big crayons, a variety of funky stickers, colorful turkey feathers, crepe paper, spare fabric and construction paper scraps. Whatever strikes your fancy will do!
  6. Optional - In case you don't have tape, disappearing glue sticks like those found here or Aleenes quick drying, tacky glue - Either works well for attaching both fabric and paper. 
  1. Skilly-spark: Check out your paper plates. Ask your child, Do you think we can make hats with them? If you could, how would you decorate them? What would you like them to look like?   
  2. Adults, cut a paper plate halfway through, from the outside edge to the center of the plate.  You can draw a dot in the middle as a guide if needed. Then, holding the plate upside down in your hands, flap the right side over the left side so it forms a shallow cone shape.  
  3. Hold the cone on your child’s head with the point at the top. Move the edges to fit their head and then tape the edges in place with masking or cellophane tape.
  4. To make a chin strap to hold the hat on your child’s head, use your scissors to cut two small holes on either side of the plate. Use two pieces of string or ribbon and knot one to each side.
  5. Now let your child choose the materials they would like to use-- anything that captures your child’s imagination. This is a great opportunity to discuss their materials' shapes, colors and differences in size as well as why they fit your child’s vision.
  6. When your child is satisfied with their hat, use the string on each side of the hat and tie it around their chin. Then see where their pretend play goes!
Keep the fun going
  • These simple hats are like magic, jump-starting your preschooler’s imaginary play as a favorite animal, storybook or nursery-rhyme character.
  • Spread the joy! Make hats for everyone in the family for your next birthday party or holiday celebration.