Margaret Ryan’s book, The Queen’s Birthday Hat has a wealth of ideas within the story that can be used to supplement the curriculum. In brief, the story is about Queen Forgetmenot who wants a new hat for her birthday. Her husband, King Forgetalot finds three designers to create the best hat they can in the hope that one of them will be good enough for his wife. Below are examples of how this book can be used.
The story is ideal for those children learning about the days of the week. In the story it is Queen Forgetmenot’s birthday in a week. This gives lots of scope with time such as how many days in a week or months in a year. The children could look at when their birthday is, which day of the week it falls on, when they were born, the ages of children in the class and months the children’s birthdays are on. Pictures of hats could be shown and the children could match the correct hat to the person.
There is also measuring in the story as the milliners measure the queen’s head. For older children the circumference of a circle could be explored. Younger children could measure different items in the room using standard or non-standard measurements.
Fun to read aloud, younger children could answer questions about the story as a whole class carpet session. Favourite parts of the book could be discussed and compared with a non-fiction book. King Forgetalot makes a list and the class could create their own lists linked to the role play area, eg shopping list, list of appointments depending upon the theme. The role play area could even be changed to a clothes or hat shop.
There is strong characterisation and the characters reflect their personalities. What characters can the children create? The children can make up their own names and draw examples or write about them. This links in with Art and Design Technology.
Art/ Design Technology
The interesting characters can be sketched or large ones painted for a display or added to the reading corner. Some schools have Easter hat parades or design Christmas hats so the story relates to their own experiences of making a party hat. However the children might want to design a new hat for Queen Forgetmenot and try and create one made from card and glitter.
The children could research protective hat gear and materials used to make hats. Hats could be categorised for example warm, summer, waterproof etc. They could think about why people wear hats.
In history this book could be linked to the history of hats or tied in with any particular monarchs that are being studied. The British monarch could be studied, her name and family tree.
The internet can be used to research information about the author, illustrator, hats, monarchs or fashion. Computer programs can be used to allow children to design their own hats.
Cooperation is a key theme in the book. When the three “hatters” work alone, their results do not please the queen. However they are instructed to work together. In the same way the class could think about how working together can help achieve better results.
In conclusion, The Queen’s Birthday Hat is an amusing book that has the opportunity to be linked to a variety of subjects in the primary classroom.
First Young Puffin