Beacon Lesson Plan Library


Susan Joyner


Students are given the opportunity to choose and manipulate 4 different colored gummy hats (yummy!) and record possible combinations as they're discovered.


The student determines the number of possible combinations of given items and displays them in an organized way (for example, lists all possible combinations of three shirts and two pairs of shorts).


-Outrageous hat to be worn by the teacher
-Book: Geringer, Laura. [A Three Hat Day]. New York: Harper Trophy, 1987.
-Three different hats such as a sailor hat, bathing/shower cap, fireman’s helmet
-Chart paper
-Gummy hats, 5 different colors
-Writing materials such as notebook paper, crayons, markers, etc.


1. Check out and preview the book [A Three Hat Day] by Laura Geringer.
2. Gather a sailor cap, fireman’s helmet, bathing/shower cap and an outrageous hat.
3. Purchase 5 different colors of gummy hats, enough for 4 per child. Categorize the gummy hats by color and put them in separate bowls.


1. Begin the lesson by wearing your most outrageous hat!

2. Read aloud the book [A Three Hat Day] by Laura Geringer.

3. Select a student “model,” and then choose one of his/her classmates at a time to vertically stack on the “model's” head a different arrangement for the 3 hats that the main character (R.R. Pottle the Third) wore in the story.

4. Record on chart paper the different combinations as they are presented. Demonstrate recording the arrangements vertically or horizontally using a basic color-coded hat symbol, or using the first letter of each color such as “r” equals “red,” etc.

5. Bring out the 5 bowls of different colored gummy hats. Explain that as the students' birth month is called out, they are to come and select 4 different colors of the 5 that are offered.

6. Direct the students to manipulate/stack their gummy hats (as needed) and record on notebook paper the different possibilities for arranging their four hats, as demonstrated by the teacher after reading the story. The arrangements may be recorded vertically or horizontally using a basic color-coded hat symbol, or they may use the first letter of each color such as “g” equals “green,” etc.

7. Group students by birth month, number of letters in their first name, number of letters in their last name, eye color, etc. so that they end up in groups of 4-6.

8. Give groups time to share and compare their results.

9. Have the students total their recorded arrangements and write whether or not they think that they discovered ALL of the possibilities.

10. Upon completion, collect papers and allow the students to eat their gummy hats if desired.


1. As a formative assessment, students can be observed as they’re discussing and arranging the 3 hats used in the story on the “model student.”
2. A summative grade can be earned by the total number of possibilities that students have recorded using 4 different colored gummy hats. The teacher checks students' totals for accuracy and then returns the papers. A grading scale may be determined according to student totals. Note: The total number of combinations is not given during the lesson to avoid interference with individual discovery and critical thinking.


1. The students can compare the total number of arrangements for 3 hats to 4 hats and then predict the total number of combinations for 5 hats. Encourage the students to look for a mathematical pattern as the number increases sequentially.
2. Additional time, guided notes, and/or peer tutoring may be allotted for ESOL/ESE students.
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