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English - Raise a cap to creativity

What it's about

The humble hat has been an integral part of literature since its inception. Hats can transform the course of a narrative, from Beowulf's boar-tusk-encrusted helmet, designed to strike fear into the enemy, to the sorting hat which sets in motion the destiny of a young wizard in Harry Potter, writes Adam Webster.

Getting started

Hats can tell you a lot about people, and as physical props they are invaluable.

Give each pupil a large (A2) piece of paper in different colours and ask them to make a hat, which they should then put on. Ask them to "assume the personality" of the hat and write something - a diary entry works well - in the first person. This moves pupils away from the physical look of the character to the more subtle idea of the character's personality.

The act of wearing a hat can be revealing. Use this in creative writing to show how clothes and actions reflect or reinforce personality. A hat is also a good aid to role play.

For a more analytical use for hats, de Bono's Six Thinking Hats offer a useful structure for writing analytical and persuasive essays. The crucial part is that the pupils get to make and wear the hats as they learn to use them.

The point is that hats, or any other prop, can help pupils to be more focused and engaged in a less inhibited way. They offer a simple, kinaesthetic and creative approach to learning, that pupils enjoy.

What else?

To make a hat, follow instructables' guidelines. For a Macbeth activity making use of the de Bono technique, try AsaAnne's thinking questions. hainesd offers a simple explanation of de Bono's six thinking hats.

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