Caps for Sale, by Esphyer Slobodkina

             A peddler goes out to sell his caps and falls asleep under a tree. When he wakes up, his caps are gone!  Who could have taken them?  Read this classic children’s story to discover the mystery of what became of the caps.


  •             Caps page


  •             Peddler (a salesman who sells an item door to door)
  •             Cap (a kind of hat)

Before Reading the Story

            Ask the children if any of them have a hat at home? Can they tell you about their hat?  Does it serve a purpose? (I have to wear my ball hat when I watch my big brother play little league, I wear my hat to keep the sun out of my eyes when I go fishing.  I have a hat I wear when I get dressed up on Sunday).  Or bring in several kinds of hats from the dramatic center or home. (The fireman wears that hat to keep the fire off his head, the construction hat is hard so you won’t hurt your head if something falls on it). 

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families and Communities; develops growing awareness of jobs and what is required of them.

Reading the Story

            If you have a cap type hat, bring it in and wear it while telling the story.  Introduce the book and note who is behind the tree. Ask the children to predict what they think the story might be about.   When you read the page where he is refreshed and rested, ask the children if they notice anything (all but one cap is gone).  What do you think is going to happen?

Approaches to Learning/Reasoning & Problem Solving; grows in recognizing and solving problems through exploration including discussions with peers and adults. AND Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

After Reading the Story

            Talk about the book with the children. Does anyone remember what a cap is?  Where do you wear a cap?  Did the peddler sell any of his caps?  Why did he want to sell his caps?  Have you ever been very hungry, how did it make you feel?  What happened when the peddler took a nap?  Why do you think he got so angry?  What did the monkeys do when he stomped his foot?  How did the peddler get all his hats back from the monkeys?  What did the peddler call out as he walked with the hats on his head? 

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

            Ask the children if they would like to act out the story.  If so, choose a peddler and have all the other children pretend to be monkeys.  

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; shows growing creativity and imagination in using materials and in assuming different roles in dramatic play situations.


            Make a color match game.  Use the caps pattern and make caps of various colors.  On an index card write the color names using a coordinating color marker or crayon.  The children can then sort the caps by color. Are your children proficient in sorting by color? Make hats of various sizes and colors for the children to sort and/or put in series of small to large.,

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; shows increasing abilities to match, sort, put in a series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size.

Music and Movement

            Let the children take turns leading in this Monkey See, Monkey Do song. (I like to sing this song slower than the video shows).

When you shake, shake, shake, shake your fist

The monkey shakes, shakes, shakes his fist

Monkeys see and monkeys do

Monkeys do the same as you!

(Jump up and down, twirl around, touch your toes, stomp your foot)

Creative Arts/Music; participates with increasing interest and enjoyment in a variety of music activities, including listening, singing, finger plays, games, and performances.

            In the story, the peddler balances a huge amount of caps upon his head.  Get out the beanbags and let the children practice balancing beanbags on different parts of their bodies while moving to music.  Who can balance more than one? 

Physical Health and Development/Gross Motor; shows increasing levels of proficiency, control, and balance in walking, marching, hopping, or jumping. 

Sing I’ve Got a Penny

I’ve got a penny; I’ve got a penny

I’ve got a penny shiny and new.

I’m going to buy all kinds of _______

That’s what I’m going to do!

(Children can fill in blank with what they will buy.  You can let the children pick coins out of a container and then the child must name the coin and the class can sing about the coin value in place of a penny.  I’ve got a nickel; I’ve got a dime, quarter).

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to associate number concepts, vocabulary, quantities, and written numerals in meaningful ways.


            In the story the Peddler stacked his hats.  Encourage the children to do stacking today.  How many blocks tall can they stack before the pile falls over? Remind the children about your stacking rules before they begin. (Build no higher than your elbow and you can only knock down your stack).

Mathematics/Number & Operations; demonstrates increasing interest and awareness of numbers and counting as a means for solving problems and determining quantity. AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in hand-eye coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads, and using scissors.


            Put out paper plates and collage materials.  The children can design their own hats to wear.  Attach long pieces of yarns in two places opposite.  These can be used to tie the hat under the child’s chin. 

Creative Arts/Art; Gains ability in using different art media and materials in a variety of ways for creative expression and representation.

Library and Writing

            Caps starts with the /c/ sound.  What other words can the children think of that starts with this sound?  Make a list. 

Literacy/Phonological Awareness; shows growing awareness of beginning and ending sounds of words.

Non-fiction book to go along with; Monkeys! A Kids Book About Monkeys – Facts, Figures and High Quality Pictures of Animals in Nature by, Maya Lee Shye

Sand and Water

            Fill the table with water today and encourage the children to wash any hats that you may have in your classroom.  As they wash can they identify the person who might wear the hat or the purpose of wearing the hat.

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of families and communities; develops growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.  Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions; and for further varied purposes.

Dramatic Play

            Make sure to include play money and a cash register in the center today.  As the children play, talk to them about the coins and their values.  Bring in a set of real coins to match the play coins to.  Add any extra hats and caps that you might have. Make paper tags that show the cost of the hat or other items in the center (hat 10 cents, shoes $5). 

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to associate number concepts, vocabulary, quantities, and written numerals in meaningful ways.

Math and Manipulatives

            Use the caps page to color and cut out primary color caps.  Make a pattern with the caps and then see if the children can follow with more caps or a manipulative in the same colors (Unifix cubes).  Practice making patterns today. 

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; enhances abilities to recognize, duplicate, and extend simple patterns using a variety of materials.

 Outdoor Play

            Play a mimic type game.  You can play similar to Simon Says but instead of Simon telling the children what to do, the Peddler tells them.  “The Peddler says turn around, the Peddler says run to the tree and back”. 

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions.


            Make enough copies of the hats for each child.  Color them according to colors that you might be working on with your group of children.  I use between 4-6 colors.  Tape all of these to a flannel board or the wall where everyone can see them.  Say the following poem and either point to a child/monkey or name them.

            Monkey, monkey in the tree.                     Roger monkey, Roger monkey in the tree

            Give  the purple cap down to me.               Give the purple cap to me.

This is fun to do when you are teaching colors like silver, aqua, and violet.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; shows growth in matching, sorting, putting in series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size.

Dear Parent-

            Being able to copy and make patterns is an important skill to learn for later math acquisitions.  Find some objects in your house that you have multiples of (silverware, socks, colored paperclips, etc.) and make a pattern for your child to copy.   When they are able to copy your patterns, challenge them to make a pattern for you to copy.

caps pattern
About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.