Caps for Sale, by Esphyer Slobodkina

A peddler  goes out to sell his caps and he 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
  •             If you have a cap, bring it in and wear it while you tell the story.
  •             1 paper plate per child


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

Before Reading the Story

Ask the children if they 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).  

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; progresses in understanding similarities and respecting differences among people such as gender, race, special needs, culture, language, and family structure.

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 is going to happen.   When you read the page where he is refreshed and rested, ask the children if they notice anything different (all but one cap is gone). 

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

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; amd to predict what will happen in a story next.  AND Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions; and for other varied purposes.

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

Literacy/Book Knowledge &  Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; amd to predict what will happen in a story next.   AND Creative Arts/ Dramatic Play; shows growing creativity and imagination in using materials and 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 the coordination color marker or crayon.  The children can then sort the caps by color.  Use a copy machine to enlarge and shrink the cap page to make a sort game by size.   

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.

Music and Movement

Let the children take turns leading in this Monkey See, Monkey Do song.

When you 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 bean bags on different parts of their bodies while moving to music.  Who can balance more than one? Can you balance your bean bag on your head, shoulder, foot?

Physical Health & Development/Gross Motor Skills; shows increasing proficiency, control, and balance while walking, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching, and galloping.

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).

Approaches to Learning/Reasoning & Problem Solving; develops increasing ability to find more than one solution to a question, task, or problem.


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? If using wooden blocks make sure to set a height rule.

Physical Health & Development/ Fine Motor Skills; grows in eye-hand coordination in building with locks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads and using scissors.  AND Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to make use of one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects.


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 if ways for creative expression and representation.

Library and Writing

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

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

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 & Communities; develops growing awareness if jobs and what is required to perform them.

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. 

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

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 ability 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 direction.  AND Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; progresses in physical growth, strength, stamina, and flexibility.


 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.                     Rogermonkey, 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.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; understand an increasing complex and varied vocabulary. AND Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; develops increasing abilities to give and take in interactions; to take turns in games and using materials; and to interact with others without being overly submissive or directive.

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 paper clips, 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.