Lesson Plans MMoCA Collects

Sonya Clark: Self-portrait Hats

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Sonya Y.S. Clark, Spider, 1998, cloth, crochet thread.
Sample image
Sample image

Developed by Jeanell Dailey, Taylor Prairie Elementary School, Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Summary of Activity

Each student will create a hat with drawings that represent a self-portrait, celebrating the unique qualities of the individual student.

Learning Objectives

Create an awareness of other cultures in the world. Participate in a classroom discussion about hats and headwear and how they are used throughout the world as decorations, symbols, and for protection.

Understand Sonya Clark's expression of heritage in her sculpted headwear.

Sketch three things that would need to be part of a hat that tells something about the student, including strengths, family, and goals.

Create and decorate a hat that has objects or symbols expressing the three self-portrait categories.


Present reproductions of Unum, Hemi, Triad, Fingers, and Spider by Sonya Clark to the class and provide information about the work and the artist. Tell students to think about what these hats might mean to Sonya Clark and what hats might mean for other people in the world. Discuss why people wear hats and what kind of hats the students use. Ask students if they have ever seen unusual hats or headwear. Read Hats by Ann Morris. At the end of the book there is a glossary of the countries where each of the hats originated. Show students where these countries are on the world map. Revisit Clark's pieces and discuss what each might represent or symbolize from Clark's heritage.


  1. After the class discussion, tell students that they each will be making a hat that symbolizes special things about them and their family. They will need to think about something special that they are proud of about themselves, something special their family does together, and what they want to be able to do when they are adults.
  2. Students then use a pencil and the "something special about me" worksheet to sketch a picture or symbol of each of the three categories.
  3. After students have sketched their three ideas, give them the tag-board frames for their hats. Each student can cut the top edge so each hat is individualized. Students should fit the tag board around their heads and cut off excess before they start drawing on the frames.
  4. Students then use markers to draw the three ideas in detail on their hats. As they finish, staple the ends together to fit.
  5. When everyone is finished, have students choose one of the pictures to share with the class.
  6. Share reflections of how it felt to tell the class something special about them or their family.

curriculum connections

Art, social studies

grade level

Primary, grades 1-2


Hats by Ann Morris
World map
Tag board cut into 8-inch-x-30-inch rectangles
"something special about me" worksheet


something that represents an idea or object

original geographic location of ancestors


This lesson meets the following Wisconsin Model Academic Standards:

English Language Arts

C.4.1 Orally communicate information, opinions, and ideas effectively to different audiences for a variety of purposes.

C.4.2 Listen to and comprehend oral communications.

C.4.3 Participate effectively in discussion.

Fine Arts

A.4.1 Develop a basic mental storehouse of images.

A.4.2 Learn basic vocabulary related to their study of art.

C.4.5 Look at nature and works of art as visual resources.

C.4.7 Develop basic skills to produce quality art.

E.4.1 Communicate basic ideas by producing studio art forms such as drawing, painting, prints, sculpture, jewelry, fiber, and ceramics.

H.4.1 Study the patterns and color in nature. 

Social Studies

A.4.4 Describe and give examples of ways in which people interact with the physical environment, including use of land, location of communities, methods of construction, and design of shelters.

A.4.5 Use atlases, databases, grid systems, charts, graphs, and maps to gather information about the local community, Wisconsin, the United States, and the world.

A.4.7 Identify connections between the local community and other places in Wisconsin, the United States, and the world.

E.4.3 Describe how families are alike and different, comparing characteristics such as size, hobbies, celebrations, where families live, and how they make a living.

E.4.4 Describe the ways in which ethnic cultures influence the daily lives of people.

E.4.9 Explain how people learn about others who are different from themselves.

E.4.11 Give examples and explain how language, stories, folk tales, music, and other artistic creations are expressions of culture and how they convey knowledge of other peoples and cultures.


Sonya Y.S. Clark, Spider, 1998. cloth, crochet thread, 4 x 8 x 8. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, through Rudolph and Louise Langer Fund. 1999.15 © Sonya Y.S. Clark.

Primary, grades 1-2

Art, social studies