For Reading the Story:
- Props — "snow," twigs, brush, etc.
For the Literacy Center:
- Letters from home (see "Family Involvement," below)
- "A Hair Book" template, 1 copy per child
For the Math and Science Center:
- Pictures of animals—mammals (humans included), birds and fish
- Swatches of fake-hair and "scales" (sequins) fabric, a feather
- 3 bowls
- Color swatches (from a paint store)
- Microscope, with slides of hair
For the Art and Sensory Center:
- Gift bag, one for each child
- Decorative items for gift bags, i.e. glitter, stickers, etc.
- Tissue paper or confetti for gift bags (optional)
- Crayons or paints for self-portraits
- Safety scissors
- Unsharpened pencils
- Block, weight or book
Children ages 2 through 4 often begin noticing differences between their hair and the hair of other children. At the same time, they remain fascinated by animals of all sorts. Who Has Hair? encourages educators to combine these developmental curiosities and teach that, while hair can be different, hair is something mammals share in common. This literature-based unit offers natural connections to science, arts and preliminary service learning.
Only mammals have hair.
All mammals have hair.
Hair can be different:
- white, orange and other colors
- long and short
- straight and curly
We all keep our hair clean and make it neat.
- Classroom newsletter announcement about Who Has Hair? unit
- Letter from parent/guardian to child honoring home hair-care practices
- Donation of a set of hair-care products child uses at home — shampoo, combs, brushes, picks, detangler spray, conditioner, hair gel, barrettes, rubber bands, beads, etc.
- Visit to or from a dog groomer or zookeeper who specializes in mammals
- Visit to or from hair stylist(s). Because hair is most often celebrated among girls, consider inviting a barber who specializes in male hair. Also consider inviting a stylist who specializes in "ethnic hair."
- Coordinate donation of Hair Bags with a community shelter that serves children
Scaffolding within the Unit
Certain elements of the unit build on each another — some of the science and sensory activities, for example, enrich children's experiences with their Hair Books.
Reading the Story
Monday: Read the story in the classroom circle and review the themes of the week's unit. Be sure to introduce the service-learning aspect.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Read the story in the classroom circle, inviting verbal responses from the children.
Thursday and Friday: Combine call-and-response with the use of props that complement the story — toss "snow" when Polar Bear is talking, for example.
Monday: Roll in the arctic sun like Polar Bear
Tuesday and Wednesday: Climb in a "tree" like Orangutan (a jungle gym will do!)
Thursday and Friday: Go in circles like Poodle in a dog show
Monday: Allow children to explore the book themselves
Tuesday: In small groups, read letters from home
Wednesday-Friday: Working with teachers and building on activities in the Science & Math and Art & Sensory Centers, students explore their own hair and complete questions in their Hair Books.
Science & Math Center
Monday and Tuesday: Help students learn to distinguish mammals from other animals with a sorting game. Glue or otherwise affix the fake-fur swatch to a bowl. Do the same with the sequin swatch and the feather. Encourage students to sort the mammal, fish and bird pictures by placing each picture in the hair, scales or feather bowl.
Wednesday and Thursday: Using the pictures of mammals and the color swatches from the paint shop, encourage students to match each mammal's hair to a color.
Friday: Hair looks different when it's magnified! Let students take a peek through a microscope.
Art & Sensory Center
Monday and Tuesday: Decorate gift bags.
As a sensory activity, let students cut long strips of ribbon, making them short. Children can also tie short strips together to make them long.
Wednesday and Thursday: Students draw/paint self-portraits, using the title page of their "Hair Books."
Help students explore the concepts of "straight" and "curly," by wrapping strips of ribbon tightly around an unsharpened pencil — curly! They can then straighten the strips by placing a block or book on top.
Friday: With the teachers' help, children assemble their Hair Books, gluing on long or short ribbons and straight or curly ribbons, depending on their own hair's length and texture. They also glue color swatches matching their hair color into the Hair Books, or use paints or crayons to illustrate hair color. (Color swatches do offer an opportunity for children to understand diversity within sameness, i.e. people who share "brown" hair also have different hair— "creamy beige," "coffee," "milk chocolate.")
With the Hair Books completed, children place them in their decorated Hair Bags, along with the supplies donated from home. (By donating the Hair Books, a connection is created between the children who are giving and receiving. The Books also provide a reading activity for the children and caretakers who receive the Hair Bags.)
Special Activities (Optional)
Tuesday: Visit to or from a dog groomer or zookeeper who specializes in mammals
Thursday: Visit to or from hair stylist(s)
Companion Literature Selections
Cisneros, S., & Ybanez, T. (1997). Hairs: Pelitos. New York: Random House.
Dejoie, P., & Dejie, P. (1997). My hair is beautiful: Because it's mine. Inglewood, CA: Black Butterfly Children Books.
hooks, bell. (1999) Happy to be nappy. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.
Life, K., & Kroll, V. L. (1995). Hats off to hair! Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Madrigal, A. F., & de Paola, T. (1999). Erandi's braids. New York: Putnam.
Soto, G., Cepeda, J., & Soto, G. (1998). Big bushy mustache. New York: Knopf.
Tarpley, N. (1998). I love my hair! New York: Little, Brown.
Yarbrough, C., & Byard, C. (1997). Cornrows. New York: Putnam.
"Hats Off to Hair!" Class Performance
This simple performance reinforces what children learned about hair and offers an opportunity to celebrate each child's hair.
- Cloth hats, one for each child
- Cloth hats, one for each teacher
- Decoration supplies for hats
In the Art Center, encourage children to decorate their hats.
In the Literacy Center, revisit key questions from the children's Hair Books:
My hair is (long/short), (straight/curly) and (color.)
Each child (and teacher!) should rehearse his or her line.
Hold the first practice performance:
Hold practice performances, as needed.
Invite other classrooms and/or parents/guardians to the final performance.