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Top hat and boater

Fun at home activity

Make a glorious 1913-style top hat or boater.

Three children wearing handmade cardboard hats.


This activity was inspired by the Glorious Days: Australia 1913 exhibition.

Questions to get you started

To get started, try to imagine what life might have been like 100 years ago?

  • Do you think that people dressed the same as they do now?
  • Can you imagine how life would be different without the Internet?
  • Imagine what type of hat you might like to make? Will it be a top hat or a boater?
  • How will you decorate your hat? How will you make your hat reflect your personality?


Suitable for ages 5+. This activity was designed to be made with the help of an adult.

Children in the 'Bunting, badges and bowties' Discovery Space at the National Museum inspired by the Glorious Days: Australia 1913 exhibition, featuring artworks, costume, music and newsreel footage from Australia as it was a century ago. You might like to make your own at home.

What you need

  • Cardboard. One piece of A3 cardboard and a longer piece 65cm x 14cm (for a boater-style hat) or 65cm x 22cm (for a top hat). Tip: you can join two pieces of cardboard together to make a longer strip.
  • Some decorative paper
  • Tissue paper to make decorative flowers
  • Stapler
  • Glue
  • Scissors

What to do

  1. Collect all of your materials and spread them out.
  2. Cut the longer piece of cardboard to size: 65cm x 14cm for a boater or 65cm x 22cm for a top hat. This will be your hat body.
  3. On the top and the bottom of the hat body, cut a series of 2-3cm triangular tabs, or V-shaped notches. This will help give your hat its round shape and give you an edge to glue onto.

4. Fold all the triangular tabs over, top row back and bottom row forward.

5. Print out the hat template circles and glue them to your piece of A3 cardboard.

6. Cut out the circles. Tip: Circles can be tricky, so ask an adult if you need help. Keep the central circle because it will be the top of your hat.

7. Now put your hat together! Take the hat body and join the ends, so it makes a cylindrical shape. Staple at the top and bottom.

8. Slide this circle into the hat rim. The tabs you folded out should be at the bottom to glue the rim to the hat body.

9. Now glue the top on to the tabs you folded in at the top of your hat body.

10. Congratulations, you have just made your hat! Now the decorating fun begins. You can use ribbon, pattern paper, felt or any of your favourite craft materials.

11. Try your hat on and look in the mirror!

Share your creation

If you would like to share your creation with us, send a photo to

We'll add your creation to our Flickr stream, where you can see some great examples of hats other people have made and decorated as part of Bunting, badges and bowties.

Discovery Space

All of our fun at home activities are based on Discovery Space school holiday activities and are developed for kids to do at home if they can’t come to the Museum.  Check out what kids thought of our activities at the Museum.

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