A teacher’s resource guide to Six Thinking Hats®

The Six Thinking Hats® — A Teacher’s Resource Guide to Using the Six Hats® in Your Classroom 

Six Hats in a row


Developed and Presented at the Second Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Scholar’s Conference


Kathleen Drevitch,  Rae Lynn Kosarik,  Jennifer Minner,  Sarah Steele


Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • How to teach The Six Hats® to your students
  •  The Six Hats ® Authentic Assessment
  • Integration of The Six Hats ® in other content areas
  • Constructing your own Six Hats Key Ring®


Six Thinking Hats®

The Six Thinking Hats® is a tool that has been used by people in the business world and the educational community.   This methodology of thinking was invented by Dr. Edward De Bono. He is considered an expert in the field of creative thinking and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill.  He has written sixty-two books which have been translated into thirty-seven languages. Dr. de Bono has earned, (M.D., Ph.D.), degrees in medicine, psychology, physiology, and philosophy, and Rhodes Scholar.  He has held faculty positions at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London, and Harvard.

Dr. de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats® is a tool that can empower teachers of any grade and or subject matter to motivate students to use critical thinking and problem solving skills, while expressing inner creativity.  You can teach the Six Hats® to your students by focusing on a specific thinking skill.  Students associate the colored hats with key words and questions that will direct or redirect their thinking resulting in a richer learning experience.  By implementing the Six Hats® to every lesson, teachers can help students explore their own potential by taking an active role in their learning and enhance their creative thinking!


The Six Thinking Hats®   (by Dr. Edward de Bono) — How to teach the Six Hats® to your students!

Six Hats in a row


  1. White, red, yellow, black, green, blue poster board for Six Hats®
  2. White, red, yellow, black, green, blue shower curtains
  3. Magnets for the back of the hats (optional)

Getting Started:

  1. Before teaching the hats, you need to construct all of your hats.  Cut out six hats from the poster board.
  2. Write the words below on the hats: (I found these words to be the easiest for the children to understand.)

White hat-Facts                        Yellow hat- Good
Red hat-Feelings                       Green hat- Create
Black hat-Caution                     Blue hat- Understanding

3. Cut six shower curtains into large hats, approximately 6 feet by 5 feet.  These will be used for the children to stand on while learning about each hat.


Day One:

  1. Pick a topic in which the entire class is interested. (Gym, sports, bugs, toys, candy, etc.) I used gym/sports.  What child does not like gym?
  2. Introduce a new hat to the children each day. This way they won’t be overwhelmed.
  3. Begin by holding up the white hat.  Ask the children, what word is on the white hat?  Tell the children you are going to ask them all white hat questions. For example, Who throws the football during a football game? What is it called when you score a point in football? Every time a child answers the questions correctly, tell them to come stand on the hat with you.
  4. Next, tell the children that they need to ask the questions now.  Tell them they can only ask white hat questions.  Have them ask to one another.  Once they ask a white hat question they can come up on the hat. (Continue until everyone has a turn.)

Day Two:

  1. Review the white hat. Ask the students white hat questions and have them ask white hat questions. Introduce the red hat.  Hold up the hat and ask the students what word is on the red hat?  Tell the children all of these questions are red hat questions. Begin asking questions.
  2. For example, How do you feel when you are hit with a ball in dodge ball? How do you feel after gym class? Continue asking questions. If the children seem to understand, let them begin asking questions.  Every time a child answers a question correctly, they can stand on that hat.
  3. When dismissing the children to retrieve their things for home, review the hats.  Ask them red and white hat questions and have them tell you if it is a red hat or white hat question.  This helps to see if children truly understand.

Day Three:

  1. Review the white and red hats. Next, ask the students to tell you if you are asking them white or red hat questions and have them ask you questions.
  2. Hold up the black hat.  Ask the children what the black hat means. Then begin asking black hat questions.  For example, why should you be cautious in gym class? What should you be careful about when running with your shoes untied?  After asking the students questions, if they understand move onto letting them ask the questions.  Every time a child asks or answers a question, they may come and stand on that hat.
  3. When dismissing the children, ask them white, red, and black hat questions to see if they can say which color hat question that is.

Day Four:

  1. Review the white, red, and black hats.  Ask the students to tell you if you are asking white, red, or black hat questions.
  2. Hold up the yellow hat and ask the students what the yellow hat means.   Begin by asking all yellow hat questions. (Inform the students that this is the opposite of the black hat.) For example, What do you like about gym? Why do you like playing kick ball? Etc.  Keep asking questions until students appear to understand.  Then allow them to ask the questions.  Every time they ask or answer a question, they can stand on the hat.
  3. When finishing the review of all of the previous hats, ask questions to see if they know what color hat question you are asking; however, this time tell them that they have to answer the question and tell the color of the hat.

Day Five:

  1. Review the white, red, black, and yellow hats.  Have the students ask questions and tell what hat question they asked.
  2. Hold up the green hat and ask the students what the green hat means. This hat is more difficult to understand, but persevere and they will comprehend the process of creativity.  Ask only green hat questions. For example, how could you create your own ball for a game of kick ball? What if I was running around during gym class and my friend pushed me, what should I do? (Ask plenty of green hat questions to make sure the children understand.) Make sure the students are coming up to stand on the hat when they answer or ask a question.
  3. Have the children begin asking green hat questions to their classmates.
  4. Finish by asking the students hat questions.  Tell the students you are going to ask them questions, and they have to first answer it and then tell what color hat question it is.  Ask white, red, black, yellow, and green hat questions.

Day Six:

  1. Review all of the previous hats.  Ask the students a few questions and have them answer.  Ask a few students to ask questions and have fellow classmates answer.
  2. Move to the last hat, the blue hat.  This is the most complicated hat, so just go slowly.  Hold up the blue hat as you stand on a chair/table.  Ask the children what I may see that is different now? You are trying to get the students to look at things from another perspective, nicknamed out of the box.  Tell them to pretend they are a bird in the sky looking down.  Get them to look at things deeply and differently.  If desired, stand next to a child and let them stand on the chair to experience looking at things differently.
  3. Ask the children what the blue hat means.  Begin blue hat questions.  For example, explain to me how to play Martian, Martian? Ask them to sequence the events in their prior gym class.  Continue asking them questions, and then let them proceed with the questioning.
  4. When dismissing the class, ask a few students to create a blue hat question.

Day Seven: Culminating Experience

  1. Review six hats by asking the students all different colored hat questions.  (Make sure you cover all of them.) Have the students answer and tell which color hat it is.
  2. Pick a student and tell him/her to ask a particular color hat question.  For example, Ask a green hat question? This will also check for complete understanding.
  3. After reviewing, tell the children we are going to play a game.  Pick a particular place like Kennywood.  Call six children up and have them pretend they are at Kennywood.  They can only speak being the particular color hat that they received.  They are not limited to questions; they can make statements as well.
  4. Continue this with other children and other places.  Have the children who have had a turn hand their hat off to someone new and pick a new topic.
  5. Everyone should have a turn.  Let the children know that if they are struggling, they can ask for help.


  1. Do this at the end of the day.  The children get very excited and motivated.
  2. Allow fifteen to twenty minutes at the end of the day for the HATS.
  3. Suggested time is about seven days, one hat per day and a culminating experience.
  4. Ask about five questions when teaching each hat.  If they do not seem to understand, wait and ask more questions.
  5. If you have a large area, put all six shower curtain hats out, present a question, and have the children run to the corresponding question.
  6. Each day remember to put out the new shower curtain hat.
  7. This works with any age level.  My second graders really understood and used the concept!
  8. Have fun, and do not be afraid! Jump right in!

The Six Thinking Hats®

White Hat
The White Hat calls for information known or needed.
Black Hat
The Black Hat is judgment-the devil’s advocate or why something may not work.
Red Hat
The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches, and intuition.
Green Hat
The Green Hat focuses on creativity: possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas.
Yellow Hat
The Yellow Hat symbolizes values and benefits and why something may work.
Blue Hat
The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process.


Introduction: Construct the six different colored hats out of large pieces of construction paper. On each of the hats, choose a word that describes the types of questions each hat focuses on. For example, the White Hat calls for information known or needed, so “Facts” is a good word to place on the White Hat. Some examples for the other hats are as follows:

Red Hat– Feelings

Black Hat– Caution

Yellow Hat– Benefits

Green Hat– Creative

Blue Hat– Thinking about Thinking

Display The Six Thinking Hats in the room for the students to see. This will immediately get the students thinking, without anything even being said. They will have many questions right from the start. Prior to each week, construct hats for each child in the class. For example, a White Hat (with “facts” written on it) will be made for each child during the first week. A Red Hat (with “feelings” written on it) will be made the second week and so on.


Day one of each week: Explain to the students that the hats are going to help them to think on a higher level. Briefly introduce the hats, utilizing the word placed on each hat. Choose a subject that can easily incorporate the hats. Science is a good example. Then pick a topic, relating to that subject, to base the questions on. The relating top may be “insects.” Explain to the students that over the next six weeks, at the beginning of science class, they are going to learn a new thinking hat. Begin by teaching the White Hat. Share some sample “White Hat” questions with the students and allow them to respondOne question may be, “What insect does a caterpillar turn into?” Another question may be, “What are the three main body parts of an insect?”

After giving sample questions, tell the students that they will receive their very own hat, if they ask a “White Hat” question correctly. Give them time to think of a question.  Next, have them ask their questions to the class. Have the others students signal “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” If correct, place a “White Hat” on their head. If wrong, guide the student to think of a better question. Then give them their hat. This is a good way to informally assess each of them.

Day Two of each week: On the following day, give each child an index card with their name on it. Explain to them that they will play a round of “Hat Tricks.” Have them work with a partner to think of a “White Hat” question. Give them a few minutes to come up with one. Go around the room and have students ask their questions. Again, have the rest of the class signal whether or not the question is accurate. If correct, give each child a stamp. Repeat until all students have their turn

Do this on the second day for each of the six hats. During the first week of teaching the hats, only “White Hat” questions can be asked.  Once more hats are introduced; different colored hat questions can be incorporated. The teacher can ask a variety of hat questions and the students will have to identify which color hat the question asks. Every time a student answers correctly, give them another stamp on their stamp card. After the six weeks are finished, count the total number of stamps on student cards. The student with the most stamps will win a “Top Hat Prize.”

The Six Hats® Authentic Assessment

Directions: Place a check beside the appropriate hat color question that the student answered.  Integrating Six Thinking Hats® into every lesson deepens comprehension and allows students to take an active role in learning.

Sample Reading Lesson

The following is an example of how Six Thinking Hats®   might be incorporated into a daily lesson.


The reason for teaching the lesson is to give students a better understanding of how important interacting with text can enhance comprehension, expand vocabulary, model fluent reading and enhance oral language.


TLW The learner will develop an understanding of how to interact with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

P.I.  When presented with the story the students will verbally answer preset questions that fall under each of the Six Thinking Hats®. This is an individual activity during the lesson.

TLW The learner will enjoy read-aloud anthology “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

P.I.  While listening to the story, the student will be able to monitor his or her own comprehension as they hear the story read aloud.

TLW be able to describe what they are picturing in their heads as the story was being read to them. This is an individual activity during the lesson.

TLW The learner will display his or her understanding of listening comprehension.

P.I.  When given a piece of paper the student will draw a picture of his or her favorite part of the story then verbally explain what they drew to the class. This is an individual activity that is done after instruction.


Connection to State Standard: The Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening that is appropriate to this reading lesson is 1.6.3

A.  Listen to others

1        Ask questions to aide understanding.

Connection to State Standard: The Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening that is appropriate for this reading lesson is 1.6.3

B.  Listen to a selection of literature (Fiction)

2        Relate it to similar experiences.

3        Predict what will happen next.

4        Identify and define new words and concepts.

Connection to State Standard: The Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening that is appropriate for this reading lesson is 1.6.3

D.   Contribute to discussion

5        Asks relevant questions.

6        Respond with appropriate information or opinions to questions asked.

7        Identify and define new words and concepts

8        Display appropriate turn-taking behaviors.


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Read-Aloud Anthology

Vocabulary words

Overhead transparency


Paper and crayons

Teacher model


The students learn how interacting with text that they are reading can enhance comprehension, fluency and vocabulary.


  1. Motivation & Introduction

1.   Tell students I have an object inside my “think bag.” Your task will be to guess what the object is inside my bag.  Just reach your hand inside the bag and touch the object, no peeking!  The object inside the bag will be the topic of today’s lesson.  Once you touch the object, I want you to make a prediction as to what the object is.  Please do not shout out what you think the object might be.  Keep it to yourself until everyone has had a chance.  After predictions are made, I will reveal my umbrella.

Activate Prior Knowledge

  1. Discuss the weather.  Ask students (white hat) when do you use an umbrella?  A student might respond by saying when it is raining outside. (blue hat) Why would you wanted to use and umbrella and or rain coat?  A student might respond by saying to keep you dry.  Next, the teacher asks students if they have ever played in the rain?  If so (red hat) how does the rain feel when it hits your hand?  A student might respond by saying it feels wet.



  1. The teacher tells students that today they are going to need to put on their thinking caps and listening ears because I am going to read them a story called Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
  2.  Next the teacher asks students (green hat) or (blue hat) what do you think this story will be about just by hearing its title?  A student responds by saying it sounds like it is a book about raining meatballs.


  1. The teacher explains to students that a fantasy is a form of fiction that contains characters, settings and events that are not realistic.  In this story meatballs rain instead of water.


  1. The teacher introduces students to the following words before reading either on the board or overhead

Varied- Includes many different forms or kinds

Abandon- to leave a place because of danger

Stale- No longer fresh


  1. The teacher tells students “You will have to listen to find out what happens to a town when it rains food.”


  1. The teacher begins reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
  2. The teacher says, “Now you need to put on your thinking caps and listening ears.”  The teacher reads paragraph one aloud to students then asks the following question.     ( yellow hat) What are some benefits of eating breakfast?  A student might respond by saying you won’t be hungry until lunch.
  3. The teacher reads on until paragraph four and asks students. “How many of you like to read before bed time, raise your hand.   (yellow hat) If so what is you favorite bed time story?”   A student might respond by saying Cinderella.
  4. After reading paragraph five the teacher models think aloud for the students by saying the following,” I’ve never heard of a town called Chewandswallow!  It sounds like, “chew and swallow.”  I think this is the beginning of a fantasy story that grandpa told me last night.”
  5. The teacher reads on to paragraph seven.  The teacher then asks student the following question.   (green hat) “How do you think the people who lived in Chewandswallow might catch their food from the sky?”  A student might respond by saying they catch the food in huge dishes.  When the dishes are full the people take the food they need and put it in containers and zip lock bags.
  6. The teacher reads on to paragraph nine.  The teacher asks students the following question:  “If it never rains or snows, (black hat) what problems do you think it would pose to the plants and or people of Chewandswallow?”   A student would respond by saying people and plants wouldn’t get the water that they need.
  7. The teacher reads to paragraph fourteen.  The teacher points out the word know what the word varied.  Varied means many different forms or kinds.
  8. The teacher reads on to paragraph sixteen.  The teacher asks student if they know what the Frankfurters are. Student might respond by naming different foods; the teacher tells students they are another name for hotdogs.  They were called Frankfurter because they were founded in the 1800’s by a butcher who lived in Frankfurt, Germany.
  9. After reading paragraph eighteen the teacher models think aloud for the students by saying the following,” Notice how the author is describing meals like a weather report I would only hear on the nightly news!  This makes a strange town’s weather seem very funny.”
  10.   The teacher reads paragraph twenty. Next the teacher asks student the following question. (red hat) “How do you think you would feel if you were hit by a raining hot dog, hamburger, or meatball?”  A student might respond by saying it might hut, especially if it is falling through the sky quickly.
  11.   The teacher reads paragraph twenty-six.  The teacher asks students the following question. (blue hat) “Why do you think the weather is changing in Chewandswallow?”  A student might respond by saying maybe its globe warming.
  12. The teacher reads paragraph thirty the teacher models think aloud for the students by saying the following, “I was able to picture in my mind the mess in this town.  I know how squishy tomatoes can be, so I can imagine what a mess a whole tornado-worth of them would make!”
  13. The teacher reads paragraph thirty-two.  Next the teacher points out the vocabulary word abandon.  The teacher asks students if they remembered (white hat) what abandon means?  A student responds by saying means to leave.
  14. The teacher reads paragraph thirty-three.  Next the teacher points out the vocabulary word stale.  The teacher asks students what does stale mean.  A student responds not fresh.  (red hat) “How does a stale loaf of bread feel?”  A student responds by saying hard.The teacher reads paragraph thirty-seven.  The teacher asks students the following question.  (blue hat) “What do you think happened to the little town Chewandswallow?”  A student might respond by saying it turn into a garbage dump.
  15. The teacher reads paragraph Forty-one.  The teacher asks students if someone never read the story Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (blue hat) what would you tell them about the story?  A student might respond by saying it is about two little kids who are staying with their Grandpa and he cooks them breakfast, but at night he tells them a story about a little town name Chewandswallow.  The town has raining food, but the weather turns severe, and the people leave the town.  Then the kids wake up and go sled riding.


  1.  Retell:  The teacher will have students draw a picture of their favorite part of the story, then stand up in front of the class and describe their picture.  The teacher will show students a model that she created.
  2.   The teacher passes out paper and crayons.
  3.  After students create their drawings, they will share them with the class.


Review statement for the closing of the lesson is the following:  “In today’s lesson we learned how to be good listeners and interact while being read too.  I have modeled how to think out loud when you read a story. When you interact while reading, you will remember what you have read or what someone read to you.  All of you did a super job!

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