The Hatmakers Sign {FI♥AR}, Benjamin Franklin & The American Revolution

We recently covered the life of Benjamin Franklin, colonial life, and the events that led up to the American Revolution along with a row of The Hatmaker's Sign. 

The Hatmaker's Sign is a story told by Benjamin Franklin to make Thomas Jefferson feel better about the fact that his perfect declaration wasn't so perfect in the eyes of the other members of The Continental Congress. The story was about a hatmaker, who designed what he felt was a perfect sign for his new shop. But, on his way to the signmaker's shop, he bumps into several people who criticize his sign. By the time he makes it to the signmaker's shop, his sign is empty. He tells the signmaker about his new hat shop, his sign, and how no one had thought it was perfect enough. The signmaker makes a suggestion and the hatmaker thinks it is perfect! Of course, it is the very same sign he originally designed. The moral of the story is that no matter what you write, if the public is going to read it, you can be sure they will want to change it.

Since The Hatmaker's Sign is a story that was told by Benjamin Franklin, we covered the many hats that he wore with Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire and did several activities from the study guide. 

Some extra books:

I originally intended to row Paul Revere's Ride but I was more inspired to include it as a go-along book this quarter. While most of our books were from a patriot's point of view, Katie's Trunk is from a loyalist point of view and shows that there were still good people on both sides.  Malachi read The Journal of William Thomas Emerson as a reader and is now reading Johnny Tremain. 

It was fun to read about Colonial shops in A Visual Dictionary of a Colonial Community.  We read about the various Colonial trades and then found the sign that matched each trade. We planned to make our own Colonial shop sign later using some form of printmaking in honor of Benjamin Franklin. 

This next page was a fun tie-in too with the tricorne hat, a three cornered hat common during this time period. 

This next page made me fall in love with the idea of converting our off-grid home into a colonial kitchen/home. It just looked so quaint and cozy.

We attended an American Heritage presentation by Amy Puetz, author of Heroes and Heroines of American History. It was so neat to see her curriculum come alive that I was inspired to pull it out and do two lessons on Colonial life. We learned more details about colonial people, how they made a living, the kinds of homes they lived in, the furniture in their houses, and clothing. We even learned the Virginia Reel! We read about churches, schools, amusements and sports, roads, travel and taverns, and more.

We also did a skit from the Historical Skits book on Benjamin Franklin in France trying to get aid for the Revolutionary War from Louis XVI, which of course he succeeded and France became an ally of the U.S. and helped them win the war. Eliana and Malachi were in the skit at the presentation so they were eager to do another one (and another).

We listened to several original documents on Listen to Some U.S. History, like the famous Patrick Henry speech - "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death." From Sing Some U.S. History, we listened to "Liberty Song," one of the earliest patriotic songs in America, that first appeared in the Boston Chronicle Newspaper on October 16, 1768. "Come join hand in hand, Brave Americans all, And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty's call..."

And of course I read the Declaration of Independence, and re-read the important parts so they had the main idea.

Toliver's Secret was our read-aloud during this time (Sonlight Core D&E).

As I mentioned in my daybook entry, we jumped in where we were at in History and read chapter 9 (The British Take a Collision Course) and chapter 10 (Americans Declare Their Independence) in Landmark Book of American History. We continue to enjoy the new Landmark books and also read Chapter 11 (Why the British Lost the War). 
What's nice is that each book we read filled in a missing piece of History, but I'm longing for it all to be in one place. I may have to just stick with one curriculum after this, but that will be hard. 


We did lessons on printmaking from Stories of Artists and Their Art by Artistic Pursuits and made signs for our own colonial shop.

We each had our own shop:
  1. Eliana had a hat shop.
  2. Malachi had a bakery.
  3. Bo had a weapons shop. 
  4. I had an apothecary shop. :) 

Since we were learning about printmaking, it was neat to see this Etching & Printing display at a local museum.  

Our history project was to make a diorama of a home that was improved by Benjamin Franklin. We planned to use Eliana's Playmobil take-along house - we made a lightening rod, started a Franklin stove, and made a cobblestone street (out of plaster of paris and air dry clay) - all improvements invented by Benjamin Franklin. I planned to pick up copper wire for bifocals, but haven't yet and I'm ready to just move on. 

In Bigger Unit 10, we covered the many sayings of Benjamin Franklin, and Eliana wrote and illustrated two sayings:

Tricorne Hat Cookies

We used this tutorial on How to make the perfect Hamantashen (Haman's Hats) for our tricorne (three cornered hat) cookies.

During the American Heritage presentation, Ms. Puetz had students come up to the front to put on various hats to have the students guess who they were. This was great! Eliana was Laura Ingalls and Malachi was Daniel Boone. Of course, I couldn't resist asking to take Malachi's picture in the tricorne hat for George Washington! 

Colonial Cooking

During our time rowing this book, we also had the slow-roasted roast from the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook and had fun with the desserts from Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Colonial Cherry Berry Grunt with Independence Ice Cream and Honey Jumble Cookies with coffee for long meetings to talk about the cost of freedom. :) 

Soap Making
soap making

And finally, since Benjamin Franklin's family were soap makers, we headed out to my friend Jenny's house so I could learn how to make soap! She makes a cold process soap with olive oil, palm oil, and coconut oil and I'm excited to see how it comes out and also collect supplies to make our own. 

Thomas Jefferson

And not to leave poor Thomas Jefferson out since he penned the Declaration of Independence, we covered him more in Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans and A First Book in American History and continue to learn more about him in the Landmark book for our Sonlight D&E studies.  

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The Hatmaker's Sign is a Five in a Row selection from Volume 4. 


  1. I love how you are incorporating FIAR with Bigger Hearts and Sonlight. Awesome. We are taking a break from Bigger right now, and doing some delight directed schooling. I wanted to love HOD, really I did!

  2. What wonderful projects to go along with a lovely book. I miss those days already. We are going to start Hitty's First 100 Years with Above and Beyond FIAR after Christmas. I can't wait.
    Blessings, Dawn

  3. As usual, I love it! We are planning to 'row' this as well for this year. We are currently at about 1700 ish... ;) So, excited about studying Colonial times as this is seriously news to me since we didn't really study it in Canadian school. Can't understand why, as it is vital to Canadian history as well and just incredibly interesting! :)

  4. Thank you for your comments, ladies!

    Megan, I wanted to like it, too! I am enjoying the books in Bigger though, and we pick up a poem or lesson here and there as you saw, but I'm enjoying other things so much more. Have fun with your delight directed learning!

    Thank you, Dawn! I hope you will share your A&BY studies of Hitty!

    Cass, I always enjoy your rows! I'm excited to see how you tie American history in with Canadian history and hope you will share. Most of our Canadian history so far is about the French - I know very little beyond that. :)

  5. I love all of your ideas, they're going to come in handy when we do American History. I want lots of ways to make it real even if we aren't in the country, and you're always an inspiration on bringing things to life!!

  6. I've been on the fence about rowing this book this year since we are in more World History and not American history, but you made it look like so much fun :) The soap making looks like fun, too. I've always wanted to try that. I think it will have to wait because of my very limited space here. The print making looks like fun, too! Did you use a kit?

    Happy Friday

    1. I ordered the supplies kit when I reviewed the Artistic Pursuits art book, so I had them all on hand, but I basically used a foam sheet for carving our signs, then ink and a roller to make the prints.

      The Hatmaker's Sign was kind of a hard book to row. We basically tacked it on to our study of Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution to get this one in, so don't feel bad if you wait to row it. :)