Grade: Elementary

#547. American West Theme Ideas

Social Studies, level: Elementary
Posted Sat Aug 1 15:14:23 PDT 1998 by Djinn - and contributors on the board ().
early childhood mail ring and chatboard,
Materials Required: varied
Activity Time: varied
Concepts Taught: varied

I have copied these from various sources on the chatboard and mail rings. I have tried to give credit to those who gave names etc. My apologies to those who got lost in the cut and paste process.

Happy Spring!
Our school has a special day in the spring when we invite grandparents
and parents to come to school for a picnic, tour and program put on by
the children. This year the day will have a Western theme so the
program will also be based around songs, dances and fingerplays that
have a "western" flavor. So far the music teacher is planning for the
kinders to sing "She'll be coming 'round the mountain" and do "The
Chicken Dance". Any ideas for other songs, fingerplays, etc. that we
can incorporate. The kinders program is separate from the rest of the
school. We will have ours in the morning and the rest of the school
will have a combined program in the afternoon. Any help is greatly
appreciated! Thanks!


These were some ideas from earlier posts, that I haven't gotten to the
site. Not sure where to file them so people will find them. Any
suggestions for the permenant place, and then links from other letters?


How about Armadillo Rodeo! by Jan Brett - check her website for lesson
plans and ideas.
The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell - southwestern twist to an


You must try... Bubba, the Cowboy Prince : A Fractured Texas Tale
(Scholastic). It's by Helen Ketteman, and she writes tale tales. This
has Bubba as the "Cinderella". He has a mean stepdaddy, and two wicked
stepbrothers, who go to the party at Ms. Lurline's without him. His
godcow (yes, it's a cow) saves the day! Anastasi


In the April/May , 1993 issue of Kindergarten Mailbox Magazine there is
a unit called Cowpokes.
April/May 1998 Primary Mailbox has a southwest unit.

Kathy Poelker has a cute "Cowboy Cowgirl Partner Dance on one of her
records. Our kids love it. Happy Trails is a good song too.

Here are the ideas I have saved for western units:


* barrel racing in class....we set up 3 chairs in a triangle in the
of the room...then showed the kids how to run around them....we had them
gallop too!

we also made trail mix in class.....the kids decorated their "saddle
bags"...brown lunch bags....then went to the table to pick and choose
they would like to put into thier trail mix...we put out treats like:
mini pretzels mini marshmallows
raisins little toasted breads....etc etc.
choc chips
chex cereal
then we took our bags outside for a cowboy picnic!!

* we also had a Live Stock Show - each child got to bring in their
stuffed animal and show it off to the class...then everyone won

* went on a hayride.

*made potatoe brands.....

* decorated stars with tin foil and hung them on the ceiling.....then
brought in our
sleeping bags and slept under the stars

* danced to country music and videotaped it

* covered wagon:
to make one you will need
1/2 sheet of construction paper
1 whole sheet of brown const paper
2 circles cut from construction paer
let the kids decorate the full sheet with brands or whatever.....when
are dry you fold over the full sheet but do not crease it...then staple
it to the 1/2 sheet.....glue the circles (wheels) to the bottom

* *Cowboy Hat matching
I made different cowboy hats adding different patterns to the hatbands.
kids matched the two that look alike and they also started playing
"concentration" with them.

*The Little Cowboy Song
(tune: I'm a little teapot)
I'm a little cowboy. Here is my hat (point to self, then to hat)
Here are my spurs (point to your heels)
And here are my chaps (pat legs)
As soon as I get up, (stretch, pretend to wake up)
I work all day (pretend to lasso a cow)
I get on my horse (pretend to get on a horse)
And ride away. (Pretend to gallop on a horse)

*A Campfire
Make a block circle with red and orange tissue paper inside. Add a
rack on top. The kids had fun cooking outside like real cowboys!

* The children made bandanas that are triangles cut out of muslin
children used cow, horse,armadillo, jalapeno pepper, cactus and a cowboy
shaped sponges dipped in paint and put on their bandanas.

* We made branded cowhides that are made from large brown paper bags,
the edges and have children crumple up the paper into a ball. Open the
and have children brand them with potatoe halves that have a design cut
dip potatoe in paint and put on paper.

* For our lunch we will make a campfire using wooden logs with red,
orange tissue paper in the center of the logs for the fire. We will put
blankets on the floor for the children to sit on and they will eat pigs
in a
blanket, beans and chips and will drink rootbeer.

* make a horse for each child. Have your parents save the cardboard
wrapping paper comes on -one for each child, add an oval shape (with one
flat) face - we just tape it to the top of the tube. They decorate it
it gets taped on, and I give them wiggle eyes. Then add a piece of
that the kids can shread or cut into fringe-like pieces for the "
mane. this can also be taped to the tube using black or brown
or colored masking tape.

Hi Cindy,
Your Cowboy Unit is a great idea. I thought of another
way to make
vests. Use large ,brown paper bags . Cut up the middle and make arm
holes and the
kids can slip these on like a coat. They can fringe the bottom and
decorate the
Also, you are so right about Jan Brett! She's my very favorite
children's author!
I met her last October and I was so thrilled you would have thought I
met a movie
star!! She hosted one of our Flat Stanley's this year! She loves
children who
write to her and send her pictures! Her packet of material is a
Sometimes,she sends an autographed copy of a poster from one of her
books! I can't
say enough about her! Cathy k/pa

OK, here goes, for all those who wanted me to post ideas/activities for

I started building my Cowboy unit around Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett
new, only comes in hardback). There are activities at her website to go
with it. Here is the link for that:
Welcome to Jan Brett's Home Page
She has activities like how to
draw an
armadillo and how to make one out of a milk carton, also background
information etc.

Next, I have a unit from Teacher's Helper Apr/May/June 1998
issue). Almost the whole issue was devoted to Armadillo Rodeo and The
It's worth tracking it down. There are activities/sheets on
classifying, adding, phonics, time, measurement, counting, etc. IF

When I purchased my book I also purchased a Lasting Lessons book on the
West (Giddee Up! Round Up!). THIS IS A MUST HAVE!!! It has other
on Armadillo Rodeo and other books about the West. One of the
activities was
a Red Hot Chili Pepper Bingo. We played it today and the kids loved it.
a good vocabulary enhancement since the pictures on the card (shaped
like a
chili pepper) are lariat, wagon wheel, branding iron, cactus, Texas,
badge, bandanna, etc.

In SchoolDays Jan/Feb 1998 there are other Wild West activities like
for making "Buckaroos (boy/girl)", a bull riding sequencing activity, a
on identifying different kinds of horses (thoroughbreds, mustangs,
quarter horses) and directions oh how to make a horse puppet, etc. The
on the types of horses is too difficult for my students to read, but I
the short paragraphs (2 or 3 sentences) outloud and we talked about
words" and using context clues. The students did it without difficulty.
did have difficulty copying the words onto their paper.

Somewhere I picked up a Wild West unit from a resource book called In
Beginning (1985) by Noah's Ark Publishing. I haven't really gotten into
yet, as to whether or not it would be worth tracking down.

Another resource is the Crayola Kids magazine for June/July 1995. It
stories and activities also. The whole issue is devoted to Cowboys.

I visited a School and Carnival Supply store and found items to decorate
room (and to enhance vocabulary) like cactus, cowboy hat/boot, cowboy,
horseshoe, etc. I also found a paper western vest and I'm going to use
it as
a pattern to make vests for my students. I'll use brown bulletin board
and trace off the pattern. It's just one piece and have them cut it out
decorate it with fringe (coloring on the fringe on top and cutting
fringe on
the bottom). It just hangs around their neck then ties from the two
sides in
the back. I'll staple mine instead. They've seen the pattern and their
excited about getting to make and wear them.

Another thing the students want to do is to write to Jan Brett. At her
website she gives all kinds of information as how to contact her and she
is so
nice. I e-mailed her one Sunday afternoon to receive the free teacher's
packet that she sends out and by that night she had e-mailed me back
with a
personal message and a copy of that month's newsletter. I received the
teacher's packet in the mail last week and it is very nice. She writes
you a
letter which she signs (autograph) and it has pamphlets on different
that she's written and a 5 x 7 picture of her autographed, and more!

I also hope to have a day where students come dressed as

Lastly, these are ideas/activities that I've picked up off mailrings and
to my file:
> "rodeo" outside.
> *Grand Entry: children will "ride" into the arena are to music and
> circle. As the music ends, ask the audience to rise and say the
> Allegiance. Do the "Cotton Eyed Joe" and the "Chicken Dance".
> *Water Gun Shoot Out: Two cowpokes will shoot water guns at a Rodeo
> (real person or paper target)...if real person, should have a target
> shirt.
> *Barrel Races: Place 3 barrels in a triangle pattern. Allow one
> a time to "ride" their stick horse around the barrels. (model pattern
> first)
> *Flag Relay: Divide the children into two teams. Place two bales of
> with a flag stuck in each one, about 20 feet away. The first child on
> team will ride down to the bale of hay, take the flag, return to his
> and hand the flag to the next rider. The 2nd rider will ride to the
> and place the flag back into the bale of hay. Continue until all
> take a turn. First team to finish wins!
> *Western Wear Relay: Children line up in two teams. Place 2 sets of
> size western clothes about 20 ft away. Children will run to the
> dressup, run back
> to their team, and take off the clothes. The next player will then
> clothes on, run to the other end, and undress. First team to finish
> *Calf Roping: Set up two bales of hay, one 3ft in front of the other.
> Place a saddle on the back bale and a bucket on one end of the fromt
> to simulate the calf's
> head. Allow one child to sit in the saddle and try to throw a hula
> over the calf's head. Give each child 3 tries.
> *Oil Relay: Two teams, first to finish wins. The child scoops up a
> of "oil", runs to the bucket and pours it in, run back and hands the
> to the next child in line.
> Check to see who has the most "oil" when finished. (oil may be made
> 2T. of black powdered tempra and a gallon of water.
> *Petting Corral: Ask your high school agriculture department to help
> this event. They will usually supply animals, as well as portable
> cages for the petting coral.
> *Bar-B-Q: Set up a picnic area and serve hot dogs, soft drinks, and
> cookies. It is also fun to use tickets to count the correct number
> each item. Ask parents to help with food items.
> *Stick horses: You could have the children make their stick horse for
> "homework" that way you'd get a variety of "horses". Also, have the
> dress western of course!!
> I'm not sure if you wanted ideas like actual rodeo?! But
> if not for this year, maybe next?! One last idea is a game called
> Draw": Make a set of # cards in the shape of western hats. Have
> sit in a circle on the floor. Ask the first two children to stand.
> Quickly flash a card. The child who says the # first, wins. The
> then challenges the next child to a "quick draw". The object of the
> is to move the longest distance around the circle.

>I have a really cute book called, "Do Cowboys Ride Bikes?" It would be
>really great to go with a unit on cowboys. The author has also written
>another book called "Do Pirates take Baths?" The author is Kathy
>I just fell in love with the book and wanted to pass it on!

***Thanks everyone, if any of these ideas are yours. I appreciate them.

Cindy PS>>>>>watch for additional book titles to be
I forgot and left my book at school, so I don't have that. The book
list will
help in case you have to purchase books like I do.

At 06:58 PM 5/21/98 EDT, Cindy29877 wrote:
>OK >>>>> here is the other books you can incorporate into this unit:
> The Three Little Javelinas, Jalepeno Hal,

Don't forget Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport - great for debunking
stereotypes. =)

Re: Cowpokes
Posted by Patricia, , on 3/20/98

On 3/19/98, Peachy wrote:
> During the Week Of The Young Child, we have a Father's
(or special person's) Night at our school. My K class will
have a cowboy theme that week and dads and kids will come on
that night dressed as cowpokes. I could use some fresh ideas
for this event. Any suggestions for a special snack, art
work, song/fingerplay, etc.?

We are doing a cowboy unit beginning Monday. There is a record, Riders
in the Sky--Saddle Pals" that has perfect ECE level cowboy songs. Check
Kimbo Educational l-800-631-2187 to see if they have it. I don't see it
in their current catalog, but that is where I got it. Also, I have a
copy of a lizard that we sandpaint . I can scan it to you if I know your
e-mail. We had the art teacher draw us a pattern of a howling
coyote...the kids trace it onto printed wallpaper and glue a large
circle "moon" behind it...Patricia wpschar@usaor,net

Re: Cowpokes
Posted by Rhonda,, on 3/22/98

A Cowboy theme sounds like fun for Dad's Night! How about:
*a gold rush; use your sand table to pan for gold
*Horse shoe magnet exploration
*Relay races = galloping,trotting, roping, etc.
*shaving the dads w/shaving cream and popsicle sticks
*branding prints - potato printing
*hang a triangle to call all the cowpokes back together
*sing around a campfire - Home on the Range, She'll be coming
round the mountain, Oh susanna, Clemintine,etc.
*Bronco busting balloon stomp
*chuck wagon races (fill cups with beans)
*See the Pre/K issue of Mailbox magazine April/May 1993

Good luck and have fun! Let us know how it turns out.

Get a cowboy hat and a deck of playing cards (any set of cards
with numbers will do). Have the kids sit at a distance and
toss the cards in the hat. The numbers on the cards that make
it in the hat are their score or maybe for kinder, the number
of cards in the hat. For more ideas:

Our first graders had a rodeo day. We had a race (I forget the
name we gave it) where students had to put on Daddy-sized boots
and hats and then race to a certain spot dressed like that,
then take them off for the next student in line. That was
pretty cute.

We also had a husband in our group that happened to be a rodeo
cowboy. He loaned us one of those practice barrels on a spring
for the kids to ride as well as a practice steer and lasso for
the kids to practice with. He was nice enough to come and give
the students a mini lesson. Parents kinda rocked the barrel
(bronco) to give the kids a little taste of the bucking.

We are in Texas so we did a little cotton ball in a spoon race.

It's been a while so I can't remember anymore.

Ms. Solomon's Class

> Posted by Peachy on 6/18/98

"I'm A Little Cowboy"
(tune: I'm A Little Teapot)
I'm a little cowboy, here is my hat,
Here are my spurs,and here are my chaps.
As soon as I get up I work all day.
I get on my horse and ride away.

All Day I Ride On The Prairie
(tune: My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean)
All day I ride on the Prairie.
All night I sleep on the ground.
Oh, I am a roaming cowboy,
Who travels around and around.

Move on, move on, move on,
Little Dogies, move on, move on.
Move on, move on, move on,
Little dogies move on.
Cowboy Charlie (true story)
Cowboys And What They Do by Carla Greene-excellent info
Why Cowboys Sleep With Their Boots On
Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett (also on tape, really cute)
The Zebra Riding Cowboy
Someday Rider by Ann H. Scott
The Cowboy And The Blackeyed Pea by Tony Johnson
VIDEO: Meanwhile Back At The Ranch w/ LeVar Burton (Great)
Paper plate puppet-make face on 7" paper plate, top with a
cut out cowboy hat and a bandana around the neck or over the
mouth.I just make a sort of triangle for the bandana.They
decorate it.
Rope pictures- I use clothesline and they glue it on poster
board anyway they wish in a design.

Write the children's names on poster board in pencil. Have
them glue beans on the letters. Really cute.
Cut a sponge in a horseshoe shape. Let them dip it in brown
paint and make horseshoe prints all over their page.
Have fun!!

Re: Rodeo/Cowboy Activities
Posted by Elizabeth, , on 6/18/98

On 6/18/98, Susan wrote:
> Does anyone have activities for a cowboy/rodeo unit?
Suggestions for art projects, songs, books and any other type
of project would be most welcome. Thanks in advance! Susan

The rodeo is a big thing in the town I live in. The children
get out of school on the Friday the rodeo comes to town.
Here is one art activity that we do: Stick horse
The children cut out two horse heads that are traced on
paper bags as well as a piece for the mane. They decorate
each side of the horse head with an eye, a nostril, and a
mouth. Then they cut the mane part to resemble a fringe-like
hair. I staple the two sides of the head with the mane
together and then stuff it with tissue. The head is then
taped on a cardboard tube(like the ones from
wrapping paper). A hole is then punched under the mouth to
add the string to hold onto the stick horse.

The stick horse is then rode by the children as we do a grand
entry around in a circle like at the real rodeo. We also do a
barn dance that is real simple for the children to do. If you
are interested in it, I will have to get the information for
it from school. E-mail me about the source of the tape.

We used to do a Kindergarten Rodeo every year. The children
participated in events such as barrel racing, boot relay, bull
riding, cow milking, egg and spoon race, and pole bending. It
just got to be too much to try to do with 140-150
kindergarteners. We have cut it down to just the grand entry
and the barn dance. If you are interested in finding out more
about the Kindergarten Rodeo, e-mail me about that also. It
would take up a lot of room on the chatboard to tell you about
each event.

I hope this will help you.