So this is what we did. 1st, you got to act the part. So i had my hair in pigtail braids, flannel shirt and spoke with my best southern twang. Then we pulled a couple of our artificial trees into the living room for atmosphere and made this "fire" on the rug.
just Christmas lights, red tissue paper, brown construction paper for logs.
After we got B in his cowboy gear(hat,boots, bandanna, and made him a quick vest using the backside of wrapping paper and drew on black spots like Woody has) we discussed WHY cowboys wore those things. That site has tons of great cowboy ideas and I will mention it again coming up.
Then we discussed what we knew about a cowboy. I found this website that told a bit about where cowboys came from( section in green). Then we read the following book from the library:
I made a point to schedule something that would let everyone move around since we had been sitting for a little while. So I devised this cowboy themed math tag game(I am so pleased with myself about this one!)
So here is how it goes. We had 5 kids so I taped numbers 1-5 on each of their backs That was their "brand". We just took 4 plastic chairs and make kind of a square using those are the corner. That was our pen/corral. Then for the 5 year old I drew cowboy hats on plain paper. Each paper corresponding with the number 1-5.
You will see in the top left some algebra problems that have the solutions that are 1-5 for my 6th grader. Then to the right of those are fractions for my 5th grader. Then subtraction are for my 2nd grader and then the hats are for kindergarten. This is was above Princesses capacity so no matching for her.
The "cattle" wore their brands(number 1-5) and then depending on which child was being the cowboy, I help up their problems to solve. Once they figured out the answer to the problem they had to go get that cow and bring him/her into the corral(chairs). Bubba made our jump rope into a lasso( one of the handles are gone so it made it safe to use) and that is how you 'tagged' your cow. Then the cowboy just had to stay behind it while riding their stick horse(just one of those toy ones) to guide their cow. Once one child completed all their problems and wrangling the next child was the cowboy and the other joined the cattle.
This was a HUGE hit and they played this, without math facts later in their free time.
Then we headed inside to make some trail mix, sit by the "fire" and sing camp songs. We chose I'm a Little Cowpoke and a Cowboy version of She'll be Coming Around the Mountain.
Then we moved onto learning about Horses. We already had this book so I just used this, but just read a few things off of each page as it really went into depth. The older kids could delve more into that later if they wanted.
We began again by asking everyone what they knew about horses then we watched a youtube video on horse facts (we muted the music). The slides go rather fast though, so I read them aloud and sometimes paused lengthier slides. My kids like fun facts so that is why we chose this particular video.
We also watched how to ride a horse. We used our stick horse to put some different blankets on for each layer that goes on a horses back and then practiced mounting properly and how you would direct a horse.
I would have LOVED to arrange to visit a horse and get info straight from a person that cares for the horses, but this all was thrown together the night before so I didn't have time to arrange anything.
The next day we focused on Texas, rodeos and armadillos and crafts.
This is a very fun book yet very accurate with details and facts. This was another check out from our Library. This book led us into an armadillo craft and learning about rodeos.
The kids cut a paper plate in half and then cut construction paper pieces to glue on along with a head. We talked about how God created the armadillos with their 'armor'. I also played a couple cute videos of armadillos while they did their craft. And yes, everyone wants a pet armadillo now.
Then we talked about what a rodeo was and I showed a few rodeo clips including of course, some bull riding gone wrong. The last is a graphic video though the rider was miraculously unhurt. My kids can handle that and asked to watch some of those types of mishaps after watching some regular bull riding on youtube.
That led us right into Texas where bull riding originated. I got some facts about the Lonestar state, pulled out a map to locate it. We just talked about the official flower( which we looked back up in the Armadillo Rodeo book), the size of the state, cattle to person ratio, the motto, the weather( I had already cranked our heat up to simulate the warmth since we were suppose to already be in Texas), the state tree( everyone would have gotten to try a pecan but they had gone bad) and of course, the State Mammal( smallest)- the armadillo.
Everyone made their own Bluebonnet flowers
This was a craft you used just your fingerprints to make.
Use white paper so some of the white can show through a bit(ideally).
I just did a little sight word game for my nephew, though everyone played along. I found the idea for it on this blog. I had traced the state of texas on white paper( hold it up to your computer and trace pic), then cut that out and used that as a stencil on red construction paper. I put several beginning reader words on each state cut out
My nephew drew out each word and I helped him read them. Then he had to find them on the sheet I made up( I found something similar to this online but my printer is broke so I had to do it by hand) and color the correct word in. When each word was colored in then he helped the cowboy get to his boot.
Now remember, during this entire 2 days you have to continue in character! We referred to our house as the ranch and talked about coming Texas here and always with a southern drawl. We got milk and talked about milking our cows(we have no cows). We all just played it up and everyone was named Cowboy or Cowgirl so and so. No such thing as over acting with this!
Then I put together just a very simple homemade booklet(remember that my printer is broke!). Just some construction paper on front and back tied with some yarn.
The inside was just lined paper with some simple questions that I asked and then would fill in whatever answer my nephew had. You could certainly do this for the other ages but remember, I through this all together last minute? So time was not my friend.
The 4 pages talked about a different topic we discussed: Cowboys, Horses, Armadillos and Texas. And obviously by the answers my nephews gave, juice is not something they can have. Out of the mouth of babes, right?. For the armadillo he said they couldn't eat mac n cheese.
My nephew asked at the beginning of the day on Thursday when he arrived to our craziness if he would get a badge like Woody. I said if he completed the cowboy training then yes he would. So I cut out a star and put a little glitter on it and use tape to "laminate" it. I just used more tape to secure the pin.
And the best part- when he went home to his parents and they asked what he learned he said,"Nothing."
Why does that make me happy? Because he didn't REALIZE he was learning!
We were experiencing and living learning =)