To introduce our Cowboy theme we talked about the clothing and things that cowboys wear, and why. I found this great explanation at The Virtual Vine: Cowboys.
Discuss with your students that a cowboy’s dress is determined by need and not by looks.
Hat -shields eyes from the sun; used to drink water from a creek or river; used as a pillow
Bandana - keeps dust out of his eyes; used to blindfold a horse so it does not get "spooked"
Boots - the high heels keep feet in the stirrups; the high sides keep dirt off of feet and helps protect legs against snakebites
Spurs - used to urge a horse forward
Chaps - protect legs
Of course we needed some Cowboy clothes. I had bought the Toy Story cowboy hats at the dollar store for a birthday party of my twins. There were only four, so I ended up using something else, so these came out for cowboy week. (Dollar Tree typically has thin foam cowboy hats)
We made "leather" vests out of grocery store paper bags. I had them do a scissor activity by cutting fringe along the bottom.
And then we decorated bandannas. I just used fabric remnants that I had bought previously, cut them into squares, and gave the kids fabric markers to decorate them.
Then they donned their cowboy attire.
Of course every cow boy needs a horse. I have been making these horses with preschool kids for years now, they've been for letter H, or for letter Z as a zebra and we added stripes, and this time, they were for cowboy week. They always come back because they are easy, and kids love them.
Find a horse coloring page, I printed at about a 4x6 size, if I remember correctly, so four to a page, and when cutting them out for the kids, cut off their legs. Then just instruct the kids to color them, and that you will add legs after. After coloring, supply two clothes pins. Some kids color the clothes pins, some don't, but they look so cute. The kids are always proud of their standing horses. And who says there aren't purple horses? :) I found this cute idea years ago at Virtual Vine:Cowboys, there are many other cute ideas there as well.
For our snack they made trail mix. I supplied small containers with different snacks: cheerios, marshmallows, goldfish crackers, pretzel sticks, etc. Please be aware of any food allergies your students may have. Then let the kids decide what to add to their bag. Then close the bag and shake to mix it up. My kids still ask if they can make a trail mix snack.
(You can see my big preggo belly in the corner there, aww!)
We made this darling armadillo craft as well. I thought I had a better photo of it, but the basic idea is that you use corrugated cardboard cut into oval shapes and then teach a little about armadillos and let the kids make some armadillo art. They really liked it. This idea was found at Preschool Education: Western
We played a fun cow herding game. I printed and cut out cows, and then had the cows "in the field", There were fences they needed to corral the cows in to. Each fenced area was a piece of paper with a number, and I would call out a number and they had to put that number of cows onto that paper, or in that fence. They loved it. You can see some of the action shots of them trying to round the cows up. This game could easily played with just one child, or a group. I found this and other fabulous ideas at Preschool Express: Out West Theme.
Some fun cowboy songs that we did for music and movement were these:
10 Little Cowboys
Ten little cowboys ( hold up 10 fingers)
Standing in a row-
When they see the foreman
They bow just so- ( bend fingers down)
They ride to the left (hands move left)
And they ride to the right (move hands to right)
And then they shut their eyes
And sleep all night. (put cheek on hands)
Cowboys All Dressed
Five little cowboys get up to dress.
The first one buttons up his vest.
The second one wears tall boots with taps.
The third one laces up his chaps.
The fourth one ties a big bow tie.
The fifth one tips his hat. Good-bye!
I Hop on my Horse
I hop on my horse and go to town (Pretend to hop on horse)
I ride up high and I don't fall down. (Pretend to ride horse)
I wear a hat so my hair won't blow (Put hand on head.)
and when I want to stop, I just say Ho! (Pretend to pull back on reins)
Check out the links within the post, as they have the ideas featured here and more.