Books are such a great way to learn about the world around us, especially when we find just the right books for each topic or theme. My favorite type of books for preschoolers are ones that intertwine interesting facts with an exciting story of fiction. The storyline, along with vibrant illustrations, helps keep the attention of our little learners. Little do they know, they are learning those facts about our topic as we read intriguing stories.
This week, we “ponied up” and took a look at some Wild West books. Before now, we hadn’t really explored this topic seeing as I have two little girls into princesses and everything pink. I wanted my little ones to learn about types of clothing that cowboys/cowgirls wore, the environment they inhabit, and facts about horses. Here is a list of our top picks for Wild West books:
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Wild West Books We Love
Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett
Jan Brett is an all-time favorite author of many beloved children’s books including The Mitten. She writes another lovable story called Armadillo Rodeo, turning her attention to the Texas rodeo. In this story, a curious armadillo wanders away from his mother and siblings after he spots a new friend – a new shiny boot that he mistakes for a red armadillo. The little armadillo then follows his “new friend” to the rodeo for an adventurous day at the rodeo.
Questions to Accompany Armadillo Rodeo
- How do you think Bo’s mother feels when she can’t find Bo? Why?
- What are some activities that Bo did while following his new friend?
- Armadillos can’t see very well. What if we couldn’t see very well? What might be difficult for us to do? Try squinting your eyes to imagine what would be difficult for us to do if we had poor eyesight.
Activity to Accompany Armadillo Rodeo
I thought it would be fun for the kids to design their own boots and imagine what an armadillo might mistake their boot for. An armadillo may mistake a blue boot for a puddle or a green boot for grass. It’s hard to tell, but her armadillo in the picture thought the pink and blue boot was cotton candy and blueberries. Yummy! Luckily, armadillos have a good sense of smell to make up for their poor eyesight.
Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope by Lisa Moser
Next up we read Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope by Lisa Moser. Cowboy Boyd shows up to a ranch ready to work with his, er, horse. Or so he thinks. Calliope is a slow, lumpy, and far-from-graceful rhinoceros, but she is ready and willing to work on the ranch. They mend the fence and move the cattle, but it just doesn’t seem like Calliope is going to cut it at the ranch. That is, until a big storm drives all the cattle away and Calliope uses her unique skills to round them back up and save the day.
This book exemplifies that we are all different and all possess unique qualities that can be useful in different situations, especially when we work with determination. I also love that this book includes some of the chores on the ranch – perfect intro to our Cowboy Ranch Dramatic Play!
Questions to Accompany Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope
- What are some chores that need to be done on the ranch?
- What are some chores that you do at home?
- Pretend you are a rancher. How would you round up the cattle when they are scared?
Activity to Accompany Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope
This book lends itself to looking for the differences between horses and rhinoceroses. We can tell by looking at the two animals that they are different. For example, horses have a mane and rhinoceroses don’t. But we dug deeper and used the text to figure out some more differences between the two animals. For example, horses are faster and more graceful than rhinos.
Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler
Next, we read Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler, which is a book that focuses on the realistic aspects of being a cowboy in the West. Her poetic language is simple and beautiful, and the book explains all of the character traits that cowboys possess: being patient, strong, and gentle people.
Questions to Accompany Real Cowboys
- What do cowboys do?
- Have you ever done anything that a cowboy does?
Activity to Accompany Real Cowboys
Now that the week is halfway done, we took a look at what we have learned thus far by creating a Cowboy Knowledge Chart, which is included in Cowboy Ranch Dramatic Play. We talked about about things cowboys can do like ride horses and lasso a cow. Next, we talked about types of gear cowboys use such as hats, bandanas, and lassos. Finally, we talked about what cowboys are, focusing on the character traits in the book Real Cowboys.
Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse by Rebecca Janni
Another great story to read to your class is Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse by Rebecca Janni. Nellie Sue does everything with a cowgirl flair and imagines what everyday tasks would be like with a horse. She anticipates the moment on her birthday that she will get her very own horse, only to find out that her father bought her a bike. Luckily, Nellie Sue handles it like a champ and imagines all of the new possibilities with her new horse.
Questions to Accompany Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse
- What else could you pretend is a horse? A stick, a dog, a person, a bike, a hay bale, etc.
Activity to Accompany Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse
The song in this video teaches all about horses. At the end, Blippi pretends to be riding a horse, and we galloped all around the room with him.
Why Cowboys Sleep With Their Boots On by Laurie Knowlton
This next book had us giggling! Why Cowboys Sleep With Their Boots On by Laurie Knowlton is the story of Slim Jim Watkins, a cowboy who just wants to sleep after a hard day’s work. The silly thing is the desert animals keep taking off with his items of clothing, leaving him high and dry. He finally decides to just sleep with all of his clothes on to keep them from disappearing.
I really like how this book incorporates different facts about cowboys like why they wear hats and bandanas.
Questions to Accompany Why Cowboys Sleep With Their Boots On
- Which desert animals do you see throughout the book?
- What do you suppose those animals are doing with Slim Jim Watkins’ clothes?
- Have you ever made something out of an old item of clothing?
Activity to Accompany Why Cowboys Sleep With Their Boots On
Pay close attention to the illustrations in this book. They show a lot more than the words explain. Like how these sneaky desert animals have taken off with Slim Jim Watkins’ items of clothing each night while he sleeps. We whipped out our magnifying glass to take a closer look at each illustration in the book for this one, making us book detectives!
More Wild West Activities
Hope you and your students can enjoy these Wild West books and learn some interesting facts about cowboys and horses, just like us! The black and white book activities went out free to my subscribers and are also a bonus when you purchase the entire Wild West bundle! If there is anything you need, please feel free to email me here and I’d be happy to help with whatever I can!
Click the buttons below to check out some more Wild West activities!