Kick-off Celebration: Texas Hoe Down!

Books to Share

  • Barn Dance by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Bubba the Cowboy Prince: A Fractured Texas Tale by Helen Ketteman.
  • Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell.
  • The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell.
  • Yippee-Yay! A Book about Cowboys and Cowgirls by Gail Gibbons.

Display and Booktalk

  • Bluebonnet at the Alamo by Mary Brooke Casad.
  • Bluebonnet at the Marshall Train Depot by Mary Brooke Casad.
  • Gaston Goes to Texas by James Rice.
  • The Inside-Outside Book of Texas by Roxie Munro.

Bulletin Board

Read Across Texas!

Enlarge the clip art picture of the cowboy and cowgirl holding the sign, "Read Across Texas!" and paint or color it, and hang it on your bulletin board along with the dates of your reading club.


Wanted: Texas Readers

Write the words "You Are WANTED!" or "WANTED: TEXAS READERS" across the top of a large sheet of butcher paper. Hang it on your bulletin board. Invite children in your community to come to your library in western wear. Take their pictures and hang them on your bulletin board. Invite them to hold their favorite book in the picture.

Print "You are WANTED!" posters and flyers to advertise the kickoff party and post them throughout your community along with your library's name and the dates of your reading club. At the bottom of the poster, write "And Don't Forget to Wear Your Western Duds."

In accordance with the confidentiality amendment to the Texas Open Records Act, be sure to get permission from a parent or legal guardian before displaying each child's picture. A sample permission form is included at the end of this page.


Hang a large Texas flag in your library.

Display Case

Cover the shelf with red bandanas, a red and white checkered table cloth, a serape, or an Indian or Mexican blanket. Display children's books about Texas celebrations and festivals and CDs by Texas musicians. Surround them with cowboy hats, boots, and stuffed armadillos. Sprinkle confetti shaped like boots, cowboy hats, or other Texas symbols around the books. You will find confetti in craft shops and party stores. Be sure that toddlers cannot reach the confetti.


Ridin' the Trail

Decorate the perimeter of your room with a fence made out of construction paper and paper maché or plastic cacti. Purchase tumbleweeds at a local craft store and place them along the fence. Hang cowboy hats and lassos on the wall. Cut or draw silhouettes of cowboys and place them throughout the room. On butcher paper, write Texas trivia questions and answers and hang them on the walls. If your party is outside, decorate with hay bales.


On a table covered with a red-and-white checkered tablecloth, serve trail mix, sausage or jerky, and Texas-shaped nacho chips with salsa, melted velveeta, avocado dip, or bean dip. Use bowls or platters in the shape of Texas and red and white napkins and plates. Serve "Ten-Gallon Punch" made from equal parts lemon-lime soda and cranberry juice, or serve red Kool-aide and call it "Chili Juice." Start your program by ringing a musical triangle and calling out, "Come an' get it!"

Name Tags

Give the children nametags shaped like five pointed stars.


Best Western Wear Contest

Wear your western duds and invite the children to show off their western wear at the party. Have judges award certificates or prizes in several categories, e.g. "Most Authentic," "Most Like a Rhinestone Cowboy," "Most Like a Country Music Star," "Funniest," etc. All who attend might receive a free book.


Count the Corn

Fill a jar with popping corn or candy corn. (Count the number of pieces ahead of time.) As the children arrive, have them write their estimate of how many pieces are in the jar on a piece of paper and put it into a box. The person whose guess is closest without exceeding the correct number is the winner and gets to keep the jar of corn. Announce the winner at the end of the party.


I'm Texan, I'm a Texan,

From a way down yonder where the Texans are.

I can rope,

I can ride,

I can shoot a gun.

So come on down and join the fun.


Rattlesnake Trail

Roll out a long sheet of bubble wrap. Decorate it as a hiking trail by putting a rocks and plants around the sides. The object of the game is to walk across the "rattlesnake trail" without popping the bubble wrap and "getting bit by the snake." Give each child a plastic bag filled with trail mix after they walk the rattlesnake trail.

The Chicken Dance

Play a recording of the "Chicken Dance" and teach it to the children. Here are the movements.

  1. Bend your elbows and hold your hands next to your shoulders and open and close them like beaks. "Chirp" your fingers four times for 4 counts of music.
  2. Bend your elbows and put your arms your arms in a "wing position" with hands tucked in armpits. Flap your wings 4 times for 4 counts of music.
  3. Wiggle your "tail feathers" and bend your knees four times for 4 counts of music.
  4. Clap your hands 4 times for 4 counts of music. 5. Repeat all of the movements above three more times, to complete the chorus.

Square Dance

Put on a musical recording and teach the children a square dance or a line dance.

Sing Along

Lead the children in singing traditional songs such as "Deep in The Heart of Texas" or "San Antonio Rose" by Bob Wills. Or, play recordings of classic country music.


Pin Texas on the United States

Hang a map of the United States and take turns letting the blindfolded children pin a Texas shape on the map. (For your convenience, an outline map of Texas is included here.) Give a prize to the one who places it closest to the correct geographic location.

Texas Bingo

Make special bingo cards with the letters "TEXAS" across the top of the card instead of "BINGO." Place pictures rather than numbers on the cards Pictures might include a yellow rose, cactus, armadillo, boot, cowboy hat, bluebonnet, Alamo, peach, snake, rocket, etc. Make a set of cards with each variation of letters and pictures on small pieces of paper and laminate. Advertise your program and when the children arrive, give them their Texas Bingo cards. Pick the laminated cards one at a time and call them out, such as "S - Cactus" or "T - Armadillo." You'll find pictures of Texas symbols in the Texas Symbols Matching Game in the Preschool Chapter. More Texas symbols may be found at

Snake Toss

Enlarge the snake pattern, cut it out, and glue it to a large piece of cardboard. Paint or color it and cut a large hole through its mouth. Each child takes a turn throwing a ball into the mouth. Or, make small beanbags filled with pasta or beans for them to toss.

Turkey Hunt

Use a marker to draw a turkey face and feathers on numerous balloons. Set up boundaries for a "turkey hunting grounds" by placing masking tape on the floor. Place two strips of masking tape across the room as starting lines. Children form pairs and two sets of pairs play at one time. Blindfold one player from each team and give him/her a straight pin. (Be careful with those pins, especially with very young children!) This player is called the "turkey hunter." Give the second player of each pair a balloon. This player is called the "turkey." The "turkey hunters" stand behind the starting line. To play, spin the two "turkey hunters" around two or three times. During this time, their partners, the "turkeys", place their balloons within the "turkey hunting grounds." The object of the game is to see which "turkey" can guide his "turkey hunter" partner to pop their team's balloon first. The "turkey" stands by his/her balloon and makes gobbling noises to guide his/her blindfolded "turkey hunter" partner to their team's balloon. Neither player may speak, nor can the players touch each other. The children who are watching must not to speak either. When a "turkey hunter" finds a balloon turkey, he or she is pops it with the pin. If she/he pops the wrong balloon, that team looses. The first pair to pop the correct balloon wins.


Texas Flag


  • White index cards, or card stock cut into 3" X 5" rectangles
  • Blue strips of paper cut into 1 2/3" X 3" rectangles
  • Red strips of paper cut into 1 1/2" X 3 1/3" rectangles
  • Straws
  • White stars approximately 1" tall
  • Glue sticks and tape


A picture of the Texas Flag is included here as a guide for this craft. Put glue on one side of a 1 1/2" X 3 1/3" red strip and attach it along the bottom of the 3" X 5" index card so that it meets up on all edges. Place glue on one side of a 1 2/3" X 3" blue strip and attach it to the left side of the index card. Place glue on one side of a white star and put it in the center of the blue strip. Tape a straw to the left side of the flag.

Alamo Coloring Sheet

Distribute the coloring sheet of the Alamo available here.

Guest Speakers and Entertainers

Invite a country or bluegrass band to entertain the children. Invite a local storyteller to tell Texas tales or Native American stories.

Audio Recording

Elmo's Lowdown Hoedown by Sesame Street.


  • Reading Rainbow 51: Barn Dance. (30 minutes)
  • Destinations: The Best of Texas Parks and Wildlife. (49 minutes)
  • Texas: Land of Legends. (29 minutes)

Web Sites

Jokes and Riddles for Children

New Perspectives on the West

The Handbook of Texas Online

Texas State Symbols

Parental/Guardian Permission for Displaying Photographs

The ______________________________ (Name of Library) is promoting the 2002 Texas Reading Club with a bulletin board entitled, "WANTED: TEXAS READERS." Children are invited to bring their photographs, or to have their photograph taken by library staff member, to display on this bulletin board. In accordance with the confidentiality amendment of the Texas Open Records Act, if a child is a minor, or under 18 years of age, the ___________________________ (Name of Library) must have the signed, written permission of that minor's parent or legal guardian before displaying the child's picture. If you would like for your child to participate in this program, please complete, sign, and date this permission form so that we may display your child's photograph on the library's bulletin board. Thank you, and we look forward to your child's participation in this summer's reading club.

The _________________________ (Name of Library) may, or may not, do the following:

Display my child's name on the library's bulletin board: Yes/No

Display my child's picture on the library's bulletin board: Yes/No

Signed ______________________________________________

Date ________________________________________________


Texas Reading Club 2002 Programming Manual / Read Across Texas!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011