Texas Cowboys: Ridem' Cowpoke

Books to Share

  • Cowboy Country by Ann Herbert Scott.
  • Cowboys: Roundup on an American Ranch by Joan Anderson.
  • Home on the Range: Cowboy Poetry by Paul Janeczko.
  • Rats on the Range by James Marshall.
  • Vaqueros by James Rice.

Books to Show or Booktalk

  • Anthony Reynoso: Born to Rope by Martha Cooper.
  • Cowboy Charlie: The Story of Charles M. Russell by Jeanette Winter.
  • Cowboy Cooking by Mary Gunderson.
  • Cowboys for the Wild West by Russell Freedman.
  • Jo and the Bandit by Willo Davis Roberts.
  • Stick and Whittle by Sid Hite.

Bulletin Board

Ride the Riding Trail

Draw a map of streets in your community with a trail of horseshoes, cowboy boot prints, or animal tracks on the streets leading to the library. Surround it with drawings of cowboy hats and boots.

Display Case

Knots and Wire

Arrange various types of barbed wire and knots along and cowboy regalia such as a saddle, bridle, boots, hat, etc. in a display case.


Many of the cowboy songs sound alike. They were often about loneliness and working on the open range. Mournful or sad tunes had a soothing effect on cattle and made them easier to control. Sing some of these popular cowboy songs or play recordings of them: "Home on The Range," "Skip to My Lou," "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain," and "Get Along Little Dogies." Words to cowboy songs may be found at http://lonehand.com/cowboy_songs.htm.


Ranch Brands

Create brands for a ranch, taking into consideration last names and family characteristics. Use rope or yarn on a board or construction paper. Examples of brands may be found on the Brand Match game sheet and also on the Cowboy Showcase web site at www.cowboyshowcase.com/brands.htm. Additional samples can also be found on page 177 of Once Upon a Planet: Program Guide for the Texas Reading Club, 1995 by Gayle A. Travis.

Vaquero Pantene Puppet


  • Copies of vaquero pattern
  • Brass fasteners
  • Construction paper or card stock
  • Colors


Copy the pantene puppet patterns onto card stock, or copy them onto regular paper and cut them out and glue them to construction paper and cut them out again. Let the children assemble the parts with brass fasteners, color them, and play with their puppets.

Games and Activities

Knot Tying Demonstration

Demonstrate how to do a variety of knots. Directions are given in a Boy Scout or Girl Scout Handbook or in most comprehensive camping books. Give each child two 10-inch pieces of rope and a stick and let them learn the knots as directed. Some basic knots are below.

Overhand Knot

  1. Pass the end of the rope over the standing part to create a loop.
  2. Take the end down over the standing part and under the loop.
  3. Continue by bringing the end of the rope up through the loop.
  4. Pull tight


Overhand Knot step 1


Overhand Knot step 2


Overhand Knot step 3

Figure Eight Knot

  1. Pass the end of the rope over the standing part.
  2. Take the end under the standing part away from the loop.
  3. Bring the end of the rope back over itself towards the loop.
  4. Pass the end down through the loop.
  5. Pull tight.


Figure Eight Knot step 1


Figure Eight Knot step 2


Figure Eight Knot step 3

Square Knot

A square knot is used to join together two ropes of equal size or the ends of a rope.

  1. Cross the right rope over the left rope and tuck under.
  2. Cross the left rope over the right rope and tuck under.
  3. Pull tight.


Square knot step 1


Square knot step 2


Square knot step 3

Clove Hitch Knot

  1. Pass the end of the rope over the stick and back round and crossing over its own standing part.
  2. Continue by passing the end over the stick again creating a loop.
  3. Pass the end right round the stick.
  4. Bring the end back through the loop that is formed.
  5. Pull tight.

Clove hitch knot

Bowline Knot

The bowline knot forms a loop that will not slip, but unties easily.

  1. Measure off the size of loop required and create a small loop in the standing part of the rope by passing the end over the standing part.
  2. Bring the end of the rope up through the small loop and around the back of the standing part.
  3. Continue by passing the end of the rope back down through the small loop.
  4. Pull tight.


Bowline step 1


Bowline step 2


Bowline step 3

Sheep Shank

A Sheep Shank is used to shorten a rope.

  1. Shorten the rope to the required length by creating two uncrossed loops somewhere along its length.
  2. Form a small loop in one end of the rope by passing the end under the standing part.
  3. Past the "loop" through the real loop that is formed.
  4. Form a similar loop at the other end.
  5. Pass the other "loop" through the newly created loop and pull tight on both standing parts.


Sheep shank step 1


Sheep shank step 2

Cowboy Talk

Teach the children some of the cowboy sayings below or create a handout and let them match the phrases with their meaning.

  • Mad as a peeled rattler (Very angry)
  • All horns and rattles (Very angry)
  • Barkin' at a knot (Wasting your time, trying to do something useless)
  • Doesn't use up all his kindlin' to make a fire (Someone who doesn't waste words on small talk)
  • Don't go wakin' snakes (Don't start trouble)
  • Above my huckleberry (Too hard for me to do)
  • Choker holes (Doughnuts)
  • Father the herd (To bed down for the night)
  • Grabbin' the apple (Holding on to the saddle horn on a bucking horse)
  • Hit the rail (To travel or to leave)
  • Kissed the ground (Thrown from a horse)
  • Load of hay on his skull (Man with long hair)
  • Pack the mail (To ride fast)
  • Rustler's pneumonia (Cold feet, cowardly)
  • Snorter (Excitable horse)
  • Talk like a Texan (To boast of one's work or accomplishments)
  • Wild willow West (Dude ranch)
  • Well, I swan! (Exclamation of wonder)

Rodeo Clowns

Bring face paint, oversized clothes, old hats, and colorful flowers. Let the children dress up as rodeo clowns and paint their faces. Invite them to entertain the younger children at storytime and to work together to create routines to entertain the children. If any of them juggle, dance, or perform acrobatics, invite them to do so in their costumes.

Programs and Guest Speakers

Invite a working cowboy, preferably one who knows how to rope, to bring cowboy gear and tell the children about a cowboy's life.

Invite a cowboy poet to entertain the children.

Musical Recordings

  • Country for Kids (Vol. 1-3) by various artists.
  • Country Music for Kids by various artists.


  • American Cowboy. (16 minutes)
  • El Gaucho Goofy. (8 minutes)

Web Sites

Cowboy Poetry

The Cowboy Showcase

Digital Horseman

Hank the Cowdog

Horse-Guides Free Horse Related Articles

Information About Horses

Professional Resources

  • An Album of the American Cowboy by John Williams Malone.
  • Texas Folk Songs by William A. Owens.
  • Wild West Days by David C. King.


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