Elementary Programs Chapters

By Bonnie Langan and Anne Neidinger

The Heart of Texas Critters

Books to Share

Armadillo by Mary Elise Monsell.

Armadillo from Amarillo by Lynne Cherry.

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett.

Armadillo Tattle Tale by Helen Ketteman.

Chewing Gum Rattler by Joe Hayes.

How the Critters Created Texas by Francis Abernethy.

The Raft by Jim LaMarche.

Twelve Days in Texas by Donna Cooner.


The Ants Go Marching

Let the children make ants from black felt circles, with pipe cleaners for legs, and attach them to craft sticks for puppets. They can then hold up the appropriate number of ants for each verse of the song. Lyrics are available on the Kididdles web site at http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/a009.html.

Home on the Range

Lyrics and a MIDI file are available on the Kididdles web site at http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/h020.html.

She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain.

Lyrics and a MIDI file are on the Kididdles web site at http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/s004.html.

Riddles and Jokes

Knock Knock

Who’s there?


Hiss who

Hiss a rattlesnake jump back!

Let the children write jokes to answer the question, “Why did the armadillo cross the road?”

Give the children joke books and let them rewrite the jokes, adapting them to Texas critters. For example, let them write knock-knock jokes about Texas animals based on 101 Knock-knock Jokes: Guaranteed to Make Even a Sourpuss Smile by Sam Schultz.

Reader’s Theatre

Armando the Awkward Armadillo

This script by Gayle Travis is in the 2002 Texas Reading Club manual, Read Across Texas, at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/projects/trc/2002/manual/scripts/armando.html.

The Three Little Pigs: In Texas That Is

(Adapted by Angela Sweet-Cloud. Used with permission. This may also be presented as a puppet show, or it may be performed as creative drama, also using puppets. Use one puppet for three pigs with different voices. You will also need a wolf and a salesman puppet. You will also need houses of straw, sticks, and bricks, and a title sign.)

Narrator: There were once 3 little pigs.

Pig #1: I am the French artist pig. (French accent)

Pig #2: I am an opera pig. (Singing)

Pig #3: I am a Texas cowboy pig. (Texas accent)

Narrator: The pigs decided to build houses. Now also in this story is a salesman who wanders the countryside with his cart of goods.

Salesman: Hi, I wander the countryside selling my cartload of goods.

Narrator: Anyway, it wasn’t long before the first little pig...

Pig #1: The French artist pig. (French accent)

Narrator: ...met up with the salesman.

Pig #1: Hello, Salesman. I am looking for some material to build a house. Do you have anything?

Salesman: I have some very nice bricks. They would make a nice strong house.

Pig #1: No. No. No. Bricks are not artistic. I need something artistic.

Salesman: Well all I have are bricks, sticks, and straw.

Pig #1: Straw! That is perfect! I will take the straw to build my house.

Salesman: Straw is not very strong. Bricks will make a nice sturdy house.

Pig #1: Straw is artistic, you silly man. I will take the straw.

Narrator: So the salesman sold his straw to the first little pig. He charged extra because the pig was so silly. It wasn’t long before the second little pig...

Pig #2: The opera pig. (Singing)

Narrator: ...met the salesman.

Pig #2: Hello, salesman. I am looking for some material to build my house.

Salesman: This brick is very strong and would make a wonderful house.

Pig #2: Ah, I see you have sticks. Sticks are very musical. I will take the sticks.

Salesman: Are you sure? Sticks are not very strong.

Pig #2: Of course. Now give me the sticks.

Narrator: So the salesman sold the second little pig the sticks. He charged even more for the sticks because he thought the second little pig was even sillier than the first.

Narrator: It wasn’t long before the third little pig came along.

Pig #3: Howdy salesman. I’m looking for some good strong bricks to build my house.

Narrator: Well the salesman was very impressed.

Salesman: I’m impressed. Finally, a pig with common sense!

Narrator: So the third little pig...

Pig #3: The Texas cowboy pig.

Narrator: Right. So the Texas cowboy pig found a nice place near his two brothers’ houses of straw and sticks to build his house of bricks. Now what the salesman and the three pigs didn’t know was that all this time they were being watched - by none other than big bad wolf.

(Enter wolf)

Wolf: That’s me and I know three pork dinners when I see them. I think I’ll start with that French artist pig. I never liked art.

Narrator: So the big bad wolf went to the house of straw.

Wolf: (Shouting) Hello, artist pig.

Pig #1: That’s French artist pig. What do you want wolf.

Wolf: I want to come in and look at your art.

Pig #1: I know better than that. My mother told me about wolves. You can’t come in.

Wolf: Let me in or I’ll blow your artistic house down.

Pig #1: Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.

Wolf: Okay, Pig. I’m going to huff and puff and blow your house in.

Narrator: So the wolf, being as artistic as possible, blew the house of straw down. The little pig ran artistically to his musical brother’s house with the wolf close behind.

Wolf: Okay little pigs, you better let me in.

Pig #2: (Singing) I am the opera singing pig. You may not come in.

Wolf: I’ll blow your house down. Let me in!

Pig #2: (Singing) Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.

Wolf: I’m gonna huff and puff and blow your house down.

Narrator: And the wolf blew the opera pig’s musical house down and chased the two pigs to their brother’s house of brick.

Pig #3: Hey, Wolf, I’m a Texas cowboy pig and there is no way you can huff and puff and blow my house down. You won’t get in. Not by the hair of our chinny chin chins.

Narrator: But the wolf huffed and puffed anyway.

Wolf: (Makes heavy breathing noises)

Narrator: And ran out of breath. But wolves don’t give up easily.

Wolf: There has to be some way in. Ahh...I see a chimney. I’ll climb down and surprise them.

Pig #3: I read in my library book that the best way to keep wolves out is to build a nice fire in the fireplace.

Narrator: The wolf climbed down the chimney and got a very hot surprise. Wolf: (Howls loudly)

Pig #3: That library book was right. Don’t mess with Texas pigs - or Texas libraries.

Narrator: The wolf was never seen again and the pigs went to their library to learn more about art, music, and building.


Coyote Stories

Tell coyote stories from the Native American tradition such as those in Coyote and Native American Folk Tales by Joe Hayes.


Horned Lizard

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Arts and Crafts web site at http://tpwd.state.tx.us/kids/fun_stuff/arts_and_crafts/ features many Texas crafts. Let the children make the Horned Lizard craft at http://tpwd.state.tx.us/kids/fun_stuff/arts_and_crafts/south_texas_2horned_lizard.phtml, or another craft from this site.

Games and Activities

Texas Hokey Pokey

Do the hokey pokey with Texas critters. Let the children be inventive with the body parts that the critters can put in and out. Let them make up sounds for the animals as they sing.

Write a Reader’s Theater Script

Let the children write a reader’s theater script based on the book, Chewing Gum Rattler by Joe Hayes, or based on the book, The Rattlesnake Who Went to School by Craig Strete.

Guest Speakers

Invite a representative from a local parks department, pet store, zoo, or natural science museum to host a petting zoo for your library. Have one of these associations present a program about the critters in your area.

Invite a local petting zoo or animal trainer to talk about their habitats, and to bring some Texas animals.

Invite a ranger from Texas Parks and Wildlife to talk to the children.

Invite a zookeeper to tell the kids about the Texas critters at the zoo and how they take care of them. Make sure they talk about cost and care.

Invite a member of your community with turtles to bring their pets to the library and tell the children how to take care of them. Ask them to tell the children that turtles are being placed on the endangered list due to home building.

Books to Display or Booktalk

All About Rattlesnakes by Jim Arnosky.

Coyote Raid in Cactus Canyon by Jim Arnosky.

Critters of Texas Pocket Guide by Ann McCarthy.

Dallas Doc: All the City and Country Critters in the Life of a Texas-style Vet by David Carlton.

A Tarantula in My Purse by Jean Craighead George.

Toads on the Porch and Lizards in the House by Katie Callahan.

Bulletin Boards

Copy and color animals from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Color Texas Animals web page at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/adv/kidspage/colorpic.htm. Place a large map of Texas on the bulletin board and attach the animals in some of the areas of the State in which they live. Display the Texas critters in their biomes. For example: place coyotes, lizards and snakes in the desert; place armadillos, deer, and raccoons in the hill country; and place shorebirds and fish at the beach.


Display photos and stuffed animals of Texas animals along with books about them.

Create trading cards with critters from throughout Texas, or just the critters found in your area.


Using an overhead or opaque projector, create larger than life size critters from Texas. Let the children paint them, and then hang them throughout the library.

Audio Recordings

Critters, Colors and Clouds by Dr. Margaret Allen.

Cowboys, Critters and Such by Lisa Jastram.

Web Sites

Texas Parks and Wildlife - Texas Junior Naturalists


Discover the exciting world of the junior naturalists, and read about more than 142 species of Texas animals.

Professional Resources

101 Knock-knock Jokes: Guaranteed to Make Even a Sourpuss Smile by Sam Schultz.

Texas Parks and Wildlife


This site for Texas’ outdoor enthusiasts, includes Texas crafts, maps, symbols, coloring pages, and many additional resources that will make your programs a success.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Texas Links


The Fish and Wildlife web site offers links to state and national web sites, and includes this page of links of Texas interest.

Texas Reading Club 2009 Programming Manual / Libraries: Deep in the Heart of Texas!

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

Page last modified: June 14, 2011