Elementary Programs Chapters

By Bonnie Langan and Anne Neidinger

The Heart of Texans

Books to Share

Bluebonnet at the East Texas Oil Museum by Mary Brooke Casad and Benjamin Vincent.

Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly by Anne Bustard.

Hold Up the Sky: And Other Native American Tales from Texas and the Southern Plains by Jane Louise Curry.

Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson.

Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt and Joy Fisher Hein.

Texas Rangers, Legendary Lawmen by Michael Spradlin.

Riddles and Jokes

Pull Texas riddles from Geogra-Fleas! Riddles All Over the Map by Joan Holub.

Reader's Theatre Script

Perform “Pecos Bill (A Really True Story Told by Four Honest Texans)” from Silly Salamanders and Other Slightly Stupid Stuff for Readers Theatre by Anthony D. Fredericks.


Ranch Brands

  • Rope or yarn
  • Construction paper
  • Glue

Give the children a 2-foot length rope or yarn, and a sheet of construction paper, and let them create brands for a ranch based on their last names and family history. Examples of brands may be found in the “Brand Match Game Sheet” in Read Across Texas, the 2002 Texas Reading Club manual, at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/projects/trc/2002/manual/elementary/brandmatch.html.

Additional brands are available at the Cowboy Showcase web site at http://www.cowboyshowcase.com/brands.htm and on page 177 of Once Upon a Planet: Program Guide for the Texas Reading Club, 1995 by Gayle A. Travis.

Games and Activities

Family Tree

Enchanted Learning at www.enchantedlearning.comcrafts/familytree/tree/ features a simple crafts that allows children to record several generations. Tell the children about genealogy and family history. Then, show them the web site, or print information from it, and allow them to build a simple family tree. Let the children browse through library books on family history and genealogy.

Knot Tying Demonstration

Demonstrate how to tie a variety of knots. Directions are provided 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. Illustrations of how to tie an overhand knot, a figure eight knot, a square knot, a clove hitch knot, a bowline knot, and a sheep shank knot are available in Read Across Texas, the 2002 Texas Reading Club manual, at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/projects/trc/2002/manual/elementary/texascowboys.html - game.

Texas Symbols

Prepare a matching sheet of Texas State Symbols and give a copy to each child. Some symbols are listed below, and more are listed on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s About Texas web site at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ref/abouttx/symbols.html.

Texas State Bird: Mockingbird

Texas State Dish: Chili

Texas State Flower: Bluebonnet

Texas State Gem: Texas Blue Topaz

Texas State Insect: Monarch Butterfly

Texas State Small Mammal: Armadillo

Texas State Large Mammal: Longhorn

Texas State Motto: “Friendship”

Texas State Plant: Prickly Pear Cactus

Texas State Reptile: Texas Horned Lizard

Texas State Snack: Tortilla Chips and Salsa

Texas State Song: “Texas, Our Texas”

Texas State Tree: Pecan

Who Am I?

Select famous Texans and write their names on index cards. As each child arrives, tape a card on his or her back. Begin the game by inviting the children to pretend that they are at a party of famous people. As they mingle, the children ask each other questions that help them guess the name on the index card on their backs. After a period of time, 10 minutes for example, ask the children who they are. A list of notable Texans is on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s About Texas web site at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ref/abouttx/index.html - notables.

Cowboy Sayings

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)

Guest Speakers

Invite speakers from local organizations such as museums and parks to talk about Texas and local history.

Invite long-standing members of your community to talk about local growth and change through the years.

Books to Display or Booktalk

John Barclay Armstrong: Texas Ranger by Judy Alter.

The Great Storm: The Hurricane Diary of J.T. King, Galveston, Texas, 1900 by Lisa Waller Rogers.

A Line in the Sand: The Alamo Diary of Lucinda Lawrence, Gonzales, Texas 1836 by Sherry Garland.

Raising La Belle by Mark Mitchell.

Survival in the Storm: The Dust Bowl Diary of Grace Edwards, Dalhart, Texas 1935 by Katelan Janke.

Web Sites



This is a searchable web site for researching ancestors and building a family tree.

Heritage Quest


A searchable web site for tracing family roots.

The White House


This web site keeps children posted on all the happenings at the White House and includes videos of events that have occurred there. At http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/firstladies/index.html, children can learn about first ladies and their accomplishments.

Professional Resources

About Texas


This Texas State Library and Archives Commission web site includes a list of Texas State Symbols that may be used to prepare a matching sheet. A list of notable Texans is available at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ref/abouttx/index.html - notables.

Enchanted Learning


This site features simple crafts, including a family tree craft.

Geogra-Fleas! Riddles All Over the Map by Joan Holub.

Silly Salamanders and Other Slightly Stupid Stuff for Readers Theatre by Anthony D. Fredericks.

Junior Texas Rangers


This web site allows children to join the Texas Junior Rangers.

Library of Congress Kids and Families


This web site allows kids access to the Library of Congress and offers projects and news about many of its events.



At StoryCorps, children may listen to or record stories, including stories about family and local history.

Texas Historical Commission Fundamentals of Oral History


Texas Historical Commission web site includes many resources, including information on how to record local history.

Texas Ranger Research Center


Explore the history of the Texas Rangers with this historical research web site.

Texas State Historical Association Speakers Bureau


Librarians may use this database to locate speakers for library programs.

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