The Wild West captures the imaginations of kids with its imagery of cowboys, sheriffs and big bad bandits, not to mention all the cool Western gear. You can introduce your little one to the adventure and magic of the wild, wild West through educational and entertaining age-appropriate activities.
Wild West Reading
Read age-appropriate books with your preschooler relating to the wild West. For kids ages 4 and older, check out "Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show," by Lisa Campbell Ernst, about a city girl who dreams of being a cowgirl. Another book to check out is "Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella," by Susan Lowell, which re-tells the classic Cinderella story with a wild West twist. Preschoolers might also enjoy the book "Arizona Charlie and the Klondike Kid," by Julie Lawson, which tells of a boy who dreams of being just like the famous cowboy entertainer Arizona Charlie.
Wild West Arts and Crafts
Have your preschooler make simple crafts related to the wild West. To make paper cowboy boots, trace the boot shape on brown construction paper and have your preschooler cut it out. Use gold or silver construction paper to create a strap and heel spur to glue to the boot. Use a glue that's safe for preschoolers, such as Elmer's. Let your child decorate the rest of the boot using black marker, glitter and sparkly gem craft decorations. You can also have your child make a wanted poster. First take a picture of your child in cowboy gear to use for the poster. Use light brown craft paper for the poster and tear the edges to give it that aged look. Help your child spell out "Wanted" at the top and a reward at the bottom. Draw a square where her picture will go and allow her to decorate around the square, then paste the picture onto the poster.
Wild West Snacks
Take your tot into the kitchen to make some wild West-themed snacks, ideal for an afternoon playing wild West games with friends. Bake sugar cookies in the shape of stars and use yellow frosting to make them look like sheriff badges. Make trail mix using a combination of nuts, pretzels, raisins, cereal and candy-coated chocolate. Omit nuts if your child has a peanut allergy. You could also make snacks with your child that cowboys used to eat in the old West such as baked beans and cornbread. Let your child eat his beans out of the pot just like the real cowboys used to.
Wild West Games
Invite other little cowboy and cowgirls over to play wild West-themed games with your child. To play Drop the Snake in the Boot, have the kids stand on a sturdy chair and try to drop rubber snakes into a cowboy boot. The person that can get the most snakes into the boot wins. For another game, have two or three children be ranchers and the rest of the kids a farm animal such as horse, cow or pig. The rancher stands in the middle of the yard and calls out one of the animals to wrangle into a pen. The "animal" must run across the yard without getting tagged by the rancher. If they are caught, they must stay in a designated area until all the other animals are caught.
- Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show; Lisa Campbell Ernst
- Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella; Susan Lowell
- Arizona Charlie and the Klondike Kid; Julie Lawson
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