Kid Activities
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Wild West Activities for Kids Page 1

January 6, 2012 22:46 by Barbara Shelby


 Updater May, 2013

Yee-Haaa! Cowboys, Indians, Ranches, Horses, Cows, Trails, and good old 'Grub' is what we think of when planning a 'Wild West' Theme!   The following ideas are good for a Western, Frontier, or Ranch Theme or Party.

Several of the following activities have been gathered from other areas of KidActivities site....many however...are unique to this theme! Find Art, Crafts, Games, Snacks and more to make your 'Western Ranch' theme complete!

REMEMBER...when you'rr planning a themed event for a camp, school or child care program, making  decorations and crafts BEFORE and FOR the festivities ---is part of the fun!  Include the kids as much as possilbe.



Animal crackers (Horses, Cows, Sheep, etc.) 
Craft glue
Crayons or markers, etc.
Colorful paper.
Draw, color, paint a ranch yard scene on paper using crayons or other materials. Glue on the animal crackers to complete your ranch scene.


STRAW PAINTING (As in 'straw found on a ranch' not a drinking straw)
Need: Straw, Paint
Directions: Have children use pieces of straw for paint brushes. Use different colors and experiment with different looks and methods. Add the pieces of straw to the pictures, when the paintings are complete.


COW COLLAGE by Jason-Grade 1
Materials: colored paper, glue, scissors
This project is great for practicing cutting and gluing skills AND makes a great display.

Put out  supplies and a copy of this image; have kids  make their own version...Source Art teacher Michal Austin


Materials: Chicken Wire, tape, natural raffia, gingham ribbon, old blue jeans etc.
1. Cut squares of small-holed chicken wire.
2. Put masking tape around the sharp edges.
3. Set out assorted lengths of natural raffia, gingham ribbons and narrow strips ripped from old blue jeans.
4. The children weave them in and out of the holes.


Need: Brown paint, paper, brown marker
1. Take brown paint and paint a child's hand.
2. Press the hand down on paper--WITH fingers pointing down.
3. The fingers are the legs and the thumb is the head.
4. Draw the mane and hoofs; add eyes and tail...




Materials: 9x12" white paper, crayons
Transform  handprints into horses!
Trace around  hands with black crayon, then turn the paper over so the fingers are pointing down.
Have children draw details to turn the hands into a horse; add a background. Drawing by a Kindergarten student of Kansas art teacher
Michael Austin.


ANIMAL CRACKER PIN (Horses, sheep, cows, etc.)
To make this craft project you will need animal crackers, a flat backed pin, clear nail polish or varnish, and some craft glue. To begin coat your animal cracker with the polish or varnish in a well ventilated area and let it dry. Next glue it to a pin.

The sample made by was first painted and then covered with many coats of clear nail polish.


I'M A COWBOY/COWGIRL! Three project ideas...

Draw around child's body on a very large sheet of paper.
From this point you can go three ways.

1. Onto the traced bodies...have children draw on western gear, Cowboy hat, shirt vest, bandanna, jeans, boot, etc.
They'll look cute taped around the room..

2. You could also use the traced body shape and dress it much like a collage. Draw and color on a shirt.
Next--Use brown paper/grocery bags to make and glue on a vest and chaps.
Add a bandana made from napkins or paper with a western pattern. Can they make 'cowboy' hat shapes?
Finish off with boots made from brown or black construction paper.

3. MAKE A COLLAGE: Using the blank body shape, fill it in with anything and everything to do with the theme. Put magazines and more magazines on your parent's wish list. (Make sure the request goes out only for 'appropriate magazines)

Have children look for and cut out pictures of  cowboys, anything from western or frontier days, horses, cows, sheep, open land, mountains, rivers, sunsets, camp fires, marshmallows, franks and/or beans, farm houses, ranches, line dancing, boots, jeans, cowboy hats, barns, rodeos, bandanas, huitar, fiddles (violins), upright piano, cabins, anything Indian, etc. 

(TIP: you'll find a lot of theme related images in 'party catalogues' such as Oriental Trading, Shindigz, etc,)



There was a time when 'frontier mothers' made yarn dolls for their young children--and older kids made them for themselves! 
For directions visit the
'Yarn Doll' page



THE BASIC BAND: Cut a 2" wide strip of paper long enough to go around the head with an overlap of about 1". Staple ends together.

• INDIAN HEAD DRESS #1: Make a basic band; tape or staple feathers to the band.

• INDIAN HEADBAND #2: Cut brown construction paper into strips; fit it around child’s head and staple or tape ends together. Cut feathers out of scrap.

• INDIAN VEST TO GO WITH HEADBANDS: Cut a vest from a brown paper bag, cut a slit up the front and neck and arm holes. To decorate, either cut out construction paper shape (arrows, sun, designs, etc.) and glue them on.



Staple a Styrofoam bowl onto a sturdy paper plate. (Decorate/color/paint the hat parts 'before or after' joining of bowl and hat.)
Punch a hole each side of where the bowl is stapled. Put a long string, ribbon or sturdy yarn through the holes-- tie loosely under the chin. Be sure to put together so no choking is possible.


CACTUS ART... Just let the kids create!!!
Create an open art table by putting out construction paper, water color paints, torn tissue paper and tooth picks or straight, uncooked pasta pieces.

The image on the right is a construction paper cactus, with  broken pasta pieces (the spines) and red tissue flowers. All are placed on a water color background.
The first sample is made by a fourth grade student of Shannon Stewart and the one on the right by a first grader. (See Kids Gallery Category-Grades 1 to 3) Other examples of children's western themed art is also featured there...
Material: Thin rope, card stock or heavy paper, glue
1. Dip short lengths of clothing line into a bowl of glue.
2. On card stock, loop and place the rope onto the paper, trying to shape it into a lasso.
3. Allow to dry completely.


Paper towel tubes, paint, google eyes, decorations of choice

•Cut the paper towel roll into six sections of similar width.

•Paint the sections- decorating with glitter glu, and other details as desired.
•Once the paint is dry, apply googly eyes and glue a red felt forked tongue to the 'head' tube section.
•Loop yarn around last section and tie
•Thread the yarn through the rest of the section, leaving it loose at the head as a leash to pull the snake.
Idea/Photo is from
FreePreschoolCrafts by Devanie Angel



Simply purchase some western themed temporary tatoos. Following package direction --'brand' the children--make a sizzle sound while applying the water onto the paper when it is on the skln!



Cut sponges into horseshoe shapes.
Place 'horsehoes' in shallow containers with small amounts of tempera paint.
Stamp onto large pieces of paper.

The finished art can be used as wrapping paper or interesting works of art!



Put hay on the floor (check to make sure no one is allergic)

Using plush animals and puppets--Decorate with ranch/frontier/western animals such as horses, cows, pigs, chickens, etc.

Make or buy some stick horses

Make a pretend campfire in the middle (rolled up newspaper with yellow and orange crepe paper)

Can you find a saddle and/or other cowboy themed gear?

Provide traditional cowboy clothing for dress-up...shirts, hats, vests, boots, chaps, sheriff badges, bandanas



In case you haven't played in awhile-- Horseshoes is an outdoor game played between two people (or two teams of two people) using four horseshoes and two throwing targets (stakes) set in a sand  area. Each side takes turns tossing their 'shoes' to the other side at the stakes in the ground.

The closest one to the taget wins.
The aim is to get a 'Ringer' which means to wrap the Horseshoe around the post when it is thrown. (It is traditional to place stakes 30-40 feet apart; however, when playing with younger children, place the posts closer to each other.) The game pieces are traditionally metal--however rubber sets are sold for younger children.


1 point is given for each horseshoe that is closer to the stake than the opponent's horseshoe.
3 points are given for each "ringer". (Pair 1 both throw there horseshoes and then pair two throw theirs.)
Continue playing until one team reaches the 21-point goal. (Or what the children decide the goal will be)


PASS THE CORN GAME (Ages 4 - 10)
Divide the children into two teams (or as many as you need) and have them form two lines. You will need a cob of dried Indian corn for each team.
1. At the signal "go", the corncob is to be passed from child to child. The catch is that they can use any part of their bodies, except their hands.
2. If the corn touches the ground at any time, it must go back to the beginning of the line again.
3. Whichever team manages to get the corn to the end of the line first wins the game.
4. The corn can also be used in a relay, with the kids putting the corn between their knees, and racing "crab" style".


Play "TRADTIONAL GAMES" with a Western Twist!

1. Instead of 'Simon Says' play "THE RANCHERS SAYS"...or "THE COWBOY/COWGIRL SAYS"...


2. Instead of Old McDonald Had a Farm...Sing "OLD MCDONALD HAD A RANCH", complete with very loud sound effects. Each child or section can be given a different animal to act out.


3. Instead of Mother May I? play "COWBOW OR RANCHER MAY I?" 

All the children line up side by side except the player who is the caller.
The caller stands at a distance from the lined up players.
He/she calls on each player in turn to take a number of steps toward him. The steps allowed are: baby steps, giant steps, and scissor steps (like forward jumping jacks.)
The player answers "Cowboy, may I?"
The Cowboy answers "Yes, you may." The player takes the prescribed number of steps toward the caller. If the player forgets to ask permission after they get directions--- and takes steps toward the caller--- they are sent back to the starting line.
The first player to reach the caller is the winner and new caller.



OR other versions such as: Pin the Tail on the Cow, Pin the Tail on the Horse, Put the Hat on the Cowboy or Rancher, etc.


5. Instead of "Duck, Duck, Goose” play "COW, COW, HORSE"

While young children think "Duck, Duck, Goose" is fun---those over grade 2 may take offense with playing a "Baby" Game...that's when you try the game with a "Themed" title.
It's still Duck, Duck, Goose---but with a different name!
Have children sit in a circle...
One person is "It".
This person runs around the circle touching the players on the back saying: "Cow, cow, cow"
When "It" touches a player and says "Horse", that person must chase "It" around the circle.
"Horse" tries to tag "It" before he/she gets home. (It would also be fun if you had the kids gallop around the circle instead of run!)


6. Instead of "Drop the Clothespin in the Bottle"--play DROP THE SNAKE IN THE BOOT or COWBOY HAT!

Cowboy Boot or hat and flexible rubber or plastic snakes

•Place a cowboy boot or cowboy hat on the ground.
•If children are young, have them stand over the boot/hat and drop the snake in the boot. In the original clothes pin version of the game--the child would kneel on a chair. He/she would face the back of the chair. A large-mouthed bottle would be directly below the back of the chair--where the children would drop the clothespin straight down. The child with the most clothes pins in the bottle won.

• Have older children stand farther back and attempt to toss it into the boot or hat.


(This could also be called Zoo, Ocean, Circus, or Outer Space, if you are having a "Theme"; You'd just change the names to go with the theme and adjust the team names.)

1. Depending how many children you have--form teams. You can have anywhere from 3 Teams to ?????
2. Teams are in their groups and one end of the gym.
3. Players in teams have DESIGNATED NAMES: Sheep, Cows, Horses, Pigs, etc. (Any animal that is on a ranch)
4. Two or three persons are "It" in the middle of the room.
5. "It" calls out the names of the animals (Example - Sheep)
6. All sheep must run to the pen at the opposite end of the room without being caught.
7. When "BARNYARD" is called, everyone must run to the opposite end.
8. Penalty for being caught is to run all around the barnyard (A LAP OF THE GYM) once--- and then they can come back in the game! (Remember to change the "It" people)



  • Before the game, inflate two white balloons.
  • Attach short pieces of black curling ribbon to make sheep tails (or longer for cattle tails) and use a black marker to draw faces on them.
  • To play, divide players into two teams.
  • Give the first player on each team a broom, or fly swatter,to herd their team’s sheep across the room and back to the next player in line.
  • The first team to finish herding their sheep wins!
  • (You may want to have “sheep” clones ready in case the originals pop.)



Place a hay bale inside a plastic swimming pool and pull it apart.
Hide Ranch Themed treasures inside the bale. (Watch for asthma and allergies)


This game can be played individually or in teams. If playing in teams--assign 'theme related names' such as Ranchers and Herders, Cowboys and Indians, Sheriffs and Cowboys, etc.

1.Set up a pair of COWBOY BOOTS  several feet away from each other...
2.Using smaller sized hula hoops, try to throw the hoops and 'ring' the boots.
The individual or team who get the most hoops on the boots wins.

If you have several pairs of cowboy’s boots, you can play the opposite way. Instead of throwing the rings around the boots---THROW THE BOOTS INTO THE RINGS!


Don't forget about SQUARE DANCING, LINE DANCING, OR THE TWO STEP! Do you know or can you hire a caller?

Yes, if handled right--kids WILL dance. Check out this You Tube video of 'very young children' dancing! You don't have to be perfect to have fun!


Have children pretend to be gold miners.
Paint very small rocks, gold.
Hide them in the sand.
Give your children small sifters to sift through the sand looking for gold.

If desired, have the kids trade the nuggets in for prizes



Partners assume the Wheel barrow and pusher position.
On the signal, advance to the turning point where they change positions and return to the starting line.


If you are lucky enough to have a feed supply store near by, burlap sacks can be purchased inexpensively. If not, old pillow cases will do. A soft grassy park or lawn will prevent scrapes. (I purchased  sacks at Oriental Trading. Barb)

Each player steps into his/her sack with both feet.
Pull the sack high enough to hold the edges.
Practice hopping first, until all of the players get the hang of it.
Identify the start and finish lines.
Blow the whistle and go!
Adjust the race with obstacles for more excitement----or if it's summer add sprinklers...


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