Chapter 13: Texas Longhorns

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Michael D. Tomorsky, 5th grade teacher, M. J. Christensen Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview:
Texas Longhorns
In this chapter Laura and her family encounter cowboys taking their herds to Fort Dodge. Pa is asked to help tend the cattle and keep them from the ravines and creek bottoms. He agrees to help for no pay, but for a piece of beef for the family. Pa shows Laura how he can dress like a cattleman. Laura is fascinated by the sights and sounds of the cowboys rounding up their cattle that she starts imitating their cries, much to the chagrin of her mother. Pa is rewarded for his hard work with a cow and a calf that would not likely finish the drive with the rest of the herd. Pa makes a stable for the cow and milks a small cup for baby Carrie. The family enjoys a delicious meal of steaks and cornbread as the cowboys head north.

Chapter Themes: Teamwork, Generosity, Problem Solving, poetry, song, habitat, cowboys, cattle drive, Tall Tales, legends, planning, compare and contrast ways of life, landforms

Chapter Activities
  • Language Arts
    • Poetry on the Plains
      • While she falls to sleep. Laura hears the cowboys singing the cattle to sleep. The students will investigate life on the cattle drive and write a song or poem depicting the thoughts and feelings a cowboy might have while on the trail.
      • Standards Addressed
        • NV. ST. 4.5.3 Read to evaluate new information and hypotheses by comparing them to known information and ideas. Interpret information in new context (In this case the format will be poetry.)
        • NV. ST. 3.5.7 Understand purpose and structure of genre (stories, plays, poetry, and nonfiction.)
    • A Whale of a Tale
      • The old west is a time when legends like Pecos Bill, and Daniel Boone were born. Students will read and evaluate about the men and women and literary elements that make up of American Folklore and Tall Tales. When they have finished their investigation they can rewrite or extend an existing Tall Tale or write a Tall Tale of their own. (Possible lesson.)
      • Standards Addressed
        • NV. ST. 3.5.7 Understand purpose and structure of genre (stories, plays, poetry, and nonfiction.
        • NV. ST. 3.5.2 Make inferences about characters' traits. Make predictions about conflicts and resolutions.
        • NV. St. 5.5.4 Write responses to literature that support judgements with text examples.
  • Mathematics
    • The Long Haul
      • Cowboys made long, cross country treks to deliver cattle to various parts of the nation. It took detailed planning and coordination to successfully deliver the herd. In this activity, students will use the Historical Cattle Drive Map to calculate the distance they should travel daily, how long, how many miles it will take to drive and deliver the cattle between to locations. (Reinforcement of this activity can be found at Texas House Ranch: Interactive History)
      • Standards Addressed
        • NV. ST. 6.5.5 Verify, interpret, and evaluate results determining an efficient strategy for the given situation.
        • NV. ST. 7.5.16 Express mathematical ideas and use them to define, compare, and solve problems orally and in writing.
    • Loaded Up and Ready to Roll!
      • Part of a successful cattle drive is hiring the right amount of cowboys and bringing the right amount of cattle to turn a profit. Given a budget and the possible value of the cattle at the end of the drive, students will buy enough supplies, and figure the pay for cowboys when the job is complete. (Students will use data from The Long Haul lesson to determine the distance to be traveled.)
      • Standards Addressed
        • NV. ST. 9.5.8 Identify, explain, and use mathematics in everyday life.
        • NV. ST. 3.5.4 Determine totals and change due for monetary amounts in problem solving situations.
  • Social Studies
    • Life at the Ranch House
    • The majority of this chapter deals with cowboys driving a herd of cattle to Fort Dodge. For the students to understand the experiences of a cowboy at a ranch and on the range, this Website PBS Texas Ranch House: Lessons and Games offers and intense online look at that life. The site is filled with interactive activities and lesson plans that will engage and educate students.
      • Standards Addressed
        • NV. ST. 6.5.17 Describe experiences of pioneers moving west
        • National History Standard 2E The student understands the settlement of the West. Explore the lure of the West and the reality of life on the frontier.
    • Two Ways of Life
      • Laura notices that Pa must dress differently and is extremely tired after working with the cowboys. She also sees the cowboys chase down cattle, yell commands at the animals, and the fact they live a different life than her family. Students will compare and contrast, using a Double Bubble Map or T-Chart, the lives of cowboys and the lives of settlers on the plains.
      • Standards Addressed
        • NV. ST. 6.5.17 Describe experiences of pioneers moving west
        • NV. ST. 2.5.4 Use summarizing, note-taking, and outlining, to comprehend information
        • NV. ST. 11.5.4 Record information using note-taking and organizational formats
  • Science
    • Habitat on the Plains
      • As the sun goes down, Laura starts to hear all the noises of the wild. Students will investigate and create a Foldable classifying the birds, animals, and insects that are found in the plains ecosystem.
      • Standards Addressed
        • NV. ST. L.5.C.2 Students know organisms interact with each other and other non-living parts of their ecosystem.
        • NV. ST. L.5.D. Students understand that living things can be classified according to their physical characteristics, behaviors, and habitats.
    • Keep the Cattle Safe and Moving Along
      • Pa is asked to help keep the cattle out of the ravines and creek bottoms. Students will investigate and analyze various landforms, how the landforms were created, and the effect it had on cowboys on the trail.
      • Standards Addressed
        • NV. ST. E. 5.C Students understand that features on the Earth's surface are constantly changed by a combination of slow and rapid processes
        • NV. ST. E.5.C.2 Students know water, wind, and ice constantly shape the Earth's land surface by eroding rock and soil in some places and depositing them in other areas.
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes
As the United States expanded west, it gave birth to a new type of citizen, the cowboy. Land and opportunity were for the taking and on pretty decent terms outside of the country, in Texas. According to Joy, Mexico offered foreign settlers 4,428 acres of land for grazing livestock and 170 acres of land for cultivation. Settlers just had to pay a modest fee and had up to six years to make good on the deal. Cowboys would then drive livestock to other parts of the nation and territories to graze and sell to the military and settlers of the region. The difficult hard work cowboys faced gave birth to new equipment for horse riding, language, myths (like Pecos Bill) and a ranch culture that has been passed down for generations. Cowboys exist today for many in the images they see in the movies and television, yet these dedicated men and women still carry on the spirit of those adventurous pioneers of the past.

Additional Resources

1 comment:

Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D. said...

Your activity suggestions are so innovative! I love the ideas of incorporating tall tales and cowboy songs!

Using the cattle driving theme is a great connection. Perhaps you could find a cowboy in town who could talk about experiences as a herder.

Using the cattle driving theme to determine distance is a nice follow-up activity to figuring distance in the Patty Reed and Sallie Fox stories. It provides repeated exposure to the same content without becoming boring.

Instead of comparing the lives of cowboys then and now, you might just focus on clothing. Why did they wear the things they did? Where did they get them and what was the purpose for each article of clothing?

How about instead of making a foldable of the sounds on the plains, students create an audio file (using Audacity) of the sounds on the plains?

btw - thanks for the great links!