Activities and Lesson Plans

Cover - Vaqueros and Cowboys

Related 4th Grade TEKS


4.11 A, B: Measurement. The student applies measurement concepts. The student is expected to estimate and measure to solve problems involving length (including perimeter) and area. The student uses measurement tools to measure capacity/volume and weight/mass. The student is expected to (A) estimate and use measurement tools to determine length (including perimeter), area, capacity and weight/mass using standard units SI (metric) and customary; (B) perform simple conversions between different units of length, between different units of capacity, and between different units of weight within the customary measurement system.

4.14 A, B: Underlying processes and mathematical tools. The student applies Grade 4 mathematics to solve problems connected to everyday experiences and activities in and outside of school. The student is expected to (A) identify the mathematics in everyday situations; (B) solve problems that incorporate understanding the problem, making a plan, carrying out the plan, and evaluating the solution for reasonableness.

Language Arts

4.15 A, B, C: D, E: Writing/Writing Process. Students use elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. Students are expected to: (A) plan a first draft by selecting a genre appropriate for conveying the intended meaning to an audience and generating ideas through a range of strategies (e.g., brainstorming, graphic organizers, logs, journals); (B) develop drafts by categorizing ideas and organizing them into paragraphs; (C) revise drafts for coherence, organization, use of simple and compound sentences, and audience; (D) edit drafts for grammar, mechanics, and spelling using a teacher-developed rubric; and (E) revise final draft in response to feedback from peers and teacher and publish written work for a specific audience.

4.16 A Writing/Literary Texts. Students write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. Students are expected to: (A) write imaginative stories that build the plot to a climax and contain details about the characters and setting.

4.18 Ai, ii, iii: Writing/Expository and Procedural Texts. Students write expository and procedural or work-related texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to: (A) create brief compositions that: (i) establish a central idea in a topic sentence; (ii) include supporting sentences with simple facts, details, and explanations; and (iii) contain a concluding statement.

Social Studies

2 A, C, E: History. The student understands the causes and effects of European exploration and colonization of Texas and the Western Hemisphere. The student is expected to: (A) summarize reasons for European exploration and settlement of Texas and the Western Hemisphere; (C) explain when, where, and why the Spanish established Catholic missions in Texas; (E) identify the impact of Mexico's independence from Spain on the events in Texas.

4 B, C: History. The student understands the political, economic, and social changes in Texas during the last half of the 19th century. The student is expected to: (B) explain the growth and development of the cattle and oil industries; (C) identify the impact of railroads on life in Texas, including changes to cities and major industries; and

13 A, B, E: Economics. The student understands patterns of work and economic activities in Texas. The student is expected to: (A) explain how people in different regions of Texas earn their living, past and present; (B) explain how geographic factors have influenced the location of economic activities in Texas; (E) explain how developments in transportation and communication have influenced economic activities in Texas.

15 B: Government. The student understands how people organized governments in different ways during the early development of Texas. The student is expected to: (B) identify characteristics of Spanish and Mexican colonial governments and their influence on inhabitants of Texas.

22 A, B, F: Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired from a variety of sources including electronic technology. The student is expected to: (A) differentiate between, locate, and use primary and secondary sources such as computer software; interviews; biographies; oral, print, and visual material; and artifacts to acquire information about the United States and Texas; (B) analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions; (F) use appropriate mathematical skills to interpret social studies information such as maps and graphs.

Discussion Questions

  1. Was a horse just a pet to a vaquero or a cowboy? Why or why not?
  2. Which came first, vaqueros or cowboys? Give some details.
  3. How are vaqueros and cowboys different? How are they the same?
  4. What was the main reason for the great Texas cattle drives? Discuss.
  5. Where did vaqueros and cowboys drive cattle? When did the great Texas cattle drives take place? Discuss.
  6. What are Texas longhorns? What do they have to do with vaqueros and cowboys?
  7. Why are ranches an important part of Texas history? What do ranches have to do with vaqueros and cowboys? What are two important ranches in Texas history?
  8. CHALLENGE QUESTION: In our world today, do you think we still need vaqueros and cowboys? Explain your answer.

Cowboy Capacity

Out there on the trail those buckaroos got mighty thirsty. When cowboys found a stream, they’d dip their hats into it and fill 'em up. Then they'd guzzle that water right outta the hat. Take a good look at a cowboy hat and estimate how much water you think it would hold. Use BOTH the metric system AND the customary system. Then find out what the hat really holds by filling it up with water and measuring the capacity. It’s not ten gallons; that's for sure!

Join a Cattle Drive

This website gives you great brainstorming ideas to help you write the story of your very own pretend cattle drive. Pick one of the four main Texas trails to travel and write about your make-believe adventures along the way:

Write a rough draft, make edits, revisions, and then a final draft. In other words, Buckaroo, make it spit-shiny and real purty!

Sling that Sombrero!

Grab a sombrero, or a cowboy hat, and get ready to toss it like a Frisbee! But first, use a piece of masking tape to mark your starting line. Now, stand behind the line and sling that sombrero, Frisbee-style, as far as you can. Then estimate how far it went, using BOTH the customary AND metric systems. Next, measure the distance for real. How close did you come to your estimate? Now it’s your partner's turn. Whoever slings the sombrero the furthest gets a point!

From Vaquero to Cowboy

TEACHERS – This one’s for you! This simple lesson is offered by The Smithsonian. Titled, "From Vaquero to Cowboy," the lesson focuses on art and social studies.