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Western Theme for Preschool

A Western Theme for Preschool!  Yippee Ki Yo Ki Yay!  This  page includes preschool lesson plans, activities and Interest Learning Center ideas for your Preschool Classroom!

Let the Theme Planning Begin!

You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.

Western Theme Art

Spur Painting

Materials Needed: (dull) spurs or playdough "pizza wheel" cutters, paint, paper

The children use the spurs to dip in paint and roll on paper!

Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me!

Materials Needed:  Fly swatters, large paper, paint

Dip the fly swatters in a shallow tray of paint OR use brushes to paint the swatter different colors and then swat on paper!

Yes, this is a GREAT outdoor activity!

Corn Cob Painting

Materials needed:  corn on the cob (or corn cobs from a craft store), paint, shallow trays

The children roll the corn in paint and then roll on paper.

Paper Bag Vests

Materials needed:  large grocery paper bags, scissors, items to decorate with (paint, arts/crafts supplies, glue).

In advance, prepare the bags:

Open the bag.  Cut a the bottom out.  Cut bag open by cutting from the opening to the bottom on one side. Cut armholes.

The opening will be the front.

The children decorate their vests!


Materials needed:  10" X 10" squares of fabric (white); fabric paint

The children use the fabric paint to decorate their bandanas.  Wear when dry.

VARIATION:  Use tie-dye to decorate the bandanas!

Lasso Art

Materials needed:  Different pieces of robe and string of varying thicknesses, paint, shallow trays, paper.

The children drag the rope or string through paint and then drag on their paper.


Materials needed:  A stencil of a boot (or precut boots for younger children), markers, scissors, sequins, arts/crafts supplies, glue

The children trace a boot onto a large piece of paper.  

They use arts/craft supplies (pom poms, sequins, yarn, etc.) to glue on and decorate their boot.

EXTENSION:  Ask each child to tell a story of what they would do if they were a cowboy or cowgirl.  Write down their story and display under their book for a great Bulletin Board display!

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Western Theme Block Center Ideas

Campfire Cowfolk

Provide paper towel tubes, sticks and tissue paper and small stones.  Let the children build their own campfire when they come here each day.  

Also provide toy cows, horses, craft sticks for fencing, etc.  You might also add some Lincoln Logs for house building.

Amazon has some great Lincoln Logs sets and great prices.  Here is one that would be a great start!  There are many more you can check out as well!

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Western Theme Circle Time

Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your theme!

Puppet Show

Use a horse, cow, cowboy or cowgirl puppet to talk to the children about the Wild West!  Here are some ideas for puppet conversations: 

Have the puppets ask what the children know about western life.

Use the puppets to read a story (have one puppet for each character in the story).

Use the puppet to introduce an activity for the day.

Knot Tying

Provide different thicknesses of rope and talk to the children about know tying!  There are many things that need to be tied in the west such as:

The horse's reins when the rider goes into a store.


Lassos to catch cattle, sheep, etc.

Just let the children manipulate the rope.  This is a great fine and gross motor development activity.

Place the ropes in the discovery area for the children to practice with more during the week.

How Many Hands

When measuring horses, their height is described as "how many hands tall" they are rather than how many inches or feet.

Practice measuring with their hands!

Start by having a large picture of a horse and letting the children measure how many hands it is.

They have them measure themselves, each other, the tables in the classroom, etc.

Rhyme Time

In advance, create a cube (using a cube template or using a square box and taping pictures and words on each side).

Place words with pictures such as:  hat, boot, snack, cook, ride, hay

A child rolls the cube and says the picture word on the top.  What word can they think of that rhymes with that word?  Can they make up a word?

KWL:  Cowboys and Cowgirls

KWL stands for "Know, Want to Know, Learned".

Make a large chart that has these three columns.  Label the chart something like:  The West or Cowboys and Cowgirls

Under the "K" column, list what they know!  Ask the children what they know about this topic and write it down.

Under the "W" column, list any questions they have or what they want to know.  Example:  What do cowboys and cowgirls eat out on the range?  What kind of music do they listen to?  etc.

Explore those questions throughout your theme.

When you have completed your theme, come back to the chart together and fill out the "L" section:  What did they learn that they did not know in the beginning?

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Western Theme Cooking Ideas

Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!

Trail Mix

Set up items to make a trail mix today (of course, be aware of allergies).

Place each item in its own bowl with a spoon or scoop.

The children go from item to item and scoop some into a ziplock baggie.

Suggested items:  raisins, dried fruit, pretzels, mini marshmallows, Chex cereal.

EXTENSION:  Create picture cards with numbers to let the children know how many scoops or spoonfuls of each item to place in their baggies.

Baked Ban Bread

Ingredients:  1 c. raisins; 1 c. boiling water; 3 eggs; 2 c. pork and beans (I use 2 cups of vegetarian beans--they are canned beans in the baked bean section); 1 c. oil; 3 c. flour; 2 c. sugar; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. baking powder; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 tsp. vanilla

1.  Show children how to grease and flour pans (loaf pans) with butter and flour.  I usually give the children a plastic baggie.  They place their hand in it and hold a stick of butter to take turns greasing the pan.  Then sprinkle flour and shake the pan around until it is floured.

2.  Adult only: Mix raisins in hot water and set aside to cool. 

3.  Have children ad the oil, eggs, sugar and beans in a bowl.  Mix until mushy. 

4.  Drain raisins.  Add the raisins and mix.

5.  Add flour and other ingredients.  Mix well.

6.  Add vanilla and mix.  If batter seems too stiff (should be like cake batter), add a little water.

7.  Pour into well-greased and floured pans.

8.  Bake at 325F for 50-60 minutes.

This recipe will make 3 loaves.

Chuck Wagon Stew

For this activity, you can have the children bring in an ingredient:  A cooked potato; a cooked carrot; 1 stalk of celery, can of vegetable or chicken broth, onion, etc.

Have the children place their ingredient into a crockpot.

Turn on and enjoy for a snack.

Or, you can purchase vegetable soup.  I've had vegetarians in the class for several years, however, if you do not, you could make a beef stew.  

Or, make both!

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Western Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area

Chuck Wagon

Completely theme your dramatic play area with this theme!

Provide a saw horse and add a saddle or place a saddle on a chair or bale of hay for the children to sit on.  

Time them!  Pretend they are riding a horse and must stay on for 8 seconds.

Provide hats, boots, jeans, plaid shirts, chaps, bales of hay (if no environmental allergies), stuffed horses, cows, etc.; sleeping bag, mess kit; CD player with a Roy Rogers CD.

Below are links to items I LOVE for a classroom!  The first is a Roy Rogers music CD!

The next is a stainless steel mess kit for the kids to use in Dramatic Play.

The third is an "autograph" horse.   The children can print their names on this horse.  You can use this horse for so many things:

Use the horse as your Circle Time mascot throughout the year.

Send the horse home with a different child each weekend.  Also send a journal.  The family works together adding a page to the horse's adventure journal!

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Western Theme Ideas for your Easel--

More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)

The Sheriff's in Town

Provide precut sheriff badge shapes OR for older children, a badge stencil.  

They trace the stencil onto the easel paper.

They paint to create their own badge.  (provide silver and gold paint as well!).

When dry, they cut out and display!

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Western Theme Large Group Games 

that help build their muscles while they have fun together

Boot Bean Bag Toss

Self explanatory!  Provide boots and bean bags for some fun tossing!

EXTENSION:  Getting the bean bags into the boots may be difficult for some children.  Therefore, place each boot on a large piece of paper.  Then their goal is to either reach the paper OR the boot!

VARIATION:  If you don't have access to boots, draw boots on large paper for the children to toss the bean bags onto.  They could even decorate the boots first with markers and crayons as a group project!

Stick Horse Barrel Racing

We used cones, limbo sticks with paper bag horse faces on them

The children "ride" the horse going around the cones from one end of the room to the other.

You can also use the long wrapping paper cardboard tubes as the horse sticks.

Horse Shoes

Use the plastic, children's version of a horseshoe game!

Potato Sack Races

The children hold these sacks up to their hips and hop across the space.  We have used these inside on tumbling mats (softens the fall!).

Hula Hoop Lasso

Use hula hoops to toss across a space and try to "lasso" a horse!

We used chairs for the horses and only one child at a time can try to lasso (remember, their aim is not great at this age!).

Here are some of the items mentioned in this games section:


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Western Theme Ideas for Your Library

Book Suggestions for the Library

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett

The Cowboy ABC by Chris L. Demarest

Do Cowboys Ride Bikes? by Kathy Tucker

Pecos Bill by Steven Kellogg

Shoo Fly! by Iza Trapani

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Western Theme Activities to help your Preschoolers Develop Those Small Muscles in Their Hands and Their Math Skills!

Knot Tying

Use the ropes and string you used in the Circle Time activity for Knot Tying.

Also, provide shoe laces and bandanas for the children to practice tying knots!

Fly Sorting

Find plastic fly (and other bug) sorters along with several bowls for the children to sort, seriate by size and classify.

Extend it by placing numbers on the bowls.  The children place the corresponding number of flies/bugs into each bowl.

Corral the Cattle

Create corrals using plastic fencing or craft sticks.  Place numbers in each.

The children corral the corresponding number of cow manipulatives into each corral.

Boot Match

Print and decorate many pairs of boots.  

Have the children match the boots; use the boots as a memory game by placing them face down and lifting up 2 at a time to find matches.

Get the Horse to the Barn

Create your own path game.  on a piece of paper, draw a barn in the upper left corner.  Draw a horse in the lower right corner of the paper.

Draw a path with dotted lines around the paper from the horse to the barn.

Laminate.  The children use dry erase markers to follow the dotted lines to get the horse to the barn.

VARIATION:  Rather than a dotted line paty, draw locks or rock shapes.  Color each one or place a number on each one.  

Provide the children with a colored or numbered die.  

Provide the children with toy horses as playing pieces.

They take turns rolling the die and moving their horse to the next spot that has that color or number.

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Western Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to get your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!

Square Dancing

Teach the children some square dancing moves such as:

Do si do (this is a tricky one!)

Arm Turns

Walking Forward

Walking backward

Play some music and call out the moves!

Parachute Sing and Fly!

Place some plastic fly sorters or stuffed animal bugs (or what ever you have) and sing the Shoo Fly song (words to the song are below).  

When you all sing "Shoo fly" you all shake the parachute up to get the items off the parachute.

As your fly collectors gather what flew off, the rest of you slowly move the parachute while singing the rest of the verse.

Assign a cowboy or cowgirl to be the one to collect them so that all the children don't run for them!

Shoo fly (shake parachute up)

Don't bother me (sing this slowly as fly collectors gather what flew off and toss them back onto the parachute).

Shoo fly 

Don't bother me.

Shoo fly 

Don't bother me.

For I belong to somebody.

(For the next part, the children lightly shake the shute, but not enough for the flies to fly off).

I feel, I feel, I feel.

I feel like a morning star.

I feel, I feel, I feel.

I feel like a morning star.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh..........SHOO FLY!

Don't bother me.

Shoo fly.

Don't bother me.

Shoo fly.

Don't bother me.

For I belong to somebody!

Walk, Gallop, Run

Play music and encourage the children to walk, gallop or run!

When you stop the music.  They freeze.  You then tell them "Now we are going to gallop".  Then start the music.


Shoo Fly

Shoo, fly, don't bother me,

Shoo, fly, don't bother me,

Shoo, fly, don't bother me,

For I belong to somebody.

I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star,

I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star.

Oh, shoo, fly, don't bother me,

Shoo, fly, don't bother me,

Shoo, fly, don't bother me,

For I belong to somebody.

Oh Susanna

Oh, I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee

Goin' to Lou'siana, my true love for to see

Oh Susanna! Oh don't you cry for me!

For I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee

It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry

The sun so hot I froze to death, Susanna don't you cry

Oh Susanna! Oh don't you cry for me!

For I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee

She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).

She'll be coming 'round the mountain, she'll be coming 'round the mountain,

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).

Additional verses:  

She'll be ridin' six white horses when she comes...

She'll be wearing pink pyjamas when she comes...

Oh we'll all come out to meet her when she comes...

She'll be carrying three white puppies when comes...

We will kill the old red rooster when she comes...

We will all have chicken and dumplings when she comes...

We'll all be shoutin' "Halleluja" when she comes, etc.

She'll be comin' down a road that's five miles long, etc.

You Are My Sunshine

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are grey

You never know, dear, how much I love you

Please don't take my sunshine away

The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping

I dreamt I held you in my arms

When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken

So I hung my head, and I cried

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are grey

You never know, dear, how much I love you

Please don't take my sunshine away

Home on the Range

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam

Where the deer and the antelope play

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

And the skies are not cloudy all day

Home, home on the range

Where the deer and the antelope play

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

And the skies are not cloudy all day

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Western Theme Activities for Your Sand and Water Table!

Corn Husking

Provide fresh corn, still in the husks!  Have the children husk corn!

EXTENSION:  Use the leaves to paint with.

Use the cobs to cook and eat for snack.

Use the cobs to paint with!

Pan for Gold

In advance, spray paint many little rocks and pebbles gold.

Place them in the sand table.

Provide sifters and let the children pan for gold!

The Range

In your sand table, provide sand, cowboy/cowgirl people, plastic horses, plastic fences, plastic trees, bowls of water (for the horses), etc.

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Western Theme Science Activities--for your Preschool Scientists in Training!

Sugar Cube Sculpting

Provide sugar cubes and glue for the children to sculpt with.


Grow and care for cactus in your classroom.  Provide many books as well.  Here are some to consider!

Create Your Own Cactus

Materials:  Provide cucumbers, toothpicks and googly eyes!

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Writing Activity Ideas for Your Western Theme!

Letter Branding

Provide letter stamps, stamp pads and paper as well as wipes to clean fingers and stamps!

Provide their name tags and encourage them to stamp their names.

Encourage them to name the letters they stamp.


Provide colored pencils or markers for the children to draw a picture of something that begins with the letters they stamp.


I keep a plastic container of baby wipes in the classroom.

When we are done with stamps, clean up time includes the children pressing the stamps on baby wipes to clean them up a bit.

Wanted Posters

Find a "wanted" poster template online.  

Print and add each child's picture.

The children print their own name on it.

Have them describe themselves and list it on the poster.

Example:  Joella

Wanted for:  wonderful jokes, artist

VARIATION: Rather than gluing their picture on, have the children draw a picture of themselves!

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