When your preschooler sidles up to you and says, "Howdy pardner," it might be time to plan a few wild West activities. Encourage your little buckaroo's love of wild horses, lassos, cattle drives and chuck wagons by playing wild West with him. Go beyond coloring pages and picture books with entertaining activities to really teach your child about the wild West. Saddle up and happy trails.
Chuck Wagon Lunch
Let your child get a taste of the wild West by preparing an authentic chuck wagon lunch. Slow-cook beef or pork with barbecue sauce ahead of time to make sandwiches. Otherwise, get your junior cowboy involved and he'll enjoy it even more. Bake cornbread together. Use a mix to make the process easy for your child. Heat up a can of beans. Make it even more authentic by opening the can and heating it on your backyard grill. Cowboys often ate canned peaches on the trail, so include them in your meal too. Serve the cowboy lunch in tin pie plates and eat outside on the open range.
Gather a few art supplies and let your little deputy make some wild West-themed crafts to decorate your homestead. Create wanted posters. Tape a picture of your child to one of them and hang it on the refrigerator. Cut stars out of yellow or gray paper or craft foam and make sheriff's badges. Give your preschooler a blob of clay and let him make horses, cacti, covered wagons, coyotes and camp fires. Make tiny stick horses with craft sticks, construction paper and yarn, or turn paper bags into cowboy vests and chaps.
Wrangle your preschooler and pretend you're riding the trail and living in the wild west. Poke a few sticks into the ground in your backyard and give your cowboy a long piece of rope with a loop at one end. Challenge him to try to rope the sticks. Sit around a pretend campfire and sing songs. Let your child play a toy guitar to accompany the songs. Gather up all of your kiddo's stuffed animals and have a pretend cattle drive, or spray paint a few rocks with gold paint and hide them in your child's sandbox. Give him a pie plate and let him "pan" for gold.
Hit the Trail
Take your preschooler on field trips to show him what the wild West was really like. Find a museum that has a wild West exhibit. Children's museums are some of the best places to experience the wild West because your child is able to touch and play with the items on display. If you live in the West, find a ghost town in your area. They are often free and will show your buckaroo what the buildings and homes in the wild West looked like. If you don't have places like this near you, take your child to a farm to see horses and cattle up close.