Teaching the kiddos about Texas is an absolute blast because when it comes to Texas, the kids usually don’t have a wealth of prior knowledge. Sure, they know that Texans wear cowboy boots and like to ride horses, but they don’t know the Texas state reptile, precious stone, or the native pastry. Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m obsessed with all the different state symbols. I enjoy incorporating Texas ‘fun facts” into our reading, writing, math, science, and social studies curriculum.
I chose my favorite aspects of our two week Texas unit, and I have shared them below. Cause guys, it was quite an adventure.
Texas State Flower: The Bluebonnet
I read “The Legend of the Bluebonnet” by Tomie DePaola to begin instruction regarding the bluebonnet. We discussed the concepts of fiction verses nonfiction, the story elements, and the students summarized the legend. There is a lot of great imagery and vocabulary in this particular story, and the kids enjoyed it greatly.
Then, I showed videos and images of bluebonnets in Ennis, Texas. The students took turns labeling/naming the parts of a bluebonnet including roots, stem, leaves, and flowers.
The students wrote about bluebonnets in their journals, complete with a labeled illustration.
After writing, the students planted their very own bluebonnet seeds. We discussed the basic needs of plants and whether or not plants are living or nonliving.
Texas State Reptile: Horned Lizard
I am blessed to have had a grandfather that was a part of the Horned Lizard Conservation Society. He was an epic man. He made molds of horned lizards and hand-painted them. They are incredibly realistic. My kids kept asking me, “Are you sure that they are not alive?”
I have a deep love for the Horned Lizard, and sharing it with the kids added greatly to my happiness.
We read two books: “Horned Toad Canyon” by Joyce Gibson Roach and “The Horned Toad Prince” by Jackie Mims Hopkins. We discussed fairy tales, fables, informational texts, fiction, story elements, and compared and contrasted the two stories.
I showed the students videos of horned-lizards in action. The kids helped me make an anchor chart depicting the basic needs of the Horned Lizard. Then, the students wrote about the Horned Lizard in their journals.
Texas State Tree, Pie, and Health Nut: Pecan
I borrowed non-fiction books from the library regarding the pecan tree, pecan pie, and pecan. As a class with worked together to label an image of a pecan tree. Then, the students created a tear art Pecan Tree complete with pecans. Again, we discussed the parts of the tree and its basic needs.
Of course, the students wrote about pecans in their journals.
And now for the kids’ favorite part… pecan pies for snack… taste buds are powerful reinforcers of content material.
Texas State Large Mammal, Small Mammal, and Bird: Longhorn, Armadillo, Mockingbird
We read, “Armadillo Rodeo” by Jan Brett, “Texas Zeke and the Longhorn” by David Collins, and watched videos of the Mocking Bird. We used a Triple Venn Diagram to compare and contrast all of the creatures.
The students chose which Texas State symbol that they would like as a pet, and we completed a graph as a class. After analyzing our class graph, the students created their own Texas State Symbol graph. The loved the mockingbird. I couldn’t believe it!
After graphing, the students wrote about their favorite Texas creature in their writing journals.
Texas Flag and Pledge
I started teaching about the Texas flag by hiding our class flag in my closet. Then, I asked the students to draw me a picture of the Texas flag. Some were really close, but some were far off. After the kids were done illustrating the Texas flag, I brought out the real one again. We analyzed each flag and discussed what each student could change about their flag to make it look like the actual Texas flag. Then, the students crafted the Texas flag.
Then, the students wrote about Texas.
I gave the students the phrases in the Texas Pledge, and the students have to put it back in order.
We also watched videos, read books, and discussed important historical figures such as Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and Jose Antonio Navarro.
Texas State Foods
I asked my amazing mother to help me with Texas snacks throughout the first week of our Texas unit. On Monday, she brought the Texas State Native Pastry: Sopaipillas. On Tuesday, the students enjoyed the Texas State Cobbler: Peach Cobbler. On Wednesday, the kids enjoyed the Texas State Snack, Chips and Salsa. On Thursday, the students enjoyed the Texas State Pie: Pecan Pie. On Friday, the kids enjoyed the Texas State Pastry: Strudel. Also, we asked Kindergarten parents to send chili to school for the kids to enjoy on our Rodeo Day; therefore, the kids also enjoyed the Texas State Dish: Chili.
While the students were eating the various snacks, I played educational videos regarding the making of each state food. Of course, I let the kids vote on their favorite snack. Yet again, reinforcing graphing skills. The overwhelming favorite was the Sopaipillas!
The chips and salsa snack was a close second.
The Other Symbols
Well, there is the Texas Rattlesnake, the Lightening Whelk (Texas State Shell), the Monarch Butterfly (Texas State Insect), Blue Topaz (Texas State Gem), Petrified Palm wood (Texas State Stone), etc…
I let the students explore these artifacts. They read about, wrote about, and researched the artifacts. The kids LOVED it.
The Rodeo Day
I am blessed to work with a fantastic team. They incorporated so many creative and innovative ideas in their classrooms in regards to Texas and the state symbols. Many of which, I have filed and plan to use next year. There are just so many GREAT ideas out there!
On the last day of our Texas unit, my amazing team puts on a “Rodeo Day” for the kids. This adventure has not taken place this school year, but I have high hopes that it will be an overwhelming success.
On the Rodeo Day, the kids get to wear their favorite western wear. Each teacher picks a station, and the classes will rotate to a different station every 20 minutes. We have stick horse races around barrels, roping, line dancing, Texas pictures, crafts, and chili.
This is our way of wrapping up our Texas Unit. With style, western style. And a whole lot of fun.