Thursday, January 17, 2008

Field Trip: National Western Stock Show

Tuesday we went with a group of homeschoolers to the National Western Stock Show -- last year we'd heard about this annual event, but didn't go. Thanks to MaryM, we got organized this year and were able to go. I was even so organized we actually did a mini-cowboy/western unit with the following picture books:

She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain by Jonathan Emmett and Deborah Allwright – a very cute retelling of the classic song. Very fun for the kids.

Cowboy Slim by Julie Danneberg (illustrated by Margot Apple) – tells the story of a poet who wants to be more than a “catalog cowboy” and prove his worth on the trail. This is a great introduction to “cowboy slang” and an interesting explanation of how the poets on the trail calmed the cattle and entertained the other cowboys.

Cowboy Jose by Susan Middleton Elya (illustrated by Tim Raglin) – a combination of Spanish phrases and English verse makes this poem-story come alive. The story is the need to win “the lady fair” by making money but the vaquero quickly learns about loyalty and true love. Lots of fun to read aloud!

Roundup at the Palace by Kathleen Cook Waldron (illustrated by Alan & Lea Daniel) – explains what happens when a bull headed to the annual National Western Stock Show in Denver gets loose in downtown Denver. Interesting story and starts fun conversations on “what if this happened to you”.

High as a Hawk: A Brave Girl’s Historic Climb by T.A. Barron (illustrated by Ted Lewin) – the true story of an 8-year-old girl (the youngest ever) to climb to the top of Long’s Peak in 1903, led by the tracker who wanted to make Long’s Peak a National monument. Interesting story of perseverance and “doing it for Mama”.

Fritz and the Beautiful Horses written and illustrated by Jan Brett – a beautiful story about a land where only beautiful horses are allowed and a small, but dependable pony who isn’t allowed into the city … until he proves his worth is greater than his lack of beauty! This is a classic Brett book with a hint of the beautiful illustrations to come in her later books.

Bedtime in the Southwest by Mona Hodgson (illustrated by Renee Graef – of Little House series fame!) – very nice illustrations show how animals get tucked in in the southwest! Very cute book with great illustrations!

The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake (illustrated by Adam Rex) – what happens when a cowboy takes his annual bath? A very nice story!

The Toughest Cowboy: or How the Wild West was Tamed by John Frank (illustrated by Zachary Pullen) – a group of the roughest, toughest cowboys adopt a dog that tames them. There is some grossness at the beginning (which my boys loved!) but it quickly turns the corner and all is civilized by the end. An interesting twist on the “taming of the wild west” theme.

The Stock Show is 102 years old this year and was originally organized to celebrate the livestock that helped settle the West. This is a national show so you've got breeders and growers from all over the country coming to show their angus bulls, dairy cattle, goats, horses ... well, you get the idea. There is a petting zoo with very calm animals and education opportunities for the kids to learn all about agriculture, farming and ranching -- especially in this area.

We had such a great time meeting animals and ranchers (here the kids are getting ready to be "background" for a live-tv interview with the owners of the goats) ....

hugging lonely sheep ....

and learning all about the wild animals indigenous to this area ...We ground our own whole-wheat flour from fresh wheat, learned about soil erosion from some CSU Ag students, and learned about farm animals from the good folks at the Urban Farm near our house.

We can't wait till next year's show!

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