Stick Horse Rodeo: YeeHaw!

It’s the day that all first grade teachers in Springdale, Arkansas, {present & past} know all too well: Stick Horse Rodeo day!  It’s a tradition in our town that has been going on with first graders for umpteenbazillion years….okay, maybe not that many, but at LEAST 20 years because my brother participated in the stick horse rodeo 20 years ago as a first grader. {Although I’m older, I didn’t participate because we didn’t live in Springdale when I was a first grader.}  It’s a really big community project for our school district and it leaves us all feeling exhausted at the end of the day. And today it also left me looking like a lobster {guess who didn’t put on sunscreen??? #fail}.

Here’s a peek at what exactly the stick horse rodeo is all about if you aren’t from our neck of the woods!

Here’s what our “Full” stick horse rodeo unit included…
*First grade teachers teach economics to our firsties {like scarcity, cowboy wants & needs, production lines, assemblies, producers, consumers, resources, choice, goods and services…}
*First graders produce a stick horse {a good} using an assembly line {and several adult volunteers} with their capital resources and labor resources.
*First graders go to a district-wide stick horse rodeo and participate in rodeo events.

But now, thanks to common core, we’ve had to make some adjustments.  Because our FFA High Schoolers are involved with helping put on the stick horse rodeo, we couldn’t reschedule the rodeo to fit with our economics unit (now in December).

So, we started tying it in to our Common Core Cinderella Unit as best we can.

This week, we have been learning about North America and reading some Cinderella versions from our very own continent!  We stumbled upon this cowboy version of Cinderella and marriage for stick horse week and Cinderella!

The kids absolutely adore this version and it’s a great way to talk about the Wild West culture of North America and the Texan setting of this book!

We also read Cindy Ellen which is another cowgirl version of Cinderella and perfect for North America and Rodeo week!

Here’s a look at our eventful day!  The Stick Horse Rodeo is held at Parsons Arena in Springdale, which is also home to the Rodeo of the Ozarks around July 4th.  The Rodeo is a great tradition around here {my husband and I love going even though we aren’t even close to cowboys/girls!} and a big part of Springdale’s agri-culture.

The Rodeo of the Ozarks Rounders performed for the kids in the stadium to start off the morning!

Then, we spent the rest of the day rotating through different “rodeo” themed stations.  Here are a few of them….

Pole Bending…


Milking “Cows”…


Barrel Racing…


Line Dancing…

Cooling off and listening to the “Singin’ Cowboy” sing some songs from his trail…

Buckin’ Barrels {the kids’ favorite!}…

We also do face painting, a McDonald’s sponsored drink break and class picture, and roping {we rope a metal bull head on a bale of hay}.  This year, we didn’t get to do roping because they had scheduled it too late for us and we had to get our kids back to school to catch the buses! Boo!!

During our lunch break, the kids always enjoy checking out the cows in the barn next door.  They were out in full force today and louder than I’ve ever heard them!


Even though our kids don’t make stick horses, we still wanted them to have a special souvenir to keep since it is such a great tradition for our kids.  So, the past 2 years we have made these *adorable* rodeo t-shirts for the kids to wear and take home.

This year we were also more efficient in making the t-shirts and glued the letters to a piece of scrap wood so our volunteers could stamp the the whole word at the same time instead of a letter at a time! The kids did the handprint in brown craft paint and added the eye, mane, and tail with a black sharpie! They just look perfect!

We also ordered bandanas for them to keep, but we didn’t make them wear them today since it was going to be HOT outside!

If we have time, I like to do a few things from my Cowboy Mini-Pack like reading Gail Gibbons’ Cowboys and Cowgirls and labeling the resources a cowboy and his horse need…This year, my kids will be doing it with a sub tomorrow!

I also plan on having them make a cowboy or cowgirl to go with their Stick Horse Rodeo narrative writing next week!  They always turn out so cute. This sample is from a few years ago when we did the “full on” unit and they wrote about what it would be like to be a cowboy/cowgirl. This craft is also included in my Cinderella Common Core Unit since it ties in with Bubba the Cowboy Prince and Cindy Ellen.

All of these activities plus vocabulary cards, matching games, and directions and supplies for making stick horses are included in my cowboy mini-pack.

While there are moments when I miss producing stick horses with the kids…{here’s a pic from a few years back. LOL!}

Lost among the stick horses!

 …I’m glad that they still get a souvenir and get to experience the rodeo! It is such a memorable day for the kids, no matter how exhausting for us all!

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