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“Cowboys at Christmas” is a unique multi-activity lesson teaching us appreciation for the “big gifts” we often take for granted


Art, Language Arts, Music, Social Studies  


2, 3  

Title – Cowboys at Christmas
By – Evangeline J. Day
Primary Subject – Social Studies, Art, Music, Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – 
Grade Level – 2-3



      Cowboy and Christmas pictures, recording of songs, cowboy objects, Christmas objects, PowerPoint


      Pencils, worksheet, card, crayons/markers/etc.


    In order to increase understanding and reveal their grasp of the concepts, students will draw/color a Christmas card, and inside write a little something about three things that everyone can claim as gifts.



  • There are some cowboy pictures displayed, including examples such as: Hurry Sun Up by Tim Cox, Christmas Pony by Tim Rey Cowboy Riding Domesticated Wild Horse Through Snow, U.S.A. by Curtis Martin.
  • Also have some Christmas pictures depicting a traditional home settings, such as Christmas Tree by Albert Chevallier Taylor Christmas Dreams by Mike Wimmer; have a couple of wrapped presents in view.
  • Also display some cowboy articles: a saddle blanket, boots, spurs, etc.


  • Have the students listen to John Denver’s Christmas For Cowboys .
  • Today we are going to learn and think about some ideas that will hopefully help us to see Christmas and some of the things that go along with it in a different way, a way that will help us always be more satisfied in a season where wanting things can take over our minds. We will also find a greater appreciation for some things that we may not often really consider.
  • Christmas is a very special time of year, as all of us know. It’s a time when people everywhere are focused on love, hope, and peace. Memories come alive as new memories are made. We all celebrate Christmas in different ways, and our traditions are precious to us. Does anyone have something they’d like to mention that they do at Christmas? Yes Sally? “We always have eggnog when we set up the manger scene.” Oh, how lovely! Yes we have our little particular traditions that we follow and they help make Christmas the wonderful time it is. We like to decorate trees, hang wreaths and tinsel, drink hot cocoa together in front of the fireplace, hang our stockings, go to pageants, sing carols and all of that. I imagine most of us here exchange gifts don’t we? Bright, glittery packages, decorated with shiny bows and hiding marvelous surprises. “Yes, uh ha, of course.” But did you ever stop to think of people who don’t have the things at Christmas? People who are way out in the wilderness without any Christmas lights in sight? “Oh my, who?” Like the song tells us, cowboys out on the ranges had to find other ways to celebrate Christmas.


  • The life of a cowboy was not an easy one. (Show a scene from ” Ranch Album ” — Modern Cowboy documentary.
  • Description of the film: “Beautifully edited, this outstanding video — originally filmed in 1988 and released as a PBS Special — is a gut-honest, straightforward telling of the modern cowboy at work. This documentary portrays what ranching and cowboying is really all about as it seamlessly takes the viewer through all four seasons on a remote cattle ranch in the tough, high country of Arizona.”)


  • Next, show “The American Cowboys” PowerPoint.
  • Let’s take a few minutes and make our imaginations come alive. It’s before dawn, and you wake up. Above are stars, you’re sleeping on the range. Oh my, What’s that sound? Yes Franklin? “A coyote!” Lucie? “A cow mooing.” Pattie? “Another cowboy snoring!” (giggling) Sounds different than your house I bet! Well, overnight, the fire has died down, so you crawl out of your bedroll, kind of like a sleeping bag. You’ve been using this as your pillow (hold up saddle blanket); whew it smells like a horse still! Then you stoke up the fire, and wake up the other two guys. It’s going to be a long day, there’s a lot of riding to do. You need to get the cattle moving on toward another range. As you fix the bitter black coffee, and toast some corn bread, you suddenly remember: This is a special day, it’s Christmas.
  • All day as you ride along, what are some of the thoughts going through your mind? “I’m remembering Christmas when I was still little, like now, and opening presents.” “I think about a big dinner.” “I think about all my family and playing games and stuff.” That’s right, those are the kinds of things you remember as you ride along. And maybe you feel sad. But then you think about what all you have right now, the sky, the free feel of the horse trotting, the wide-open places, the fresh cold air, and the beauty of a winter day on the plains. When you stop for the night, and sit by the fire, what do hear? “The cows again.” The wind, like in the song. “Yes the wind sings a hymn as you bow down to pray. And up above are what? “stars” You have the best Christmas lights ever, lights that God Himself hung. And as you kneel to pray this Christmas night, your heart is thankful for the gifts you’ve “opened” today; they are different from what many people think of when they think of Christmas gifts, and they are even more priceless.

5) POEM:

  • Read this poem to the class.

      A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer

    I ain’t much good at prayin’,
       but You know me, Lord —
    Though I ain’t much seen in churches,
       where they preach Thy Holy Word.
    But you have observed me 
       out here on the lonely plains,
    A-lookin’ after cattle, 
       feelin’ thankful when it rains.

    Admirin’ Thy great handiwork.
       the miracle of the grass,
    Aware of Thy kind Spirit,
       in the way it comes to pass 
    That hired men on horseback
       and the livestock that we tend 
    Can look up at the stars at night,
       and know we’ve got a Friend.

    So here’s ol’ Christmas comin’ on,
       remindin’ us again
    Of Him whose coming brought good will
       into the hearts of men.
    A cowboy ain’t a preacher, Lord,
       but if You’ll hear my prayer,
    I’ll ask as good as we have got 
       for all men everywhere.

    Don’t let no hearts be bitter, Lord.
       Don’t let no child be cold.
    Make easy the beds for them that’s sick
       and them that’s weak and old.
    Let kindness bless the trail we ride,
       no matter what we’re after,
    And sorter keep us on Your side,
       in tears as well as laughter.

    I’ve seen ol’ cows a-starvin’ –
       and it ain’t no happy sight;
    Please don’t leave no one hungry, Lord,
       on Thy Good Christmas Night —
    No man, no child, no woman,
       and no critter on four feet
    I’ll do my doggone best 
       to help you find ’em chuck to eat.

    I’m just a sinful cowpoke, Lord —
       ain’t got no business prayin’
    But still I hope you’ll ketch a word
       or two, of what I’m sayin’:
    We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord–
       I reckon You’ll agree —

    There ain’t no Merry Christmas
       for nobody that ain’t free!
    So one thing more I ask You, 
       Lord: just help us what You can
    To save some seeds of freedom 
       for the future Sons of Man!

    S. Omar Barker; reprinted with permission from
    Cowboy Miner Productions
  • Now we are going to make Christmas cards to help us remember what we’ve talked about.


  • Pass out precut, pre-folded cardboard.
  • I’d like for each of you to draw a picture on the front showing something to do with cowboys and Christmas. Be creative and have fun! “Can I just use pencil?” You may, though it would be nice to add color. We won’t have time to use paints today, but you may use markers, colored pencils, or crayons, whichever is comfortable for you. Now before you start, I want you to think about two traditions that are special to you and two gifts that everyone can claim at Christmas, no matter what they do or don’t have. “What do you mean?” Well, I mean gifts given to the whole world by God; He gave us His Son, He gives love and hope, He’s given us lots of things in nature, trees, stars, sunbeams.
  • When you finish your pictures on the front of the cards, then write a few lines about the four things you’ve thought of. We will all want to be able to enjoy each other’s creative work, so when you’re done, we will share.


  • Wander around the room, checking on students, helping them if they need it, offering encouragement.
  • Wow, you all did beautiful jobs. Let’s start with you, Charlie. Why don’t you come on up and show us your card and read what you wrote inside.
  • Let each student do this. If the class is large, then hang the cards on the wall by stretching a string, and placing them over it, so the students can all share their work.


  • As we celebrate this Christmas, let’s not forget to remember the “big gifts” that often we take for granted. This doesn’t mean we aren’t grateful for pretty packages and for singing around the piano or playing games. Those are an important part of our celebrations. But if we think of people who celebrate without those, like the cowboys of the plains, yet still find happiness and satisfaction at Christmas, we will appreciate our many extra blessings even more.
  • The most important thing is to be content with what we have, to take pleasure in the simple things, and to have Christmas in our hearts.


  • Now, let’s all listen together to another Christmas song, that talks about the real meaning of Christmas, and how it’s message is spread across the world.
  • Listen to ” Christmas Like a Lullaby “.


    Students will express their personal interpretations of the lesson with their cards.

E-Mail Evangeline J. Day !

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