Pretend Play Cowgirl or Cowboy

Guest post by Rebecca Janni, author of Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse.

In Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse, Nellie Sue gets a bike instead of a horse for her birthday – and she is not thrilled.

But deep down, Nellie Sue knows that who you are is a matter of heart. And Nellie Sue is a cowgirl from head to toe. With an imagination as big as the sky, this spunky cowgirl decides she has everything she needs to live out her dream . . . even a two-wheeled horse.

So whether your cowpokes have a real horse or a horse like Nellie Sue’s, whether they live on a ranch or in an apartment, whether they’re wearing boots or flip flops . . . they can head west in their imaginations. Ride on, little cowgirls and cowboys, ride on!

Build a campfire (without a match):

Outdoors, collect sticks and twigs. Indoors, building blocks will do. Pile the blocks or twigs and tuck two or three pieces of red and orange tissue paper into the top. Now, you’re ready to toast marshmallows! (If you poke them on a pretzel stick, you can even eat the stick.)

Strum a banjo and sing along:

Keep the fire going. Grab banjos and fiddles, guitars and washboards to sing “Home on the Range” and “Happy Trails.” If your cowpokes want props, use a tennis racket or make a guitar out of Kleenex boxes, paper towel tubes, and rubber bands.

Go on a trail ride, Nellie Sue style:

If your cowpoke is yearning to ride a pony, but your garage only has bikes, sprinkle some imagination into that bike helmet. Give that two-wheeled horse a name, saddle her up, and step into the stirrups. Tell her when to giddyap and when to whoa. Pretend that neighborhood path is a dusty trail. If you ride far enough, you might even be saddle sore!

Throw a barnyard bash:

Nellie Sue will show you how in Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots. She paints a banner, stirs up pink lemonade, and scoots hay bales (even though she doesn’t really have hay). She delivers invitations to the whole neighborhood (on her horse, of course) and friends show up in everything from boots to ballet slippers. I adore Lynne Avril’s illustrations, which capture both real and imagined worlds and turn a run of the mill garage into a barn decked out for dancing. Grab a partner and do-si-do!

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse Activities:

Bio: Rebecca Janni wrote Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse and Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots, both published by Dutton Children’s Books. Rebecca has two more picture books forthcoming and lots of other projects on her desk, including a middle grade novel without any horses. She has a master’s degree in English education and has taught high school and college English and creative writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, Greg the Gecko, and a big-hearted dog named Mickey. She loves to read and bike with her family, but not at the same time.

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