Whether it's live cowboys or Woody in the Disney/Pixar "Toy Story" franchise, some kids enjoy mimicking a rodeo cowboy's actions. While cowboy-themed activities like horseshoes, hay-stack searches, or pinning items on sheriffs, cowboys and horses may provide entertainment, kids also can play other cowboy rodeo games that capture the spirit of the Wild West.
Kids can engage in "barrel racing" by maneuvering their bikes in a cloverleaf pattern around three cones or plastic bottles, making complete turns around each "barrel." A leader awards points based on riders' proximity to the cones or bottles without knocking them over, and how many trips they make around the loops within an allocated time frame. The rider with the most points wins.
With several cowboy hats or boots five to 10 feet away, kids try tossing beanbags or rubber snakes into the hat or boot directly across from them. The child with the most beanbags or snakes in his hat or boot wins.
Kids try holding steady on their "bronco" (bicycle) in this game. A leader draws a chalked circular course of hills and valleys, if possible, and tight turns. With the leader timing each rider, kids follow the course and keep their feet on their bike pedals as long as possible. The rider who manages to do so the longest without falling wins.
On their bikes, kids follow a chalked course and halt upon reaching a stool placed along the course. They set their feet on the ground, pick up a hula hoop and toss it over the stool before proceeding to the finish line. If kids miss the target, they retrieve the hoop and try again. The rider reaching the finish line in the fastest time wins. As a variation, kids can race on two parallel chalked courses.
Kids prepare to round up "cattle" by dividing into two teams and taking one "horse" (broomstick) per team. With a balloon ("steer") in front of them on the ground, kids maneuver the balloon through a course while on their "horses." Upon returning to the starting line, kids pass the "horse" and "steer" to the next person in line. The team that completes the relay first wins.
Along a bike riding course, kids come to a halt upon reaching three empty soda bottles on a box, each bottle containing a pingpong ball on its mouth. Kids use a squirt gun to shoot the balls; the first child who shoots the balls off the bottles as he passes is the winner. Should more than one child shoot a ball off a bottle, the one who shot off more balls wins. In the event of a tie, the kids compete again.
Rope 'Em Cowboy
After a leader sets up various large stuffed animals, rocking horses or other western-themed items, kids simultaneously try lassoing an assigned item with a rope. The one who successfully lassos her item first wins.
Using brooms as "horses," kids race through an obstacle course that includes bales of hay and other western-oriented items. Kids either compete in one-on-one races or in teams, with the child or team completing the course first winning. As an alternative to racing, kids get one minute to display their "riding" skills with the "horse." A leader awards a sheriff's badge crown to the best "rider."
Tin Can Shoot 'Em Up
Drawing their squirt guns, kids try knocking over empty plastic bottles or cans from a predetermined distance. Kids either take turns, or shoot simultaneously, with each shooter aiming for a specific target. The one who knocks over the most targets in his turn, or knocks over her target first, wins.
Jim Radenhausen is a freelancer who began writing professionally in 1998. A resident of Reeders, Pa., he spent over two years working at the "Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal." Radenhausen received his bachelor's degree in English/professional writing from Kutztown University in 1997.