ultimate guide to hands on texas history

The Ultimate Guide to Hands on Learning for Texas history

I promised the kids we would study Texas history next year.  I’m amazingly excited about this, and I’m also starting to think of projects we can do with our history lessons, field trips we can take, and how amazing this is going to be.  It’s going to be an awesome year of Texas history, and certainly better than when I took it in 7th grade from a coach, who had just moved to Texas, and it was her first year teaching.

Ultimate Guide to Texas History

I did not learn so much that year…..  So, I’m preparing by gathering all of the Texas history resources I can find.  I was relieved to find a great Texas history curriculum to use ( Texas Lone Star Land, I found mine at The Homeschool Store in Houston), so I won’t end up writing one.  That idea scared me.

For each section I’m going to be linking to hands on Texas history lessons, interactive notebooks, and field trips I find.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be updating this post ever so often as I find more subjects.

I’ve also got all of these ideas and a few that didn’t fit the hands on aspect on my Texas history pinterest board.


Texas Geography

Every Texas history curriculum starts off with a unit on Texas geography.  That’s because you need to understand the geography of an area for its history to make sense (I really should write a nice long post about this, my high school history teacher certainly lectured me enough on this topic that I could retell it).

As a side note, not too surprisingly I haven’t found a lot of hands on Texas history ideas for our Texas geography unit, so some of these posts I’m going to include notes on how I want to make it more hands on.  I’m also including links to any and all notebooking or lapbooking pages I find.

Texas geography lessons

  • make a salt dough map- because what kind of geography lesson would it be if you didn’t make one
  • side note, I’m also planning on using this book from Triumphant Learning because I love the illustrations explaining different geography terms.
  • regions of Texas sensory map– after searching I couldn’t find a blog post for this, so there is only the image of it.  I did find a link to a different idea, that I’ll be linking to down below
  • make a sticker map of Texas with its products for the region– a great variation if you don’t want to work with glitter or sand
  • There are several more variations on mini-books, but I’m trying as much as possible to keep this to hands-on components, but I do want to point out this interactive regions of Texas mini books. Because I like mini-books with flaps and things.


Symbols of Texas lessons

Legend of the Bluebonnet project


No field trips for Texas geography


Native Texans

The big thing I remember from my Texas history class in college (aside from my thorough dislike of having a class through the dinner hour) was the Karankawa tribe from the coastal region were cannibals.  That would be why I dropped Texas history the first time, because that was the first class, and that rather put me off my dinner that night.

Sadly, it was only offered at that time, every semester, so I had a few days where I lost my appetite because that particular subject features in some of my nightmares.

Also the word Texas means friend in Caddo.


Field trips for Texas Natives


Spanish Texas, Texas colonization

pretty much in this Texas history post because I wanted another picture

While Texas was predominately colonized by Spain, there were colonists from France and Germany as well (technically the Holy Roman Empire because Germany didn’t exist yet, but still).  Also, I didn’t really find a lot of good hands on lessons for this, but did find a few interesting lesson ideas.  We’ll be doing some Lego history lessons for the explorers in this time, and a few simulations I know for sure.


Spanish Texas, Texas colonization field trips

Texas Revolution history lessons

The interesting thing about the Texas Revolution is its length of time.  Unlike pretty much all other revolutiosn of that time period, it was accomplished in less than a year.

Alamo scenario

Or course just a few years later Mexico and the United States would be in a war together, largely over Texas, but that’s another story. One I’ll include down with the Republic of Texas time period

I could link to about 5 more interactive notebooking things, but I didn’t find much in the way of hands on lessons Sad smile


Field Trips for the Texas Revolution

Republic of Texas

For a short time period, Texas was its own country.  I’m looking forward to digging into this.


Republic of Texas field trip

Texas Rangers

You cannot study Texas history without looking at the Texas Rangers, and how law was enforced during this time.


field trips for Texas Rangers


Cattle Drives

Texas is all about land and cattle.  Cattle rustlers, cattle drives, and the Chisholm Trail.


Field Trips for Cattle Drives

Civil War and Reconstruction lessons

Civil War picture books for elementary and middle school

Of all the Confederate states, Texas is only tangentially involved in the Civil War because of its distance from all of the major battles, and it’s relative unimportance strategically.


Civil War field trips


Texas Forts and Buffalo Soldiers

I honestly didn’t know what to call this time.  It’s that indeterminate time that if I were writing about the East coast I would call the Gilded Age, but Texas was still in the Wild West stage complete with frontier outposts and buffalo soldiers.  I want to spotlight this particular aspect, because it’s an interesting part of Texas and US history.


field trips for Texas Forts and Buffalo soldiers

World War 1 in Texas

While at this point we are solidly into US history, I think it’s still important to highlight how these events shape Texas, this won’t affect it as much as…..  The Dust Bowl.

World War 1 unit– I need to research specifics for Texas

World War 1 in Texas field trips

Williamson County Museum– right now they have a temporary exhibit about World War 1 in Texas to honor the 100th anniversary

Texas Military Museum


The Dust Bowl

A great deal of why the Great Depression was so bad in the United States was because it was also a time when a big drought hit the central states, and there were problems from over-farming in the area.  This is also the period of the Great Depression, so I’m including related links for that.



World War 2 in Texas

There are a few training facilities in Texas, and a few other fun details going on during this time. But, we’ll be recreating several World War 2 activities from before.

Oh and a revisit to the World War 2 sub in Galveston.


World War 2 in Texas Field Trips

Civil Rights movement in Texas

I haven’t found anything specific to Texas yet, I’m still researching it right now, so far it’s all pretty generic to the nation, rather than just Texas.



Normally I’d includ links to some posts of mine at the bottom,  but if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a gold star.  Instead, I’m going to point you towards lots more: Ultimate Guides.


12 responses to “The Ultimate Guide to Hands on Learning for Texas history”

  1. Phyllis at All Things Beautiful Avatar
    Phyllis at All Things Beautiful

    Wow. This is amazing! I want to do it (and move to Texas) now. I also want to do one on Maryland, except, being so much smaller, it would be shorter. LOL Did I ever tell you that my Sam is Samuel Houston Bergenholtz because my husband’s mother can directly trace her ancestry back to Sam Houston?

    1. That is cool!
      Even though Maryland is so much smaller, there is still quite a lot of history there, it just gets co-opted so much sooner into US history.

  2. Wow this is such a thorough post. I always wondered why you took photos in the blue bonnets. Now I know why 🙂

    1. Yep, bluebonnets is one of those Texas things that no one else really does, and they are sooo pretty and smell so good.

  3. You have so many amazing resources here! I hope that all Texas history teachers will take advantage of this post.

    1. Fingers crossed, it’s a huge help for them!
      One of the people I kept linking to in this post is a 4th grade Texas history teacher, she’s got some cool stuff on Teachers Pay Teachers.

  4. Jessica Avatar

    This is awesome. I’ve been looking for TX History resources and not coming up with much. Do you mind sharing what curriculum you found?

    Also wanted to suggest as a field trip for the Cattle Drive era. The Fort Worth Stockyards. They reenact a cattle drive down Main Street daily I think. It’s pretty cool.

    1. That’s a great idea! I shared the curriculum in my 7th grade curriculum post. It’s called Texas, Lone Star Land. It looks like it might have once been a public school textbook, but I’m not 100% sure. I found it at a used homeschool bookstore down in Houston. I’d agree there’s not much for Texas history out there.

  5. I love the way you teach history.

    1. Thanks! I am so amazingly excited for this year of Texas history.

  6. Stephanie Avatar

    You said you found a Texas History curriculum, what is the name of it and where did you find it?

    1. Texas Lone Star Land (that’s it on Amazon), however I got mine at The Homeschool Store in Houston. It’s a small store full of new and used homeschool curriculum. If you can make your way there I highly encourage it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *