I like to start this unit off by giving this FREE CAUSE AND EFFECT QUIZ. It lets me see really quickly where the misconceptions are, and allows me to dig right in and explain them.
From there, my next go to is this dice simulation on cattle drives. Many of my students think that cattle dries are places where cowboys hung out, sang songs, and ate chili. While some of these things might be true, I also want them to understand the difficult time that they had as well.
This simulation allows them to have a bit of an experience to lead into the rest of the unit, that will make the rest of our learning "stick."notebook activities that include Impacts of the Railroad, Important People of the Texas Frontier, and learning about Buffalo Soldiers.
Along the way, I like to show some YouTube videos that give students a good reference point for what they are learning. Some of my favorites to include are this video on the Chisholm Trail:
And this version of "Home on the Range:"
Another fun topic is discussing the different language that cowboys used on the trail. My students' favorite is ALWAYS, "Get along little doggie." They think it is hilarious!