Wow! You have made it through more than half of the Texas History curriculum, way to go you! This was always the point in the timeline that I started to breathe, because it becomes more familiar to students and I just get the sense that we are going to make it.
Texas did have some really great things going for it though! Possibly the most important was the availability of farm land that led to three valuable cash crops. After discussing what a cash crop is, I love to have students guess what the cash crops were. Usually they get corn pretty quickly and can be lead to wheat, but they never think of cotton as a crop, which I find fascinating.
I also really enjoy discussing all the things that can be made from cotton. They are always excited to make an anchor chart full of items, and are thrilled when they find out that they are actually wearing cotton. The big item, that they are always surprised about, is out paper currency!
Once we have established that cash crops were an important part of Texas gaining economic status in the union, we talk about the population boom and why people came to Texas. Students are usually familiar with these ideas since we also learned about them during our unit on the colonization of Texas.
We finish up the unit with some important dates to the new state. These dates are important to the formation of Texas, and lead into our next unit nicely.