Free Children's Admission on July 27 - National Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl!

vaquero riding a horse

Vaqueros: The First Cowboys

Resource Type
Grade Level:
Social Studies
Cowboys, Vaqueros, Language, Animals, Hispanic Heritage

Self-Paced Lesson 

During the Vaqueros: The First Cowboys lesson, students will discover who vaqueros were, what they did, and the skills, tools, and vocabulary that vaqueros used. Students will analyze images from the Autry Museum and complete matching, mapping, reading, and writing activities as they learn about vaqueros. Students will also be invited to write about something that they like to do and the skills that they use.


CA HSS 4.1.4

CA HSS 4.2.3

CA HSS 4.2.4

CA HSS 4.2.5

CA HSS 4.2.8

CA HSS 4.3.2

CA HSS 4.4.2

CA HSS 5.2.2

Lesson Resources

Lesson: Pdf in fullPdf in Spanish

Student Response Sheet: Student Response Sheet (fillable pdf)Student Response Sheet (fillable pdf) in Spanish

Supporting Resource: Interactive Media Exploration: Vaquero Words

Teaching Tips for Different Learning Environments

Whole Class In-Person Learning:

Activate - Activate students’ prior knowledge.

  • Ask the whole class to close their eyes, imagine what cowboys do, open their eyes, and share what they imagined.

Investigate - Students will read content, analyze images, and complete activities.

  • Read the INTRODUCTION and complete the image analysis with the whole class.
  • Have the students complete PART 1 independently. Then review PART 1 with the whole class.
  • Divide the whole class into groups or partners and ask them to complete PARTS 2 - 9. Upon completion, have the whole class share their responses to the activities that they completed in PARTS 6 - 9.
  • Ask the students to complete PART 10 with their partners or groups.

Relate - Students will make connections to their own lives.

  • Assign PARTS 11 - 12 for the students to complete independently.

Create - Students will create a class book.

  • Have the whole class work together to create a class book that includes everyone’s paragraphs from PART 12. Students can include drawings to go along with their paragraphs.

Demonstrate - Students will demonstrate their learning by sharing their work with others.

  • Have partners or groups share their paragraphs from PART 10 with the whole class.
  • Distribute class book copies to students to share with family, friends, other classes, etc.

Whole Class Distance Learning:

  • Follow the steps for Whole Class In-Person Learning
  • Students can create a class book and demonstrate their learning by posting their paragraphs from PART 10 and PART 12 for others to view through Padlet or Flipgrid.

Associated Resources  

Digital Tour: Animals of the American West

Lesson: Animals of the American West (K-2)

Lesson: Animals of the American West (3-5)

Lesson: What Helps A Cowboy Or Cowgirl Do Their Job?

Video: Animals of the American West

Video: Cowboy Sounds All Around

Educational Programs at the Autry are sponsored by:

Dean and Laura Beresford · Molly and Neal Brockmeyer · Vince and Colleen Caballero · Capital Group · David F. Eisenberg · The Georgina-Fredrick Children's Foundation · Christy McAvoy · Marleen and Bruce Rognlien · Robert E. Ronus · Brenda and Gary Ruttenberg · The Steinmetz Foundation · Virginia F. Stevenson · Thelma Pearl Howard Foundation

Land Acknowledgment

The Autry Museum of the American West acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). We recognize that the Autry Museum and its campuses are located on the traditional lands of Gabrielino/Tongva peoples and we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

The Autry Museum in Griffith Park

4700 Western Heritage Way

Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462
Located northeast of downtown, across from the Los Angeles Zoo.
Map and Directions

Free parking for Autry visitors.

Tuesday–Friday 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Food Trucks are available on select days, contact us for details at 323.495.4252.
The cafe is temporarily closed until further notice.