For animal loving kids, nothing is better than incorporating horses into school lessons. Whether it is for a homeschooling or a non-traditional instruction lesson plan, an extra-credit assignment, a COVID-19 stay-at-home educational time filler, or a summer activity, here are some horse-themed learning ideas for youngsters—from kindergarten through high school. Some of these horse educational activities could also be useful for youth programs, such as 4-H, Pony Club, FFA, Boys and Girls Club, or Scouts, as well as summer horsemanship camp activities.
There are many other educational materials out there. Below is just a starting point for young horse enthusiasts.
The American Quarter Horse Association’s (AQHA) Junior Master Horseman Program offers affordable teaching guides and activity books at three levels:
- Level 1 for third through fifth grades;
- Level 2 for fifth through eighth grades, and
- Level 3 for grades nine through 12.The AQHA produced the teaching guides and books in cooperation with the American Youth Horse Council, but the Junior Master Horseman Program (JMH) is not breed specific. The books are spiral bound and there is a fully interactive website as well. The books and website include instruction for parents and educators, as well as for children. For teens and college-age students who plan to serve as camp counselors, the JMH program guides offer logbooks and instructions to help them in their duties. The JMH Program meets McREL educational standards for language arts, math, science, technology and life skills. Each guidebook is $14.95. For more information on the Junior Master Horseman Program, visit www.aqha.com/web/aqha/junior-master-horseman and www.juniormasterhorseman.com.
The AQHA also has free downloadable worksheets, puzzles and other children’s activities at this link: www.aqha.com/web/aqha/educational-resources-activities.
- The National 4-H Horse Program has produced a number of educational materials related to horses and ponies. First, the 4-H National Horse Curriculum is a set of six study guides that span grades three through 12. The guides can be purchased individually for $7.95 each or as a set of six for $39.95.Then, the highly-rated 4-H Horse Science set of two 64-page guides (Horse Science and Horses and Horsemanship) can be purchased for $10.95 for the set or $6.50 individually. Horse Science is an in-depth scientific examination of horses that covers horse behavior, anatomy, reproduction, feed nutrients, health and sanitation, disease, and parasites, among others. Horses and Horsemanship teaches about breeds, judging, showing, western horsemanship, grooming, training, equipment, and safety.
Their website also offers an educational horse bingo game (currently on sale for $15.95) and seven different decks of EQUESTrian Trivia cards (each deck costs $13.50 or $95 for the entire set). For more information go to www.4-h.org/parents/curriculum/horse or www.shop4-h.org/products/horse-program-curriculum-set-of-2?variant=44027019726.
- The University of Guelph Equimania! Program from Ontario, Canada, showcases a wide variety of educational topics related to horse care and safety around horses. Visit www.equimania.ca and scroll part-way down to see featured monthly topics and then further down on the home page to see the “Safety Activities” and “Learning About Horses” areas. Equimania! offers a number of free downloadable fact sheets and several quizzes, including the “Test Your Knowledge on Parts of the Horse” and “Parts of the Hoof.” They also feature “Danger Detectives,” a series of online safety tests, on their website.
The American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) Horsemastership Achievement Program includes four individual lapbook learning manuals (Levels 1-4) with equestrian subject matter incorporated into these areas: art education, crafts, English/poetry, health care/nutrition, logical thinking, history; literature, math, science, social studies, and writing. These books were created for homeschooling in conjunction with A Journey Through Learning (AJTL) and with funding through a grant from the USA Equestrian Trust to program offers.
Horsemanship badges may be awarded after successful completion of each lapbook, and the program offers 4-H credit as well. Each manual is available as a download for $18.00 or on CD for $25.00, but AMHA members are given access to Level 1 as part of their membership. For more information, visit www.morganhorse.com/youth/homeschooling or www.ajourneythroughlearning.net/collections/4h-horsemanship-binder-builders.
- Vermont-based Trafalgar Books lists an activity book for kids called Horse Fun by Gudrun Braun and Anne Scheller with art by Anika Hage. The book includes horse educational activities such as quizzes, a trivia contest, craft projects, and a riding school theme through which the main character named Maxi learns about horses. The book is listed as appropriate for ages 6 through 12 years of age and is for sale for $19.95 at www.horseandriderbooks.com/product/HOFUAC.html. A video trailer about the book is below.
- The American Saddlebred Museum offers some learning resources on their website, including a suggested reading list of horse books for children and a writing activity project that uses equestrian art as a starting point for a child to write a story.One of the books on their reading list is the classic novel Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, which was written from the point of view of the horses in the book and has the underlying theme of calling for better treatment of working horses in Victorian England. Because of the compelling story and message of the social reform, Black Beauty would be a great book review assignment for middle and high school students. For more information, visit www.asbmuseum.org/learn/resources.
- Days End Farm Horse Rescue located in Woodbine, Md., features several learning activities for kids available as free downloadable pdfs. One of their more unique and useful offerings is their “Horse Emotion—Ears” information sheet, which gives young horse lovers insight into what a horse might be thinking based on how its ears are positioned. Find their educational resources at this link: www.defhr.org/educational-materials-to-download.
- The Rutgers University Equine Science 4 Kids Program is an interactive website offering information on the care and feeding of horses aimed at kids in grade and middle school. There are links to horse educational activities, such as educational games and videos pertaining to horses. The graphics are cute, and there are lots of places for kids to click for more information. Visit https://esc.rutgers.edu/wp-content/themes/esc/pages/kids.
- HorseLoversMath.com is an interesting website produced in Canada that incorporates math problems into stories about horses and equine science. The math problems embedded in the stories are presented for a mix of grade levels, which the website creator says was done purposefully to help students bridge from one learning level to the next by attempting to methodically work through the math questions. How-to-use information is included on the website, and answers to the math problems are provided at the bottom of each story page. Find this site at www.horseloversmath.com.
- The Arabian Horse Association offers a number of free downloadable kids’ educational worksheets. One topic has kids create a fairytale, another is about writing a funny story, and a third lists fun facts about horses. There are other worksheets available under the “Resources” tab, as well as information about the Leg Up: A Ready-to-Use Lesson Series about Arabian horses with free downloadable lesson plans. Visit www.arabianhorses.org/youth/resources.
- A number of virtual field trips to museums and zoos are currently available in place of actually visiting in person. Young scholars can view the museums and zoos online, do some research, and then present an oral or written report or a poster project about what they learned on their virtual visit. Below are some examples:
- The International Museum of the Horse (IMH) at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington has extensive descriptions of many of their exhibits on their website and some short virtual visits on YouTube and Facebook. Visit www.imh.org/exhibits/online, www.youtube.com/user/IMHorg, and www.facebook.com/pg/imhkhp/videos/?ref=page_internal.
- The Living Horse Museum in Chantilly, France, offers a really breathtaking video of the stables and performances there narrated in English by the daughter of the current curator. Produced by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the video tour can be found below.
- The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Ok., offers extensive online virtual tours of some of their more popular exhibits. You can find them at www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.Students interested in horses and horse educational activities can also search for videos and information about wild equids (members of the horse family of Equidae) and write a report about these cousins to domestic horses and ponies. Here are a few video suggestions, but there are thousands of interesting videos about wild equid species available.
- The Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY, posted this video of one of their zebra mares having a foal.
- The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia posted a video of a herd of Persian Onagers, which is a wild Asian donkey subspecies.
- And finally, the Smithsonian Channel also features a short video of the only living truly wild horse (American wild horse herds are actually feral, not wild), the Przewalski’s Horse, a native of Asia.
Of course, our sister publication, Young Rider, offers educational horse information for kids every issue. Subscribe today!