How to Make a Cowboy Vest Activity

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Updated on Oct 11, 2013

Cowboys played an important part in taming the wild west and making America what it is today. Have your little cowpoke design and decorate a vest that's perfect for combating the elements on the harsh Western plains, and better his understanding of what life was like for these American legends.

What You Need:

  • Yardstick
  • Pencil
  • Paper grocery bag
  • Scissors
  • Paint, glitter, markers, crayons, stickers, etc

What You Do:

  1. Before you begin, get your child in the spirit by reading classic American tall tales with him: Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Paul Bunyan are great places to start, and their stories are all available in book form at your local library.
  2. When you're ready to start on his new vest, have your child draw a line down the center of the front of the bag, from top to bottom. If he needs help keeping a steady hand, have him use a yardstick or straight edge as a guide.
  3. Have your child cut on the line through the middle of the front of the bag, making one straight incision from top to bottom.
  4. Have your child turn the bag upside-down and cut out the bottom of the bag.
  5. Unfold the bag and lay it flat on the table. There should be two front flaps, two skinny sides, and one large rectangular back.
  6. On each 'side' of the unfolded bag, help your child cut out two holes near the top (what used to be the bottom), large enough for him to fit his arms through.
  7. Now it's time to decorate! Have your child decorate the vest any way he would like. If he wishes, have him cut some “fringe” along the bottom by making evenly-spaced slits with scissors, or crumple up the paper after it dries to make it look like worn-out leather!

For added dress-up fun, you can hot-glue a safety pin to the back of a star-shaped piece of foam or felt for a Sheriff's badge. Have him tie a kerchief around his neck and smudge some gray or black eyeshadow around his jawline with a makeup sponge for a little 5 o'clock shadow. Some clean foil yogurt lids with a roll of tape on the back make for great spurs as well. Now he's ready to hit the dusty trail!

Jody Amable is an Assistant Editor at She has previously worked as a camp counselor, and spent her college years hosting birthday parties for kids at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. She has a degree in Journalism from San Francisco State University and writes for local blogs, magazines and weeklies in her spare time.