The following activities can be adapted to a range of age levels. In all of these activities, the objective is to make students participants in their learning experiences rather than just observers.
- Interview Session--Have students hold an interview of Sam Houston in the same way that Sam Houston was interviewed in the video. The teacher can take the part of Sam Houston. The technique will work for any historical character, and in fact is an excellent way to teach historical information with the students as participants. A student can also take the part of the historical character if preparations have been made. Give specific questions ahead of time so the students can study.
- Time line--Have the students draw a time line for Sam Houston's life. Use events from the "Chronology"section of this guidebook.
- Letter Contest--After viewing the video have the students write a letter to Sam Houston asking about things they would like to learn. The teacher can use these requests as a guide for a later class. As a variation, have them write a letter from Sam Houston telling about some event of his life. Try a letter from the battlefield at San Jacinto, telling America about the news from the battle.
- The ball play--When we study Sam Houston we need to include native Americans, because Sam Houston spent part of his life with the Indians. The young braves taught Sam Houston a game called the "ball play." This was the precursor to the modern-day Lacrosse. The "ball play" was rooted in cherokee tribal mythology and was a national pastime. It was believed that the first ball play was between the animals, the birds vs. the beasts, with the two teams led by the eagle and the bear, respectively (the birds won because they had a flying squirrel and a bat that the beasts did not want). If you have access to Lacrosse sticks and a ball, show them to your class as a demonstration, and have some of the students try catching and throwing the ball using the sticks in an outdoor situation. Avoid having an actual game, however, since Lacrosse is a contact sport and is best played with proper equiptment and instruction.
- The hoop and pole game--Sam also learned a "hoop and pole game." This may have been the game popular with Indian youth in many tribes in which the challenge was to throw spears or poles at rolling hoops. The hoops could have been made from bound willow sticks or other pliable wood. You can duplicate this game for a class using balls and hula hoops (for obvious reasons, it's not advisable to use spears). Roll the hoops across a lawn area and have students throw balls at the moving circle. Get everyone involved by having teams and scoring points, or simply make it an individual challenge by seeing who can hit the target in the fewest number of shots. For real effect, you can have the class make their own hoops from natural materials if pliable woods such as willow branches are available.
- Newspaper--Have the students produce a newspaper about any of the great events of Sam Houston' time. The section in this guide book entitled "Sam Houston's Times" is a resource in this regard. A front page of a newspaper may be enough for a small project. Allow two weeks or longer of project time for development of a full paper. Assemble a newspaper team, and give each individual a writing assignment.
- Sam Houston's America--Using an outline map of the United States, have the students locate all the major cities that were important in Sam Houston's life. These cities can include (1) Lexington, Virginia, (2) Maryville, Tennessee, (2) Nashville, Tennessee, (2) Washington, D.C., (2) Nacogdoches, Texas, (2) Huntsville, Texas, (2) Austin, Texas. The students will have to do atlas or library research. Also have them locate the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in east-central Alabama, the Neosho River in northeast Oklahoma, and the site of the Battle of San Jacinto near Houston, Texas.
- The Railway Lunch--Prepare a meal that Sam Houston may have eaten. Corn bread and beef stew are a likely entree.
- Essays--Use the "Sam Houston's Times" section of this guidebook for ideas for student essays.
- Twenty Questions--Twenty questions is a family game adaptable to many classroom activities. The teacher thinks of something related to Sam Houston, but keeps it secret from the class, writing it on a piece of paper. The class has to guess what it is, and is only allowed twenty questions. The only clue given is whether the secret something is (1) a person, (2) a place, or (3) a thing. Note that the questions have to be phrased to allow yes or no answers.
- Artifacts--Some students in a class may have artifacts from the days in which Sam Houston lived. If real artifacts are scarce, have the students make their own artifacts. Have the students use library resources to find books with pictures of artifact-type items.