Desert Themed Activities for Kids


Explore fun, engaging and exciting world themed activities to do with toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners. Our activities are widely used by teachers, moms, dads, child care providers and more!

All our activities are available at no cost and are free to print and share. Today we will be covering a desert!



Desert Arts and Crafts

Sandpaper Rubbings
Cut out shapes, numbers, letters or anything else you may desire from sand paper mount on cardboard if the sand paper is flimsy. Place a sheet of paper on top of the sandpaper cutout.  Using the side of a crayon, rub until the cutouts appear!

Sand Paintings
Have children “paint” on cardboard with watered down white glue.  Then have them sprinkle colored sand onto the glue.
Having children “draw” with a pigmented glue stick (such as Elmers, Crayola or Uh) works well also since they may have more control of the stick as opposed to the paintbrush, and they can see what they are drawing. Glue sticks also allow for more detailed drawing.

Make cactus by shaping bread dough into a cactus shape and then inserting uncooked spaghetti into it for the needles. Then let dry over night.


Make cactus shape from green construction paper per child.  Color rice green (green food coloring, alcohol in zip lock baggie, shake, spread out to air dry).  Children glue rice onto cactus.

Blooming’ Cactus
Provide students with a tag board cut out cactus, have the students color the cactus green.  Allow students to glue toothpicks for the prickles and add a torn piece of pink tissue paper for the bloom. Find various pictures of the desert (there are tons of different cactus, mesquite trees, desert animals, sand dunes) paste them on card stock, add labels under each picture, and laminate to hold up better, and bind to make a desert book.

Desert picture
Since we don’t live near the desert, I keep a travel book with desert scenery  in the bookcase.  For the activity, I provide a piece of construction paper, cutouts of several different types of cactus, tissue paper to crumple in tiny balls to represent cactus flowers, sand and glue.  The children place their cactus and flowers where they want on the paper, and then glue on lots of desert sand.

Cut out a large size cactus from white construction paper.  Have the children paint or color the cactus green. You can even have them glue green tissue paper for a special effect. Break up tooth picks and glue them on the cactus for the prickly needles!

Make a Cactus
Show children pictures of different cacti. Give each some green plasticine or play-doh and have them create their own cactus. They can stick toothpick all over to represent the prickles on the cactus. These cacti can be added to a display of sand and toy desert animals.


Desert Games and Activities

Sand Play
In a sand box put in plastic toys such as cactus, coyotes, camels, rattle snakes, and other creatures you might find in the desert. Talk about how water is rare in the desert and how might the animals survive.

Make a desert matching game – get two of each of different postcards reflecting pictures of desert environments.  Laminate to keep sturdy.  Mix up the cards, kids have to match.

Bring in some history to the activity by discussing the Navajo Indians who were known as the best sand painters.  Their works of art were done for ceremonial and healing purposes and are now great collection pieces, not to mention the fact that they are absolutely stunning!  The Navajo used not only sand in their paintings, but also ground and whole seed corn and grains, ground charcoal, minerals and pollen for their colors.


Desert Recipes and Snacks

Crunchy Cacti
Ingredients:  1 12 oz. package butterscotch chips
2  tablespoons peanut butter
1 6 oz. can chow mein noodles
Green food coloring

Directions:  melt chips, stir in peanut butter and food coloring.  Add noodles and coat well.  Remove from heat.  Work atop wax paper, have each child fashion a golf-ball sized portion of the mixture into a cactus  shape.
Allow to harden, peel the cactus from the paper and chow down. Makes appropriately 15 to 20 crunchy cacti.




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All of our theme ideas have come from our imagination and from reader submissions.  Please use this form to contact us if you have crafts, activities, games, recipes, songs or poems that you would like us to add to this theme.

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