Preschool Art Activities with a Desert Theme

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Deserts around the world vary in appearance -- from the cactus-ridden deserts of Arizona in the United States to the miles and miles of sparse sand and camels of the Middle East. Teach children about these unique regions through arts and crafts projects. Start by showing the children pictures of deserts, cacti, camels and tumbleweed.

Cactus Plant Sculpture

Shape green modeling compound or self-hardening modeling clay into a cactus and stand it up in a small terra cotta flower pot filled with sand or dirt. If you've used green compound, paint on vertical stripes of light green paint. If you've used white compound or clay, first paint the whole cactus green, then paint on the lighter vertical stripes. Stick short pieces of uncooked spaghetti noodles or cut toothpicks into the "cactus" for spines, and let it dry and harden. Place small rocks at the bottom of the cactus.

Cactus Plant Mixed Media

Draw a large cactus shape on a white paper plate. Cut it out and paint it dark green. Paint on vertical stripes with light green paint and let dry. Glue cut pieces of toothpicks all over the cactus for spines.

Desert Scene

Using a piece of light brown paper, cut sand dunes out of fine-grit sand paper and glue them onto the paper. An alternative is to place the sand paper underneath the brown paper and rub a brown crayon across the top to create textured sand dunes. Draw and cut cacti from green construction paper and glue them on. Paint vertical stripes of light green paint onto the cacti. Crumple up small pieces of colored tissue paper and glue them onto the cacti for flowers.

Tumbleweed Scene

Mix sand, glitter or salt with tan paint and create textured mounds of sand dunes on light brown paper. Draw and cut out cacti from green construction paper and glue them onto the scene. Paint vertical stripes onto the cacti with light green paint. Spread on circles of glue and press crumbled pieces of thin brown yarn, hay or pine straw onto the glue for tumbleweeds.

Desert Sun

Mix sand, glitter or salt with different shades of light brown paint and create a sand scene with dunes on a piece of white paper, leaving space at the top. Paint the sky light blue. Use yellow-orange paint to make a large sun at the top with rays of light streaming out of it.


Cut a strip of two cups from an egg carton and paint the outside brown. Cut four legs and a tail from thick brown construction paper or cardboard. Tape or glue a leg to the inner sides of each cup. Create a small slit at the bottom of one hump. Pull the tail through, fold it slightly inside the cup and tape or glue it in place. Cut a long wide strip of brown construction paper for the neck and glue it into a cylinder. Flatten and fold the neck at both ends. Create a slit in the front hump, pull the flattened end through and tape or glue it in place. Draw the shape of a camel’s head on a folded piece of brown construction paper. Cut it out, slightly unfold it and glue or tape it to the other end of the neck. Glue on googly eyes or draw in eyes, nose slits and a mouth.


About the Author

Leonor Crossley has been a graphic designer and writer since 1995, with entertainment and other articles written for "Max Magazine" in Jacksonville, NC, and various websites. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, cum laude, from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

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