More Desert Activities

Here are some of the other desert activities we have been doing along with our Desert Bingo and the activities we did with our friends.  We’ve also taken a ton of fieldtrips (the benefit of living in the desert).

Barrel Cactus

This was super simple but the girls loved making their barrel cactus and they kept adding to them.  And it really helped reenforce the idea of how a cactus can poke you.

Just cut the end off of a potato so that it will stand up straight.  Then let the kids go to town poking in toothpicks to make it look like a cactus.

Toliet Paper Saguaro

Again another easy craft that’s very cute.  Just cut the saguaro arms out and attach them to the side of a toliet paper or paper towel roll.  I used cardstock but I recommend cardboard to make it sturdier.  I also cut a slit into the side of the roll and fed it through then taped them in place.  We used the green paint left over from the prickly cactus paintings we had made before.

 

Prickly Pear Taste Test

We talk to so much about how dangerous cacti can be that I also wanted the girls to appreciate what all comes from cactus.  I purchased some prickly pear jelly for us to try.  The girls loved it!  Of course, why wouldn’t they?  It’s super sweet and fluorescent pink.  The girls thought it was hysterical that they could eat cactus fruit.  While we are able to buy it here in town, you can also order it online if you don’t have prickly pear cactus available where you live.  Or if you had access to some prickly pears, you could be really adventurous and make it yourself.  🙂

Agave Baking

We also tasted some blue agave syrup, which you can pick up at your local grocery store.  I’m really not weighing in on the whole blue agave debate (if you aren’t familiar with it, just google blue agave and you get results from both sides.  Some say it’s all natural and great for you, others that it’s one of the worse sweeteners there is).  I just liked the fact that it comes from a cactus and exposes the girls to different ingredients for the same purpose.

After having just a little taste we then used it in place of sugar and baked some cookies chocolate chip cookies.  Just keep in mind that when substituting agave for sugar, you don’t need as much.  I used just under half the amount of sugar listed and while they are good the cookies are sweeter than normal.

Afterwards, Zoe’s suggestion was that we made another batch of cookies with sugar so we could see if they taste different.  She’s a tricky one.  🙂

KWL Chart

I used to do KWL charts with my students but I never thought to do one with the girls–they are too little.  But then I kept seeing it in preschool materials and decided to try it with the girls.  A KWL chart is where you list what you know about a topic and then what you want to know.  After learning about it, you can fill in the what you learned.

Since the girls already know that we live in the desert, I decided to give it a try.  It was pretty entertaining.  The girls knew that the desert is hot and in Arizona.  Their questions were “Are there dragons in the desert?  What animals live there?  Is it cool in the desert?”  While we learned a lot more about the desert than listed there, we only wrote down the answers to the questions.

This definitely isn’t something I would do every time but it was interesting and something we would probably do again, especially for a topic they already know about. 

Sun and Rocks Experiment

To help the girls understand how the sun heats rocks so that reptiles can use them for heat, we place large flat rocks in the sun and in the shade at the start of the day.  We then came and checked on them a few hours later to feel the difference in heat.

Sandbox Sensory Activity

We’ve been talking about the animals that live in the desert.  I added plastic snakes and lizards to our sandbox for the girls to play with making homes and tunnels for them.

Collages

We made collages of desert pictures.  The girls looked through magazines (all those issues of Arizona Highways I’ve been keeping came in handy) and cut out pictures of the desert.

Placemats

Making placemats have been a big hit in the past so we colored another picture and laminated it in order to make placemats for this theme too.  Here is the picture I used for our placemat: I also printed out different desert themed coloring pages to have out at our art area in case the girls were interested.

Planet Earth movie

We like nature documentaries in our house so when there was a deal for the Planet Earth series on woot.com (an awesome sale site my husband loves) we bought it right away.  It’s awesome!  There are segments on all different aspects of Earth.  The pictures are so vibrant and capture amazing scenes.  Of course, we watched the desert segment.

Books

In addition to Manana Iguana, here are some of the desert books we’ve enjoyed reading…

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