Desert Activities

Last week it was our turn to host our preschool co-op group.  Since we are focused on the desert right now, that was our theme for the group activities as well.  During our Circle Time we talked about the desert, how it is hot and dry and where we live.  The kids also shared animals that live in the desert.  We also played our Desert Bingo game as a big group.

Felt Board Story

I created this felt board story based on a Girl Scout song we used to sing called “Out in the Desert.”  I used coloring pages to make the felt board pieces.  You can find them here:  After coloring the pages, I laminated them and then attached pelon to the back to make them stick to the flannel board.

Out on the desert I saw a giant,
Saguaro (clap, clap), Saguaro (clap, clap)
Out on the desert I saw an elf
An owl (clap, clap), an owl (clap, clap)
Out on the desert I saw a montser
A gila (clap, clap), a gila (clap, clap)
Out on the desert I saw a fairy
A duster (clap, clap), a duster (clap, clap)
Out on the desert I saw some magic
A sunset (clap, clap), a sunset (clap, clap)

Just FYI, in the actual Girl Scout song the last line is: Out on the desert I saw a Brownie, A Girl Scout (clap, clap), A Girl Scout (clap, clap).

Pass the Cactus Leaf

One of the benefits of living in the Southwest is that we have plenty of cacti around to study.  If you don’t live with a cactus around every corner, you can pick up some small ones at a plant store so that the kids can see exactly what one looks like.

Here people cook with cactus leaves so I bought one at the grocery store.  I wanted the kids to be able to feel an actual cactus without having to worry about them getting stuck with needles.  The ones at the grocery store have all their needles taken off.  The children really seemed to like feeling the cactus and passing it around the circle.  Since our preschool meeting, the girls have really enjoyed getting the leaf down and looking at it closely.

Prickly Painted Cactus

It’s hard to tell but Zoe actually poked her toothpicks into the paper so that they would poke straight out like a real cactus.

Mix green paint with liquid starch and salt.  This will make the paint feel rough after it dries.  I also added sparkly green paint to give it extra pizzazz.

With a marker, draw a cactus on the paper for the kiddos to paint.  I had the moms to this job.  Then the children painted in the cacti.

After it’s dry, cut out the cactus.  Then have the children glue on the toothpicks to make the cactus spiky.  (We had to do this in a slightly different order because of time limits with the group but when the girls and I did this later together, it worked best to wait until the paintings were dry and cut out before adding the toothpicks.)

How a Cactus Absorbs Water

Supplies: magic towel (one of those super compressed washcloths), shishkabob sticks or some way to mark your spots, cups, water, sand or sandbox

The goal of this activity was to show how a cactus sucks up the water after it rains so that it can survive in the dry desert.  We did this activity both with our group and a second time with their dad.

I picked up the washcloths at the dollar store.  Beforehand, I buried them in our sandbox, not too deep, just enough to cover them up (and be sure to take them out of the plastic).  I used the shishkabob sticks to mark where the washcloths were buried so that we didn’t have to flood the entire sandbox.  These were to represent the saguaros.

Each child was given a cup of water to act as the rain and pour next to their stick.  It did take a lot more water than I expected so you might want to have a pitcher or two handy to refill the cups.  The second time we use a bowl so that the girls could refill their own cups on their own.Then the kids dug up the washcloths to see how they absorbed the water just like how the cacti absorb the water when it rains.

When Ed got home that day, Zoe told him “A cactus sucks up water so that people can eat it.”  Close enough for now.


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