Off to the desert we go! We’ve got you covered with loads of ideas for a desert preschool theme, including book ideas, art and sensory exploration, and math and science fun. You’ll find the whole bundle of ideas at the end of this post in a download of FREE desert preschool lesson plans.
Free Desert Activities for Preschoolers Including Free Preschool Lesson Plans
Living in Florida most of my life, I will never forget my first trip to the ‘desert’. I flew to Las Vegas and experienced dry heat, lots of rock, and very little greenery, it seemed like another world. The landscape was fascinating and so different from life in sunny and green (and humid!) Florida.
Whether you live in the desert or not, a desert preschool theme is full of interesting animals and plant life! Learning about the desert offers a glimpse into different habits, wildlife, and plant life. So grab these FREE desert-themed preschool lesson plans and make your desert theme easy to plan and loads of fun for your students!
FAQ About a Desert Preschool Theme
You may have a few questions about teaching this preschool theme! Check out these frequently asked questions for how to teach your preschoolers about the desert.
Encourage your preschoolers to learn new facts about the desert during your desert learning theme! Here are a few facts to get you started: Deserts are the driest places on Earth. They may not get rain for months, or even years! Deserts are home to lizards, toads, snakes, meerkats, and other animals adapted to the heat. There are few trees and plant life but cactus have found a way to survive!
Learning about the desert teaches preschoolers to learn about new and different environments and consider how animals adapt to their harsh surroundings. Learning about the world around us is so important for children!
Important Info about these Desert Lesson Plans
These lesson plans for preschoolers are just one theme in a set of over 40 that will become a part of my free Learn At Home Preschool Activity Plans.
The Learn at Home Preschool Activity Plans are a set of free activity plans you can use to teach your preschooler at home.
Each set of lesson plans is centered around a weekly theme and includes a minimum of 16 activities that can be done throughout the week. They are designed to be done at home with parents, but many preschool teachers are using these lesson plans, too!
Just glance over the lessons each day, gather the very few materials needed, and you’re ready to go!
All the preschool learning activities are quick and easy to set up, requiring very little (if any at all) prep and only require the most basic of household materials. This makes them especially easy for parents to implement…and this makes preschool teachers happy, too!
These activities also work wonderfully in the classroom, and if you’re a preschool teacher who is remotely teaching you can send these lesson plans to your student’s parents.
Engaging Preschool Activities for a Desert Theme
We have put together great desert-themed activities for preschoolers that interest and excite! With lots of academic learning as well as just plain fun activities, this desert theme is well-rounded for your preschool students!
Literacy Activities for a Desert Preschool Theme
Desert Sand Writing Tray – This fun cactus-themed writing activity encourages preschoolers to identify and practice writing letters of the alphabet. The use of sand makes this a fun and engaging way to practice letter formation and letter identification, while also developing fine motor skills. Simply print the alphabet cards and set up a tray with sand. Invite your preschooler to use their finger to write the letters on the cards.
Desert Landscape with Labeling and Writing – To build writing practice, invite your preschooler to color or draw a desert landscape. While coloring, ask your preschooler to tell about their picture, encouraging specific details. Write exactly what your preschooler is dictating in a light colored pencil and then invite your preschooler to trace over your writing with their own pencil. Invite your preschooler to label their picture and add their own writing too!
Don’t Forget Picture Books!
One of the best ways to teach preschoolers about any theme is by hand-selecting the highest quality picture books! This is a book list for our best-loved picture books for a desert theme.
Math and Science Activities for a Desert Theme in Preschool
Paper Chain Snake Patterns – Build pattern recognition and number sense play into this fun snake activity. Encourage your preschooler to create a paper chain snake using construction paper. What pattern will he/she make? How many paper chains will you use?
Cactus Count and Clip – These lovely cactus count and clip mats are perfect for number recognition and one-to-one correspondence when added with counters.
Solar Oven S’mores – The desert gets pretty hot! This DIY solar oven is a great way to help preschoolers understand the power and heat of the sun while making a tasty treat!
Playful Preschool Learning Activities for a Desert Theme
Desert in a Box – This fun hands-on activity creates a mini diorama of the desert habitat with simple materials.
Painter’s Tape Car Letters – Grab some painter’s tape and invite your preschooler to head to the tile floor to create tape roads! Invite them to notice that they can only make letters with straight lines with their tape… why is that? Invite them to drive their cars all over the letters!
Hand Sock Painting – Just like finger painting (with a little less mess). Put on socks on each hand and squirt some paint onto a large piece of construction paper. Invite them to go all in painting with their hands. Let them take off their socks if/when they are ready!
Social-Emotional Activities for a Desert Preschool Theme
You Can Be a Helper No Matter Your Size – Go to YouTube and listen to the story, Nobody Hugs a Cactus, by Carter Goodrich. While listening, invite your preschooler to share words that describe Hank at the beginning of the story such as prickly, grumpy, unhappy, cold, etc. How did Hank change throughout the story? Why do you think Hank grew a flower for Rosie? How is Hank different at the end? Have you ever felt prickly or grumpy like Hank? What are some ways that you can try to put yourself in a better mood when you feel that way? Draw a picture of Hank and Rosie together at the end.
Desert Animal Cooperative Board Game – This fun desert animal game is designed like Candyland and easy for all kids to enjoy! Children will learn desert animal names and practice counting as well as play cooperatively. Playing cooperative games in preschool helps build collaboration, turn-taking, and patience as children learn the game rules and practice working together.
Just Plain Fun Desert Activities for Preschoolers
Cactus Art with Green Rice and Sand – This catchy cactus art uses dried rice, green construction paper, cactus shape and glue to create a festive and realistic-looking cactus. Lots of fun and great for fine motor in this desert craft for preschoolers!
Desert Sensory Bin – Sensory exploration is so much fun! Grab some brown rice, desert animals and any other items that would add to the desert feel! Encourage free play, storytelling, counting, and talk about the desert too!
Cucumber Cactus – This fun and healthy snack/craft helps preschoolers develop fine motor skills and learn more about the cactus plant and its amazing survival in desert life.
Get Online Activities for a Desert Theme
Online Story – Go to YouTube and listen to the story, Way Out in the Desert by TJ Marsh and Jennifer Ward. After watching, ask your preschooler: What new animals did you discover in this book? Are there are any desert animals you want to learn more about? Search together to find out facts about a new animal!
Out in the Desert Song and Video – This preschool-friendly song from National Geographic helps young children learn about different animals in the desert plus the hot and sandy habitat!
Walk Like a Camel Song – This catchy camel song and dance will have your preschoolers up and dancing!
Make Your Desert Theme Even Better!
Sometimes (not always), what turns a great preschool theme into an exceptional one is having some extra special materials specific to that theme. These are some of the desert toys and activity kits I like to use with my preschoolers.
Get Your Free Desert Lesson Plans Here
Want to include these desert activities in your lesson plans? Ready to grab your free printable lesson plans with all these desert theme activities for preschoolers?!
No problem. I’ve made a printable for you. Just fill out the form below and it will be sent to your inbox.
I am an educator, book enthusiast, and a stay at home momma to two precious and long-awaited littles. My degree is in Early Childhood Education and Curriculum and Instruction and I have spent the last 15 years working with young children. I feel very fortunate to have this time to watch my babies grow and I can’t wait to share my passion for learning and reading with you!