Pre-K activities, learning games, crafts, and printables



Cactuses, camels, and sand galore! Explore them all with our outdoor activity suggestions, workshops, and crafts!

In the Educatall Club
Coloring pages, word flashcards, picture game, and activity sheets to complement your theme

Educatall Club
Educatall Club

ALL THEMES See 2024 schedule


CIRCLE TIMEPicture game-Desert-1


Animated discussion-Desert

(Open picture game-Desert) Print and laminate the pictures in the format you prefer. Use them to spark a conversation and ask children questions about the theme.

We have prepared an imaginary game that you can enjoy with your group. (Open thematic letter-The desert) Print the letter and deposit it in a small box filled with sand. Leave the box in an easy to find location within the daycare so that children will find it. Read portions of the letter to them throughout the week. 




Thematic poster-Desert

(Open thematic poster-Desert) Print, laminate, and display where parents are sure to see it.



(Open stickers-Desert) Print the illustrations on adhesive paper and use them to create unique stickers.



(Open educa-theme-Desert) Print and laminate the different elements representing the theme. Use them to present the theme to your group (and parents) while decorating your daycare.



(Open educa-decorate-Desert) Print, laminate, and cut out the illustrations. Use them to decorate your walls and set the mood for the theme.

Open four brown paper grocery bags and stick them on a wall to create a large scene at children's eye level. Add glue and sand and let dry. Throughout the theme, add children's crafts to this desert.




The pictures may be used as a memory game or to spark a conversation with your group. Use them to decorate your daycare or a specific thematic corner. (Open picture game-Desert) Print, laminate, and store in a Ziploc bag or in your thematic bins.




(Open writing activities-D like desert) Print for each child or laminate for use with a dry-erase marker.




(Open activity sheets-The desert) Print and follow instructions.




Have fun with these wonderful workshop ideas provided by Caroline Allard.


Construction/building blocks:Educa-theme-Desert

  • Provide all your vehicles, particularly all-terrain vehicles which are popular in the desert.
  • Fill a small kiddie pool with sand and let children pretend they are building in the desert.
  • Wild animals or insects that can be found in the desert.

Arts & crafts:

  • Green, beige, or blue cardboard.
  • Pre-cut cactus shapes (or let children cut them if they are old enough).
  • Green poster paint and cactus shapes. Add salt to your poster paint for a "sandy" look!
  • Make your own cactuses using construction paper, empty toilet paper rolls, and your imagination!
  • Sand that can be glued or dyed.
  • Drawing with chalk on sandpaper.
  • A large piece of paper hung on the wall and covered with glue. Children can throw sand on the glue to create a sandstorm.
  • Draw a cactus shape on acetate. Add colorful sand for a stained glass effect. If you prefer, use contact paper.
  • Day and night in the desert painting. Use fluorescent paint for the night.


  • Coloring pages related to the theme.
  • Creative coloring activities.
  • Coloring pages involving animals found in the desert.

Role play:

  • A tent or a large box (appliance box) can represent a shelter in the desert.
  • A safari habitat: provide beige clothing, a hat, a water bottle or flask, sunglasses, a compass, etc.
  • Bandanas, hats, sunglasses, sandals.
  • Colorful robes and/or dresses along with long scarves.


  • Memory game involving illustrations of animals found in the desert or various items found in the desert.
  • Green modeling dough or salt dough (that will harden when left out to dry) and uncooked spaghetti. Children can create prickly cactuses!
  • Add fine sand to modeling dough... children will enjoy manipulating the new texture!
  • Stimulation bottles containing sand and plastic snakes or lizards.
  • Cactus shapes for lacing.


  • Books about the desert, animals found in the desert, sand, cactuses, etc.Thematic poster-Desert
  • Picture books showing different deserts.
  • Books about Bohemians or Bedouins who guide people through the desert.
  • Typical desert music.
  • A map of the world. Where are the deserts?
  • Roadrunner and Coyote book or movie.


  • Hunt and seek activities.
  • Various activity sheets related to the theme.
  • Games with word flashcards.
  • Tracing and maze activities.
  • Words that can be traced.

Motor skills:

  • An obstacle course throughout which children must search for cards (illustrations) of items that can be seen in the desert.
  • Belly dancing.

Sensory bins:

  • A container filled with sand. Add plastic cactuses and lizards.
  • A container filled with miniature insects.


  • Cut cucumbers in two lengthwise and give each child a piece. Children plant uncooked spaghetti in them to create cactuses. Observe the cactuses with your group for a few days. The cucumbers will release water. Explain how this is just the opposite of what real cactuses do.
  • Different types of sand can be manipulated and examined with magnifying glasses.
  • A real cactus can be observed and carefully manipulated.

Kitchen:Giant word flashcards-Desert-1

  • A Mexican meal! Cactus decorations are easy to find!



Word flashcards
The word flashcards may be used to spark a conversation with your group, in your reading and writing areas, or even to identify your thematic bins. (Open giant word flashcards-Desert) (Open word flashcards-The desert) Print. camel, sand, oasis, dromedary, cactus, sun, heat, snake, water, desert, sand dunes, scorpion


Word game – Desert

(Open word game-Desert) Print and laminate the cards as well as the letters. The object of the game is to use the letters to write the printed words.


Picture clue story-The desertWord game-Desert
(Open picture clue story-The desert) Print. Sit in a circle with your group. Begin reading the picture clue story. When you reach a picture, pause and point to it. Children must guess the missing word. 




Modeling dough activity placemats-Desert

(Open modeling dough activity placemats-Desert) Print and laminate. Let children pick a placemat and provide modeling dough. Encourage them to use the dough to fill or reproduce the shapes that are on their placemat.


Playing cards-Desert

(Open playing cards-Desert) Print and laminate. Give each child the same number of cards. They can take turns hiding them throughout the daycare. Each child then tries to find as many cards as possible.

 Modeling dough activity placemats-Desert

The house in the desert
Give each child a hula hoop which will represent his home. Children must act out the instructions you give them. You can, for example, tell them they are taking a walk in the desert (they pretend to walk slowly), that they are thirsty (they can stick out their tongue), that it is very hot (they can pretend to wipe their forehead), etc. When you tell them there is a sandstorm, children must move to a new hula hoop.


The prickly cactus
This game is played like hot potato. Children sit in a circle and pass a cactus (or other object related to the theme) around the circle as quickly as possible (without throwing it) to the sound of music. The child holding the cactus when the music stops is eliminated. He can be in charge of the music for the next round. The game ends when there is only one player left. 


The sandstormPlaying cards-Desert-1
Tell children a sandstorm is coming in the desert. They must quickly find a hiding place. Once they are all hidden, create a toy storm. Deposit as many toys as possible in the centre of the daycare. You can use a vacuum cleaner to represent a storm sound). When you are done, children can come out of their hiding places and put all the toys in the correct place before another sandstorm arrives. 


Treasure hunt in the sand dunes
(Open game-Treasure hunt in sand dunes) Print several copies of both the list and the items children must search for. Make sure children recognize the illustrations on the list. With a partner, children search for the items. The first team to successfully collect all the items wins. 




SandboxEduc-numerical puzzles-Desert-1
Play in your sandbox. Explain how, in the desert, there is sand everywhere. Tell children that animals dig holes in the sand and hide in them. Build houses, dunes, etc. Provide trucks and plastic animals.


(Open game-Snake) Print and laminate. Before children arrive, hide several snakes in your sandbox. When you go outdoors, invite them to search for the snakes. Each time a child finds a snake, encourage him to say "snake". The other children will probably run over to see it!


Camel walk
Help children place something heavy on their back (like a backpack) and have them complete an obstacle course, like a camel. Children can walk in the sand, bend down to drink water in an oasis, and lie down at the end of the course... because they are so tired!

 Association puzzles-Shapes-Desert



Educ-numerical puzzles-Desert

(Open educ-numerical puzzles-Desert) Print, cut out, and laminate the pieces for durable, eco-friendly use. Children must position the puzzle pieces in numerical order to see the scenes appear.


Association puzzles-Numbers – Desert

(Open association puzzles-numbers-Desert) Print, laminate, and cut each puzzle to create 2-piece puzzles. Encourage children to associate the correct number of cactuses to each number. If you wish, set the pieces face down on the table and invite children to turn 2 pieces over. If they go together, they can assemble the puzzle.

Association puzzles-Shapes – DesertSand drawings

(Open association puzzles-shapes-Desert) Print, laminate, and cut each puzzle to create 2-piece puzzles. Encourage children to associate each cactus to the correct shape. If you wish, set the pieces face down on the table and invite children to turn 2 pieces over. If they go together, they can assemble the puzzle.


Shapes, numbers, and letters in the sand

(Open sand drawings) Print, laminate, and cut out the cards. Pour sand in a shallow platter or container so that the bottom is completely covered. Give each child a plastic snake. Have a child pick a card and, without showing it to his peers, use his snake to trace the illustrated shape, number, or letter in the sand. The first child who recognizes what is being drawn gets to pick the next card.


Snake patterns

(Open snake patterns) Print the second page for each child. Print, laminate, and cut out the cards. You will need round stickers or bingo markers (primary colors). Children pick a card and use it as a model. They press colorful “scales” on the snakes to reproduce what is illustrated on their card.


Desert sceneSnake patterns
(Open scene-The desert) Print, laminate, and cut out the pieces. Children use the pieces to create desert scenes. 


Sensory bin
Throughout the theme, leave a container filled with sand in a corner of the daycare. Add plastic cactuses, camels, and cars (4x4's), etc.


Desert tic-tac-toe
(Open tic-tac-toe-The desert) Print. On a large piece of white cardboard, draw a grid. One child plays with the O's and a second child plays with the X's. They must take turns depositing symbols on the grid. The first child to line up three matching symbols wins. 


Hunt and seek-The desert
(Open hunt and seek-The desert) Print and laminate. Children pick a card and search for the item in the scene.


Story and memory game-The desert
(Open story and memory game-The desert) Print, cut out, and laminate the cards. Place the cards face down on the floor or table. Children pick three cards and invent a story in relation to the illustrations.
Variation: Print twice and use as a memory game.


Snakes and ladders-The desert
(Open snakes and ladders-The desert) Print and laminate. Use a die and plastic insects as playing pieces. Play until all the children have reached the end of the board game.




Prickly or not so pricklyEduc-numerical puzzles-Desert-2
Deposit a variety of objects with different textures on a table (hairbrush, comb, sponge, feather, etc.) Children work with a partner. They take turns rubbing each item on their partner's hand to determine if they are prickly or not so prickly.


Camel ride
Use cushions or blankets to create mountains on the floor, just like camel humps. Provide scarves or pieces of fabric children can use to make turbans. They will enjoy sitting on the humps and pretending they are riding a camel in the desert.


Full of water like a camelPlaying cards-Desert-2
Explain how camels store water in their humps so they can walk in the desert for a very long time, without drinking. Provide a container filled with water and sponges. Show children how the sponges absorb water. Show them how they are heavy once they are full of water and light when they are dry. Just like sponges, camels are heavier when they are full of water.


Water evaporation
Pour water in a graduated beaker. Draw a line with a dry-erase marker to show the level of the water. Each day, check the water level with your group. Draw a new line each time the level changes. Explain how water evaporates because of heat, just like in the desert.


Ouch, that hurts!
Purchase a real cactus. Invite children to touch it gently.


Water is important
Purchase dried fruits and vegetables (for soup) and deposit them in a transparent container filled with water. Children can experiment dehydration and rehydration. Set apple and orange slices out to dry. Serve various dried fruits at snack time. Water your plants with your group, explaining why plants need water. Serve each child a tall glass of water to end the activity.Association puzzles-Shapes-Desert




Sand dough

1 cup of sand
1 cup of flour
1 cup of salt
3 tablespoons of oil
3 tablespoons of cream of tartar
½ cup of water


Combine the dry ingredients in a pot. Add the liquid ingredients. Mix over low heat until you obtain a homogeneous dough (much like sugar).



Cut the end off a cucumber or a potato so that it can stand alone. Encourage children to prick toothpicks in the cucumber or potato to make it look like a cactus. Variation: You may use modeling dough, salt dough, etc. Let dry and paint.Giant word flashcards-Desert-2




Sand drawing
Let children draw on a piece of cardboard with glue. When they are done, invite them to pour sand on the glue. This step should be done over a container in order to collect the sand which does not stick to the glue. Variation: You can dye brown or white sand with powdered paint.


(Open models-Cactus) Print and cut out. Invite children to trace the model on construction paper. When they are done, they can glue grass, leaves, or any other original material on the shape. Don't forget toothpicks! Variation: For prickly cactuses, paint them green and sprinkle them with salt, sugar, or sand before they are dry.


RattlesnakePicture game-Desert-2
(Open craft-rattlesnake) Print for each child. Have children cut out the shape, color it, and glue it on an empty paper towel roll. Close off one end of the tube with a piece of cardboard and tape. Pour rice into the tube until it is half full. Have children hold it for you while you close off the other end. Children will love shaking their rattlesnake!


Desert storm
Combine brown poster paint with a small quantity of water. Using a paintbrush, children let drops of color fall onto a sheet of paper. Have children blow into a drinking straw to disperse the paint and create a desert storm.


4x4 paint
Deposit a large piece of paper on a table or on the floor. Provide tiny toy trucks (Jeeps) and brown, white, and beige poster paint in aluminum plates. Let children roll the trucks in the paint and then on the paper. Variation: You can sprinkle your mural with sand for an added touch.


Tracks in the sand
Have children press their hands or their feet in sand dough. Let dry and paint.

 Coloring pages theme-Desert



(Open coloring pages theme-Desert) Print for each child.





sung to: Teddy bear, teddy bear

by: Patricia Morrison


Rattlesnake, rattlesnake
Spin around
Rattlesnake, rattlesnake
Wiggle, wiggle, shake
Rattlesnake, rattlesnake
Make some noise (shake your rattlesnake crafts!)


Have fun!

The Educatall team


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