Desert Animal preschool lesson plans, including arts and crafts, games, math, science, group time activities, songs, and snack ideas.

Deserts all over the world host many different kinds of animals. You can talk about the animals that live in the desert. Compare and contrast two different animals such as a snake and a bat. How are they different? How are they alike? Get creative with your desert animals! After all, fire ants live in the desert as well as spiders. Dinosaurs used to live in the desert long ago, and jackrabbits and cottontails live there now, along with many cool reptiles.

Arts and Crafts

Sand Art

Get colored sand, or create your own using natural dyes. Then, once dry, layer the sand in different bottles. Make sure to glue the bottles closed, and choose plastic containers to avoid breaking!

Sand Art 2

Allow the children to glue sand to a piece of paper to create a beach scene. Add white torn paper for clouds, colored torn paper for desert animals.

Sand letters

Place a thin layer of sand in the bottom of a jelly roll pan. Have the children make a letter at the bottom of the pan, or draw a picture.

Sand Paint

Add sand to your paint to give it a different texture.

Sandpaper Rubbing

Cut out sandpaper in different shapes. Tape the shapes to the table. Give each child a piece of paper and a crayon. The child will place the paper over the sandpaper and rub the crayon over the paper to make the shape appear on their paper.


Cut out cactus shapes and have the children paint them green or brown.


Cut out lizard shapes from construction paper. Have the children decorate them with scraps of paper, tissue paper, yarn and other items.

Tumbleweed Art

Have the children use a tree branch for a paint brush to create a picture.

Snake Tracks

This one is a lot of fun, and has great results. Set out a piece of yarn for each color of paint you intend to use. Have the child dip the yarn in one color of paint, and run it across the paper. Use a new piece of string for a different color.

Games, Math and Science

Snake Race

Have the children slither on the floor like a snake. Have the children race from one mark to another.

Camel Race

Pairs of students stand one behind the other with the back child’s hands on the front child’s shoulders. Have them race from one point to another.

Kangaroo Race

Have the children hold their arms to their chest and jump in a zigzag pattern to finish line.

Sidewinder Snake

For this race, the students will lie on their side facing the finish line. They will move their upper body toward the finish line and then the lower part of their body.

Toad Race

Had a leapfrog-style race.

Tortoise Race

Have the children pretend to be turtles by crawling on their hands and knees.

Desert Memory

Find stickers or pictures that will fit on index cards. Create a memory game by attaching matching images onto index cards.

Mining for Gems

Hide some stones and gems in your sand table for the children to find. Show the children how to sift through the sand to find the gems.

Magnifying Sand

Let the children look at sand under a magnifying glass or even better a microscope. Explain that each grain of sand is really a tiny rock. Many different kinds of rock can be found in sand.

Sand Science

Supply the children with both wet and dry sand to feel. Have them describe the differences.

Wet Sand

You will need two similar containers. Measure out 1/2 cup of sand add to each container add 1/4 cup of water to each. Place one container in the sun and one in the shade. Ask the children what will happen to the sand.

Desert Survival

Ask each child, “What two things would you want for your trip to the desert?” Record each child’s answer and post them on a bulletin board.

Snake Sort

Provide the children with many different plastic snakes (or another desert animal) and have them sort the snakes by size or color.

Temperature Watch

Place a digital thermometer outside. Each day record the temperature.

In the Shade?

Place a digital thermometer outside in the sun and another in the shade. Ask the children which will be hotter? Record the temperatures on the thermometers.

Desert Dress Up

Supply the children with khaki pants, white long sleeve shirt hiking boots gloves sunglasses safari hat and scarf backpack clipboard and pencil for notes water container empty sunscreen bottles empty band-aid box magnifying glass camera flashlight