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Invite your children to try one or more of the following ideas.
Paint glue designs on heavy paper and sprinkle on sand tinted with food coloring or powdered tempera.
Model with play dough that has been mixed with a little sand.
Draw with crayons on sandpaper.

Try these activities with your group.
Give your children large cactus shapes cut from green construction paper. Let them glue on broken pieces of uncooked spaghetti or toothpicks (requires close supervision) for spines.
Have the children use green clay or play dough to make cactus plants. For spines, let them stick in short pieces of thin yellow drinking straws.


Explain that in the desert, days are hot and nights are cold. Then try these activities.
Let your children sort a box of clothing into two piles: clothes for wearing in hot weather and clothes for wearing in cold weather.
As you name things that are hot and things that are cold, have the children fan themselves or shiver.

Photocopy small pictures of desert animals, such as camels, lizards, and snakes. Make two copies of each picture and glue the pictures onto individual index cards. Then use the cards for these games.
Place the cards in a pile and invite your children to find the match-ups.
Play a game of Concentration with your group.
Hold up one card at a time and have the children act out the animal's movements.


Display picture books about the desert and talk about them with your group. Place sand in a large tub or box for a desert. Let your children use their hands to create sand dunes. Give them a piece of aluminum foil to use for an oasis. Then provide them with small plastic desert animals and plants to arrange and play with in the sand.
Visit a plant store or nursery and purchase several different kinds of cactus plants. Use directions from the store or from gardening books to set up an indoor "garden" for your cactuses. Let the children take turns caring for the plants. How is the cactus plant care different from that of other plants your children are familiar with?

Tune: "Clementine"
I'm a cactus, I'm a cactus
In the desert, oh so dry.
I am prickly,
So don't touch me
As you come a-walking by.
Liz Ryerson
Talk about other things that are prickly, such as pine cones, hairbrushes, and porcupines.
In some deserts, date palm trees often grow in the sand near an oasis. Make a fun "desert snack" for each of your children by sprinkling graham-cracker crumb "sand" over a small bowl of pudding and topping it with chopped dates.

Additional Cactus Art can be found at the Art Station.

Additional Desert Songs can be found at the Music Station.