Desert Art


I black line a cactus on light green or white construction paper. I mix Liquid Starch, Salt and green tempura. Children then paint their cactus’s. The surface, when dry is gritty and scratchy. It is a wonderful tactile experience.


Cactus I saw this in a magazine and had done it with my preschoolers and they loved it. It is a little messy, but the outcome is really neat. Pre cut different sizes of cactus from white construction paper. next in a cup mix green paint and salt (a lot). The mixture needs to be thick in order to make the salt stay on the cactus when it’s done drying. Have the children paint their cactus. When done place somewhere where it can dry, it usually takes a whole day to dry. It is really neat because when it’s dry you feel the bumps and it feels like a real cactus, well almost. My children really enjoyed this that we had made a few large ones and displayed them on a wall, so that it looked like the desert. We also added lizards, spiders, and snakes to the scene.


This isn’t my original idea — I read about it in a book, but I tried it out with my kindergartners and they loved it. Have the children make cacti with green playdough. They can look at pictures of various types of cacti in books to get some ideas. Then they can stick small broken pieces of dry spaghetti into the playdough for spines. Let dry for a few days. We displayed the cacti in our windowsill during our month of studying deserts.


Another Cactus Art Variation

———-NOTE———- This is for older preschool children

Cut a cucumber in half. Let the child push toothpicks into the cucumber to form the spines. For a science extension, watch some of the “cacti” for several days and see what happens.


Elf Owls in a Cactus

Precut OR have the children draw a large cactus shape with green crayons. Add lines to represent cactus spines. (Be sure to remind your young artists to press hard!) When finished wash these with green water color, cut a hole, and add an elf owl the children have created themselves. Read Cactus Hotel by Brenda Z. Guiberson and/or Desert Giant by Barbara Bash for more information on the saguaro cactus and one of it’s residents the elf owl who also happens to be the smallest owl on earth!


Finger Painted Scorpions

Let the children finger-paint with black paint on a table or in trays. When they are finished, make a print on a piece of finger-paint paper cut in a scorpion shape. If you like, add a piece of black chenille “bump” to the tail for a great stinger!


Share an idea you have used in your classroom or at home that pertains to this theme.