Sand and Desert Preschool Activities, Crafts, Lessons, and Books

Sand and desert activities, lessons, and games for preschool

Sand and Desert Preschool and Kindergarten Activities and Crafts. Sand can be poured, measured, and mixed with water to build cities and castles. It cycles through time into rock and then, back again. It carpets desert floors and is home to many living things. The activities and games in this theme build on children's natural love of playing in the sandbox in ways that promote literacy, develop math and science concepts, increase environmental awareness, and strengthen vocabulary. So, get out the shovels and pails and dig in!

Samples of our more than 85 sand and desert crafts, activities, crafts, games, songs, rhymes, coloring pages, and printables:

Themes and Projects

Shapes Sally Snake Can Make Book Lesson Ideas


Sandcastle Artwork
Sand Dough Sculpture
Message in a Bottle

Activities and Lessons

Sally Snake Shapes Felt Story
Where Is Sand? Felt Song
Sandcastle Sequencing Activity


Sifting Rocks - Number Sense
1 to 30 Boa Constrictor Counting
In the Classroom: Sally the Snake Makes Shapes

Science and Exploration

Where Does Sand Come From?
Rocks Background Information
Sand Science Experiments


Sandcastles Concentration Game
Searching for Sand Dollars CVC Words
Build a Sandcastle Game


Sally Snake Shapes Play Dough Mats
Shapes Sandpaper Rubbings
Sand Sight Words Writing Practice

Booklets and Other

Lizard Looks for a Rock Emergent Reader
Sand and Desert Word Wall
Lily and Twiggi in the Sandbox Emergent Reader


Sally Snake Loves Shapes Worksheet
What Shape Did Sally Snake Make?
Sally Snake Shapes
Free Sand and Desert Activities, Games, Worksheet, and Printables

Sand and rocks are all around us and children come in contact with them all the time. Do you know where sand comes from? What kind of animals live in the desert? Here are some lesson plan ideas:

Sand / Beach

Sand and Desert Learning Center Ideas 

Small World Play Area Searching for Gold

In your sand table, add some water, different sizes of rocks, some gold nuggets, sand sifters, funnels, and some cups. Let children explore the sand and sift to find the gold nuggets. 

Fine Motor Skills

Let children use measuring spoons to fill small bottles and small containers with sand.

Make colored sand. Here is a simple recipe with step-by-step pictures

Hide-and-Seek Sand Bottles

Add small letters, plastic animals, and gold nuggets inside a small plastic bottle. Fill with sand and glue the lid to the top. Let children turn the bottle to search for the different items.

Sand Preschool Activities and Games (Activities and printables are available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Where Does Sand Come From? (Science)

Together look at a picture of a beach and of grains of sand. Ask children if they have ever been to a beach. Ask them to think of what the sand looked like and felt like. Ask children where all this sand come from and how long it has been here.

Explain that almost every grain of sand was once part of a big rock or shell. Sand is composed og bits and pieces of rock that have been worn away by wind, water, and other weather in a process called erosion. Heat and cold caused cracks in the rocks, and wind and water chipped away at them. In fast moving streams, water tumbles stones along, slowly grinding them into sand. The sand accumulates in the lower parts of the stream. At the seashore, waves crash against the cliffs and break up the rock or shells into grains of sand, forming sandy beaches.

Hand out magnifying glasses. Allow children to look through the magnifying glasses at the grains of sand.

Where Is Sand? 
KidsSoup, Inc. 
(Tune: Where Is Thumpkin?)

Oh, where is sand, where is sand?
Here I am. Here I am.
I'm on the desert floor, on the desert floor,
under the sun, under the sun.

Oh, where is sand, where is sand?
Here I am. Here I am.
I'm on the ocean floor, on the ocean floor,
under the water, under the water.

Oh, where is sand, where is sand?
Here I am. Here I am.
I formed this rock, formed this rock,
It's called sandstone, it's called sandstone.

Oh, where is sand, where is sand?
Here I am. Here I am.
I'm up in the air, up in the air,
on the wind, on the wind.

Oh, where is sand, where is sand?
Here I am. Here I am.
I'm on the shore of a lake, the shore of a lake,
soft and warm. soft and warm.

Oh, where is sand, where is sand?
Here I am. Here I am.
I'm sitting in the sandbox, sitting in the sandbox,
waiting to play, waiting to play.

Sandpaper Shapes (Shapes)

Draw some shapes on to sandpaper and cut out. Tape on to a table. Show children how to place a single sheet of paper over one of the sandpaper shapes and rub over it with the side of a crayon to make a print.

Let children close their eyes and use their hands to feel a shape. What shape is it?

Sand Writing

Place some clean sand inside a baking tray. Let children use their fingers to write letters and numbers in the sand.


Ask children if they have ever made a sandcastle. Read the book: 

In the Sandbox emergent reader booklet for kindergarten
Preschool Activities: 

Re-tell the story with the story cards. Place the cards in order.

The Sandcastle sequencing cards and activity for preschool
Preschool Activities: 

In The Sand
Original Author Unknown

I dig holes in the sand with my fingers. (Wiggle fingers.)
I dig holes in the sand with my toes. (Wiggle toes.)
I pour some water into the holes, (Pretend to pour water.)
And I wonder where it goes. (Put arms out to the sides, bend elbows, and turn palms up.)

Sandcastle Artwork

Draw and cut some shapes out of sandpaper. Place the sandpaper shapes on a tray with some glue. Let children use the shape to create a sandcastle craft on the paper. Then, glue the shapes in place.

Sand paper castle craft and activity for preschool and kindergarten
Preschool Activities: 
Build Mini-Sandcastles at Home

What you need:


Cream of tartar


Measuring cup

Cooking pot

Strong small cups

Plastic spoons

8 x 10 cardboard squares

Shells, twigs, rocks, leaves, beads, etc.

Build a sandcastle

What you do:

Mix three cups sand, two cups cornstarch, two tablespoon cream of tartar, and 1 1/2 cups of water in a cooking pot. Heat everything up in the pot over medium heat until the mixture becomes dough-like and difficult to stir. Let dough cool down. The result will be a sticky dough that stays bound together when dry. Let children build mini-sandcastles on top of cardboard bases by packing the sand dough into cups or other containers and tipping them over to make towers. Children can decorate their completed towers with shells, beads, twigs, rocks, leaves, and any other handy materials found in the classroom or outside. The castles will take a few days to harden completely.

In the Desert Preschool Activities and Games (Activities and printables are available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Learn about the desert and discuss what kind of animals and plants can survive and live in a desert. 

Desert animals word wall cards and activities for preschool
Preschool Activities: 

Cactus Artwork

Draw a cactus shape on to green craft paper and cut out. Break wooden toothpicks in half and let children glue the toothpicks on the cactus shape. 

Rocks Preschool Activities and Games 

Rocks activities, lessons, and games for preschool and kindergarten
Preschool Activities: 

Sand and Desert Printables, Coloring Pages, and Resources

Cactus and desert printable Desert coloring pages Lily and Twiggi build a Sandcastle coloring Iguana Song  

Sand and Desert Books, Rhymes, and Songs

Sandcastle on the beach
I built you big and strong (Raise arms high.)
A wave washed upon the sand.
Whoops! You were gone.

Sandcastle on the beach
I built you small and strong (Use hands to show a ball-size castle.)
A wave washed upon the sand.
Whoops! You were gone.

A Desert Habitat (Introducing Habitats)

The Desert Is Theirs

Desert Song (pb)

Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad's Tale
Sand to Stone: And Back Again Sandbox Scientist: Real Science Activities for Little Kids Welcome to the Sea of Sand Sammy and the Magical Sandbox


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