Art With Jenny K.


Doodle Cactus: An Easy Desert Cactus Art Activity for Kids!

desert cactus art activity




This desert cactus art activity is easy for adults to teach and fun for kids. The final project will be a unique doodle cactus that uses the simplest of supplies, can be done on just about any size of paper, and creates a gorgeous desert cactus art activity when complete.

This project has extra credit! Check it out!

This project is part of a collection!


  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Permanent marker (to outline with)
  • Variety of pens or markers


Doodling—if you are around my age, this was something you did while you talked on the phone to friends. You would doodle on the back of an envelope, on a napkin, or on just about anything lying around. These days, hardly anyone actually *talks* on the phone. So what has become of kids finding time to doodle?

Today’s lesson will create an opportunity for your students to do just that as they create these easy doodle cacti drawings. This lesson uses the simplest of supplies. In fact, in the name of true “doodling,” you can even use a bunch of old ink pens you have lying around 😉 (no, really, you can).

All you need for this lesson is paper, a pencil, and a bunch of different colors of ink pens or markers. A phone with a long spiraled cord is completely optional. 😂


This activity is one of over 20 free lessons/teaching videos I created when schools closed in 2020. I wanted to design lessons that were easy for teachers to send home and even easier for parents to implement at home. I wanted these lessons to use simple supplies and have easy-to-follow steps and be fun for kids while teaching various art elements. This lesson gives doodling a chance to resurface!

The teaching video corresponding to this lesson is linked above.

I’ve also compiled this lesson plan into a free downloadable PDF. If you prefer to read it that way you can get it HERE.

  1. Draw the prickly pear cactus.

    To get started on this project, you’ll want to draw your first prickly pear cactus “pad.” To do this, take your pencil, and near the bottom of the page, draw a short line connected with an arch shape. This will be your first prickly pear pad.

    Then, draw more prickly pear pads stacked on top of each other. I find it easiest to mark the start and endpoints of my arch shapes on my cactus before I start to draw them (you can see this better demonstrated in the video above). Fill your page with prickly pear pads.

    Once you have drawn your cactus the way you want it then you can add flowers to the tops of your prickly pear pads. To do this simply start with a little “parenthesis” shape and connect them on top with a zigzagged line.

  2. Outline using a black marker.

    Now that the cactus is drawn, you can outline it with a black Sharpie or another dark-colored marker. Doing this step will help your cactus pads stand out once you start adding color, patterns, and doodles.

  3. Doodle on each pad using various techniques.

    This is the fun part! Start to decorate doodle on your cactus by filling in each prickly pear “pad” with your pens or markers. You can doodle, draw designs and patterns, or experiment with some ink drawing techniques. This is your time to be as imaginative as you can be.


    Some ink drawing techniques to try…

    Stippling: Stippling is when you use dots of ink to color your drawing. Placing the dots close together will create darker-colored areas while placing dots further apart will make lighter-colored areas.

    Cross-hatching: Cross-hatching is when you use lines crossed over each other in different directions to color your drawing. Just like with stippling, you can place lines closer together or further apart to create darker and lighter colors.

  4. Color using bright, fun colors!

    Finish your doodle cactus by adding color, both around your doodles and in the background. Try to mix up your supplies and use markers, pencils, crayons, or anything you have laying around. Don’t over think this – it’s supposed to be fun!

  5. Display for others to view and enjoy!

    Once your doodle cactus is colored, you can hang it up and enjoy looking at it. These look great when all displayed together, showing how unique each one is!

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Extra Credit!

Desert cactus coloring page.

Pop Art Desert Plants Coloring Pages—interactive and pattern-filled included + writing prompts. LOW PREP for teachers and tons of FUN for kids. These pages are great for helping with your desert-themed classroom activities.

This set includes my artistic creation of a saguaro cactus, prickly pear cactus, palm tree, barrel cactus, and agave plant.

This unique set of Pop Art coloring pages includes:

      • 5 interactive coloring sheets
      • 5 pattern-filled coloring sheets
      • Writing prompts
      • Blank writing paper
      • Instructions

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