Teach Outside
Resources and inspiration for current and aspiring outdoor educators and those interested in a natural learning environment.

Open Ended Art Table in the Garden


Open Ended Art Table in the GArden



A variety of recycled and/or compostable papers.

Markers. (I use fat and thin Crayola markers as every color is easily washed off bodies and clothes with soap or detergent and water. I check to ensure the ends are still sharp and colors bright once a month.)

Colored pencils, sharpened daily. (Crayola works better than Colorations brand when kept outdoors, as the Colorations’ wood tends to expand more in moisture.

Glue- Clear school glue in refillable containers and glue sticks.

Terra cotta pots, the tops painted in acrylic with the colors of markers and pencils contained within.


Encourage users to put caps on top of the marker during use and tightly back on after use so they don't get lost and the markers don't dry out.

Always use an attractive display of easy-to-find materials that are in good working order. Nothing is more frustrating when you are trying to create a work of art and the tools are not working correctly. Set them up neatly before children arrive.

Ensure there are enough materials and space that more than one person can use the same color at the same time.

Pressboard clipboards are a nice idea but don’t hold up in moist environments. Plastic ones tend to break.

I used to set up the table daily, and keep the materials overnight on open shelves under an awning at night and on weekends, which allowed the materials to be available for people to use the materials off-hours but still keeps them in good order. I am currently keeping the whole table, set up like this, on a covered deck and do not move the materials, making them available to after-hours garden users. Two benefits have been that the area is more quiet (before it was on the children's running path) and the papers don't blow around as much in the wind.

Crayons and oil pastels should only be used under strict supervision due to difficulty in cleaning marks that are made on furniture and other surfaces.


Balls of clay at the ready.

Lesson plan by Heather Taylor, teachoutside@gmail.com. You are welcome to share all materials with credit to her.