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





 Trying out using a rock as a hammer for making drain holes in a repurposed container.


Michael Recycle, by Ellie Bethel







Variety of Recycled Goods, Cleaned

Yogurt Containers


Read Michael Recycle to a small group of children.

Say you are going to use old yogurt containers to plant seeds.

Have the children use a rock to nail drainage holes in the bottom of the containers.

Have them fill the container with soil.

Have them choose seeds. In this case we organized types by flower, fruit, vegetable, or herb. Each child got one seed per year of age.

Write their name on the container and the type of seed with the Sharpie.

Have them take their containers home, where they can water and care for them.

To reinforce recycling and reusing concepts, have a variety of recycled goods and other supplies available for further, self-directed projects.


Yogurt lid and bamboo sail boat.


Old calendars are great for art projects.


Cork fishing bob.


Reusing a hanger from a store, a child made a wind tester, where the strings would move with the least amount of wind, the papers with a little more, and the entire hanger moving (and even rotating) with the strongest winds. It is decorated with blue cats wearing bows, of course!


Using rectangles cut from a cardboard box for leaf presses when children expressed an interest in collecting different leaf types and shapes.


Calibrated with pond water and the school's rain gauge and using a cork for visualization, a child made his own parmesan container rain gauge to take home.


It is often difficult to find a book on the environment that is non-preachy and resonates with children. Michael Recycle (thank you due to my mom for the donation!) is written in verse and its message is easily understandable across a wide range of ages. One third grader excitedly told me she'd recycled 30 items the previous week and proceeded to run up and down the street shouting, "I'm Michael Recycle! I'm Michael Recycle!"

Toys from Trash is a great site of short videos in a many languages showing how to make amazing toys and experiments from trash.

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