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





 Weaving yarn through the safety net.



Donated Dead Trees


Redwood Planks



Note: This style of tree house uses natural materials and requires upkeep as the materials weaken over time. Three levels are built with planks above a wood atop a concrete and wood foundation, with branches surrounding the outside and connecting the different levels. After completion, we made a shady roof by weaving bamboo, rope, and willow sticks in a spider web pattern for shade, and then wove permanent outdoor Christmas-style white lights for night and winter use.

This is a favorite meeting and eating place in the garden. It is the centerpiece of the space and its most unique feature.

The structure is physically challenging. Children do not climb above the level they are capable of climbing, although sometimes they need help finding their way back down. This is an opportunity to teach the children about how to place their feet. NEVER LIFT A CHILD UP INTO A PLACE THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF ACHIEVING ON THEIR OWN!!! Many childhood climbing injuries are actually caused by well-meaning adults.

Favorite dramatic play topics include the tree house becoming a space ship or a pirate boat.

There are only two rules:

-No showing off (because looking for the attention of others can lead to dangerous behavior). This is a personally satisfactory activity.

-Climbing must be done with two hands and two feet (to prevent slipping, and to be able to grasp to prevent falls). Some children have learned to climb with food or supplies in their mouths or pockets to get at when at a safer spot.


Tree house at night. In Winter, when it's dark before school closes, I enjoy cuddling up under a cozy blanket with the children and their flashlights and reading stories here until pick-up time. Parents have even been known to join us for awhile under the blanket!

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