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





  The hill created to make the waterfall puts people right up into the trees, in this case it's flowering plum trees!





Pond Liner





Peaceful sounds disrupt urban noises, providing much-needed respite for all.

Water feels great!

The environment can change by moving rocks around.

There are a couple rules:

-Don't add dirt (on purpose) to the water because it is recirculated.

-No splashing those who choose not to get wet.

-No dropping or throwing rocks of any size; you may place them wherever you want in the waterfall and garden.


Children work together to take rocks out of the pool at the top of the waterfall, rolling them down and placing them on the ledges. Note: This was a cool day, but the children were allowed to take off some of their clothes and feel cold anyway (we had them get dressed again before they got too shivery).


This waterfall is "pondless" to prevent drowning. It requires quite a bit of maintenance, usually refilling on a near-daily basis to account for evaporation, especially when it's warm, but also cleaning the pumps and filters bi-annually. That involves turning off the electricity and using a submersible pump or siphon to remove the water (it is full of organic debris and perfect for watering garden plants as a fertilizer source), removing rocks from above the filters and washing them and the filters off with a strong water spray. Similarly, rocks must be removed from on top of the pump housing, then the rocks, pumps, and pump housing sprayed with water. Once everything is relatively clean again, the waterfall can be refilled and electricity can be turned back on.

It is entirely possible to do the maintenance yourself if you so desire, or it can be a work party chore for families.

There are also pond repair and maintenance professionals. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Bay Area Waterscapes does good work:

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