Outdoor Learning Environment

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Support Our Growth Projects!

Follow this page for project updates as well opportunities to support, lead, and volunteer as we transform the WOM outdoor learning environment.

Outdoor Space Vision

Willow Oak Montessori envisions a beautiful, welcoming, diverse, naturalized play and learning environment for the three planes of development we serve: early childhood, childhood and adolescence. It will include elements that invite quiet reflection, collaboration, gross motor movement and the enjoyment of nature.

This vision is represented by:

Draft Concept Plan

Schematic Design of the Children’s House Outdoor Play and Learning Environment

Help Us Grow Our Space

Current Projects

We need your help to turn the vision into reality. While we have a dedicated project plan of many efforts ahead of us, right now we are working on and looking for assistance with the following:

Sign up on the sign up genius for a 4 hour block -or as many blocks as you like!.

2. Attend a walk-through training session at the school on Saturday October 9th at 12:30 pm.

3. On the day you have signed up for, if you have the following items, bring them with you.

a. shovel

b. garden rake

c. gloves

d. cordless drill with #2 driver bit

e. 2-5 lb sledge hammer or pile driver.

Tree Planting

We are about to embark on our biggest project yet at the Willow Oak Campus by planting 63 8-to-12 ft tall trees on the campus. We are in the process of purchasing them, and getting the planting locations finalized.

We are looking for volunteers on Oct 28, 29, and 30th. We need to put approximately 20 trees in the ground each day. Two of these days are Teacher/Parent Conference days, the third is a Saturday. Each tree takes at least a 2-3 person crew. We will be working around an excavator to move the trees into place, as each one weighs about 450 lbs, and a tractor to haul soil amendments to each tree site. Once the hole is dug and the tree is placed, it will need to be straightened with dirt being packed in around the root ball, then stakes will be driven into the ground, and securing cross pieces screwed to the stakes. Finally, mulch will be placed around the tree to cover the staking and provide for moisture control around the newly planted tree.

Class Liaison for OLE

The outdoor learning environment (OLE) planning group and volunteers are helping to prioritize, plan and implement improvements to the outdoor space. We are looking for an OLE class parent from each class to help. We will provide general information about the plans and projects we have ahead of us. The OLE class parent would act as a central point for the class for outdoor improvement issues. They would answer questions the other families may have and help us to get to know who is interested in getting involved in the projects at the planning and development stages as well as on the ground, and who may have equipment or resources we need for a particular job. Often we just need more people to bounce ideas off. This is a great way to get to know the other families in your class and to help support the development of the outdoor space.

If interested, please email jmalloy@willowoakmontessori.org


We need to take NLI’s vision of a stage and turn in into reality for the Children's House playground. The first step is to identify a project lead who can help develop the design, formulate a materials list, and create a timeline. Then we'll put out a call for build volunteers. Please contact jgroves@willowoakmontessori.org if you're interested in contributing time and talents to this effort.

Donations are accepted through Willow Oak Montessori Foundation, Inc.

Click Here for other Volunteer Opportunities

The Natural Learning Initiative

Willow Oak Montessori engaged the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) to help conceptually plan the campus’ outdoor space and to design the Children’s House Playground.

NLI is a research and professional development unit at the College of Design, NC State University, Raleigh. For two decades it has helped create stimulating places for play, outdoor learning, and environmental education. It has provided evidence-based design assistance to many Montessori schools as well as other public schools, parks, zoos, and botanical gardens in North Carolina and beyond.

Click here to read more about NLI’s concept plan for Willow Oak Montessori

Click here to learn more about the NLI

Outdoor Learning Environment Planning Group

The development of the outdoor learning environment is being planned by a multi-stakeholder group who oversee the phased development of the campus to support the vision, taking into account current needs.