Nature: the perfect classroom

Some of the most unforgettable lessons experienced by Willow students happen outdoors. Lower School students use their observational skills to seek out bugs that live in the meadows, streams, and ponds in the outdoor learning space right outside their classroom door. Fifth graders study the local watershed. Seventh graders conduct a yearlong study of plants on our 34-acre campus. Utilizing the outdoors as a dynamic learning laboratory, Willow students gain knowledge across academic disciplines, while learning to care for and develop ethical relationships with the natural world.

Outdoor learning may be new for some schools, but here it’s been a central part of the Willow curriculum for 20+ years. Download our ebook to learn more about how we learn in and from nature!

See our Outdoor Learning Program in Action:

Kindergarteners
Kindergarteners

Willow kindergarteners learn from trees found in our woods. Through hands-on exploration, they begin to make connections between the trees and our interdependent community.

First Graders
First Graders

Willow first graders adopt monarch caterpillars, tracking their evolution into butterflies in science class before releasing them back into their natural habitat.

Third Graders
Third Graders

Willow third graders meet Herman the Worm, learning about the key role that worms play in decomposition and maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Students then take on the responsibility to improve the health of Willow's soil by caring for the school's compost and rehabilitating parts of campus that need help to become good worm habitats.

Fifth Graders
Fifth Graders

Willow fifth graders study our watershed, exploring the stream that runs through our campus, studying erosion, and learning how to respect and care for our natural resources.

Seventh Graders
Seventh Graders

Willow seventh graders embark on a yearlong study of the plants on our campus, honing their observation skills and educating parents and visitors about how to care for native species.

Middle Schoolers
Middle Schoolers

Middle schoolers lead Willow's collaborative Maple Syruping Project. Different grades work together to tap maple trees, collect the sap, and boil it into syrup. The project integrates science, math, social studies, and more while emphasizing joy and community-building.

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Kindergarteners

Willow kindergarteners learn from trees found in our woods. Through hands-on exploration, they begin to make connections between the trees and our interdependent community. 

First Graders

Willow first graders adopt monarch caterpillars, tracking their evolution into butterflies in science class before releasing them back into their natural habitat. 

Third Graders

Willow third graders love Ms. M’s Nature Challenges!  ‘Find Herman the Worm’ is a fun way to learn about natural decomposers (e.g. worms) while discovering how they play a healthy part of our ecosystem. Third graders take responsibility for the school’s compost, helping to reduce waste.

Fifth Graders

Willow fifth graders study the watershed that runs through our campus and beyond to study erosion, build homes for the creatures that live there, while learning how to respect and care for natural resources.

Seventh Graders

Willow seventh graders embark on a yearlong study of the plants on our campus, honing their observation skills and educating parents and visitors about how to care for native species.

Middle Schoolers

Middle schoolers lead Willow’s collaborative Maple Syruping Project. Different grades work together to tap maple trees, collect the sap, and boil it into syrup. The project integrates science, math, social studies, and more while emphasizing joy and community-building.

Learn more about how Outdoor Learning at Willow can engage and motivate your child. Contact Director of Enrollment Management Lisa VanderVeen at (908) 470-9500, ext. 1100 or via email.

More to Explore in Outdoor Learning

Willow Alumni Reflect on Earth Day

Willow Alumni Reflect on Earth Day

Earth Day is a special day at Willow, as I am sure many of you remember! From the mysterious sword dance to the countless service learning projects, it sure has created some lasting impressions. I reached out to a few alumni from my class (the class of 2019), and I...

Watch: How Your Child Benefits From Outdoor Learning

Watch: How Your Child Benefits From Outdoor Learning

Francisco Ayala, Willow's Head of School, breaks down how outdoor learning works in Grades PreK-8, how it enhances your child's academic and social-emotional growth, and how Willow's unique program — from our campus to our curriculum —  turns nature into the perfect...

Request our ebook on Outdoor Learning. We will email it to you immediately.

Director of Enrollment Management Lisa VanderVeen is here to help! Contact her at (908) 470-9500, ext. 1100 or via email

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