Young minds are growing in unusual gardens where stories, music and creativity blossom at Villa Montessori School.

Oliver Colville, Fletcher Bloom and Grayson Mackle, (middle row): Madelynn Fisher and bottom row (from left): Teagan Rummage and Alana Martine read in the new gardens of Villa Montessori School. The gardens combine bug and bird houses, a Monarch Butterfly Waystation, musical instruments and space for writing (Photo by Athena Moskyoes).

First through sixth-grade students have been getting lessons related to specialty nature gardens that opened late last month at its elementary school campus at 2802 E. Meadowbrooke Ave. Many donors provided the support for the new space for Villa’s current and future elementary school students to connect with nature daily. The gardens support outdoor learning in the Montessori Method, which focuses on developing the whole child – the physical, social, emotional and cognitive aspects.

Lessons are tied to the gardens and the natural world in an open-air teaching pavilion. The Bugs and Birds Garden includes a Little Free Library box that holds books students will use to research animals in and near this habitat. This garden also has bug and bird houses.

Students are urged to write in the fairy-themed Storytelling Garden situated under large trees with brightly colored mailboxes for classroom mail.

The Monarch Butterfly Garden is certified as an official Monarch Butterfly Waystation designed to help support and preserve Monarch butterflies as they migrate across North America. The garden will be a safe haven for the butterflies and breeding area in the spring and summer.

The Music Garden has three modern instruments: a “duet” metallophone/marimba, Lilypad Cymbals and contrabass chimes. The garden offers a multi-sensory experience with different textures, sounds and vibrations on the instruments as students play and listen to music.

For more information, visit or call 602-583-7850.