Forest School

"Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls." 
                                      ~ Erin Kenny
                                      Founder of Cedarsong Nature School

In the fall of 2014, Painted Oak Nature School became the first preschool in Mercer county, NJ to offer a nature immersion program inspired by the waldkindergartens of Germany. Now, going into our 10th year, and having been recently registered as a private school, PONS is the first elementary school in the state to include a Forest School model at the heart of its work. Research continues to support that connecting children to the natural world benefits their bodies, minds, and spirits. 

Forest School begins once the children have geared up and shopped for tools, nature journals, field guides, or art supplies on the forest shelves. We leave school, walk across the Big Field, and organize ourselves at the trailhead. With a gentle song, following the hike line, we enter Fallen Forest with owl eyes on and fox ears open all the way to Base Camp.


During the time our classes spend in the forest, any, or all, of the following is enjoyed:

     - climbing trees          - creating Earth arts           - listening to birds             - tracking animals      - nature journaling             - building shelters             - playing games         - wild edible snacks with pine needle tea       

Summer Forest School, ages 3-10

Monday - Friday, 9am-12pm @ Washington Crossing State Park, NJ

Weekly Summer 2022 Sessions  

$275 per child, per week                                             

Week 1: July 11 - July 15                          

Week 2: July 18 - July 22                    

Week 3:   July 25 - July 29  

Week 4: August 1 - August 5              

Week 5: August 8 - August 12      

Week 6: August 15 - August 19      

for children ages 3 - 6 years old, 2 groups will run at site balancing the ages

      group size limited to 10 children with 2 adult guides

for children ages 5 - 10 years old 1 group will run at site

      group size limited to 12 children with 2 adult guides

  • Children must be toilet proficient

  • Priority is given to children enrolled at PONSregistration opens to general public mid-February

  • 100% outside, in all weather. Park pavilions will be utilized in the event of lightning and/or high winds.

  • Masks are not required outside, however we will be expected to follow current masking guidelines set by the park. If we need to go inside any of the buildings at any point, due to hazardous weather, children may be required to wear masks.

  • Our complete COVID19 protocols can be found here.

Forest Immersion, ages 4-7
Tuesdays, 10am-1pm @ Painted Oak Nature School

class size limited to 6 children with 1 adult guide

2021-2022 Session

LATE WINTER/EARLY SPRING:  8 weeks - currently FULL

March 1 - April 26   (no class March 29)

  • children must be fully toilet proficient

  • children who are not enrolled at Nature Preschool are welcome and encouraged to attend Forest Immersion

  • 100% outside, in all weather

  • Forest Immersion is held at our home campus in Hopewell, NJ.

  • Face coverings are not required on campus, however we respect and honor family preference in this regard. 

  • Our complete COVID19 protocols can be found here.