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. And now going into our 9th year, 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 through our Backyard, and organize ourselves at the trailhead. With a gentle song, following the hike line, we enter Gnome Woods 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

Monday - Friday, 9am-12pm for children ages 3 - 9 years old

class size limited to 10 children

​Weekly Summer Sessions: 

  • children must be toilet proficient

  • priority is given to children enrolled at PONS for the 2021-2022 school year

  • registration opens to general public mid-February

  • $250 per child, per week

  • Camp will be held at the Painted Oak campus

Forest School Immersion (afternoon enrichment)

1pm-3pm for children ages 3 - 6 years old

class size limited to 10 children with 2-3 adult guides

2020-2021 Sessions

Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays , OR Friday afternoons; 

12 classes $600/session

Fall: September 8 - December 10 (12 classes)

  • children must be fully toilet proficient

  • children enrolled in the morning Nature Preschool at PONS may register in addition to children who do not regularly attend Nature Preschool

  • 100% outside, in all weather

  • DCF COVID-19 guidelines will be implemented as much as possible

  • masks are not required for children unless we go indoors due to hazardous weather

Add your name to the waitlist if the class

you hoped to join is full.

a school for children who are serious about dirt and squirmy things

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© 2018 by Painted Oak Nature School

174 Lambertville Hopewell Road 

Hopewell, New Jersey  08525



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