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

Monday - Friday

9am-12pm for children ages 3 - 6 years old @ Painted Oak (2 groups will run at site balancing the ages)

9:30am-12:30pm for children ages 5 - 10 years old @ Washington Crossing State Park (1 group will run at site)

group size limited to 10 children with 2 adult guides

Weekly Summer 2021 Sessions  

$275 per child, per week                                             

Week 1: July 5 - July 9                          

Week 2: July 12 - July 16                    

Week 3:   July 19 - July 23 

Week 4: July 26 - July 30              

Week 5: August 2 - August 6      

Week 6: August 9 - August 13      

Thank you for another great
COVID-free season of 
  • Camp will be held at the Painted Oak campus from 9am-12pm for 3-6 year olds and at Washington Crossing Park, NJ from 9:30am-12:30am for 5-10 year olds.

  • Children must be toilet proficient

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

  • 100% outside, in all weather

  • Masks are not required outside however it is highly recommended that your child wear a face covering when close to other children.  If we need to come inside the building at any point, due to hazardous weather, children will be required to wear masks.

  • Our complete COVID19 protocols can be found here.

Forest Immersion

10am - 1pm for children ages 4 - 7 years old

class size limited to 6 children with 1 adult guide

2021-2022 Sessions



Session I: 

Session II: 

If interested in being notified when dates & rates are established, please click below:
  • 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 outside however we respect and honor family preference in this regard.  If we need to come inside the building at any point due to hazardous weather, etc., all unvaccinated individuals will be required to wear face coverings in accordance with current CDC guidelines.

  • Our complete COVID19 protocols can be found here.