Winter Forest School
Caregiver & Child Classes and After School OPEN!

SMNS Offers:

Forest Preschool
Forest Kindergarten
Forest School Classes
Forest School Summer Camp

SMNS is a forest school in the South Mountain Reservation, Maplewood, NJ. We offer a Forest Preschool, a Forest Kindergarten, and Forest School Enrichment Classes. We follow THE CEDARSONG WAY! SMNS’s Nature Immersion curriculum is “free time in nature, resulting in an intimate, deep and personal connection to the natural world.” Our programs promote social and emotional development, instill confidence and foster independence.

Connecting Kids with Nature

Give us a call to schedule a tour

Preschool and Summer Camps

Click below to enroll in Forest Preschool and Summer Camps

The Cedarsong Way

The Cedarsong way is a nature immersion philosophy that fosters kindness for oneself, the community and the natural world.

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preschool girl walking in the woods

Forest Preschool

preschool girl playing in the woods

Forest School Summer Camp


Forest School Classes for ages 2-9

FALL Caregiver & Child Classes and After School Classes will post JULY 20th.

CLICK BELOW to enroll in Enrichment Forest School Classes. These classes meet weekly and run each season: Fall, Winter & Spring.

Drop -Off After School Classes


Weekday Caregiver Classes


Weekend Caregiver Classes


Our Teachers


Mary Clair Sonneman

Founder and Director

Mary Clair founded South Mountain Nature School in the fall of 2016 after earning her Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten Certification at Cedarsong Nature School on Vashon Island, WA. Mary Clair holds a Secondary Teaching Degree from San Francisco State University. She has over 10 years teaching experience.


Anna Maxwell

Co-Director, Forest Preschool & Forest Kindergarten

Anna Maxwell holds a dual Masters of Teaching in Early Childhood Education and Childhood Education.  She has over 10 years of experience teaching kindergarten in the private and public school settings.


Anneliese Scherfen

Lead Preschool Teacher

Anneliese has been a preschool teacher for over nine years. She earned her Early Childhood Masters in Education from Hunter College in NYC. She also holds a BFA in Art History from Ohio University.

Elisa Nicoletti

Preschool Assistant Teacher

Elisa Nicoletti developed a love of the South Mountain Reservation over the past few years while hiking and exploring it with her two young daughters. She is an advocate of free play and extensive time outdoors for children of all ages. Elisa holds a Masters’s degree in Criminal Justice and had a lengthy career in criminal justice reform prior to joining SMNS.


Isy Brosius

Lead Kindergarten Teacher

Isy Brosius is a graduate of Elon University’s School of Education where she earned a BA in Elementary Education and a minor in Environmental Education. Her passion for teaching & the outdoors led her to a semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark where she studied Early Childhood Development, and she worked at a Danish forest preschool.


Sam Fagundez

Preschool & After School Teacher

Sam is a graduate of Rutgers University’s School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and holds a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and Minors in Biology and Sustainability. Her passion is helping kids discover, learn, play, and explore our natural world. Sam’s favorite things to do in the forest are identifying trees and finding frogs.


Nadia Fradkin

Preschool & After School Teacher

Nadia is a graduate of Emory University and holds a B.A. in Environmental Science. She has been working outdoors with children for 7 years and is passionate about helping kids discover the beauty of our natural world and how to move within it without harming the plants and animals we share it with.

What Our Parents Are Saying

It’s been a little over one month into Forest school and we’ve already seen many good changes in my son which we credit with SMNS.

The most noticeable thing is his footwork, balance, and endurance have changed so much!! It’s amazing! Wyatt has always been really mobile and his first steps were in the form of running. He basically runs everywhere but also did an equal share of tripping and falling down.

Now he still runs but he isn’t falling plus he’s climbing a lot more. While we’ve always gone hiking and I am aware of the importance of uneven, natural surfaces for development, I think the sustained time outside, with a group of his peers, and being challenged through the activities offered by Teachers Annalise and Isy have led to this positive change.

Melissa D., Maplewood, NJ

I wanted to write and let you know how very pleased I am with my daughter’s class! This is the very BEST preschool experience we have had in our family. (I really liked my other children’s schools, but this is so much better!) The teachers are patient, kind, and thoughtful. The documentation is priceless. The whole family looks through the photos and captions to review the events of the day.

She comes home from the forest energized and excited. She plays outside with focus. She is so happy!

Julie P, Maplewood, NJ

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