When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
— John Muir

South Mountain Nature School offers Forest School classes for ages 2 - 9. Forest School classes take place in woodlands in all types of weather over an extended period of time so that children can develop a close connection with nature. The SMNS Nature Immersion curriculum instills a love of nature while developing observational, social and emotional skills. Research continues to support that connecting children with nature benefits children's minds, bodies and spirits. 

During a SMNS class you will see children exploring the woods, running with butterfly nets, building forts, and digging in the dirt. Our students invent new games together, pick wildflowers, climb on fallen trees and much more. Time in the forest sparks joy, curiosity, cooperation and wonder! 

SMNS classes meet once a week for 90 minutes and run for 8 weeks. Classes are held at various locations in the South Mountain Reservation in Essex County, NJ. We offer drop-off and caregiver & child classes. Siblings under 2 are free and welcome to join.

SMNS provides students tools for free play such as buckets, shovels, magnifying lenses, butterfly nets, binoculars and musical instruments.

During our time in the forest any or all of the following activities are enjoyed:

  • climbing and balancing on fallen trees
  • digging in the dirt 
  • creating nature-based art projects
  • recognizing patterns in nature
  • swinging from vines
  • identifying animals and plants
  • playing games
  • observing changes in the natural world around us
  • building shelters

An essential part of the SMNS mission is promoting and teaching our students environmental stewardship. When possible we use sustainable materials for our projects, and we will always leave the forest as we found it.

Playing under the bridge by the Rahway River. 

Playing under the bridge by the Rahway River.