A forest preschool for families in the Maplewood, South Orange, West Orange, and Millburn area.

Program Overview

We are focused on taking the best parts from a progressive school and combining them with the best parts of a forest school, creating something entirely new.

Our Forest Preschool program is designed to positively connect children with nature, through immersion programs that stimulate their curiosity about the natural world. Our educational philosophy is that there is no predetermined curriculum, but instead craft the curriculum from what the students collective show an interest in. If the way the leaves and water move through the air catches their attention, we will design classes around the wind, with activities like building wind chimes from objects found in our natural surroundings.

The goal is to tap into the children’s sense of wonder about nature and connect it through to science, math, pre-literacy, and the arts. The children’s learning arises through play, and ensures their interests are guiding their education. In this way, their learning will be meaningful.

What's Included

  • A variety of healthy snacks each day for our Snack and Story Time.
  • All-weather Muddy Buddy coverall to keep dry and warm.
  • Daily materials activities and learning, such as paints, buckets, shovels, hammers, fabrics, etc...

Class Size
We keep our class sizes small, with one teacher to every three children. This ensures every student is well looked after, keeping them safe, and getting the attention they may need.

Our classes run through all types of weather, making rain, snow, and sun all a part of our learning and play. If dangerous weather is in the forecast, families are informed of an alternative drop-off for that day, such as the town Library.

Semester Options

What We Wear

A common first reaction to the idea of an outdoor school is "What do you do when it's bad weather!?!" If the weather is down-right dangerous, then we absolutly head to an indoor location, such as the Library. Otherwise, like Forest Schools around the world existing in all types of climates, we're outside in the elements. What's important is having the right gear, and if you have that, the kids will ENJOY every type of weather. Here are example items that we recommend and/or supply...

Year Round: The Muddy Buddy is a full body, waterproof jumpsuit, and lets kids have a blast in muddy puddles, streams, and rain.

Winter: For those really cold days, we make sure everyone is cozy with hand and toe warmers.  

Spring/Summer/Fall: For the buggy months, we wear outfits treated with Insect Shield, which repels all unwanted critters.

A sample day at Maplewood Outside School

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9:00 AM -

Drop Off

As children arrive, they place their water bottles into our wagon, and wait for friends to arrive. Once together we walk while chatting about the surroundings or singing a song.

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9:30 AM - Morning Circle

Introducing friends and discussing the days activities.


9:40 - Nature Exploration

A roll down a hill or a walk to find insects and little creatures. On a typical day we search for flowers, mushrooms and herbs.

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10:30 - Snack and Story

Gathering to listen to a story and have a bite.


11:00 AM - Art and Craft

Creating with tools, and found materials. Students can make paintbrushes from leaves and sticks, work with clay or dig in the dirt.


Application Process

We are an outdoor-based educational program that is open to all children aged 2 to 5. We have four sessions and each accepts applications on a rolling basis. Please note that the classes for each term do fill quickly, so, if you are interested in Maplewood Outside School and enrolling your child, you must submit an application for the 2019/20 term(s) you are interested in by the following date:  Fall semester, beginning on March 20, 2019, Winter session, beginning on October 15, 2019.

Following the receipt of an application, we will contact the family to set up a tour and class visit. After a class visit, the family will be contacted with a space for the child, if available. A deposit of 15% of the tuition is due within 2 weeks of notification of acceptance. It is our policy to hold the place for 2 weeks following written notification and confirmed with receipt of the deposit. If the deposit is not received during this period, the place will be released.

Maplewood Outside school is open to all children ages 2 to 5 and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, gender expression, national origin, or disability.

An initial non-refundable deposit in the amount of 15% of the yearly tuition is due upon enrollment to secure your child's place. The remaining payments are divided into either 3 or 10 installments over the course of the year beginning in September 2019. Each family may choose the payment option that works best for them.