Forest Gnomes

A Waldkindergarten Program at NCOF

Our year-round Waldkindergarten program at the Farm is a program for pre-school-aged children that takes place in the outdoors: a classroom without walls, changing with the seasons. With an emphasis on seasonal rhythms, physical and social development and personal growth, the "Forest Gnomes" will challenge children's skills of observation in a subtly changing environment throughout the year.


Exploration and invetigation will stimulate while amply free-play with open-ended props and natural materials will offer rich opportunity to process experiences and develop deep understanding of the natural order of the world in which they live.


Children have to be three years old by June 15.

Teacher/child ratio: 1:7


2017-2018 SESSIONS
Monday & Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - June 6, 2018
Tuesday & Thursday, September 8, 2017 - June 7, 2018

Friday, September 8, 2017-June 1, 2018 (please email Forest Gnomes teachers directly about Friday enrollment.)

Time: 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Fees: Mon/Wed $3,700 Tues/Thurs $3,910

Fridays $1,775


Your family must be current members of NCOF at the Crofter level or higher to register for Forest Gnomes. Please see our membership page for details.



Interested in registering your child for Forest Gnomes?


Please sign up for one of our Open Program Days:

Fri June 16 9:30-10:15 am
Mon July 10 2:00-2:45 pm
Mon Aug 14 2:00-2:25 pm


You must pre-register for Open Days by calling 508-655-7666 or emailing


For more information or to sign up for an Open-Program-Day, please send an email to or call at: 508-655-7666.


for a 2017/2018 application, please email

2018/2019 applications will be available December 2017.

Guidance through child initiatives and interests:
• Exploration of our living environment through observation, interaction, experimentation, and inquiry.
• Ample free-play time for the reflection and integration of learning through creative and imaginative play.
• Vigorous physical activity and include children in purposeful work. This will offer empowerment leading to the development of capable learners and productive community members.
• Strong nurturing aspect to our program to model compassion and service to our fellow people and teaching children self-care.

We strive to use positive guidance through areas of challenge and conflict. We let children work things out on their own as much as possible but will intervene if needed. If a child needs to be removed from a situation they will shadow or sit with the teacher. The teacher will engage the child in discussion on how they might have acted or reacted differently. Children naturally wish to get along with others. If a child is exceptionally disruptive we will direct his/her energy to productive work. By working closely with this child he/she will have opportunity to practice directing his/her will in a positive way. Situations of conflict are great opportunities for learning and can have a very strong impact on the development of the child depending on how we handle them together.

There will be a conscious focus on providing rhythm in our program. The seasons and daily weather will be the framework for our activities; we will weave our way through
the day with expansive and contractive movements. This will provide a good balance between active play and quiet reflection and focus. We will practice singing/speaking, listening, striving, working/creating, resting, movement, and observation. This is the
child’s work, to learn to move gracefully through the rhythms of the day. The following sample day is a good indication of this.

Sample Day
• Check-in/gathering/preparations
• Our walking song begins as we embark on our journey to the clearing. We take note of the day and observe our surroundings.
• We park our supply cart and hang our backpacks.
• Circle and greeting (Greeting each other and the forest)
• Active movement, hand games, songs
• Guided introduction to free play (simply suggestions)
• Free play and creative work/snack prep/”housekeeping”
• Clean-up
• Snack (hot organic foods provided by NCOF; cooked by the teachers and the Forest Gnomes)
• Dishes
• Hike
• Story Circle/puppet play
• Return to gathering spot for pick-up/check-out

This program is guaranteed to wear your child out! This will require all of your child’s faculties, as they will be developing on all levels. Please be sure that your child is getting 9-12 hours of sleep per day. Providing healthy meals and snacks will help build the strength needed for a rigorous program.

We ask that you prepare your children for all weather. Dressing in layers with a change of clothes each day. They will need a day pack that they can carry with them so we can be mobile and explore away from our camp that is equipped with all of the items needed. We will provide a full list of gear. You should expect your child to get dirty! Do not send them in anything that you don’t want dirty. If you must go somewhere with your child after dismissal please be prepared to change them. This is part of the intimate relationship to the earth that they are building.