School Groups | Nature's Art Village

1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike, Montville, CT 06370


Nature's Art Village & The Dinosaur Place: 860-443-4367
The PAST & The Gateway Museum:860-437-3615


School Groups

Welcome to Discovery Depot at Nature’s Art Village, an interactive earth science and nature center filled with educational fun in Southeastern Connecticut! This section of our website lists the educational programs and hands-on activities that we offer to students, each providing unique encounters with museum-quality specimens in a fun atmosphere. Be sure to join us for a great complement to your classroom curriculum!

Your field trip itinerary is completely up to you and your imagination! Book an educational program, hands-on indoor activities, and a visit to our outdoor adventure dinosaur park The Dinosaur Place™ OR any combination of the above!

Our indoor educational programs are listed below, for the outdoor options please Click Here.

For more information or to book your field trip, please contact our Guest Relations Office at 860-443-4367 or fun@naturesartvillage.com.


Indoor Educational Programs

Click on the educational program or plus sign to see details.

+- Pre-K – K Geology: What Makes A Rock?

Duration: 45 minutes

Students become junior geologists learning the three types or rocks, their similarities and differences, and their daily uses before using magnets to understand the difference between rocks and minerals during this fun, interactive educational journey!  This hands-on lesson also includes an in-class activity where students study and keep a unique rock!

Satisfies the following CT Dept. of Education CORE Science Curriculum Framework criteria:

  • K.1 – Objects have properties that can be observed and used to describe similarities and differences.
  • A 1. – Use the senses and simple measuring tools, such as rulers and equal-arm balances, to observe common objects and sort them into groups based on size, weight, shape or color.
  • K.4 – Some objects are natural, while others have been designed and made by people to improve the quality of life.
  • A 9. – Describe the types of materials used by people to build houses, and the properties that make the materials useful.

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


+- Pre-K – K Biology: Hungry Hungry Dinos

Length: 45 minutes

Mr. T. rex, what big teeth you have!  What big claws you have!  Children learn about the diets of animals focusing on physical similarities and differences and using dinosaurs as examples.  An in-class project allows the students to bring the knowledge home and aids information retention!

Satisfies the following CT Dept. of Education CORE Science Curriculum Framework criteria:

  • K.2 – Many different kinds of living things inhabit the Earth.
  • A 4. – Describe the similarities and differences in the appearance and behaviors of plants, birds, fish, insects and mammals (including humans).
  • A 5. – Describe the similarities and differences in the appearance and behaviors of adults and their offspring.

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


+- Pre-K – K Social Studies: Gold Fever!

Length: 45 minutes

Children journey back in time to 1848, the year before the great California Gold Rush began, to learn about precious gold and the draw it had on people of all ages and backgrounds!  General knowledge leads to critical thinking in this exciting rags to riches exploration.  The students enjoy an art project to take back to their school to use as knowledge reinforcements.

Satisfies the following College, Career & Civil Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards criteria:

  • D2.Geo.2.K-2 – Use maps, graphs, photographs, and other representations to describe places and the relationships and interactions that shape them.
  • D2.Geo.3.K-2 – Use maps, globes, and other simple geographic models to identify cultural and environmental characteristics of places.
  • D2.Geo.4.K-2 – Explain how weather, climate, and other environmental characteristics affect people’s lives in a place or region.
  • D2.Geo.5.K-2 – Describe how human activities affect the cultural and environmental characteristics of places or regions.
  • D2.Geo.6.K-2 – Identify some cultural and environmental characteristics of specific places.
  • D2.Geo.7.K-2 – Explain why and how people, goods, and ideas move from place to place.
  • D2.Geo.8.K-2 – Compare how people in different types of communities use local and distant environments to meet their daily needs.
  • D2.Geo.9.K-2 – Describe the connections between the physical environment of a place and the economic activities found there.
  • D2.Geo.11.K-2 – Explain how the consumption of products connects people to distant places.
  • D2.His.2.K-2 – Compare life in the past to life today.
  • D2.His.3.K-2 – Generate questions about individuals and groups who have shaped a significant historical change.
  • D2.His.4.K-2 – Compare perspectives of people in the past to those of people in the present.
  • D2.His.14.K-2 – Generate possible reasons for an event or development in the past.
  • D2.His.16.K-2 – Select which reasons might be more likely than others to explain a historical event or development.

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


+- Grades 1 & 2 Geology: Mighty Minerals

Length: 60 minutes

Children become junior geologists and learn about the three main types of rocks, their similarities and differences, their common uses, and their relationship with minerals.  Minerals are investigated to discover their secret “super powers” and how those mighty traits allow them to be useful in different ways.  A fun matching game reinforces learned information while a take-home activity brings that information back to the classroom!

Satisfies the following CT Dept. of Education CORE Science Curriculum Framework criteria:

  • 2.3 – Earth materials have varied physical properties which make them useful in different ways.

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


+- Grades 1 & 2 Biology: From Bone to Stone

Length: 60 minutes

All living things need to consume nutrients in order to survive.  In order to eat, organisms have evolved structures to help them obtain the food they need.  In this fun, interactive lesson, your students learn about animal specialization for flourishing in various environments using extinct dinosaur, mammal, and reptile examples!  A fossilization activity is enjoyed by all in class, and a take-home activity is distributed to every child for furthering the learning!

Satisfies the following CT Dept. of Education CORE Science Curriculum Framework criteria:

  • 1.2 – describe structures that allow organisms to meet their basic needs
  • 2.4 – all living things have special nutritional needs for survival
  • A 12. – describe the different ways that animals obtain water and food
  • A 14. – describe structures organisms use to move around

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


+- Grades 1 & 2 Social Studies: Golden Opportunity

Length: 60 minutes

Children journey back in time to 1848, the year before the great California Gold Rush began, to learn about precious gold, the draw it had on people of all ages and backgrounds, and how the riches to the west shaped our entire nation and world!  General knowledge leads to critical thinking in this exciting rags to riches exploration.  A group matching game increases retention of key vocabulary, and every class takes home a gold rush game!

Satisfies the following College, Career & Civil Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards criteria:

  • D2.Geo.4.K-2 – Explain how weather, climate, and other environmental characteristics affect people’s lives in a place or region.
  • D2.Geo.5.K-2 – Describe how human activities affect the cultural and environmental characteristics of places or regions.
  • D2.Geo.7.K-2 – Explain why and how people, goods, and ideas move from place to place.
  • D2.Geo.9.K-2 – Describe the connections between the physical environment of a place and the economic activities found there.
  • D2.Geo.11.K-2 – Explain how the consumption of products connects people to distant places.
  • D2.His.2.K-2 – Compare life in specific historical time periods to life today.
  • D2.His.3.K-2 – Generate questions about individuals and groups who have shaped a significant historical change.
  • D2.His.4.K-2 – Compare perspectives of people in the past to those of people in the present.
  • D2.His.14.K-2 – Generate possible reasons for an event or development in the past.
  • D2.His.16.K-2 – Select which reasons might be more likely than others to explain a historical event or development.

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


+- Grades 3, 4, & 5 Geology: Rocks, Minerals, Recycling

Length: 60 minutes

This interactive class combines scientific fact with conservation to provide students with unique insight into how earth materials can be used and transformed while also recycled and reused in order to keep our planet healthy!  Your students will learn about geology, rocks and minerals, their properties and uses, finite and renewable resources, and recycling.  A mineral matching game enhances the class, and a take-home project is given to improve public speaking and further knowledge on the subject!

Satisfies the following CT Dept. of Education CORE Science Curriculum Framework criteria:

  • 3.3 – Earth Materials have different physical and chemical properties.  Rocks and minerals have properties that may be identified through observation and testing; these properties determine how earth materials are used.
  • B 5. – Describe physical properties of rocks and relate them to their potential uses.
  • 3.4 – Earth materials provide resources for all living things, but these resources are limited and should be conserved.
  • B 7. – Describe how earth materials can be conserved by reducing quantities used, and by reusing and recycling materials rather than discarding them.
  • B 16. – Describe properties of magnets, and how they can be used to identify and separate mixtures of solid materials.
  • 5.4 – Humans have the capacity to build and use tools to advance the quality of their lives.

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


+- Grades 3, 4, & 5 Biology: Follow the Fossils

Length: 60 minutes

All organisms are uniquely adapted to fit their habitats.  This fascinating class delves into various habitats and environments using extinct animals as examples.  Diets and methods of obtaining nourishment are stressed while fossilization and earth history round out the interactive lesson.  A group game in class and a project to take back to school are both included!

Satisfies the following CT Dept. of Education CORE Science Curriculum Framework criteria:

  • 3.2 – Organisms can survive and reproduce only in environments that meet their basic needs.  Plants and animals have structures and behaviors that help them survive in different environments.
  • B 3. – Describe how different plants and animals are adapted to obtain air, water, food, and protection in specific land habitats.
  • B 4. – Describe how different plants and animals are adapted to obtain air, water, food, and protection in water habitats.
  • 4.2 – All organisms depend on the living and non-living features of the environment for survival.  When the environment changes, some organisms survive and reproduce, and others die or move to new locations.
  • B 11. – Describe how natural phenomena and some human activities may cause changes to habitats and their inhabitants.

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


+- Grades 3, 4, & 5 Social Studies: All That Glitters…

Length: 60 minutes

Children journey back in time to 1848 to learn about precious gold, the draw it had on people of all ages and backgrounds, and how the riches to the west shaped our entire nation and world!  Critical thinking skills are sharpened during in this class where history and geography combine with mass migration, resource management and environmental and labor protections.  The students are challenged by a group bartering and trading activity, and every class brings home a gold rush game for the classroom!

Satisfies the following College, Career & Civil Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards criteria:

  • D2.Geo.6.3-5 – Describe how environmental and cultural characteristics influence population distribution in specific places or regions.
  • D2.Geo.7.3-5 – Explain how cultural and environmental characteristics affect the distribution and movement of people, goods, and ideas
  • D2.Geo.8.3-5 – Explain how human settlements and movements relate to the locations and use of various natural resources
  • D2.Geo.10.3-5 – Explain why environmental characteristics vary among different world regions
  • D2.His.1.3-5 – Create and use a chronological sequence of related events to compare developments that happened at the same time
  • D2.His.2.3-5 – Compare life in specific historical time periods to life today
  • D2.His.3.3-5 – Generate questions about individuals and groups who have shaped significant historical changes and continuities
  • D2.His.5.3-5 – Explain connections among historical contexts and people’s perspectives at the time
  • D2.His.14.3-5 – Explain probable causes and effects of events and developments
  • D2.His.16.3-5 – Use evidence to develop a claim about the past

Click here to download an outline of this course for your next faculty or PTO meeting!


 


 Enrichment Activities & Add-Ons

Click on the activity, item, or plus sign to see details.

+- Outdoor Adventure: The Dinosaur Place™ (All Ages)

Bring the learning outside and discover an adventure of prehistoric proportions! During this enrichment activity, you and your students explore over 40 life-sized dinosaurs with touch-and-learn stations and educational displays along 1.5 miles of pristine nature trails circumventing a 7-acre lake.  Also included is a new animatronic dinosaur exhibit, our mammoth-sized a“MAZE”asaurus, the innovative Monty’s Playground, a towering volcano, and shaded picnic tables for lunch!

Available Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting.

Ask about our special educational group rates!

Duration: 1-3 hours*

  • *This is an approximation
  • *You may enjoy the grounds as long as you’d like until closing!


+- Outdoor Adventure: The Dinosaur Place™ with Splashpad (All Ages)

Bring the learning outside and discover an adventure of prehistoric proportions! During this enrichment activity, you and your students explore over 40 life-sized dinosaurs with touch-and-learn stations and educational displays along 1.5 miles of pristine nature trails circumventing a 7-acre lake.  Also included is a new animatronic dinosaur exhibit, our mammoth-sized a“MAZE”asaurus, the innovative Monty’s Playground, a towering volcano, shaded picnic tables for lunch, and New England’s largest Splashpad!

Available Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting.

Large groups must be sub-divided for Splashpad use at scheduled intervals.

Shoes are required by all on the Splashpad.

Ask about our special educational group rates!

Duration: 1-3 hours*

  • *This is an approximation
  • *You may enjoy the grounds as long as you’d like until closing!


+- Gateway Museum Guided Tour (All Ages)

Take a historic walk back through time and discover a wide variety of exhibits that showcase the rapid transformation of American technology from steam engines to search engines! Your group will find marvels of engineering and stunning, little known artifacts which served as the cornerstone of many of today’s modern conveniences.

Tour groups are led by our knowledgeable trained interpreters who are ready to answer any questions you have!

When your tour is finished you may enjoy the museum for as long as you’d like!

Available year round!

Ask about our special recreational group rates!

Tour Duration: 45 minutes*

Tour duration is dependent upon number of questions from the children.

+- Jackpot Mine: Dig for Minerals & Gems! (Grades Pre-K & Up)

In this fun activity, students start their own rock and mineral collections!  They use their hands to dig for crystals, minerals, and polished stones hidden in our simulated silver mines!  The best part is they get to keep it all!

Available year round.

Ask about our special educational group rates!

Duration: 20 minutes*

  • Dig Time: 10 minutes
  • *An additional 10 minutes is applied to account for time overage, movement of groups, and packing of discovered treasures


+- Jackpot Mine with Identification: Dig and Identify Minerals & Gems! (Grades K & Up)

In this fun activity, students start their own rock and mineral collections!  They use their hands to dig for crystals, minerals, and polished stones hidden in our simulated silver mines!  Then, accompanying instructors and trained Nature’s Art Village staff help them sort and identify their treasures. The best part is they get to keep it all!

Available year round.

Ask about our special educational group rates!

Duration: 45 minutes

  • Dig Time: 10 minutes*
  • Identification Time: 25 minutes
  • *An additional 10 minutes is applied to account for time overage, movement of groups, and packing of discovered treasures


+- Thunder Creek: Pan for “Gold”! (Grades Pre-K & Up)

Students travel back in time to 1849 – the beginning of the California Gold Rush!  They learn the technique of panning and find as many pyrite “fool’s gold” nuggets as they can!  We give them each a prospector’s pouch in which to keep their riches!

Available year round!

Ask about our special educational group rates!

Duration: 20 minutes*

  • Panning Time: 10 minutes
  • *An additional 10 minutes is applied to account for time overage, movement of groups, and packing of discovered riches

Maximum 20 students panning at one time.


+- Thunder Creek with Value Assay: Pan for “Gold”! (Grades 3 & Up)

Students travel back in time to 1849 – the beginning of the California Gold Rush!  They learn the technique of panning and find as many pyrite “fool’s gold” nuggets as they can!  With instructor and trained Nature’s Art Village staff assistance, the students then weigh their treasures using balances and calculate today’s value.  We give them each a prospector’s pouch in which to keep their riches and an Assayer’s Certificate for all the hard work!  This activity is worth it’s weight in gold!

Available year round!

Ask about our special educational group rates!

Duration: 30 minutes*

  • Panning Time: 10 minutes
  • Assay time: 10 minutes
  • *An additional 10 minutes is applied to account for time overage, movement of groups, and packing of discovered riches


+- The Bone Zone: Unearth a Dinosaur Skeleton! (Grades Pre-K & Up)

Students work together as a team of paleontologists to uncover and identify a life-sized recreation dinosaur skeleton in our simulated Southwest dig sites!  A trained Nature’s Art Village staff member leads the team and educates the children about the dinosaur they discover!  A worksheet about the dinosaur they find will allow for the educational fun to continue back at school and at home!Available year round!Ask about our special educational group rates!Duration: 30 minutes*

  • Dig Time: 20 minutes
  • *An additional 10 minutes is applied to account for time overage, movement of groups, and answering questions


+- Friendship Geodes (All Ages)

Your students will love learning about nature’s lottery tickets!  They learn how geodes are formed and opened then watch as one is cut in half right before their eyes.  Student pairs then randomly select a pre-cut Friendship Geode and each take half home!

Available year round!

Ask about our special educational group rates!

Duration: 30 minutes*

  • Geode Lesson & Cutting: 10 minutes
  • Geode Selection: 10 minutes
  • *An additional 10 minutes is applied to account for time overage, movement of groups, and Friendship Geode selection/packing


Educational Programs FAQs

Click on each question or plus sign to view our most frequently asked questions.

+- What is the minimum group size?

Minimum educational group size is 20 students. We encourage small classes to join together.  If you are under the 20 student minimum we are still able to accommodate your group, but we must charge the flat fee for 20. Accompanying instructors and chaperones are not included in the 20 student minimum and are not charged for watching the class(es).

+- Are the activities handicap accessible?

Both indoor and outdoor activities are wheelchair accessible.  Physically handicapped children or children with special needs may have an adult help them in the Jackpot Mine, Thunder Creek, and/or the Bone Zone. Please let us know in advance of any special requirements you may have. We recommend wide-wheeled wheelchairs for use outdoors in The Dinosaur Place.

+- Do we have an instructor the whole time?

Yes, you have a trained instructor for the entire indoor portion of your program! The Dinosaur Place is self-guided.

+- May I join my students during Discovery Depot activities?

Absolutely!  Any adults who wish to take part in our indoor Discovery Depot activities may do so at the same reduced rate as the students. Paraprofessionals may assist their children at no charge.

+- What is the chaperone policy for The Dinosaur Place?

Adult chaperones may watch the class(es) and Discovery Depot activities free of charge, but must pay associated fees if they participate in any Discovery Depot activity or enter The Dinosaur Place. One group leader is admitted FREE to The Dinosaur Place.  One adult chaperone for every 12 kids receives an admission discount.  Additional chaperones receive admission at the same reduced rate as the students. Bus drivers may enter The Dinosaur Place for FREE!

+- Can we order food, beverages, or ice cream?

Absolutely!  We offer group rates on food, beverage, and ice cream orders when they are added on to an educational program.  One week’s advanced notice is required for all orders. No outside food is permitted in the main building. If your group takes advantage of the outdoor adventure dinosaur park (The Dinosaur Place), you are welcome to use our picnic areas and bring a bag lunch into the park.  We also have shaded picnic tables available outside of the park for your convenience. If your group requests to eat indoors or is forced to do so due to inclement weather, a fee will be charged for clean-up.  An initial flat fee of $50 covers up to 50 people, and each subsequent person is added for $1 each. This fee is waived for those ordering food with us.

+- Do we have to sign up for an actual class?

No, not at all!  You can book a group for any combination of classes, indoor activities, and outdoor activities with a minimum of 20 students.  The day is fully customizable to your specifications!

+- What are the policies for reservations and deposits?

A non-refundable deposit of $100 (minimum) is required to hold the requested date.  There are no deposit refunds for cancellations, but your deposit can be credited to your account in the event of a weather-related postponement. We appreciate advanced notice of three weeks if possible when reserving a date. Deposits may be paid by check, cash, or credit card (excluding American Express).  We appreciate if checks are made payable to “Nature’s Art” and include your school’s name on the memo line.

+- How and when is the balance paid?

The balance may be paid on or before the day of the trip.  We can accept payments by check, cash, or credit card (excluding American Express).  We appreciate if checks are made payable to “Nature’s Art”. Check overages can no longer be reimbursed with cash or check.  Any overages will be applied to your account for use during that visit or a future visit.

+- Is there a fee for bus parking?

Never!  All we ask is that buses unload and park in specific areas. For groups beginning with indoor activities, please have your bus or buses pull down to the very end of the sidewalk in front of our main building.  Please also be sure that no buses block the front entrance to the building.  This is required in accordance with strict fire safety regulations.  You will be met by our friendly staff for unloading and a warm welcome! For groups beginning with outdoor activities, please have your bus or buses pull onto the grass across from our life-sized T. rex, Monty.  You will be met by our friendly staff for unloading and a warm welcome!