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 The Dinosaur Place™ at Nature’s Art Village, an interactive earth science and nature center filled with educational fun and located on over 65 acres of pristine woodlands 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 outdoor educational programs are listed below, for the indoor 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. 3 weeks advanced notice is required to book any group trip to The Dinosaur Place.


Educational Programs

+- Outdoor Pre-K – K or Grades 1 & 2: Dinosaur Detectives

Program Duration: 30 minutes

There’s a mystery at The Dinosaur Place™, and your junior paleontologists are the detectives. During this guided trail tour of 5 of our most popular dinosaurs, students determine each dinosaur’s diet by examining clues in the teeth and claws just like real paleontologists!

Students in the 1st and 2nd grades also learn about how the dinosaurs were specialized to be efficient and obtain food and water in their terrestrial habitats.

This class is conducted within the park and is only offered to those schools visiting The Dinosaur Place™, our outdoor adventure dinosaur park.

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.
  • K.2 – Many different kinds of living things inhabit the Earth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 1.2 – Living things have different structures and behaviors that allow them to meet their basic needs.  Animals need air, water and food to survive.
  • A 12. – Describe the different ways that animals, including humans, obtain water and food.
  • A 14. – Describe structures animals, including humans, use to move around.
  • 2.4 – Human beings, like all living things, have special nutritional needs for survival.


Enrichment Activities & Add-Ons

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

+- 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). Nature’s Art Village reserves the right to divide up classes to better accommodate groups. If necessary, Nature’s Art Village will inform the instructors before their visit.

+- 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!