School Groups

Fun and Education Experience.

Educational & fun hands on activities

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!

We’re here to help you book your field trip or get more information.

Contact Our Events Coordinator

860-443-4367

[email protected]

Indoor Educational Programs

We offer educational programs for students from Kindergarten through 4th grade. Topics include geology, paleontology, and history. For a list of educational programs, contact our Event Coordinator, contact information above.

Grades Pre-K and Up

Jackpot Mine: Dig for Minerals & Gems!

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.

Participating children must be potty-trained.

Ask about our special 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
The Bone Zone: Unearth a Dinosaur Skeleton!

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.

Participating children must be potty-trained.

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
Thunder Creek: Pan for “Gold!”

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 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.

Grades 3 & Up

Thunder Creek with Value Assay: Pan for “Gold!”

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 its weight in gold!

Available year round.

Ask about our special 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
Genius Museum Guided Tour

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 that 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.

Available year round.

Ask about our special group rates.

Tour Duration: 45 minutes*

  • *Tour duration is dependent upon the number of questions from the children

All Ages

The Dinosaur Place (Outdoor Adventure Park)

Bring the learning outside and discover an adventure of prehistoric proportions! During this enrichment activity, you and your students explore over 50 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 are two animatronic dinosaur exhibits, our mammoth-sized a“MAZE”asaurus, the innovative Monty’s Playground including T-Rex Tower, an erupting volcano, shaded picnic tables for lunch, and New England’s largest Splash Pad (seasonal)!

Available Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting.

Large groups must be subdivided for Splash Pad use at scheduled intervals.

Shoes are required on the Splash Pad.

Socks are required to play in T-Rex Tower.

Ask about our special group rates!

Duration: 2-4 hours*

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

Your students will love learning about nature’s lottery tickets! They learn how geodes are formed and opened, and 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

FAQs

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. Accompanying instructors and chaperones are not included in the 20 student minimum and are not charged for watching the class(es).

Are the activities accessible?

Both Indoor hands-on museum activities and outdoor activities are accessible. Physically disabled 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. Wide-wheeled strollers and wheelchairs are recommended for the natural packed gravel trails outdoors.

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?

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.  One week’s advanced notice is required for all orders. No outside food is permitted in the main building. If your group’s program includes admission to The Dinosaur Place, you are welcome to use our picnic areas and bring a bag lunch into the park. We also have 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 cleanup. Availability depends on the size of the group.

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 transferred to another day 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 the day of the trip. We accept payments by check, cash, or credit card (excluding American Express). Please make checks 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. 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. Bus parking is available by the Steam Engine Building.