At The Museum

School & Homeschool Groups

Our interdisciplinary school programs are designed with the CT State Standards in mind to encourage discussions and provide interactive learning through hands-on activities either at our facility or yours. With a variety of age appropriate exploration exercises, your students will learn while having fun! A number of additions can be made to the core program, including Native American games, stories and crafts.

See individual program offerings for more curriculum details.


Little Lessons in Indian Lifeways (Pre-K – 2nd Grade)

Three photos depicting parts of education programs including activities indoors and outdoors.

Allow artifacts and Native American storytelling to transport your students back 1,000 years to the Eastern Woodlands, learning how found objects and oral traditions bring the past to life. During this program, students will explore Native American homes, play musical instruments, and examine leather clothing and animal furs. Through sight and touch, children will learn and experience Native American lifeways

Standard Program Length: 1½ hours

$10 per student with $150 minimum


Common Core Standards

Reading Writing Speaking & Listening Language
1, 2, 5, 7 1, 2, 3, 4 1, 4

 State Standards

History Civics Ecology Geology
k.1, k.2, k.3, k.4; 1.1, 1.4; 2.2 k.3 k.1; 1.3 K.4; 1.4; 2.4, 2.5


Indians of the Woodlands (3rd – 5th Grade)

Photographs of education programs taking place both indoors and outdoors.

Compare the lives of Native Americans years ago to life in the Northeast today. In this program students will learn how Native Americans interacted with their environment. Students will understand tool innovations, why specific homes were created, and how available materials were used. These adaptations were crucial to survival and are still in use today. Participants will learn about Northeastern Indian family life, as well as indigenous peoples’ interaction with the woodland environment and their progression through time.

Standard Program Length: 2 to 2½ hours

$10 per student with $150 minimum

Common Core Standards

Reading Writing Speaking & Listening Language
1, 3, 4, 7 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1, 4

 State Standards

History Civics Ecology Geology
3.1, 3.2; 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5 3.1; 4.1, 4.2 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9; 4.3, 4.4, 4;5, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3


Westward Expansion (6th – 8th Grade)

Learn about the fight for resources through activities and guided discussions from the perspectives of both Native Americans and Colonists. Explore how tribal economy and identity was impacted by westward expansion. Discover how the lives of Connecticut Natives changed with the environment, and how climate shaped many Native cultures across the United States.

Standard Program Length: 2 to 2½ hours

$10 per student with $150 minimum

Common Core Standards

Reading Writing Speaking & Listening Language
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 1, 2, 6, 7, 10 1, 2, 4 1, 4, 5, 6

 State Standards

History Civics Ecology Geology
6.3, 7.3, 6.5, 7.5, 6.6, 7.6, 6.9, 7.9, 8.3
9.5, 10.5, 11.5, 12.5, 9.10, 10.10, 11,10, 12.10, 9.14, 10.14, 11.14, 12.14
8.4, 9.4, 10.4, 11.4, 12.4 3.1; 4.1, 4.2 6.1, 7.1, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.9
9.1, 10.1, 11.1, 12.1, 9.4, 10.4, 11.4, 12.4, 9.5, 10.5, 11.5, 12.5, 9.7, 10.7, 11.7, 12.7


Power of the Eighth Generation (9th – 12th Grade)

Initiate meaningful discussion of European-Native American interactions. Students will explore post-contact history and its impact on public knowledge and Native identity. These young adults will identify with both points of view when two cultures clash.

Standard Program Length: 2 to 2½ hours

$10 per student with $150 minimum

Common Core Standards

Reading Writing Speaking & Listening Language
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 1, 2, 6, 7, 10 1, 2, 4 1, 4, 5, 6

Connecticut State Standards

History Civics Ecology Geology
6.3, 7.3, 6.5, 7.5, 6.6, 7.6, 6.9, 7.9, 8.3
9.5, 10.5, 11.5, 12.5, 9.10, 10.10, 11,10, 12.10, 9.14, 10.14, 11.14, 12.14
8.4, 9.4, 10.4, 11.4, 12.4 3.1; 4.1, 4.2 6.1, 7.1, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.9
9.1, 10.1, 11.1, 12.1, 9.4, 10.4, 11.4, 12.4, 9.5, 10.5, 11.5, 12.5, 9.7, 10.7, 11.7, 12.7


Please Note The Following

  • Program dates are assigned on a first come, first served basis with many peak-season programs scheduled months in advance.
  • All accompanying teachers, aides, paraprofessionals and nurses are admitted free of charge.*
  • One (1) chaperone for every ten (10) children is allowed free of charge.
  • Our programs include outdoor adventures, even on rainy days!
  • Students should be encouraged to wear weather-appropriate clothing.
  • In the event of a cancellation, a full two weeks’ notice is required or a $100 cancellation fee will be charged.
  • Cancellations due to school closings, delayed openings or early dismissals will not be charged and we will do everything possible to reschedule the trip for a convenient date.
  • A deposit for large groups may be required.

Educational Explorations

Educational Explorations, two children are working on a project
Two children are building an outdoor shelter

Are you homeschooling your children this school year? Maybe you want them to get some supplemental educational experiences in order to catch up after a long summer. If so, the Institute for American Indian Studies has just the program you need. “Educational Explorations” is our new hands-on, interdisciplinary, inquiry-based private lesson program. Each program is led by experienced museum educators and focuses on a topic related to our mission. Programs have connections to core social studies, science, reading and writing curricula and teach important life skills. Programs can be tailored for students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

We welcome siblings, cousins, friends or neighbors to sign up for one of these educational adventures. Students will dig deeper into history with our archaeology programs, study scientific concepts through hands-on ecology programs, cultivate community and critical thinking skills, and connect with a culture that has more than 10,000 years of history.

Programs can be customized based on age, number, and interests of the participants. Special topic/skill requests may be honored, for an additional fee.

  • Pricing: $85 Minimum for IAIS Members for 1-3 children; $105 minimum for Non-Members for 1-3 children. Additional $20/child for more than 3 children.
  • Standard programs are 2 hours long. Morning or afternoon programs can be scheduled, based on staffing availability. To ensure staff availability, please contact us at least one week prior to when you would like to schedule a program.
  • Programs can be modified for students from Kindergarten/age 5 to Grade 12. For students ages 8 and up, Wigwam Escape, our award-winning Escape Room, can be included for an additional fee and program length.
  • Students and staff are required to wear masks inside the museum. A First Aid and CPR certified staff member will be present at all times that students are participating in these programs.
  • Click here for more information on our COVID-19 policies.
  • Please note: If your scheduled program is during museum hours, there may be other visitors on site. Our staff will still keep groups separate and socially distanced as much as possible.  

      Educational Exploration Themes

      Social Sciences

      Digging Detectives: Archaeology, Anthropology: The Study of Cultures, Putting it All Together: Materials and Resource Use, Culture Keepers: The Stories Artifacts Tell, Bodies of Knowledge: Human Anatomy and Physiology.

      Earth Sciences

      Ecology: The Natural World, Etuaptmumk: Two-Eyed Seeing (combining traditional Native knowledge and Western science), Our Feathered and Furry Friends: Birds and Mammals, All Our Relations: Woodland Plants and Animals, Learning From Plants: Botany, Waterworks: River Ecology, A Bug’s Life: Entomology, The Dirty Details: Soil and Erosion, A Place to Call Home: Habitats, Putting Down Roots: Trees and Plants, Life Skills: Animal Adaptations, Reading the Clouds: Seasons, Weather and Climate, The Web of Life: Food Webs,  Carbon Footprint: Human Impacts on the Environment; Rocking Your World: Geology, Testing a Theory: The Scientific Method.

      Survival & Traditional Skills

      Staying Alive: Our Five Basic Needs, Warps and Wefts: Weaving, Arrow-Dynamics: Archery and Atlatls, Finding Your Way: Orienteering, Directions and Map Reading, Outdoor Survival 101: Knot Tying, Fire Starting, and Shelter Building.

      Social Studies

      Culture and Community in Native Societies; The View from The Shore or The View From the Boat? Understanding Different Perspectives; Quinnetukut: Local Native History; Working Together: Group Dynamics; We Are Still Here: Community, Social Change and Cultural Endurance, The Four Directions: Regional Differences in Native Cultures; Map Masters: Geography, Manifest Destiny? Westward Expansion, Art History and Art Appreciation, Appropriation vs Appreciation: Native Arts, Crafts, and Music; What Does a Native Look Like? Confronting Stereotypes, A Storied Tradition: Oral Histories and Cultural Knowledge.


      The Institute for American Indian Studies offers a variety of interactive programs for Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts of all ages. Whether working towards a Merit Badge, Adventure or Journey, desiring to practice useful Scouting skills, or just looking to have an engaging learning experience, IAIS has a program for your Scouts. Sign up your patrol or den, or bring the entire Troop or Pack. An IAIS Scouting program will be an experience to remember!


          Cub Scouts

          Cub Scouts will explore the lives of Native Americans living in the Eastern Woodlands 1,000 years ago. Our replicated 16th Century Algonkian village and indoor Sachem’s house allow the Scouts to learn what life was like in a village 500 years ago while imagining they are actually there. Also included in this hands-on, two-hour program is the opportunity to learn about survival skills practiced for thousands of years and why they are so effective. Check out our craft add on activities and give your scouts a chance to bring home a memory made with their own hands.

          Cub Scout Archaeology Program

          Cub Scouts will piece together the puzzles of the past with this interactive, three-hour archaeology program. By exploring stratigraphy and through careful consideration of clues and attention to detail, Scouts will practice skills archaeologists use to understand the diverse ways people survived and thrived in the past. Get your hands dirty and participate in a mock excavation! Due to weather restrictions for this activity, excavations will only occur between the months of March and November. (Appropriate for Scouts age 8 and up).

          Brownie Senses Badge Program

          Brownies can engage their sense of sight, sound, touch, and smell during this sensational, one-and-a-half-hour program. See what you can spot in our indoor Sachem’s longhouse furnished with replicated Eastern Woodlands artifacts and a mural depicting life thousands of years ago. Listen to the world around you in our outdoor replicated Algonkian village. Explore textures and scents with an interactive guessing game. For an added experience, and to complete more portions of the journey, leaders can bring along a treat for a tasty snack activity. If choosing this option, please let us know in advance of any allergies and what you plan to bring.

          Girl Scout Program

          Girl Scouts will explore the lives of Native Americans, past and present in this engaging, hands-on, two-hour program. Get a glimpse into the world of pre-contact Native Americans in our replicated 16th century Algonkian village and indoor sachem’s house, which is furnished with replicated garden tools, a canoe, cradleboard and other everyday tools. Scouts will have the opportunity to learn survival skills vital to life in the Eastern Woodlands. Learn about the diverse cultures that still thrive today. Add a craft and give your scouts a chance to bring home a memory made with their own hands.

          Girl Scout Archaeology Program

          Girl Scouts will dig into the past with this interactive, hands-on archaeology program. Throughout this four-hour program, Scouts will learn about the techniques archaeologists use, such as point typology, experimental archaeology and careful consideration of clues, in order to unravel the mysteries of the past and interpret the diverse ways people survived and thrived thousands of years ago. Get your hands dirty and participate in a mock excavation! Due to weather restrictions for this activity, excavations will only occur between the months of March and November. (Appropriate for Scouts age 8 and up).

          Boy Scout Indian Lore Merit Badge Program

          Boy Scouts will engage with diverse Native American ways of life past and present, while earning requirements toward the Indian Lore Merit Badge in this two-and-a-half-hour program. Get a glimpse into the world of pre-contact Native Americans in our replicated 16th century Algonkian Village and indoor Sachem’s house, furnished and containing replicated garden tools, artifacts, everyday tools and technology, everything you would need to survive in the woodlands. Practice survival skills vital for daily life in the Eastern Woodlands and try your hand at shelter building. Add a craft to bring home a memory made with your own hands!

          Boy Scout Archaeology

          Boy Scouts will dig into the past as they earn requirements toward the archaeology merit badge in this hands-on, four-hour archaeology program. From point typology to experimental archaeology, as well as through careful consideration of evidence and attention to detail, Scouts will practice the skills and tools that archaeologists use to unravel the mysteries of the past, in order to interpret the diverse ways people survived and thrived. Get your hands dirty and participate in a mock excavation! Due to weather restrictions for this activity, excavations will only occur between the months of March and November.

          Add on Craft Activities

          Looking to add a hands-on activity to any of the above programs? The below activities can be added on as a 30 minute segment to enhance your core program!


              Learn practical survival skills through play with traditional Native games such as Hoop and Pole, Sneak Up, The Moccasin Game, and more! Games will be selected based on age.

              Cost (in addition to core program): $2 per student

              Traditional Stories

              In Native cultures, oral storytelling teaches, guides and entertains. Enjoy the lessons and magic of these traditional stories as told by an experienced Native American storyteller.

              Cost (in addition to core program): $2 per student


              Make and take home a Native American-inspired craft under the guidance of IAIS educators. To ensure availability of materials, crafts must be booked at least 3 weeks in advance.

              Talking Sticks: $6.00 per student (2nd grade and up)

              Beading: $4.00 per student (All Ages)

              Clay Pottery: $4.00 per student (All Ages)

              Corn Husk Dolls: $4.00 per student (2nd grade and up)

              Lectures & Presentations

              Explore a wide range of topics presented by noted archaeologist and IAIS’ Director of Research and Collections, Dr. Lucianne Lavin. Whatever your group’s needs, these programs can be adapted to be presented at the museum or in the facility of your choosing. Please note the program descriptions and take into consideration the electronic equipment required for a PowerPoint presentation.

              Lucianne Lavin, Ph.D. is an anthropologist & archaeologist who has over 40 years of research and field experience in Northeastern archaeology and anthropology, including teaching, museum exhibits and curatorial work, cultural resource management, editorial work and public relations. Dr. Lavin is a founding member of the state’s Native American Heritage Advisory Council and Editor of the journal of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut.

              She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from New York University and her B.A. from Indiana University. Dr. Lavin has written over 150 professional publications and technical reports on the archaeology and ethnohistory of the Northeast. Her award-winning book, Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples: What Archaeology, History and Oral Traditions Teach Us about their Communities and Cultures, was recently published by Yale University Press (spring 2013). The book won an Award of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations (Award of Merit Connecticut League of History Organizations 2014-02-25), won  Second Place in the books category in the 2014 New England Museum Association Publication Award Competition (Publication Award New England Museum Association 2014-07-15), and  was selected as a Choice Magazine (American Library Association) “Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 in the North America Category” (Outstanding Academic Title Choice 2014-01-21). Her book is available for purchase in the museum gift shop.


                  Connecticut's Indigenous Communities: An Introduction

                  The history and cultures of Connecticut’s first peoples will be the subject of Dr. Lucianne Lavin’s illustrated PowerPoint presentation. Connecticut’s indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back to when they shared Mother Earth with mastodons and other extinct animals.  Ignored or themselves falsely labeled extinct by local 19th century town histories, the story of their evolution into complex tribal societies with sophisticated social and political traditions has remained largely untold. Though ravaged by European diseases, war, land losses, poverty, and discrimination, Native American peoples adapted to their constantly changing social landscapes through a series of survival strategies.  Their communities remain a vibrant part of Connecticut life today.

                  Connecticut's Indigenous Communities and their Natural World

                  CT’s Indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back to when they shared Mother Earth with mastodons and other extinct animals.  Through those thousands of years, Native Americans became experts in their natural environments, a necessity for their physical survival. New England was not a “wilderness”, as described by the early English settlers, but a built landscape. Our first environmental stewards, Native American communities had long been managing their physical environments to enhance plant and animal populations. Indigenous folklore and sacred stories promoted this stewardship. Birds were an important part of the environmental planning, not just as a food source but also for their spiritual significance.

                  Native American History IS American History

                  This PowerPoint presentation illustrates the significance of Native American history and culture to our present American way of life. It discusses some of the major contributions of Native American peoples and their traditional cultures to the formation of our U.S. government, economy, communication systems, medicine, and science. Many of today’s nationally and internationally known American political leaders, sports heroes, musicians, artists and other celebrities are Native Americans — often unbeknownst to the American public.  These individuals clearly demonstrate that Native history must be considered an integral part of our general American history.

                  Traditional Roles of Women in Southern New England Tribal Societies

                  This Powerpoint Presentation will provide a short introduction to indigenous societies in the region, and then focus on the traditional roles of women in those Native American societies. Their status will be compared to that of indigenous men and contemporary European women. Great talk for Women’s History Month!

                  Mohican Memorabilia and Manuscripts from the Stockbridge Mission House "Indian Museum": The Persistence of Mohican Culture and Community

                  This presentation is a result of Dr. Lucianne Lavin’s research in 2010 as the Scholar in Residence at the Stockbridge Mission House in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The program was funded by Mass Humanities, a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The goal of this particular project was to broaden our understanding of the history of the Stockbridge Mohican community through a study of the Mohican artifacts and documents housed at the historic Mission House museum, which was originally built in 1737 for the Mohican’s first minister, John Sergeant.

                  Our Hidden Landscapes: Stone Cultural Features and Ceremonial Landscapes

                  A hike in the woods often reveals a variety of stone cultural features to the experienced archaeologist. This PowerPoint presentation is an overview of the various kinds of European-American and indigenous stone structures found on our Connecticut landscapes. State regulations support preservation of sacred Native American sites, and it is important for members of land trusts and conservation organizations to be able to recognize these sites within their properties, and inform the CT State Historic Preservation Office and Office of State Archaeology of their presence.

                  A Native American Winter

                  This PowerPoint presentation describes the traditional winter activities of Native Americans before the coming of European settlers to Connecticut. Connecticut’s indigenous communities fortify their image as outdoor peoples in their ability to not only survive, but thrive, under adverse conditions.

                  Native American Pottery: The Sacred & the Mundane

                  One of the most negative stereotypes of American Indians is that their cultures were simple and primitive. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Having migrated into North America by at least 20-30,000 years ago, Native American peoples have had thousands of years to develop their tribal traditions and belief systems into the complex, sophisticated entities encountered by their first European visitors. This PowerPoint presentation uses one aspect of their material culture to illustrate this fact. Examples of Native American ceramics from several tribal cultures will be discussed in terms of their technologies, designs, functions and symbolisms.

                  Education for Indigenous Extinction: The View from Connecticut

                  Native American communities have endured over 400 years of racism, discrimination, poverty and injustice caused by factors of European invasion. A major tool for detribalizing was Indian boarding schools. This PowerPoint presentation will discuss the effects of Indian boarding schools on indigenous identity and culture in the United States in general, and Connecticut in particular.

                  Contemporary Native American Communities: An Introduction

                  This PowerPoint presentation introduces the audience to several contemporary Native American communities. Specifically, it will compare and contrast those in the West with those in southern New England, stressing their diversity in physical environment, culture and history. One result is the major differences in their historic reservation cultures.

                  A Native American Walk through your Land Preserve

                  Delve into the Native American history of your preserve. Join archaeologist Lucianne Lavin for a leisurely walk through the meadows and woodlands of your preserve, the homeland of Native American communities for thousands of years prior to European settlement. Dr. Lavin will point out the bountiful variety of natural resources that likely drew indigenous peoples to the region and discuss their importance to their Native American cultures. She also will describe the archaeological research adjacent to your land.

                  Digging for Venture

                  This presentation will explore the multi-year archaeological project that unearthed the home and farm of Broteer Furro, AKA Venture Smith, a 17th century African-American leader and former slave. This project uncovered thousands of objects and over a dozen structural remains that provided previously unknown information on Venture’s daily life, economic status and moral standards. He was born the eldest son of a West African prince, into a life fraught with murder, abduction, enslavement and discrimination. He overcame these adversities through hard work, honesty and courage, eventually becoming a respected free black land owner and businessmen in Haddam, CT. Great talk for Black History Month!

                  More Presentations to choose from include:

                  • They Are Still Here: The Native Americans of Western Connecticut
                  • Native American History of the Farmington River Valley
                  • Connecticut’s American Indian Coastal Communities, Then and Now
                  • Native American Communities in the Lower Housatonic River Valley: Then & Now
                  • The Wangunks and Connecticut’s Indigenous Communities
                  • The Tunxis & Indigenous Communities of Connecticut: Community Survival after European Settlement
                  • Native Americans: The First American Mineralogists
                  • Jim Thorpe, The Sac & Fox Tribe, and CT’s Native Americans: Then and Now
                  • Sports & Recreation: An Integral Part of Native American Lifeways
                  America's First Gardeners

                  Over 90% of the foods Americans eat today were originally introduced by Native American peoples. They were our first herbalists, gardeners, and farmers. This presentation introduces the audience to Native American botanical lore, covering such topics as Indigenous management of wild plant colonies, horticultural techniques, promotion of environmental stewardship, and Native pharmacists.

                  Sports and Recreation: An Integral Part of Native American Lifeways

                  This PowerPoint presentation introduces the audience to the various traditional recreational activities of Native Americans, which are still practiced today. The focus is on Indigenous games, but social gatherings, storytelling, and dances are also discussed as important facets in the physical, social and political successes of Native American communities. Many nationally known American sports heroes today are Indigenous athletes.

                  Contact Us About Our Programs