Program Grades 3-6


River Dwellers gr. 3 – 6

Role playing, research, and hands-on activities help students discover how the Connecticut River Valley developed, how communities were established and how the human relationship with the River evolved. This program uses a 6 x 20 foot floor map of the River where students are able to build out the River Dweller communities.

Curriculum connections: community, timelines, mapping, research, public speaking, US & local history, human impact on environment.

90 minute program at your school: requires a dedicated classroom space. Max. 4 classes/day.

90 minute program at CRM.

90 minute program & Discovery workshop at CRM: add a second 90 minute workshop exploring art and artifacts related to each River Dweller group. Students learn how to study historic objects to understand the past and build a stronger context for each group that they have learned about.

Connecticut River in a Jar gr. 3 – 6

Students track the water cycle to learn where pollution comes from and hot to clean it up. After creating a polluted “river in a jar,” they use the scientific method and a variety of simple tools to develop and test strategies to clean their “river.” This program demonstrates the importance of water quality and the challenges in protecting our watersheds.

Curriculum connections: pollution & conservation, water cycle, scientific method, presentation, lab process, local environment, human impact.

90 minute program at your school: requires a dedicated classroom space with access to a sink. Max. 4 classes/day.

90 minute program at CRM.

Wild River gr. 3 – 6

Students study Connecticut River plants, trees, and animals and learn how the River provides habitat for each group. Aboard the Onrust, students learn hands-on as they sail the River observing marshes, forests, animal life and discover how to “read the river” as they find out about tides, salt marshes and the ecosystem of the lower River Valley.

Curriculum connections: ecosystems, habitats, rivers, tides, local environment, human impact.

90 minute schooner based program: students participate in activities on the Onrust during the sail.

90 minute land & water programs: two part program adds a gallery activity program. Students will trace the River’s journey and explore its ecosystems using maps and the Museum’s three story mural.

Valley Shipyard gr. 3 -6

Connecticut River communities were driven by shipbuilding and maritime trade for almost 300 years. Students will explore this industry through hands-on traditional shipyard jobs. How did shipyards work? How were other trades linked to the shipyards? Where did the timber came from? How were ships designed and built? As students make rope, carve trunnels, use an auger and caulk a hull, they will see first-hand the simple machines used in the shipyard and the steps involved with building a sailing ship. Combine the shipyard workshop with a sail on our schooner to see how a sailing ship worked and try sailors’ jobs.

Curriculum connections: colonial history, 19th century history, trade, rivers, geography, natural resources, simple machines, community, invention & innovation.

90 minute shipyard workshop at CRM.

90 minute shipyard workshop and 90 minute schooner sail.

Big Birds of Winter & EagleWatch Boat Trip gr. 3 – 6

Available: February and March.

In the Eagles of Essex exhibit students learn about eagles and other big birds of the River. They will discover why the lower River Valley is the winter home for one of the largest groups of eagles on the East Coast. Migratory routes, basic bird anatomy, and nesting behavior are explored as they build an eagle’s nest, use binoculars and a viewing scope to observe the most successful nesting pair of eagles in the state.

Curriculum connections: ecosystems, rivers, eagles, 20th century conservation/government action, biology.

60 minute gallery program: activities in Eagles of Essex exhibit and (weather permitting) off the CRM docks.

60 minute land & 60 minute EagleWatch boat excursion on the River.

David Bushnell’s Turtle: Innovation & Revolution gr. 5 & 6

Explore Bushnell’s ideas and experiences using primary documents, reproduction objects and lab experiments. Students work in teams to read and analyze primary documents and conduct experiments to understand Bushnell’s experiences and challenges in building the Turtle. This program is a good connection if you are reading Attack of the Turtle; an additional component comparing and contrasting historical fiction with historical fact can be included.

Curriculum connections: American Revolution, CT history, inventions/innovations, buoyancy, sink/float, problem solving, critical thinking, investigation & research, primary documents, scientific method.

This program consists of two 60 minute workshops: a social studies investigation using the reproduction Turtle submarine and primary documents, and a lab experiment exploring the scientific principles of mass, density, displacement and buoyancy.

Colonial Life Immersion Day at Bushnell Farm Grades 3 – 6

The Connecticut River Museum is pleased to offer this wonderful experience at our partner site, historic Bushnell Farm in Old Saybrook. Students will spend the day exploring aspects of daily life on the farm. First constructed in 1678, Bushnell house offers a chance for students to learn firsthand about early colonial settlement and what it meant to build a home out of the wilderness. Students will explore the 20 acre farmscape, learn about natural resources essential to building a farm, find out about timber frame construction as they work together to build a small timber frame structure, learn how to use historic tools, find out about life in a colonial home and the business of farming in colonial Connecticut. There is also an opportunity to add a component exploring the connections with Indigenous Peoples in the 1600s at the Farm’s wigwam site.

Curriculum Connections: CT history, US history, community, problem solving, critical thinking, investigation & research, primary documents, Indigenous Peoples, economics, natural environment, human/environment interaction, trade & transportation.

Minimum 3.5 hours for program

Basic program includes workshops in the historic house, barn, loom house, and farmscape.

Additional programs can be included: Indigenous Peoples wigwam site, hearth cooking, canoe burning.

Schedule a Program

We recommend scheduling your program at least 2 months in advance. You may call our Education Department at 860-767-8269, ext. 121 or email Please have ready school name, grade level, number of students, best school contact number and email, requested program, requested date (please give 3 dates), requested start time and end time.

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