Our Learning Philosophy
Learning at Conner Prairie is unique and personal. As we invite guests to “Step into the Story,” we also strive to step into theirs. Through observation, deep listening, and thoughtful questioning, we create meaningful connections, offering guests an opportunity to go beyond “doing” and experience “being.”
Our interactive exhibits, expansive grounds, and passionate staff provide limitless, immersive experiences, meeting guests where they are, honoring the individual needs, passions, interests, dreams, and fears of each unique human being. We offer guests the time and freedom to notice, to explore, to question, to feel, to play, and to sink into the process of learning, erasing the pressure of an expected outcome or final product.
We believe all learners, each with their own past experiences and intricate minds, have the right to construct their own knowledge, expanding through interactions with others and with their environment. History is at the core of what we do, because we must understand where we’ve been in order to understand where we are and look forward to where we might go. But history does not live in standards or even in research; history lives in our stories, and stories are enhanced through art, science, imagination, and nature.
Conner Prairie acknowledges the power of intertwining these concepts and ideas, inviting guests into the stories we know, the stories they bring to us, and the stories we have yet to acknowledge or discover.
In Spark!Lab, we believe everyone is inventive.
Every day we provide opportunities for children and families to explore their inventive creativity—to create, innovate, collaborate, and problem-solve—because these experiences empower kids to develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed today and in the future.
Discovery Station is the perfect place for guests through the age of nine to create, climb, explore, play and pretend!
Children develop their critical thinking and motor skills while playing and being their authentic selves at the same time. There is also a special area for infants to roll, crawl, and investigate with toys and materials especially for them.
Anything Can Happen Art is located inside Discovery Station. In this space, guests of all ages can create art with whatever materials they wish without pressure of expectation or desired results.
Adventure is calling. Come connect with the natural materials in the world around you. Treetop Outpost features a 4-story treehouse for guests of all ages to explore, observe, wonder, and play. Immerse yourself in playful learning in our art, dig, build, and play areas around Treetop. Borrow an Adventure Backpack and explore the Nature Walk.
River Crossing Splash Pad is the perfect place to cool down during your visit! Kids can have fun boarding the Alice Dean steamboat, firing water cannons, guiding toy boats along the river and more. This area is full of hands-on activities that encourage pretend play and family interaction.
School tours and Programs
Our field trips give your students a unique and personal experience to connect with history and nature. Through observation, deep listening, and thoughtful questioning, we create meaningful connections, offering guests an opportunity to go beyond “doing” and experience “being.”
Learn more about our experience add-ons:
- Chicken Check-In: Give your students personalized time with Conner Prairie's animals and expert agriculture staff!
- Wonder Walk: In this add-on program, your class will spend time connecting in nature with our Education staff at Treetop Amphitheater and along the Nature Walk.
1859 Balloon Voyage: Join us in the celebration of innovation with Conner Prairie's 1859 Balloon Voyage!
The Teacher in Residence program is a unique concept of partnering between a teacher from the local school district, Hamilton Southeastern Schools, and the museum staff from Conner Prairie. In this innovative partnership, 4th grade students from HSE come out to the grounds of Conner Prairie August through May to learn and explore! History, science, literature, speech and debate are brought to life through individual learning experiences designed by Teacher in Residence, Amy Murch, and the incredible education, curatorial, agriculture and interpretation departments of Conner Prairie.
We are always thinking about who we aren't serving and who we can serve better. Conner Prairie is a place where the doors are always open to a diversity of voices and limitless experiences. Learn more about our DEAI commitment.
Our Memory Cafés are a safe and welcoming space where people can come together for a social experience. Each program is specifically designed using one or more of the five senses in order to stimulate conversation and social interaction between the participants.
Conner Prairie is open the second Sunday of every month from 10am-12pm for free for Sensory Friendly Sundays. Individuals with sensory differences and their families have the chance to experience Conner Prairie without exhibit components that make a lot of noise or have bright lights (like the Dry Goods Store sound and light show in Civil War Journey) as they are turned off unless specifically requested.
Sensory Friendly Santa is an opportunity for our guests to interact with Santa at their own speed and comfort level. Tabletop art and provocations will encourage play and interaction.
On Homeschool Days any homeshool family can visit Conner Prairie for our school group rate. Homeschool days give homeschool families the opportunity spend the day engaging in a variety of learning opportunities and outdoor experiences.
The Conner Prairie Learning Portal provides a unique digital experience that focuses on the learner. Through a series of educational resources and interactive elements, our learning portal gives you the time and space that you need to explore the Conner Prairie story with opportunities to complement your own educational development.
Conner Prairie's collections are focused on Midwest and Indiana material culture circa 1800 to the present, including domestic and agricultural objects, historic textiles, historic buildings, science materials reflecting invention and innovation, and live animals that help visitors make connections with the natural world. It may also include such non-regional and foreign objects as help define and delineate the material culture of Indiana.
Early Learning at Conner Prairie
Playtime on the Prairie is an early childhood experience tailored for our youngest guests. Each session is designed to bring Conner Prairie to life in a developmentally appropriate way for children ages 0-5. Attendees will have the opportunity to play, explore, inquire, and learn throughout each session. Themes will represent unique activities and events at Conner Prairie — both on the historic grounds and throughout the vast natural areas available on our property.
Centered around the playing child, our preschool through 1st grade Early Childhood Play Trips offer appropriate curricular support through thoughtful play invitations for all children.
- "It's about time" lets students enhance their understanding of time by manipulating time-telling tools, representing time with words, linking time to events, and exploring concepts of time.
- "Sensing Nature" lets see what’s buzzing and blooming on the prairie as we use our senses to observe the changes occurring during this special time of year and explore nature around us. Students will be inspired and encouraged to ignite their curiosity, explore, wonder, and PLAY! This guided nature walk will include a visit to the Prairie Overlook, the White River and Treetop Outpost.
- "STEAM ON!" gives students the opportunity to interact with play invitations representing each of the letter in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics). Invitations will include building bridges, exploring mathematical concepts with loose parts, representing learning through art, and much more!
Preschool on the Prairie combines outdoor exploration with play-based, emergent curriculum to create an educational experience second to none. As Conner Prairie’s vision expands to better serve our youngest visitors, we have created an early learning environment that allows children to immerse themselves in nature and the magic of childhood.
Historic Skills Classes & Arms Making Workshops offer how-to classes and workshops geared to adults and teens in a variety of topics from historic trades, to culinary skills, to the arts. See something you want to learn more about? Get registered!
Birding at Conner Prairie
What motivates you to spend time outside? Perhaps it’s a sunny day and you want to take a walk with friends or family. It could be that you’ve been spending time on…Read More
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