The Washington Garden Club recently sponsored a trip for Washington Primary School students to visit the Institute for American Indian Studies in town.

The center marks its 40th anniversary this year.

Led by IAIS Education Director Khalil Quotap and his education staff, third-grade students were introduced students to aspects of Native American life through a combination of history, arts and crafts creativity, games that honed hunting skills, and life lessons taught through storytelling.

The unseasonable cold and the mud created from the melting snow did not deter the students as they walked through a replicated Algonkian village to learn about the construction of Native American homes, the crafting of dug-out canoes and the importance of native agricultural practices.

In the Sachem's longhouse classroom, students were introduced to both replicated and authentic native artifacts, and were encouraged to compare and contrast the objects from different Native American cultural regions across North America.

The exhibit, "Quinnetukut: Our Homeland, Our Story," taught students about Connecticut's Native Americans and how they have changed and adapted their lifestyles during their appromiately 10,000-year history in the state.

Another highlight of the visit was the making of cornhusk dolls, a popular Native American children's toy.

In the IAIS research building, the class played native children's games that, while fun, also taught necessary skills applicable to native life, specifically hunting.

For more than 20 years, the garden club has worked with the school to help students understand the world through a variety of different nature-oriented educational programs.