Have Your Kids Roll the Story Dice & Add Creative Color to Storytelling

Story Dice Utilizes the Power of a Child’s Imagination

Children’s creativity is endless, and often causes the line between fiction and reality to be fuzzy at times. Take advantage of their ability to add creative details to their everyday experiences by using story dices at home! A handmade set can be tailored to a child’s interests and preexisting knowledge, and will generate endless sets of story-crafting inspiration that will support children in developing a wide variety of skills.

For young children, the line between fiction and nonfiction in their own storytelling is flexible – tales of the previous day’s adventures can easily become intertwined with imaginary interactions with invented characters and impossible events. A normal part of childhood, the tendency to mix fact and fiction together isn’t a problem, it’s just the product of an active imagination! Storytelling of any kind helps children develop all kinds of essential skills, so take advantage of the fantastic imaginary realms of childhood by supporting children in telling all of their tales – tall or otherwise.

One fun way to make storytelling a regular family activity is to create story dice, which offer a tangible set of story-making clues and turn the process of putting together a story into a bit of a game. A set of story dice isn’t made up of a specific number of dice, but an amount that is more than three and less than ten offers a good amount of variety. If done as a DIY family project, story dice can be covered with images of your family’s choosing – generally, an assortment of people, places, animals, objects, and even colors, letters, and numbers cover the sides of the dice. When rolled, story dice generate a set of things around which to craft a story. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Messy Process of Creating Art Brings Creative Free Play

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

The Convenience of Crazy

Paint brushes

Bringing a bit of order to creative free play.

Well, I am officially a mother now. Not just a care provider from 8-5, I am a Mama. I can’t send my daughter home after I have cleaned up and waved goodbye to all the other children. She stays – always.

I have historically been enthusiastic advocate for the arts and as my Bio states: “I revel in hands on messy projects.” But now, I see why some parents avoid it. The ‘messies’ are not convenient. Messy projects do not fit neatly into the nightly routine, the bath, the story and bedtime. It throws a big greasy wrench into the nice white mix of the night and clunks around in there distracting you. It distracts us from the dishes, the laundry and that book that you have really wanted to start. So how do we as parents, balance those projects with the rest of our lives? Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween Candy Collection Shows Kindness to Others

Halloween Candy: Catalyst Towards Service Based Learning

After the magic of Halloween has ended and bits of costumes have been strewn about the house, kids are left with fond memories and gigantic piles of candy. While the candy can be of moderate educational value, it primarily serves as an unnecessary dietary supplement that, if well-rationed, can hang around the house for months to come. As much as most children love to eat candy, health-conscious parents may not want the collected treats to hang around and be consumed. On Nov 1 in Easthampton, Easthampton CrossFit will be collecting unwanted candy to donate to Operation Gratitude!

Halloween brings haunted hayrides, cute costumes, and more candy than anyone needs–or even wants–to eat. This year, families can use Halloween candy as a catalyst toward community service by getting rid of unwanted candy and helping our troops at the same time. On Saturday, November 1, at a “Halloween Candy Give Back,” Easthampton CrossFit will accept donations of candy to be sent to the troops serving overseas through Operation Gratitude, a California-based non-profit that sends military care packages.

“Halloween candy brings a memory of home,” says Jim Rego, a military veteran and a coach at the gym. By donating their candy to the troops, children can learn about service and giving back, and also cut down on eating Halloween candy.

This is a great event for kids who want to trick or treat, but either can’t eat candy due to food allergies or who just don’t want to eat too much. Parents can allow kids to pick out a few pieces of candy to keep, and bring the rest to Easthampton CrossFit ((180 Pleasant Street) on Saturday morning from 11am to 1pm to be donated.

Can’t make it? Want to organize a similar event in your community? Find out how you can organize a collection drive in your community through Operation Gratitude.

Grandpa in the House: Stuck in Intergenerational Traffic

The Family Car: AKA Chauffeuring Dad While My Son is Losing It

Traffic lights- not so much the main issue anymore.

“I wish we did not have to drive so long. Can we turn around, that way, west, and go home?” My four year old is pointing behind us, back towards our house. I am impressed by his sense of direction but my joy in his new found skill is short lived. We have a shopping trip to do. We have been in the car for five minutes and he is already ready to go home. This does not bode well.

I imagine most parents with young children dread the “shopping trip.” Before becoming a parent, I was convinced that the strangers I witnessed dragging their screaming children through a store were doing something wrong. Surely they should not be subjecting their child – or the rest of us shoppers – to such torture. Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown High School Students Mobilize to Support Democracy

Members of Model United Nations Club Raise Awareness

The entrance to Gateway Regional High School in the Hilltowns features student words of support for Hong Kong protesters.

Hong Kong. A city of more than seven million people, is a global financial center known for its film industry and manufacturing sector. And more recently, known for the protests that have brought tens of thousands to its streets, all demonstrating for free and fair democratic elections. Recently, students at Gateway Regional High School in Huntington, MA, put together a campaign to raise awareness of the events in Hong Kong and to show support for the pro-democracy protesters half a world away. Senior, Cory Bisbee,  had followed the protests closely and decided to start organizing a group of fellow classmates to address them after police shockingly used tear gas and pepper spray on the protesters.  Read the rest of this entry »

Nature Table for October

This Month’s Nature Table Illustrates Rhythm of Nature

Every month, Hilltown Families features a new nature table whose contents inspire learning along a common theme easily spotted in our surroundings that month. A tradition carried out by teachers, environmental educators, and nature-curious families, nature tables bring a little bit of the outdoors inside for inspection, dissection, identification, creative play, art projects, and lots of other educational activities. The idea behind a nature table is to help open up children’s eyes to the unique attributes of each season, and to help them learn how to see these things in nature for themselves. A nature table can include a variety of items, and is often accompanied by a set of books and/or field guides so that children can take part in further learning at their own will.

The rains have littered the October ground with a crackling sea shed from the maples outside our window. Fall at our West County elementary school is beautiful, as it turns out, and warmer than we expected. Stories about the chill of fall air sit on the shelf, waiting for the cooler mornings to last all day long and provide the proper climate-context for their telling. Even our wardrobes are confused, and small bodies alternate constantly between winter coats and t-shirts as the temperature bobs up and down. Our classroom “pets,” a collection of pond snails, move about their bowl at approximately the pace that fall has arrived at this year, and they devour green leaves at about the same rate that those outside our window have changed. Our caterpillar has come and gone, his quick chrysalis-ed exit to an outdoor overwintering suspected to have been the result of a few days’ worth of boredom in our room. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: Oct 20-24, 2014

learning ahead

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all year long!

This week we are featuring 15 events that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Nature Songs Episode with Guest DJ, Little Miss Ann

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Nature Songs Episode with Guest DJ, Little Miss Ann

Come join Chicago’s Little Miss Ann as she shares some of her favorite “nature” songs that explore different topics like birds, wind, sun, moon, animals, etc. — www.littlemissann.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
October 18th & 19th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

“Echo” by The Okee Dokee Brothers off of their Appalachian adventure CD, Through the Woods.


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Bruno Coulais, Mathilde Pellegrini, Hélène Breschand, Hungrarian Symphony Orchestra Budapest & Laurent Petitgirard – “Exploration” (Coraline – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • The Okee Dokee Brothers – “Echo” (Through the Woods)
  • Little Miss Ann – “Follow Me” (Follow Me)
  • Elizabeth Mitchell – “The Little Bird” (Blue Clouds)
  • Steve Elci – “Four Little Birds” (Imagine Nation)
  • Little Miss Ann – “ Mockingbird” (Clap for Love)
  • Caspar Babypants – “Loud and Quiet (Featuring Frances England)” (Sing Along!)
  • Baze and His Silly Friends, – “Fly (A Caterpillar’s Tale)” (The Best Day Ever!)
  • Red Yarn – “Old Blue” (The Deep Woods)
  • Suzi Shelton – “Cinnamon Bear” (Smile in my Heart)
  • Bari Koral Family Rock Band – “Apple Tree” (Apple Tree & the Honey Bee)
  • Little Miss Ann – “I Love the Mountains” (Follow Me)
  • The Grateful Dead – “Box of Rain” (American Beauty)
  • Cat Stevens – “The Wind” (Teaser and the Firecat)
  • Papa Crow – “Daylight in the Swamp” (Full Moon, Full Moon)
  • Dan Zanes – “In the Sun” (Turn Turn Turn)
  • Istvan & His Imaginary Band – “Mr. Moon’s Song” (Sweet!)
  • The New Seekers – “Free to be You and Me” (Free to be You and Me)
  • Elizabeth Mitchell – “Ong Tai Sam (Little Spring)” (Sunny Day)
  • Kira Willey – “Underneath The Rainbow” (Kings & Queens of the Forest)
  • Little Miss Ann – “Goodbye, Goodbye” (Walk with Me)

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for October 18th & 19th, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for October 18th-24th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, 35 Community Highlights: Mandarin to Historic Hike. Cemeteries to Pumpkinfest., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For the best Autumn in New England experience here in Western MA, check out our Autumn Bucket List for recommendations on what to do and where to go from local families in the know! Plus, we have a comprehensive list of Halloween Events in Western MA for spooky community & learning events.

October 18th-24th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

ArchaeologyChinese LanguageTextilesLocal History  ♦ PaleontologyWomen’s StudiesAnimal StudiesCemeteriesPumpkin FestsNature StudiesParent WorkshopsPreSchool Activities

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Parenting Possibilities: Chores and Halloween
  2. HFVS Halloween Episode with Guest DJ, Heidi Swedberg (Radio Show/Podcast)
  3. Community Service: An Alternative to Halloween Candy
  4. One Clover & A Bee: Poetry for Halloween
  5. Halloween Math: Counting Kit Kats & Charleston Chews

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Warm thank you to our sponsors!

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

35 Community Highlights: Mandarin to Historic Hike. Cemeteries to Pumpkinfest.

Are you carving your Halloween pumpkin this weekend? Pumpkins are the focus of many community celebrations this weekend, including the Franklin County Pumpkinfest, Mount Warner Pumpkin Fest, Easthampton Harvest Festival, and the Westhampton Great Pumpkin Roll! (Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield)

Mandarin to Historic Hike. Archaeology to Paleontology. Cemeteries to Pumpkinfest… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week: It’s hard to imagine dinosaurs roaming the earth, let alone the Connecticut River Valley, but that is exactly what they did some 190 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. Families can learn about dinosaurs in the region with geologist Dan Vellone at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center’s Family Dino Day on Saturday, October 18 from 10:30am-2:30pm. Through exploration stations, arts and crafts activities, dinosaur tracks and bones, and a presentation (12noon), all ages can have fun learning about dinosaurs. Vellone’s presentation will focus on the origins of dinosaurs and how they are rooted in the Connecticut River Valley. Pack a picnic and explore Northfield Mountain’s trails after the dino festivities. Call 1-800-859-2960 to pre-register for this free event. Northfield Mountain is at 99 Millers Falls Road in Northfield, MA. (FREE)


ArchaeologyChinese LanguageTextilesLocal History  ♦ PaleontologyWomen’s StudiesAnimal StudiesCemeteriesPumpkin FestsNature StudiesParent WorkshopsPreSchool Activities


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for October 18th-24th, 2014

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“As a working mom, I don’t always have the opportunity to make community connections and Hilltown Families provides a needed resource for families like mine that are looking for opportunities to build community… What a great resource!” – AnnMarie D. (Belchertown, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Oct 17

Levellers Press, the publishing wing of Collective Copies, a thirty-year-old worker co-operative in Amherst, Massachusetts, has announced the publication of Building Co-operative Power: Stories and Strategies from Worker Co-operatives in the Connecticut River Valley. There will be a book release reading, signing and celebration on Friday, October 17 at 7 p.m., at Collective Copies’ Off the Common Bookshop at 71 South Pleasant Street, Amherst. At 6 p.m. Levellers Press celebrates its fifth anniversary as a publishing company. The public is invited.

Oct 18

Common School Children’s Carnival takes place on Saturday, October 18, from 10am-2pm in Amherst. (Rain location: Amherst Middle School.) Join the School for an old fashioned, family-friendly event. There will be games, prizes, activities, great food and fabulous entertainment. From Bounce House to Cake Walk to Live Music, there will be something for everyone. Open to the public. Free Admission. The Common School is located at 521 South Pleasant Street in Amherst, MA. Find out more at www.commonschool.org.

Oct 18

The annual Children’s Fair and Open House will be held at the Montessori School of Northampton on Saturday, October 18, from 11am-3pm at 51 Bates Street, Northampton. This day of fun for families features children’s games and crafts, face painting, bounce house, musical entertainment, food and beverages, Circus Folk Unite!, Northampton Martial Arts, Tom Ricardi & Birds of Prey, and author Jarrett Krosoczka. NEW THIS YEAR!–an obstacle course, a book fair, and an art & craft fair. Tours of the school and information on current openings as well as for Fall 2015 will be available. General admission is free; some activities require purchase of activity tickets at a minimal charge. For more info, call 413-586-4538. www.northamptonmontessori.org

Oct 18 & 25

Two Happenings in the Berkshires! Enchanted CobbleSat Oct 18, 3pm-Dusk. Carve/paint Halloween pumpkins at Bartholomew’s Cobble, plus marshmallows & campfire stories. Your creations come alive along Ledges Trail by their flickering “fire” light. 105 Weatogue Rd Ashley Falls-Sheffield. $15/pumpkin. Also, Hauntings in the GardenSat Oct 25, 11am & 3pm (Rain date Oct 26). Explore Naumkeag Gardens with wacky, magical Royal Frog Ballet. Family-friendly tours blend performance, visual art, music & movement to delight all ages. 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge. Sponsored by Trustees of Reservations. Members $10; Nonmembers $15; Children $5. Member family max $20; non-member family max $35. www.ttor.org 413-532-1631 x0 westregion@ttor.org

Open House Oct 19

The Yiddish Book Center will host their annual Community Open House on Sunday, Oct 19 (10am-4pm). On the schedule is a full day of events for all ages. Free & open to public. They have a story performer, public tours, a talk and slide show by Yelena Lembersky entitled The Art of Felix Lembersky: Insights from his Granddaughter in conjunction with the opening of a traveling exhibit on Lembersky’s work, and a welcome/update from Aaron Lansky. And to cap it all off, the Sarah Rose Lazarus Concert features Yale Strom and Hot Pstromi at 2pm. Yosi Kosher Catering will be serving up lunch/snacks. The Yiddish Book Center is located adjacent to Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. For more info & full schedule visit yiddishbookcenter.org. 413-256-4900.

Open House Oct 25

Open House at The Hartsbrook School, Saturday, October 25, 10am to 12noon. Tour their classrooms, meet with teachers, stroll around their beautiful campus. Student work will be on display and current families will be available to answer questions. All ages welcome! The Hartsbrook School is a Waldorf school in the Pioneer Valley. Their program from early childhood through high school integrates academic, artistic, and practical work to awaken clarity of thought, warmth of heart, and strength of purpose. Join them at 193 Bay Road in Hadley, MA. www.hartsbrook.org

Open House Oct 25

Smith College Campus School, a coeducational day school enrolling children kindergarten through sixth grade, will be hosting an Open House on Saturday, October 25th from 9:30-11am. All prospective kindergarten through second grade students and their families are welcome! Come explore classrooms, see what their students are learning, and meet teachers, administrators and current parents. For more information about Smith College Campus School or to preregister for the Open House visit online at www.smith.edu/sccs or call the admission office at 413-585-3270. Smith College Campus School is located at 33 Prospect St. in Northampton, MA. There will be another kindergarten through sixth grade open house in January.

Oct 25

Halloween Chills & Thrills at the Springfield Museums (21 Edwards St.) on Saturday, October 25th, from 10am-5pm. Bring the family and come enjoy a full day of spooky art and science activities plus live animal demonstrations, special planetarium shows, and more! Two great performances are free with museum admission – there’s The Garbage Monster and Other Songs by Tom Knight Puppets (11am, Wood Museum – designed for ages 2-5, but all are welcome) and Strings on Stage by The Wayne Martin Puppets (2pm, Davis Auditorium, D’Amour Museum). For information, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

Oct 25

The first-ever OnTrend Craft Fair will be held on Saturday, October 25 at the brand new Hadley Farms Meeting House in lovely Hadley, MA. The fair will showcase talented indie crafters and makers of all kinds from throughout New England and New York. Shoppers with find high-quality handmade jewelry, paper goods, wood crafts, home goods, and much more. Bring your holiday shopping lists and support our talented local artisans! Free to attend. For more information, visit ontrendcrafts.com or email Jennifer at Jennifer@ontrendcrafts.com.

Open House Oct 26

The Academy at Charlemont (1359 Route 2 in Charlemont, MA) will host an Open House for interested families on Sunday, October 26, with presentations beginning at 1pm. Meet students, teachers and current parents and get a feel for their creative and rigorous academic program and warm, ethical community. The Academy offers vibrant arts, competitive athletics, and an emphasis on critical thinking and ethical leadership. Their students love school. Shouldn’t everyone? Details at www.charlemont.org.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, community event, program, after school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
October 18th-24th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | School Closures | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: November 22nd!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event
Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm
Leeds Elementary School in Northampton, MA

Volunteer with your family to help local non-profits in a single free event on Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm during the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event, held at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton— a one of a kind event for families to volunteer together while educating children about important social issues and the value of community service. Space is limited, so reserve a spot for your family today!

Join Hilltown Families for a Saturday morning of volunteering together with your family during our fall Family Community Service Event on Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm in Northampton, MA!

Two years ago was our inaugural Family Community Service Night where we focused on human service organizations, and last year was our Spring Family Community Service Event where we focused on animal welfare and food security. Through both events, families were able to put in 750 hours of community service!  Check out this great video that shares the joy and excitement families experienced together while engaged in volunteerism for their community at two of our family community service events… and then make plans to join us for our newest event this fall!

Our third community service event will be on Saturday, November 22nd and will again be held at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton.  We will be offering five volunteer stations for families to participate in hands-on service projects for ALL AGES that support education, children’s welfare, and human services.  Families will also be able to bring home one of their service projects to continue their community service together from home.

Find out more! Sign up your family!

Let’s Play: A Tribute to Friendship

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Forest People in Massachusetts and Michigan

This October I am paying tribute to one of my college roommates. I first met, Erica, Labor Day weekend 1991. Twenty-three years ago. I was starting my sophomore year at the University of Michigan School of Art. Erica and her two assigned roommates, Katie and Ellen, were two doors down the hall in a converted triple. This means three freshman are mushed into a double room. Lots of freshman entered the Residential College that year ready to start an intensive language program on top of their regular major. As the year progressed, I was amazed at how they made that tiny room work for three while becoming life long friends. I was in and out of my single room odd hours staying up late juggling studio work, academics and my job downstairs in our dorm. Those three women at the end of the hall were a definite bright spot during a very stressful year.

I learned early that Erica was excellent with kids. Some people just have the “kid thing.” Erica was one of them. She watched little ones for extra spending money. When my niece or nephew visited on siblings weekends (I was the youngest of five, so no little sibs to bring), Erica just had the ability to talk with them and help them fit right in with our house full of crazy college women. Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween Links to Local History Learning Opportunities

7 Halloween-Themed Events that Spotlight Western MA History

On Saturday, October 18 and Friday, October 31, come to Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA, for ghoulish fun and eerie entertainment. Tour the ghostly Skinner Mansion by candlelight or take a bone chilling walk through the cemetery!

As the hills and valleys of western Massachusetts brighten with the changing of seasons, the evenings become just a bit darker and a bit spookier. While we enjoy the harvest and enjoy our fair share (at least) of apples, squash, and all things pumpkin, the days shorten and darken around us – serving as a reminder that Halloween is creeping up on us. In addition to Halloween’s costume frenzy and the potential for candy accumulation that the holiday presents, the spooking season brings with it a myriad of ways to learn about local history!

This area of New England is rich with history, and much of it spooky and surrounded by mystery. Towns across western Massachusetts are home to potentially haunted historic buildings, controversial centuries-old community history, and cemeteries that are the final resting place of folks who may have met questionable ends. All of these eerie tales amount to more than a good, healthy scare – they offer entry points for learning about the history of many small communities, as well as the western portion of the state as a whole.

Additionally, an examination of the history of a single community can help children to understand the history of the region and country better, as it provides context for understanding the specifics of a large, broad look at the events and aesthetic of a particular era. Learning about Civil War-era community members, for example, can help students imagine life during that time period, as they’ll be able to imagine the surroundings in which such people existed. Trying to understand life in the past without context, on the other hand, may lead to more guesswork on the child’s part – something that exercises their imagination but may not lead to as thorough an understanding (and definitely will not lead to developing deeper ties to their local landscape!).

To begin exploring local history through the lens of spooky history, take advantage of one (or all!) of the many upcoming Halloween-themed events that spotlight local history:
Read the rest of this entry »

Write Your Way Through Long November Nights

Western Mass Offers Writing Outlets for a Creative Hibernation

In a nutshell…National Novel Writing Month

November in New England brings shorter days, colder temperatures, and barer trees. For some, it signifies the seasons’ slow transition into winter, and marks the time when we begin to hibernate indoors, nestled in sweaters and clutching mugs of tea and bowls of soup. If you’ve got a good indoor project to work on, all of this hunkering down may not be a bad thing – even for families.

This November, early hibernators can make good use of their indoor time by participating in one of two fantastic writing projects that will be taking place! Offering opportunities for writers of all ages to craft either a new novel or a collection of poems, these writing opportunities come at a perfect time of year. We’re all preparing to head indoors for a while anyway, so why not begin a long-term indoor project at the same time! Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: “Time is the Longest Distance Between Two Places”

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

Where Has the Time Gone?

I’m not sure exactly what I did with my time when I was, say, 22. I know I was living with my BFF in an apartment in Milwaukee, WI, and working in an art gallery downtown. I did not have a computer, a smartphone, or a Facebook account. I think I read. I think I read the mail, read magazines, read books. I remember going to an upscale hotel where I had a gym membership and I exercised. I went out, I had people over. There was no reality TV, but I had plenty of time to watch it if there had been. But, where has the time gone? Really. Where has it gone? Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Falling into Fall Episode with Guest DJ, Suzi Shelton & Emma

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Falling into Fall Episode with Guest DJ, Suzi Shelton & Emma

Suzi Shelton returns to guest DJ, this time with her daughter, Emma, with a Falling into Fall Episode. — www.suzishelton.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
October 11th & 12th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Award winning singer/songwriter Suzi Shelton music video for her hit song “Go, Fire Truck, Go” from her family album, Smile In My Heart.


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Caspar Babypants “Tumble” [THIS IS FUN!]
  • Suzi Shelton “Banjo Pickin‘ Girl” [Smile In My Heart]
  • Little Miss Ann “Three Little Pumpkins” [Follow Me]
  • The Good Ms. Padgett “Black and Yellow Bee” [If We Must We Must]
  • Randy Kaplan “So Different Blues” [Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie]
  • Joanie Leeds and The Nightlights “Falling” [Bandwagon]
  • The Jolly Pops “Jacque the Magic Peacock” [I Didn’t Do It]
  • Kira Willey “Caterpillar Caterpillar” [Dance for the Sun]
  • Laura Doherty “Butterfly” [In a Heartbeat]
  • Suzi Shelton “Go, Fire Truck, Go” [Smile In My Heart]
  • Laurie Berkner “The Cat Came Back” [Whaddaya Think Of That?]
  • Jon Samson “Why I Love The Seasons” [A New Kids Album]
  • Ingrid Michaelson “Be OK” [Be OK]
  • Baze and His Silly “Friends School Days” [The Best Day Ever!]
  • Bari Koral “Apple Tree” [The Apple Tree & The Honey Bee]
  • Suzi Shelton “I See You for You” [Smile In My Heart]
  • Lenka “Don’t Let Me Fall” [Lenka]
  • Justin Roberts “Red Bird” [Recess]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for October 11th & 12th, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for October 11th-17th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, 33 Community Highlights: Fall Festival to Medieval Faire. Wild Rice to Apples., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For the best Autumn in New England experience here in Western MA, check out our Autumn Bucket List for recommendations on what to do and where to go from local families in the know! Plus, we have a comprehensive list of Halloween Events in Western MA for spooky community & learning events.

October 11th-17th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

STEMFilm StudiesLocal HistoryAgricultureArcheology/TextilesService-Based LearningPaleontologyArchitectureCommunity CelebrationsMedieval HistorySukkotLocal Food HistoryHaunted HistoryOutdoor AdventuresTheater Studies

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. What’s the Alternative to a Sexualized Halloween Costume? Make Your Own!
  2. 8 Halloween Costume Safety Tips
  3. DIY: Halloween Paper-Maché Piñatas
  4. HFVS Halloween Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. Sojourner Truth Memorial: American and Western MA History

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Warm thank you to our sponsors!

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

33 Community Highlights: Fall Festival to Medieval Faire. Wild Rice to Apples.

Pumpkin games this weekend at the Ashfield Fall Festival!

Fall Festival to Medieval Faire. Haunted History to Paleontology. Wild Rice to Apples… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week: Travel back to colonial times with the Buckland Historical Society at their Colonial Day celebration on Sunday, October 12 from 2pm-5pm at the Wilder Homestead. Colonial Day replicates life in New England several hundred years ago, and engages visitors in everyday activities that are characteristic of the period. There will be demonstrations of open hearth cooking, basket making, weaving, spinning, quilting, folk painting, and cider pressing, as well as oxen and performances of Morris dance and music from the 1700s. How do these activities compare to those of today? Most people no longer weave their own baskets or spin their own yarn – why do you think that is? Colonial Day will get all ages actively engaged in learning about history and will help them see how much has changed in a few hundred years! 413-625-9763. 129 Route 112. Buckland, MA. (>$)


STEMFilm StudiesLocal HistoryAgricultureArcheology/TextilesService-Based LearningPaleontologyArchitectureCommunity CelebrationsMedieval HistorySukkotLocal Food HistoryHaunted HistoryOutdoor AdventuresTheater Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for October 11th-17th, 2014

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Over the last few years I have participated in the Big Brother/Big Sister organization located in Amherst. Every week I spend some time with my little brother (a 13 year old boy from Northampton) and we always check Hilltown Families to see what’s going on. We’ve learned a lot about what’s going on in our community and have benefited immensely.” – Dennis Caraher (Northampton, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Oct 11

Enjoy the magic of live theatre and the power of imagination with Bonnie Duncan’s Squirrel Stole My Underpants: A Poignantly Silly Adventure Tale for Families on Saturday, Oct 11 at 11am & 1pm at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. A lonely girl is sent outside to hang up the laundry and keep herself busy. The moment her back is turned, a mischievous squirrel appears, steals her favorite piece of clothing and runs off. When she gives chase, she finds herself lost in strange lands and an entire world emerges from her laundry basket. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased in advance at the Museum Admissions Desk or by calling 413-658-1126.

Oct 11

Oak Meadow Open House is Saturday, Oct. 11, from 11 am to 1 pm, at 132 Main St. Brattleboro, VT. Join Oak Meadow for this fun, annual event! Learn about their progressive, creative, experiential homeschooling curriculum for kindergarten to grade 12. Speak with teachers and college and educational counselors, browse curriculum materials, network with other homeschooling families. Enjoy crafts, music, and refreshments for kids of all ages. FREE and open to anyone who’s interested in learning more about homeschooling. Open House will be held in their new, though incomplete, offices in the renovated historic Brooks House in downtown Brattleboro. Help them imagine the possibilities their new space holds! For more info, visit www.oakmeadow.com

Oct 11 & 12

The 2014 Ashfield Fall Festival (Ashfield, MA) will take place up and down Ashfield’s Main Street on October 11-12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days – rain or shine. The annual festival offers craft and art exhibits by more than 50 exhibitors, locally-grown and prepared foods, live music and dancing, face-painting and other children’s activities, and book and tag sales. Admission is free. Parking is available in lots east of the town center on Route 116 (attendants collect donations for the Ashfield Citizens’ Scholarship Fund).The Festival also hosts the Ashfield Agriculture Commission’s annual Giant Pumpkin and Tallest Sunflower contest. For more information: www.ashfieldfallfestival.org.

Oct 12

Sukkot Harvest Festival! Sunday, Oct 12, 1-4 at Abundance Farm, 253 Prospect Street in Northampton. In celebration of the fall harvest, Abundance Farm is holding a Sukkot Harvest Festival for all ages, open to the public. Activities will include apple cider pressing, a smoothie-making bicycle blender, honey extraction, fermentation workshop, heritage wheat exhibition, wood-fired cob oven, herbal medicine making, nature arts and crafts and more. Delicious food and beverages from local farms and artisans including a falafel cart! Featuring live music from Brian Bender & Little Shop of Horas. Suggested donation $5 per person. For more information contact info@abundancefarm.org or 413-584-3593 x203. Find “Sukkot Harvest Festival” on Facebook.

Oct 17

Levellers Press, the publishing wing of Collective Copies, a thirty-year-old worker co-operative in Amherst, Massachusetts, has announced the publication of Building Co-operative Power: Stories and Strategies from Worker Co-operatives in the Connecticut River Valley. There will be a book release reading, signing and celebration on Friday, October 17 at 7 p.m., at Collective Copies’ Off the Common Bookshop at 71 South Pleasant Street, Amherst. At 6 p.m. Levellers Press celebrates its fifth anniversary as a publishing company. The public is invited.

Oct 18

Common School Children’s Carnival takes place on Saturday, October 18, from 10am-2pm in Amherst. (Rain location: Amherst Middle School.) Join the School for an old fashioned, family-friendly event. There will be games, prizes, activities, great food and fabulous entertainment. From Bounce House to Cake Walk to Live Music, there will be something for everyone. Open to the public. Free Admission. The Common School is located at 521 South Pleasant Street in Amherst, MA. Find out more at www.commonschool.org.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, community event, program, after school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
October 11th-17th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | School Closures | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

“What’s the Big Idea?” Challenges Kids to Think Critically & Philosophically

Film Project Poses Intellectual Challenges to Energize the Mind

In order to raise children who will grow up to be critical thinkers, it is essential that we not only present them with intellectual challenges while they’re young, but – as the goal of “What’s the Big Idea?” states – we must also teach them the skills that they will need to tackle complex ideas. By exposing children to philosophical ideas and questions early in life, we create opportunities for them to learn how to think critically about major topics. And if we provide the proper support, we allow them to do this big thinking in a context where they’re supported throughout their learning.

A project of Mt. Holyoke College professor Tom Wartenberg and local filmmaker Julie Akeret, “What’s the Big Idea?” introduces middle school students (12-14yr) to philosophy through film. Pairing commentary with pertinent clips relating to the themes addressed by the project, “What’s the Big Idea?” takes common tween-age dilemmas and presents them to students in a way that not only allows them to learn how to handle such situations, but encourages them to think deeply about the larger ideas that lay behind common life experiences and situations. Clips from iconic movies including The Karate Kid, Mean Girls, Liar Liar, and even High School Musical help to teach students to think critically about peer pressure, bullying, lying, and friendship. The project even offers resources for developing discussions and activities after tackling each theme – resources that can easily be used by educators of all kinds.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Garden Plot: Simply Put, Roots are Important

Roots, Putting Them Up

Red & white onions, pumpkins and delicata squash ready for storage.

If you did not (despite good intentions) plant carrots, beets, onions, garlic, etc… it’s not too late to enjoy them well into the winter. The majority of our locally grown root crops can be stored with ease for up to 8 months. The easiest ones I normally store are: winter squash, potatoes (sweet and regular), onions, garlic, carrots and beets.

Think about visiting a local farmer or farmers’ market and asking about their “seconds” (ones with blemishes) that they normally do not sell. You can often get storage crops really cheaply if you get it in bulk. With proper storage this will take you through the winter for all your veggie needs.

Here is the way I store the my roots: Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Calvin

Mary Chapin Carpenter
plus: Tift Merritt
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 8pm

Enter for your chance to win! You pay for the sitter and we’ll pay for the tickets!

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

Continuing our fall promotions, we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Mary Chapin Carpenter, plus Tift Merritt, at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Friday, October 24th, 2014.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Monday, 10/20/14 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER

Five-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and 2012 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Mary Chapin Carpenter, a Pioneer Valley favorite, returns to the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA, for a unique and intimate acoustic show. She will be joined e by longtime friends Jon Carroll (piano) and John Doyle (guitars, bouzouki). Carpenter spent 2013 performing alongside world-renowned orchestras since the release of her debut orchestral album, Songs From the Movie (Zoë /Rounder). In March, she performed two milestone concerts at New York’s Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by six-time Grammy Award winner Vince Mendoza who also arranged the album. She was joined by Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, Jerry Douglas, Aoife O’Donovan, & Tift Merritt (Tift joins her on this tour). Over the course of her career, Carpenter has sold over 13 million records. With hits like “Passionate Kisses” and “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” she has won five Grammy Awards (with 15 nominations), two CMA awards and two Academy of Country Music awards for her vocals. Her songs speak to the most personal and universal of life’s details. — www.marychapincarpenter.com

Enter for a chance to win!

Halloween Events in Western MA, 2014

Halloween in Western Massachusetts: 2014
Over 137 Listings and Still Counting…

Find out about all the Halloween happenings throughout Western MA with Hilltown Families comprehensive list of Halloween activities happening for families. We will be adding to this list as Halloween approaches, so check back!

Saturday, Oct. 11th – Friday, Oct. 17th, 2014
Saturday, Oct. 18th – Friday, Oct. 24th, 2014
Saturday, Oct. 25th – Sunday, Nov. 2nd, 2014

As with all of our suggested events, families are asked to take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

If you have a Halloween event you would like to add, simply post it here. If you’d like to have your event featured on Hilltown Families, email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org for details.

Read the rest of this entry »

Spark!Lab Lights the Fire of Invention

Think Outside the Box at Spark!Lab in the Berkshires

Everyone is an inventor in the Berkshire Museum’s exciting new Spark!Lab, opening to the public on Saturday, October 11, 2014, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Spark!Lab provides opportunities for children and families to explore their inventive creativity — by designing, innovating, collaborating, and problem-solving — because these experiences empower kids to develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed today and in the future.

Developed at the Smithsonian Institution by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), the Berkshires’ very own Spark!Lab is part of a nation-wide initiative to engage youngsters in the act of invention and innovation. Here is a sneak peek of Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History:

The Berkshire Museum’s Spark!Lab will be the third in the country to open! Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Lessons in Unconditional Love from Piggett

Things that Fly

My boy is at school. Kindergarten. A whole new world. He’s only a mile away, much closer than the preschool over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. Still, it feels farther. Distant. I was in and out of his preschool room. Most days we said goodbye at his cubby-hole, but there were regular opportunities to come in and play, read a book, or just cuddle until he was settled.

Now, we say goodbye as he sprints out to the bus. If he remembers to say goodbye. He goes into a big building and hangs his new big backpack in a cubby I have never seen. May never see.

Apparently, stuffies don’t go to kindergarten.

I remember him that very first day, all wrinkled and noisy. Read the rest of this entry »

An Ever Expanding Portrait of the American Hero Serves to Inspire & Educate

Exhibit Invites Deep Critical Thinking & Promotes Civic Engagement

Claudette Colvin, one of the lesser known people who have initiated considerable community impact, and is featured on “Americans Who Tell the Truth”

An ongoing art project promoting civic engagement and community involvement, Robert Shetterly’s Americans Who Tell the Truth addresses the current participatory decline in civic life by young people. Composed of portraits of significant figures in American history, the project pairs beautifully painted images with poignant quotes highlighting each leader’s significance and reminding us all of the importance of engaging with our community, and playing an active role in current events.

Shetterly, a children’s book illustrator from Maine, has been touring Americans Who Tell the Truth as an exhibit since 2003, and in 2005 published a book including many of the project’s portraits. Centered around Shetterly’s belief in the importance of dissent in democracy, the artist’s goal was to share the themes of community sustainability, obligation to citizenship, and the importance of truth in politics and the media. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Good Character Episode with Guest DJ, Dave Kinnoin

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Good Character Episode with Guest DJ, Dave Kinnoin

With songs, stories, jokes, and quotes, Dave Kinnoin takes us on a journey to discover what it means to have good character. Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship are highlighted without being the least bit preachy. — www.songwizard.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
October 4th & 5th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Sarah Geltz – Something Good
  • Friendly Little Neighbor – Dave and the Boombox featuring Kate Josway and Ryan Koch [Make Some Noise]
  • Dave Kinnoin – Caring Avenue [CHARACTER COUNTS! Strikes a Chord]
  • quote by Edward E. Hale
  • Judy Pancoast – Walk Away – [Are We There Yet?]
  • Dave Kinnoin – Any Other Kid [Teaspoon At a Time]
  • poem (Emily Dickinson)
  • Les Julian – Donkey In a Ditch [Color Outside the Lines]
  • Jonathan Sprout – Hall of Fame [American Heroes #4]
  • Randy Sharp and Maia Sharp – You Gotta Love ‘Em [not on an album yet]
  • quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Jack Pearson – Just Don’t Kick the Cat [The Merry Pirate School]
  • Jack Pearson – Mi Casa, Su Casa [To All Purple Tree Trunks]
  • Jack Pearson – Circle Sam and the Tambo Tree (STORY)

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for October 4th & 5th, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for October 4th-10th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, 27 Community Highlights: Scarecrows to Bogs. Ginkgo Trees to Butter Churns., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For the best Autumn in New England experience here in Western MA, check out our Autumn Bucket List for recommendations on what to do and where to go from local families in the know!

October 4th-10th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Creative-Free PlayLocal HistoryEntomologyBiologyCultural HistoryHistoric TradesFood CultureCraftsSkillshareLanguage ArtsSTEMGeologyImmigrationPreK ActivitiesLocal/Handmade

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. 10 Picture Books for Halloween
  2. 5 Ways to Enjoy Shorter Days with Less Light
  3. Let’s Play: Nature Based Play & Art in Autumn
  4. Seasons at Our Table: Harvest Season
  5. Social Learning Made Easy with Sophia

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: