23 Community Highlights: Japenese Shamisen to African Drumming. Giant Squid to Black Bears.

Bittersweet produces a beautiful deep orange fruit, and is a favorite food to birds, but it’s invasive and can pull down samplings with it’s sturdy perennial vine. Help Williamsburg Woodland Trails and Mass Audubon remove invasive bittersweet vines at Graves Farm Sanctuary in Haydenville this Saturday, learning about this invasive species through service-based learning.

Japanese Shamisen to African Drumming. Giant Squid to Black Bears. Bittersweet to Christmas Fern… 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: Learn how to make book art at Edwards Public Library in Southampton! Ages 8 and up can join book artist Cathy Thibodeau for a free workshop on how to make book art just by folding the pages of a book on Tuesday, November 25, 5:30pm-7:30pm. Please bring a 100-150 page hardcover book that you would like to repurposes – participants will be making books with a paw print design. These folded books would make a cool gift for the holidays! Space is limited; please sign up. 413-527-9480. 30 East Street.


Food HistoryMusic StudiesMarine BiologyAnimal StudiesCommunity ServiceMYO GiftsLocal HistoryCommunity MealsNature StudiesParent WorkshopPreschool Highlights


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 November 22nd-28th, 2014

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families is a great community centered organization which helps children take the important aspects of education into consideration… It has most definitely enriched my life by showing me what is a true sense of community and UNITY.” Meghan Keegan (Ware, 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.

Hilltown Families’ Event

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event takes place this Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm in Northampton—a one of a kind FREE event for families to volunteer together while educating children about important social issues and the value of community service. Through service-based learning, together we can generate 600 hours of community service in a single morning that support human services, education and children’s welfare support organizations in our region. With a Community Passport in hand, families can travel to five different stations with hands-on activities for kids of all ages, ranging from creating art for elders to tools that support literacy. (Registration for this event has ended.)

Bulletin Board

Nov 22

Art Supporting Music – The Little Drummer Craft Fair returns to the Franklin County Technical School in Turners Falls on Saturday, November 22, 9am-4pm. This juried craft fair features over sixty-five artists and craftspeople from throughout the Pioneer Valley and beyond, presenting their unique handcrafted products. All proceeds benefit the FCTS Music Department and award-winning Drumline. Support the annual FCTS food drive – bring 2 canned goods for the food drive and receive a ticket to a special raffle drawing. Free admission and free parking, ADA accessible. Lunch items, baked goods available, prepared by our culinary students. 82 Industrial Blvd, Turners Falls, MA. www.facebook.com/littledrummercraftfair

Nov 22

The Common School: Community, collaboration, social justice, intrinsic motivation, deep understanding, diversity, inclusivity, environmental education- Come learn how these words are put into action at their fall Open House, Saturday, November 22, from 10am-12noon. Play in their classrooms, meet their teachers, chat with current parents, and tour their beautiful campus situated amongst 120 acres of conservation land on Larch Hill in Amherst. Light refreshments provided. Questions? Contact Director of Admissions, Dana Kadish at outreach@commonschool.org or visit www.commonschool.org.

Nov 22

Visit the Hartsbrook School Holiday Fair, Saturday, November 22nd in Hadley, MA! Enjoy King Winter, roving musicians, unique crafts to make and buy, candle dipping, jump rope making, games, food, and pony rides. See the performance, The Mouse Bride: A Marionette Show, performed by the Early Childhood staff. Come experience the wonder that abounds at the Hartsbrook School Holiday Fair! There is nothing else like it! Saturday, November 22nd. 10:00am – 4:00pm, 193 Bay Road, Hadley, MA. www.hartsbrook.org

Every Sat

Find locally-grown food and live music every Saturday from 9am – 2pm at the Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market. Four vegetable farms offer organic greens, root vegetables, and winter squash all season long. Apples, cranberries, cheeses, meats, eggs, breads, ferments, mushrooms, pastries, chocolates, maple syrup, honey, herbs, cold-pressed juices, and prepared foods from over 25 farms and food producers add to the mix. Bring your family by the market every Saturday through April 18th at Smith Voke, 80 Locust Street, Northampton (Route 9 between downtown Northampton and Florence Center). Food Stamps/SNAP accepted. Subscribe to the market’s newsletter at www.nohowintermarket.com/subscribe or contact nohowintermarket@gmail.com for more information.

Nov 28

Start the holiday season off right with the Springfield Museums! On Friday, November 28, the Museums will present their Holiday Wonderland Celebration from 10am–5pm, with loads of family activities, a performance of Hansel & Gretel by the National Marionette Theatre, and the opening of this year’s Adventures in Gingerbread exhibit, all free with museum admission. That evening, it’s a touch of old New England at the annual Lighting of the Quadrangle from 5–7pm. The evening lighting ceremony is FREE and open to the public, and includes free hot cocoa and cookies, carriage rides, music, and an appearance by St. Nick himself! For more information, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org or call 413-263-6800 ext. 488.

Open House Dec 1

Gan Keshet (Rainbow Garden) Jewish Community Preschool Open House: Monday, Dec 1 from 9:30-11am (Snow date, Mon., Dec. 8) at 253 Prospect St., Northampton, MA. Come visit with your child and meet their experienced staff. The Preschool offers: Part/Full Day Options; flexible scheduling; Farm/Garden Based Activities; and a Summer Program. Ask about HGF Right Start Grant- your family could be eligible to receive $1000-2000 towards your child’s tuition! The preschool values diversity and welcome all families in the community. Contact Preschool Director, Wendy Stein at 413-584-3593 x204 or gan.keshet@cbi.northampton.org. For more info visit online: www.cbinorthampton.org; www.facebook.com/Gan.Keshet.Jewish.Community.Preschool.

On Wednesday, December 10th, Hilltown Families will be will be participating in Valley Gives! As we enter our 10th year, this will be our 1st Annual Appeal Campaign, asking you to support us with a financial donation so that we may continue to support education through community engagement through this communication network you have grown to love and depend upon. We are inviting folks to be a part of our virtual STREET TEAM, helping us spread the word about our participation in Valley Gives and rallying support on our behalf. Join us in this exciting campaign! Email Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org for information on how to get involved. Want to learn more about the vision and mission of Hilltown Families? Check out this TEDx Talk: Supporting Education Through Community Engagement. — And mark your calendars, DEC 10, for an exciting day of giving through Valley Gives!

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, 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
November 22nd-28th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Creative-Free Play Keeps Spaces Shifting

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Empty Rooms

Empty rooms are great catalysts for energizing creative-free play!

I live with a re-arranger. Every three to four months she requests assistance moving books and furniture to make her room “just perfect.” The bed goes up so she has a nook below. The bed goes back down. Other times the bed needs a tent over it to hide in. I indulge this. I see no good reason not to. She is making her space her own.

Six years ago we moved and I brought her tricycle into the completely empty living room so she could ride around and around while I cleaned kitchen cabinets and scrubbed bathroom tiles. I placed a large sketch pad, pencils, markers and books in the empty playroom. She rode in circles. She drew piles of pictures to decorate her new room. She flipped thru her favorite picture books over and over. I did a lot of cleaning without interruption. Preparing the house for our move-in was the beginning of her free play in empty rooms and spaces as part of the re-arranging addiction. Read the rest of this entry »

Volunteer Engagement During Thanksgiving Cultivates Community Building Through Service-Based Learning

Thanksgiving Holiday Offers Opportunity of Meaningful Community Service in Western MA

As Thanksgiving approaches, families can integrate food-related community service into their schedules in order to honor the role that food plays in the holiday’s celebration. From community meals to food pantries to other food-related community resources, opportunities abound for families to engage in service or to participate in a community-building meal.

Healthy living requires not only healthy food, but access to food in general. For many families in western Massachusetts, access to food is provided by community organizations that run food pantries and community meals. These organizations – vital to our communities – depend on community support, and rely on donations and volunteers in order to provide the essential services that they offer. This Thanksgiving, families can participate in community service by helping out with a community meal offered by a local organization. Taking place in numerous locations and hosted by a range of different organizations, community Thanksgiving meals help to offer a special meal to those who may not be able to prepare one on their own, who might not have anyone to share Thankgiving dinner with, and also offer families an opportunity to engage in an intergenerational holiday celebration with a diverse group of people.

Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Dark Star Orchestra at the Calvin Theatre

Dark  Star Orchestra
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Friday, December 5th, 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  Dark Star Orchestra, at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Friday, December 5th, 2014.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 12/2/14 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT DARK STAR ORCHESTRA

 Performing to critical acclaim worldwide for nearly 17 years and over 2200 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead’s extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead’s 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, Dark Star Orchestra’s members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations creating a sound that truly encapsulate the energy and the experience. — www.darkstarorchestra.net

Enter for a chance to win!

Grandpa in the House: Asperger’s Personality Drives a Collector’s Desire

There’s a Museum in My Mailbox

Mail management becomes a challenge when the collector goes on-line and clicks!

Last weekend was one of those not so fun weekends, the kind taken up by household chores. Or specifically, one household chore: installing our new mailbox. This mailbox is not any old correspondence receptacle. It is the largest approved by the US Postal Service. Its purchase required visits to two big box home improvement stores, hours brainstorming and installing it onto a post it was too big for, and hours digging in the wet dirt on the side of a road. The digging part was my son’s favorite. It was a tad less fun for my husband.

We’d been asking my dad to buy a new mailbox for months. I even sent him a link to it online – twice. My husband assured him that he would install it. I explained that our small town post office was rarely open when I was driving by. My husband reminded him that it would be a huge help to me if he would buy the larger box. He never bought it. So we did. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re entering our 10th year with a first! Join us!

Hilltown Families enters 10th year!
Support us in our 1st Annual Appeal.


This December, Hilltown Families will be entering our 10th year! We will also be participating in our 1st ever Annual Appeal through Valley Gives on December 10th!

For the next few weeks we will be posting a weekly update with exciting news about our Annual Appeal campaign leading up to December 10th, including ways you can participate with us, premiums we will be offering on December 10th, and showcasing Hilltown Families’ highlights.

Supporting Education through Community Engagement

For nearly a decade, Hilltown Families has been working towards creating resilient and sustainable communities by developing and strengthening a sense of place in our children and citizens through community-based education and engagement.

In this TEDx Talk, “Supporting Education Through Community Engagement,” Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield, shares her story on why feeling connected to where you live matters, and how community-based education and community-service learning can help grow active citizens who care about where they live.

We Need Your Help!

Are you already a fan of Hilltown Families?  Join our virtual Street Team!!!  Get social with us and share Hilltown Families on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, email and your blogs!  As we get closer to December 10th we’ll be asking our virtual Street Team to rally for Hilltown Families, inviting friend, fans and family to support Hilltown Families with a donation during Valley Gives Day.

To get started, connect with us through our various social media channels.

Then get busy Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, and Pinning our updates, letting those in your own social networks know why you support Hilltown Families and your plans to make a donation of any size on December 10th.

Beginning December 1st we’ll have specific Call to Action requests for our virtual Street Team members! “Join” our Street Team Event Page on Facebook and get real time updates in your Facebook newsfeed!

Matching Grant

Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’  Meet Your Match Bonus is one way you can help us raise over $7,500 on December 10th This is a special competition only for nonprofits that secure matches for Valley Gives Day. Bonus awards will be announced at the end of the day and will be chosen randomly. Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will award $2,500 to 25 randomly selected nonprofits that meet their matches. Minimum match must be $2,500.

If you’re a BIG BIG fan of Hilltown Families and can support us with a donation of $500 or more, your donation can be pooled together with other supporters to create a matching grant of $2,500. Please email Rick Feldman or Sienna Wildfield to make arrangements prior to Valley Gives Day.

Engage in Community-Based Learning & Service: Become a Pet Foster Family

Pet Fostering Helps Animal Welfare Organizations While Allowing Families an Opportunity for a Short Term Commitment to Care for Animals

There are many local community organizations through which families can foster pets. While some organizations care only for dogs, others include cat care, and still others offer foster opportunities for small caged mammals and even birds! Whatever shape the pet-sized hole in your family’s heart takes, there’s likely an animal in a shelter waiting to fill it. Learn more about the humane societies and animal rescues below, fill out an application, and enjoy your fostering experience!

Have your children been begging for pets as presents? As the holiday season approaches, requests for living gifts can come in a deluge, and for kiddos who have yet to truly conceptualize the long-term commitment that pet parenting entails may not understand the true weight of the “forever” attached to the acquisition of a family pet. However, families can enjoy the adventure of having pets at home by participating in a local animal shelter’s foster family program!

In addition to allowing children experience pets without a permanent, years-long commitment, pet fostering is a meaningful and exciting way to participate in community service. All across western Massachusetts, animal rescue organizations and humane societies work hard to provide food, warm homes, and companionship to animals who might otherwise go without these three basic needs. As any animal-loving child knows, a domestic animal without a home, proper food, or love from a human companion is neither a happy creature or a healthy creature. However, with the help of foster families, animal shelters are able to offer pets the comfort and care of a family and a true home environment while they wait for placement with a permanent family. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: Nov 17-21, 2014

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

This week we are featuring 12 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 Pioneers of Sound Episode with Guest DJ, Elska (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Pioneers of Sound Episode with Guest DJ, Elska

LISTEN TO PODCAST: 

Listen to the modern “Pioneers of Sound!” with Elska as she takes us on a sonic journey into the world of early electronic music, synthesizers, micro-beats, bells and more.  Broadcasting from her Arctic island home, Elska teaches us about the origins of the most innovative sounds in pop music, how they were made, and then she plays us fascinating examples from pop music, art music, classical and some music that defies classification all together.  Get ready for a true sonic journey with “Pioneers of Sound!” − www.islandofelska.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
November 15th & 16th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video:  Hiddi Hiddi is how one says “hello” on the Island of Elska!


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Elska – “Arctic Fox” [Middle of Nowhere]
  • múm – “I am 9 Today” [Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today is OK]
  • Björk - “Frosti” [Vespertine]
  • Walter Carlos – “Two-Part Invention in F Major” [Switched-On Bach]
  • Walter Carlos – “Two-Part Invention in B Flat Major” [Switched-On Bach]
  • Suzanne Cianni – “Buchla Live in 1975” [Lixiviation]
  • Elska – “Hiddi Hiddi” [Middle of Nowhere]
  • Devo – “Peek-A-Boo!” [Oh, No! It's Devo!]
  • Kraftwerk – “The Robots” [The Man-Machine]
  • Elska – “Click Click” [Middle of Nowhere]
  • Steve Reich – “Music for 18 Musicians: V. Section IIIB” [Music for 18 Musicians]
  • Talking Heads – “This Must Be the Place” [Speaking in Tongues]
  • Laurie Anderson – “Walk the Dog” [Big Science]

Original broadcast: March 2014

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for November 15th & 16th, 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 November 15th-21st, 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: Glassblowing to Reuse Rally. Musical Theater to Art for Change., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

November 15th-21st, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Nature HikesFilm StudiesAnimal StudiesLiving HistoryDendrologyAstronomyArchitectureParent WorkshopCultural StudiesActivismCommunity MealsU.S. HistoryLiteracySustainabilityPreschool HighlightsTheater

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. HFVS Thanksgiving Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)<
  2. 7 Literary Guides for Expanding Family Reading Time
  3. The Dinner Table: Return of the Toast!
  4. Language Play: Add Structure and Language to Your Thanksgiving Menu
  5. Gratitudes and Graces: Book of Poetry, Prayers, & Songs of Thanks

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: Glassblowing to Reuse Rally. Musical Theater to Art for Change.

Glassblowing to Reuse Rally. Polar Bears to Pumpernickel Puppets. Musical Theater to Art for Change… 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: Glassblowing is an ancient art form, dating back at least 2,000 years with origins in Jerusalem, spreading to the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC.  Originally, the craft of blowing glass was used for utilitarian purposes, like containers, table wear and window glass. It wasn’t until the late 60′s when glassblowing was raised to the level of art, lead by German artist, Hans Godo Frabel. This weekend families can try glassblowing hands-on at Snow Farm. Make your own glass ornament with the help of a master glass blower in the glass studio. Learn about the art of glass blowing and walk away with your very own holiday keepsake… a great tradition to do with your family year after year! This is part of Snow Farm’s Seconds Sale weekend where more than 150 craftspeople from across the country sell their seconds. Takes place Friday-Sunday, beginning November 14 and ending November 30. 413-268-3101. 5 Clary Road. Williamsburg, MA ($)


Nature HikesFilm StudiesAnimal StudiesLiving HistoryDendrologyAstronomyArchitectureParent WorkshopCultural StudiesActivismCommunity MealsU.S. HistoryLiteracySustainabilityPreschool HighlightsTheater


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 November 15th-21st, 2014

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families has been my family’s passport to Western MA since we moved here four years ago from Tanzania. We’ve discovered so many wonderful events and places…” – Karen Zwick (Williamsburg, 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.

Hilltown Families’ Event

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event takes place on Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm in Northampton—a one of a kind FREE event for families to volunteer together while educating children about important social issues and the value of community service. Through service-based learning, together we can generate 600 hours of community service in a single morning that support human services, education and children’s welfare support organizations in our region. With a Community Passport in hand, families can travel to five different stations with hands-on activities for kids of all ages, ranging from creating art for elders to tools that support literacy. Space is limited, so reserve a spot for your family today!

Bulletin Board

Coupon Code: HilltownOG

Red Fire Farm offers Bulk Organic Produce for Thanksgiving! Great deals on sweet potatoes, butternut squash,onions, carrots, garlic, and lots more while they last! Order on the farm website and use the Coupon Code HilltownOG for $3 off any bulk order. Coupon expires after 11/28. One use per customer – great for Thanksgiving and storing into the winter! Pick up orders at Red Fire Farm markets and CSA locations in Northampton, Montague, Granby, Springfield and more. Order by Tuesday, Nov 18, for Thanksgiving. Contact Red Fire Farm with any questions: thefarmers@redfirefarm.com or 413-467-7645. Place your order for Bulk Organic Produce online at www.redfirefarm.com/farmers_markets/bulkorders.html with $3 OFF Coupon Code HilltownOG

Nov 14

Come to the Renaissance Center on Friday, November 14th evening of Renaissance board games! Cozy up next to the fire and play some cribbage, chess, backgammon, fox and geese, nyot and more! There will be Renaissance music, door prizes and refreshments courtesy of the Renaissance Center’s Reading Group. This event is free and open to the public, no reservations are necessary. Families with children are encouraged to participate in this merry evening of games! For more information, please visit the Renaissance Center website at www.umass.edu/renaissance or call Sonia at 413-577-3600. The Renaissance Center is located at 650 East Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. Parking is free. See you there! from 7-9pm for a family-friendly.

Nov 18

Lander~Grinspoon Academy in Northampton, MA, welcomes families from all Jewish traditions and backgrounds. Their mission is to provide a rich, academically rigorous, and values-based education integrating general and Jewish studies in a nurturing environment. Come to their Open House, Tuesday, November 18 from 8:30am – 10:00am to meet faculty, parents, students, visit classrooms, and their neighbor, Abundance Farm. LGA’s seasoned educators emphasize the social and ethical components that teach children compassion, respect, and the importance of diversity and equality. For more information, contact Gail Lansky, Admissions Director at glansky@lgaschechter.org, 413-584-6622 x105, or visit www.landergrinspoon.org.

Nov 22

The Common School: Community, collaboration, social justice, intrinsic motivation, deep understanding, diversity, inclusivity, environmental education- Come learn how these words are put into action at their fall Open House, Saturday, November 22, from 10am-12noon. Play in their classrooms, meet their teachers, chat with current parents, and tour their beautiful campus situated amongst 120 acres of conservation land on Larch Hill in Amherst. Light refreshments provided. Questions? Contact Director of Admissions, Dana Kadish at outreach@commonschool.org or visit www.commonschool.org.

Nov 22

Visit the Hartsbrook School Holiday Fair, Saturday, November 22nd in Hadley, MA! Enjoy King Winter, roving musicians, unique crafts to make and buy, candle dipping, jump rope making, games, food, and pony rides. See the performance, The Mouse Bride: A Marionette Show, performed by the Early Childhood staff. Come experience the wonder that abounds at the Hartsbrook School Holiday Fair! There is nothing else like it! Saturday, November 22nd. 10:00am – 4:00pm, 193 Bay Road, Hadley, MA. www.hartsbrook.org

On Wednesday, December 10th, Hilltown Families will be will be participating in Valley Gives! As we enter our 10th year, this will be our 1st Annual Appeal Campaign, asking you to support us with a financial donation so that we may continue to support education through community engagement through this communication network you have grown to love and depend upon. We are inviting folks to be a part of our virtual STREET TEAM, helping us spread the word about our participation in Valley Gives and rallying support on our behalf. Join us in this exciting campaign! Email Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org for information on how to get involved. Want to learn more about the vision and mission of Hilltown Families? Check out this TEDx Talk: Supporting Education Through Community Engagement. — And mark your calendars, DEC 10, for an exciting day of giving through Valley Gives!

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, 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
November 15th-21st, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Animalia: An Intimate Portrait of Endangered Species

Artist Dawn Howkinson Siebel’s Portraits of Endangered Species Are a Call to Action
Sunday, November 9, 2014 through Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Animalia: The Endangered at the Hampden Gallery, celebrates the artist’s keen understanding of the life force embodied in these majestic animals. Siebel paints these intimate oil portraits of endangered species, wherein the being-ness of each animal shines forth. Melting into a deep shadow that holds the animal like an embrace, the darkness swallows form and place, and stands in for context. With each stroke of the brush, Seibel champions for the rights of these animals to simply be. The artist reminds us…the animals are disappearing.

This November, UMass Amherst’s Hampden Gallery hosts an exhibition by the multitalented Dawn Howkinson Siebel, perhaps best known for her painted and batik-dyed silk kimono collection sold at Bergdorf Goodman in the ‘80s, and more recently for her Better Angels series, in which she painted over 300 individual portraits of New York City firefighters who served on September 11, 2001 on burnt blocks of wood. Of Better Angels, she says the project evolved from her desire to “create something positive in response to something terrible.”

Her FAC show, Animalia: The Endangered, is a timely follow-up to that work: one that will hopefully spark a positive, urgent response in viewers to an ongoing environmental disaster. “Over 40 percent of all species on Earth are threatened with extinction,” Siebel says. “The ‘threatened’ classification includes 2129 Critically Endangered, 3079 Endangered, and 4728 Vulnerable animal species – and counting. These numbers are two to three times higher than they were only fifteen years ago.”  Read the rest of this entry »

What Strengthens Your Sense of Place and Community Pride?

Why People Love Where They Live

It’s a happy part of our culture here in western Massachusetts to celebrate all of the things that make our communities so wonderful. We’re constantly celebrating everything from cultural heritage to local food to beautiful landscapes, and it’s easy to identify all of the things that make us love our homes (check out our archived Mash Notes to Paradise posts to see some serious community appreciation). Difficult though it may be to imagine living anywhere else, folks from around the country love their homes just as much as we love ours, and the reasons for their affinity for their communities are as interesting and geographically specific as ours are right here in Massachusetts!

Families can discover the magic within communities across the continent by listening to an archived post of the Hilltown Family Variety Show titled, On the Road. Featuring guest DJ Steve Weeks, the episode features geographically-themed songs alongside brief interviews taped during Weeks’ summer travels all over the United States and Canada. Each interview features information about what makes a particular community special, as told through the perspective of a community member. Interviews come from people in maritime Canada, Las Vegas, New Orleans, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Dakotas, southern California, and other unique locales. Covering nearly all of the corners of the country (and a bonus international location), the episode showcases the wonderful aspects of local culture that are unique to each of the featured locations. Read the rest of this entry »

Nature Table for November

November’s Nature Table is Filled with Beginnings and Endings

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.

It’s dark outside these days, and the hills all seem a little less tall now that they’re devoid of the leafy fluff that extends their reach a little closer to the clouds. While it may seem that the change in seasons signals to the natural world that it should slow to a stop, there are beginnings amongst all of the ending.

This past week, my classroom hung the first few in a collection of bird feeders outside our windows. We’ve tracked goldfinches, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, and some small woodpeckers outside of our window, and the bird journal is quickly filling up with sightings. The buffet of thistle and sunflower seeds has attracted a wide variety of feathered folks, and we’re proud to feed them suet from a local farm. An outdoor snack time afforded us the opportunity to inspect our feeder-holding crabapple, allowing us to discover the many perfectly round holes pecked into its bark. We’re looking forward to continuing to learn how to identify the bird species found locally, and are planning to participate in some feeder-related citizen science this winter. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Beloved Schoolgirl Madeline at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans
On View in Western MA, November 15, 2015 – February 22, 2015

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines / Lived twelve little girls … the smallest one was Madeline.” So begins each book in Ludwig Bemelmans’ beloved and universally recognized Madeline series about a brave, mischievous, and lovable young girl attending boarding school in Paris. Published in the United States in 1939, the first book about Madeline came at a time when travel opportunities were limited; Bemelmans’ lush, evocative paintings and illustrations of the “City of Light” offered readers of all ages an escape from the ongoing economic and political turmoil occurring across the globe.

Three generations later, Bemelmans’ illustrations- not to mention his precocious heroine!- are just as beloved. Celebrate Madeline’s 75th anniversary in print by visiting Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA,  this winter! The first exhibition dedicated solely to Bemelmans’ work in fifty years, it contains a selection of original artwork from his books, as well as mural panels, objects from the French bar he briefly owned, La Colombe, and personal items such as his well-loved paintbox. The exhibition begins on Saturday, November 15th, 2014, and will run through February 22, 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

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

The Good Life: A Parent As Sports Spectator

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

Will They Be Okay?

Watching your child enter the world of contact sports can rankle the nerves.

I am not athletic. I am not competitive. I do not have a favorite sport. I married a man who duped me into believing he was a moderate baseball fan. He was boycotting major league baseball during their strike close to 20 years ago when we met. It turned out that when the strike was over he was not a moderate fan. He was a fanatic. It was too late for me to run the other way; He had me at “hello.”

We made a family of three, then four, then five. As our kids started choosing activities, my husband was very clear that he didn’t want them to feel like they had to play his sport, or any sport for that matter. He offered them the freedom to explore, and I wholly supported and appreciated his efforts.

In sports, our eldest, Sam, tried wrestling, soccer, and t-ball before coming to football. We knew that every sport came with risks, and the one that we were the most afraid of was head trauma. My husband played football in high school, and was taken off more than once and diagnosed with serious concussions. We watched the documentaries on football and head injury, and the sobering interviews with broken ex-NFL players and their families. We knew football was risky, and successfully avoided it until Sam was in the 7th grade. He wanted to join the team. Read the rest of this entry »

Community Rises to Honor Veterans in Western MA

Volunteer & Cultural Opportunities to Honor Veterans on Veterans Day in Western MA

November 11th is the perfect chance to honor our Veterans, and there are many opportunities to do so.

When someone has lots of experience in a profession, we call them a veteran in their field – veteran teachers likely have years and years of experience, and veteran nurses have spent decades in healthcare. When we hear the word “veteran” without the name of a profession attached to it, however, it usually means only one specific thing – military veterans. While the term “veteran” is frequently associated with those former military members who have fought in wars, it actually applies to all honorably or medically discharged former military members who served for at least two years – regardless of whether or not they engaged in combat. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: Nov 10-14, 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 12 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 with Guest DJ, Danny Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Guest DJ, Danny Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants

Danny Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants has returned as our Guest DJ playing some of his favorite song from his childhood and talks about people he met and or was influenced by during his long career in music. − www.dannyweinkauf.com

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

FEATURED VIDEO:  “Ice Cream” from Danny Weinkauf’s album No School Today


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

1. Danny Weinkauf – “Hey” (No School Today)
2. The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations” (Endless summer).
3. The Beatles – “Hey Bulldog” (Yellow Submarine)
4. Danny Weinkauf – “The Kidney that lived in four people” (No School Today)
5 . DR. John – “Iko Iko” (The Essentials)
6. The Might Be Giants – “Number Two” (Here Come the 123s)
7. Aimee Mann “Superball” (I’m with stupid)
8. Danny Weinkauf “The Ballad of Ben” (No School Today)
9. Liz,Holly, and the Jolly lollies “I wish I were an airplane” (Wishin” vol 1)
10. They Might Be Giants “Clap Your Hands” (No!)
11.  They Might Be Giants “High five” (Here come the 123s)
12. Carol King “Chicken soup with rice” (Gather Round)
13. Raymond Scott “Powerhouse” (The music of Raymond scott- Reckless nights and Turkish Twilights)
14. Tom Leher “The Elements” (More of Tom Leher)
15. Alastair Moock “Spaghetti in my shoe” ( a cow says Moock)
15.  Danny Weinkauf “Wonderful Christmas Day” (download only single)

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for November 8th & 9th, 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 November 8th-14th, 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, 30 Community Highlights: Renaissance Games to Ice Hockey. Food Swap to Clothing Exchange., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

November 8th-14th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Music EducationArtSustainabilityRenaissance StudiesService-Based LearningPetrology/GemologyParent WorkshopsUrban Water ManagementPlant Studies Sports/Ice HockeyCultural StudiesAviation/Veterans DayLiteracyCollaborative ConsumptionEducator’s Workshop

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Serving up Gratitude & Kindness for Thanksgiving
  2. Sing About Science and Math
  3. Oak & Acorn: Healthy Comfort Foods
  4. Let’s Play: Drawing Pen Pals
  5. Turners Falls Encoded: New QR Walking Tour

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 »

30 Community Highlights: Renaissance Games to Ice Hockey. Food Swap to Clothing Exchange.

Do you want to learn how to play violin or viola? Slapin-Solomon Studios is offering a free Lesson Day on Sunday, November 9, and a free concert on Wednesday evening, November 12, both in South Hadley.

Viola to Veterans. Renaissance Games to Ice Hockey. Food Swap to Clothing Exchange… 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: Are you looking for an opportunity to get those creative juices flowing? Hampshire Youth Connect‘s ART Reach is a free creativity event that takes place on Tuesday, November 11 at 3:30pm in Hampshire College’s Franklin Patterson Hall. All ages can participate in workshops on theater, dance, visual art, and more, all facilitated by Hampshire College students and community members. This event is a great place to establish connections with the Hampshire College community and to explore the connections that exist between artistic expression and community through participation in the workshops. Hampshire College’s address is 893 West Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)


Music EducationArtSustainabilityRenaissance StudiesService-Based LearningPetrology/GemologyParent WorkshopsUrban Water ManagementPlant Studies Sports/Ice HockeyCultural StudiesAviation/Veterans DayLiteracyCollaborative ConsumptionEducator’s Workshop


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 November 8th-14th, 2014

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I love Hilltown Families. I would be lost without this site. It’s my go to when I need to get my son out of the house. I am a single mom and new to Western Mass. This is an excellent way to satisfy my curious boy and make new friends. He has learned so much about art, appreciating music, kids cooking classes, farming, staying fit and sports. We have been able to be a part of the community through your efforts. Thank you so much.” – Kate Lynch (Holyoke, 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

Hettie Belle Farm Local Meat and Poultry CSA! Thanksgiving Turkeys! 100% grass-fed beef & lamb. Pastured pork, chicken, turkey, goose & ducks fed only certified organic grain. Meat & poultry grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. 100% antibiotic and hormone free. It really does matter! Monthly distribution in Greenfield, Florence, and on-farm in Warwick, MA (November-March). Details at www.hettiebellefarm.com. SNAP benefits accepted. Monthly payment plan options to make this sort of direct farmer/consumer relationship possible. Questions? Email Jennifer@hettiebellefarm.com. Do consider becoming a member family!

Coupon Code: HilltownOG

Red Fire Farm offers Bulk Organic Produce for Thanksgiving! Great deals on sweet potatoes, butternut squash,onions, carrots, garlic, and lots more while they last! Order on the farm website and use the Coupon Code HilltownOG for $3 off any bulk order. Coupon expires after 11/28. One use per customer – great for Thanksgiving and storing into the winter! Pick up orders at Red Fire Farm markets and CSA locations in Northampton, Montague, Granby, Springfield and more. Order by Tuesday, Nov 18, for Thanksgiving. Contact Red Fire Farm with any questions: thefarmers@redfirefarm.com or 413-467-7645. Place your order for Bulk Organic Produce online at www.redfirefarm.com/farmers_markets/bulkorders.html with $3 OFF Coupon Code HilltownOG

Nov 8

Coming Home Launch with Author, Illustrator Greg Ruth. Saturday, November 8th at 12pm. In celebration of the release of a new picture book from Greg Ruth and in observance of Veterans Day The Odyssey Book Shop will launch Coming Home. A stunning picture book that tells the story of a boy watching for his military parent to come home. A boy waits. A dog waits. Is today the day their loved ones will come home? Readers everywhere – not just those with loved ones in the military – will treasure these powerful reunions of families and their heroes. FREE and Ages 3+. Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street, South Hadley. 413-534-7307 www.odysseybks.com

Nov 10

Open House at Amherst Montessori School, November 10 at 9am. For mid-year and Fall 2015 enrollment. Following the pioneering approach developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, Amherst Montessori School nurtures the child’s spirit, curiosity, confidence, and leadership, building the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. AMS programs feature thoughtfully-prepared classrooms to support the child’s development, and a curriculum that integrates music, art, practical life, outdoor time, PE, Spanish and more. Young Toddler (12 months) through Sixth Grade. To register for the Open House, call 413-253-3101 or email Laura Miller, Director of Admissions, at lmiller@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

Join us for Valley Gives!

On Wednesday, December 10th, Hilltown Families will be will be participating in Valley Gives! As we enter our 10th year, this will be our 1st Annual Appeal Campaign, asking you to support us with a financial donation so that we may continue to support education through community engagement through this communication network you have grown to love and depend upon. We are inviting folks to be a part of our virtual STREET TEAM, helping us spread the word about our participation in Valley Gives and rallying support on our behalf. Join us in this exciting campaign! Email Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org for information on how to get involved. Want to learn more about the vision and mission of Hilltown Families? Check out this TEDx Talk: Supporting Education Through Community Engagement. — And mark your calendars, DEC 10, for an exciting day of giving through Valley Gives!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event takes place on Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm in Northampton—a one of a kind FREE event for families to volunteer together while educating children about important social issues and the value of community service.  Through service-based learning, together we can generate 600 hours of community service in a single morning that support human services, education and children’s welfare support organizations in our region. With a Community Passport in hand, families can travel to five different stations with hands-on activities for kids of all ages, ranging from creating art for elders to tools that support literacy.  Space is limited, so reserve a spot for your family today!

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
November 8th-14th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

November is Family Literacy Month

Springfield City Library Supports Literacy through Creative-Free Play in November

Celebrate Family Literacy Month at the Springfield City Library by bringing your children, age birth-5 years old, to Make, Take, Play: Easy Homemade Toys!

Libraries are not just places to borrow books – they are places for play and learning for all ages, even babies. With winter just around the corner come in and explore what Springfield City Library has to offer to help those long days become short and full of fun!

Celebrate Family Literacy Month at the library by bringing your children, age birth-5 years old, to Make, Take, Play: Easy Homemade Toys! Play with their toys, make some of your own to take home, and learn how you can create even more simple, inexpensive toys. Stop by to enjoy playing, singing, talking, and more!

Did you know that in 1985, Becoming a Nation of Readers reported that the “single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children [and that this] practice should continue throughout the grades.”  Since 1985, technology has forever transformed the way we live, but one thing has not changed at all: reading test scores. Sadly, reading successes have not increased because technology has improved. So what does this mean? Families are the most important ingredient in growing a reader!

Stop in to any of their branch libraries with your little ones and join the fun with their program, Make, Take, Play: Easy Homemade Toys!: Read the rest of this entry »

Gingerbread Houses: Edible Architecture Brings Families Together

Holiday Tradition of Building Gingerbread Houses
Stimulates Creative Free Play!

Building a gingerbread house is a fantastic way to include creative folks of all ages in creating a delicious, well-engineered work of art, along with skills in architectural design, engineering, communication, and collaboration.

It may seem as if the holiday season is far away in the distance, but now that Halloween has come and gone, preparations are beginning for holiday celebrations in western Massachusetts! One of the most important parts of any community celebration of a holiday (winter or otherwise) is the food. An important part of every culture, the food associated with a specific event plays an important role in its celebration and says a lot about those who celebrate. The preparation of specific traditional dishes often brings families together, and creates a tradition that can be a part of each holiday for years to come.

One of the most iconic food-related ways to celebrate early winter’s holidays is by making a gingerbread house. Constructed out of delicious (and also sturdy and long-lasting) spicy gingerbread, festive gingerbread houses represent not only the role of food in holiday celebrations, but also the importance of creativity and intergenerational collaboration. Building a gingerbread house is a fantastic way to include creative folks of all ages in creating a delicious, well-engineered work of art, and skills in architectural design, engineering, communication, and collaboration will all come into play during such an activity. And speaking of play – play you shall! Even if the family gingerbread masterpiece isn’t an architectural wonder, the process of decorating it is a fantastic opportunity to participate in creative free play together! Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Green: Buy Local First

Greening Our Social Landscape

Our environment is more than the botany around us! When we admire our landscape we recognize that it also includes the views of markets, public spaces, and a bustling community of likeminded people engaged in businesses, and schools. All these things attract us as inhabitants. So when we think about preserving our environment by doing helpful things like recycling, river clean-ups, and using reusable bags, we can also consider efforts made in greening our social landscape as equally supportive.

We value face-to-face interactions. Getting our questions answered, being helped in person to find what we need, having conversations with real people about life, our kids growing up, and what’s going on around town. I want to introduce you to the concept of buy local first. If you live in the Pioneer Valley of Western MA you likely have heard this term, or even have picked up a copy of the Pioneer Valley Local First guide. It’s all about shopping local. You know why? Because when you make a purchase at a local business, significantly more money will recirculate into the community keeping it vibrant. There are 10 reasons (and really good ones, some that you might not even think of make a shift but they all do)! You can read them in more detail in Pioneer Valley Local First post, “Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local First!” If you’re more of a visual learner, you can click on this graphic to view more.

I wanted to highlight my favorite 3 and elaborate from my own experience: Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Chrysanthemum Show at Smith Offers Community-Based Learning

Budding Botanists Will Love This Show at Smith College Botanic Garden

It might be chilly outside, but Smith College’s greenhouses in Northampton are bursting with color this time of year! Annually, with the month of November, comes The Botanic Garden of Smith College’s Fall Chrysanthemum Show, an exhibition filled with colorful mums of all shapes and sizes (some as large as eight inches across!). Budding botanists will love exploring the greenhouse and inspecting blossoms to learn about chrysanthemums.

Of particular interest at the show is the showcase of hybrid mums created by students in Smith College’s horticulture class. Every year, the mum show includes blooms engineered by students specifically for characteristics like petal shape, color, and/or size. Hybrid blooms are created by hand-pollinating blossoms, a process that requires careful attention to be paid to the plants’ reproductive process. Visitors to the show can view the students’ hybrid flowers and vote for their favorite of the original blooms. The competition has been going on for nearly a century, and past winners’ blooms can be viewed in an online gallery. Take a look at the archived blossoms and try to guess what the flowers whose genetic material was hybridized might have looked like! Read the rest of this entry »

Philosophy for Children Class at MHC Supports Community-Based Education

‘Big Ideas for Little Kids:’ PBS Doc Features Mount Holyoke College Class

Each fall, students in Professor Thomas E. Wartenberg’s Philosophy for Children class pack up kids’ picture books and bring big ideas to elementary school students in the Pioneer Valley.

Rather than slogging through philosophers’ names and theories, however, the Mount Holyoke College students are teaching second graders at the Martin Luther King Charter School in Springfield, MA, to question their own assumptions, listen to each other’s points of view, and sometimes even change their minds—all through the lens of children’s books.

The class, co-taught by Wartenberg and Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella last year, is the subject of a documentary film that will premiere on PBS affiliate WGBY Channel 57 on Monday, November 3, at 8 pm. Big Ideas for Little Kids will be rebroadcast (see schedule below) and available online starting November 4 at wgby.org/bigideas.

“The second graders learn some of the basic rules for having a philosophical discussion, from what it means to be a listener who respects differences in opinion, to how to build a good argument when making a point,” filmmaker Julie Akeret, a regional Emmy Award winner, says. “These young students are excited to be asked not only what they think, but why.”

When the class was filmed last fall, the Mount Holyoke students used six children’s picture books, each focusing on a different question of philosophy. Frederick, for example, prompts the question, “What is work?” through the story of a mouse who composes poetry while his family and friends gather food for winter. The Giving Tree inspires an impassioned examination of whether a tree surrendered “her whole self” when she gave up her lush branches and towering trunk so her son could build a home. And Emily’s Art incites a debate about whether a judge really knows best in an art contest. Read the rest of this entry »

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