29 Community Highlights: Bottle Rockets to Binoculars. Meadowlands to Beavers.

Interested in rockets? There are several events happening this week that allows kids to explore the physics of rockets through hands-on experience!

Bottle Rockets to Blacksmithing. Meadowlands to Beavers. Binoculars Tour to Walking Tour… 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:  The Museum of Science and the M.N. Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury present “Rockets: There and Back Again!” Youth participants can create an air rocket that launches across the room, exploring the science behind rockets and space exploration in this free hands-on workshop taking place at the Town Hall. Through experiential learning, kids can plan, build, and test their very own designs!


RocketsBlacksmithing/ToolsService Based Learning/Food SecurityInsect StudiesCultural Studies/Native AmericanSports HistorySTEMAnimal ScienceAstronomyLocal HistoryOutdoor AdventuresAbolitionism


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 August 2nd-8th, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“Hilltown Families has given me ways to reach out into the community with activities and ideas for things to do that are fun and close to home. I use Hilltown Families when I have friends from out of town coming over and want to show them what it is like to live in a small town community.” – Briana Kubik (Blandford, 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

Jul 30-Aug 2

PaintBox Theatre, Northampton’s theatre of imagination and improvisation for all ages, presents the world stage premiere of Cornelia Funke’s picture book, Pirate Girl, adapted and directed by Tom McCabe. Pirates, singing and carrying on, audience participation, bad jokes from Captain Firebeard, art from local children, a band of silvery pirates from the Northampton Senior Center—all without any scurvy or seasickness! Performances are Wed., July 30 – Sat., Aug. 2, 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. daily at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-320-0517. Stay tuned for Tarzan, August 13-16 at the Three County Fairgrounds! www.paintboxtheatre.com.

Aug 1,6 & 13

The fun continues this summer at the Springfield Museums! There’s the Life Through Time exhibit of roaring, stomping mechanical dinosaurs and Ice-age mammals (extra fee), plus enjoy art and science activities, live reptile demos and more every weekday at the Summer Spectacular Family Series. There are also great family shows every Wednesday – Friday, including the Tanglewood Marionettes on Thursdays, Bubblemania with Casey Carle (August 1), Grammy-nominated The Pop Ups (August 6), Mister G (August 13), and many others, plus the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden, all free with museum admission! Check www.springfieldmuseums.org for a full schedule.

Aug 12, 14, 19 & 21

Graphic design classes for kids and tweens in Easthampton! Introduce your art loving kid to graphic design in these two-hours courses taught by Leslie Tane at Eastworks. Intro to Graphic Design for 8-12 year olds will be held from 1-3pm on Tues., August 12; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 14. What is Graphic Design? is from 1-3pm on Tues., August 19; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 21. Your kids will learn about graphic design: what it is, where to find it, and the beginnings of how to make it. Supplies are provided. $25/student per class. www.tadashow.com/workshops

Sep 28

On Sunday, Sept. 28th, join The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts at their 4th annual Will Bike 4 Food (WB4F) charity cycling event. Ride as an individual or form a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help them feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of any level can become involved. WB4F provides a chance for families to participate in an activity together, while raising awareness of the issue of hunger. Now is a great time to get started. To register, or to learn more about WB4F, visit their website at www.foodbankwma.org/events/bike.

Fall Openings

Amherst Montessori School has limited fall openings for toddlers and pre-schoolers, ages 12 months through 6 years. Featuring a Young Toddler program for ages 12-24 months, Toddler for ages 18 months – 3 years, the Children’s House for ages 3-6 years, and La Casa de Niños, the Pioneer Valley’s only Spanish Montessori pre-school program for ages 3-6 years. AMS fosters the natural self-construction, cognitive development, and social-emotional well-being of each child in programs that include music, art, practical life, outdoor time, PE and yoga. For current openings or to schedule a visit, contact Laura Miller, Director of Admissions, at lmiller@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

Aug 4-8

The 24th annual Children’s Literature Festival sponsored by the Mary Lyon Foundation will be held this summer at the Buckland Shelburne Elementary School in Shelburne Falls from 8:30am-Noon, Aug 4-8. This unique program combines children’s literature with arts and crafts, music, field trips and special guests. Children will have an opportunity to visit the Mary Lyon House in Upper Buckland where Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke, first taught school in 1823. The theme this year is A Sense of Place and introduces children grades K-6 to local history. Cost for $50/child. Includes all materials and snacks. Scholarships available. For more info Toni Wilcox at 413-863-9418. Call the Mary Lyon Foundation office at 413-625-2555 for application.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your fall program, after school class, school, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business 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
August 2nd-8th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Summer Language Stimulation

Midsummer Language Skills

The summer months are racing ahead. Many of our children are going to day camps or traveling with family. I know from my work schedule that families are shifting their plans daily, almost hourly in some cases. Spontaneity can be a double-edged sword for children. Too much can make them off balance but too much structure can stress them out. I see some children in my practice who lose ground with inconsistent speech therapy due to their looser schedules. But I also see others who gain skills over the summer, when the rigidity of schedules is relaxed.

I’m pondering today about this. So much seems to be determined by the personality of our children. For some, a loosening of structure takes away pressure, and they can learn and be creative at their own pace. Others depend on a schedule to be okay. As parents and teachers, we need to honor these learning/living styles in order to help kids be successful and happy. Of course, this applies to the style that works for their adults as well! What’s the style in your family? Does it work for all your children? Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Basil Pesto & Peas

Summer foods that are easy to grow and that kids love.

One of the foods that we love to make a lot in the summer is basil pesto. We grow a lot of basil in our garden and at this time of the year it’s very abundant. We also are very lucky that many of our farmer friends hand off some of their extras to us. I love the taste and smell of basil…it’s one of my favorite culinary herbs! It works in so many dishes and also goes well in some fruity summer drinks. Just last week, we added basil to some seltzer water with simple syrup and sour cherries that we picked from a friends tree in their backyard. It was delish!

The past couple weeks we have also been eating lots of peas, in particular sugar snap peas which happens to be a favorite snack in our house. We also picked lots of shell peas from a farm we have a CSA share with, shelled them and froze them for future use. It takes a little time to do this, but it’s always nice to have these preserved in the freezer for when a recipe calls for them, like pesto!

See our recipe for basil pesto and pasta with peas

Berkshire Family Fun: August 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
August 2014

“We love that Hilltown Families keeps us updated on events in the larger area, in both the Berkshires and the Valley. …We use the calendar section, the camp guide, the school guides, and much more.” – Caitlin Loverin (Pittsfield, MA)

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of August. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

Read the rest of this entry »

Local Agricultural Fairs Showcase Rich Local Heritage

Multidisciplinary Learning Opportunities for Children

It’s almost agricultural fair time!

Much more than a midway and a ticket-per-ride miniature amusement park, Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs honor the generations-old traditions of agriculture, self-sufficiency, and resiliency in rural communities. A tradition for many generations, agricultural fairs showcase the unique skills and talents specific to rural life in western Massachusetts – and in doing so, fairs offer families the opportunity to not only celebrate local culture, but to actively participate in preserving it. The exhibition halls at agricultural fairs are always filled with locally grown fruits and vegetables, homemade and home-preserved canned goods, handmade quilts and clothing, and beautiful photographs, paintings, and crafts created by local artists. With many exhibition categories reserved specifically for youngsters, exhibition halls offer families the opportunity to share their own work, projects, and produce with others – and the opportunity to share the active role that they have in preserving local culture.  Read the rest of this entry »

Under the Hat: Energize Your Child’s Imagination through Literacy

Reading Supports the Development of a Creative Mind!

Reading is fun

Reading requires imagination and can inspire creativity.

I was a lucky kid: my mom was a children’s book author and illustrator and I grew up surrounded by books. For years, my mom and I had a weekly date at the library. I’d always check out the maximum number of books and couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. I loved everything, but my favorite stories were the really scary ones.

Not too much has changed over the years; I still have a stack of books on my bedside table and I still love learning about all sorts of things just by lying still and reading.

Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for Mildred Pitts Walter’s “Alec’s Primer”

Alec’s Primer
by Mildred Pitts Walter

Alec’s Primer is a story of freedom – a true one. Based on the real-life experiences of a man named Alec Turner, the book follows a young boy born into slavery through childhood on a plantation, fighting for the north during the Civil War, and finding freedom in Vermont. Though born a slave and forbidden to learn literacy skills, young Alec learned to read with the help of the plantation owner’s granddaughter – who insisted that Alec learn the alphabet despite the trouble that he would be in if he were to be found out. In learning the foundation of reading and writing the English language, Alec gets his first taste of freedom and dreams of someday escaping to Vermont – though he does suffer punishment for learning to read. Read the rest of this entry »

Western Mass Historical Heritage for All to Explore

Summer is History-Exploring Season in Western MA!

This summer, the Sheffield Historical Society hosts the Milt Barnum All American Tool Exhibit, an extensive show of tools used by workers of all kinds throughout the past few centuries. Check out our list of 15 historical societies and history museums below and find out what these community-based educational resources have to offer and discover your local history while nurturing a better sense of place in your kids and in yourself!

Nestled amongst the hills of western Massachusetts are pockets of history – the streets of cities and towns are lined with historic buildings, fields are dotted with centuries-old cemeteries, and even the landscape itself tells stories of generations past, its shape hinting at human influences. It’s obvious that our communities’ history surrounds us, but the challenge in learning about local history is learning how to access it in a meaningful way. Luckily, historical societies and museums across the region offer families a wide variety of ways to learn about the history of their community. From wartime tales to walking tours, resources for learning about local history abound during the summer in western Massachusetts.

An added bonus of the easy accessibility of local history resources is that children will be supported in learning about the history of their own community and a familiar landscape, but they’ll also learn about major historical events – events that took place on a national or international level – and the ways in which they affected folks here in western Massachusetts. In allowing children to learn about large-scale events or cultural shifts on a small scale, families can support learning about broad topics on a level that meets children where they’re at developmentally, while strengthening their sense of place. Adding familiar context to an unfamiliar or confusing topic can help children to understand it – and they’ll develop a deeper connection to their history once it becomes personal. Many local historical societies only open their doors to the public during summer months (for many reasons, including the availability of volunteer staff and the lack of heat in many old buildings), so don’t miss this year’s history-exploring season! In addition to open museum hours, many historical societies and museums offer interactive activities, speakers and educational events, and other special programming – be sure to check out your local society’s calendar for learning opportunities that extend beyond a visit to the local museum or archives. Here are history museums, historical societies and events to consider this summer with your family throughout the region: Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Squelching through Wetlands Reveals Nature at its Most Natural

The Beauty and Ickyness of Upland Wetlands

Thanks to wetlands, mountain rivers should be clear while valley rivers like the Connecticut can resemble a river of milk chocolate.

Last week, I stood by the side of the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield with a group of intrepid explorers, astonished by the gasp and growl of its raging flood waters. “Where’s Augustus Gloop?” I heard someone ask; “He would love all this hot chocolate!”

Laden with brown soils that had eroded from roadsides, construction sites and fields upstream, the river did look like it was made by Willy Wonka. A wild and scenic river like the East Branch of the Westfield should not look like hot chocolate because of its federally-registered conservation status, and the fact that there is little development in the hilltowns. And yet here was unmistakable proof that torrential rain on vegetation-less lands was causing extensive erosion. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Animals Episode with Guest DJ, Jacob Stein of The Pop Ups (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

ANIMALS EPISODE
GUEST DJ, JACOB STEIN OF THE POP UPS

Listen to Podcast:

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
July 26th & 27th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video:  “All These Shapes” from Appetite for Construction by The Pop Ups – www.thepopups.com


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Frances England – “Jacques Cousteau” [Mind of My Own]
  • The Pop Ups – “The Bat” [Radio Jungle]
  • Cat and a Bird – “Lion and the Challengers” [Cat and a Bird]
  • Miriam Makeba – “The Naughty Little Flea” [Pata Pata]
  • Todd McHatton – “ I Think I’m A Bunny” [Galactic Champions of Joy]
  • The Pop Ups – “Box Of Crayons” [Radio Jungle]
  • DinoRock – “Dinosaur Rock” [Dinosaur Rock]
  • Justin Roberts – “Willy Was A Whale” [Yellow Bus]
  • The Pop Ups – “Pop Up City” [Radio Jungle]
  • Cathy & Marcy Feat. Christylez Bacon – “Hip-Hop Humpty Dumpty” [Banjo to Beatbox]
  • DinoRock – “We All Came From the Sea” [Dinosaur Rock]
  • Lucky Diaz – “Blue Bear” [Luckiest Adventure]
  • The Pop Ups – “Connect The Stars” [Radio Jungle]
  • DinoRock – “Moms to the Rescue” [Dreamosaurus]
  • Recess Monkey – “Super Stuffies” [Flying!]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 26th & 27th, 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 July 26th-August 1st, 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, 31 Community Highlights: Lava Lamps to Cannonballs. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes. and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: July 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our Summer Bucket List for Western MA has a growing list of reader recommended places to go and see this summer, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs.

July 26th-August 1st, 2014

SaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Astronomy ♦ Music Studies ♦ Nature Adventures ♦ Community Meals ♦ Presidential History ♦ STEM ♦Animal Studies ♦ Local History ♦ Hikes ♦ Theater ♦ Insects ♦ Crafts

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Where’s Your Favorite Place to PYO Blueberries in Western MA
  2. Are Your Kids Still in Diapers? What Do They Swim In?
  3. Beach Day Trips: 16 Recommendations from Western MA
  4. 5 Hikes for Families in Western MA State Forests and Parks
  5. What’s Your Favorite Family Card Game?

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too! Read the rest of this entry »

31 Community Highlights: Lava Lamps to Cannonballs. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes.

Cannonballs are an excellent way to support an interests in math and history! Kids can learn about physics and how sailors in the past sent cannonballs through the air at the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday morning, July 29 during their free program, Under Pressure! Presented by the USS Constitution Museum, this hands on event will be a “blast” for the entire family!

Lava Lamps to Cannonballs. Biomimicry to Experimentology. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes… 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: Do you ever wonder what life was like in New England during the Civil War? On Friday, August 1st, families can experience life in 1860s Stockbridge at the Stockbridge Library’s “Stroll Back in Time: Life Along Main Street 150 Years Ago,” a free event that transforms Stockbridge’s Main Street into a mid-1800s New England village with historically accurate activities like chores, games, and more. Learn about professions of the time by seeing a blacksmith forge horseshoes and meeting a local shopkeeper, hear music from the Civil War era, enjoy historic games, and discover how people lived 150 years ago. This is a unique opportunity to see Stockbridge as it once was and to think about the ways the town has changed since the 1860s.


AstronomyMusic StudiesNature AdventuresCommunity MealsPresidential HistorySTEMAnimal StudiesLocal HistoryHikesTheaterInsectsCrafts


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 July 26th-August 1st, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“We have been using the Hilltown Families eNewsletter for the past several years. We find activities that we can all enjoy such as activities at local library’s, outdoor music venues and dance opportunities for families.” – Margaret Ezell (West Whately, 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

Jul 26

Gustfer Yellowgold at The Carle this Saturday, July 26th in Amherst! Enjoy a unique blend of live music, animated illustrations, and storytelling by award-winning performer Morgan Taylor. Come to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst on Saturday, July 26 and meet Gustafer Yellowgold! Yellowgold is a small, yellow, cone-headed fellow who came from the Sun and landed in Minnesota. The show will include a brand new hand-drawn animated music video and Top-10 hit “Cakenstein,” along with plenty of other fan favorites! Performance begins at 11 am and tickets are $7 and may be purchased in advance at the Museum Admissions Desk or by calling 413-658-1126.

Jul 30-Aug 2

PaintBox Theatre, Northampton’s theatre of imagination and improvisation for all ages, presents the world stage premiere of Cornelia Funke’s picture book, Pirate Girl, adapted and directed by Tom McCabe. Pirates, singing and carrying on, audience participation, bad jokes from Captain Firebeard, art from local children, a band of silvery pirates from the Northampton Senior Center—all without any scurvy or seasickness! Performances are Wed., July 30 – Sat., Aug. 2, 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. daily at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-320-0517. Stay tuned for Tarzan, August 13-16 at the Three County Fairgrounds! www.paintboxtheatre.com.

Aug 1,6 & 13

The fun continues this summer at the Springfield Museums! There’s the Life Through Time exhibit of roaring, stomping mechanical dinosaurs and Ice-age mammals (extra fee), plus enjoy art and science activities, live reptile demos and more every weekday at the Summer Spectacular Family Series. There are also great family shows every Wednesday – Friday, including the Tanglewood Marionettes on Thursdays, Bubblemania with Casey Carle (August 1), Grammy-nominated The Pop Ups (August 6), Mister G (August 13), and many others, plus the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden, all free with museum admission! Check www.springfieldmuseums.org for a full schedule.

Aug 12, 14, 19 & 21

Graphic design classes for kids and tweens in Easthampton! Introduce your art loving kid to graphic design in these two-hours courses taught by Leslie Tane at Eastworks. Intro to Graphic Design for 8-12 year olds will be held from 1-3pm on Tues., August 12; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 14. What is Graphic Design? is from 1-3pm on Tues., August 19; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 21. Your kids will learn about graphic design: what it is, where to find it, and the beginnings of how to make it. Supplies are provided. $25/student per class. www.tadashow.com/workshops

Through Aug 22

The New England Air Museum will hold family fun programs through the end of the summer. Visitors will have the chance to get up close and personal with the Museum’s 80 display aircraft. A variety of activities will be offered each day such as build and fly challenge activities, flight science demonstrations and the chance to sit in the cockpit of an aircraft. The Museum’s Flight Sim Spot will be open each of these days between 11am-4pm. The Flight Sim Spot allows visitors to use state-of-the-art simulators using real cockpit controls. NEAM is located in Windsor Locks, CT and can be reached at 860-623-3305. Click here for more details on New England Air Museum’s summer programs.

Sep 28

On Sunday, Sept. 28th, join The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts at their 4th annual Will Bike 4 Food (WB4F) charity cycling event. Ride as an individual or form a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help them feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of any level can become involved. WB4F provides a chance for families to participate in an activity together, while raising awareness of the issue of hunger. Now is a great time to get started. To register, or to learn more about WB4F, visit their website at www.foodbankwma.org/events/bike.

Aug 4-8

The 24th annual Children’s Literature Festival sponsored by the Mary Lyon Foundation will be held this summer at the Buckland Shelburne Elementary School in Shelburne Falls from 8:30am-Noon, Aug 4-8. This unique program combines children’s literature with arts and crafts, music, field trips and special guests. Children will have an opportunity to visit the Mary Lyon House in Upper Buckland where Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke, first taught school in 1823. The theme this year is A Sense of Place and introduces children grades K-6 to local history. Cost for $50/child. Includes all materials and snacks. Scholarships available. For more info Toni Wilcox at 413-863-9418. Call the Mary Lyon Foundation office at 413-625-2555 for application.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your fall program, after school class, school, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business 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
July 26th-August 1st, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Library Events Support Chemistry, Physics, Forensics & More this Summer!

Statewide Summer Learning Programs Offer Developmental Advancement

This summer, libraries across the state are offering an innovative summer reading program to young readers. Titled Fizz, Boom, Read!, the program supports the development of reading and literacy skills, while also allowing participants to explore the intersection of science and the humanities. By combining science with reading, libraries are encouraging children to explore the world of non-fiction writing- opening up endless possibilities for learning and satisfying science-based curiosity. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Helping Toddlers Form Authentic Friendships

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Fostering Friendships for Toddlers

By encouraging your toddler to be a good friend, they will make good friends and have lasting meaningful relationships into their later years and even adulthood!

Watching toddlers and preschoolers grow and mature is a beautiful and amazing thing. It is such a small window and one day it swings open and the toddler who was waddling and whopping with his friends just six months ago, is now the preschooler with a strong moral compass and a kind heart. It is remarkable how fast this transformation can be and it is even more incredible to be apart of it. Watching early friendships form, fostering a child natural longing for meaningful relationships, is awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time.

Laying the Groundwork: The Foundation of Friendships

Younger toddlers do not yet have the ability to see the world from others perspective. So often it is hard for them to play “with” other children. They often play “alongside” them instead. It’s not that they don’t like or care for one another, it’s just where they are developmentally. Children even at birth love one another; love spending time together.  We are social creatures; it is what we do. Put two infants face to face and anyone can see how that interaction is special in itself. However, babies and young toddler haven’t really developed a sense of what is a friendship. It is not a give and take yet; it is more a large game of take. Read the rest of this entry »

Open Sesame: New Picture Books Explore Rich Themes

A Wave of New Picture Books

It’s summer! One of my family’s favorite seasons to jump into the pages of a good book. Lucky us, there’s a wave of new titles rolling off the presses. Here are eight picture book picks for young readers. You’ll find bulldogs and poodles, a panda and a pilot, a dragon, a ninja, barefoot critters, a home on wheels, and an imaginary friend. Hold on to your little ones and jump in – the story’s fine!

Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light, invites readers on a city prowl and counting expedition as they help a boy find his dragon somewhere in lower Manhattan. Detailed cityscapes drawn in mostly black and white provide an urban playground for young adventurers. Numbered maps on the end papers show the story’s route through the city and add more interactive appeal. Fun seek-and-find picture book. (Candlewick Press, 2014   ISBN: 978-0763666484)

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The Berkshires are Alive with Live Theater Opportunities this Summer!

Diverse Theater Selection Brings Entertainment & Education Opportunities for Entire Family

The Berkshires are alive! Get your tickets for a theater production and bring the family. There are options that fit all budgets!

The Berkshires region of western Massachusetts is filled with endless opportunities for learning and playing – especially in the summer. A popular vacation destination for locals and out-of-towners alike, the region offers up a wide variety of things to do, places to visit, and stuff to see. And this summer, some of the best stuff to see is on stage at the Berkshires’ many theaters and performance spaces! From children’s theater to clowning, Shakespeare to musicals, the Berkshires’ numerous theater companies are dishing out shows that not only entertain, but also present valuable learning opportunities. Read the rest of this entry »

The Comment Box is Mightier than the Sword

It’s a Facebook Miracle

Uh-oh you haven’t updated your status in 5 minutes!

In the end, resistance was futile.

Since the minute Facebook stormed onto the scene a decade ago, I knew I did not want to get caught up in the hype. I began to detest all “social media,” not only as a regular person who found it tedious and self-serving but also as an actual journalist who saw the demise of the fourth estate. If anyone can say anything anytime, then who the heck knows if anything anyone is saying has any truth to it? But it was Facebook that caught the brunt of my wrath, as I watched otherwise sane people get sucked into this never-ending vortex of “status updates” and “likes” and “friends.” Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for Mordicai Gerstein’s “The Mountains of Tibet”

The Mountains of Tibet
by Mordicai Gerstein

Literature Guide: The Mountains of Tibet

An accomplished writer, illustrator, and animator; local author Mordicai Gerstein‘s books for children are moving, beautifully illustrated, and feature deep themes that children of all ages (and the adults in their lives) can relate to. In The Mountains of Tibet, Gerstein weaves a lovely story about kite-flying and the passing of time with a lesson about reincarnation and Buddhist culture. Not only do readers learn to think about what happens after death, but the story inspires them to think about the many different belief systems that exist in cultures all around the world – helping to open their eyes to the vast diversity amongst humans.

The Mountains of Tibet focuses on a young boy who lives in a small village, high up in Tibet’s mountains. His favorite activity is kite-flying, and he spends his childhood imagining all of the places in the world that he might travel to when he is older and dreaming of all of the adventures that he may have in other parts of the globe. Despite his dreams of travel, the boy grows up to be a man who remains at home in his small village, serving as a woodcutter amongst the community in which he spent his childhood. Eventually, once he has accomplished much and becomes an old man, he dies and finds himself posed to make an important decision. Finding himself in a strange place that is somewhere between the earth and the rest of the universe, the man is given a choice: to remain as part of the endless universe, or to choose his own reincarnation without knowledge of his previous life. The man chooses reincarnation and, in a heart warming twist, he revisits his own hometown and experiences another life there as a kite-flying young girl.

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Fibonacci Sequence & Golden Ratio Drive Nature Based Education

Nature’s Patterns Reveals Mathematical Reasoning

The Fibonacci sequence describes the pattern in which flowers fit the most seeds possible into their centers.

Nature is filled with patterns – spirals, in particular, are especially noticeable in species of plants and animals. Sunflowers, for example, seem to spiral their seeds from their centers in some sort of mathematical pattern. Snail shells, too, show growth rings that become gradually larger as they spiral away from the shell’s center. Evergreen cones, heads of broccoli and cauliflower, and tree branches all display noticeable iterations of this spiraling pattern, too.

The spirals that appear all around us are no accident of nature – while they’re beautiful to look at, their purpose is much more important than vanity alone. Beneath the aesthetically pleasing shapes of petals, seeds, and branches are two fascinating mathematical concepts that explain nature’s tendency to expand in spirals. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Weather Episode with Guest DJ, Alison Faith Levy (Radio Show/Podcast)

 

Hilltown Family Variety Show

WEATHER EPISODE
GUEST DJ, ALISON FAITH LEVY

Listen to Podcast:

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
July 19th & 20th, 2014

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: “World of Wonder,” the title track from Alison Faith Levy’s debut album for children World of Wondera paean to the natural world and all its mystery. Animated by filmmaker Danny Plotnick. – www.alisonfaithlevy.com


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Electric Light Orchestra – “Mr. Blue Sky” – [Out of the Blue]
  • Grateful Dead – “Box of Rain” [American Beauty]
  • Allen Clapp – “Scattered Showers” [One Hundred Percent Chance of Rain]
  • Alison Faith Levy – “I Love the Rain” [World of Wonder]
  • The Velvet Underground – “Who Loves the Sun” [Loaded]
  • The Hollies – “Everything is Sunshine” [The Hollies: Epic Anthology]
  • XTC – “Ballet for a Rainy Day” [Skylarking]
  • Jimi Hendrix – “The Wind Cries Mary” [The Ultimate Experience]
  • Beach Boys – “Wind Chimes” [Smile Sessions]
  • Allen Clapp & His Orchestra – “If the Wind is Right” [Mixed Greens]
  • The Three O’Clock – “When Lightning Starts” [Sixteen Tambourines]
  • Led Zeppelin – “The Rain Song” [Houses of the Holy]
  • Neko Case – “This Tornado Loves You” [Middle Cyclone]
  • Alison Faith Levy – “Eye of the Tornado” [World of Wonder]
  • Etta James – “Stormy Weather” [At Last]
  • The Beatles – “Good Day Sunshine” [Revolver]
  • The Beatles – “Here Comes the Sun” [Abbey Road]
  • The Beatles – “Sun King” [Abbey Road]
  • Autumn Leaves – “Stars in the Snow” [The Twilight Hours of the Autumn Leaves]
  • The Sippy Cups – “Drinking from the Sky” [Electric Storyland]
  • The Jayhawks – “Save It For a Rainy Day” [Rainy Day Music]
  • The Kinks – “Waterloo Sunset” [Something Else by The Kinks]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 19th & 20th, 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 July 19th-25th, 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: Whalemobile to TrolleyFest. Scottish Festival to Bang on a Can and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: July 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our Summer Bucket List for Western MA has a growing list of reader recommended places to go and see this summer, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs.

July 19th-25th, 2014

Saturday • Sunday • Monday • Tuesday • Wednesday • Thursday • Friday

Animal Studies ♦ Shakespeare ♦ Transportation ♦ Culture ♦ Playgrounds ♦ Nature Studies ♦ Agriculture/Farm Tours ♦ Local History ♦ STEM ♦ Insects ♦ Community Meals ♦ Geology ♦ Festivals

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Let’s Play: Water Paints
  2. 16 Swimming Holes in Western MA
  3. Hilltown Family Variety Show Archived Podcasts
  4. Three Programs Kids Can Use to Learn How to Create Video Games
  5. Q&A: Where to Get New/Used Bikes for the Family in Western MA

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

 Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too! Read the rest of this entry »

33 Community Highlights: Whalemobile to TrolleyFest. Scottish Festival to Bang on a Can.

Guess how many owl species have been recorded in New England… twelve! On Saturday afternoon, July 19, Eyes on Owls will be at the Sunderland Library with their free owl program. This program features six live owls and will teach about the owls of the northeast. Owl pellets will be dissected and are a fascinating way to learn about owl anatomy and physiology, along with what their diets consist of and the habitats necessary to support not only owls but the prey these raptors survive on.

Whalemobile to TrolleyFest. Scottish Festival to Bang on a Can. William Cullen Bryant to Sojourner Truth… 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: The Whalemobile is a 43-foot, life-sized inflatable whale named Nile, modeled after a female humpback whale born in 1987 who summers off the coast of Massachusetts. This traveling educational program teaches kids all about whales – where they live, how they communicate, what they eat, what their behavior is like – and then gives them a chance to climb inside the inflatable replica to learn about whale anatomy and physiology. The Whalemobile will be visiting several libraries in western Massachusetts this summer. Don’t miss this free interactive program for all ages. Find out where it will be appearing here.


Animal StudiesShakespeareTransportationCulturePlaygroundsNature StudiesAgriculture/Farm ToursLocal HistorySTEMInsectsCommunity MealsGeologyFestivals


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Suggested Events for July 19th-25th, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“When I moved to Western MA from Memphis, TN, two years ago, I thought I was loosing the ‘big city’ resources that my kids loved (such as free festivals, outings, activities). Hilltown Families provided me with the ‘big city’ connections that I loved; more so, this is the site that I share with families that I meet that are new to the area.” – Shannon Audley-Piotrowski (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

Jul 19

On Saturday, July 19, the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst presents “Creatures of Bliss and Mystery: A 19th-Century Children’s Circus” from 1 to 4 pm. Especially appropriate for children ages 3 to 10, this Family Day is free and open to all. Activities include: folksongs and stories with Tim Van Egmond; a performance by Henry the Juggler; the Circus Parade; and a reading from Burleigh Muten, author of the newly published YA book, Miss Emily. Other activities include a scavenger hunt, “tightrope” walking, other games, and kid-friendly crafts. For details and a complete schedule, visit www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/events. With questions, email edmprograms@emilydickinsonmuseum.org or call 413-542-2034.

Jul 20

Western Mass Jobs with Justice will host its 1st Annual Justice Cup on Jul 20 in Hoyloke at Crosier Field. The festival will include a soccer tournament with divisions for all skill levels and ages. Beets & Barley and Salsarengue Restaurant will serve food. Families will be treated to music by Putamayo artist Jay Mankita and Flame and Peach, face painting and games plus a social justice resource fair to learn about the great work in the region. Code Pink, River Valley Market, Springfield No One Leaves, and many more have teams. The action on the field, cheering crowd, and music over the speakers will ensure a festive atmosphere. Proceeds will be used to support WMJWJ and its organizing project: The Pioneer Valley Workers Center. Register Here.

Through Aug 22

The New England Air Museum will hold family fun programs through the end of the summer. Visitors will have the chance to get up close and personal with the Museum’s 80 display aircraft. A variety of activities will be offered each day such as build and fly challenge activities, flight science demonstrations and the chance to sit in the cockpit of an aircraft. The Museum’s Flight Sim Spot will be open each of these days between 11am-4pm. The Flight Sim Spot allows visitors to use state-of-the-art simulators using real cockpit controls. NEAM is located in Windsor Locks, CT and can be reached at 860-623-3305. Click here for more details on New England Air Museum’s summer programs.

Family Resource Center, a program of Child Care of the Berkshires, Inc., has a playground and park guide for northern Berkshire County.  They also have a Playground Scavenger Hunt game families has participate in together while exploring the different playgrounds, parks and trails in and around northern Berkshire.

Circus Smirkus is coming to Northampton on July 29 & 30, and Hilltown Families is a proud premier sponsor! Find out how you can be our guests at one of the four shows taking place at the Three-County Fairgrounds! Subscribe to our eNewsletter and find out how you can enter for a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets with preferred seating! Best seats in the house will give our guests an opportunity to see the award-winning, international traveling youth circus up close during this exuberant & joyful two-hour show! Presented by North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens. For more info about the show, or to purchase tickets, visit www.northstarteens.org/circus-smirkus.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your fall program, after school class, school, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business 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
July 19th-25th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets

Berkshire Family Fun

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‘Stories from the Kitchen Sink’ Installation Challenges Conventions

Stories from the Kitchen Sink: Comic Multimedia Installation Examines American Domesticity

Submitted Image: Dog Dreams, 2006/2012. Ricky Bernstein, glass and mixed mediaFrom now through Sunday, June 21, 2015, the Community Gallery at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, MA, will host a special, site-specific installation by Sheffield, Massachusetts-based artist Ricky Bernstein.  The installation, titled Stories from the Kitchen Sink: Bob and Phyllis Learn New Tricks, contains oversized collage-style graphics that depict stereotypically-American domestic scenes.  These “still life sit-com” images are both humorous and critical, drawing attention to past and present ideas about modern life, multi-tasking, and gender roles.

Younger viewers will be particularly interested in these energetic, colorful, stylized representations of American families, and students interested in Pop Art and contemporary art will be able to draw connections between Bernstein and other artists who used graphic, comic imagery, while parents and adults will appreciate the gently satirical sentiments and questions that Bernstein’s installation poses. Read the rest of this entry »

What to Play? Make Your Own Toys!

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Getting back to creative basics, and making your own toys!

DIY toys stimulates creative free play. Make this cup & ball with materials you have at home! (Photo credit: Carrie St. John)

While looking for some DIY toys and games for my summer campers to make or design and to inspire play, I found a great book at Gabriel Books in Northampton, MA. John has amazing finds in his $1 box on the sidewalk. I am guessing these are the books he considers duds. Not his best sellers. They take up valuable shelf space. I frequently find good things in that box. I have never had it in me to be a tag sale person or thrift shop hunter but I love to stop and check on old books. This find, Easy-to-Make Old-Fashioned Toys by Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr., is dated in style and illustrations. It was published in 1979. I was 8 years old. I am dated, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Hand Clapping Games: Summer & Schoolyard Creative Free Play that Supports Learning

Hand Clapping Games Spur Learning

In schoolyards all around the world, hand-clapping games have been a staple activity of childhood for generations. Pairing silly songs and rhymes with quick claps, slaps, snaps, and other movements, hand-clapping games can provide endless hours of entertainment and friendship building.

In addition to the recreational benefits of hand-clapping games, studies have shown that hand-clapping games support children in developing many essential skills. Researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev studied children in grades 1-3 and found that children who participated in spontaneous clapping games during their free time had stronger spelling skills than peers who didn’t. Additionally, the same students had neater handwriting and better writing and drawing skills than students who didn’t participate in clapping games. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Modeling a Positive Body Image

Modeling Self Confidence

“Sing silly words to the Doc McStuffins CD mommy!”  Ila exclaimed.  This is often a game that we play in the car to pass the time.  So I obliged.  I admit that I relish the belly giggles my daughter gets and so it is a challenge for me to make her laugh and the lyrics that I sing can be quite nonsensical.  The particular song that was on was Doc singing the virtues of eating a good diet; “Eat good food and your body will thank you. You’re gonna love the way you feeeeel.  Eat good food!”  But instead I sang, “Eat JUNK FOOD and your belly will be big.  You’re not going to like the way you feel.  Eat junk food!”  And then…..well…then nothing.  Just silence.  A LOOOONG silence.  And then Ila saying, “Turn off the music mommy.  Stop singing.”  I immediately did what she said out of worry and confusion.  There was a little more silence then I looked in the rear view mirror  and she was whispering to herself, “But my belly’s big.  But my belly’s big.  But my belly’s big.”

She pushed down on her stomach hard and pulled the seat belt strap tight to try and flatten it.  My heart broke.  Into a million pieces…it broke.  It happened–her first out loud moment of body hatred–just four years old. Read the rest of this entry »

Thunderstorms: Those Rumbling Science Shows

Summer Thunderstorms Inspire Folktales and Science Learning

The feeling of a summer thunderstorm is familiar to us all – the temperature drops, the breeze cools, bright leaves rustle endlessly louder, and a distant echo of thunder rolls across the darkening sky. Though they can be scary for youngsters (and anxious pets), thunderstorms are an important part of summer weather, bringing much-needed rain to the landscape and cooling the oppressive heat that hangs in July’s muggy air.

Thunderstorms remained quite mysterious for centuries, and cultures worldwide have developed a variety of folktales to explain their occurrence. Read about these follktales and science learning thunderstorms inspire

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