Family Fun in the Berkshires: April 2012
Spring temperatures have sprung a little early this year and the unseasonably warm weather in the past weeks has gotten people outdoors and milling about the Berkshires in anticipation of the summer season much earlier than in recent years. But now with the cooler temperatures returning, people may be thinking about retreating back inside until the summer weather is here to stay! Well think again, because there is still plenty happening inside and out around the region to keep families busy, and with a school vacation just around the corner that is music to any parent’s ears. So grab your calendars, iPhones, iPads, Google calendars, and the like and get ready to mark these dates down.
BERKSHIRE HIGHLIGHTS FOR APRIL
Month of April: This month in North County I am featuring activities at the Milne Public Library in Williamstown. From toddlers to teens the library is full of fun for the whole family, again proving that libraries are not just about the books anymore. First up is a review of library storytimes hours for those stay-at-home parents looking for something to keep their curious toddlers/preschoolers busy. For the preschoolers … every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. the library hosts its preschool storytime. And this month (OK its really this Friday which is technically still March) it will feature a special Toddler Storytime or “Storytime for Twos.”
April 4th: Also kicking off the library’s April events is a visit from author Shawn MacKenzie on Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. MacKenzie will read from, discuss, and sign his most unusual book The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook: Including the Myth & Mystery, Care & Feeding, Life & Lore of these Fiercely Splendid Creatures. With hard science and myth, empirical wisdom, and original line drawings, this book is described as “the draconic enchiridion for the modern world, providing everything you need to know about these extraordinary beings.” The reading kicks off the library’s celebration of the Chinese “Year of the Dragon” series. Participants will receive a free tote and fortune cookie, too.
April 4th: The Milne Library is also known for hosting a variety of stellar teen programs and through the month of April will be exhibiting photos from Caroline Schneider’s fall workshop for teens. The exhibit is titled “Your Story, My Story” and will open with a reception for the photographers on Wednesday, April 4, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the reference area.
April 14th: Then on Saturday, April 14, at 11 a.m. the library will sponsor a Family Kite-making event where participants will use “Frustrationless Flyer” kits to make and decorate kites, also in celebration of the “Year of the Dragon.”
April 18th: Also on the Milne’s schedule for those pre-teen and teen-aged library-goers is the Wednesday, April 18, “Making Cartoons” workshop with Melissa Mendes. Melissa Mendes is a local cartoonist and author of the graphic novel “Freddy Stories.” The workshop, for 5th graders and up, will run from 2 to 4 p.m. and will teach participants how to create their own cartoons. Registration is required and limited to 10, so sign up in the Children’s room or by calling the library. Also for more family library fun check out the library’s children’s website at www.milnelibrary.org and visit the parenting, games, homework help, booklists, and my favorite Tumblebooks links, among many others to keep you and your kids entertained for hours. The Milne Library is located on Main Street in Williamstown. For more information about any of these programs or to register for the cartoon workshop call 413-458-5369.
April 1st: Every year the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown hosts a number of Free Family Days throughout the year, and usually I miss them due to some conflicting activity or another (usually a child’s sporting event). But this year I am determined to attend the museum’s spring “Copycat Family Day” scheduled for Sunday, April 1, from noon to 4 p.m. The day will celebrate the “Copycat: Reproducing Works of Art” exhibition currently on view at the Clark, and will feature a variety of art-making activities, gallery talks, films, and events centered on the themes of cats and various forms of copying. —Drawing and copying workshops and activities include instructor-led drawing classes; a copying workshop using the Clark’s portrait of George Washington; and a group project utilizing the art-enlarging technique of “squaring up” to create copies of “Dismounted” and “Women of Amphissa.” Visitors can also draw on their own in the galleries. —In addition to copying art, family day will explore copying movement and rhythm. Visitors can follow along in a Zumba class and copy moves inspired by popular international dance and hip-hop. Musician Otha Day will lead a call-and-response drum circle in which families can copy and respond to rhythms. —Kids will love creating pipe-cleaner kitties and having their faces painted to look like cats ($1 charge). And kids of all ages will enjoy watching the original Felix the Cat cartoons from the 1950s. Look for the Clark’s own Cat Woman, who will be roaming the museum throughout the afternoon. —The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown. For more information go online to www.clarkart.edu.
April 17th-19th: This April MASS MoCA in North Adams is offering “Art Detox” for kids ages 5 to 12 in its Kidspace gallery during the April Spring Break. The series of creative workshops will celebrate the planet and yourself just in time for Earth Day 2012. Participants are encouraged to “plant, nourish, and get inspired.” Parents are encouraged to join in on the fun, but children may also be dropped off. The workshop schedule includes: Tuesday, April 17, 9-11 a.m.: Seeds and Recycling, where participants will plant seeds in a recycled plastic bottle, and then paint their own pot in which they can plant seeds to bring home; Wednesday, April 18, 9-11 a.m.: Give back to nature!, where participants will build their own birdhouses out of recycled materials, and decorate reusable bags; Thursday, April 19, 9-11 a.m.: Seedbomb workshop, where participants will make seed bombs to drop in parks, on lawns, or in abandoned lots. They’ll explode — flowers, veggies, and other plants — that will take root where they land. Participants will also be making pinwheels from old newspapers. —Children also will help prepare healthy snacks for each other each day; please alert museum staff if your child has any food allergies. Participants must register by Friday, April 6; space is limited. Call Kidspace at 413-664-4481, ext. 8131 or e-mail Kidspace@massmoca.org with questions or to register. ($)
Month of April: This month’s featured library for the central part of the county is the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, also known as the Pittsfield Library. To review library storytimes are as follows: Tuesdays, 10 a.m., for children ages 18 months-3 years old; Thursdays, 10 a.m., for children ages 3-5 years old. And on Fridays at 10 a.m is a film series for preschoolers. The Friday film series is approximately 20-30 minutes long and there is no registration required. The library is located on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield. For more information about any of these programs call 413-499-9480, ext. 5.— Also in April the library offers a special “Food for Fines” incentive to encourage readers to return overdue books in exchange for food to be donated to local food banks. General donations of food not associated with overdue library books also is encouraged. (FREE)
April 5th: Also on the family-friendly calendar in April at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield is the 4th Annual Geography Expo set for April 5, from 5-7 p.m. The expo encourages children and families to discover countries worldwide, learn about the global geography, world languages, cultural differences, food and more! To date and counting, over 25 countries will be represented. Students and families are asked to sign up for a country in advance (to avoid duplication). Then create a country display (on a tri-fold board) that will work as a learning tool for visitors to the expo. Each display will be as unique as the child and family that created it. Students can focus on a theme such as sports, food, art, etc., as well as documenting major facts. A display might offer a sample of food, have objects of interest, money, art; children also might wear traditional dress, etc. —The Geography Expo promotes global literacy and is an excellent supplement to the studies of geography, history, and world cultures. Visitors will be given a paper passport where they can collect stamps from each country as they “tour the world”. Student participants can create their own stamp, sticker, or other marker to represent their country! To sign up as a participant, or for more information, contact Teresa O’Brient at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 413-298-0099. —This event is sponsored by the 4-H Earth Stars Club and Berkshire County Homeschool Community. (FREE)
April 21st: Also in April, the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield will offer a “Spring Break Special” — a visit from local storyteller Mary Jo Maichack. On Saturday, April 21, at 1 p.m. Maichack will present “The Minstrel’s Revels” featuring stories of lords and ladies, “sung, strummed, and fiddled.” It promises to be a merry romp for everyone. (FREE)
Month of April: As part of Berkshire Community College’s Free Diversity Forum events set for this month there will be a number of diversity films showing in room K-111 of the college’s Koussevitzky Arts Center: Wednesday, April 4, 1 p.m.: Lives Worth Living, a history of the Disabilities Rights Movement; Wednesday, April 11, 6:30 p.m.: Benda Bilili! a group of paraplegic musicians from Kinshasa, The Congo, rise to international fame; Tuesday, April 17, 12:15 p.m.: Bullied: A Student, a School, a Case That Made History; Tuesday, April 24, 12:15 p.m.: The Medicated Child, FRONTLINE investigates this issue; Tuesday, April 24, 1:30 p.m.: Through Deaf Eyes, a 2-hour documentary that takes a straight-forward look at life for people who define themselves as Deaf with a capital “D” signifying a cultural identity, and deaf people who, for a variety of reasons, do not identify with the Deaf cultural community. The history often shows that intersections between deaf and Deaf people are many and that oppression and discrimination are common experiences for both; Wednesday, April 25, 1 p.m.: Monica and David, the love story of two adults with Down’s Syndrome.— Berkshire Community College is located on 1350 West Street in Pittsfield. For more information about any of these films call Susan Pinsker at 413-236-4576 or e-mail email@example.com.
April 12th & 26th: Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield continues with its Movie Musical film series in April with showings of Funny Girl (April 12) and West Side Story (April 26). The films begin at 7 p.m. in BSC’s Mainstage theater located at 30 Union Street in Pittsfield. Tickets are free for youth 13 and younger. For more information visit www.barringtonstageco.org. ($)
April 1st: I love the summer theater season in the Berkshires, but before that kicks into full gear there is still some great theater to be had at the local high schools. Being performed this weekend at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington is All Shook Up, inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley. Showtimes are March 29 through April 1; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m at the Kathleen E. McDermot Auditorium on the school’s campus, 300 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington. For more information call Linnea Mace at 413-528-3346, ext. 162. ($)
April 17th: The Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield is bringing a little family fun to The Colonial Theatre this month with a performance by magician Bill Blagg on April 17, at 2 p.m. “The Magic of Bill Blag LIVE!” is a Las Vegas style, family-show full of grand scale magic, illusion and unmatched audience interaction, and is recommended for ages 5 and up. For more information www.berkshiretheatregroup.org. ($)
April 21st: If you were anything like me recently, you took advantage of the weather and spent as much time outdoors as possible, and as it gets closer to summer there will be more than enough activities to entertain the outdoor enthusiast in all of us. Now that the snow has melted (What snow, right?), Notchview Reservation on Route 9 in Windsor has ditched the groomer and has begun gearing up for the hikers. The venue will kick off its warm-weather programing with Arunah Hill Stargazing on Saturday, April 21, from 6 to 11 p.m. where members of Arunah Hill Natural Science Center will focus their telescopes on the heavens and help participants see the stars, galaxies, planets and more. Call 413-532-1631 x10 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-register or for more information. (FREE)
April 7th-29th: Museums in the Berkshires provide yearlong entertainment for families with children young and old, with one of my favorites always reopening its doors for the season come April. Hancock Shaker Village is a living history museum, located at 34 Lebanon Mountain Road (Route 20) in Hancock, that promotes “appreciation for the aesthetics, beliefs, achievements and controversies that have defined the Shaker experience in America.” As with the opening of its doors each spring, the village opens its annual Baby Animals exhibit to the public. The exhibit begins on April 7 and runs through April 29. This year the village will celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm” with scores of baby lambs, piglets, calves, goats, ducklings, and chicks arriving at the historic Round Stone Barn this season. Visitors get to meet and greet the baby animals from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and may also participate in fun Shaker-themed craft activities, including basket weaving, making and decorating seed packets, and weaving on a small loom, in the Discovery Room. There are also a number of Behind-the-Scene tours to partake in for an additional fee. For more information visit www.hancockshakervillage.org. ($)
Through April 14th: Last spring one of my favorite parent-child interactions occurred at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts. My then-11-year-old son, Max, and I were killing time before a radio interview for Hilltown Families. We stopped at the Pittsfield center located on Renne Avenue to see what exhibit was hanging on their walls. The exhibit happened to be part of the annual WordxWord festival in the area, and some of the artwork was pretty gruesome. Max strode around the exhibit telling me what pieces he liked and why, and what pieces he didn’t like and why not. We then began talking about art, and what makes something art, and how the artists whose work we were talking about right then, whether we liked it or not, had done his/her job, and making us think. Then we discussed visiting other galleries in the future to find the type of art he did like. We never made it back to a gallery, but perhaps another free exhibit, “Outside In: The Art of the Garden” at the center, which runs through April 14 will bring us back to view some very different artwork, perhaps artwork that Max will appreciate a lot more. Or maybe it will just make for some more interesting conversation with an almost-teenager who doesn’t seem to have a lot to say to his mom as of late.— The exhibit features 16 artists from the Berkshires and beyond who draw upon the beauty and fertility of the garden for their work, as well as an installation by noted designer Pamela Hardcastle on behalf of the Berkshire Botanical Garden, and a mini popup shop by Hancock Shaker Village that will be selling heirloom seeds & Shaker garden manuals.— The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, located at 26 Renne Ave. in Pittsfield, is a municipally owned community arts center managed by the City of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development. The Center includes nine individual artist studios, a ceramics studio, a community room, a gallery featuring changing art exhibitions of local and regional art, classes, events and more. Hours for the gallery are Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m.; admission is free and open to the public. For more information please contact the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts at 413-499-9348 or e-mail email@example.com.
April 23rd: On April 23, 2011, The Great Cloth Diaper Change made history! All around the world, people rallied together in an attempt to set a Guinness® World Record … and did it when 5,026 participants simultaneously changed cloth diapers at over 127 locations in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, England, and Germany. This year on April 21 the Real Diaper Association is trying to break that record with another global Cloth Diaper Change event aimed at raising awareness about the benefits of using cloth diapers. Treehouse, billed as a “family boutique and clubhouse,” located at 305 North St. in Pittsfield is opening its doors to area parents on the 21st so they many participate in the “Great Change” set to take place at noon. Prizes and giveaways will be available to those who pre-register at www.treehouse.is. To learn more call 413.344.4435 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. (FREE)
April 27th-29th: Berkshire Gathered Resources of Women, otherwise known as GROW, is hosting a FREE Toys and Kids Giveaway this month, where visitors can bring items to “give away” and take any items they can use. Could this be the solution to reducing spending, and reusing and recycling toys and clothing more regularly? The dates and times of the event at 88 Sheffield St. in Pittsfield are: Friday, April 27, 4-7 p.m.; Saturday, April 28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, April 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. —If you want to donate items for the Giveaway, drop them off at 88 Sheffield St. in Pittsfield between Monday, April 2, and Friday, April 20. The Giveaway wants gently used & clean baby, kid and maternity clothing (all seasons and sizes), gear, books, toys, CDs, movies, etc.
Month of April: And the last of our library features this month is South County’s Lenox Library in Lenox. The library has two ongoing storytimes each week beginning with the Tuesday morning 11-11:30 a.m. toddler storytime for ages 18 months to 3 years old, and moving onto a Thursday preschool story-craft on Thursday morning, 11-11:40 a.m. for ages 3 to 5 years old. (FREE)
April 12th: The Lenox Library also hosts two book clubs during the month for girls: one for fifth- and sixth-graders, and an adult “girl” of their choice, and another for fourth-graders and an adult “girl” of their choice. The latter book club, “Reading with Girls,” for April will be held on Thursday, April 12, from 6:15 to 7:45 and with a discussion of “Anastasia Krupnik” by Lois Lowry and “Love that Dog” a long poem in honor of National Poetry Month by Sharon Creech. The former book club, “More Reading with Girls,” will meet Thursday, April 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and will be reading “The City of Ember” by Jeanne DuPrau. To find out more about the groups and the reading selections contact Debby Cuthbert at 413-637-0197, ext. 105. (FREE)
April 18th: I am so excited to announce the next event happening at the Lenox Library on Thursday, April 18 (during school break), from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — “The Duck on Bike” StoryWalk. Sponsored in conjunction with Wee Read Berkshire County, the library will take visitors to the library on an adventure with that wacky duck character from David Shannon’s “Duck on a Bike” story. Readers will begin on page one at the Roche Reading Park at The Lenox Library and, whether walking, skipping, or waddling to the next set of pages, will follow the story of a duck who shows the other farm animals that riding a bike can be great fun! The two-page spreads will be posted in low-set windows of participating local businesses. The walk will proceed from the Reading Park at The Library on Main Street, down Housatonic Street to The Gifted Child on Church Street, then loop back via Housatonic Street to return to The Library. Maps of the route will be available at the library.— After the walk, participants will be treated to duck confections, crafts, and a FREE copy of Duck on a Bike, courtesy of South Berkshire Kids and The Berkshire Compact for Education. Beginning at 11:30 a.m. and continuing throughout the day at the library, there will also be live readings of the story by special guests! For more information on all the above programs call 413-637-0197, ext. 105, or e-mail email@example.com. (FREE)
April 6th, 11th & 16th: The Berkshire Natural Resource Council naturalists will lead a number of hikes during the month of April, providing the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and immerse your family in nature: April 6, 9 a.m.: Clam River Ramble, a two -mile hike on the 475-acre Clam River Reserve on Route 57 (Hammertown Road), Sandisfield. Participants are encouraged to bring sturdy footwear, a snack and water, and binoculars for bird-viewing. For more information call Amanda or Doug at 413-499-0596; April 11, 10 a. m.: Steadman-Hudson-Howard Ramble, a three-mile hike to check out the plateau on the BCRN’s Hudson-Howard property, above Steadman Pond in Monterey. Bring snacks and appropriate footwear; and on April 16, 9 a.m.: Yokum North, a dog-friendly hike along North Yokum Ridge, a three mile loop on Lenox Mountain beginning at Olivia’s Overlook.
April 7th, 15th, 19th-21st: Shakespeare & Co. of Lenox writes, “It’s back! After another highly successful run last winter, Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World returns for a fun-filled, whirlwind tour through the life, times and works of William Shakespeare… a terrific show for the whole family!” Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World is led by six of the company’s actors who play multiple roles in the show that mixes historical information with scenes from many of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, including “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet.” There also is some clowning and sword-fighting thrown in for good measure.— The show is currently touring elementary schools, but will be performed at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox in April on Saturday, April 7; and Sunday, April 15, and also April Vacation Week on April 19, 20, and 21. All performances are at 1 p.m. For ticket info call 413-637-3353 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre is located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox. ($)
April 16th-20th: At the Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox this month is special children’s programming during the week of April 16-20, for children ages 7- to 12-year-olds, from 9:30am-3:30pm. Planned activities for the April program include crafts such as sewing, collage and painting; Gilded Age games like hot boiled beans and hopscotch; making Christmas ornaments; learning about the use of ladies fans; making invitations for a Victorian Tea and preparing the food for the tea; learning and singing Gilded Age songs; and investigating Gilded Age life at Ventfort Hall. Each camper will be given a blank cloth doll, on which they will paint features; sew hair and clothes; leaving the camp with their individualized Berkshire Buddy. For pricing and more info visit www.gildedage.org; or call 413-637-3206; or e-mail email@example.com. ($$$)
April 23rd: On Monday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Berkshire Country Day School in Stockbridge will host an event with Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist, world-renowned speaker, and the New York Times best-selling author of “Driven to Distraction.” Dr. Hallowell will speak about his book “Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness,” as well as Attention Deficit Disorder. The event is free and open to the public. BCD is located 55 Interlaken Road in Stockbridge. (FREE)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Bevan McIlquham
Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our bi-monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, sharing update, events and activities for families in the Berkshires. Kelly is a freelance writer living in Hinsdale with her husband, Mark, and three children — 12-year-old twins, Max and McKenna, and almost-10-year-old, Shea. She has had her work published in The Advocate, The Family Beat and Berkshires Week out of Berkshire County, and the former Wee Ones E-magazine. She also authors a new blog and Facebook page titled “Renaissance Mom.” firstname.lastname@example.org — Check out Berkshire Family Fun on the first Thursday of every month.