August is here and there’s less than one month left of summer before the school year begins again for many. And while there is a break from the classroom for these couple of months, the learning opportunities never stop! August is chock-full of educational and fun events for families, ranging from blacksmithing to Civil War heroines, knots to bubbles!
We’re even including a list of book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted this week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!
Once in a blue moon… August will be one of those rare months when a full moon occurs twice in one month, with the second full moon called a Blue Moon. This is a fun fact to explore with your kids while stirring up their interests in the night skies. There are a few opportunities to supplement those interests this next week too. Tonight on Friday, Aug 3rd from 8-9:30pm families can stargaze the night away at Naumkeag in Stockbridge. Stargazing kits including maps and activities will be available for participants. On Saturday, Aug 4th from 4-5pm, kids can learn about stars and planets at the Mason Library in Great Barrington with an introduction to studies of outer space for younger students. Midweek on Wednesday, Aug 8th at 7:30pm, the Wilbraham Library hosts, “Stories of the Night Sky,” with Kevin Kopchynski followed by an evening of stargazing. All three events are free.
Birds of prey, beavers and bats are the three animals we’re highlighting this week. On Sunday, Aug 5th from 10am-12noon meet Tom Ricardi’s birds of prey up close at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield ($) and then again on Friday, Aug 10th at 11am at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge. — Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox will host two programs this week, one about beavers, the other about bats. On Wednesday, Aug 8th from 6:30-8pm, join them to search for beavers (and signs of beavers, like lodges, dams, and trees that have been munched on). Kids can learn about the role that beavers play in a changing landscape, as well as the other wildlife that beaver-created ponds can attract. At the end of the week Friday, Aug 10th from 6:30-8pm discover and search for bats with a handy bat detector to listen to their calls. (>$)
A fun way for kids to learn about other cultures is through music and food. On Saturday, Aug 4th from 11am-3pm, take a short field trip to the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT for their Green Corn Festival ($). The festival celebrates the ripening of the season’s first corn, a tradition in many different tribes, and Native American culture. Also on Saturday at 6:30pm, the Lenox Library hosts Didgeridoo Down Under, featuring a free puppet show and jam workshop with the didgeridoo, an Australian instrument rich in Aboriginal culture.
On Sunday, Aug 5th from 12noon-6pm, Pittsfield’s annual Ethnic Fair takes place with food and music from around the world. Families can learn about the traditions of several world cultures, and older students can use what they learn to think about international influences on American customs and traditions. In the evening on Sunday, Aug 5th at 6pm, Marafanyi Drum, Dance & Song Performance with Sanga-of-the-Valley happens at Bascom Lodge in Adams, fusing original songs and spoken word with traditional West African rhythm and dance (free).
The region is always rich in opportunities to explore both local and regional history. This weekend there are several opportunities, including a couple that span both days. On both Saturday & Sunday, Old Sturbirdge Village hosts Redcoats and Rebels a Civil War reenactment. The event is the largest of its kind in New England, and includes demonstrations of cannon firing and battle techniques, live fife and drum music, and more. Out in Pittsfield, (bb) families can celebrate the tradition of blacksmithing at Hancock Shaker Village for Age of Iron Weekend. The village will be full of activities and demonstrations related to blacksmithing, and families can take part in a scavenger hunt, hear talks on blacksmithing in Shaker history, tour the blacksmithing shop, and much more. ($)
There are a few other history events happen in Berkshire Cty. on Saturday, Aug 4th too. From 11am-2pm, learn about the history of families who lived locally between 1650 and 1950 at the Mission House in Stockbridge. Kids will learn about the importance of preserving family history, and can create their own family trees and scrapbooks to take home ($). At 2pm in North Adams, Western Gateway Heritage State Park will host a program on female soldiers in the Civil War (free), and at 4pm families can tour the Stockbridge Cemetery to learn about the town’s “cottage-era” and the community members who had ties to historic homes in central Berkshire Cty. (>$).
In the Pioneer Valley, on Saturday, Aug 4th from 1-4pm, the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage in Greenfield will be hosting a special open house in celebration of the community’s support. Along with the chance to explore the museum and learn about local history, there will be blacksmithing demonstrations, papermaking, walking tours by the Green River and live music (free).
If you’re looking for art, film & theater opportunities, on Saturday, Aug 4th from 12noon-4pm visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for “World of Adventure,” a special family festival day to celebrate the museum’s newest exhibit, which features illustrations by Howard Pyle ($). Then later in the week on Friday, Aug 10th from 4-8pm, tour the galleries at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton for Free Second Friday. There will be a kids activity happening from 4-6pm, along with a guided gallery talk at 6:30pm.
In the realm of theater, on Saturday, Aug 4th at 7:30pm, older kids interested in film studies can see an authentic silent film on the big screen at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls. Pothole Pictures will be screening “Wings,” a 1927 B&W film restored with an orchestral recreation of the original organ accompaniment (>$). On Tuesday, Aug 7th from 9:30am-4pm, kids can spend the day creating an entire puppet show at the Becket Arts Center (>$), or at 1pm take part in a musical theater improv workshop at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield (free). Then at the end of the week on Friday, Aug 10th at 4:30pm, children can learn about theater costuming and props at the Williamstown Theater Festival with a behind-the-scenes look at how their costume department functions ($).
Other cool things happening this week that will get your kids thinking and learning include a spelling bee happening at the Chicopee Library on Wednesday, Aug 8th from 6-7:30pm for word-savvy kiddos in grades 3-6 (free). On Thursday, Aug 9th at 6pm, families can learn to tie useful knots at the Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield, taught by a former sailor- learn three easy knots that can be used for almost anything (<$). And on Friday, Aug 10th from 10am-6pm, the Big E hosts the East Coast Gem, Mineral,and Fossil Show for the next three days in West Springfield ($).
Find out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)
- Birds of Prey Coloring Book (Dover Nature Coloring Book)
- A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations–and How You Can Find Them in the Sky
- Amazing Solar System Projects You Can Build Yourself (Build It Yourself series)
- Beavers (Kids Can Press Wildlife Series)
- The Bat Scientists (Scientists in the Field Series)
- American Indian Festivals (True Books: American Indians)
- The Healing Sounds of the Didgeridoo: An Invitation to a Personal Spiritual Journey
- World Music Drumming: A Cross-Cultural Curriculum
- Eyewitness Civil War (DK Eyewitness Books)
- The Blacksmith (Colonial People)
- Daring Women of the Civil War (Civil War Library)
- Pirates, Patriots, and Princesses: The Art of Howard Pyle (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)
- Eyewitness: Film
- 40 Knots to Know: Hitchs, Loops, Bends and Binding (Quick Starts for Kids!)
- Eyewitness: Rocks & Minerals