29 Community Highlights: Gingerbread Houses to Latkes. MYO Gifts to Choral Performances.

Town wide holiday strolls and luminaria walks
bring community together in a festive holiday atmosphere while supporting local businesses. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Holiday Stroll to Luminaria Walk. MYO Gifts to Choral Performances. Gingerbread Houses to Latkes. Filmmaking to Sewing… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!

HOLIDAY STROLLS

Town wide holiday strolls are often times an annual affair that always brings community together in a festive holiday atmosphere while supporting local businesses. This week there are six holiday strolls we’ve highlighted:

  1. South Hadley Holiday Stroll on Sat., Dec. 1st: Tree lighting, Santa and holiday music.
  2. Williamstown Holiday Stroll on Sat., Dec. 1st: Parade (including a reindog parade!), Santa, performances, singing and sleigh rides.
  3. Stockbridge Luminaria Walk on Sat., Dec. 1st: Caroling by candlelight.
  4. Stockbridge Holiday Stroll on Sun., Dec. 2nd: Recreated downtown from the days of Norman Rockwell.
  5. North Adams Hometown Holidays on Thurs., Dec. 6th: Family activities, music, crafts and open shops.
  6. Pittsfield Upstreet Friday on Fri., Dec. 7th: Local artists and artisans at shops, galleries, and restaurants throughout town.

SINGING

As the days get shorter and shorter, people link to sing more and more! It’s a nice way of balancing out the increasing darkness as the Winter Solstice approaches. This week we’re highlighting seven choral and music performances to consider taking your family to this weekend:

  • Musicians from the Berkshire Music School will perform a special concert of holiday music at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 1. The show will also feature the Sunshine Singers – a youth chorus – and Bing’s Strings
  • Berkshire Theater Group presents Mary Verdi, a local singer-songwriter who performs annually for the holidays at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield. The show will feature a bell choir, a seven piece band, and an appearance from the Craneville Children’s Chorus. Two shows are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1st.
  • The Hilltown Choral Society presents a special holiday concert at the Village Congregational Church on Saturday evening, Dec. 1st in Cummington, and then on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 2nd at the First Congregational Church in Ashfield.
  • Amherst College’s Johnson Chapel will be filled on Sunday, Dec. 2nd for two shows with the sounds holiday music, performed by the school’s Choral Society and Madrigal Singers.

HISTORY

The holidays offer a unique lens with which to history. There are a few opportunities happening this weekend that visit local history and the history of New England around the holidays.

All day on Saturday, Dec. 1st, is the Historic Homes Tour in Stockbridge. Visit some of the area’s most interesting landmarks, including Naumkeag, Merwin House, Elms Cottage, and Edith Wharton’s former home, The Mount. Families can learn about local history and architecture – older students can use the tour as a way to pair American history with a look at the evolution of, and changes in, home design.

Storrowton Village in West Springfield is celebrating the holiday season this weekend during their Winter Festival. Along with tours of the beautifully decorated village, there will be demonstrations of 19th century crafts, ice sculpting, crafts for kids, music performances, storytelling, caroling, animals to meet and learn about, and more.

Historic Deerfield is celebrating the holidays all weekend too with traditional decorations, open hearth cooking demonstrations, wagon rides, and craft making for visitors (create a gift to share!). Visitors will learn about holiday celebrations in early New England, as well as the sweeteners and spices used in baking (and where they came from!) in Deerfield’s early days. It’s a unique opportunity for kids to learn about the history of the spice trade, and the long history of imported goods and dependency on a world market that the United States has.

The Keep Homestead Museum in Monson hosts a Holiday Open House on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 2nd. Decorated for the season, tour the museum and see how rooms might have been furnished at the turn of the century. There is furniture, silver and cut glass, collections of rocks, minerals and shells, quilts and other needlework done by the women of the family, along with the extensive button collection (the pride of the museum).

Betsy Ross – creator of the American flag – is a complicated and interesting historical figure. Learn more about her life as an upholsterer in Philadelphia – and her life outside of work – at the Jones Library in Amherst on Thursday evening, Dec. 6th. Great for older students learning about American history, feminism, and feminist figures.

CULINARY ARTS

Chandler’s Restaurant hosts a kids cooking class on Saturday, Dec. 1st. in South Deerfield. Parents can explore the world of culinary arts with their kids in a structured and relaxed environment. Youth participants are familiarized with raw ingredients, how to prepare them, and their nutritional value. This month homemade pasta is being made. A brief tour of Chandler’s commercial kitchen follows.

At Hops and Vines in Williamstown, families can make their own gingerbread houses on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 1st. Kids can practice their architectural and creative skills with a fun medium. Replicate your own home or an easily recognizable local building, or create a masterpiece all your own.

Get ready for Chanukah with a holiday cooking class offered by the Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy on Monday afternoon, Dec. 3rd in Longmeadow. The class, titled, “Cooking with Parents and Grandparents,” is open to all families from the community and will feature fun cooking activities, including donut making, edible-wearable menorah building, and dreidel (edible and non-edible) making! Kids can learn about Chanukah traditions and get ready to celebrate the holiday, too.

Want to learn how to make latkes for Hanukkah? Chef Greg will be doing a cooking demo with recipes to share on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 6th at Wild Oats Co-op in Williamstown.

MYO HOLIDAY GIFTS

Giving children an opportunity to make their own gifts to give for the holidays is not only an excellent, non-commercial, alternative to holiday consumerism, but it can also support creative free play! Here are five MYO Holiday Gift Highlights for this week:

  1. Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in Haydenville will host a day of wreath, craft and gift-making for all ages on Saturday, Dec. 1st. Great opportunity to MYO holiday gifts that are eco-friendly.
  2. Make your own unique and artistic holiday cards in the studio at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst on Saturday morning, Dec. 1st. Materials, including envelopes.
  3. Greenfield Center School host a Crafty Rumpus Open House, a creative, free holiday gift making event for families on Saturday, Dec. 1st in Greenfield.
  4. Learn to make a density ornament – using a variety of colored liquids – with Alchemy Initiative at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday, Dec. 1st.
  5. Make your own wintry snow globe at the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington on Friday afternoon, Dec. 7th! This special hands-on, just-for-kids craft time is back by popular demand!

ARTS & CRAFTS

Older teens interested in improving their artistic skills or their knowledge of art techniques and art history are invited to attend, “Que Sera, Seurat,” a free intergenerational workshop on pastel painting and pointellism at the Lee Library on Monday evening, Dec 3rd!

Help to make a video to advertise the Hatfield Library’s 2013 summer reading program to younger readers on Tuesday afternoon, Dec 4th. Sign up to be part of a 3-week project to create the video – and learn some filmmaking techniques while you’re at it! Open to 5th and 6th graders.

Families with preK kids can visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for Kids Create on Wednesday morning, Dec. 5th, for a hands-on art program for kids where they can learn about techniques and media for creating art.

The Goodwin Library in Hadley hosts authors Nicole Blum and Debra Immegut who will be sharing ideas from their new book, Improv Sewing – A Creative Approach to Freeform Techniques on Wednesday evening, Dec. 5th. Tools and supplies will be available for visitors to do some crafting of their own, too! Best for older kids and parents who have some basic sewing skills.

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