37 Community Highlights: Ice Harvest to Winter Farmers’ Market. Chinese New Year to Tu B’Shevat.

This weekend, January 26th & 27th, Old Sturbridge Village celebrates Fire and Ice Days! Families can visit the village to take part in the annual event, which includes many of the activities typical to an 1830’s New England winter. Families can skate on the pond, go sledding on vintage sleds, take a horse drawn sleigh ride, and learn about (and try!) ice harvesting. Indoor activities include a fireside magic show, a talk on the history of ice skating, a thaumatrope-making craft, and opportunities to learn about 19th century methods of staying warm throughout the village. Pair a visit to the village with studies of American history and culture or a look at the evolution of technology, and compare the ways that early New Englanders battled winter to the ways we have adapted to handle cold weather today. Kids get free admission through the month of January!

Ice Harvest to Winter Farmers’ Market. Chinese New Year to Tu B’Shevat. Wind Turbines to Meteorology. Hendrix to Ben-Hur… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

It’s that time of the year when families are being to think about their next step with their children’s education. Several schools will be offering open houses this weekend, along with a preschool resource fair for families just starting their investigation in various learning institutes and establishments offered in the region. Here are seven upcoming opportunities:

  1. Saturday, Jan 26th at Montessori School of the Berkshire in Lenox Dale from 9-11am
  2. Saturday, Jan 26th at The Common School in Amherst from 10am-12noon
  3. Saturday, Jan 26th at UMass OFR Preschool Resource Fair in Amherst from 10am-1pm
  4. Saturday, Jan 26th at Hartsbrook School in Hadley from 10am-12noon
  5. Sunday, Jan 27th at The Academy at Charlemont from 1-3pm
  6. Sunday, Jan 27th at Cloverdale Cooperative Preschool in Florence from 1-3:30pm
  7. Next Sunday, Feb 3rd at Greenfield Center School from 1-4pm

CULTURAL STUDIES

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School on Saturday afternoon, January 26th in Northampton! Families can learn about Chinese culture, as well as the traditions surrounding the event. Then later in the week, pay a visit to the Smith College Museum of Art’s Asian art exhibit to learn more about Chinese culture – it opens on February 1st!

In the morning on Saturday, celebrate the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat – also known as Jewish Earth Day- with Jewish entertain-ucator Felicia Sloin and puppeteer Kate Holdsworth at Temple Beth El in Springfield. This free performance is filled with music, puppets, and stories that will teach kids about the holiday. The show is designed for young children, but all are welcome to come and learn about Jewish culture and traditions. Then on Sunday morning, January 27th, continue the celebration at Temple B’Nai Israel in Northampton! Tu B’Shvat is a celebration of trees, and calls for reflection on our relationship with the natural world. Families of all backgrounds can take part in this free celebration, which will include lots of fruit and environmentally-themed games.

LOCAL FOOD

Celebrate CISA’s Winter Fare Week at the Northampton Farmers’ Market and the Springfield Winter Market this Saturday, January 26th. These markets are filled with a wide variety of local produce and locally produced foods – shop tables filled by farms, bakeries, orchards, and more to find foods your family will love. At the Northampton event there will be special workshops on food preservation, sustainability, and self sufficiency, too! Families who preserve their own food can participate in a barter market, too – trade your homemade pickles for local blueberry jam, or eggs from your chickens for homemade local applesauce. At the Springfield event, stop by the market for workshops and fun kids’ activities. The workshops offered will be on teaching kids to cook and preparing efficient, eco-conscious, and affordable family meals.

Another way to enjoy food locally is by joining in a community dinner or breakfast! This Sunday morning, January 27th, bring your family to fill up on pancakes with the Belchertown Fire Department at a community pancake breakfast! … Maple season is just around the corner! Get your pancake chops ready now!

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

This Saturday morning, January 26th, learn how to be a mad scientist – safely! – using ingredients found in your kitchen! Kitchen Ka-Boom at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield is a special program filled with wacky kid-safe experiments that can be easily replicated at home and will help kids learn about basic scientific principles.

In the afternoon on Saturday, kids can build crazy LEGO creations at the Dickinson Library in Northfield! LEGOs are a great creative medium for kids interested in design and architecture, and can help them develop their own creative stories based on characters and structures that they build.

On Wednesday evening, January 30th, the Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a free parent workshop, “Tech for Tots,” focused on developmentally appropriate use of technology. The workshop takes place at Hatfield Elementary School, and parents will learn about the impact of use of technology on normal child development – technology use can impact social skills, learning, and brain development if not done appropriately.

Students at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School will present their own unique, independent science research on Wednesday evening, January 30th, at the school’s annual science fair! Students choose their own topics to research, then are mentored by an expert in the field that they have chosen in order to help them learn how to do accurate research, provide them with necessary background information, etc. The process helps students learn how to be a scientist, and the role that scientific research plays in our lives. Families can learn about many different scientific phenomena by viewing the exhibits, and can learn about ways to conduct their own scientific research at home.

On Thursday afternoon, January 31st, meet an actual television meteorologist! Sprout Homeschool Science Program is offering a field trip to a television station in Springfield where kids will be able to learn about how air temperature, the water cycle, weather monitoring, and knowledge of climate all help meteorologists make their weather predictions. Kids will be able to see meteorology equipment and can ask questions, too! Fits perfectly into elementary-aged studies of earth sciences, especially the water cycle and climate.

Also on Thursday afternoon, in preparation for the Science and Sustainability Expo happening in April, there will be a KidWind Workshop for educators and parents of youth in grades 4-12 to learn how to build a mini wind turbine in Greenfield. Build and take home a free model electricity generating wind turbine with your own blade design. Learn about the knowledge, skills and resources needed to bring wind energy education to your youth using standards-based activities in an engaging, hands-on manner.

MUSIC/FILM STUDIES

Enjoy some mid-day Baroque music at the Pelham Library on Saturday at noon, January 26th! The library’s monthly tea will feature a free performance by The Montague Consort, featuring music for piano and recorder. Great for older students interested in learning about music history!

On Saturday evening, The Academy of Music Theater in Northampton screens Hendrix 70: Live at Woodstock, a documentary about Hendrix’s road to Woodstock, as well as footage of his most famous (and probably most memorable) performances. Young music buffs will love seeing Hendrix’s Woodstock performance and hearing live version of his classic songs. Older students interested in music history can learn about the early days of classic 70’s rock and will learn more about the history behind the sounds that influenced much of today’s music. Then on Sunday, January 27th, head over to the Springfield Museums to check out GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World, an exhibit which shares the history and science behind this iconic musical instrument. Families can also learn about over 60 rare, unique, and antique instruments, learn about playing music through hands-on interactive exhibits, and more!

The Clark Museum’s Widescreen Wonders series continues on Saturday in Williamstown with a free screening of Ben-Hur, a 1959 epic about the Roman Empire in Palestine. The film, directed by William Wyler, included a cast of thousands of actors and swept in eleven Oscars. Older students interested in film will love seeing this classic!

LITERACY

Celebrate the 151st birthday of prolific writer Edith Wharton on Saturday, January 26th at The Mount in Lenox Wharton’s beautiful and historic home! The mansion will be open for visitors of all ages to explore for free – guides will be available for tours throughout the day. Kids can do a scavenger hunt and make their own journals to write down their thoughts and ideas – just like Edith! Tie the celebration into family studies of classic literature and/or historic homes and architecture.

Monday evening, January 28th is the first meeting of First Steps to Reading, a free workshop series for parents of kids from birth to five years old in Belchertown. Parents will learn ways to prepare their children for reading at home by sharing books, writing, playing, exploring and singing. The workshops run weekly through March 4th, and each meeting will focus on a different aspect of reading preparation, teaching parents how to support their children’s budding literacy.

Families with early readers can take part in a free literacy workshop at the Lee Library on Tuesday morning, January 29th! The workshop is part of a six-week series, and is open to families with kids ages 5 and younger. The program will focus on teaching skills that will eventually help children learn to read in school – parents can work on these basic skills at home with their kids in order to help them be ready to read!

Do you ever wish that you could recommend your favorite books to other library visitors? The Forest Park Branch Library in Springfield invites Forest Park Reads, a free series where families can read new books (or chapters of books) and then rate them using a star system so that other library visitors can choose great new things to read on Tuesday afternoon, January 29th!

SNOWSHOE HIKES & ANIMAL STUDIES

Snowshoe under the full moon at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox on Saturday evening, January 26th, or spend the entire day and evening outdoors on Sunday, January 26th, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and snow hiking at Stump Sprouts Cross Country Ski Area in Hawley!

Learn about the secret lives of amphibians on Saturday afternoon, January 26th at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield. Berkshire Community College professor Tom Tyning will present information about frogs and salamanders, as well as his new book – A Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles.

SPORTS

Smith College’s National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration takes place in Northampton on Sunday afternoon, January 27th! This free event, open to girls in 3rd-5th grade, celebrates girls and women participating in sports at all levels – from professional ice hockey to high school basketball to recreational summer soccer. Girls participating in the event will learn about (and get to try!) many of the sports played by women at the collegiate level, including rugby, cheerleading, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, rock climbing, and more. The event is a great opportunity for girls to learn about advanced levels of sports, and the female athletes they meet can serve as role models for budding athletes of all abilities.

If your girls are interested but can’t make the Smith College event, girls in grades 3-8 can participate in a similar free event on Saturday, February 2nd at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ National Girls and Women in Sports Day event in Williamstown! There will be separate workshops for kids and adults, all of which will teach girls and women about participating in sports and the many different athletic opportunities available to them. The event celebrates the female presence in athletics, and young participants will learn about the hard work that it takes to be a higher level athlete.

THEATER STUDIES

By special arrangement with Hilltown Families, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox is pleased to offer our readers a rare opportunity to take in a classic Shakespearean performance paired with a guided tour backstage. On Friday, Feb. 15th at 10am, schools and homeschooling families are invited to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Tina Packer Playhouse, followed by a backstage guided tour where participants can learn how the process of theatre is crafted in the costume shop, prop studio, and production workshop. Tickets for this package are only $8/person and a Study Guide for educators is available to download before attending. To reserve discounted tickets, contact Alexandra Lincoln, and let her know you are a Hilltown Families reader: 413-637-1199 x131. Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox. www.Shakespeare.org.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

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