22 Community Highlights: Laura Ingalls Wilder to the Beatles. Vernal Pools to Hot Cross Buns.

One of the oldest Good Friday customs is eating hot cross buns. These small sweet buns, marked with a cross of white icing, may have originated in pre-Christian times. Early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans marked their loaves of bread with symbols to honor their gods and goddesses. Many superstitions grew out of this custom.. Read more about this and other Easter icons in our post, Legends & Lore of Easter Icons.

Laura Ingalls Wilder to the Beatles. Vernal Pools to Boreal Forests. Legally Blonde to Anything Goes…

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!

HistoryOutdoor AdventuresAnimal StudiesCommunity ServiceGeographyComicsMusicalsScience/AstronomyMuseum AdventuresParent Workshops

HISTORY

The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA is hosting a lecture series this spring on the history of various forms of transportation in the Pioneer Valley. On Monday, April 1st, their lecture series will focus on Duryea automobiles, once manufactured in Springfield at the beginning of the 20th century. Local automobile history expert Richard Stevens will share information on Duryea and the company’s role in Pioneer Valley history, as well as information about self-powered vehicles in general (which date back to 1448!). The event is a great opportunity for students to learn about the evolution of technology, as well as local history. Best for older students.

Younger students can meet Laura Ingalls Wilder at the Agawam Public Library, also on Monday evening. Of course, it’s not the real Laura, but local historian Melanie Stringer will act as Laura, the historically fascinating pioneer, teacher, farmer, mother, librarian, journalist, and, of course, author of the classic Little House books. Open to kids in third grade (or homeschool equivalent) and older, this free event is great for families who share a love of the book series, and can even be educational for those who haven’t read them! Students will learn about pioneer life in the 19th century, and hearing a first-person perspective of historical events and eras will help them to understand what cultural changes actually meant for Americans during the time period.

Beatles lovers rejoice! On Thursday, April 4th, Amherst Cinema hosts an evening with Beatles scholar Scott Freiman, who will share a multimedia presentation on the group’s legendary music. “Looking Through a Glass Onion: Deconstructing the Beatles’ White Album,” takes a look at the best-selling album of the group’s discography, and examines everything from their time in the studio to the lives of the musicians just before and just after the album’s release. Students interested in music history will love the presentation, as it links music to its influences in international culture, as well as the more minor biographical information of those involved in creating it.

On Friday afternoon, April 5th, the Dalton Library screens, “Treasure Houses of Britain,” a documentary featuring five of England’s most beautiful, unique, and interesting houses (well, palaces really!). The homes are all multi-story mansions surrounded by extensively landscaped grounds, and each is filled with a unique array of antique furniture, tapestries, and more. Not only is the documentary interesting because of the aesthetic value of the homes, but its examination of the time period during which houses such as these were common brings light to the country’s colonial history. Older homeschooled students interested in British and/or world history can pair their studies with a viewing of the film in order to understand the cultural impact of Britain’s colonialism.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

Celebrate spring with a romp through the woods and field of Western MA on Saturday morning, March 30th in Windsor, MA. Enjoy the early spring in all its glory at the Moran Wildlife Management Area – Mass Audubon is leading an exploration of the area, and participants will get to hike through boreal forest and open fields at the former dairy farm.

Do you know what (or who!) is living in the vernal pools in your neighborhood? What better way to find out than to meet them and let them tell you a little bit about themselves. Don’t think that’s possible? Think again! Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary’s annual Big Night takes place Saturday evening in Easthampton, MA – tours of the sanctuary’s woods will leave the visitor’s center every 15 minutes (and will last for 45 minutes), bringing visitors down the path to meet some of their vernal pools’ inhabitants. There will be singing frogs, dancing salamanders, and more. Educational, musical, and totally fun.

Visit the Franklin Land Trust’s Guyette Farm in Plainfield, MA on Friday evening, April 5th for a free bonfire and a bird-finding expedition. While most bird watching takes place in the morning (or at least during daylight!), visitors to the farm will be able to go on a search for woodcocks after dusk. BYO flashlight and binoculars in order to participate in the adventure, where you’ll learn how to spot the elusive birds and identify their entertaining mating behaviors.

ANIMAL STUDIES

What better way to celebrate the coming of spring than with baby animals?! On Easter afternoon, March 31st in Leverett, MA, Winterberry Farm’s annual Lambs’ Open House takes place and stars some of the cutest newborn farm animals ever. Visit the farm to meet fuzzy little lambs, as well as flocks of tiny, fluffy chicks and ducklings and full-sized farm animals of all types! Families stop by for this free open house and can learn about animal “parenting” and baby animal care, and can enjoy some fresh spring air while exploring the farm.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Everyone’s gotta eat, right? Why not put your fork towards raising money of a our local museums & education?

On Monday evening, April 1st, it’s Soup and Games Night at Hope and Olive in Greenfield, MA. This month’s beneficiary of the event is the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, a space dedicated to sharing the history of the area’s industry and its impact on the community. Representatives from the museum will be on hand to identify mystery tools (bring anything strange you’ve got!), and there will be a delicious bake sale and a raffle, too!

Then on Tuesday, April 2nd, eat a meal (or two!) out on this day in order to support programs at Northampton High School. The annual Eat for Education event takes place all day long at participating locations throughout town, including Cup and Top Cafe, The Green Bean, Paul and Elizabeth’s, Osaka, Thai Garden, and Haymarket Cafe… 10% of all sales will be donated to the school, and will help to support educational opportunities and enrichment programs.

GEOGRAPHY

Kids can learn about international cultures from other kids by participating in the Berkshire County Homeschool Community’s annual Geography Expo at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, MA on Wednesday evening, April 3rd. Passports will be handed out and kids can take them around to each table to find demographics of each region. This free expo gives kids the chance to delve into learning about a country and then share what they’ve learned about the population, capital, language, customs and currency of 28 geographic regions- an excellent supplement to the studies of geography, history, and culture.

COMICS

Modern Myths, a local comic store in Northampton, MA, is hosting a free month-long comic drawing series for kids starting Thursday afternoon, April 4th. Part of the Paint and Pixel Festival, the series offers weekly hands-on workshops where kids will be able to work on making their own original comics, with the guidance of comic pros! Ages 5+. Kids can attend one or all of the workshops.

MUSICALS

Wahconah Regional High School’s Apollonian Players present Legally Blonde, a musical stage version of the movie and novel of the same name in the school’s auditorium in Dalton, MA. Follow ditsy-yet-successful California girl Elle Woods on her quest to win back her law-school-bound boyfriend – her mishaps and misguided decisions always miraculously work out in her favor, and she learns some important lessons, too. Opens Thursday evening, April 4th and runs through the weekend.

Another high school musical happening in Berkshire County is Monument Mountain Regional High School‘s production of Anything Goes in Great Barrington. This show also opens on Thursday evening and runs through the weekend.

SCIENCE/ASTRONOMY

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA hosts Kitchen Ka-Boom on Saturday morning, March 30th. Exciting science experiments are done using everyday materials found in most kitchens. Kids will get to use unexpected materials to learn about basic scientific principles – in a totally exciting way.

Join the Springfield Stars Club for an evening of stargazing at the Springfield Museums’ observatory on Friday evening, April 5th. Families will be able to learn all about – and see! – starts that light up the night sky. In case of overcast weather, a planetarium show will be provided instead.

Learn about the stars in the Berkshires too on Friday evening at Williams College’s Milham Planetarium in Williamstown. Families will get to see a free planetarium show lead by astronomy students, and will learn all about the many things that light up the night sky – from stars to comets, planets to satellites.

MUSEUM ADVENTURE

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA opens a new exhibit on Monday, April 1st. “Objectify: A Look into the Permanent Collection,” contains some of the most significant and fascinating works found in the museum’s 50,000+ piece collection. The exhibit has everything from an alligator skull and a mummy to Greek and Roman jewelry and paintings by notable artists. The exhibit will give visitors an idea of the depth and breadth of the permanent collection, and also presents an opportunity to learn about a wide variety of topics. Families learning about everything from art history to animals of the southeastern US will find pieces to supplement their learning.

PARENT WORKSHOPS

Beginning on Tuesday afternoon, April 2nd, Conte Community School in Pittsfield, MA, is offering a free three-part workshop series for parents. Titled, “Parenting is Easy – Until You Have Children!”, the workshops will teach strategies for avoiding power struggles, guiding safe choices, and helping kids to learn cooperation. The second two workshops will take place at the same time on April 9th and 23rd.

How do you deal with strong emotions as a family? Difficult times filled with sadness, fear, frustration, stress, and other feelings that can derail the family routine can be hard for unprepared parents. Learn some strategies for supporting kids through these emotions on Wednesday evening, April 3rd, at a free workshop with Tim Hope, PhD in Amherst, MA. Designed for parents of preschool-aged children, the workshop is hosted by the Amherst Early Education Consortium. Takes place at the Spring Street Preschool.

Nursing mothers and babies are invited to a free support meeting of the La Leche League of Northampton on Friday morning, April 5th at Cradle. A group offering nursing-related support and discussion, and lots of time for Q&A. Mothers can gain insight and advice from others who share similar experiences, and can share their own experiences, too.

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

[Photo credit: (ccl) Alexa Clark]

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