26 Community Highlights: Violins to Locomotives. Thanksgiving to Hanukkah.

We asked our readers to share what they serve for their Thanksgiving Dinner and to offer cooking tips on how to both cook a turkey and favorite vegetarian dishes. See what they had to share in our post, Seasons at Our Table: Harvest Season.

Thanksgiving to HanukkahViolins to Locomotives. Democracy to Presidents. Glassblowing to Basket-Weaving

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week:  Glassblowing is an ancient art form, dating back at least 2,000 years with origins in Jerusalem, spreading to the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC. Originally, the craft of blowing glass was used for utilitarian purposes, like containers, table wear and window glass. It wasn’t until the late 60′s was glassblowing raised to the level of art, lead by German artist, Hans Godo Frabel. This weekend and next, families can try glassblowing hands-on at Snow Farm in Williamsburg. Make your own glass ornament with the help of a master glass blower in the glass studio. Learn about the art of glass blowing and walk away with your very own holiday keepsake… a great tradition to do with your family year after year


HistoryNature StudiesArtisan TradeMuseum AdventuresTheaterGovernment StudiesPresidential StudiesHanukkahMusic StudiesCultural Studies ♦  Black Friday Alternatives


History

The Plainfield Historical Society and Dario Coletta, Plainfield landscape historian, are leading “Exploring Plainfield’s History Through Hidden Landmarks,” on Sunday afternoon, November 24th. Coletta will take you to little-known historical sites, including an animal pound, cemeteries, and a stone cave from the 19th century. Learning about the history of our local surroundings helps to build a sense of place in our children and ourselves, and there’s no better way than through primary source experience!

GE freezers were not an option in the Colonial Era, but that’s what unheated attics and bedrooms were for… a place to freeze and store prepared foods, like pies and breads, while waiting for the big holiday! Discover how New Englanders of the past cooked their Thanksgiving meals at Historic Deerfield’s Open Hearth Cooking Demonstration on Friday, November 29th! Cooks in period costumes will prepare traditional Thanksgiving dishes using hearth cooking methods and will discuss the history of harvest celebrations and the evolution of the Thanksgiving holiday in America.

Nature Studies

Forests with coniferous forests, including pines and spruces, are know as a boreal forest, or taiga.  This is the biome found throughout out the high northern latitudes between the tundra of the north and the temperate forest further south. Discover the unique boreal forest ecology of Tamarack Hollow in Windsor with Aimee Gelinas on Saturday, November 23rd. This forest, at 2,000-feet elevation, features evergreen trees and plants, including balsam fir, red spruce, Christmas fern, and others. In addition to discovering these unique boreal forest characteristics, you will get to see cellar holes from the 1800s! This is a moderate, three-mile hike that is best for older students.

Artisan Trade

Glassblowing is an ancient art form, dating back at least 2,000 years with origins in Jerusalem, spreading to the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC. Originally, the craft of blowing glass was used for utilitarian purposes, like containers, table wear and window glass. It wasn’t until the late 60′s was glassblowing was raised to the level of art, lead by German artist, Hans Godo Frabel. This weekend and next, families can try glassblowing hands-on at Snow Farm in Williamsburg. Make your own glass ornament with the help of a master glass blower in the glass studio. Learn about the art of glass blowing and walk away with your very own holiday keepsake… a great tradition to do with your family year after year

Museum Adventures

Celebrate trains at a special locomotive-themed family day at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge on Saturday afternoon, November 23rd, inspired by their current exhibition, Wendell Minor’s America. Award-winning illustrator, Wendell Minor, drew his way through childhood in Aurora, Illinois, inspired by the richly illustrated magazines that were so much a part of American life during the mid-twentieth century. The exhibition celebrates his many cover illustrations, each of which has been inspired by Minor’s love of history, art, science, and the natural world.  At this special family day, there will be artist and gallery talks, readings, hands-on art activities, music, and more. Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Cheli Mennella, recently share a review of three children books about trains. Get excited for this event by checking out her review in our post, “Railroads & Locomotives: Three Childrens Books About Trains.

Theater

Northampton High School Theater presents Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, on Saturday afternoon & evening, November 23rd, a play that turns Hamlet inside out and places minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This performance draws from a classic Shakespeare play and is funny and enjoyable for all ages.

Ja’Duke Productions presents Annie at Yankee Candle Theater on Saturday and Sunday evening in South Deerfield. People of all ages will love seeing this classic comic strip-turned-musical come to life at Yankee Candle Village.

The Bay Path College Performing Art Department in Longmeadow presents a production of Into the Woods, on Saturday and Sunday evening, a musical about a baker and his wife, who try to change lift a family curse by journeying into the woods. Here they find Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and other fairytale characters. This fun musical will entertain family members of all ages.

Government Studies

Small, rural towns are much different in structure than urban and suburban areas are.  Instead of electing officials to make decisions, many small towns have an annual town meeting where community members can contribute their thoughts on issues being voted on.  This unique structure of government allows rural communities the opportunity to practice democracy on a very small scale – and it offers the opportunity for more voices to be heard. On Sunday afternoon, November 24th, Donald L. Robinson, author of Town Meeting: Practicing Democracy in Rural New England, will be at the Stockbridge Library to discuss his book and review the history, pros, and cons of the town meeting form of local government, examining how democratic self-government functions in the modern context. Interests in governmental studies and U.S. history will gain insight and understanding of local government at the free community event.

Presidential Studies

November 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the youngest elected U.S. president.  Much loved, Kennedy’s 1000 plus days as President were not without controversy. On Saturday afternoon, November 23rd, at Springfield Technical Community College, WGBY Education will presents a free screening of the new film, American Experience: JFK. The film tells the story of John F. Kennedy’s life, presidency, and death. Following the film, there will be a panel with several local historians to discuss his legacy.  Older students can learn about a piece of presidential history while engaging in their community.

Get an intimate look at President Nixon in a new documentary, Our Nixon, being screened at the Amherst Cinema on Monday evening, November 25th.  This documentary is about Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974, and is made exclusively using archival footage shot by three of Nixon’s aides on a Super 8 camera. These home movies, shot by H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin was seized during Watergate and filed away and forgotten for nearly forty years. Director Penny Lane and Producer Brian L. Frye took this footage and created this documentary, which paints a intimate and complex portrait of Nixon and the Watergate scandal. Lane and Frye will be at Amherst Cinema for the screening and to answer questions and to delve further into the history of Richard Nixon.

Hanukkah

The Yiddish Book Center in Amherst host a free Hanukkah Celebration for all ages on Sunday, November 24th! Staff from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will be on hand to do Hanukkah craft activities, and there will be a singing circle, guided tours, and scavenger hunts. Celebrate Hanukkah and enjoy time with family and friends at this special holiday event.

Celebrate Thanksgivukkah (or Chanksgiving) with Beit Ahavah at their annual “Community Hanukkah Celebration & Latke Factory: Lights, Liberty, and Latkes” event in Florence on Sunday evening, November 24th!  This is the first time Chanukah and Thanksgiving have coincided, and the next time will be in 79,811 years! This annual family and community event brings people together to celebrate Hanukkah and give thanks. Please bring a warm winter clothing item to donate to the Survival Center.

The Springfield Jewish Community Center is holding a free First Light Community Hanukkah Celebration on Wednesday evening, November 27th. Come by for games, singing, refreshments, a family-turkey menorah project, and the lighting of the largest menorah in Western Mass!

Music Studies

Has your child shown interest in playing music? Studies show that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument can increase brain function in children. On Monday evening, November 25th, the Northampton Community Music Center and Stamell Strings are holding a free showing of fine stringed instruments for children, sort of like a “petting zoo” for stringed instruments. Parents and students can come see violins, violas, and cellos and kids can try smaller-sized instruments to see which ones are a good fit. Children can be introduced to string instruments and maybe inspire a future love of music!

Cultural Studies

Native American basket-weaving is one of the oldest know crafts and vary greatly from nation and region. Different tribes use different patterns and a variety of material, ranging from pine needles to sweetgrass to birchbark. Narragansett descendant Jennifer Lee will be at Historic Deerfield on Friday, November 29th to discuss Native American history and culture, and to demonstrate traditional bark basket making from local bark. Participants can learn about local and regional Native cultures and traditional crafts.

10 Black Friday Alternatives

  1. Visit Santa in the morning at the Hotel Northampton.
  2. Discover how New Englanders of the past cooked their Thanksgiving meals at Historic Deerfield’s Open Hearth Cooking Demonstrations.
  3. Springfield Museums host a day of festive celebrations!
  4. Shop local and handmade at in Snow Farm’s Seconds Sale in Williamsburg.
  5. Take the kids to the Spirit of Springfield’s annual Tower Square Parade of the Big Balloons.
  6. Join Earthwork Programs for an animal tracking workshop.
  7. Take in an afternoon performance of “Mr. Seahorse and a House for Hermit Crab” at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst.
  8. The annual Moonlight Magic will be kicking off the holiday season in the village of Shelburne Falls in the evening!
  9. Bright Nights at Forest Park returns this season for holiday fun.
  10. The Mason Library in Great Barrington is screening Monsters University in the evening.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and many 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.

[Photo credit: (cc) Lena]

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