Explore & Connect to Where You Live through Nature Bingo & BioBlitz

Creative Nature Scavenger Hunt Stimulates Nature Education & Strengthens a Sense of Place

Outdoor adventures with kids have a way of turning into loosely-structured scavenger hunts. Woodland trails are littered with interesting treasures, beaches wash up endless items of interest, and the tall grasses of meadows reveal new treats wherever you part the seas of green. Supporting children’s interest in looking closely at nature and discovering treasures is easy enough to do. While unstructured, free play and exploration can uncover lots of natural wonders big and small, adding just a little bit of structure can help children lead themselves to certain discoveries or a specific learning goal, and will support learners of all ages develop useful skills that can be applied in many different educational and real-life contexts.

While we’ve covered the basics of nature scavenger hunts in an archived post, there are more possibilities for learning via nature exploration than we could ever list! The simplest way to open your family’s eyes to nature using a game-like structure is to use bingo-style cards to track your discoveries. Online resources for nature bingo abound, including boards filled with variations on camping bingo and MassAudubon’s nature bingo, which offers four different cards (one to match each season) that help to open players’ eyes to the interesting and exciting natural occurrences, connecting them to the seasons.

Read the rest of this entry »

Local Agricultural Fairs Showcase Rich Local Heritage

Multidisciplinary Learning Opportunities for Children

It’s almost agricultural fair time!

Much more than a midway and a ticket-per-ride miniature amusement park, Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs honor the generations-old traditions of agriculture, self-sufficiency, and resiliency in rural communities. A tradition for many generations, agricultural fairs showcase the unique skills and talents specific to rural life in western Massachusetts – and in doing so, fairs offer families the opportunity to not only celebrate local culture, but to actively participate in preserving it. The exhibition halls at agricultural fairs are always filled with locally grown fruits and vegetables, homemade and home-preserved canned goods, handmade quilts and clothing, and beautiful photographs, paintings, and crafts created by local artists. With many exhibition categories reserved specifically for youngsters, exhibition halls offer families the opportunity to share their own work, projects, and produce with others – and the opportunity to share the active role that they have in preserving local culture. 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Berkshires are Alive with Live Theater Opportunities this Summer!

Diverse Theater Selection Brings Entertainment & Education Opportunities for Entire Family

The Berkshires are alive! Get your tickets for a theater production and bring the family. There are options that fit all budgets!

The Berkshires region of western Massachusetts is filled with endless opportunities for learning and playing – especially in the summer. A popular vacation destination for locals and out-of-towners alike, the region offers up a wide variety of things to do, places to visit, and stuff to see. And this summer, some of the best stuff to see is on stage at the Berkshires’ many theaters and performance spaces! From children’s theater to clowning, Shakespeare to musicals, the Berkshires’ numerous theater companies are dishing out shows that not only entertain, but also present valuable learning opportunities. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Underground Railroad Episode (Podcast/Radio Show)

Listen to Podcast:

Hilltown Family Variety Show
Underground Railroad Episode

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” According to American folklore, this song was a “musical” map which led fugitive slaves north to freedom. For a history of the song, see www.followthedrinkinggourd.org.


Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

Discover the Songs: Lyrics & History

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Sheep Shearing & Maple Syrup Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

SHEEP SHEARING & MAPLE SYRUP EPISODE

Sheep Shearing

Shearing the sheep and skirting the fleece at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. Click on photo to see more images. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfie

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 9th & 10th, 2013
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

  • Lunch Money – “Wake Up, World” - Dizzy 
  • Pete Seeger – “Maple Syrup Time” – Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger
  • Kitty Donohoe  – “Maple Syrup” – Bunyan and Banjoes
  • Phil Rosenthal – “Buffalo Gals” – This Land is Your Land
  • Nashville Bluegrass Band & Kid Pan Alley – “Extra Hand” – Kid Pan Alley
  • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
  • Carla Sciaky – “Sheep Shearing” – Spin the Weaver’s Song
  • Justin Roberts – “Field Trip” – Pop Fly
  • The Hipwaders – “Field Trip” – Goodie Bag 
  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • L. Frank Baum – The Story of Baa-Baa Black Sheep
  • Teresa Doyle – “The Shearing” – If Fish Could Sing … and Sheep Could Dance
  • Matt Nathanson – “Starfish and Coffee” – For the Kids Too
  • Moxy Fruvous – “Maple Syrup Time” – If I Had a Song: Songs of Pete Seeger Vol. 2
  • The Hipwaders – “Things You Want” – Goodie Bag 

Fids & Kamily Awards: Top 10 Albums for 2011

Fids & Kamily Awards: 2011

The winners of the Fids & Kamily Awards have been announced!  Launched in 2006 and inspired by the Village Voice’s long-running “Pazz and Jop” music poll, the Fids and Kamily Poll is the first compilation of year-end kids and family music “best of” lists from critics, writers, radio programmers, and others involved in the music industry. Ten favorites are voted on from outstanding releases, including kids and family albums from mainstream/adult artists, seasoned kindie artists and some fantastic newcomers.

For the fifth year in a row, Hilltown Families has participated as a judge for the Fids and Kamily Awards (www.fidsandkamily.com).  Take a look at the top 10 picks and honorable mentions.  Any are sure to make a great gift of music this holiday season.

The Top 10 albums of 2011 are (in order):

  1. Recess MonkeyFLYING!
  2. Dan Zanes and Friends – Little Nut Tree
  3. Frances England – Mind of My Own
  4. Caspar Babypants - Sing Along!
  5. Lunch Money – Original Friend
  6. Brady RymerLove Me for Who I Am
  7. The Deedle Deedle DeesStrange Dees, Indeed
  8. The Jimmies – Practically Ridiculous
  9. Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam BandOh Lucky Day!
  10. Gustafer YellowgoldGustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock

Honorable Mentions (unranked next ten):


Related posts:

Must-Hear Music Monday: Mister Rabbit by Caspar Babypants

Caspar Babypants’ New Kids’ Books

Bunny Rabbit in the SunlightDid you know that Caspar Babypants is now writing kids’ books? It’s true!

I’m sure you’ve noticed that all of Caspar’s album covers are beautifully illustrated with paper cut out pictures. All of those adorable little creatures were created by Caspar’s, that is Chris Ballew’s, real wife, Kate Endle.

So doesn’t it make perfect sense that they would team up to create a couple of bright, colorful, and fun-to-read books for kids? Of course it does!

With Kate illustrating and Caspar writing, these two new books are perfectly balanced and delightfully beautiful. Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight is a simple board book for little guys and My Woodland Wish is a longer book for bigger guys.

Both are adorable and both follow a similar theme: pictures of cutey pie wild animals and rhymes about what those animals do (and how much we want to play with them).

Plus, each book comes with a FREE Caspar Babypants song that you can download at Caspar’s website.

And speaking of all things cute, bunny, and Caspar Babypants… have you seen the video for Mister Rabbit?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

100 Links (Spring/Summer 2011)

100 Links (Spring/Summer 2011)

Nearly every day we add recommended links to the Hilltown Families bank of on-line resources.  Some of you might find these links well suited for your family, others, maybe not so much.  But it’s a fun and useful list worth perusing of online resource that are educational and entertaining!

Follow Me on DeliciousWhere are these links? Hilltown Families Del.ici.ous Page!  This icon can be found at the top of our site, in the left-hand column.  Click any time to see what links we’ve added!

Below is the latest 100 links we’ve shared: (you will need to use the “back” button to return to this page). All links are provided as a courtesy and not as an endorsement:

Read the rest of this entry »

Must-Hear Music Monday: Sing Along with Caspar Babypants

Sing Along with Caspar Babypants

Caspar Babypants is preparing to release his fourth awesome kids album, Sing Along, on August 16th.

Is this one really good just like all his others? Why, yes it is! Caspar has a great approach to kids music: keep it simple so little kids can sing or bounce along, but make it interesting for grown ups, too. What a concept!

You’ll see this approach in songs like “Ba Ba Black Sheep” and “Ring Around the Rosie“, songs everyone knows but that get a new twist on this album. He also takes subjects even the littlest listeners can relate to, like “Crawling, and turns them into fun songs!

But one of my favorite things about Caspar Babypants is that he seems to be friends with just about everyone in the music industry (he must be a nice guy) and they all want to help him out with his albums. Weird Al Yankovic plays accordion on “Long Long Dream” and has created an amazing accordion solo, plus the beautiful Frances England helps out on a couple songs too, my favorite being “Sun Go“.

But the very, very best song on the album without a doubt is Rachel Loshak’sBaby Cloud“. Caspar describes it as “haunting.” It’s just perfect. Go listen to it now.

Caspar says he makes music “to help families sing together and relax and open up and endure stressful times with humor and grace.” You’re doing it, Caspar. Keep up the good work!

Sing Along will be available August 16th.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: Down at the Zoo

Down at the Zoo

Down at the ZooOne of my favorite bands is Belle and Sebastian and one of my all time favorite albums is Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Yes, I suppose that is music for grown ups, but my son loves this album, too!

Anyway, when I heard that Mick Cooke of Belle and Sebastian was creating kids’ albums I just had to check it out! Recording under the name Too Many Cookes, Mick’s newest album is Down at the Zoo and it’s just lovely.

The album is all about animals and their antics in the zoo. Elephants, monkeys, alligators… they’re all here. The lyrics are simple and wonderful fare for preschoolers and toddlers. Easy to sing to and full of life and imagery.

But what I really like is the quality of the music itself. The horns are tremendous throughout the album and it’s fun to talk to your kids about the different instruments you can hear in each song. My favorite song on the album has to be Sarah the Seal. Just so happy and free!

Check out the new album on the Down at the Zoo Facebook page and listen to one of the songs from the album here: We are the Tigers.

By the way, did you know that tigers like to eat chocolate pie?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: New Video by Renee & Jeremy

Share This Video

Renee & Jeremy are simply awesome as is. Their music is melodic and beautiful. But they also seem to know all of the coolest artists around and when their songs are accompanied by animation… well, it’s perfection.

See for yourself:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Sunny Day: Elizabeth Mitchell’s Newest CD

Elizabeth Mitchell: Sunny Day

'Sunny Day' offers "handmade music" which invites listeners to join in. As Amanda Blake Soule, the author of "The Creative Family," notes in the 28-page full-color booklet enclosed with 'Sunny Day,' "These songs bring our attention to the magical, mysterious, fabulous and special simple moments of everyday living." They provide a soundtrack to brighten any day, "inspiring family connection and togetherness," as Sooule says.

Elizabeth Mitchell’s new CD, Sunny Day, came out earlier this month and at just the right time for my family.

With the air getting crisper and school back in session, kids will invariably pick up (and bring home) fall colds. It’s no fun for anyone. When both mommy and child are feeling under the weather the best thing for everyone is to relax and take it easy.

Yes, I realize this is easier said than done, but Elizabeth’s soothing voice and mellow tunes really helped my son to calm down, rest, and focus on getting better rather than on how awful he felt. And that helped mommy feel better, too!

Elizabeth sings many traditional folk songs from around the world, but combines them in her seamless style. Her voice and arrangements are soft and safe; you can’t help but feel comfortable and comforted while listening to her music. It’s perfect music for after-school-wind-down time, for snuggling, or for just feeling happy and at home.

To get a feel for Elizabeth’s style, try listening to her version of Mr. Rabbit or the Japanese song Ooki Na Kuri No Ki No Shita De (Under the Big Chestnut Tree), two of our favorite songs on the new album.

If you’re looking for something easy to listen to, something you can pop in the CD player when you’ve just about had it with all the noise and the distractions, you’ve found it. Relax. You’re entire family deserves it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)



October 16th Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Radio Show/Podcast)

October 16th Episode

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
October 16th & 17th, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Listen Now


FEATURED VIDEO: The Leisure Society play live at the Union Chapel on 15 May 2010 to launch American Laundromat’s latest charity compilation, Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies.


 

PodcastsRadio Archives Subscribe Myspace Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

Northampton Parents Center Turns 25!

Northampton Parents Center
25th Anniversary Fundraising Concert
Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Jay Mankita is a touring songwriter, an internationally recognized recording artists and a local dad. Join him on Saturday, October 16th at a fundraising concert for the Northampton Parents Center. Click on flyer to see larger image.

Northampton Parents Center is having a 25th Anniversary Fundraising Concert with Putumayo recording artist, Jay Mankita, Saturday, October 16th, at 4 pm in the upstairs of Edwards Church.  Everyone is welcome – the whole community is invited! A sliding scale donation is suggested, but  not required.  Please come celebrate music for the whole family with the Northampton Parents Center!

ABOUT THE NORTHAMPTON PARENTS CENTER

Northampton Parents Center is a nonprofit cooperative drop-in site for children (birth to kindergarten) and their caregivers. Since 1985, Northampton Parents Center (NPC) has provided a safe, nurturing environment for families with young children to socialize. Open Monday through Thursday 9:30 to 11:30 am, mid September to late May. Located in the lower level of Edwards Church at the corner of Main and State Streets in Northampton — entrance on State Street. Generously supported by Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Edwards Church, and partially funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care administered by Collaborative for Educational Services and Northampton Public Schools. www.northamptonparentscenter.org

Ticket Giveaway: Family Concert with Gustafer Yellowgold @ The Carle

WIN A FAMILY 4-PACK OF FREE TICKETS:
Gustafer Yellowgold
Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
At the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA

Gustafer Yellowgold will be at the Eric Carle Museum on Saturday, October 23rd at 1pm. Deadline to enter to win a family 4-pack of free tickets is 10/20/10 @ 7pm (EST).

Hilltown Families and the Northampton Community Music Center have partnered up to offer a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see Gustafer Yellowgold at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA on Saturday, October 23rd at 1pm. The proceeds from the concert go to benefit the Northampton Community Music Center.  Deadline to enter to win is 10/20/10. Find out how to enter to win below.

ABOUT GUSTAFER YELLOWGOLD

It’s been two years in the making and won’t be released until February, but families in Western Mass will have a sneak preview this month when the multimedia Gustafer Yellowgold’s Show comes to the Eric Carle Museum on Gustafer’s “Top of the Sock Tour.”

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Top of the Sock Tour heralds the release of the fourth in the series of award-winning Gustafer Yellowgold “musical moving storybooks,” Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock, in which our hero from the sun journeys in search of the end of the universe’s longest sock. This fall’s shows will preview several story-songs from the new DVD/CD set, and Gustafer’s creator, illustrator/songwriter/musician Morgan Taylor, promises to include plenty of “Gustafer fan favorites” in the shows, too!

Hailed as one of today’s most original artists on the family music scene, Morgan Taylor was named “Best Kids’ Performer” by New York Magazine.  Taylor developed the Gustafer Yellowgold experience as equal parts pop rock concert and minimally animated movie, performing alongside a large screen displaying vividly colored animations with karaoke-style subtitles.  He’s dreamed up a whole world of catchy, original story-songs about Gustafer, a friendly creature who came to Earth from the sun and now lives out an explorer’s life in a slightly psychedelic version of the Minnesota woods.  Gustafer resides in a cottage with his menagerie of friends, including a pet eel, a tuxedo-wearing pterodactyl, and a dragon named Asparagus who inhabits the fireplace and loves corn on the cob. For recreation, Gustafer enjoys jumping on cake and, occasionally, punching cheese.

ABOUT THE NORTHAMPTON COMMUNITY MUSIC CENTER

The Northampton Community Music Center is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is “to foster the love and pursuit of music within the community through quality musical education, performances, and activities that are accessible to all.” NCMC’s talented 50+ faculty members offer a diverse range of musical programs to more than 750 participants a year—both adults and children—and bring concerts and other musical events to hundreds more in our surrounding communities, uniting people of all ages and backgrounds through the shared experience of music. NCMC is the only music school in Hampshire County that offers financial aid: no qualifying student has ever been denied scholarship.

This family concert a continuation in the Kids Concert Series sponsored in partnership by the Northampton Community Music Center, the Eric Carle Museum, and 93.9 The River.  The Eric Carle Museum is located at 125 West Bay Road in Amherst, MA. Admission is $6, with all proceeds benefiting the Scholarship Program at NCMC.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a family 4-pack of free tickets to see Gustafer Yellowgold at the Eric Carle Museum on Saturday, October 23rd at 1pm in Amherst, MA, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. HELP CO-CREATE A COMMUNITY PLAYLIST AND RECOMMEND A SONG BELOW (one entry per family) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 10/20/10 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go! Tickets are $6 and available at 12:30pm the day of the show.  No advance reservations. – For more information about the Northampton Community Music Center, call 585-0001.

October 2nd Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast)

October 2nd Episode

Listen Now


Featured video: The Flannery Brothers perform “Pirate or Parrot?” off of their new CD, The New Explorers Club.

Repeat Button Award
We’re loving The Okee Dokee Brothers new CD, Take it Outside.  Their combination of bluegrass and country sounds make for excellent breezy listening.  We find their songs fun, entertaining, even educational, with lyrics reminiscent of country living.  This album gets a 4-Star Repeat Button Award with four different repeat button requests being shouted from the back seat of the mini-van, including the songs: “Neighbors,” “Antidisestablishmentarianism,” “Tippy Toes” and “Auctioneer.”


PodcastsRadio Archives Subscribe Myspace Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Station ID: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • The Okee Dokee Brothers – “Neighbors” [Take it Outside]Music
  • The Okee Dokee Brothers – “Naked Truth” [Take it Outside]Music
  • Flannery Brothers – “Pirate or Parrot?” [The New Explorers Club]Music
  • Claire Bloom  – “The History of Seven Young Parrots (Of The Lake Pipple-Popple)” [Nonsense Stories and Poems by Edward Lear]
  • Steve Songs – “The Pirate Song” [Little Superman]
  • The Bazillions – “Super Sonic Rocket Bike” [Rock-n-Roll Recess]Music
  • Station Id: Bill Harley [www.billharley.com]
  • Caspar Babypants – “The Legend of the Bone” [This is Fun]Music
  • Bill Harley – “Jack and the Singing Leaves” [The Best Candy in the Whole World and Other Stories by Bill Harley]Music
  • The Okee Dokee Brothers – “The Extraterrestrials” [Take it Outside]Music
  • Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke – “The Rattling Can” [Rise and Shine]

VALLEY FREE RADIO: It’s fundraising week over at our beloved community radio station, 103.3FM WXOJ (Northampton, MA). Visit Valley Free Radio online and make a donation to keep the station on air and equipment up-to-date.  Any amount is welcomed!  Visit www.valleyfreeradio.org and select the Donate Now button (large and up top) to make your pledge.

Valley Free Radio is a commercial-free community radio station that gets the vast majority of its funding from listeners like you!  Make a donation of $20 or more during our show (Saturday, 9-10am) and receive a CD from one of the many wonderful family-genre musicians we feature every week on our show. Email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com to let us know that you made your pledge.  Thank you for supporting community radio!

Back-to-School Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

Listen Now

Back-to-School Episode

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
September 11th & 12th, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA


Featured Video: Our friends over at Boston Children’s Music turned us on to this new video,Bookmobile Submarineby John Hadfield.


PodcastsRadio Archives Subscribe Myspace Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Chuck Berry – “School Day” [His Best, Volume 1]
  • Imagination Movers – “First Day of School” [Juice Box Heroes]
  • The Not-Its! – “Welcome to Our School” [Time Out to Rock]
  • Station ID: Charity and the JAMband [www.jamjamjam.com]
  • Charity and The JAMband – “Jump into the Middle” [Rock Your Socks Off]
  • Ernie & Neal – “Pre-School Punk” [Rock the House]
  • Duplex – “Figure 8″ [Album]
  • Jack Johnson – “We’re Going to be Friends” [Sing-a-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George]
  • Opus Ditty – “Folsom Preschool Blues”
  • Rocknocerous – “School Bus” [Dark Side of the Moon Bounce]
  • Tom Paxton – “What Did You Learn in School Today” [Best of Tom Paxton]
  • The RTTs – “Learning My Letters” [Turn It Up Mommy!]
  • Adam and the Couch Potatoes – “Go To The Playground” [One Size Fits All!]
  • Clint Holmes – “Playground in My Mind” [Radio Hits of the '70s]
  • The Terrible Twos – “Playground” [Jerzy The Giant]
  • Ellis Paul – “I Like To Swing” [The Dragonfly Races]
  • Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Carnival Ride” [Special Kind of Day]
  • Lisa Loeb – “It’s Not Goodbye” [Camp Lisa]
  • The Sweet Colleens – “The Terrible Twos Step” [The Monkey Dance: All The Kids Are Doin' It!]Music
  • Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke – “The Rattling Can” [Rise and Shine]Music

Suggested Events 08/21/10-08/27/10

Like This!

Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The 142nd Cummington Fair is August 26th-August 29th in the heart of the Hilltowns! The Biggest and Best Little Fair in the Country! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

BEST BET

NEW EXHIBIT: Dinner is Served!: Dining and the Decorative Arts in Early America will be on display at Historic Deerfield beginning Saturday, August 21st and running through  November 28th. Families and students can enjoy a multisite exploration of the social, cultural, and artistic importance of dining in early America. Learn about the ordinary as well as the exotic accoutrements of dining-from cutlery and mustard pots to argyles and toasted cheese dishes. Then experience recreations of period dinners-complete with faux food-in the dining rooms of three historic houses. For more information visit www.historic-deerfield.org.

LOCAL FOOD: Sixth Annual Free Harvest Supper of Local Food will be on Sunday, August 22nd from 4:30 to 6:30 pm on the Greenfield Town Common/Court Square. All are welcome to join in sharing this truly community celebration event, which features a bountiful meal of locally grown food prepared by local chefs, live music, children’s activities, educational displays and a Really, Really Free Market. Read more here.

BULLETIN BOARD

ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information.

IRISH DANCE LESSONS: Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance in Greenfield is offering Irish Dance Lessons classes for children ages 4 and older, as well as adult classes, this Fall.  Sign up now and join in the fun of the Jigs and Reels. Registration is going on now and classes begin in September.  Space is limited so call today! – In addition to Irish Dance Lessons, Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance also offers Celtic Music Lessons and Celtic Concerts the first Friday of each month. These concerts are open to the public and all are invited! – For additional information, please contact Cara at (413) 475-3353, or email celticheels@gmail.com. Celtic Heels is located at 267 Main Street, Greenfield, MA. Visit online at www.CelticHeelsDance.com.

NANNY POSITION WANTED: Sandy Shapiro of Cummington, MA writes: Need a great nanny?  I’ve been working as a nanny and a preschool teacher for nearly 25 years.  For the past 13 years I’ve been the nanny for one family, and as the kids got older I served several families part time.  I’m reliable, an expert problem solver, and have wonderful references.  I also cook, mend, shop, organize, run errands, etc.  Available Tues-Thurs, preferably in the Hilltowns, but willing to travel. I’m very flexible and willing to combine families/children, work morning and/or afternoon hours, and can serve different families with variable needs.  For more information, call me at (413) 634-5068.

Deadline to enter to win: August 25th.

Rachel Stoler of Community Coalition for Teens in Greenfield, MA writes: The Community Coalition for Teens invites West County residents who are parents of middle/high school children to participate in a focus group to give input into a campaign we’re developing to support healthy development for young people. Focus group will be on Monday, August 23rd from 5:30-6:30pm at the Shelburne Falls Senior Center. We may be scheduling more focus groups in the future. Pizza and soda will be provided for dinner. Participants will be given a $20 Big Y gift certificate AND will be providing a valuable service to their community! The group will be limited to ten parents. Please call Davette at 774-3167 x 101 to sign up. Space is limited and will be first-come-first-served

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Lezlie Densmore writes: I’m organizing the La Leche League Nursing Mothers’ Booth at the Big E again this year and I’m starting to line up volunteers. La Leche League has been sponsoring the Nursing Mother’s Booth for a few years now and we reach well over 1000 people each year.  I need volunteers to sit at the table and keep an eye on the booth.  All volunteers that help for 4 hours or more receive a free entrance pass and a free parking pass for the day. The dates this year are Sept 17 – Oct 3. We need at least 3 people per day but can have as many as 6, so invite a friend or spouse to come along!  If you think you might be interested, email me (LezlieDen@gmail.com) and I’ll add you to our list.

Deadline to enter to win: September 22nd..

PIE & TOMATO CONTEST: As part of Community Spirit Day, Four Winds Farm and CHP-South Berkshire Community Coalition will sponsor at Pie & Tomato contest at the Great Barrington VFW on Sunday, August 22nd. Enter your home-baked pie(s), made with LOCAL fruits. Also bring your best, ugliest, biggest tomato from your garden for an entry into our tomato contest. No preregistration, just bring by 12:15pm for entry. This is a FREE community event (12 noon to 5 p.m.) with a potluck (bring a dish to share along with your own plates and utensils), games, magic, music, kid’s activities, Farmer’s Market and a ‘meet-your-local non-profit organizations’ venue. For more info contact SBCC at 413-528-1919 x14.


WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Playgroups & Family Centers | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Markets | Listen Here

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – 8/21

Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

8:30am-12:30pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: On the town green. Ashfield, MA (MARKET)

9am-5pm – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: The Berkshire County 4-H Youth fair is celebrating its 70th year, the oldes continually run youth fair in the country! 448-8285 Pittsfield, MA (FREE)

9:30am-4:30pm – AIR SHOW: Westfield International Air Show at Barnes Air National Guard Base, featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. www.westfieldairshow.net Westfield, MA (FREE)

8:30am-11pm - AGRICULTURAL FAIR: 93rd Heath Fair.  Fireworks at dark. www.heathfair.org Heath, MA (>$)

11am – FAMILY THEATER: Nutshell Playhouse will be at Main Street Stage, where “Pirates” will swash their buckles once again.  637-1245 www.nutshellplayhouse.org North Adams, MA ($)

11am & 2pm – FAMILY THEATER: The Bremen Town Musicians presented by Castle Hill Theatre at the Berkshire Museum.  This funny and imaginative tale of a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster who are forced to leave their homes and make their way in the world. Along the way, they confront robbers and become a jug band. Don’t miss this heartwarming story about self-discovery and friendship. 443-7171 www.berkshiremuseum.org Pittsfield, MA ($)

11am-8pm - GREEK CULTURE: Celebrate Greek Tradition at St. George Greek Orthodox Church (73 Bradford St.) for Greek traditions, music, dances and food. 442-8113 Pittsfield, MA (FREE)

12Noon – 5pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: 3rd Annual Chilifest at Stone Soup Farm (275 Jackson St.) Family-friendly farm festival with chili, salsa tasting, hayrides, tours, music and more. Rain date: 8/22.  Belchertown, MA (FREE)

12Noon-3pm – COMMUNITY MEAL: Montague Farm Zen House presents the weekly Montague Farm Cafe -a free, weekly family oriented meal and gathering, with healthy food, art activities, live music, and games. 367-5275 Montague, MA (FREE)

1pm & 3pm - FAMILY THEATER: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and PuppeTree present Caps for Sale.  Based on the classic book by Esphyr Slobodkina, this simple folk tale of a hat seller whose inventory of hats is lost to mischievous monkeys while he is napping is told around the world in every culture that has monkeys. The PuppeTree tells this exciting story through the eyes of 7 different cultures, using an engaging variety of puppetry styles to celebrate diversity.  658-1105 www.carlemuseum.org Amherst, MA ($)

1:30-3pm – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Ponding for Kids: For ages 5-10. Come explore the pond life with hands on activities. Catch and learn about all types of pond creatures. At Holyoke Range State Park.  253-2883 Holyoke, MA (FREE)

1:30pm - MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Inside Pahat at the Berkshire Museum. Take a guided 3-D virtual tour through our 2,300-year-old mummy, Pahat. Learn how cutting-edge technology is being used to decipher the mysteries of mummification. 443-7171 www.berkshiremuseum.org Pittsfield, MA (FREE w/admission)

1-4pm - NATURE STUDIES: Discover Trees by learning all about trees, their systems, and identification.  The make a leaf craft at the DAR State Forest. 268-7098 Goshen, MA (FREE)

2-7pm – SUSTAINABILITY: Celebrating Resilient Community with Transition Northampton and concert featuring Sarah Stockwell-Arthen.  Workshops focusing on practical skills and community building tools.  Concert & potluck follow. http://www.laurelparkassociation.org Northampton, MA (>$)

2:30pm – TANGLEWOOD FOR KIDS: Family Concert at Tanglewood, designed to engage and inspire new generations of children.  In the Ozawa hall.  Check out the Instrument Playground too, a chance for kids to sample instruments. Lenox, MA (FREE FOR KIDS 18yo & YOUNGER)

5-9pm – ART WALK: The *Art Under the Stars* event means that stores, galleries and restaurants will be open late and celebrating with special exhibits, music and good food.   You can drive, walk or take the trolley to The Art Garden where you can make a pocket-sized ‘Walking Journal’ and enjoy some snacks. Shelburne Falls, MA (FREE)

6:15pm – OUTDOOR DANCE PERFORMANCE: Jacob’s Pillow Outdoor Inside/Out performance.  243.0745  www.jacobspillow.org Becket, MA (FREE)

7pm – MOVIE: Screening of The Breakfast Club (R).  Greenagers invite you to watch an ’80s classic revived on the big screen of the beautiful Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and support a good, local initiative. Greenages is local youth working to strengthen the environment and our community. 644-0000 www.greenagers.org Great Barrington, MA ($)

8-9pm - OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Campfire Cooking at DAR State Forest. Learn to make campfire popcorn. 268-7098 Goshen, MA (FREE)

8pm – THEATER: The Firebird at Double Edge Theatre. 628-0277 www.doubleedgetheatre.org Ashfield, MA ($$)

8:45pm - DRIVE-IN MOVIE: Northfield Drive-In movie theater call or visit online for Films. (603) 239-4054 www.northfielddrivein.com Northfield, MA ($)

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Music Giveaway: “A Family Album” by The Verve Pipe

New Music Giveaway
A Family Album by The Verve Pipe

By far, A Family Album by The Verve Pipe is one of our favorite family CD’s to come out this year – and we have two copies to giveaway to two lucky families!

Your family is going to love the fun pop songs on this album. The foodie in me loves the playfulness of “Suppertime!” and the mom in me gets choked up to “Only One of You.”  My 8yo daugher (and co-host of the Hilltown Family Variety Show) can’t get enough of “Complimentary Love” and “When One Became Two” (I’m raising a little romantic!).  A Family Album is a great CD to have in the family car for enjoyable listening by all members of the family.

Randy and Donnie from The Verve Pipe recently hosted the Hilltown Family Variety Show, selecting songs from A Family Album, along with great selection of songs from their childhood. Listen to the Podcast anytime, or tune in to an encore on WXOJ 103.3FM Northampton, MA on Saturday from 9-10am and Sunday from 7-8pm.

Lend your hand in the creation of a community playlist by posting a playful tune you remember from your childhood (or recently discovered), and be entered to win.  Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, August 18th at 7pm (EST). Details below.

ABOUT THE VERVE PIPE’S NEW CD

“Bridging middle ground between Sesame Street albums and The Beatles, The Verve Pipe has created a record that both children and parents can listen to and enjoy. The ten songs that encompass the record are full of bright choruses and contagious melodies that will swim inside your head after one listen. It’s their experience with writing melodic gems that allows them to get away with a record that induces a smile at every turn. "A Family Album" can keep you company with its insanely fun, playful and memorable songs that will turn your smile upward.” (antiMusicnetwork.com)

With sales of three million albums worldwide and a reputation for spectacular live performances, in 2009, The Verve Pipe was approached to submit a new track for a compilation album of children’s songs. That session inspired A Family Album, an original collection of songs intended for the entire family, with fun and inventive lyrics set to the memorable melodies the band is known for.  Adding the artwork of Kate Cosgrove, gives the CD a lovely whimsical element to the cover and liner notes.

In 1996, RCA Records released their award-winning debut album, Villains, featuring their signature inventive arrangements, soul-searching lyrics and layered vocal. Their follow-up release, the critically acclaimed self-titled LP The Verve Pipe, featured ‘Hero,’ a Top 15 hit at Modern Rock radio. Their most recent album for adults, Underneath, produced the singles ‘Happiness Is’ and ‘Never Let You Down,’ one of the most played songs for Adult Top 40 and Modern A/C radio that year. The album also included ‘Colorful,’ the emotive ballad featured in the film and soundtrack Rock Star, starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston and also co-starring lead singer Brian Vander Ark in his first major film role.

These guys have performed sold-out concert throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, been featured in Spin and Rolling Stone and videos on MTV and VH1, TV appearances (The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Late Night With David Letterman) and a stellar guest DJ appearance on the Hilltown Family Variety Show!

The Verve Pipe is currently on tour performing both old favorites as well as music from the new album for adults and kids of all ages.

HOW TO WIN:

Your chance to win a free copy of The Verve Pipe’s new CD, A Family Album, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! To win simply

  1. SHARE A PLAYFUL SONG FROM YESTERYEAR BELOW and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) Must include your town and state to be eligible. We’ll randomly draw a winner from those who leave a comment (along with their full name and town/state) and contact the winner via email.  So be sure to leave an
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL in the email field of the comment box (we never share your email address).

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, August 18th 2010 @ 7pm (EST).

Ticket Giveaway: Family Concert with Princess Katie & Racer Steve @ The Carle

WIN A FAMILY 4-PACK OF FREE TICKETS:
Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Saturday, August 7th, 2010
At the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA

Princess Katie & fan. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Hilltown Families and the Northampton Community Music Center have partnered up to offer a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see Princess Katie & Racer Steve at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA on Saturday, August 7th at 1pm. The proceeds from the concert go to benefit the Northampton Community Music Center.  Deadline to enter to win is 08/04/10. Find out how to enter to win below.

ABOUT PRINCESS KATIE & RACER STEVE

“Don’t let the name fool you, this Manhattan-based musical duo (and married couple) stirs up some seriously rockin’ music, ranging from alt-pop to country to reggae, all with a positive message.” (Publishers Weekly)

In 2008, Hilltown Families and Spare the Rock co-present Princess Katie & Racer Steve at Lyman Hall in Northampton, MA.  PK&RS had the kids rockin’ out and doing the tango, with the parents laughing and joining in … Two years and two albums later, they’re returning to the Pioneer Valley, and this time to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts, sponsored in partnership by the Northampton Community Music Center, the Eric Carle Museum, and 93.9 The River!

Princess Katie & Racer Steve have recently released a new album titled Tiny Cool, which has been described as “a book you cannot put down – in music form!” They create high energy, positive and upbeat music that both kids and parents alike can enjoy.

Spontaneity and surprise are key to PK&RS shows. You never know what they’ll dream up. Princess Katie (aka Katie O’Sullivan) says, “I just can’t seem to do a show unless it’s spectacular for the kids!”

“Alternative rock-loving parents will dig how much Katie sounds like Natalie Merchant (only much more chipper), and the high-spirited high jinks of Racer Steve will keep their tots in stitches.” (FamilyFun magazine)

Find out more about Princess Katie and Racer Steve at www.princessracer.com.

ABOUT THE NORTHAMPTON COMMUNITY MUSIC CENTER

The Northampton Community Music Center is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is “to foster the love and pursuit of music within the community through quality musical education, performances, and activities that are accessible to all.” NCMC’s talented 50+ faculty members offer a diverse range of musical programs to more than 750 participants a year—both adults and children—and bring concerts and other musical events to hundreds more in our surrounding communities, uniting people of all ages and backgrounds through the shared experience of music. NCMC is the only music school in Hampshire County that offers financial aid: no qualifying student has ever been denied scholarship.

This family concert is the sixth concert in the Kids Concert Series sponsored in partnership by the Northampton Community Music Center, the Eric Carle Museum, and 93.9 The River.  The Eric Carle Museum is located at 125 West Bay Road in Amherst, MA. Admission is $6, with all proceeds benefiting the Scholarship Program at NCMC.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a family 4-pack of free tickets to see Princess Katie & Racer Steve at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. POST A COMMENT BELOW (one entry per family) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 08/04//10 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go! Tickets are $6 and available at 12:30pm the day of the show.  No advance reservations. – For more information about the Northampton Community Music Center, call 585-0001.

Suggested Events 07/24/10-07/30/10

Like This!

Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Hot Air Balloon Display at the Green River Festival last Saturday in Greenfield, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

DINNER IN THE HILLTOWNS

Friday & Saturday, July 23rd & 24th at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville: Thai style fish cakes with cucumber relish and coconut rice.  Special drinks: Asian style Pimm’s Cup and Lime Shandy. Also available: Sandwiches, salads, soups and pizza (including Gluten-Free pizza!).  Beer & wine available. 268-7757

BEST BET

Saturday, July 24th at 10:30am: Paintbox Theater presents The Three Billy Goats Gruff at  Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, on the Smith College Campus. Director Tom McCabe is going to place a very special spin on this classic. His take – a tale about bullying. The twist? The troll is the one who is bullied, teased and, at the beginning of the story, alone. With the help of the audience and lots of suggestions from fairy tale characters crossing the bridge overhead, the troll will make friends and work things out. – Making friends is tough, especially if you feel different. – Every kid in the audience can bring their own special talents to participate & shine! 587-3220 Northampton, MA ($)

Saturday, July 24th from 12Noon-5pm & 8-10pm: Pittsfield City Hoopla at Springside Park (874 North Street), in the public gardens behind Springside House. Hula Hooping, Fire Poi Spinning, Drumming by Aimee Gelinas of Gaia Roots (8-10pm) and more.  Great event for all ages! Pittsfield, MA (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

August 14th at 9pm: Mt. Greylock Star Parties. Join families on the summit of Massachusetts’ highest peak for a wonderful evening of night sky observing!  Astronomy Association members are eager to share their knowledge about the night sky. Families will be able to observe the ringed majesty Saturn, galaxies, open star clusters, whispy nebula, double stars, colored stars, Neptune, Uranus, and much more through telescopes on display. The programs are FREE, appropriate for all ages and canceled only if there is heavy cloud cover or rain. Please contact the Mt. Greylock Visitors Center at (413)-499-4262 or Kevin Collins from the Astronomy Association at (413)-320-2509 if you have questions regarding the program or status of the program. Lanesbourgh, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

Shelley Brooks of the South Berkshire Community Coalition writes: Kickball Tournament – we need players! Deadline to sign up – Friday, July 23… We are looking for 10 eager players that would like to join our SBCC Kickball Team. This fun (one-time) event will take place *Saturday, July 31* at the Little League Field in Great Barrington. The day will begin at 10 a.m. and wrap up arou…nd 6 p.m. All ages (and abilities) are encouraged to join!  Call us at 413-528-1919 x 14 or email at sbcc@chpberkshires.org.

Deadline to enter to win: Tonight, 7/22, at 7pm!

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Help support The Food Bank of Western MA. Food and fund drives organized by community groups, schools, and local businesses help fill The Food Bank’s warehouse and enable them to dedicate more resources towards their mission. Organizing a food drive or other fundraising event for The Food Bank can make a major impact in your community. Most-needed items: peanut butter and jelly, rice and canned soup or stew, spaghetti and canned spaghetti sauce, canned pasta meals, tuna, low-sugar cereals, canned beans. For more information about how your group can support The Food Bank, or to arrange a drop-off time of food or funds, please call The Food Bank at 413-247-9738 or email our Development & Marketing Department: development@foodbankwma.org.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Part-time volunteer opportunities. The Hilltown Community Development Corporation (Hilltown CDC) is offering three part-time one-year stipended volunteer positions starting in September to talented adults (must be over 18) who are interested in serving as Commonwealth Corps members and learning about the community development field. Hours are flexible; each volunteer will serve approximately 17 hours per week as an assistant on community outreach projects relating to Hilltown CDC’s work on affordable housing, small business development and planning projects. For more information, contact Seth Isman at sethi@hilltowncdc.org.

Deadline to enter to win: August 4th

WORKSHOP: Thursday August 12, 2-5 PM. Grow Food at Schools workshop. This popular workshop features school garden and greenhouse techniques, curriculum connections, and service learning. Geared toward educators; all are welcome. PDPs (professional development points) available to teachers. Pre-registration required, contact solidarity@seedsofsolidarity.org.

WORKSHOP: Tuesday, August 24 6:30 – 8:30 PM, Chicopee Public Library, Workshop “Making Sense of Behavior: Teaching Young Children How to Develop Self-Control and Self-Regulation Using Behavioral and Sensory Techniques.” Designed to assist teachers, parents, and caregivers of children with challenging behaviors – the children who hit, bite, scream, etc. We will explore the reasons behind their behaviors and concentrate on a variety of techniques to help them develop more appropriate ways to deal with stress and channel their frustration, energy level, or sensory need. For more information contact Karen Cassidy at 413-783-5500 ext 16 or at kcassidy@thomchild.org.

LOCAL MUSICIANS WANTED: Local musicians wanted to perform as part of the Greenfield Savings Banks Morning Melodies summer series of musical entertainment featuring local artists.  If you have musical ability and would like the opportunity to schedule a date when you could perform for your Hilltown neighbors, please call Sarah Mancinelli (775-8291) at the bank.

PARENT NIGHT OUT: Saturday July 24, 4 PM, 10th Annual Chili & Chowder Fest, Camp Russell in Richmond, ages 21+. Sponsored by Boys and Girls Clubs of Pittsfield. Now in its tenth year, the Chili & Chowder Fest showcases the talents of chefs from more than 20 eateries across Berkshire County. The event will also feature pontoon boat rides on Richmond Pond, music, raffles, door prizes, beer and wine, and other snacks and refreshments. Tickets may be purchased at the Boys and Girls Club of Pittsfield and will be sold at the door if any remain; tickets are limited to 500. For more information, call (413) 448-8258.


WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Markets | Listen Here

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – 7/24

Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

8:30am-12:30pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: On the town green. Local contradance superstars Rhubarb Pie have reformed as Calamity Physics! Fun, danceable tunes loved by kids and adults alike! Ashfield, MA (MARKET)

9am-10pm – YANKEE DOODLE DAYS: At the Charlemont Fairgrounds.  Civil War Re-Enactment, Ox Draw, Music, Kid Activities, Rides, Demolition Derby, Crafts, Animals, much more. www.charlemontfairgrounds.org Charlemont, MA (>$)

9am-3pm – ARTS FESTIVAL: The Third Annual Otis Arts Festival at the Farmington River Elementary School, 555 Main Road (Rte. 8).  This year over 50 artists and artisans will be featured. Entertainment will feature Moonshine Holler, Appalachian fiddlers and singers  (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.), Henry the Juggler (11 a.m.), Leland Martin, fiddler and Joe Dziok accompanist (1:15 p.m. – 3 p.m.). 269-0220 Otis, MA (FREE, SALE)

9:30am-4:30pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: The kids can learn about colonial cooking at the Historic Deerfield Museum’s Open Hearth Cooking Classes. 775-7214 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA

10am - HIKE: The Deerfield River Watershed Association’s July Hike will be a chance to explore Colrain’s Archeology and Geography.   Join Muriel Russell, local expert in Catamount history, for an exploration of cellar holes and caves in the Catamount State Forest.  This is always a popular hike because of its variety and it is not too strenuous. Bring  flashlight to explore caves, unscented  bug repellant and lunch to enjoy at McLeod Pond.  Directions to start: From Rte. 112 in Griswoldville, Colrain, take Adamsville Rd. to Lively Rd., then quick left onto East Catamount Rd. (steep and dirt) to end where there is parking.  Please register with Muriel 624-3311. Colrain, MA (FREE)

10am – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: A Wheelie Good Time on the Manhan Rail Trail – Bring Strollers, wagon, bikes, trikes or just your feet for a child friendly stroll along the Manhan Rail Trail with the Easthampton Family Center. Meet on Payson Ave at the Easthampton Safety Complex. Picnic Snack provided after the stroll. 563-7672 Easthampton, MA (FREE)

10am – MUSIC: Come to the  Greenfield Savings Bank Conway office for family music, featuring Joanie Schwartz, Conway resident, local realtor and singer/songwriter. Joanie is very lively and tries to involve others to sing along. 775-8291 Conway, MA [FREE]

10:30am – FAMILY THEATER: Paintbox Theater presents The Three Billy Goats Gruff at  Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, on the Smith College Campus. 587-3220 Northampton, MA ($)

10:30-11:15am - NATURE STUDIES: Tom Ricardi will have his birds of prey at the Village Commons’ Summer Children’s Entertainment Series, outside in front of the Odyssey Bookshop. South Hadley, MA (FREE)

10:30-11:30am – FAMILY CONCERT: The Zucchini Brothers at Eastfield Mall Center Court. 543-8000 Holyoke, MA (FREE)

11am – THEATER: “The Mummy’s Tale and Other Stories from the Great Beyond” at the Berkshire Museum. This family-friendly journey explores the ultimate mystery: the afterlife as viewed across centuries and cultures. www.berkshiremuseum.org Pittsfield, MA ($)

11am-3pm - TAG SALE: Children’s Tag Sale, Chester Parent Center, Town Center Playgrounds (across from Town Hall). (Rain date July 31) to benefit Chester Elementary School PTO. 623-0111 Chester, MA (SALE)

11am-4pm - ICE CREAM SOCIAL: Snow’s Ice Cream is celebrating their 100th anniversary with $1 ice cream cones for all. Snow’s will be serving cones at the River Valley Market (North King St.). Students of the Northampton Community Music Center will be playing music for the event throughout the earlier part of this event – from 11am till 2pm (approx.) All proceeds of the event will benefit the Music Center. Northampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)

12Noon-3pm – COMMUNITY MEAL: Montague Farm Zen House presents the weekly Montague Farm Cafe -a free, weekly family oriented meal and gathering, with healthy food, art activities, live music, and games. 367-5275 Montague, MA (FREE)

12Noon-5pm & 8-10pm – HOOP-FEST: Pittsfield Cioty Hoopla happens at Springside Park (874 North Street), in the public gardens behind Springside House. Hula Hooping, Fire Poi Spinning, drumming by Aimee Gelinas of Gaia Roots (8-10pm) and more. Pittsfield, MA (FREE)

12:30pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Chow Time in the aquarium at the Berkshire Museum. 443-7171 www.berkshiremuseum.org Pittsfield, MA (FREE w/museum admission)

1pm - ICE CREAM SOCIAL: All ages welcome to cool off with some ice cream at the Whately Library (202 Chestnut Plain Rd.). 210-4346 Whately, MA (FREE)

1pm – SCIENCE STUDIES: Amherst Solar will be set up with their telescopes on the Amherst Town Common all summer. Stop by with the kids and see Sunspots, Prominences, Limb Darkening and more. 256-6234 amastro.org Amherst, MA (FREE)

1-4pm – MUSEUMS ADVENTURES:  Norman Rockwell Museum will celebrate the art of acclaimed “New Yorker” and children’s book illustrator William Steig and his wife/creative collaborator Jeanne Steig, during SuperSteig Day, a family event.  298-4100 www.nrm.org Stockbridge, MA (FREE FOR KIDS)

1-5pm – HISTORIC ADVENTURES: Tour the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. Explore the ancestral home of the great 19th-century poet, newspaperman, and essayist, and wander the grounds above the Westfield River. Try the “I Spy” family activity using a hands-on spy pack to discover the Homestead’s secrets. 634-2244 Cummington, MA (>$)

2pm-12Midnight – BLOCK DANCE: The Hinsdale muster team will be hold its 12th annual Block Dance.  Music, dancing, fireworks, kids’ muster, water polo, bonfire and more.  Hinsdale Fire Department. 655-8084  www.hinsdalefire.org Hinsdale, MA (FREE)

3-6pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Hilltown Sustainability Celebration at the Cummington Community House (33 Main St.).  Contra dance and potluck/picnic.  Live music with Sarah Stockwell-Arthen, Josh Wachtel and Benny Schults & Choral Group.  Activities for all ages, including dance movement workshop, seed ball making, bag sew, ride an electric bike and more.325 3988 Cummington, MA (FREE)

6pm – MOVIE SCREENING: Ramona and Beezus at Greenfield Garden Cinemas – a red carpet fundraiser!  Moviegoers are encouraged to dress for the red carpet or as their favorite character from the Ramona books. The evening will also feature a silent auction with signed books, movie posters, etc, and a special pre-screening video specific to Franklin County.  774-3167 x 101 Greenfield, MA (FUNDRAISER)

6pm – SPORTS FANS: Take the family out to the ballpark to see a Pittsfield Colonials baseball home game at Wahconah Park. www.pittsfieldcolonials.com Pittsfield, MA ($)

6-9pm – HIKE: Blueberry Moon Hike.  Seach for berries on a 3-mile hike at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. Ages 8 & older. (800) 859-2960 Northfield, MA (>$)

7pm – YOUTH THEATER: Starlight’s Youth Theatre’s production of Les Miserables at the Belchertown High School. 533-7896 Belchertown, MA ($)

7pm – OUTDOOR PERFORMANCE: Scaramouche Jones – a one-man show, at the Three Sisters Sanctuary. This is the first performance in the new outdoor stone amphiteater. “On the eve of the millennium, Scaramocuhe Jones, a 100-year old pale faced Gypsy clown, breaks a fifty year silence to tell his life story. We are taken on a journey from the slums of Trinidad to England, via Africa, Italy and wartime Poland: an odyssey spanning the entire 20th Century.” Performances are July 22 – 31. www.threesistsersanctuary.com 268-3850 Goshen, MA ($)

8pm – THEATER: Double Edge Theatre presents The Firebird 2010 Indoor/Outdoor Traveling Summer Spectacle. The Firebird is based on the classic Russian folk tale as well as a multiplicity of other Firebird and Phoenix myths and legends. 866-811-4111 www.doubleedgetheatre.org Ashfield, MA ($)

8:45pm - DRIVE-IN MOVIE: Northfield Drive-In movie theater is featuring The Sorcerer’s Apprentice as their first show, and Grown Ups as their second show this weekend. (603) 239-4054 www.northfielddrivein.com Northfield, MA ($)

Read the rest of this entry »

Hula Hoops & Fire Poi in the Berkshires

Pittsfield City Hoopla Comes Spinning Back into Town!

Photo credit: Luther Lotz

Pittsfield City Hoopla returns for its second annual all day hoop-fest this summer on July 24th, 2010. This year it boasts all-day programming in Springside Park (874 North Street), in the public gardens behind Springside House from 12Noon to 5 p.m. and returns in the same location with live drumming and more from 8 to 10 p.m. As always, it is a free event that is open to all ages.

Founded in 2009 by dance artist Stefanie Weber, a Pittsfield native, Pittsfield City Hoopla strives to continue celebrating “the craft, craze and creativity of the hula hoop” this year. The popularity of hooping hasn’t declined one bit since the last Hoopla festival in Pittsfield. Hooping.org, a comprehensive website for all things hoop, sees 40,000 visitors weekly. At music festivals nation wide there are more hoopers hooping around than ever.

As a prelude to the festival there is a hoop-making workshop on Thursday, July 22nd from 6 to 8 P.M. at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts (28 Renne Ave.). The workshop will teach the basics of hoop construction and offer supplies to decorate and customize your new creation. Preregistration is required for the workshop, please contact spin@pittsfieldcityhoopla.org or call 413-281-6734 to register.

Hula Hoop with LED lights (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Warm ups and a welcome by Stefanie Weber kick off the official programming for Pittsfield City Hoopla at 12noon on Saturday, July 24th. The greeting is promptly followed by Join the Circle: Hooping 101, a workshop directed by Arian Shelton and Laura Marie of Hooping Harmony in Greenfield, a mother-daughter hooping team. These hula hoop veterans will coach beginners and new comers the basics of hooping for fitness, fun health and healing. If you don’t have your own hoop, don’t fret, there will be hoops to borrow and hoops for sale through out the day. By the end of this session you will be able to perform some hoop tricks and string them together with ease!

After Join the Circle: Hooping 101, Lolli Hoops of Boston Hoop Troop returns with fellow member Little L. Tosses and Jumps will be the focus of the showcase by these hoop dance pros. Lolli Hoops has presented at various venues in the Greater Boston area and beyond including the Somerville Theater, Middle East Downstairs and the Foundation Lounge at the House of Blues.

Hula hoops (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The festivities continue with Lita Lundeen-Setchfield of One with Fire who will be performing poi, the art of spinning fire. Contemporary poi is a blend of a traditional dance from the Maori culture in New Zealand and Hawaiian men’s rituals from the early 20th century. Fire poi became a popular tourist attraction in Hawaii during the 1960’s and has since gathered much popularity. 

3:30pm marks the beginning of “Open Circle” where everyone is invited to participate in freestyle hooping, jams, sharing, shopping, eating, chair massage and face painting. At 4:30pm all are welcome to exhibit their skills, experiment, try something new, show off to a watchful audience and watch the pros strut their spins for the “Showcases and Performances” portion of the event. In addition to the scheduled activities, the staff of The Vincent Herbert Arboretum will be giving guided tours of the Springside Public Gardens and the surrounding forest eco-system.

EVENING SCHEDULE

Fire poi spinning (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The evening schedule begins at 8pm after a short break. This enchanted illuminated spin extravaganza features live drumming conducted by Aimee Gelinas of Gaia Roots. The drumming is accompanied by LED hula hooping and fire poi spinning, along with an all out fire hoop jam session until 10pm.

Pittsfield City Hoopla 2010 receives funding support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development, Greylock Federal Credit Union and The Earthe Shoppe. For more information, to volunteer, showcase your hooping self, or to make a donation to the event contact 413-281-6734 or spin@pittsfieldcityhoopla.org.

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT TICKET GIVEAWAY: Willie Nelson & Family at Mountain Park

Like This!

Willie Nelson & Family at Mountain Park
Holyoke, MA
Sunday, August 8th, 2010 @ 7pm

Deadline to enter to win: August 4th

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

This month we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Willie Nelson & Family at Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA on Sunday, August 8th, 2010.

Win the tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, 08/04/10 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT MOUNTAIN PARK

Following its opening in 1894 as a picturesque retreat on the side of Mount Tom, Mountain Park expanded and evolved into one of the most beloved amusement parks in New England. At the beginning of the 20th century, Holyoke was the most prosperous community in the state and the first planned industrial city in the United States. The city’s progress drew crowds of visitors to Mountain Park, and the park gradually developed into a bustling destination. Although the park closed its gates in 1987, the echoes of laughter from generations of visitors still reverberate throughout the Pioneer Valley. Today, Mountain Park evolves into the next millennium as a new host for music, entertainment and outdoor family fun.

ABOUT WILLIE NELSON

Willie Nelson played a vital role in post-rock & roll country music. Although he didn’t become a star until the mid-’70s, Nelson spent the ’60s writing songs that became hits for stars like Ray Price (“Night Life”), Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), Faron Young (“Hello Walls”), and Billy Walker (“Funny How Time Slips Away”) as well as releasing a series of records that earned him a small, but devoted, cult following. During the early ’70s, Willie aligned himself with Waylon Jennings and the burgeoning outlaw country movement that made him into a star in 1975, as recognizable in pop circles as he was to the country audience. In addition to recording, he also launched an acting career in the early ’80s. Willie has never played it safe musically. Instead, he borrowed from a wide variety of styles, including traditional pop, Western swing, jazz, traditional country, cowboy songs, honky tonk, rock & roll, folk, and the blues, creating a distinctive, elastic hybrid. Nelson has gone back to his roots for his new album Country Music, produced by T-Bone Burnett and featuring a collection of vintage country standards played by Nashville’s top flight bluegrass musicians.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Wilie Nelson and Family at Mountain Park on Sunday, August 8th at 7pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. SHARE YOUR FAVORITE COUNTRY OR BLUEGRASS SONG BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 08/04/10 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go. Check out the Mountain Park music line-up here. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

HFVS Music Giveaway: The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band

New Music Giveaway
The Best Of The Laurie Berkner Band by Laurie Berkner

Says Laurie, "After releasing five albums, I felt it was finally time to put out a compilation of my most requested songs. There have been many changes in recording technology, my own musical growth and the shape of the band since I released 'Whaddaya Think of That?'. I hope families will enjoy taking this music tour with us." - Deadline to enter to win Laurie's new CD: July 14th.

Laurie Berkner has released a greatest hits CD, The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band, filled with fan favorites – and we have two copies to giveaway to two lucky families!   Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, July 14th 2010. Details below.

ABOUT LAURIE BERKNER’S NEW CD

Award-Winning, best-selling children’s performer Laurie Berkner has released her first-ever collection of greatest hits, The Best Of The Laurie Berkner Band, this past June.  All five of The Laurie Berkner Band’s CDs are represented: Whaddaya Think Of That? (1997); Buzz Buzz (1998); Victor Vito (1999); Under A Shady Tree (2002) and Rocketship Run (2008).  Special bonus tracks inclding a new song, “Open Your heart,” are also included.

A former preschool music teacher by day and indie rocker by night, Laurie Berkner started selling her music out of her living room on her own label.  She was the first artist to ever appear in music videos on Nick Jr., Nickelodeon’s 24-hour eucational, commercial-free preschool network, and are featured in nearly all of the episodes of the Channel’s “Jack’s Big Music Show.”  Find out more about Laurie Berkner at http://www.laurieberkner.com.

HOW TO WIN:

Your chance to win a free copy of Laurie Berkner’s new CD, The Best Of The Laurie Berkner Band, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! To win simply

  1. SHARE YOUR FAMILIES FAVORITE LAURIE BERKNER SONG BELOW and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) Must include your town and state to be eligible. We’ll randomly draw a winner from those who leave a comment (along with their full name and town/state) and contact the winner via email.  So be sure to leave an
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL in the email field of the comment box (we never share your email address).

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, July 14th 2010 @ 7pm (EST).

Must-Hear Music Monday: Laurie Berkner

A Laurie Berkner Best Of!

Who doesn’t love the Laurie Berkner Band? Who hasn’t spent an entire afternoon happily humming Victor Vito to themselves?

Hey Victor! Hey Freddie! Let’s eat some spaghetti!

Laurie Berkner has been releasing perfectly danceable family fun albums for over ten years now (wow!) and felt it was high time for a best of compilation. I must agree!

If you’re not familiar with Laurie’s music, this album is a great introduction. You’ll get to listen to all of the best songs from over the years, from the silly (like Victor Vito and Pig on Her Head) to the sweet (like Five Days Old and Under a Shady Tree).

If you’re already a huge Laurie Berkner fan, you’ll be happy to see what a great job they did choosing the songs for this album (yes, Buzz Buzz made the cut), and you’ll probably have a couple you’d want to add (I’m kind of missing One More Stop on the Train). For us fans, this album would make a great gift for our friends who haven’t yet become super Laurie fans.

Another thing I love about this album: Since these are all hits, it’s a nice pick for the car. You’ve got almost an hour of “Oh, I love this song!” to drive along to with your kids… or on your own! Honestly, I don’t mind listening to a good Laurie Berkner song even when Ivan’s not around.

The Best of The Laurie Berkner Band was recently released on June 29th, and the band will be in Massachusetts for the Life is Good Festival in September. Exciting!

Like This!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

8th Birthday Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

Like This!

LISTEN TO PODCAST

8th Birthday Episode

Featured Video: “Figure Eight” by They Might Be Giants


Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
July 3rd & 4th, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

listen NOW | listen on WXOJ | archived shows/podcasts request a song | subscribe to free podcast | contests & giveaways | myspace | facebook | twitter

Locally Produced Family CD to Benefit Haiti

Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti
Locally Produced by Spare the Rock Records

Hilltown Families friends Bill Childs and Dean Jones have joined forces to produce "Many Hands," a locally produced CD of family music to benefit the Haitian People’s Support Project. This forthcoming CD will feature new music from Dan Zanes, Pete Seeger, Elizabeth Mitchell, They Might Be Giants and many more. National release date: Aug. 10th, 2010.

With a national release on August 10th, Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti is the first release from Spare the Rock Records, based out of Western MA.  This unique collection of songs is filled with uplifting messages from some of today’s very best family musicians.

After the January 12th, 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of the Haitian capital, family musician Dean Jones (Dog on Fleas) found himself feeling helpless and desperately wanting to help the people of Haiti. Having close friends in Haiti and feeling a deep love and respect for the music from the region, Jones felt the need to create something that could help the ongoing rebuilding effort.

The idea for Many Hands came to him in the middle of the night and the very next day several of his fellow family musicians signed on. “When I had the idea for the ‘Many Hands’ CD, I knew without a doubt that I could count on the big-hearted kindie community.” said Jones. “The generosity and the amazing work of all the musicians and everyone involved definitely exceeded my initial expectations.”

Almost all of the tracks on the album are previously unreleased, most of them recorded especially for this release. The gathering of artists featured here is a strong assortment of the unique and special talents creating and performing for today’s all ages audiences, from the legendary Pete Seeger to family hip-hop star Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. In addition, everyone involved in the process of getting this album out into the world from replication to distribution has also either drastically discounted or donated their services. Proceeds from this release will benefit the Haitian People’s Support Project and their long-standing work to help the people of Haiti.

Many Hands will be released as the debut album of Spare the Rock Records founded by kindie rock connoisseur Bill Childs. “After speaking with Dean it was immediately obvious to me that this would be a great record, and, just as importantly, that it would have the potential to help keep people’s attention on the ongoing recovery of Haiti,” recalls Childs on how the partnership came to fruition. “Dean asked for some help reaching out to a few artists, and that just naturally flowed into my helping the record get a wider release; ultimately, that meant starting a label.” Childs produces, with his kids, the weekly radio show Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child which airs every Saturday on 103.3FM Valley Free Radio from 7-9am, and 93.9FM The River from 8-10am. Bill also writes about kids’ music for Hilltown Families and various parenting magazines,  has produced numerous kids’ concerts and is the co founder of KindieFest, the family music conference.

Musicians include on the CD include: Dan Zanes, Pete Seeger, Elizabeth Mitchell, They Might be Giants, Gustafer YellowgoldCaspar Babypants, Frances England, Dog on Fleas, Lunch Money, Baby Gramps, Recess Monkey, The Deedle Deedle Dees, Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem, Bonga and the Vodou Drums of Haiti, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Jonathan Coulton, Uncle Rock, Grenadilla, Dean Jones, Emily Curtis, Randy Kaplan, and Jerrice Baptiste. - CD release shows are planned on both coasts, with details available at ManyHandsCD.com.

Amber’s 2010 Spring Picks: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

Like This!

LISTEN TO PODCAST

Amber’s 2010 Spring Picks
Playlist by Amber Bodnar of Boston Children’s Music

Amber has put together a list of her and her son’s top 12 songs from this past spring of musicians who perform in MA, chiefly in the Boston area, with many who have performed here in Western MA too.

Visit both Amber’s site, Boston Children’s Music (Eastern MA) and check here on Hilltown Families (Western MA) for recommended family concerts, music and ticket giveaways.  Between the two we’re bridging the state to let families all throughout MA know about great concerts for families!

Featured Video: “Willy Won’t” by Debbie and Friends
This is a new song from the new Debbie and Friends CD. It’s a song about Debbie’s nephew Will, who makes silly faces when his picture is being taken. See how many famous places Willy visits and learn “why” he does what he does in pictures!


Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
June  26th & 27th, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

listen NOW | listen on WXOJ | archived shows/podcasts request a song | subscribe to free podcast | contests & giveaways | myspace | facebook | twitter


PLAYLIST BY AMBER BOBNAR

  • “Two Mommies” by Alastair Moock [A Cow Says Moock]

Alastair released his first children’s album, A Cow Says Moock, last year and it’s amazing. He has a sort of folk/blues sound and covers some cool old songs, like “Fishin’ Blues” and “Spaghetti in My Shoe.” He does a lot of shows at Club Passim in Harvard Square and always sells out.

  • “A Frog Named Sam” by Ben Rudnick & Friends [A Frog Named Sam]

BR&F released their newest CD, A Frog Named Sam, in 2009. This is their fifth CD and even though we love all of them, I would say this newest one is probably our favorite. BR&F have an American roots/bluegrass style that is just so family friendly and I love that they always include a nice instrumental or two on each album. They perform all over Mass and are Arlington favorites.

  • “So, So Happy” by Debbie & Friends [More Story Songs & Sing Alongs]

This song is off of D&F’s newest CD, More Story Songs & Sing Alongs, released earlier this year. D&F’s have a wonderful way of taking familiar stories and nursery rhymes and turning them into something new and exciting. Ivan has always loved their “Three Little Pigs” song, but I think “So, So Happy” is his new favorite. D&F also have a really cool animator who has been creating fun videos for their songs (you can see them here: http://debbieandfriends.net/fun.php). D&F play all over Mass. Their shows are very interactive and perfect for young kids who have never been to a full band show before.

  • “Shake!” by the Flannery Brothers [Wake Up Songs]

The Flannery Brothers are from Maine and they are making quite a splash in the children’s music scene. Their newest album, Wake Up Songs, just came out this year and it is a short, six-song CD intended to help get your kids out of bed in the morning. We really do listen to this CD every morning! Their shows are super energetic and that energy is contagious. They’ve been playing more and more shows in Mass and they’re getting to be very popular. They’re working on a new CD set to release later this year.

  • “Panther Stamps Pants” by Gustafer Yellowgold [Mellow Fever]

Gustafer Yellowgold is the creation of Morgan Taylor, a multi-talented artist who writes, sings, and animates all at once! Each Gustafer song is accompanied by an animated video and the live performances are really spectacular as the band plays in front of a large screen displaying the characters. The songs follow Gustafer and his friends on their adventures that vary from the absurd to the inspirational. Morgan’s music is mellow and light and accessible to both kids and adults. He and his band are from New York but they have been coming up for regular shows at Club Passim in Harvard Square. Their newest album, Mellow Fever, is a must hear and there’s rumor that we can expect a new Gustafer album by early 2011.

  • “Owl Hootenany” by Vanessa Trien [Carnival Day]

Vanessa Trien is as sweet in person as she is on her albums. She’s the real deal! Vanessa is talented and full of energy, which is really saying something when you consider she’s also a mom to two young children. Her newest CD, Carnival Day, just came out last year and it is a must have. Owl Hootenany is probably my favorite song on the CD. Vanessa performs all around Mass, but mostly in the Boston metro area. She plays both big theaters and little charity events. Don’t miss out on one of her shows!

  • “Finger Puppets” by Little Groove [Building Blocks]

Little Groove, headed by lead singer Sara Wheeler, is another regular around town. Little Groove has put on big shows at TCAN in Natick and the Coolidge in Brookline as well as lots of smaller library shows. Sara’s style is almost celtic and very melodic. The music is mostly acoustic and kids just love her ladybug costume! Their CD, Building Blocks, was released in 2008. We love to listen to it in the afternoons when Ivan needs to calm down after a long day at school.

  • “Friends are on their Way” by Joe’s Backyard Band [Kick Up a Breeze]

JBB is from Rhode Island and their music is just beautiful. They play in a kind of folk rock style with lots of instrumentation, from harmonica to saxophone and everything in between. They’re really quite a sight when seen live. Most of their songs are about enjoying life and friends and that’s an important message for anyone! Their album, Kick Up a Breeze, came out last year.

  • “Yucky” by Judy Pancoast [Weird Things are Everywhere]

Judy, a musician from New Hampshire, has a way of making everything silly. Her shows are so much fun for kids as she gets them to pretend they are swimming through jello or meeting aliens. Her newest CD, Weird Things are Everywhere, came out last year and is a story told in both spoken word and song about a trip across the USA. As she travels across the country Judy talks about the books that have been written about each state. Judy is a big supporter of literacy programs and you can often find her performing at local libraries in Mass.

  • “I Came Out Backwards” by Leeny And Tamara [Sharing The Same Stars]

L&T are just fun. Most of their songs attempt to teach kids something valuable, but in an entertaining way, which is no easy feat! But L&T really do pull it off. Their shows are fun and super interactive – they encourage kids to come on stage and help them sing in the microphone. Their CD, Sharing The Same Stars, came out last year and has already won a Parent’s Choice Award. They’re from Gloucester and perform all over Mass.

  • “Pájaro Carpintero (Woodpecker)” by Mariana Iranzi [Aventura Collage]

Mariana is originally from Argentina and sings all her songs in Spanish. She has a delightfully rich voice and many of her songs remind me of the bosanova style. Her songs are playful and skillfully arranged. It’s hard to believe that Aventura Collage is her first CD! She’s both a music teacher and performer in the greater Boston area and she performs regularly at the Children’s Museum.

  • “Elephant Hide and Seek” by SteveSongs [Marvelous Day]

SteveSongs is such a staple of children’s music in New England and he’s become a big star now that he’s on PBS as Mr Steve! Marvelous Day is his fifth CD and the Elephant Song is just such a classic! Steve is one of those vocalists who is simply astounding and I love the silliness he injects in every song. Plus his back up singers, the Sensational Sillies, are phenomenal! And they’re little girls! Steve’s been doing fewer live shows lately and he also tours the country quite a bit, but you can still catch him back on his home turf now and then. But his shows almost always sell out so get your tickets fast when he’s here!

Suggested Events 06/26/10-07/02/10

Like This!

Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

DINNER IN THE HILLTOWNS

Friday, June 25th at Blue House Cafe in Haydenville: Gluten-free and vegan dishes. BYOB. 268-7441

Friday, June 25th at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield: Local as possible, with an Asian accent: Asian-style baby back ribs in a sweet hoisin sauce; local Asparagus; local-vegetable stir-fry; local greens salad; locally made bread (AnnaBread). 10% of all dinner sales this night will be donated to The Conway School of Landscape Design. BYOB 628-4003

Friday & Saturday, June 25th-26th at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville: Sandwiches, salads, soups and pizza (including Gluten-Free pizza!).  Beer & wine available. 268-7757

BEST BET

4TH ANNUAL WASHINGTON TOWN FAMILY FUN DAY & TOWN TAG SALE: Saturday June 26th, 9am-3pm.  Small town goes all out big for annual event! Bird walk (at 6:30 AM), pancake breakfast (at 8:30 AM), Blessing of the Bikes (at 10 AM), face painting, free pony rides, bounce house, Cub Scouts car wash, Smokey the Bear, Jacob’s Pillow, The Eagles Band (at 1 PM), duck race, food and craft vendors, Becket Fire and Police department safety tips, activities, and give-aways for kids, and more! Proceeds benfit Friends of the Park. For more info, call RJ 413-623-5911 (rain date: 6/27).

BULLETIN BOARD

Deadline to enter to win: June 30th

ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

RE-USABLE SHOPPING BAGS FUNDRAISER: The Blandford Elementary School PTO is selling cute, re-usable shopping bags as a fundraiser. Click here for an order form.

GATEWAY IS OFFERING SUMMER ACADEMIC HELP: Students in grades 5 through 12 are invited to attend Gateway’s annual Summer Academic Support Program, which helps students prepare for MCAS exams and retests in English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science and Technology/Engineering. Don’t worry – it’s fun, too!

Deadline to enter to win: June 30th

KEEPING KIDS SAFE THIS SUMMER: School is out and kids will be spending more times out-of-doors. Check out the Summer Safety Tips offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics—covering everything from suntan lotions to lawn mower safety.

USED INSTRUMENT AND MUSIC EQUIPMENT SALE: In early September, Artspace Community Arts Center in Greenfield will have a sale of used music instruments and equipment. They are seeking donated and consigned instruments and equipment for the sale. Proceeds will benefit Artspace’s financial aid program and STRINGS FOR KIDS. If you have an instrument (s) or equipment that you would like to donate or consign (50/50), call or email – 413-772-6811, info@franklyarts.com.

Deadline to enter to win: July 11th

PHOTO CONTEST: Mass Audubon Photo Contest. “Picture This: My Connection to Nature.” This contest calls for “striking digital images that highlight the beauty and diversity of Massachusetts wildlife, habitats, and people in nature.” There will be up to 24 winners (12 adults and 12 students) chosen by an esteemed panel of judges. Two Grand Prize Winners’ photos will be featured on the cover of a Mass Audubon publication. All winning photos will be displayed at a special event this fall at the Mass Audubon Visual Arts Center. Participants may submit up to five digital images taken in Massachusetts via Mass Audubon’s free public group on flickr®. Contest ends September 6, 2010. For complete rules, visit: http://www.massaudubon.org/picturethis.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Amber Bobnar or Boston Children's Music has put together a sweet playlist for HFVS this week! Tune in every Saturday & Sunday - or anytime via Podcast!

This week on the HFVS our friend and recent collaborator, Amber Bobnar of Boston Children’s Music, puts together our playlist with her current top picks.  She’s featuring music by Alastair Mock, Ben Rudnick & Friends, Debbie & Friends, Flannery Brothers, Gustafer Yellowgold, Vanessa Trien, Little Groove, Joe’s Backyard Band, Leeny & Tamara, Mariana Iranzi and SteveSongs. Tune in on Saturdays from 9-10am, or listen to our podcasts HERE. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • HFVS Podcast

    PODCAST: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!


    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Markets | Listen Here

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Saturday – 6/26

    FARMERS’ MARKETS

    Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Special guest Amber Bobnar of Boston Children’s Music puts together our playlist this week with her current top picks. Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

    8:30am-12:30pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: On the town green. Ashfield, MA (MARKET)

    9am-4pm – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Zoar Outdoor with be hosting a DemoFest – a chance to find out and test whitewater boats, with kids clinics, kayaking clinic, and more. 800-532-7483   www.zoaroutdoor.com Charlemont, MA (FREE)

    9am – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Washington Town Family Day and Town Tag Sale with music, food and activities for the whole family. townparkwashingtonma.blogspot.com Washington, MA

    9:30am-4:30pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: The many uses of berries will be investigated in a new program called “Berry Season” at the Historic Deerfield Museum. Used for food, medicine, and even for dyes and inks, berries were also a seasonal treat for early Americans. Visitors will explore the importance of berries to both Native Americans and English settlers in the 18th century, make berry ink, put together a refrigerator-jam kit to take home, and receive a berry recipe booklet. 774-5581 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA ($)

    10am – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: A Wheelie Good Time on the Manhan Rail Trail – Bring Strollers, wagon, bikes, trikes or just your feet for a child friendly stroll along the Manhan Rail Trail with the Easthampton Family Center.  Meet on Payson Ave at the Easthampton Safety Complex. Picnic Snack provided after the stroll. 563-7672 Easthampton, MA (FREE)

    11am-5pm – HISTORIC ADVENTURES: Trolleyfest at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum – a celebration of the restoration of No. 10. Back again this year is the 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Militia Co. C Civil War reenactors, who will be encamped at the Buckland Railyard Friday night and Saturday. Besides the usual trolley car rides and pump car rides, activities include: Caboose rides, Displays of local agriculture and industry served by the trolley line, (yes the popular cider pressing will be back!), Additional railroad equipment display and Trolleyfest lunch. www.sftm.org Shelburne Falls, MA (>$)

    10am-3pm – AGRICULTURE FAIR:  Franklin County 4H Fair at the Franklin Co. Fairgrounds.  Dairy, sheep, beef, chickens, rabbits, drill team demonstration, Fire Department, meet some animals in petting area, activities for little ones, food and fun. Greenfield, MA

    10am-4pm – AGRICULTURE FESTIVAL: Lavender Festival at Johnson Hill Farm. Local artisans and crafters, demos, workshops, relaxed self-guided tour of farm.  625-6439 www.lavenderland.com Buckland, MA (FREE)

    10am-4pm - AGRICULTURE ADVENTURES: Farm and Garden Tour, a self-guided look at the secret gardens, working farms and special places in Conway and West Whately. Explore six private gardens and five unique farms, including an organic, horse-powered farm, an herbal apothecary garden, and a nationally-known miso farm. Artists’ studios will also be open, as well as the historic Boyden one-room schoolhouse in Conway. 625-9151 Conway/West Whately, MA ($$)

    11am-10pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Chicopee Fest-Of-All at Szot Park. www.festofall.com Chicopee, MA

    11am-12Noon – GARDEN ADVENTURES: Seeds and Weeds: Children’s Garden at Naumkeag.  Children ages five and under along with their caregivers and siblings are invited to participate in the planning and planting of a children’s garden through a combination of stories and guided activities. 298-3239 Stockbridge, MA

    12Noon-1:30pm – FATHER’S GROUP: Father’s support group at Cradle. Facilitated by David Ettleman.  Babies welcomed. Northampton, MA (FREE)

    12Noon-5pm & 7:30-9:30pm – ASTRONOMY: Astronomy Association will offer a solar program during the Chicopee Fest-Of-All at Szot Park.  Using their telescopes with solar filters, families will be able to see sun spots and different phases of the sun during the day, and in the evening the full moon up close – plus Saturn, Jupiter, and Messier clusters. www.amastro.org Chicopee, MA (FREE)

    12:30pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Chow Time in the aquarium at 12:30pm, and the Battle-Ready! Discovery Program (last day) at 1pm.  At the Berkshire Museum. 443-7171 www.berkshiremuseum.org Pittsfield, MA (FREE w/museum admission)

    1pm – SCIENCE STUDIES: Amherst Solar will be set up with their telescopes on the Amherst Town Common all summer.  Stop by with the kids and see Sunspots, Prominences, Limb Darkening and more.  256-6234  amastro.org Amherst, MA (FREE)

    1-5pm – HISTORIC ADVENTURES: Tour the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. Explore the ancestral home of the great 19th-century poet, newspaperman, and essayist, and wander the grounds above the Westfield River. Try the “I Spy” family activity using a hands-on spy pack to discover the Homestead’s secrets. 634-2244 Cummington, MA (>$)

    2pm – READING PROGRAM: Going Green @ Your Library The annual summer reading program is “GOING GREEN” this year. Children from pre-school on can sign up at the Meekins and Haydenville Libraries. Participants will be able to create green crafts as well as enjoy making their own sundae! Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

    2pm - FAMILY CONCERT: Jay Mankita in the Lang Auditorium at the Westfield Athenaeum.  562-6158 x5 Westfield, MA

    2:30pm - TEEN/TWEEN READING: tnk grEn Sign-up for the Teen/Tween Summer reading program (ages 11 and up). Music, Crafts, games and refreshments! Meekins Library. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

    7:30pm – MOVIES: Shelburne Falls: Pothole Pictures Film Series presents The Three Musketeers with Michael York, Raquel Welch, Charlton Heston, Faye Dunaway. Directed by Richard Lester. 1974. Color. PG. 105 min. (51 Bridge Street) 625-2896 Shelburne Falls, MA (>$)

    8:45pm - DRIVE-IN MOVIE: Northfield Drive-In movie theater is featuring Toy Story 3 (G) as their first show, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PG-13) as their second show this weekend. (603) 239-4054 www.northfielddrivein.com Northfield, MA ($)

    9:30pm – FIREWORKS: As part of the Chicopee Fest-Of-All celebration at Szot Park. www.festofall.com Chicopee, MA

    Read the rest of this entry »

    A Day at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum

    School’s Out

    Engineer Polly Bartlett shows the boys how to operate the pump car at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

    School’s out! The last time it was this hot, my family and I had just moved to Northampton from a sleepy Connecticut suburb, there were two weeks until school started, and we knew nothing and no one. We spent every hot afternoon at Look Park, running through the much beloved sprinklers. Now that it is summer again, we are more or less unpacked and ready adventures. My boys are 11, 6 and 4. The age span can be a challenge for us. My summer goal is to find places we can frequent that satisfy us all, build bridges between the boys’ different ages and temperaments and wear them out so they will sleep heartily at night.

    I decided to surprise Matt on Father’s Day with a short day trip to Shelburne Falls. The Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum is home to trolley car #10. This trolley belonged to the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Railway company which closed up shop in 1928. It was saved by a farmer, used as a chicken coop and then refurbished in 1999.  It is a charming little trolley, with a shiny dark wood interior, the original frosted glass windows at the top and fresh exterior boards painted a perfect farm yellow. Our tickets were punched, the lights came on, the kids sat at attention for the short ride.

    While the conductor turned the line around for our return trip, we had a bit of a history lesson from the guide.  We learned that car #10 was a combination car. It carried both cargo and passengers. One side hauled cotton, apples and vinegar from the farms to town and the other side carried passengers, usually workers or students who used the trolley to commute to high school in Colrain.  High school feels like a world away to me now, but I pictured my boys as teenagers, commuting by trolley in 1920, hopping on, eyeing the barrel full of apples in the cargo section, borrowing the fare from a friend, swimming in the Deerfield River to cool down once they reached home again.

    Bridge of Flowers, built in 1908 by the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Railway company. (Photo credit: Isaac Bayne)

    When #10 headed back, we found ourselves in a race with the pump car on the nearby track. Engineer Polly, along with a teenager and her grandpa were flying down the track pumping the handles, hair whipping everywhere.  My six year old assures me that we won, as trolleys cannot be beat. The boys were intent on riding the pump car, because they are the fastest ever. I thought maybe Theo was too young so Matt took Isaac and Henry first. Polly, our engineer, assumed control of our family for a short time, as she explained the purposes and rules of the pump car. Henry was to stand on the side and hold on to the bar in the center.  Isaac and Matt face forward and pumped side by side at the back. Polly pumped at the front and controlled the foot break.

    On the way back, Henry was allowed to pump, as she determined he was both tall enough and old enough to follow the instructions. When I took Theo on he held on tight with two hands and kept his feet on the platform. He will have to grow a few more inches until he can pump without it bumping his chin, but he has just turned 4. Polly instructed him not to wave at daddy, as she wanted both hands on the bar. When we coasted in, Theo did not wave but gave a big smile, with a “hello there!” He was quite pleased with himself. All the kids got a “I drove the pump car” sticker.  Before we left, the boys crawled all over the yet to be restored little caboose. They climbed up to the upper seats, admired the wood burning stove & the “closet potty” in the corner. We poked around the museum for a bit, enjoying this store house of trolley treasure, with telegraph machines and electric trains running.

    Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls, MA. (Photo credit: Isaac Bayne)

    Since we were in Shelburne Falls, we crossed the famous Bridge of Flowers, which was built in 1908 by the trolley company itself. Just a few years after the trolleys stopped running, the town itself saved this bridge transforming it into a glorious garden. I expected to have a difficult time in engaging the boys in the viewing of a garden, but walking on a foot bridge over a river was entertaining for Theo. Henry was happy to direct my attention to the smell and colors of different roses and Isaac was pleased when I set the camera to macro and showed him how to photographs the flowers close up.  On the far side of the bridge, we visited the Glacial Potholes. My kids are easily impressed by geological formations (also known as rocks), and these were very impressive rocks which can be very safely view from the observation deck. The boys itched to get down and scramble in the river bed, but the glacial potholes are actual holes in the river bed left by stones swirling in the river when it swelled with the melting of the glaciers. We left with promises to find another spot for river scrambling and swimming. There are many hot days of summer ahead.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Karen Bayne

    Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

    « Older entries

    %d bloggers like this: