Western Mass Historical Heritage for All to Explore

Summer is History-Exploring Season in Western MA!

This summer, the Sheffield Historical Society hosts the Milt Barnum All American Tool Exhibit, an extensive show of tools used by workers of all kinds throughout the past few centuries. Check out our list of 15 historical societies and history museums below and find out what these community-based educational resources have to offer and discover your local history while nurturing a better sense of place in your kids and in yourself!

Nestled amongst the hills of western Massachusetts are pockets of history – the streets of cities and towns are lined with historic buildings, fields are dotted with centuries-old cemeteries, and even the landscape itself tells stories of generations past, its shape hinting at human influences. It’s obvious that our communities’ history surrounds us, but the challenge in learning about local history is learning how to access it in a meaningful way. Luckily, historical societies and museums across the region offer families a wide variety of ways to learn about the history of their community. From wartime tales to walking tours, resources for learning about local history abound during the summer in western Massachusetts.

An added bonus of the easy accessibility of local history resources is that children will be supported in learning about the history of their own community and a familiar landscape, but they’ll also learn about major historical events – events that took place on a national or international level – and the ways in which they affected folks here in western Massachusetts. In allowing children to learn about large-scale events or cultural shifts on a small scale, families can support learning about broad topics on a level that meets children where they’re at developmentally, while strengthening their sense of place. Adding familiar context to an unfamiliar or confusing topic can help children to understand it – and they’ll develop a deeper connection to their history once it becomes personal. Many local historical societies only open their doors to the public during summer months (for many reasons, including the availability of volunteer staff and the lack of heat in many old buildings), so don’t miss this year’s history-exploring season! In addition to open museum hours, many historical societies and museums offer interactive activities, speakers and educational events, and other special programming – be sure to check out your local society’s calendar for learning opportunities that extend beyond a visit to the local museum or archives. Here are history museums, historical societies and events to consider this summer with your family throughout the region: Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 26th & 27th, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for July 26th-August 1st, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, 31 Community Highlights: Lava Lamps to Cannonballs. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes. and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: July 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our Summer Bucket List for Western MA has a growing list of reader recommended places to go and see this summer, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs.

July 26th-August 1st, 2014

SaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Astronomy ♦ Music Studies ♦ Nature Adventures ♦ Community Meals ♦ Presidential History ♦ STEM ♦Animal Studies ♦ Local History ♦ Hikes ♦ Theater ♦ Insects ♦ Crafts

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Where’s Your Favorite Place to PYO Blueberries in Western MA
  2. Are Your Kids Still in Diapers? What Do They Swim In?
  3. Beach Day Trips: 16 Recommendations from Western MA
  4. 5 Hikes for Families in Western MA State Forests and Parks
  5. What’s Your Favorite Family Card Game?

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

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31 Community Highlights: Lava Lamps to Cannonballs. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes.

Cannonballs are an excellent way to support an interests in math and history! Kids can learn about physics and how sailors in the past sent cannonballs through the air at the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday morning, July 29 during their free program, Under Pressure! Presented by the USS Constitution Museum, this hands on event will be a “blast” for the entire family!

Lava Lamps to Cannonballs. Biomimicry to Experimentology. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week: Do you ever wonder what life was like in New England during the Civil War? On Friday, August 1st, families can experience life in 1860s Stockbridge at the Stockbridge Library’s “Stroll Back in Time: Life Along Main Street 150 Years Ago,” a free event that transforms Stockbridge’s Main Street into a mid-1800s New England village with historically accurate activities like chores, games, and more. Learn about professions of the time by seeing a blacksmith forge horseshoes and meeting a local shopkeeper, hear music from the Civil War era, enjoy historic games, and discover how people lived 150 years ago. This is a unique opportunity to see Stockbridge as it once was and to think about the ways the town has changed since the 1860s.


AstronomyMusic StudiesNature AdventuresCommunity MealsPresidential HistorySTEMAnimal StudiesLocal HistoryHikesTheaterInsectsCrafts


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Library Events Support Chemistry, Physics, Forensics & More this Summer!

Statewide Summer Learning Programs Offer Developmental Advancement

This summer, libraries across the state are offering an innovative summer reading program to young readers. Titled Fizz, Boom, Read!, the program supports the development of reading and literacy skills, while also allowing participants to explore the intersection of science and the humanities. By combining science with reading, libraries are encouraging children to explore the world of non-fiction writing- opening up endless possibilities for learning and satisfying science-based curiosity. 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 »

Fibonacci Sequence & Golden Ratio Drive Nature Based Education

Nature’s Patterns Reveals Mathematical Reasoning

The Fibonacci sequence describes the pattern in which flowers fit the most seeds possible into their centers.

Nature is filled with patterns – spirals, in particular, are especially noticeable in species of plants and animals. Sunflowers, for example, seem to spiral their seeds from their centers in some sort of mathematical pattern. Snail shells, too, show growth rings that become gradually larger as they spiral away from the shell’s center. Evergreen cones, heads of broccoli and cauliflower, and tree branches all display noticeable iterations of this spiraling pattern, too.

The spirals that appear all around us are no accident of nature – while they’re beautiful to look at, their purpose is much more important than vanity alone. Beneath the aesthetically pleasing shapes of petals, seeds, and branches are two fascinating mathematical concepts that explain nature’s tendency to expand in spirals. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 19th & 20th, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for July 19th-25th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, 33 Community Highlights: Whalemobile to TrolleyFest. Scottish Festival to Bang on a Can and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: July 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our Summer Bucket List for Western MA has a growing list of reader recommended places to go and see this summer, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs.

July 19th-25th, 2014

Saturday • Sunday • Monday • Tuesday • Wednesday • Thursday • Friday

Animal Studies ♦ Shakespeare ♦ Transportation ♦ Culture ♦ Playgrounds ♦ Nature Studies ♦ Agriculture/Farm Tours ♦ Local History ♦ STEM ♦ Insects ♦ Community Meals ♦ Geology ♦ Festivals

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Let’s Play: Water Paints
  2. 16 Swimming Holes in Western MA
  3. Hilltown Family Variety Show Archived Podcasts
  4. Three Programs Kids Can Use to Learn How to Create Video Games
  5. Q&A: Where to Get New/Used Bikes for the Family in Western MA

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

 Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too! Read the rest of this entry »

33 Community Highlights: Whalemobile to TrolleyFest. Scottish Festival to Bang on a Can.

Guess how many owl species have been recorded in New England… twelve! On Saturday afternoon, July 19, Eyes on Owls will be at the Sunderland Library with their free owl program. This program features six live owls and will teach about the owls of the northeast. Owl pellets will be dissected and are a fascinating way to learn about owl anatomy and physiology, along with what their diets consist of and the habitats necessary to support not only owls but the prey these raptors survive on.

Whalemobile to TrolleyFest. Scottish Festival to Bang on a Can. William Cullen Bryant to Sojourner Truth… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week: The Whalemobile is a 43-foot, life-sized inflatable whale named Nile, modeled after a female humpback whale born in 1987 who summers off the coast of Massachusetts. This traveling educational program teaches kids all about whales – where they live, how they communicate, what they eat, what their behavior is like – and then gives them a chance to climb inside the inflatable replica to learn about whale anatomy and physiology. The Whalemobile will be visiting several libraries in western Massachusetts this summer. Don’t miss this free interactive program for all ages. Find out where it will be appearing here.


Animal StudiesShakespeareTransportationCulturePlaygroundsNature StudiesAgriculture/Farm ToursLocal HistorySTEMInsectsCommunity MealsGeologyFestivals


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Hand Clapping Games: Summer & Schoolyard Creative Free Play that Supports Learning

Hand Clapping Games Spur Learning

In schoolyards all around the world, hand-clapping games have been a staple activity of childhood for generations. Pairing silly songs and rhymes with quick claps, slaps, snaps, and other movements, hand-clapping games can provide endless hours of entertainment and friendship building.

In addition to the recreational benefits of hand-clapping games, studies have shown that hand-clapping games support children in developing many essential skills. Researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev studied children in grades 1-3 and found that children who participated in spontaneous clapping games during their free time had stronger spelling skills than peers who didn’t. Additionally, the same students had neater handwriting and better writing and drawing skills than students who didn’t participate in clapping games. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 12th & 13th, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for July 12th-18th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, 34 Community Highlights: A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Casablanca. Service Dogs to Bald Eagles and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: July 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our Summer Bucket List for Western MA has a growing list of reader recommended places to go and see this summer, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs.

July 12th-18th, 2014

Saturday • Sunday • Monday • Tuesday • Wednesday • Thursday • Friday

Film Studies ♦ Local History ♦ Entomology ♦ Theater♦ Art ♦ Bird Studies ♦ STEM ♦ Sustainability ♦Writing ♦ Animal Studies

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Social Studies on the Road
  2. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Pen Pal Program for T(w)eens
  3. WebCams Around the World and Across the Nation
  4. Crash Course: 100+ Episodes in 6 Online Courses
  5. STEMBite: Bite Sized Videos Supporting STEM Education

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 Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

 

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Click here to read the rest of our RECAP MAP

34 Community Highlights: A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Casablanca. Service Dogs to Bald Eagles.

Lemons… they can be a catalyst for community service and STEM based learning!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Casablanca. Robots to Rockets. Service Dogs to Bald Eagles… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week: Step back in time at Cummington’s Kingman Tavern, which opens for the season on Saturday afternoon, July 12, and will be open on Saturdays through August 30 with no admission charge. The Tavern is a historic building from the early 1800s that contains 17 rooms, with a replica country store, a barn, a cider mill, and a carriage shed. Families can discover the local history of Cummington and the Hilltowns by exploring the museum and seeing many of its historic artifacts. The general store, in particular, is a great resource for understanding life in the past – it contains many things that would have been sold in a New England general store from 1900-1910!


Film StudiesLocal HistoryEntomologyTheaterArtBird StudiesSTEMSustainabilityWritingAnimal Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Pressing Plants and Flowers Supports Summer Learning & Memories

Creative documenting of summer blooms capture memories and learning

Herbariums are collections of preserved plants and are fun ways for families to preserve summer memories while supporting an interest in botany and local habitats.

As the many flowering plants of the summer grow buds, burst into bloom, and fall to the ground to make way for the next wave of plants to come into season, children often collect specimens of their favorite colorful plants in an attempt to preserve them for endless enjoyment and examination. Inevitably, flowers in a vase will wilt, but carefully pressed and preserved plants can maintain a version of favorite plants that can be enjoyed and examined no matter the season. Pressed plants and flowers can be used for a variety of purposes, and lend themselves in particular to art projects and scientific observations. When compiled as a collection, pressed flowers can serve as a family herbarium – serving as documentation of springs and summers past.
Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 5th & 6th, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for July 5th-11th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, 35 Community Highlights: Fiddle Fest to Living Culture. Junior Ranger to Magic. and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: July 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our Summer Bucket List for Western MA has a growing list of reader recommended places to go and see this summer, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs.

Also, celebrate 4th of July this Saturday evening! Firework displays scheduled across Western MA, including Westfield, Greenfield, North Adams, West Springfield, Springfield, and Amherst — many of them rescheduled from Friday. Details here: Fourth of July Firework Displays in Western MA.

July 5th-11th, 2014

SaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Local HistoryAnimal StudiesArchitectureMusic StudiesCulturePerformance ArtFarmingNature StudiesSTEMMagicEntomologyFamily Performances

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. 11 Recommended Art Studios/Classes in Western MA
  2. Little Homes for Little Folks: Make Your Own Gnome Home
  3. 13 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day in Western MA
  4. HFVS Summer Essentials Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. Q&A: Where Can Kids Take Swim Lessons in the Summer?

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Click here to read the rest of our RECAP MAP!…

35 Community Highlights: Fiddle Fest to Living Culture. Junior Ranger to Magic.

Join the Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield for a free program on dragonflies and damselflies with naturalist Julia Blyth on Friday afternoon, July 11. Kids 5 and up and their families can learn all about these interesting insects, their lifecycle from water to sky, and search for them using field guides and nets. 

Construction to Cottages. Fiddle Fest to Living Culture. Junior Ranger to Magic… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week:  Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Double Edge Theatre at their “Celebrate Living Culture” event on Sunday afternoon, July 6. Located in Ashfield, Double Edge Theatre is a rich environment for both experiential learning and performance on 105 acres of historic buildings, forests, pastures and organic gardens. The afternoon includes an open house, tours, fun family activities, raffles, and an exhibition following the Theatre’s 20-year history. This is a great free opportunity to learn more about Double Edge Theatre, their theater philosophy, and explorations of their farm.


Local HistoryAnimal StudiesArchitectureMusic StudiesCulturePerformance ArtFarmingNature StudiesSTEMMagicEntomologyFamily Performances


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

4th of July: Connecting us to History

Day of celebration offers opportunity for families to reflect on history

4th of July means fireworks but also is a time for families to reflect upon the historical significance and meaning of this patriotic holiday

The most patriotic of all American holidays, the 4th of July, is a day filled with history and tradition. With its roots reaching over 200 years back, the holiday’s origin is well known by all – it’s the day when the Declaration of Independence was signed, sparking a revolution and the creation of the United States. Today, we remember the historical significance of the day with parades, readings, and – of course – lots of fireworks.

Community celebrations of the 4th of July will take place all across western Massachusetts, and bring with them not only celebration but also opportunities to learn about our country’s history, and to reflect on the meaning of freedom. Beginning with a morning filled with parades and running right straight through to the end of the very last fireworks show, the region is jam-packed with 4th of July events.

Read the rest of this entry »

Vocabulary Parade: The Personality of Words Brought to Life

Looking beyond the definition and putting essence into your word

Students at Littleville Elementary School in Huntington, MA, created costumes that sent hundreds of words marching through the building just before school let out this summer!  Over 250 students, teachers and staff took part in this year’s parade. –“This celebration is a great way for children to expand their vocabulary, and gives them words they can use in their Writer’s Workshop,” said Principal Megan Coburn.

Looking for ways to support children in adding new words to their vocabulary? Dress up your child’s inner dictionary – literally! Inspired by children’s author Debra Frasier’s story Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster, children everywhere have been creatively solidifying their understanding of big, new, and necessary words by dressing up as a definition and joining together for a Vocabulary Parade!

Just like in Frasier’s story, kiddos can use new words as inspiration for a creative costume. Working to determine what a word would look like if its essence could be worn challenges young readers and writers to think critically about what it is that a word truly means. Even words with definitions that seem simple to understand (or simple to dress as) can become complex, well-though-out projects costumes. Searching for meaning other than a dictionary definition can help add depth to the activity, too. Try working on a word like “dinosaur” – sure, making a T-Rex costume would certainly convey what a dinosaur might look like, but we might also say that a corded rotary phone is a dinosaur, or that a DOS computer is a dinosaur. Read the rest of this entry »

State Forests & Parks: Treasure for all to Enjoy

So Much Fun for So Little Money
Massachusetts State Forests & Parks

In the extreme southwest corner of Massachusetts is a cluster of state parks noted for their spectacular scenery and breathtaking views, including Mount Washington State Forest. Adjacent to the state forest is Bash Bish Falls, one of the state’s most dramatic waterfalls. Cascading water tumbles through a series of gorges, and then plummets some 60 feet into a sparkling pool below. One of the many “so much fun for so little money” locations the DCR manages.

  • “Come out and play!”
  • “Find yourself in a state park.”
  • “It’s your nature.”

These are some of the phrases Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has used over the years to invite visitors to Massachusetts state Forests and Parks.  They are all true. Here’s another one:  “So much fun for so little money!” It’s unofficial, of my own invention, and so true, too.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation – the state forests and parks – kicks its recreation season into high gear in June.  Plan a visit.  Plan lots of visits.  Let’s talk about the “so much fun” part first.  “For so little money” is covered later in this article.

SO MUCH FUN

The first thing to know about your state Forests and Parks is that there are lots of them – approximately 150 sites throughout Massachusetts. They range from small “pocket parks,” such as playgrounds, in eastern Massachusetts, to several thousand acre forests in western Massachusetts. October Mountain in Berkshire County, at over 16,000 acres, is one of the largest.

The point is this:  Each park is special in its own unique way, whether it is a geologic wonder, like Natural Bridge‘s marble formations in North Adams; or the state’s highest peak, Mt. Greylock State Reservation, in Lanesboro; or waterfalls like the 80-foot Bash Bish Falls in Mt. Washington; or even re-claimed forest land, such as Erving State Forest and many of our other state forests. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for June 28th & 29th , 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for June 28th-July 4th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, 26 Community Highlights: Fireworks to Bedrock. Garden Party to Campfire. and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: June 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our Summer Bucket List for Western MA has a growing list of reader recommended places to go and see this summer, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs, and 2014 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks gives you a heads up for the 4th of July!

June 28th-July 4th, 2014

SaturdaySunday MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


4th of July ♦ Geology ♦ Bird Studies ♦ History ♦Museum Adventures ♦ Dance ♦ Astronomy ♦ Plant Studies ♦ Outdoor Adventures ♦ Community Celebrations ♦ Reading & Writing ♦ STEM ♦Community Service ♦ Maps ♦ Agriculture

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Journal-Making: Inspiration for Writing & Drawing
  2. Five Picture Books That Bubble And Splash
  3. Get involved! Service-Learning Opportunities in Western MA
  4. Oak & Acorn: Edible Summer Flowers
  5. Camping with Kids

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too! Click here to read the rest of our RECAP MAP!…

26 Community Highlights: Fireworks to Bedrock. Garden Party to Campfire.

Grow Food Amherst will have a special free event for kids each week at the Amherst Wednesday Market in Kendrick Park. This week on Wednesday afternoon, July 2, kids can learn how to become a “fungi ally.”

Fireworks to Bedrock. Dancing to Fungi. Garden Party to Campfire… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week:  Did you know that Hawley has a rich geologic history? From pillow rocks to a 25-foot by 25-foot charcoal kiln, Hawley has plenty of interesting geology to learn about! You can explore Hawley’s geology with the Sons and Daughters of Hawley at their annual Hawley tour, “The Bedrock of our Foundation: Rocks and Gardens of Hawley,” on Saturday, June 28. Bud Wobus, Professor of Geology at Williams College, will speak about Hawley’s many interesting rocks and geologic features. Participants can also see and learn about the town’s charcoal kiln, which dates back to 1870 and was used to produce charcoal fuel for local industry. Older students interested in local history and geology would enjoy this fascinating and unique tour.


4th of JulyGeologyBird StudiesHistoryMuseum AdventuresDanceAstronomyPlant StudiesOutdoor AdventuresCommunity CelebrationsReading & WritingSTEMCommunity ServiceMapsAgriculture


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Harriet the Spy Turns 50!

After surviving early library bans; continues to inspire critical thinking, writing and observation skills in children. 

Now through November 30, 2014, the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst invites you to a special exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of author and illustrator Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 book Harriet the Spy.  The exhibition will feature a selection of original drawings from both Harriet the Spy and its sequel, The Long Secret.  Eleven year old Harriet, the only child of wealthy New York socialites, wants to be a writer, and spends her afternoons secretly observing her friends and neighbors and recording her observations in a notebook.  The book helps readers explore themes of class, gender, and friendship in the 1960’s.

Harriet the Spy is now widely regarded as a classic children’s story – even more well-known and well-loved following its reincarnation as the 1996 film of the same name starring a young Michelle Trachtenberg – but, interestingly enough, when the book was first published in the mid-sixties, it received a good deal of controversy and was even banned by some libraries!  Compared with other children’s and young adult book characters at the time, Fitzhugh’s curious, independent, impatient, and tomboyish young protagonist challenged dominant social ideas about how children, girls in particular, could and should behave.  Many reviewers have since noted, though, that it is precisely Harriet’s fierce independence and desire to understand other people through observation that endears her to readers of all ages.  Her “bad” behavior is relatable, and a refreshingly honest portrayal of childhood, while her struggle to stay true to herself and her ideas in a world that doesn’t understand or appreciate deviance from the norm resonates deeply with readers on their own path to self-discovery. Read the rest of this entry »

Family Volunteer Event Helps to Close the Summer Meal Gap!

Summer Family Volunteer Event at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
Tuesday, July 1 from 12noon –  4pm

You can help close this “Summer Meal Gap” for working families in Western Massachusetts by bringing your family to The Food Bank’s Summer Family Volunteer Event on Tuesday, July 1 from 12noon-4pm in Hatfield, MA. Everyone is welcomed.

Without school meals, grocery budgets are stretched to the brink, and many parents find it difficult to replace the two to three free meals they receive five days a week during the school year. Nearly half of the families must make tough choices between paying for food and paying for utilities, fuel, rent, mortgage or medical care, because they don’t have enough money to meet all these basic needs.

How important are school meals to kids in our area?

  • 1 out of 5 children in Western Massachusetts are classified as “Food Insecure.”
  • More than 365,000 children (nearly 2/5 of Massachusetts students) receive free or reduced meals in school.
  • Families that rely on school feeding programs must provide an additional 10 meals per child for each week of summer!

You Can Help

You can help close this “Summer Meal Gap” for working families in Western Massachusetts by bringing your family to The Food Bank’s Summer Family Volunteer Event. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovative Library Summer Reading Programs Stimulate Learning

Holistic and collaborative approach to reading programs boosts child’s summer learning experience

Children are stimulated to learn more about science through reading fiction and non-fiction books with this year’s nationwide reading program, “Fizz, Boom, Read!”

Once school days come to an end, children’s free time becomes seemingly endless. From a youngster’s perspective, the summer reaches on forever – nine or ten weeks can feel like an eternity when it’s impossible to imagine all of the things that will occupy the time between now and September. In addition to camp, family vacations, and endless outdoor adventures (swimming especially!) is another summer tradition – public library summer reading programs!

In Massachusetts – and across the country – public libraries participate in the Collaborative Summer Library Program. Each year brings a new theme to the program, and libraries work to incorporate educational programs, celebrations of learning, and constant reading in order to provide a comprehensive summer reading program that not only encourages families to read together, but allows participants’ reading to be supported by educational activities that relate to the program’s theme. Read the rest of this entry »

29 Community Highlights: Battle of the Books to Scavenger Hunt. Shaker Dinner to Strawberry Jam.

Join Grow Food Amherst for a strawberry jam making workshop on Saturday, June 21! Come pick your own strawberries and then learn how to cook and preserve it so you can enjoy the fruit all year long. This workshop would be best for teens and adults interested in food preservation. This skillsharing workshop is free but you must pay for the strawberries you pick, and you must preregister.

Scavenger Hunt to Bug Safari. Strawberry Jam to Shaker Dinner. Battle of the Books to Medieval Festival…. These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week:  Did you know that some animals can survive in sub-zero temperatures? And that some are able to climb great heights and steep slopes or rocks? It is amazing how animals are able to evolve and adapt to their surroundings! You can learn about how and why some of these animals had to change to make themselves better suited to their environments at the Hatfield Public Library‘s “Amazing Adaptations” program on Tuesday morning, June 24. This free program focuses on mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates and how they have evolved and adapted over time. Kids will have fun meeting and learning all about these fascinating creatures and how where they life impacts their adaptations.


American HistoryRiver StudiesAnimal StudiesLocal HistoryInsectsFizz, Boom, Read!Local Food/StrawberriesLiteracyMusic HistoryCultureHikes


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Summer Solstice Illuminates Learning for Families

Time & place literally provides for experiential education opportunity on the longest day of the year!

Here in western Massachusetts, families can take part in three different events that provide the opportunity to learn experientially about solstice-related cultural traditions – all of which will be held on the solstice itself, Saturday, June 21st…

Soon, celebrations will take place all over the northern hemisphere to mark the arrival of the summer solstice – our portion of the globe’s longest day of the year. The light-filled solstice that our days have been lengthening towards will bring with it, of course, the shortest night of the year, and will place our geographic location as close to the sun as it will be for the rest of the year. Of course, the simplest way to celebrate the solstice is simply to enjoy the extra daylight while it lasts, but there are a variety of other community-based ways to celebrate that will encourage children to learn why we have extra hours of daylight in the summer but traditional celebrations, world cultures, ancient civilizations, and the summer landscape.  Read the rest of this entry »

32 Community Highlights: Summer Kitchens to Cultural Chaos. Mona Lisa to James Joyce.

Father’s Day is on Sunday! Head to the farmers’ market on Saturday and pick up fresh produce and meats to make a delicious meal for the father in your life! Great opportunity to meet local farmers and for kids to learn where their food comes from!

Geologic Bike Ride to Classic Cars. Summer Kitchens to Cultural Chaos. Mona Lisa to James Joyce… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week:  Have you ever wondered what day-to-day life was like in New England in the 19th Century? What was it like to cook and clean, to go to school, or to make crafts? What kinds of medicine existed? Family members of all ages and with varied interests can learn about all these topics at Storrowton Village Museum‘s Opening Day on Saturday, June 14 in West Springfield. At this free event, visitors can tour historic buildings, learn from costumed interpreters, discover open hearth cooking and blacksmithing, experience a one-room schoolhouse, see demonstrations in chairmaking and broommaking, study historic artifacts, learn about historic plant uses, and more. By coming to Storrowton Village and immersing yourself in 19th-century New England life and culture, you can learn what it was truly like to be alive in the time period.


GeologyAstronomyNew England HistoryMusic HistoryAviation HistoryArchitectureChoreographyArt HistoryParent WorkshopsCommunity CelebrationsAutomotive HistorySTEMNature StudiesCommunity ServiceLiterature


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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2014 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western Massachusetts

4th of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western MA for 2014

From the state where the American Revolution began, families can take part in the multitude of Fourth of July celebrations happening in Western MA! Be sure to check out the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events for a comprehensive list of family and community events happening in Western MA.

To follow is a preview of events, parades & fireworks happening to celebrate the 4th of July for 2014. Please take the time to confirm events you wish to attend, including time, place, age appropriateness, location and costs before attending.

Be sure to check out the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events every Thursday for a comprehensive list of family and community events happening in Western MA.  Subscribe to our free eNewsletter and have weekly update sent to your inbox every Thursday!

Click here to find firework displays & parades!

Ticket Giveaway: 2014 Green River Festival!

Take the Family to the
GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL
Happening July 12th & 13th, 2014
Greenfield, MA

Enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Green River Festival happening July 12th or 13th in Greenfield, MA. Kids 10 and under get in free. Win tickets and take the family! Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 7/2/14.

The 28th annual Green River Festival happens again this year on July 12th & 13th, 2014… and Hilltown Families has two pairs of tickets to giveaway, one pair for each day! With a pair of tickets, and free admittance for children ten and under, two adults can take a gaggle of kids and plan on spending the day at this great western Massachusetts music festival! Tickets do not including parking or food.

Click here to find out how you can enter for a chance to win!

MASS MoCA’s “It’s Only Human” Illuminates Art, Science & Education

Art Using X-ray Scans Sparks Discussion of Body Image & More at MASS MoCA
Saturday, June 14, 2014 through Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MASS MoCA’s Kidspace kicks off the summer with a new exhibition and activity program. The exhibition, “It’s Only Human,” features work by British artists Nick Veasey and Marilene Oliver, who are both internationally recognized for their innovative uses of medical imaging technology in their art. Both artists’ works illuminate the complexities of human bodies and the systems by which they are regulated, and inspire dialogue about the inner beauty of all human beings, regardless of our outer appearances, and serve as a creative jumping-off point for discussions of anatomy, health, and wellness, as well as self-image. While this exhibition is on display at Kidspace, visitors of all ages – especially those interested in science and medicine – will find it engaging and educational.

Veasey’s work is often focused on the human skeleton and inner structural elements. He is famous for creating one of the largest X-ray scans in the world – of a Boeing 777 airplane! – and this exhibition at Kidspace features a similarly gigantic X-ray of a bus filled with passengers. Do you think you will be able to distinguish the structure of the bus from the skeletal structures occupying it? Veasey has also X-rayed a person on a motorcycle. What can you infer about his choice to scan vehicles used for human transportation, including their passengers? Why might this be significant? Why it is important to be able to identify the structures embedded within everyday objects and people? Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for June 7th & 8th , 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for June 7th-June 13th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 28 Community Highlights: Aviation to Yo-Yos. Vintage Music to Bioblitz and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: June 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 50 summer camps & programs!

June 7th-June 13th, 2014

Saturday • Sunday
Monday • Tuesday • Wednesday • Thursday • Friday


Aviation/Aerodynamics ♦ Community Meal ♦ Civic Engagement ♦ Entomology ♦ Plant Studies ♦Ornithology ♦ Nature Studies ♦ Local History ♦Farming & Food ♦ River Ecology ♦ Local Music History ♦ STEM ♦ Cultural Studies ♦ Citizen Scientist/Biology

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Expressing Appreciation to Teachers & Administrators as the School Year Draws to an End
  2. 5 Easy Composting Tips for Your Family Garden
  3. HFVS: Animals Episode with Guest DJ, Jacob Stein of The Pop Ups (Radio Show/Podcast)
  4. Q&A: Share Your Love for Your Local CSA
  5. Let’s Play: Puppets and Creative Free Play

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music
Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Click here to read the rest of our RECAP MAP!…

28 Community Highlights: Aviation to Yo-Yos. Vintage Music to Bioblitz.

Did you know that Shelburne Falls was originally known as Salmon Falls, an important fishing site to both colonial settlers and native people? Find out about the interesting history of Shelburne, and make plans to visit Shelburne Falls this Saturday to learn about the history and importance of the Deerfield River Watershed during their annual RiverFest celebration!

Aviation to Yo-Yos. Civic Hackathon to RiverFest. Historic Weapons to Cemetery Tour. Vintage Music to Bioblitz… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week:  There are twelve species of owls that live in New England (although some are very rare), and about 200 throughout the world. You can learn about some of these owls, as well as their behaviors, habitats, calls, and more, at the Great Falls Discovery Center‘s free live owl show with Eyes on Owls on Saturday, June 7 at 10:30am and 12:30pm. Eyes on Owls is an organization that teaches the public about owls through live owl shows. During this program, you can learn field marks and signs in order to find owls in the wild without disturbing them, get a hooting lesson, and get tips on attracting and protecting owls in your area. All ages will love learning about these fascinating birds of prey. Call 413-863-3221 for more information. The Great Falls Discovery Center is located at 2 Avenue A in Turners Falls, MA.


Aviation/AerodynamicsCommunity MealCivic EngagementEntomologyPlant StudiesOrnithologyNature StudiesLocal HistoryFarming & FoodRiver EcologyLocal Music HistorySTEMCultural StudiesCitizen Scientist/Biology


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

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