Graveyards Inspire Curiosity and Learning in October

Learning Lurks Amongst the Gravestones in Historic Cemeteries

Rich with community history, cemeteries across western Massachusetts offer families a variety of rich learning experiences this fall. From gravestone rubbings to tours of historic burying grounds, there are many ways in which families can tap into the knowledge buried amongst the graves.

Accompanying fall’s spook-filled Halloween celebrations come opportunities to explore and learn about cemeteries and graveyards across western Massachusetts. Filled with stone markers that chronicle a community’s history, local cemeteries can provide visitors with a look deep into the past. Some local communities have been existed for over 300 years, and gravestones in such places speak volumes about centuries past. Everything from the names of buried people to the style of the stone can tell visitors something about the time period to which that a headstone dates back. And on top of learning about the history of a place, visitors can celebrate and honor the things that members of generations past have contributed to their present day community.

A study of a local cemetery (or a few of them!) can help students to understand how individuals’ life stories contribute to the re-telling of history. For young cemetery explorers, making gravestone rubbings is a fun way to introduce the study of headstones, and can help children learn that cemeteries don’t have to be scary. Turning the beauty of hand-carved headstones into a similarly beautiful art-producing activity adds to the intrigue of a cemetery, but decreases the fear factor.

Boden Cemetary - Letterboxing-3

To broaden and deepen independent cemetery studies, browse through resources offered by The Association for Gravestone Studies. The locally-based organization offers resources for learning to preserve and conserve cemeteries, support for decoding the symbolism found on headstones, and extensive online archives. For a look at cemeteries a bit further from home, apply what you’ve learned by exploring nearby burial grounds to images historic headstones from around New England.

In addition to self-guided studies of cemeteries are many upcoming opportunities for community-based learning surrounding cemeteries. From walking tours to stone carving, these intergenerational community events offer a wide range of exciting learning opportunities! Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for September 27th & 28th, 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 September 27th-October 3rd, 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, 38 Community Highlights: Rubik’s Cube to Watershed Blitz. Pudding Festival to Garlic Festival., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For the best Autumn in New England experience here in Western MA, check out our Autumn Bucket List for recommendations on what to do and where to go from local families in the know!

September 27th-October 3rd, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

STEM  ♦ Citizen Scientist  ♦ Music/Cultural StudiesHistoryMuseum AdventuresAnimal StudiesCommunity ServiceFall FestivalsCommunity MealsJapanese StudiesParent WorkshopsMythologyCollaborative Consumption

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Family-Friendly Farms for Pumpkin Pickin’ in Western MA
  2. Maps of Massachusetts: Supporting Social Studies & Local History
  3. Oak & Acorn: Kale Chips for Kids (and their Adults too!)
  4. Lessons Worth Sharing
  5. The Dinner Table: Don’t Yuck on My Yum!

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Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

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38 Community Highlights: Rubik’s Cube to Watershed Blitz. Pudding Festival to Garlic Festival.

Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield

Find a PYO apple orchard near you and take your kids pickin’ this weekend!

Rubik’s Cube to Watershed Blitz. Pudding Festival to Garlic Festival. Cuatro to Kouta… 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: Double Edge Theatre will perform an outdoor presentation on Don Quixote, Odysseus, and Shahrazad on Sunday, September 28, 6pm-7:30pm. They will use poetry, flying, humor, music, puppets, and visual arts to tell these tales, and will then discuss them after the show. Older students with an interest in literature, mythology, and performance arts will enjoy this lively outdoor performance, which takes place at Amherst College. 860-335-8421. Amherst, MA. (FREE)


STEM  ♦ Citizen Scientist  ♦ Music/Cultural StudiesHistoryMuseum AdventuresAnimal StudiesCommunity ServiceFall FestivalsCommunity MealsJapanese StudiesParent WorkshopsMythologyCollaborative Consumption


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Seed Capital Provides Return for Nature-Based Education

Seed Saving for Kids Provides Framework for Self-Sufficency, Local Food Production &  Nature-Based Education

From seeds grows all kinds…food, education, self-sufficiency. The list goes on…

Spring’s first garden green can often seem like a miracle, but it’s really the fruit of fall’s labors – quite literally. As the growing season winds down, the chillier weather makes way for seeds – rather than endless home-grown foods – to become the center of farmers’ and gardeners’ attention. Learning about all things seed-like is a science exploration that can help children to deepen their understanding of where their food comes from, the anatomy and reproduction of plants, and the specific traits that distinguish one plant variety from another. Additionally, a look at the role that seed saving plays in modern farming and gardening can provide eye-opening insights for older children about the corporate monopolies that control the vast majority of the American seed (and pesticide) market. Read the rest of this entry »

Watershed Blitz: Support the Conservation Efforts of the Westfield River

Nature Hike Offers Community Based Crash Course on Environmental Science

It’s easy to see how the turkey tail mushroom got its name. These are just a sample of the biodiversity you’ll discover in the Westfield River watershed during the Westfield River Committee’s Watershed Blitz on Sept 27!

What do green frogs, turkey tail mushrooms, and poison ivy all have in common? They’re all things that can be found in and around the Westfield River – and they’re all things that volunteers will likely encounter at the Westfield River Committee’s Watershed Blitz! Held on Saturday, September 27, 2014,  from 9am-2:30pm, the event is being held in order to honor the 20 years of conservation that the committee has accomplished. More importantly, however, the event will gather important information about the Westfield River watershed’s biodiversity general health.

Participation in the event doesn’t necessarily require extensive knowledge of local plant and animal species, but it does require certain physical abilities. Volunteers should be prepared to hike 1.5 to 2 miles of the river corridor – territory that is challenging, but can make for a great adventure. Alongside nature-loving volunteers will be experts on all kinds of biology and environmental science topics – everything from salamanders to culverts! Armed with the knowledge of experts and some good field guides, participants will be able to help discover and identify all sorts of species to whom the Westfield’s banks are a happy home. Read the rest of this entry »

Cardboard Challenge Unleashes Creative Free Play

Kids Can Grasp the Spirit of Community Collaboration Through Creativity & Recycled Art

The Cardboard Challenge makes a great intergenerational project for families and community organizations to participate in, combining creative free play with recycling and design skills!

Have you heard of Caine’s Arcade? The spirit of Caine’s creative genius comes to communities worldwide through the Global Cardboard Challenge! An event that combines creative free play with recycling and design skills, the Cardboard Challenge welcomes folks of all ages to exercise their own Caine-like creative genius to make masterpieces of all shapes and sizes using recycled materials – specifically, cardboard!

Though the Cardboard Challenge is technically an event, it’s one with lots of flexibility. The challenge begins in September (so it has already started!) and comes to a close on October 11th. Participation is simple – gather up some cardboard, bring along some cutting and sticking supplies, bring some creative friends, and build away! The Cardboard Challenge makes a great family project – simply raid your recycling bin and see what it turns into. Teachers, youth groups, and community organizations can easily participate in the creativity-filled event – simply organize a date, time, and place (perhaps on October 11th to match up with the event’s official closing), and bring enthusiastic folks together to build. Read the rest of this entry »

Ragamala: Indian Exhibit Sings A Thousand Words

Miniature Paintings from 17th- and 18th- Century India Capture Moods of Music and Poetry at Williams College Museum of Art

Ragamala represents a dynamic intermingling of music, poetry, and painting in India. Ragamala is Sanskrit for a “garland of ragas,” which are unique musical compositions. Drawn from the museum’s rich Indian collection, this exhibition features sixteen ragamala paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but what about a picture that illustrates those words… or even a song? How might you translate the mood evoked by an instrumental song into a picture, painting, or even a poem?

Between the 16th and 19th centuries in India, a classical Indian musical tradition called a raga, took on a new characteristic that did just that.  A raga, which translates roughly from Sanskrit into beauty, melody, and color, is similar to a musical scale: a selection of musical notes arranged specifically to convey, or color, a mood; discrete ragas are used to represent specific times of day and/or seasons.  These complex, richly textured melodies inspired poets to create poems based on the moods they evoked.  Artists then transposed these poems and melodies into paintings that visually convey the moods, events, and seasons represented by each raga and poem, and often include a few lines from the associated poem.

The Williams College Museum of Art will have a ragamala–a set of these miniature paintings–on display between September 27, 2014 through January 4, 2015.  Sixteen miniatures from the museum’s notable Indian art collection will be on view.  Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for September 20th & 21st, 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 September 20th-26th, 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, 30 Community Highlights: Banned Books Week to Poetry Festival. Rosh Hashanah to Autumn Equinox., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For the best Autumn in New England experience here in Western MA, check out our Autumn Bucket List for recommendations on what to do and where to go from local families in the know!

September 20th-26th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Film StudiesLocal HistoryAstronomyBanned BooksEntomologySkillshareOrnithologyNature StudiesPoetryGeologyLocal FoodMusic StudiesHistoryRosh HashanahAnimal Studies

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Q&A: Where to Pick Local Pears?
  2. HFVS Autism Awareness Episode with Guest DJ, Marc Bazerman (Radio Show/Podcast)
  3.  Pair of Fall Favorite Picture Books
  4. How to Plan a Bioblitz
  5. Recommend an Educational Podcast or Website for Families

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA
Cup & Top in Florence, MA

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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30 Community Highlights: Banned Books Week to Poetry Festival. Rosh Hashanah to Autumn Equinox.

What do rubber duckies have to do with poetry? Find out this Saturday at the Amherst Poetry Festival!

Banned Books Week to Poetry Festival. Rosh Hashanah to Autumn Equinox. Skillshare to Science Cafe… 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: Learn about the annual hawk migration with The Trustees of Reservations at “Hawks Over Holyoke” at Heritage State Park on Sunday, September 21 from 10am-3pm. Celebrate these unique birds and see live bird demonstrations like “Eyes on Owls” and “Hawks with Tom Ricardi.” This free day of family fun is a great chance for all ages to learn about these magnificent birds. 413-532-1631. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)


Film StudiesLocal HistoryAstronomyBanned BooksEntomologySkillshareOrnithologyNature StudiesPoetryGeologyLocal FoodMusic StudiesHistoryRosh HashanahAnimal Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Stroll through History & Culture on a Housatonic Heritage Walk

Housatonic Heritage Walks Highlight Berkshire Natural, Cultural and Historic Heritage

Housatonic Heritage Walks take place Sept 20 & 21 and then again Oct 4 & 5. Don’t miss these  community-based educational opportunities taking place in Western MA this fall!

Rich with cultural heritage and fascinating history, explorations of western Massachusetts’ Berkshire region lend themselves to studies of the local flora and fauna, watersheds and river ecology, local and national history, and even great literature. A home to everything from prehistoric landforms to icons of the wealth of members of generations past, the Berkshire are a perfect place for adventurers of all ages to explore and learn about.

This year’s Housatonic Heritage Walks bring nearly sixty opportunities for families to engage in inter-generational community-based learning about science, history, culture, literature, and more. Held over the course of two weekends, the walks aren’t all technically walks. While most of the events in the series involve walking tours, exploratory hikes, or other activities that take place on foot, families can take part in canoe and bicycle trips as well!

On Saturday, September 20th, and Sunday, September 21st, exciting events begin at 9am and continue throughout the day – all over the Berkshires! Families can tour the historic Colonial Theater, paddle the Housatonic, walk with cows at a local farm, and learn about the plants of the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Each and every event highlights a different – and very important – part of the Berkshires’ cultural heritage, and teaches participants about the roots of the Berkshire communities that we know today.

Additionally, on Saturday, October 4th and Sunday, October 5th, similar events will be held. Read the rest of this entry »

Clark Art Institute Exhibit Stars in Film Series

Film Series Pays Homage to “Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution” Exhibit; Gives Context in Popular Culture

In conjunction with the Clark Art Institute’s recently opened exhibition, Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution, the Institute offers a series of three free Saturday films beginning Saturday, September 20 at 2 pm. “Documents of Freedom: A Film Celebration” features three films centered around some of the documents in the exhibition, which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see an original 1215 Magna Carta alongside the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and other key documents in the founding of America.

The family-friendly matinees are as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Pop-Up Mobile Art Boxes Take Art to the Streets

Third Florence Night Out Event Showcases Creative Community Members
Friday, September 19, 2014 from 5:30-8:30pm

A year after the first Florence Night Out (FNO), the widely-anticipated event is back and bigger than ever with an innovative new take on installation art: “Mobile Art Boxes” (MABs), a collaboration between FNO founder Donnabelle Casis, several local artists, and Florence-based business owner Tony Gleason. The MABs are six 8’x8’x16’ storage boxes from Gleason’s company, DIY Mobile Box, that have each been outfitted to contain a multimedia installation by a local artist. The types of art presented in the MABs range from performance to sound art to multimedia to simply the physical installation of objects – and to add to the evening’s excitement, the MABs will be located in unexpected spots throughout downtown Florence. The artists whose work is featured in the MABs are: John Slepian (performance art), Jake Meginsky (sound art/installation), Maggie Nowinski (video), Chris Nelson (installation), Sally Curcio & Anne LaPrade Suethe (installation), The Quarry & The Coast with Mount Emult aka Matthew Newman (short films).

This is a community-based way to engage in installation art while connecting with the many creative people and projects in our area! It’s a great opportunity for a family outing or a Parents’ Night Out: the tremendous number of activities and performances – not to mention delicious refreshments! – should satisfy even the most antsy kids or culture-hungry adults! Read the rest of this entry »

Famed Artist, Henri Matisee Exhibit a Major Coup for Western Mass!

Drawings by Henri Matisse on view at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum now through December 14, 2014

This latest exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is expected to “draw” crowds: an exclusive selection of 45 drawings by Henri Matisse, the widely-known 20th century French artist known best for his colorful, expressive portrayal of the human form in paintings, sculptures, cut paper, and drawings.  The drawings on display span half a century and include both sketches and finished drawings.

Students of art and art history will be particularly excited about this exhibition because it offers an opportunity to interact with original artworks by a historically significant artist right here in Western Massachusetts.  A chance to eliminate the need for excessive travel and planning, while still showing your kids the art of one of the great masters: it’s a foolproof combination!

Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for September 13th & 14th, 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 September 13th-19th, 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, 29 Community Highlights: Rhubarb Circus to Jam Making. Paper Marbling to Chilifest., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For the best Autumn in New England experience here in Western MA, check out our Autumn Bucket List for recommendations on what to do and where to go from local families in the know!

September 13th-19th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

EntomologyHistorySkillshareVolunteer OpportunitiesSTEMFood FestivalPerformance/AstronomyOrnithologyMusic StudiesEnvironmental JusticeCulture/ArtLiteracyCommunity CelebrationsPastry Arts/ArchitecturePoetry

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Tips for a New School Year
  2. 7 Things to Tell the Teacher About Your Child
  3. Q&A: Where’s Your Favorite Apple Orchard in Western MA?
  4. HFVS Autumn Equinox Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. Symbols & Rituals of Rosh Hashanah

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA
Cup & Top in Florence, MA

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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29 Community Highlights: Rhubarb Circus to Jam Making. Paper Marbling to Chilifest.

Have you been making jam this summer? Why not trade it with others at the Preserve Swap this Saturday, Sept 13, at the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers’ Market? Never made jam or just want to improve your skills? Join Grow Food Amherst at All Things Local Cooperative Market in Amherst for a jam making workshop on Sunday, Sept 14!

Honey Festival to Chilifest. Paper Marbling to Jam Making. Rhubarb Circus to Science Cafes… 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: Don’t be scared away by that chill in the air! Grow Food Amherst has moved their weekly Sustainability Sunday Workshops indoors for the fall! They will now be holding them at All Things Local Cooperative Market (104 North Pleasant St.) in Amherst. All Things Local is a year round, six day a week, farmers’ and craft market focused on sustainability and community. Learn how you can support local farming and food sources by turning your local produce from those fun filled fall apple picking excursions into delicious homemade jam at the Sunday September 14 workshop on jam making from 2-4pm! Other highlights from this season’s lineup of workshops include local residents sharing their knowledge and skills in the handmade soap workshop and how to make herbal oils, creams, and lip balms to keep your skin and lips healthy when the cold weather comes.


EntomologyHistorySkillshareVolunteer OpportunitiesSTEMFood FestivalPerformance/AstronomyOrnithologyMusic StudiesEnvironmental JusticeCulture/ArtLiteracyCommunity CelebrationsPastry Arts/ArchitecturePoetry


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Ceramic Exhibit Offers Rare Glimpse Into A Very Distant Past

Ceramics Exhibition Explores Craftsmanship Over 6,000 Years
At Mount Holyoke College Art Museum through May 31, 2015

A wonderful example of ceramics as an “objets d’art.”

Have you ever taken a ceramics class? The feeling of the clay molding into recognizable shapes like bowls and plates is so satisfying, matched only by the feeling of accomplishment once the piece has been fired and glazed and is ready to be used. The creation—and usage—of functional objects has been part of the human experience for as long as humans have existed, and the ways in which these objects are made and regarded has evolved over time. From the purely practical and utilitarian to veritable objets d’art, ceramics have served a wide range of people in an even wider range of ways. And as the world’s peoples grew, developed, and traveled, so did their tools and artwork; this allowed for further dispersion and interchange of ideas and techniques. Read the rest of this entry »

High Tech Planetarium Takes Us to the Stars

Williams College Host Planetarium Show this Fall

Williams College in Williamstown, MA, invites families to experience the wonders of our universe at their Milham Planetarium, located inside the Old Hopkins Observatory at Williams College. Astronomy students at the college will host free shows for the public on Friday evenings at 8pm, September 12-December 5, 2014.

The Hopkins Observatory, built in 1836-38 by the first professor of astronomy at Williams College, Albert Hopkins, is the oldest extant observatory in the United States.

Audiences will be treated to shows hosted by Williams College students from their high-precision Zeiss Skymaster ZKP3/B opto-mechanical planetarium projector, installed in April 2005.  The Zeiss Skymaster is capable of demonstrating phenomena including: retrograde motions of the planets, phases of the moon, the varying temperatures/colors of stars, locations of neighboring galaxies, the mythological figures and zodiacal signs ascribed to constellations, the Southern Hemisphere’s sky, comets, artificial satellites, and much more.

For reservations (recommended) contact Michele Rech at 413-597-2188 or email at mcr4@williams.edu. Others will be admitted as space permits. Large groups should call for special appointments. Shows will last about 50 minutes.

The Hopkins Observatory is on a small hill on the north side of Main Street east of Spring Street in Williamstown and just east of Lawrence Hall Drive, on which planetarium patrons share parking with the Williams College Museum of Art. A campus map showing the Hopkins Observatory’s location can be found on the www.williams.edu or at 829 Main Street, Williamstown, MA.

- Submitted by Noelle Lemoine


Science Cafes Provide Unique Community-Based Learning Opportunity

Non-traditional Setting makes Science Accessible

Science Cafes, a grassroots movement to open science to everyone and to bring presentations and engaging conversations into casual community settings, have come to Western MA. Here we feature two that take place on Mondays in the Pioneer Valley…

For families living in western Massachusetts, there are lots of opportunities to learn about science topics present within our communities. Local museums offer endless science-related exhibits, and explorations of the biodiversity and natural history present within our local landscape take place year-round (we’re hardy in these parts!). However, opportunities to interact with actual scientists – the experts and researchers who make discoveries – are far fewer and further between. But now, thanks to two local Science Cafes, students can do just that!

In Hadley, the OEB Science Cafe brings monthly events to Esselon Cafe on Mondays. Run by graduate students and faculty of the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology program at UMass (hence the OEB title), the cafe’s topics follow along the theme of evolutionary biology and teach participants about topics ranging from the similarities between ants and humans to the way that a bird’s brain learns songs. Though the cafes are designed with adults in mind, self-directed teens and tweens with an interest in biology are welcome and can certainly learn lots by attending. Each OEB Science Cafe takes place from 6-7pm, and is free!

In Amherst, the SciTech Cafe meets at Amherst Brewing Company on the 4th Monday of each month. Covering topics within the realm of science and technology – a vast field, the cafe’s next two upcoming topics are the science of alien worlds (also known as space technology) and the science of sleep. Each event will include a talk by an expert, as well as time for questions and even a game!

Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for September 6th & 7th, 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 September 6th-12th, 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: Water Mills to Woodworking. Family Volunteering to Radical Mycology., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

September 6th-12th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

TransportationEntomologyMuseum AdventuresMycologyArtisan TradeImmigration U.S. HistorySTEMLocal HistoryCommunity ServiceAnimal StudiesFood HistoryAstronomyWater MillsPreK Activities

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. In Search for Mushrooms!
  2. Oak & Acorn: Everything’s Coming up Apples!
  3. Citizen Scientists Opportunity: School of Ants
  4. 11 Recommended Art Studios/Classes in Western MA
  5. Woods of the World on Display at Lyman Plant House

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA
Cup & Top in Florence, MA

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

26 Community Highlights: Water Mills to Woodworking. Family Volunteering to Radical Mycology.

Interested in mushrooms? There are a couple of mycology opportunities this week: Radical Mycology in Great Barrington on Thursday (Sep 11) and Fungus Among Us in Easthampton on Friday (Sep 12)

Water Mills to Woodworking. Immigration to Magna CartaFamily Volunteering to Radical Mycology… 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:  All day on Sunday, September 7th, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield is holding their 2nd annual Family Volunteer Day for family members of all ages – even toddlers can help out!  Activities include touring the Food Bank warehouse, sorting food, educational opportunities for kids, and more.  It is important that kids understand the value and importance of volunteering and community service, and this is an excellent opportunity to give them some hands-on experience volunteering for a great local organization.  This all-ages event shows that no one is too young to start making a difference in their community.  Please RSVP on their Facebook event page to let the Food Bank know how many family members will be attending.


TransportationEntomologyMuseum AdventuresMycologyArtisan TradeImmigration U.S. HistorySTEMLocal HistoryCommunity ServiceAnimal StudiesFood HistoryAstronomyWater MillsPreK Activities


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn Bucket List for Western MA

Schubert Sound Installation at Mead Art Museum

Sounding Space Experience Beautifully Dissects Masterpiece

Visitors to the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA, are now surrounded, not just by art, but by the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828), in a sound installation that opens Tuesday, Aug. 26, and runs until Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. This special installation features a five-channel recording of the slow movement from Schubert’s Cello Quintet (1828), played by the Brentano String Quartet and Michael Kannen, director of chamber music at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. The quintet’s second movement, approximately 16 minutes long, plays once every half hour.

Special Sound Installation Featuring Schubert’s Cello Quintet at Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA.

Five speakers are arranged in an oval configuration in the Mead’s Rotherwas Room, the ornately carved seventeenth-century English room that serves as a gallery, event and performance space, and reading room. Each speaker is dedicated to one instrument from the ensemble, which includes two violins, viola, and two cellos. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture in a Box Broadens World View and Promotes Diversity

Culture Box Swaps Offer Children the Collaborative Experience of Sharing and Learning about Different Cultures.

What would you include in a box to swap with someone from a different culture that best represents where you live? A western MA family could include maple syrup, a leaflet to an agricultural fair, an apple cutter, post cards from our many small towns, pictures of native animals, press local wild flowers… what else would you include? Think about what best represents your local culture that could easily be shared with someone wanting to learn more about life in your region.

Families in western Massachusetts are lucky to live in such a culturally diverse area, where communities are filled with opportunities for folks to learn about, and share cultural traditions. Engaging children in cultural studies – whether formally or informally – is a wonderful way to teach them about the many different traditions, histories, and world views that make up their own community and the entire world. Exploring a culture that’s different from your own can help children to try on many different metaphorical hats – they can test out different worldviews, consider the belief systems behind a variety of religions, and imagine existing in a community that’s vastly different from their own. Equally as meaningful as learning about different cultures is teaching others about your own. In working to explain the importance of certain things within their own family or community, culture can help children to better understand themselves, their community, and the roots of the traditions and belief system they share.

Families can engage in a combination of both of these activities – learning about other cultures and teaching about their own – by taking part in culture box swaps.  Culture box swaps are similar to participating in international pen pal relationships, except that the exchange takes place only once, and instead of letters, families send actual items that they’ve collected. Items included in culture boxes are intended to teach recipients about the culture from which they’ve emerged. While families must always be careful to obey international mailing rules, boxes can be filled with a wide variety of items to show families abroad what family culture is like here in western Massachusetts. Conversely, families who create and send boxes teaching about their local culture will receive a culture box in return, filled with a collection created by another family to showcase important parts of their own culture – wherever it may be from! Read the rest of this entry »

Bird Identification in Western Massachusetts Made Easy, and Fun!

The Fun of Bird Identification in Western Massachusetts Made Easy

Blue bunting in West Chesterfield, MA.

Birds are everywhere this time of year, some migrating, some that stay with us over winter. Do you know who you’re sharing your yard with? Birds of all sorts have long since migrated to and from western Massachusetts, nesting here for the summer or passing through in their migrations… and it’s high time to get out and get birding!

Birds species can, of course, be identified by looking at them – their size, shape, color, feather pattern, and other distinctive markings help to distinguish one species from another. But what happens if you can’t get a close look at a bird? What if a flash of red passes by up ahead on a trail, or you’ve spotted a raptor soaring high above you? Often times you’re left with only a roadside silhouette of a sighting with which to try and identify a species, and using physical features alone can sometimes be very difficult. On top of the challenges presented by partial sightings are the similarities that some species share – it can be hard to tell which small, semi-spotted brown-and-white bird you’re seeing if you don’t have binoculars allowing you a closer look.

Click here to read on for resources on how to identify birds by their calls and upcoming birding events in Western MA…

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 30th & 31st, 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 August 30th-September 5th, 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, 23 Community Highlights: Corn Maze to Kimchi. Hoosac Tunnel to Marble Quarry., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

August 30th-September 5th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

AstronomyMusic StudiesHaunted HistoryGeology/Natural HistoryAgricultureFood HistoryMuseum AdventuresSkill Share/FermentationAgricultural FairsCulture/MusicCommunity MealOrnithologyPlant Studies

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. How to Get Kids to Practice Their Musical Instruments
  2. 5 Solutions to Packing a Waste-Free Lunch
  3. Change of Seasons Bring Nature, Art & STEM Discoveries
  4. HFVS Back to School Episode with Guest DJ, Joanie Leeds (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. Let’s Play: Organizing & Creating for Back-to-School

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA
Cup & Top in Florence, MA

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

23 Community Highlights: Corn Maze to Kimchi. Hoosac Tunnel to Marble Quarry.

Teens and tweens can learn how to play the ukulélé at the Sunderland Public Library on Saturday afternoon, August 30! This is a free chance for kids to get introduced to this fun and unique instrument. Celebrate the SPL’s new ukulélés with this ukulélé workshop facilitated by musician, Julie Stepanek. Open to youth ages 10-18. Beginners welcomed!

Ukulélé to Shape Note SingingCorn Maze to KimchiHoosac Tunnel to Marble Quarry… 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 want to learn more about astronomy, but don’t know where or how to start? Arunah Hill Days is a free, family-oriented weekend all about astronomy, nature, and science education at Arunah Hill Natural Science Center  in Cummington. Come to Arunah Hill on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this Labor Day weekend for astronomy-related talks and activities for astronomy fans of all ages! Observe the night sky and search for Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, galaxies, star clusters, and more using large, powerful telescopes; see sunspots and solar prominences with a special filtered solar telescope in the daytime; enjoy guided nature walks, disc golf, and a rocket building/launch fest; and hear talks on telescope design and other astronomy topics. Bring the whole family and come early to camp on the Hill! This is a great opportunity to learn as a family and enjoy quality time spent together outdoors.


AstronomyMusic StudiesHaunted HistoryGeology/Natural HistoryAgricultureFood HistoryMuseum AdventuresSkill Share/FermentationAgricultural FairsCulture/MusicCommunity MealOrnithologyPlant Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Source to Sea Clean Up: Community Service Opportunity for Families & CT River Watershed

Join Up for a Day of River Care, and Empower Your Family to Create Community Impact

Families can show their love and appreciation for the river by participating in the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s annual Source to Sea Clean Up, an event that mobilizes volunteers from all over the Connecticut River watershed for a day of cleaning and caring for the river.

The Connecticut River dictates the landscape of much of western New England. Western Massachusetts’ hills and mountains provide a river- and stream-filled frame for the Connecticut River as it flows through towards Connecticut and, eventually, into the Atlantic Ocean. The Pioneer Valley’s rich farmland is a gift from the river, and delicious local food is grown and raised on the valley’s river banks. The Connecticut River is the lifeblood of our local landscape, and we depend on the many different natural features that make up its watershed for everything from swimming and hiking to healthy food and fresh water. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 23rd & 24th, 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 August 23rd-29th, 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, 29 Community Highlights: Poetry Slam to Classical Music. Back-to-School to Stargazing., and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: August 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

August 23rd-29th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Plant StudiesLocal FoodTransportation HistoryLocal HistoryMusic StudiesBack-to-SchoolInsect StudiesSafetyAgricultural FairsSTEMAstronomyPoetrySummer Celebrations

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. HFVS Back to School Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  2. 11 Suggestions on How Western MA Families Can Make Wise Back-to-School Purchases
  3. Q&A: Hair Cuts in Western MA
  4. Tips for a New School Year
  5. 6 Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

29 Community Highlights: Poetry Slam to Classical Music. Back-to-School to Stargazing.

With only a few more weeks left of summer, wildflowers like goldenrod and joe-pye weed dot our landscape. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment is offering a Native Wildflower Workshop with naturalist Nancy Goodman on Saturday, August 23. Discover many of the beautiful and unique wildflowers that grow in the area and learn how to use Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, the most well-respected guide to northeastern wildflowers. Older students and adults can learn about these fascinating plants and their importance to our local ecology at this program in Amherst.

Poetry Slam to Classical Music. Back-to-School to Stargazing. Tomatoes to Pickles…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:  In the summer evenings, when the darken skies fill with a cacophony of sounds, have you ever wonder what insects are making these beautiful noises?  You can find out at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary’s Night Insect Sounds program in Easthampton on Thursday evening, August 28. Learn about katydids, grasshoppers, crickets, and others. The program starts with a slideshow of the insects and their sounds and then proceeds outside where you can try your hand at identifying the sounds. Best for older students and adults.


Plant StudiesLocal FoodTransportation HistoryLocal HistoryMusic StudiesBack-to-SchoolInsect StudiesSafetyAgricultural FairsSTEMAstronomyPoetrySummer Celebrations


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

When Dinosaurs Walked…Western Mass

Paleontology Fascinates and Stimulates Learning in Kids

As one of They Might Be Giants’ best-loved (and paleontologist-narrated) children’s songs proclaims, “I love diggin’ in the dirt!” The potential for getting dirty is just what many kids need in order to become interested in dinosaurs, but it’s not the only hook. In addition to the fun that comes from digging and discovering, dinosaurs are fascinating to children for the magic and mystery that surrounds them – though we have lots of evidence that supports their long-ago existence, young ones whose understanding of time has not fully developed are astounded by the beasts of long ago. Drastically different from most of the creatures seen on Earth today (at first glance), dinosaurs’ shape, size, and even habitat are fascinating and almost unbelievable to youngsters.

Engaging children in dinosaur-related learning allows them not only to learn about the prehistoric beasts, but presents opportunities for lots of other types of learning as well. Learning to identify dinosaur species can help young children practice putting words to specific characteristics related to a species’ shape, size, and coloring, while for older learners, species identification serves as a means of understanding the role of each specific body part that distinguishes one type from the next – information that can help children to understand animal adaptations and evolution. Additionally, dinosaur studies supports children in learning about the climate- and landscape-related changes that the Earth undergoes over time. Read the rest of this entry »

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