Industry of the Past & Natural History Explored this Weekend

History of Logging & Hawley Bog
Pioneer Valley Institute Features Local Industry & Natural History Events This Weekend

Submitted image.

Western Massachusetts is rich with both local and natural history – both of which are topics that Greenfield Community College’s Pioneer Valley Institute highlights in its educational programs. Blending topics like geology and natural biodiversity with the study of local agriculture, industry, and culture, the Pioneer Valley Institute offers intriguing programs that allow community members to explore their surroundings while also learning about their natural and cultural significance. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Sustainability on the Amherst Town Common

Amherst Sustainability Festival: April 26, 2014

The Amherst Farmers’ Market and Sustainability Festival takes place this Saturday, April 26th, on the Town Common. Pick up your starter plants and locally grown foods from the Market, and then head to the Common for a fabulous family-friendly festival featuring all things sustainable… including Hilltown Families! Stop by our tent where kids can plant seeds to take home with them while parents can learn about the mission of Hilltown Families.

With springtime comes an increase in our awareness of the natural world – as we plan our gardens and watch trees begin to leaf out, we’re reminded of how essential the earth is to us, and how important it is to live our lives in a way that ensures that our natural resources will be preserved for years to come. Celebrate springtime, sustainability, and all things green at the Amherst Sustainability Festival, an annual free community event that brings together local organizations and resources to promote local sustainability!

This year, the Amherst Sustainability Festival will be held on Saturday, April 26th, 2014, from 10am-4pm. Centered around the Amherst Town Common, the event includes booths from local sustainability-related organizations and vendors, live music and theater performances, demonstrations of skills and techniques, live animals to visit and learn about, local food, and lots of other exciting and educational events and activities for families. Early risers can begin their day of sustainability in the morning by visiting the Amherst Farmers’ Market, whose second market of the season will bring a wide variety of delicious, healthy, local foods to the Town Common from 7:30am-1:30pm.

Once you’ve stocked up on local foods, begin your festival adventure by watching Piti Theater Company’s performance of their original show, To Bee or Not to Bee. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for April 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 April 19th-25th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements, Earth Day Events, & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 30 Community Highlights: Straw Rockets to Shakespeare. Easter to Earth Day., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: April 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 50 summer camps & programs, and for your Easter plans, Easter Events in Western MA, 2014 has you covered!

April 19th-25th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Citizen ScientistPaleontologyCollaborative ConsumptionCultural StudiesFilm StudiesSTEMMuseum AdventuresHistoryCommunity ServiceAnimal StudiesLiterary AdventuresHikingEntomologyMusic StudiesPastry ArtsEnvironmentalism

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Legends & Lore of Easter Icons
  2. Message of the Spring Peepers
  3. One Clover & A Bee: A Poem for Spring
  4. What’s Your Favorite Way to Discover and Explore History with Your Kids?
  5. HFVS with Guest DJ, Steve Weeks (Radio Show/Podcast)

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!

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

30 Community Highlights: Straw Rockets to Shakespeare. Easter to Earth Day.

Easter is Sunday and there are many Easter activities happening this weekend throughout the region. Dying eggs and Easter candy are perfect opportunities for incorporating a little science into your family traditions. Check out these featured Spring & Easter Science pins over on Pinterest and put a little STEA(rt)M into your celebration!

Straw Rockets to Bug Collages. Arctic Tern to American Alligator. Shakespeare to Aldo Leopold… 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 dinosaurs lived right here in the Pioneer Valley millions of years ago? They are an important piece of the natural history of this area, and more can be learned about them and where they lived at the Dinosaur Footprints in Holyoke (Route 5). On Saturday morning April 19, The Trustees of Reservations are holding a free event for families that gives visitors a chance to “Walk Where Dinosaurs Roamed” and learn about their history in the area, what species might have lived here, how their footprints have been preserved over time, and what the local habitat was like.


Citizen ScientistPaleontologyCollaborative ConsumptionCultural StudiesFilm StudiesSTEMMuseum AdventuresHistoryCommunity ServiceAnimal StudiesLiterary AdventuresHikingEntomologyMusic StudiesPastry ArtsEnvironmentalism


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Get Kids Excited About Poetry with Book Spine & Blackout Poetry

Book Spine & Blackout Poetry

What’s your favorite animal?
Lucy hares and itchy bears?
The runaway bunny?
Edward the emu?
Little polar bear and the husky pup?
Beware! These Animals are Poison!

If you’ve ever gazed at a bookshelf and seen sentences, then the Forbes Library’s Book Spine Poetry Contest is for you! Book spine poetry, a form of “writing” that involves stacking books so that the titles on their spines create a poem, is an art form accessible to readers of all ages and sizes. In order to participate, families need only to snap a photo of their poem as pictured here and upload it to the library’s Facebook page. While there’s no rush to write (or stack!), the contest ends on April 30th – so be sure to start soon! Prizes will be awarded to the best poem for adults, best poem for teens, and a handful of other categories as well.

Though being limited to only the possibilities granted by book spines might feel restrictive at first, book spine poetry actually offers lots of space for creativity and original ideas. The huge number of books at Forbes (or in any local library) offer thousands and thousands of titles to turn into lines in a poem. Families can experiment with different styles of poetry, too – perhaps a haiku, end rhyme, or alliterative verse might be possible to create using some of your favorite titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Bee Weeks in Western MA

Western Massachusetts will be Buzzing During Bee Weeks!

During the spring and early summer, Piti Theater Company’s Bee Weeks will take place in four different communities in Western MA. Find out where and join them for a buzzing good time!

For humans, to bee or not to bee isn’t truly a question – we must always bee! Bees and other pollinators help to ensure that our crops produce food, and they are a critical part of ecosystems all over the world. Despite their importance, however, pollinator populations are declining worldwide and many native species of bees have already gone extinct. How is it that a species so important to our survival is disappearing? Lack of proper habitat is one of the major factors contributing to bees’ recent struggles, and lack of awareness isn’t helping them either! However, thanks to Piti Theater Company, western Massachusetts will be enjoying a spring filled with bee-related events and learning opportunities – helping to increase pollinator habitat, raise awareness about conserving local pollinator populations, and teaching families about the role of pollinators in our food systems. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for April 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 April 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, Learn Local. Play Local. for 31 Community Highlights: Pollinators to Polliwogs. Seed Bombs to Black-Out Poetry., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: April 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 50 summer camps & programs, and for your Easter plans, Easter Events in Western MA, 2014 has you covered!

April 12th-18th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Vernal PoolsEarth DayActivismCommunity ServiceFiber ArtsSTEMCultural StudiesPoetryNature StudiesOrnithologyArtHistoryEntomologyInternet SafetyParent Workshop

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. HFVS with Guest DJ, Steve Roslonek of SteveSongs (Radio Show/Podcast)
  2. Sunflower & Popcorn Houses
  3. Tis the Season for Vernal Pools
  4. Video Review: 525,600 Minutes of a Vernal Pool
  5. 3Rs Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

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!

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

31 Community Highlights: Pollinators to Polliwogs. Seed Bombs to Black-Out Poetry.

Several vernal pool events happening this weekend throughout the region!

Pollinators to Polliwogs. Seed Bombs to Black-Out Poetry. Rockets to Knitting… 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 Spring and all things green at Easthampton’s Waste Not Want Not Art Walk on Saturday evening, April 12th. Explore Easthampton’s art scene and do free activities, like make seed bombs with Easthampton Community Garden at Nash Gallery, learn how to build raised beds at Old Town Hall, make your own notecards and envelopes at Knack, and more! This is a fun evening out that lets you experience some of the great art- and environment-related opportunities Easthampton has to offer!


Vernal PoolsEarth DayActivismCommunity ServiceFiber ArtsSTEMCultural StudiesPoetryNature StudiesOrnithologyArtHistoryEntomologyInternet SafetyParent Workshop


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Random Acts of Kindness on Friday with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden

Flowers for Friends: Family Workshop
with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden
Friday, April 11th, 2014 from 4-7pm

Share a small act of kindness to another! Decorate pots and plant posies to pass along to others in your community with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th from 4-7pm (FREE).

In the spirit of spreading kindness to others, Hilltown Families presents a free family workshop, Flowers for Friends, at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 4-7pm.  Families are invite to join neighbors & friends in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and pass along to another in their community.

Participating families are encouraged to give their posy to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice.  — Pay it forward with a small act of kindness!

This is the second year in a row we are coordinating this event. See photos from last year here and check out this video that features last year’s event: Read the rest of this entry »

Over 25 Walking Tours Support Community-Based Education in Western MA

Learn About Western Massachusetts Communities & History on Foot with Self-Guided Walking Tours!

We’re rich in walking tours here in western Massachusetts, an excellent community-based educational learning activity families can do together. Unlike scheduled tours guided by interpreters, self-guided walking tours offer  lots of flexibility. Families can use walking tours as a way to expand on a subject that children learn about in school. Alternately, families can utilize available tours as a means of answering questions that they’ve stumbled upon together.

Spring is here! Alongside the longer days and afternoons filled with sunlight comes warmer weather, and as the out-of-doors draws us from our winter hibernation, each day brings opportunities to explore our community. All over western Massachusetts, community organizations have organized self-guided walking tours, helping to add a new layer to the discoveries made while meandering through a neighborhood or district. Using paper maps and brochures, as well as tech-y resources like QR codes and interactive tablet and smartphone maps, families can use a spring walk as an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history behind buildings, monuments, neighborhoods, and communities as a whole.

Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for April 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 April 5th-11th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Families Ticket Giveaways, Hilltown Families Events, & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 29 Community Highlights: Food Chemistry to Period Restaurants. Edible Books to Oddball Science., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: April 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 nearly 50 summer camps & programs, and for your Easter plans, Easter Events in Western MA, 2014 has you covered!

April 5th-11th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Animal ScienceFood StudiesAstronomyCultural StudiesLiteracySTEMMuseum AdventuresDance StudiesNature ScienceOrnithologyParent Workshops

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Community Recommended Documentaries for Parents
  2. Picture Books for Spring Time
  3. Where to Get New/Used Bikes for the Family in Western MA
  4. Play Spring Walk Bingo!
  5. The Magic of Spring Peepers. The Science of Vernal Pools

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

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

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

29 Community Highlights: Food Chemistry to Period Restaurants. Edible Books to Oddball Science.

World music is a powerful pathway towards discovery of other cultures and music instruments. Families can learn about two instruments used in North Indian music – the sitar and the tabla – at the Amherst Jones Library‘s “Introduction to North Indian Classical Musicfree events this month!

Draft Horses to Merino Sheep. Food Chemistry to Period Restaurants. Edible Books to Oddball Science. Folk Dancing to Classical Indian Music… 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 if a domestic sheep weren’t shorn, their wool would grow and grow and grow? Come learn about shearing and the wool harvest at Winterberry Farm at their new farm in Colrain on Saturday, April 5th during  Shearing Day! There will be music, food, demonstrations, and a chance to see 30 sheep get sheared. A great chance for families to learn about this traditional process and for kids to know where their woollies come from. Free.


Animal ScienceFood StudiesAstronomyCultural StudiesLiteracySTEMMuseum AdventuresDance StudiesNature ScienceOrnithologyParent Workshops


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Early Twentieth Century Craftwork and Artisans Featured at Historic Deerfield

Early Twentieth Century Craftwork and Artisans Featured at Historic Deerfield

Sarah Cowles (1845-1922), a member of the Pocumtuck Basket Makers, wove an image of Deerfield’s iconic c. 1699 Old Indian House in her basket. Cowles was one of a number of women who was swept up by the William Morris craze for making handmade goods. Founded in 1902 by Madeline Yale Wynne, the group made baskets principally of raffia, a product of Madagascar, and used natural dyes to color their work. Wynne chose the name Pocumtuck to reference the Native Americans who first lived in Deerfield.

The early 1900s sparked a renewed interest in the materials and craftsmanship roughly associated with the colonial period in the United States.  Known in the US as the “American Craftsman” school of thought or as the “Arts & Crafts Movement,” this interest in traditional methods, materials, and styles of craftwork was part of an international design revolution against the mass-production that new industry and machinery had made possible.  The movement, which began in the British Isles in the late 1890s, was initially a socialist rejection of the mechanized, assembly-line-style work that had all but eliminated the creativity and skill that craftsmen (and women) had demonstrated prior to the rise of industry. By elevating the aesthetic significance of these unique, unassuming, artisan-made objects, the Arts & Crafts movement created a new niche for craftworkers and pushed back against the increasing sense of excess in the design world. Ironically, these humble objects inspired by craftsmen of old were not accessible to everyone. Because the materials, time, and skill needed to create high-quality, authentic arts & crafts objects were harder to come by than what the factories produced, each object was competitively priced.

Artists in New England were particularly drawn to the resurgence of traditional handicrafts, and many joined the arts and crafts community that had sprung up in Deerfield.  These artists – ranging from metalsmiths, potters, and furniture makers, to photographers, embroiderers, and basket makers – were heavily inspired by the history of the Deerfield area, and incorporated references to the town’s history in their work.  Several Deerfield artists even achieved national recognition for their crafts.  It is these artists and their work that Historic Deerfield celebrates in their current exhibition, “A Community of Craftwork,” on view now through February 2015.   Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 29th & 30th, 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 March 29th-April 4th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Families Ticket Giveaways, Hilltown Families Events, & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 21 Community Highlights: Magic Flute to Sound of Music. Electricity to Telescope, and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: April 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 nearly 50 summer camps & programs, and for your Easter plans, Easter Events in Western MA, 2014 has you covered!

March 29th-April 4th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Community ServiceGeologySpace/AstronomyEnvironmental ScienceAnimal StudiesSTEMHistoryOutdoor AdventuresFashion StudiesTheaterParent WorkshopMusic Studies

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Recommended Fiction Titles with Autistic Characters
  2. Supporting the Creativity of Writing
  3. Picture Books for Spring Time
  4. HFVS Weather Episode with Guest DJ, Alison Faith Levy (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. 8 Western MA Farm Programs Offer Education for Families

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Art Spark

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

21 Community Highlights: Magic Flute to Sound of Music. Electricity to Telescope

The Magic Flute to The Sound of Music. Electricity to Telescope. Garlic Mustard to Bat Houses.

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:  Transport children into an enchanted world that blends myth, fairytale, and the archetypes of good vs. evil this Sunday afternoon, March 30th while exposing them to the wonderful world of opera! Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls presents a free screening of the Metropolitan Opera’s performance of The Magic Flute. Mozart’s famous fairytale opera features magic bells, dancing animals, dragons, a hero and heroine, and much more. This production was directed by Julie Taymor in 2004 and is adapted for children.. This production is ideal for introducing children to opera – it is funny and engaging, yet it also teaches important lessons about patience and distinguishing right from wrong.


Community ServiceGeologySpace/AstronomyEnvironmental ScienceAnimal StudiesSTEMHistoryOutdoor AdventuresFashion StudiesTheaterParent WorkshopMusic Studies


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Easter Events in Western MA, 2014

Easter Events in Western MA 2014

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Community events that celebrate Easter take place through April 20th. We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2014.

Edible Books Connect Culinary Arts & Literature

The Edible Book: A Benefit for the Friends of the Forbes & Lilly Libraries

The Forbes and Lilly Libraries are holding their Edible Book event on Sunday, April 6th this year, an annual event that crosses culinary arts and language arts with creative free play!

If you could make a piece of art that describes your favorite book, what would it look like? If you created a food whose flavor matches your family’s favorite story, what would it taste like? And what do you think would happen if you combined your art piece with the book’s perfect flavor match? Create a real-life edible artistic masterpiece – just like you’ve imagined! – by participating in Forbes Library’s event, Edible Book Northampton!

Read the rest of this entry »

Textile Exhibit Celebrates Muslim Female Identity

Textile Exhibit Celebrates Muslim Female Identity
Westfield State University through April 5th, 2014

Westfield State University’s Arno Maris Gallery presents “Threads that Bind,” a Middle Eastern textile exhibit, which will be on display until April 5. A reception will be held on Thursday March 27 from 5:30-8 p.m. with exhibit curator Dr. Christina Swaidan, associate professor of art history at Westfield State. This exhibition inspires further discussion both about textile and fabric arts as well as Muslim culture and the representation and daily lives of Islamic women. See our discussion questions for ideas to spark conversation with your kids and/or students.

The Arno Maris Gallery at Westfield State University invites you and your family to its current exhibition, Threads that Bind. This display of Middle Eastern textiles highlights items of Muslim women’s clothing such as the abaya, an all-purpose robe-like dress that is worn both to Mosque and while entertaining family and friends at home, and the salwar kameez, which is comprised of a set of loose, pajama-like pants and a tunic top. Curator Dr. Christina Swaidan, an associate professor of art history at Westfield State, organized the exhibit with the intention of educating the college and local community about women in Islamic culture.

“When most people picture a Muslim woman, they imagine a shadow: a demure woman draped in all black,” says Swaidan. “She is viewed as devoid of personality or individuality.”

But the clothing and textiles in Threads that Bind are anything but demure or shadow-like: vibrant colors serve as the background for rich details like lace, embroidery, and other embellishments. And, according to Swaidan, the designs on the garments are often unique to the region in which they were produced, which could immediately signal the origin of a garment (or its wearer) to others familiar with the various patterns.

Read the rest of this entry »

Flowers for Friends: Free Friday Family Workshop with Hilltown Families

Flowers for Friends: Family Workshop
with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden
Friday, April 11th, 2014 from 4-7pm

Share a small act of kindness to another! Decorate pots and plant posies to pass along to others in your community with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th from 4-7pm (FREE).

In the spirit of spreading kindness to others, Hilltown Families presents a free family workshop, Flowers for Friends, at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 4-7pm.  Families are invite to join neighbors & friends in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and pass along to another in their community.

Participating families are encouraged to give their posy to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice.  — Pay it forward with a small act of kindness!

This is the second year in a row we are coordinating this event. See photos from last year here and check out this video that features last year’s event:

Flowers for Friends is the fourth in a series of five Free Friday Family Community Service Nights that Hilltown Families and The Art Garden are offering, thanks to a grant from the Xeric Foundation. All materials included. Space is limited for this free event and pre-registration encouraged.

Click here to sign up…

Vernal Pools in Western MA

Vernal Pools: Community Resources & Events Supplement Interests & Education

Studies of vernal pools support learning in many areas of interest, and a close look at amphibian reproduction can help to spark children’s curiosity about other aspects of amphibian life. Find out what’s happening in Western MA this spring!

Along with the greenery of spring comes a reawakening of wildlife, and some of western Massachusetts smallest and most fascinating creatures make their debut as soon as the snow melts! One sure sign of the change of seasons is the sound of peepers – noisy wood frogs who have made their way from their winter residences to the vernal pools that have filled with fish-free water thanks to the melting snow. Vernal pools aren’t just home to wood frogs, though. Their amphibious neighbors include salamanders, fairy shrimp, and tiny mussels, making vernal pools a fascinating (and usually temporary) incubator for many species.

Vernal pools truly come alive at a very specific time during the spring. On the first rainy night when the temperature stays above 40 degrees, frogs and salamanders migrate from their winter homes to their annual breeding grounds, filling the pools with the sounds of mating and an abundance of eggs. While it can be tempting for rainboot-clad kiddos to stomp right on into a big, shallow puddle in the woods, it’s important to know whether or not they’re romping about in a vernal pool. Such pools house the eggs of many species of frogs and salamanders, and humans’ springtime frolicking can easily disturb these eggs and negatively affect populations. However, spending an afternoon exploring along the edges of a vernal pools is nature’s classroom at its best! Families can learn to identify commonly found species, and can watch a vernal pool over the course of the spring, summer, and fall (and maybe even winter) to see how it changes… Read the rest of this entry »

Environmental Film Festival in the Berkshires

Project Native 4th Annual Environmental Film Festival
March 29 & 30, 2014
Great Barrington, MA

For the past three years, Project Native has hosted a successful day-long environmental film festival. This year they are expanding the festival to include an evening screening at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA, on Saturday, March 29th in addition to the festival on Sunday, March 30th at the Triplex Cinema.

The festival will kick off Saturday, March 29th at 7pm with a special screening of Revolution, an award-winning film by Rob Stewart, director of Sharkwater at the  Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA. Startling, beautiful, and provocative, Revolution has already won awards at international film festivals. Revolution is not just about the environment—it’s a film about hope and inspiration. It is an urgent call-to-action with an uplifting message that tells us it’s possible to alleviate the damage already done. While creating this film, Stewart met with experts in their fields to investigate the important issues affecting our lives. In an effort to uncover the secrets to a safer world, Stewart goes on an adventure filled with action and drama that will leave audiences around the world, at any age, inspired about how they can get involved in the fight to save our planet.

“Our goal is to not only show the problems facing our world, but to also inspire action for positive change,” says Karen Lyness LeBlanc, Education & Outreach Coordinator for Project Native. Project Native is encouraging middle, high school and college students in the area to attend and bring their friends. This event is FREE, thanks to support from the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation. A panel discussion will follow the film.

Then on Sunday, March 30th, screening at the Triplex Cinema…

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 22nd & 23rd, 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 March 22nd-28th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Families Ticket Giveaways & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 24 Community Highlights: Middle Eastern Textiles to Victorian Clothing. Big Band Music to Holograms., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: March 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 nearly 50 summer camps & programs!

March 22nd-28th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


STEMFashion StudiesEnvironmental ScienceCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryMaple SeasonAnimal StudiesGovernmentArtDance StudiesParent WorkshopsMusic StudiesWritingFilm/Video

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Volunteer with Gray House in Springfield
  2. Seasons at Our Table: Maple Sugar
  3. Maple Dessert to Follow a Spring Dinner
  4. Language Play: 22 Apps that Increase Children’s Vocabulary
  5. HFVS Classical Music Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Art Spark

Check out our giveaways…

24 Community Highlights: Middle Eastern Textiles to Victorian Clothing. Big Band Music to Holograms.

Sugar season is an integrated part of New England culture. Whether you’re visiting or have lived here all your life, get out into your community during the first harvest of the year and enjoy the many cultural opportunities that celebrate maple syrup! This week we are featuring Maple Day at Hager’s Farm Market in Shelburne. On Saturday, March 22nd, there will be demonstrations, an old fashioned sap boiling, maple cream and maple candy making, as well as tons of maple-y treats (tons!). Enjoy this delicious springtime New England treat and learn about its history and how it’s processed.

Middle Eastern Textiles to Victorian Clothing. Big Band Music to Holograms. Mud Season to Maple Syrup

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: Performance artist Kandie Carle will be at the Storrs Library to perform her free one-woman show, “Victorian Lady,” on Monday evening, March 24th. Carle will use authentic Victorian and Edwardian clothing to interact with the audience and to take them on a journey into the past through fashion. She will discuss the history and significance of each item of clothing in order to give audience members an idea of what fashion, etiquette, and lifestyles were like during the Victorian and Edwardian era, including interesting anecdotes and ‘myth busting’.


STEMFashion StudiesEnvironmental ScienceCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryMaple SeasonAnimal StudiesGovernmentArtDance StudiesParent WorkshopsMusic StudiesWritingFilm/Video


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2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 15th & 16th, 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 March 15th-21st, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Families Events & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 27 Community Highlights: Accordion Books to Togas. Vernal Equinox to Maple Syrup., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: March 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

Summer Camps in Western MassachusettsWant to advertise your event, open house, camp, volunteer opportunity or announcement with Hilltown Families. Find out about our enhanced publicity options and about our Summer Camp promotion! Great ways to reach thousands of families living throughout the region while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families!

March 15th-21st, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Maple SyrupSTEMImmigrationSt. Patrick’s DayPurimCultural StudiesOutdoor AdventuresAnimal StudiesSpring EquinoxLiteracyTheater/MusicalsParent WorkshopsCrafts

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. HFVS Purim Episode with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Radio Show/Podcast)
  2. HFVS Spring Equinox Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)
  3. Local Camp Director Gives Pointers on How to Select a Summer Camp
  4. Citizen Scientists Wanted to Monitor Plants as the Seasons Change
  5. Let’s Play: Books and Creative Free Play

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Check out our giveaways…

27 Community Highlights: Accordion Books to Togas. Vernal Equinox to Maple Syrup.

Happy Spring!

Accordion Books to Togas. Purim to St. Patrick’s Day. Vernal Equinox to Maple Syrup

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: Saturday, March 15, is Family Fun Day at Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum! The theme for this free event is “Portraits and Costume,” and there will be drop-in craft activities, a gallery talk that includes a picture book related to the museum’s collection, and much more. Not only will the educational potential of the museum be unlocked by museum guides and interpreters, but children will be able to learn in a collaborative, multi-age environment where they share their thoughts and observations with others and gain insight from information shared by other visitors.


Maple SyrupSTEMImmigrationSt. Patrick’s DayPurimCultural StudiesOutdoor AdventuresAnimal StudiesSpring EquinoxLiteracyTheater/MusicalsParent WorkshopsCrafts


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Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective
Saturday Morning Music Party
March 15th, 10am, Easthampton, MA

The final Hilltown Families & Flywheel Saturday Morning Music Party takes place  on Saturday, March 15th at 10am! Come shake off your cabin fever with a pancake breakfast, screening of Pancake Mountain and a dance party with DJ Youthelectronix! Oh, and did we mention… it’s FREE!!! Join Hilltown Families and Flywheel in Easthampton on Saturday, March 15th at 10am!

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton continue our super fun  ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ for a final Saturday this winter! Come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages!

During a free breakfast of pancakes, juice, and fruit, a screening of Pancake Mountain will delight families. After the breakfast, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.”  Get the kids moving and shaking off the winter blues.

Flywheel Arts Collective located in the old town hall in Easthampton (43 Main Street). This event is free and open to people of all ages.

DJ Youthelectronix, a.k.a. Jeremy Smith, a veteran Flywheel volunteer, led the effort to organize the Saturday Morning Music Party series in 2013, partnering with Hilltown Families. Driven to continue the success of past Saturday morning activities at Flywheel, Smith says, “We started the Saturday Morning Music Party to provide families with an affordable, fun activity that was enjoyable for adults as well as kids. We hope that families from all over the Valley will attend.” He’s particularly proud of the “diverse programming” to be offered, which is anything but the rote kids’ fare.

“Getting families with children of all ages out and engaged in their community has it’s challenges in the winter,” says Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield.  “A free morning music party with pancakes, and dancing is a recipe of fun for kids of all ages, and inviting for parents too!”


This event is supported in part by a grant from the Easthampton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Local Teachers Create Original Book and Puppet Play

Local Teachers Create Original Book and Puppet Play: The Hollyhock Dream

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School early childhood teachers (L-R) Beth Oakley, Jo Valens, Trice Atchison, Michelle Kuzia and Somer Serpe, with their original storybook of The Hollyhock Dream, to be performed as a puppet play Saturday, March 15, 11am at Mason Library in Great Barrington.

Early childhood teachers from the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School have created an original story book, The Hollyhock Dream, about a girl and her little brother who venture through the forest in search of the flower their mother dreams will make her well. The fairy tale debuted as a puppet play at the school’s Holiday Handcraft Fair in November, and teachers will perform it again for the community at Mason Library in Great Barrington, Saturday, March 15, 2014, at 11:15am.

The Hollyhock Dream was written by teachers Trice Atchison, Beth Oakley and Jo Valens. “We went to a workshop led by author and storyteller Nancy Mellon last spring and, as part of the evening, wove together a story on the spot,” says parent-child teacher Trice Atchison. “We were so inspired by the process, we decided to collaborate on a new fairy tale puppet play.”

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Writing a new story allowed the teachers to consider themes such as how there can be more than one right way to a destination—sometimes with the least likely person leading the way; how benevolent help can show up during moments of confusion; and how the natural world is full of wonders, including plants that heal…  Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 8th & 9th, 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 March 8th-14th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Families Events & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 27 Community Highlights: Shadow Puppets to Sewing Machines. Fiddle Music to Cheese Caves., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: March 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

Summer Camps in Western MassachusettsWant to advertise your event, open house, camp, volunteer opportunity or announcement with Hilltown Families. Find out about our enhanced publicity options and about our Summer Camp promotion! Great ways to reach thousands of families living throughout the region while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families!

March 8th-14th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Puppet ShowsLiteracyWomen’s History MonthOutdoor AdventuresMusic StudiesHistory of Writing/PrintingCollaborative ConsumptionTeen/HistorySTEMSports HistoryTheater/MusicalsParent Workshops

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Encouraging Responsibility in Kids
  2. HFVS Sheep Shearing & Maple Syrup Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  3. “This Day in History” Video Series
  4. Q&A: Dining Together as a Family
  5. Kids Can Curate an Exhibit for The Clark

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Check out our giveaways…

27 Community Highlights: Shadow Puppets to Sewing Machines. Fiddle Music to Cheese Caves.

Shadow Puppets to Sewing Machines. Manhattan Project to Fiddle Music. Tracking Fairies to Cheese Caves

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 BagShare Project is holding a free Sewing Machine and Clothing Repair Clinic on Sunday, March 9 in Cummington. Bring your sewing machine in for repair, learn how to fix and oil it yourself, and learn basic clothing repair, like sewing on buttons, shortening pants, and patching jeans. Bring a project you need help with so you can learn how to fix it on your own in the future. This clinic is an excellent example of collaborative consumption and how we can use it to educate as well as support sustainable living.


Puppet ShowsLiteracyWomen’s History MonthOutdoor AdventuresMusic StudiesHistory of Writing/PrintingCollaborative ConsumptionTeen/HistorySTEMSports HistoryTheater/MusicalsParent Workshops


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