30 Community Highlights: Peach Festival to Greek Festival. Harvest Supper to Stone Masonry.

Peaches (cc) Phil Romans

Peach Festival at Outlook Farm this Sunday, August 17 in Westhampton!

Peach Festival to Greek Festival. Harvest Supper to Food Future. Stone Masonry to Copperheads… 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:  Summer is winding down and it’s time to get ready for school! Are your quills sharpened? Have you purchased your new chalk and slate? Wait a second – it’s not the 19th Century! What would “back-to-school” look like for children in the 1800’s? Families can step back to the time of quills and ink and one-room schoolhouses at Storrowton Village during their freeBack to School: 19th Century Style” event on Friday, August 22 in West Springfield. Here kids can experience hands-on school activities for this era, like writing with a quill, taking notes using chalk and slate, recess games, reciting in front of the class, and more. All ages will love getting to experience what school was like in another time and comparing it with school today!


School HistoryLocal HistorySTEMAgricultural FairsCommunity MealRepair & RepurposeCulture/GreekTransportation/IndustryFoodOutdoor AdventuresHorsesMuseum AdventuresAnimal StudiesKindergarten Readiness


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Suggested Events for August 16th-22nd, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“Hilltown Families is always my Saturday morning “go to.” I have a 4 year old and over the last few years we have gone to many weekend events and a lot of them have begun at the site. From street fairs to live performances to farmers’ markets and such-countless adventures have started here at www.hilltownfamilies.org.” – Mark Donovan (Easthampton, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

BULLETIN BOARD

Aug 13-16

Welcome to the Jungle! PaintBox Theatre closes its summer season with Tarzan at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton. Directed by Tom McCabe, it’s the classic Tarzan story, with PaintBox twists, audience participation, and our most interesting theatre yet. Imagine we’re at school and our teacher announces the field trip of a lifetime—to the deepest darkest jungle. Have no fear: when there’s trouble, Tarzan swings in to save the day. The show is under the Grandstand roof at the Three County Fairgrounds: plenty of shade, rain protection, and free parking. Performances are Wed., Aug. 13 – Sat., Aug. 16, 10:30am and 1pm daily. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-320-0517. www.paintboxtheatre.com.

Aug 16

Get Ready for Kindergarten! This Saturday, August 16 from 10am-3pm, enjoy a fun-filled day at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art’s Countdown to Kindergarten featuring storytimes and activities geared to support children as they get ready for their first day of kindergarten. The KidStage Acting Company (Boston Children’s Museum) will perform D.W. Counts Down to Kindergarten!, a 30-minute play with audience participation. Caregivers will receive helpful handouts and activity ideas to try back at home. Plus enjoy films, art making and three wonderful galleries of picture book art. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is located at 125 West Bay Road in Amherst, MA. For more info, visit www.carlemuseum.org or call 413-658-1100.

Aug 16

MumBett Day: Celebrating Freedom Fighters takes place Saturday, Aug 16 from12-4pm at the Ashley House,117 Cooper Hill Road, in Ashley Fall/Sheffield, MA. Learn about activist and hero Elizabeth “MumBett” Freeman, who successfully sued for her freedom from slavery in 1781. Activities includes Civil War re-enactors of the African American 54th Infantry Regiment with storytelling, and demonstrations; living history performances of MumBett and Sojourner Truth; a short play by the Town Players of Pittsfield; tours of Ashley House; children’s activities, plus books and MumBett dolls for sale. Hike Bart’s Cobble next door. Bring a picnic and stay the day! Suggested donation $5-$10; Children FREE. More info: westregion@ttor.org 413-532-1631 x10

Aug 19 & 21

Graphic design classes for kids and tweens in Easthampton! Introduce your art loving kid to graphic design in these two-hours courses taught by Leslie Tane at Eastworks. Intro to Graphic Design for 8-12 year olds will be held from 1-3pm on Tues., August 12; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 14. What is Graphic Design? is from 1-3pm on Tues., August 19; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 21. Your kids will learn about graphic design: what it is, where to find it, and the beginnings of how to make it. Supplies are provided. $25/student per class. www.tadashow.com/workshops

Aug 23

Open House at Pioneer Valley Ballet on August 23, 11:00am-1:00pm. Discover the region’s premier ballet training program. PVB offers classical ballet training for children ages 4.5 through adults using a unique Listen, Think, & Move philosophy to create determined, strong, and supple dancers who possess poise, confidence, and self-respect. Known for its opulent performances at the Academy of Music in Northampton (auditions for The Nutcracker on September 13!), PVB’s Open House includes free classes along with the opportunity to observe Advanced Dancers. Meet the trainers and tour the studio. PVB is located in the Eastworks building, 116 Pleasant St., Easthampton. For more information, call 413-527-6363 or visit www.pioneervalleyballet.org

Sep 28

On Sunday, Sept. 28th, you can pedal toward a hunger-free community at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts 4th annual Will Bike 4 Food (WB4F) charity cycling event. There’s still time to take advantage of the early bird special. If you register by Aug. 29, you’ll receive $75 off your fundraising minimum ($175 instead of $250 per person). Start a team or ride as an individual. With multiple courses to choose from—a 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of any level can take part. Don’t miss the post-race celebration with complimentary food, beer from Berkshire Brewing Company, and family activities. To register, or to learn more about WB4F, visit their website at www.foodbankwma.org/events/bike

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your fall program, after school class, school, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS

August 16th-22nd, 2014

SaturdaySunday

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

License Plates Tell a Story & Inspire Learning in Kids

Social Studies on the Road

License plates… part of a greater story.

Watching for interesting license plates is a great way to keep kids entertained during road trips – with so many people traveling, the highways are filled with out-of-staters whose plates provide a great distraction from backseat boredom. Simply teaching kids to search for letters of the alphabet, colors, or specific digits can be enough to add some excitement to a somewhat monotonous drive, but expanding plate-searching games to become a family hobby can turn summer fun into full-time learning!

License plates reflect unique traits about their state’s culture, landscape, or history – each state’s design says something about the place, whether it’s subtly hinted at through color and design or highlighted with colorful images. Arizona’s standard plate has a backdrop of a beautiful desert scene, while Ohio’s new license plates feature rolling hills, farms, and a small city. Some plates remind us of our state’s claims to fame, like Georgia’s peach plate, Maine’s specialty lobster and moose plates, and the Wyoming cowboy plate. Even the somewhat plain Massachusetts red, white, and blue plate represents the state’s place in American history.

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The Garden Plot: An Intro to the Summer Hit of Goatscaping!

Goats Gives Green Solution to Manage Landscaping

I am not sure if this will be Oxford Dictionary’s next “word of the year” (last year was selfie), but if you have not heard of goatscaping, here is your introduction…

Goatscaping is when families and farms, looking for non-chemical alternatives for managing a landscape, employ goats to help control weeds. My own horticultural company offers this environmentally friendly technique, but my ownership and caring of goats, and their help with managing the landscape of my clients and my own home, predates the actual term goatscaping. My goats have been goatscaping way longer then they knew there was a trendy word for what they were doing.  They just called it lunch!

So here is how it works… Read the rest of this entry »

Monarch Butterflies: The Life & Science

Monarch Butterflies: Migratory Patterns & Citizen Scientists Opportunities

Tagged Monarch Butterfly

What to organize a Monarch Butterfly tagging effort? Monarch Watch has instructions and kits with tags for tracking.

Monarch butterflies make perhaps the most epic of all migratory journeys. Though their long trek can sometimes take up to four generations to complete, it spans an almost unbelievably large portion of North America. The butterflies begin high in the mountains of southwestern Mexico, and, come springtime, gradually work their way as far north as Saskatchewan, Canada and as far east as Maine and the southernmost parts of New Brunswick. The distinctive black-and-orange butterflies lay their eggs along the way, and depend on the availability of milkweed-filled habitat throughout their journey. While no one butterfly makes the round trip from Mexico to Maine and back again, the pattern of monarch movement across the continent is incredibly sophisticated and, at times, beautiful.

Because the monarch needs such specific habitat – young monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed – the opportunity to stop and lay eggs has become much more limited than it once was. Due to human development of land and genetically engineered farming techniques, meadows with milkweed can be rare, and the butterflies must try much harder in order to complete the full cycle of their journey. In order to track the changes in population and the preferred landing grounds of monarchs, a number of Citizen Scientist initiatives have been developed. All around the United States (with the exception of states west of the Rockies), butterflies are being tracked and studied – and your family can help as a citizen scientist…

Read the rest of this entry »

Learn About Local Food & Chemistry through Fermentation

The Art & Science of Fermentation: Lessons in Local Food Preservation

There’s lots of space for learning about food science when you turn your kitchen into a fermentation station!

This time of year, it’s so easy to forget how badly we longed for crisp pickling cucumbers and fresh local tomatoes during the winter – sometimes, it all comes in at once, and it’s all we can do to keep the bounty of our gardens and farm shares from going to waste. Gardening is, of course, a great way to expose kids to cycles of growth and the joy of producing your own food, and the cooking that eventually follows. A solidly planted garden brings with it a myriad of other kitchen-based learning experiences (measuring math, recipe literacy, and lots of fine motor skill development for small folks). But what do you do when you’ve cooked all you can eat and your self-sufficient kiddos have already mastered the ins and outs of your kitchen? Start fermenting! Read the rest of this entry »

Journal-Making: Creative Outlet for Bringing Family Together

Journal-Making: Inspiration for Writing & Drawing

Sharpen your pencils. Journaling is key to bringing ideas to life.

It’s no secret of parenting that kids have a lot to say. Just as our own adult brains are constantly stirring through ideas, memories, and observations, children’s brains are working just as hard. They make note of interesting things that they see in their surroundings, develop characters and stories inspired by their experiences, and they may even craft clever illustrations to their thoughts inside the confines of their neural connections. Giving kids an outlet isn’t difficult – younger children can often satisfy their creative urges with a basket of crayons and some recycled paper, while older children create more sophisticated drawings, diagrams, stories, or logs when they’ve got something to record.

A great project to do as a family to encourage kids’ writing and drawing skills is journal-making.. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: The Loving Power of an Auntie

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

A Legacy of Love

My Aunt Janine was a teacher who had pop-up books and a knack for telling stories…

This August, we’re having a baby! Well, it’s not exactly our baby. In truth, my brother and sister-in-law are having their first child, and we are all over the moon. It is a guilty pleasure to watch this little life unfolding from afar, because I know sleepless nights are coming their way. I know that they may argue about the best way to get their cranky cherub to sleep, and they may wonder who else in the world is awake, rocking their own newborn at 3 am; I know I did. But now, having nursed my last baby five years ago, I see this tiny girl’s arrival with fresh eyes, and with an entirely different perspective: I get to be her aunt. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Summer in the City Episode with Guest DJ, Meredith Wright (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Summer in the City  Episode
with Guest DJ, Meredith Wright

This week on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, join Guest DJ Meredith Wright from Sweetbeatz for Summer in the City. She’ll be spinning a soulful mix of songs that will have you boppin’ to the beat of the city streets. Grab your metrocard (you’ll need it for the subway) for a fun adventure to Central Park, a ballgame and everything in between! – www.sweetbeatzbaby.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
August 9th & 10th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO:  The Subway! Large cast of Muppets sing about riding the subway.  It’s vintage New York City and Sesame Street all in one!


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Stevie Wonder – “Master Blaster” [Stevie Wonder the Definitive Collection]
  • Hot Peas ‘n Butter – “Baila/Dance” [Best of the Band, Ingles y Español]
  • Martha Reeves & The Vandellas- “Dancing In The Street” [20th Century Masters- the Millennium Collection- Motown 1960's vol.1]
  • Sweetbeatz- “Neighborhood” [Soulful Songs for City Kids]
  • Bari Koral- “Subway” [Rock and Roll Garden]
  • Joanie Leeds- “Sunday in the Park” [City Kid]
  • Heritage O.P. – “Friendship” [Heritage]
  • Sweetbeatz – “Laundry” [Soulful Songs for City Kids]
  • Carly Simon- “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” [Baseball- a Film by Ken Burns]
  • Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton- “Ice Cream” [Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues (Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center)]
  • James Brown – “Get On The Good Foot, pt. 1″ [20 All-Time Greatest Hits!]
  • Sweetbeatz- “Hairdos” [Soulful Songs for City Kids]
  • Byron Lee & The Dragonaires – “Give Me Soca” [Soca Greatest Hits]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 9th & 10th, 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 9th-15th, 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: Water Mills to Urban Forestry. Fibonacci Sequence to Artbotics.. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes. and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: August 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, and our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs.

Other posts to read for summer fun include 5 Hikes for Families in Western MA State Forests and Parks for outdoor walking adventures, Beach Day Trips for a list of shoreline adventures, Swimming Holes in Western MA for local discoveries, and Local Agricultural Fairs for a list of upcoming fairs in our region.

August 9th-15th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Citizen ScientistLocal HistorySTEMNature StudiesGeologyHikingCultural Studies/MusicIndustrial HistoryCommunity ServiceArtFilm StudiesAgriculture/Dairy FarmingAnimal StudiesOrnithology/RaptorsEducators WorkshopCurrent Affairs

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Tidal Pool Day Trips from Western MA
  2. The Dinner Table: Extending Dinner Time with Walking Desserts
  3. Exhibiting at the Fair
  4.  How Does Your Family Handle Screen Time Limits in the Summer?
  5.  Q&A: Ear Piercing

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

30 Community Highlights: Water Mills to Urban Forestry. Fibonacci Sequence to Artbotics.

The Holyoke Public Library hosts Nature’s Designs, a special program that will show how the Fibonacci Sequence and Golden Ratio appear in nature, using plant and animal shapes to illustrate on Friday, morning August 15. Presented by Kevin Kopchynski, the free program will be exciting, informative, and surprising! Read our post, Fibonacci Sequence & Golden Ratio Drive Nature Based Education, to discover how nature’s patterns reveal mathematical reasoning!

Fibonacci Sequence to Artbotics. Silent Film to Art Walk. Water Mills to Urban Forestry… 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 notable Worthington residents of the past? Discover interesting bits of local history on a free cemetery tour with the Worthington Historical Society on Saturday evening, August 9. One night before the full moon, you can explore Worthington’s oldest surviving cemetery (Center Cemetery) and see the grave sites of notable residents. The tour will also take you past the site of the town’s first cemetery, which is now a pasture, as well as the town’s first parsonage and oldest building. Cemetery tours can teach about local history through their focus on people who lived in the past – who lived here? What did they do? How/when did they die? What legacy did they leave behind? Older students who are interested in local history will enjoy this opportunity to discover the history of the Hilltowns in Worthington.


Citizen ScientistLocal HistorySTEMNature StudiesGeologyHikingCultural Studies/MusicIndustrial HistoryCommunity ServiceArtFilm StudiesAgriculture/Dairy FarmingAnimal StudiesOrnithology/RaptorsEducators WorkshopCurrent Affairs


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for August 9th-15th, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“Hilltown Families helps us to cast a wider net when we are looking for activities during school vacation or on the weekends. Often we find sweet little buried gems that would otherwise have escaped our notice… Thanks for being here.” – Sarah Rankin (Greenfield, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

BULLETIN BOARD

Aug 12, 14, 19 & 21

Graphic design classes for kids and tweens in Easthampton! Introduce your art loving kid to graphic design in these two-hours courses taught by Leslie Tane at Eastworks. Intro to Graphic Design for 8-12 year olds will be held from 1-3pm on Tues., August 12; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 14. What is Graphic Design? is from 1-3pm on Tues., August 19; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 21. Your kids will learn about graphic design: what it is, where to find it, and the beginnings of how to make it. Supplies are provided. $25/student per class. www.tadashow.com/workshops

Aug 13-16

Welcome to the Jungle! PaintBox Theatre closes its summer season with Tarzan at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton. Directed by Tom McCabe, it’s the classic Tarzan story, with PaintBox twists, audience participation, and our most interesting theatre yet. Imagine we’re at school and our teacher announces the field trip of a lifetime—to the deepest darkest jungle. Have no fear: when there’s trouble, Tarzan swings in to save the day. The show is under the Grandstand roof at the Three County Fairgrounds: plenty of shade, rain protection, and free parking. Performances are Wed., Aug. 13 – Sat., Aug. 16, 10:30am and 1pm daily. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-320-0517. www.paintboxtheatre.com.

Fall Openings

Amherst Montessori School has limited fall openings for toddlers and pre-schoolers, ages 12 months through 6 years. Featuring a Young Toddler program for ages 12-24 months, Toddler for ages 18 months – 3 years, the Children’s House for ages 3-6 years, and La Casa de Niños, the Pioneer Valley’s only Spanish Montessori pre-school program for ages 3-6 years. AMS fosters the natural self-construction, cognitive development, and social-emotional well-being of each child in programs that include music, art, practical life, outdoor time, PE and yoga. For current openings or to schedule a visit, contact Laura Miller, Director of Admissions, at lmiller@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your fall program, after school class, school, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
August 9th-15th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Diverse Range of Animals & Resources in Western Mass Support Community Based Education

Animal Friendly Western Mass Stimulates Learning in Children (and Adults!)

Animals are a common interest among children. Whether they’re in love with cats of all shapes and sizes or fascinated by the destructive power of a shark’s jaws, children can learn a lot through having an interest in creatures. In utilizing the numerous animal-related community-based learning resources available locally, families can support children of all ages in learning about everything from biological classification to compassion.

Gecko at the Berkshire Museum

As far as learning goes, children’s animal-related interests often have much to do with their age and the developmental stage that they’re in. Young children’s interest in animals is generally limited to a curiosity about where they live, what they eat, and what they do all day – similar to the curiosities that children have about the people around them. Elementary-aged children slowly develop the ability to understand animals as a complex topic, and begin to consider ideas like adaptations, predator-prey relationships, natural habitats, and extinction. Meanwhile, older learners (teens and tweens) can explore an interest in animals by learning about the biological complexities of species classification, the role of conservation in species preservation, and the diversity of animal species and habitats around the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Green: Climate Change Education & Action

People’s Climate March

There is something important happening in September. It’s the People’s Climate March in NYC. They claim it will be the biggest climate rally in history. They also say it will be pet and family friendly, so I’m using encouraging Pioneer Valley locals to get to the march on September 21st, 2014. A local team of people are working on organizing charter bus transportation and carpooling to the march in NYC in September. You can travel round trip for $25 or less getting back the same day, so don’t let cost or time stand in the way. The atmosphere and tenor of the event is meant to be dignified, fun, impacting and empowering. This is not the place for terror and fright as it will certainly be permitted by NYC, peaceful and safe for all who come. Keep an ear out for fun, local, and creative activities leading up to the support of the rally.

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Hampshire and Hampden Canal: Gone but not Forgotten

Photographer Examines Hidden History of Local Landscape in the Valley

At 2pm on Saturday, August 16, 2014, Carl Walter, a canal historian, will give a talk in Historic Northampton’s Gallery III. He has been studying the Hampshire and Hampden Canal since 1991, and has created a digital database that contains several thousand photos and documents containing information about the canal. In his talk, he will explain why the canal was built, where it was located, and how it was constructed, as well as its importance to the canal towns, with an emphasis on the relationship between the town of Northampton and the canal.

As part of Historic Northampton’s Contemporary Art series, Anthony W. Lee will exhibit seven large format photographs, collectively titled A River of Dreams, from Friday, August 8 through Saturday, September 6, 2014.

Lee, an historian and documentary photographer, is the Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art History at Mt. Holyoke College. His show is inspired by the history and legacy of the early-nineteenth-century Hampshire and Hampden Canal, which ran from New Haven, Connecticut to Northampton, Massachusetts. Established in the 1820s, the canal was New Haven’s attempt to prevent the city of Hartford from gaining a monopoly on the trade and movement of goods in the region. In Northampton, the canal ran along the west side of New South Street, then known as Canal Street, and continued north, crossing King Street at Damon Road until it joined the Connecticut River. Despite the relatively successful operation of commerce over a ten year period, the venture as a whole was fraught with problems, and the canal was defunct by 1946. The remains of the canal beds were rapidly repurposed into railroad lines, streets, and other modern edifices, and it takes a discerning eye to see the subtle clues left on the landscape.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Your Introduction to Sacrifice & Life on the Back Burner

Best Laid Plans

The spitting camel has wangled his way into the summer schedule!

We’re halfway through the summer. We’ve had a week of a vacation to the most popular destination in the country. We’ve had major Pinterest wins and Pinterest fails (don’t try the water blob…unless you want to sweat and swear…then by all means go right ahead.). We’ve had lesson after lesson; music, equine, swimming, OT and PT. We’ve begun the process of “real reading,” on the request of my daughter herself. We’ve gone to beaches, to parks, to fairs, to bouncy palaces, to zoos (where the camels got close and up front spitting on me for good measure) and to fancy schmancy concerts where we got to sit on the lawn and listen to the likes of James Taylor and our favorite Beatles tribute band. We bought an amazing sprinkler made up of individual flowers that spray water out at gentle angles and even put the kiddie pool directly underneath the kitchen window so that we could fill it up with warm water from the tap. Pretty successful huh? Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all…so why is it that the moment I realized we were at summer’s halfway point, I got a ginormous pit-of-death smack dab in the middle of my solar plexus? Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for Rebecca Stead’s “When You Reach Me”

When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead

What grows when it dies, but eats when it drinks? This and other riddles provide an intriguing and puzzling pre-read warmup for Rebecca Stead’s Newbury Medal-winning book, When You Reach Me. Classified as a science-fiction mystery novel for young adult readers, the story is a riddle-filled puzzle that will intrigue and fascinate savvy tweens and almost-tweens.

When You Reach Me is set in New York City in 1978, and is centered around the mysteries filling the life of a girl named Miranda. Miranda’s favorite activities are watching The $20,000 Pyramid, reading her favorite book (A Wrinkle in Time), and adventuring through her Manhattan neighborhood with her best friend, Sal – who helps her navigate the surprising and sometimes slightly scary things that they encounter nearby. The story truly begins when Sal and Miranda drift apart, which begins after a mysterious boy punches Sal in the stomach while they walk down a street together. After losing her best friend, Miranda encounters some other strange events – the spare key that she and her mother keep hidden is stolen, and Miranda gets a strange note from a mysterious source. Though she and her mother change the locks and assume the trouble is over, Miranda keeps getting notes – and must stay silent, though she knows not who is writing them or what they are pushing her towards.  Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Rainbow Dress at the Green River Fest

Free to Be

Spinning my boy, wearing our rainbow sundresses. (Photo credit: E Goffredo)

The venue: 2014 Green River Festival. For those unfamiliar, it’s a music fest – Happy Valley style. Vendors sell food on a stick, but it’s chicken satay. The hotdogs? Grass fed beef. The fried dough is topped with rustic pesto and goat cheese. This was our third year enjoying eclectic music and family friendly extras, like circus acts and hot air balloons. It was here, two years ago, my son first expressed his desire for a dress.

I was choosing between two upcycled t-shirt sundresses in the Maker’s Market. She makes kids’ sizes, too, but they’re more costly than I would spend on one unit of children’s clothing, especially one designed for single-season wear. He’s an only child. There’s no amortizing the cost.

I want a sundwess too, Mama. I want mine to have a numbuh fwee on it so peopew wiww know I’m fwee.

I give a non-committal response. Maybe we can.

The dress is seemingly soon forgotten – until it comes up again the next year. This time maybe doesn’t suffice because it’s accompanied by that kicker of all questions: why
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HFVS with Guest DJ, Ben of Mister G (Radio Show/Podcast)

GUEST DJ, MISTER G

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
August 2nd & 3rd, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video:  Mister G released “The Bossy E” this summer with songs celebrating reading, learning and unplugged creativity, including “Love To Read” in our featured video. www.mistergsongs.com


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 2nd & 3rd, 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 2nd-8th, 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: Bottle Rockets to Binoculars. Meadowlands to Beavers.. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes. and our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun: August 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, and our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of over 55 summer camps & programs.

Other posts to read for summer fun include 5 Hikes for Families in Western MA State Forests and Parks  for outdoor walking adventures,  Beach Day Trips for a list of shoreline adventures, Swimming Holes in Western MA for local discoveries, and Local Agricultural Fairs for a list of upcoming fairs in our region.

August 2nd-8th, 2014

SaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

RocketsBlacksmithing/ToolsService Based Learning/Food SecurityInsect StudiesCultural Studies/Native AmericanSports HistorySTEMAnimal ScienceAstronomyLocal HistoryOutdoor AdventuresAbolitionism

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Geocaching & Letterboxing Support Learning and Outdoor Adventures as a Family
  2. Letterboxing: Adventure, Art and the Great Outdoors
  3. 10 Outdoor Summer Music Series in Western MA
  4. 18 Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Western MA
  5. Aerial Adventure Parks in Western MA

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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29 Community Highlights: Bottle Rockets to Binoculars. Meadowlands to Beavers.

Interested in rockets? There are several events happening this week that allows kids to explore the physics of rockets through hands-on experience!

Bottle Rockets to Blacksmithing. Meadowlands to Beavers. Binoculars Tour to Walking Tour… 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 Museum of Science and the M.N. Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury present “Rockets: There and Back Again!” Youth participants can create an air rocket that launches across the room, exploring the science behind rockets and space exploration in this free hands-on workshop taking place at the Town Hall. Through experiential learning, kids can plan, build, and test their very own designs!


RocketsBlacksmithing/ToolsService Based Learning/Food SecurityInsect StudiesCultural Studies/Native AmericanSports HistorySTEMAnimal ScienceAstronomyLocal HistoryOutdoor AdventuresAbolitionism


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Suggested Events for August 2nd-8th, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“Hilltown Families has given me ways to reach out into the community with activities and ideas for things to do that are fun and close to home. I use Hilltown Families when I have friends from out of town coming over and want to show them what it is like to live in a small town community.” – Briana Kubik (Blandford, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

BULLETIN BOARD

Jul 30-Aug 2

PaintBox Theatre, Northampton’s theatre of imagination and improvisation for all ages, presents the world stage premiere of Cornelia Funke’s picture book, Pirate Girl, adapted and directed by Tom McCabe. Pirates, singing and carrying on, audience participation, bad jokes from Captain Firebeard, art from local children, a band of silvery pirates from the Northampton Senior Center—all without any scurvy or seasickness! Performances are Wed., July 30 – Sat., Aug. 2, 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. daily at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-320-0517. Stay tuned for Tarzan, August 13-16 at the Three County Fairgrounds! www.paintboxtheatre.com.

Aug 1,6 & 13

The fun continues this summer at the Springfield Museums! There’s the Life Through Time exhibit of roaring, stomping mechanical dinosaurs and Ice-age mammals (extra fee), plus enjoy art and science activities, live reptile demos and more every weekday at the Summer Spectacular Family Series. There are also great family shows every Wednesday – Friday, including the Tanglewood Marionettes on Thursdays, Bubblemania with Casey Carle (August 1), Grammy-nominated The Pop Ups (August 6), Mister G (August 13), and many others, plus the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden, all free with museum admission! Check www.springfieldmuseums.org for a full schedule.

Aug 12, 14, 19 & 21

Graphic design classes for kids and tweens in Easthampton! Introduce your art loving kid to graphic design in these two-hours courses taught by Leslie Tane at Eastworks. Intro to Graphic Design for 8-12 year olds will be held from 1-3pm on Tues., August 12; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 14. What is Graphic Design? is from 1-3pm on Tues., August 19; the class for 12-15 year olds is from 1-3pm on Thurs., August 21. Your kids will learn about graphic design: what it is, where to find it, and the beginnings of how to make it. Supplies are provided. $25/student per class. www.tadashow.com/workshops

Sep 28

On Sunday, Sept. 28th, join The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts at their 4th annual Will Bike 4 Food (WB4F) charity cycling event. Ride as an individual or form a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help them feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of any level can become involved. WB4F provides a chance for families to participate in an activity together, while raising awareness of the issue of hunger. Now is a great time to get started. To register, or to learn more about WB4F, visit their website at www.foodbankwma.org/events/bike.

Fall Openings

Amherst Montessori School has limited fall openings for toddlers and pre-schoolers, ages 12 months through 6 years. Featuring a Young Toddler program for ages 12-24 months, Toddler for ages 18 months – 3 years, the Children’s House for ages 3-6 years, and La Casa de Niños, the Pioneer Valley’s only Spanish Montessori pre-school program for ages 3-6 years. AMS fosters the natural self-construction, cognitive development, and social-emotional well-being of each child in programs that include music, art, practical life, outdoor time, PE and yoga. For current openings or to schedule a visit, contact Laura Miller, Director of Admissions, at lmiller@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

Aug 4-8

The 24th annual Children’s Literature Festival sponsored by the Mary Lyon Foundation will be held this summer at the Buckland Shelburne Elementary School in Shelburne Falls from 8:30am-Noon, Aug 4-8. This unique program combines children’s literature with arts and crafts, music, field trips and special guests. Children will have an opportunity to visit the Mary Lyon House in Upper Buckland where Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke, first taught school in 1823. The theme this year is A Sense of Place and introduces children grades K-6 to local history. Cost for $50/child. Includes all materials and snacks. Scholarships available. For more info Toni Wilcox at 413-863-9418. Call the Mary Lyon Foundation office at 413-625-2555 for application.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your fall program, after school class, school, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
August 2nd-8th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

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Time to Talk: Summer Language Stimulation

Midsummer Language Skills

The summer months are racing ahead. Many of our children are going to day camps or traveling with family. I know from my work schedule that families are shifting their plans daily, almost hourly in some cases. Spontaneity can be a double-edged sword for children. Too much can make them off balance but too much structure can stress them out. I see some children in my practice who lose ground with inconsistent speech therapy due to their looser schedules. But I also see others who gain skills over the summer, when the rigidity of schedules is relaxed.

I’m pondering today about this. So much seems to be determined by the personality of our children. For some, a loosening of structure takes away pressure, and they can learn and be creative at their own pace. Others depend on a schedule to be okay. As parents and teachers, we need to honor these learning/living styles in order to help kids be successful and happy. Of course, this applies to the style that works for their adults as well! What’s the style in your family? Does it work for all your children? Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Basil Pesto & Peas

Summer foods that are easy to grow and that kids love.

One of the foods that we love to make a lot in the summer is basil pesto. We grow a lot of basil in our garden and at this time of the year it’s very abundant. We also are very lucky that many of our farmer friends hand off some of their extras to us. I love the taste and smell of basil…it’s one of my favorite culinary herbs! It works in so many dishes and also goes well in some fruity summer drinks. Just last week, we added basil to some seltzer water with simple syrup and sour cherries that we picked from a friends tree in their backyard. It was delish!

The past couple weeks we have also been eating lots of peas, in particular sugar snap peas which happens to be a favorite snack in our house. We also picked lots of shell peas from a farm we have a CSA share with, shelled them and froze them for future use. It takes a little time to do this, but it’s always nice to have these preserved in the freezer for when a recipe calls for them, like pesto!

See our recipe for basil pesto and pasta with peas

Berkshire Family Fun: August 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
August 2014

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of August. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“We love that Hilltown Families keeps us updated on events in the larger area, in both the Berkshires and the Valley…We use the calendar section, the camp guide, the school guides, and much more.” – Caitlin Loverin (Pittsfield, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is sponsored in part by:

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Local Agricultural Fairs Showcase Rich Local Heritage

Multidisciplinary Learning Opportunities for Children

It’s almost agricultural fair time!

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

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Under the Hat: Energize Your Child’s Imagination through Literacy

Reading Supports the Development of a Creative Mind!

Reading is fun

Reading requires imagination and can inspire creativity.

I was a lucky kid: my mom was a children’s book author and illustrator and I grew up surrounded by books. For years, my mom and I had a weekly date at the library. I’d always check out the maximum number of books and couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. I loved everything, but my favorite stories were the really scary ones.

Not too much has changed over the years; I still have a stack of books on my bedside table and I still love learning about all sorts of things just by lying still and reading.

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Literary Guide for Mildred Pitts Walter’s “Alec’s Primer”

Alec’s Primer
by Mildred Pitts Walter

Alec’s Primer is a story of freedom – a true one. Based on the real-life experiences of a man named Alec Turner, the book follows a young boy born into slavery through childhood on a plantation, fighting for the north during the Civil War, and finding freedom in Vermont. Though born a slave and forbidden to learn literacy skills, young Alec learned to read with the help of the plantation owner’s granddaughter – who insisted that Alec learn the alphabet despite the trouble that he would be in if he were to be found out. In learning the foundation of reading and writing the English language, Alec gets his first taste of freedom and dreams of someday escaping to Vermont – though he does suffer punishment for learning to read. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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