Learning Ahead: Oct 20-24, 2014

learning ahead

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all year long!

This week we are featuring 15 events that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events. Read the rest of this entry »

35 Community Highlights: Mandarin to Historic Hike. Cemeteries to Pumpkinfest.

Are you carving your Halloween pumpkin this weekend? Pumpkins are the focus of many community celebrations this weekend, including the Franklin County Pumpkinfest, Mount Warner Pumpkin Fest, Easthampton Harvest Festival, and the Westhampton Great Pumpkin Roll! (Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield)

Mandarin to Historic Hike. Archaeology to Paleontology. Cemeteries to Pumpkinfest… 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: It’s hard to imagine dinosaurs roaming the earth, let alone the Connecticut River Valley, but that is exactly what they did some 190 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. Families can learn about dinosaurs in the region with geologist Dan Vellone at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center’s Family Dino Day on Saturday, October 18 from 10:30am-2:30pm. Through exploration stations, arts and crafts activities, dinosaur tracks and bones, and a presentation (12noon), all ages can have fun learning about dinosaurs. Vellone’s presentation will focus on the origins of dinosaurs and how they are rooted in the Connecticut River Valley. Pack a picnic and explore Northfield Mountain’s trails after the dino festivities. Call 1-800-859-2960 to pre-register for this free event. Northfield Mountain is at 99 Millers Falls Road in Northfield, MA. (FREE)


ArchaeologyChinese LanguageTextilesLocal History  ♦ PaleontologyWomen’s StudiesAnimal StudiesCemeteriesPumpkin FestsNature StudiesParent WorkshopsPreSchool Activities


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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33 Community Highlights: Fall Festival to Medieval Faire. Wild Rice to Apples.

Pumpkin games this weekend at the Ashfield Fall Festival!

Fall Festival to Medieval Faire. Haunted History to Paleontology. Wild Rice to Apples… 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: Travel back to colonial times with the Buckland Historical Society at their Colonial Day celebration on Sunday, October 12 from 2pm-5pm at the Wilder Homestead. Colonial Day replicates life in New England several hundred years ago, and engages visitors in everyday activities that are characteristic of the period. There will be demonstrations of open hearth cooking, basket making, weaving, spinning, quilting, folk painting, and cider pressing, as well as oxen and performances of Morris dance and music from the 1700s. How do these activities compare to those of today? Most people no longer weave their own baskets or spin their own yarn – why do you think that is? Colonial Day will get all ages actively engaged in learning about history and will help them see how much has changed in a few hundred years! 413-625-9763. 129 Route 112. Buckland, MA. (>$)


STEMFilm StudiesLocal HistoryAgricultureArcheology/TextilesService-Based LearningPaleontologyArchitectureCommunity CelebrationsMedieval HistorySukkotLocal Food HistoryHaunted HistoryOutdoor AdventuresTheater Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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27 Community Highlights: Scarecrows to Bogs. Ginkgo Trees to Butter Churns.

Do you like spooky scarecrows? What about silly scarecrows? You can make your own scarecrow and decorate it however you like at Atkin Farms in Amherst on Saturday, October 4, and the Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Sunday, October 5. Terrific intergenerational activity the family can do together while supporting creative-free play!

Scarecrows to Bogs. Ginkgo Trees to Corn Relish. Stethoscopes to Butter Churns… 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 Hatfield Fall Festival is on Sunday, October 5 from 11am-3pm and is full of tons of fun activities and exhibits related to local history! Stop by for classic fall festival activities, like a parade, farmers’ market, cider pressing, crafts, demonstrations, kids’ activities, and others. In addition to these activities, there will be many opportunities to learn about what Hatfield was like in the past. Check out the Cutter Farm Museum to see demonstrations of historic trades, meet farm animals, learn about antique vehicles, and see the actual sleigh that Hatfield town physician Dr. Charles Byrne used for winter house calls in the late-1800s. Inside the Historical Museum (2nd floor of Hatfield Public Library), there will be a used book sale, a viewing of the exhibit, “Simple Tools, Elegant Script: The Lost Art of Cursive,” which features traditional writing implements, and an activity for visitors of all ages to use some of these tools to practice writing. The Hatfield Fall Festival is great fun for history buffs of all ages! Call 413-315-9793 for more information. Hatfield, MA (FREE)


Creative-Free PlayLocal HistoryEntomologyBiologyCultural HistoryHistoric TradesFood CultureCraftsSkillshareLanguage ArtsSTEMGeologyImmigrationPreK ActivitiesLocal/Handmade


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield

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

Rubik’s Cube to Watershed Blitz. Pudding Festival to Garlic Festival. Cuatro to Kouta… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

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


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


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

Banned Books Week to Poetry Festival. Rosh Hashanah to Autumn Equinox. Skillshare to Science Cafe… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week: Learn about the annual hawk migration with The Trustees of Reservations at “Hawks Over Holyoke” at Heritage State Park on Sunday, September 21 from 10am-3pm. Celebrate these unique birds and see live bird demonstrations like “Eyes on Owls” and “Hawks with Tom Ricardi.” This free day of family fun is a great chance for all ages to learn about these magnificent birds. 413-532-1631. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)


Film StudiesLocal HistoryAstronomyBanned BooksEntomologySkillshareOrnithologyNature StudiesPoetryGeologyLocal FoodMusic StudiesHistoryRosh HashanahAnimal Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

Honey Festival to Chilifest. Paper Marbling to Jam Making. Rhubarb Circus to Science Cafes… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

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


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


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Experiential Learning at Historic Deerfield

Immerse Yourself in Fall & Uncover Its Traditions

Late summer and autumn were busy times in early American kitchens. The abundance of fresh produce needed to be processed and preserved for the winter. This fall, Historic Deerfield interpreters will be cooking dishes featuring apples, pumpkins, and corn.

As brightly colored leaves replace the lush green of summer, sweaters and sweatshirts emerge on chilly mornings, and fresh, local apples become a daily staple. A full calendar of events at Historic Deerfield offers families countless ways to learn about fall in early New England. Families can visit the 350-year-old village for demonstrations and hands-on experiential activities so as to learn – through immersion – about the changes that fall brought to some of western Massachusetts’ earliest settlers.

Of course, some fall traditions remain a part of New England culture today. Exploring Historic Deerfield can help families to uncover the roots of some of their own fall activities and traditions, and can help children to understand the season-related reasons for the timing of certain cultural events. Harvesting the last of the summer’s bounty, for example, and celebrating the changing of the seasons through food of all kinds is a seasonal activity that families will easily relate to. A visit centered around learning about the settlers of Deerfield’s open-hearth cooking style and the crops that they harvested in fall can help children to compare and contrast the things that happen during their own lives in the fall with the events of autumn for early New Englanders. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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

Water Mills to Woodworking. Immigration to Magna CartaFamily Volunteering to Radical Mycology… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

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


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


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

Ukulélé to Shape Note SingingCorn Maze to KimchiHoosac Tunnel to Marble Quarry… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

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


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


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

Poetry Slam to Classical Music. Back-to-School to Stargazing. Tomatoes to Pickles…These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

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


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


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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When Dinosaurs Walked…Western Mass

Paleontology Fascinates and Stimulates Learning in Kids

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

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

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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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

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

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

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

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

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


AstronomyMusic StudiesNature AdventuresCommunity MealsPresidential HistorySTEMAnimal StudiesLocal HistoryHikesTheaterInsectsCrafts


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

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

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

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


Animal StudiesShakespeareTransportationCulturePlaygroundsNature StudiesAgriculture/Farm ToursLocal HistorySTEMInsectsCommunity MealsGeologyFestivals


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

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

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

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


Film StudiesLocal HistoryEntomologyTheaterArtBird StudiesSTEMSustainabilityWritingAnimal Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

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

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

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


Local HistoryAnimal StudiesArchitectureMusic StudiesCulturePerformance ArtFarmingNature StudiesSTEMMagicEntomologyFamily Performances


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

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

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

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


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


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

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

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

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


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


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

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

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

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


GeologyAstronomyNew England HistoryMusic HistoryAviation HistoryArchitectureChoreographyArt HistoryParent WorkshopsCommunity CelebrationsAutomotive HistorySTEMNature StudiesCommunity ServiceLiterature


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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

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

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

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

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


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


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Worthington Historical Society Educates all Ages About a Community’s Roots

Community learning opportunity for the family in local history treasure trove

Worthington Historical Society, MASome parts of local history are easy to access, no matter what community you live in. Families can learn about an area’s past informally by walking through cemeteries, reading plaques and memorials around town, and by looking for construction dates posted on signs and buildings. There are some things, though, that are nearly impossible to discover on your own. Stories about the people whose names mark graves, photographs of events held at local landmarks, and information about the inhabitants of historic homes or the former uses of old buildings could fill in the blanks, and the resources offered by local historical societies help us to do just that.

Of particular interest to local families are the resources offered by the Worthington Historical Society. A very active community resource, the Worthington Historical Society offers a museum full of local artifacts, frequently hosts educational tours and events, publishes a periodic blog of stories and photographs, and has an extensive library of books and DVD’s all about Worthington history.

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29 Community Highlights: Orienteering to Archaeological Dig. Violins to Jazz Music.

Stamell Stringed Instruments in Amherst is hosting a Violin and Viola Exhibit, Guadagnini’s Galore! through June 28. The instruments are all copies of the famous 18th century Italian violinmaker G.B. Guadagnini. A free opening will be held on Thursday evening, June 5, and all of the instruments will be offered for trial and playing in house.

Orienteering to Archaeological Dig. Veterinary Medicine to Folk Medicine. Violins to Jazz 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:  Are you interested in stargazing? Families can learn about astronomy and the night sky with members of Arunah Hill Natural Science Center and The Trustees of Reservations at Notchview on Saturday, May 31 from dusk until 11pm. You can try out different types of telescopes to search the night sky for stars, galaxies, planets, meteors, and more. Learn about telescopes and how they work by comparing what you can see with them with what you can see with the naked eye. There are an infinite number of things in space just waiting to be discovered by people – maybe even you! Come to Notchview to spend time with family learning about astronomy at this free event. Notchview is located on Route 9 in Windsor, MA. Call 413-532-1631 x10 for more information.


OrienteeringArchaeologyLocal FoodEntomologyCommunity ServiceVeterinary StudiesSkill Sharing/CraftsHistory/MedicineLocal HistoryAstronomyPlant StudiesSTEMParent WorkshopsLiteracyMusic Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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25 Community Highlights: Backstairs Tour to Paper Lanterns. Corn Worm to Fishways.

Backstairs Tour to U.S. 20. Corn Worm to Fishways. Paper Lanterns to International Children’s Day… 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 like learning about nature? What about reading children’s books? Nature is the theme of some great children’s books, including many by Springfield author Thornton W. Burgess. He was an acclaimed naturalist and children’s book author, and is the subject of Christine Palmer Lowrance’s book, Nature’s Ambassador: The Legacy of Thornton W. Burgess. Lowrance will be at Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to sign books and talk about Burgess. This is part of the Sanctuary’s free Turtle and Field Day event on Saturday, May 24 from 10am-2pm. Families can explore the trails, go on a natural history walk, and search for turtles, frogs, and more in the pond. Children’s book- and nature-lovers of all ages will enjoy this fun and informative program on natural history, animals, nature, and children’s books. Call 413-584-3009 for more information. The Sanctuary is located on Main Street in Hampden, MA.


Animal StudiesAgriculture & Fiber ArtsLocal HistoryBread BakingCommunity ServiceNature StudiesTravel/TransportationHistory/Martial ArtsActivism/Performance Art  ♦ ArchitecturePlant StudiesSTEMCrafts & Culture


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens
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25 Community Highlights: Community Celebrations to Community Service. Science to Art History.

Discover the world of native woodland plants  at Mt. Skinner State Park in Amherst on Tuesday evening, May 20! Mt. Skinner is home to many unique, beautiful, at-risk medicinal plants, in addition to spring ephemerals like Dutchman Britches picture here, medicinal trees, and other woodland plants. This walk would be great for older students who are interested in medicinal plants.

Corn Broom to Native Woodland Plants. Mud Day to Long Meddowe Days. Architecture to Endangered Species… 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: On Monday, May 19th, student volunteers from the Northampton High School Key Club will be making meal packages. The Key Club has teamed up with Kids Against Hunger, a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to providing food for starving and malnourished children and their families locally and around the world. The community-service learning event will take place in the high school cafeteria from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The event will produce between four to five thousand nutritious meals. The Key Club is thankful to Youth Service America and the Disney Friends for Change Program for helping provide funding to purchase the raw ingredients for this event. The NHS Key Club invites students who are at least eight years old and are enthusiastic about making a difference to join them. Pre registration required. Please email the president of the Key Club, Zachary, at zachdietz1@gmail.com to RSVP.


Community CelebrationsSTEMArt/HistoryCommunity ServiceArchitectureImmigrationPoetryMuseum AdventuresAnimal StudiesBusinessSports HistoryLocal HistoryPlant Studies


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29 Community Highlights: Water Mills to Bike Maintenance. Knitting to Folktales.

Discover local birds on a free guided bird walk with Forbes Library in Northampton on Sunday morning, May 11. The walk will take you through the Smith College campus and up to Paradise Pond in search of birds. This walk is great for beginner birders who want to learn more about bird identification, bird calls, and what some good birding spots in the area are.

Water Mills to Bike Maintenance. Knitting to Folktales. Mother’s Day to Community Service…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: May 15 is Third Thursday in Turners Falls! This month’s theme is “The Nature of Things,” and the evening includes tons of events relating to the river, including workshops, science demonstrations, wildlife exhibitions, performances, installations, and more. There is something for all ages at this fun event, which highlights some of the awesome things Turners Falls has to offer.


Geology/Natural HistoryLocal HistoryMother’s DayCommunity ServiceMusic StudiesDance & PerformanceAnimal & Nature StudiesSkill Share/BikesLiteracyFiber Arts/Knitting


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

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28 Community Highlights: Renaissance to Whistling. May Day to Pride Parade.

12th Annual Community Renaissance Festival this Sunday, May 4th, at UMass in Amherst, MA.

Renaissance to Whistling. May Day to Pride Parade. Police Dog to Reading with Dogs… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured learning highlight this week: Have you ever wondered what life was like during the Renaissance? You can discover activities, trades, and foods of the Renaissance at the 12th Annual Community Renaissance Festival, held by the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies on Sunday, May 4 in Amherst. All ages can learn about and celebrate this important cultural movement through theater performances, board games, weaving demonstrations, blacksmithing, leatherworking, dancing, live music, and more. The Renaissance Festival is a free interactive and engaging opportunity to get kids interested in European history and making connections between the Renaissance and many of the cultural movements that have occurred since then.


STEMLocal HistoryScienceRenaissancePhotographyAnimal StudiesCommunity ServiceDiversity/LGBTMilitary HistoryOrnithologyMay DayPlant Studies/WildflowersLiteracyArts & CraftsParent Workshop


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

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26 Community Highlights: Park Clean-Ups to Hawley Bog. Sheep Shearing to Beekeeping.

Families can experience life in an 18th Century encampment on Saturday, April 26 at the Historic Deerfield’s Revolutionary Muster and Parade.

Park Clean-Ups to Hawley Bog. Yo-Yos to Polka. Sheep Shearing to Beekeeping…. 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 Amherst Farmers’ Market and Amherst Sustainability Festival takes place this Saturday, April 26, 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.


DendrologyBiologyNew England HistoryBike TourIndustry & Transportation HistoryHabitatCommunity ServiceSustainabilityPhysicsAnimal Studies ♦ Culture/Dance ♦  Artisanal TradeMusic StudiesEntomologyWomen & Media StudiesMay Day


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