30 Community Highlights: Spotted Salamanders to Orchids. Afro-Cuban Dances to Purim Celebrations.

This weekend is the Amherst Orchid Society’s annual orchid show at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton. Kids can view a wide variety of orchids – there will be blossoms of all sizes and colors, and families will be able to learn about the proper care for growing orchids at home, as well as the interesting facts about orchids’ unique cycle of growth, how they are pollinated by insects and their amazing beauty.  After the show, head over to the Lyman Conservatory at Smith College for more orchids, as well as cacti, a chocolate tree and many others.  Can’t make it?  Check out the Kids Corner and take a virtual tour of the Smith College Botanic Garden and make plans to go this spring when the bulb show arrives!

Orchids to Spotted Salamanders. Purim Celebrations to Afro-Cuban Dances. Sign Language to Fabric Collage… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!

And be sure to check our list of supporting materials to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

History | Outdoor Adventures | Plant, Animal & Nature Studies | Fiber Arts | Astronomy | Parent Workshops | Cultural Studies | Museum Adventures | Science, Film & Sign Language

HISTORY

This Saturday, February 23rd & Sunday, February 24th, visit Old Sturbridge Village to celebrate Black History Weekend, the village’s educational celebration of Black History Month. The event will include a performance by historical reenactor Tammy Denease as Elizabeth Keckly, a former slave who bought freedom for herself and her son and went on to be a very successful fashion designer and clothing maker. Along with the usual opportunities to learn about 19th century life in New England, families will learn about the history of race issues and the use of slavery in early America. Perfect for students studying American history!

The Northampton Community Music Center presents the Deedle Deedle Dees in concert at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst this Saturday morning! An educational rock band, the Deedle Deedle Dees sing about science, history, and everything in between, making their fun, catchy songs educational as well as entertaining. Then mark your calendars as Lloyd from Deedle Deedle Dees joins the Hilltown Family Variety Show again as our guest DJ on Saturday, March 30th!

Learn about the changes that Williamstown’s Main Street has undergone throughout its existence on Saturday morning, at the Williamstown Historical Museum. Once mostly a residential neighborhood, downtown Williamstown has become the commercial hub of the town. Kids can learn about how their community has evolved, and will be able to put what they know about American history into a specific, locally-centered context.

On Tuesday afternoon, February 26th, learn about the life and accomplishments of WEB Du Bois at UMass’ 19th annual Du Bois Lecture. Arthur McFarlane II, great-grandson of WEB Du Bois, will speak about his great-grandfather’s accomplishments as a civil rights activist at St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield. Older students studying American history and/or the Civil Rights Movement will learn useful and interesting information about a significant figure from the Civil Rights Movement, and will also learn to put what they’ve learned into a modern background.

Read the rest of this entry »

24 Community Highlights: Beneski Museum to MASS MoCA. Hansel & Gretel to Stone Soup.

The holidays are a great time to share family stories and legends from different cultures and traditions. One such story is that of the Christmas Spider. Check out this post from our archives, The Christmas Spider & the Legend of Tinsel, to read about one child’s own personal legend of the Christmas Spider, and how the legend of the Christmas Spider is told in other cultures too. You can also learn to make your own Christmas Spider holiday cards in our archived post, DIY: Christmas Spider Holiday Cards. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Beneski Museum to MASS MoCA. Storytelling to Marionettes. Hansel & Gretel to Stone Soup. Classical Music to Chemistry… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

HOLIDAY CHEER

There’s still a lot of holiday cheer to be had before December 25th! There are several opportunities for kids to visit with Santa before Christmas Day. He will be making appearances at the Pelham Library, Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Look Park in Florence, Buttery Brook Park in South Hadley, Lord Jeffrey Inn in Amherst, and Yankee Candle in South Deerfield. There’s also time to take in a couple of holiday classics, like performances of A Christmas Carol with PaintBox Theatre in Northampton and Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield, or a screening of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Amherst Cinema and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington.

STORYTELLING

The holiday season is a great time to share stories with friends and family. In this month’s column, “What to Play? Play Ideas for Family & Community,” Carrie St. John writes about how stories can lead to hours of pretend play and how they can encourage children to create images in their minds bringing the story to life. She also shares great games to help spark storytelling with friends and family.

If you enjoy storytelling at home, be sure to check out Cheli’s list of recommended children’s picture books for stories on the many of the holiday traditions she wrote about last year in her monthly column, “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews.” If you’d like to get out into your community, there are several storytelling events to take the family to.

Celebrate the season by sharing stories about holding onto light and love during the darkest part of the year at the solstice storytelling celebration at the Magical Roundhouse in Colrain on Saturday evening. On Sunday evening, a special Luminarium Storytime takes place at the Hatfield Library.

During school vacation week there are several stories being told at area museums using puppets and marionettes. At the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, CactusHead Puppets presents, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” on Wednesday morning, Dec 26th in Amherst. Later in the afternoon, puppeteer Carl Sprague will present a marionette production of the classic Brothers Grimm tale, “Hansel and Gretel” at Ventfort Hall in Lenox, then again on Thursday, Dec 27th & Friday, Dec. 28th. Then again at the Carle Museum on Friday, Dec 28th, Tom Knight Puppets presents, “Stone Soup and Other Tales,” a collection of songs and skits for all ages.

MUSEUM ADVENTURES

After Christmas Day, many museums will be holding special hours and offering additional programming for school vacation, Dec. 26th-30th.

Kids get free admission at Old Sturbridge Village during the school break (and in Jan. too!), and families can enjoy a host of historic and seasonal activities, including (weather-dependent) sledding and skating! There will also be indoor performances, craft demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Families can learn about life in early New England, and the many different skills and resources that 1830s life required.

Historic Deerfield in South Deerfield continues to celebrate the holidays during winter break with traditional decorations, open hearth cooking demonstrations, and craft making. Visitors will learn about holiday celebrations in early New England, as well as the sweeteners and spices used in baking (and where they came from!) in Deerfield’s early days.

Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!, will be on view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Stone Hill Center in Williamstown, utilizing video, hands-on activities, taxidermy, and innovative displays. Bring the kids while off from school to be a part of this exciting learning environment for all ages!

The Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College is offering special hours for school vacation! Families can visit the museum for free to learn about everything from dinosaur bones to how the Pioneer Valley was shaped – the museum is home to hundreds of plant and animal fossils, taxidermic animals of numerous species, and lots of exhibits on geology and mineralogy.

MASS MoCA in North Adams is open and offering lots to see and do for families during school vacation (as well as on Christmas Eve)! The KidSpace will be open, and there will be museum tours (for older students), as well as a special tour of the Sol Lewitt exhibit. Families can explore the museum galleries and learn about the many different pieces on exhibit.

The Springfield Museums have activities happening each day during the holiday vacation week. There will be a combination of planetarium shows, science demonstrations, activities to accompany their Gingerbread Fairy Tales Exhibit, and daily performances. Performances through Dec. 30th including Charismatic Comedy Magic, The Realy MCoy Show, Dinoman Dinosaurs, and BubbleMania.

Make your own comic book art at drop-in workshops at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge during school vacation! The museum is currently hosting an exhibit of comic book art by Alex Ross, and the activities included in the workshops will give kids a chance to create their own comic book-style artwork. Superheroes will be roaming the museum, too – be sure to visit the galleries to find them!

CLASSICAL MUSIC AND CHEMISTRY

On Thursday afternoon, Dec. 27th, kids can be mad scientists at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. Along with the help of the museum’s very own crazy chemist, kids can learn how to do exciting and surprising (and safe!) experiments with regular household materials.

Richard Perlmutter presents Beethoven’s Wig at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Friday afternoon, Dec. 28th in a free performance. Hailed as opening the door to classical music in a way that’s fun for kids, Beethoven’s Wig is now honored as great family musical entertainment. Here’s an award-winning animated video of Beethoven’s Wigs version of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony:

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

 

22 Community Highlights: Boreal Forest to Kitchen Science. Symphony to Contra Dance.

Looking for a non-commercial gift to give your kids? One that promotes creative-free play while offering lessons in chemistry and math… and doesn’t cost that much? Why not put together a box of kitchen ingredients with directions on how to make gak, slime, play dough, bubbles,  paint and chalk?! Check out the July post of, “Let’s Play: Tactile Play” by Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Carrie St. John. She includes recipes to print out for all of these, and your kids will have a blast getting icky, goopy and gloppy in the kitchen!

Boreal Forest to Kitchen Science. Papercrafts to Winter Crafts. Symphony to Contra Dance… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

NATURE STUDIES

Volunteer as a Citizen Scientists this Saturday, Dec. 15th as a participate in the annual Mass Audubon Christmas Bird Count! The event relies on citizen scientists to locate and count species of birds – and the data collected is used to assess local bird populations. Kids can learn to identify and find species of birds, practice using field guides, and learn how to draw conclusions from their own data. Contact a CBC facilitator nearest you.

Explore Notchview’s Boreal Forest with Aimee Gelinas and the Trustees of Reservations this Saturday too. Learn to identify trees such as spruce, fir, and Christmas fern, and search for signs of intrepid winter-battling mammals. Happens in Windsor.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Inspiring interest and encouragement in reading and writing can come to children in many ways. Having a themed celebration inspired by a book, storytimes, reading to dogs or even meeting authors, all have the potential inspire a love for reading and writing.

On Saturday morning, Community Action is hosting Snow Day, centered around Ezra Jack Keats’ well-known children’s book, The Snowy Day. Celebrate winter by making snowflakes and ornament, and enjoying a storytime in Greenfield. Every child will receive a free copy of their very own book!

Later in the day on Saturday in Westfield, young readers can Read with Rover at the Westfield Athenaeum. Specially trained therapy dogs will be at the library to serve as patient, calm, non-judgemental reading buddies for kids who are working on reading aloud.

In Stockbridge at the Red Lion Inn, also on Saturday afternoon, families can meet four local authors! Sarah Sedgwick Genocchio (A Stockbridge Childhood), Pat Pope (Johanna’s Gift), Janet McKinstry (Rosie and Friends, Unleashed in Berkshire County), Susan Geller and Susan Merrill (I Live in Stockbridge) will all share their books. Older children can find inspiration in writing short stories by hearing these authors share what it takes to be a published author and by asking them questions about their experiences as a writer.

STEM

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) based learning opportunities can be found in simple play, papercrafts and even in the mixing of ingredients found in your kitchen. For example, basic math, physics and engineering skills can be practiced with LEGOs. Several libraries offer their youth patrons a chance to participate in free LEGO clubs, including: Sunderland Library on Saturday morning; Ramsdell Library in Housatonic, also on Saturday morning; and the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 19th

Origami and papercrafts are a way to practice geometry. The Arms Library in Shelburne Falls hosts Paper Capers on Saturday afternoon, a free event that includes papercrafts of all kinds. Families can make accordion books, ornaments, beads, and more!

Get a taste of chemistry as a mad scientist at Kitchen Kaboom! at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday morning! Along with the help of the museum’s very own crazy chemist, kids can learn how to do exciting and surprising (and safe!) experiments with regular household materials.

HISTORY

We’ve mention a couple of ways recently to explore history at two ongoing December events, including Old Sturbridge’s Christmas by Candlelight and Historic Deerfield’s Heritage Holiday. Another opportunity is by learning about the origins of the holiday carol, 12 Days of Christmas. On Saturday afternoon, find out about the possible symbolism behind the carol at the Jones Library in Amherst, where Dr. Thomas Bernard (professor at Springfield College) will share his ideas.

MYO HOLIDAY GIFTS

There’s still time to make your own holiday gifts! Sunday, Dec. 16th, is the Make-and-Take Craft Fair with fun and interesting holiday crafts at the Montague Grange! The fair will include activities for crafters of all ages, including beeswax candles, miniature terrariums, jewelry, and ornaments.

Then on Wednesday evening, visit Art Party Studio in Easthampton for an evening of wintry holiday crafts. There will be all sorts of special holiday materials to use – experiment with unique media (like glittery twigs, bells, and more!), and create a holiday masterpiece to give or decorate with.

What grandmother won’t love a hand-knitted scarf from their grandchild, dropped stitches and all?! Kids ages 7-11 can spend Thursday afternoon, Dec. 20th, knitting away at the Monson Library. Instruction will be available for casting on and off and doing basic knit and purl stitches. Kids who are ready to move on to more difficult projects can get support, too!

MUSIC, DANCE & SONG

Hear the Pioneer Valley Symphony play holiday favorites at the annual Family Holiday Concert in Greenfield on Saturday evening. The show will also feature performances by the Pioneer Valley Symphony Chorus and the Greenfield High School Chorus.

Go contra dancing on Saturday evening in Lenox. Dances are a great way to get exercise, learn about rhythm, and gain better balance and movement skills. Contra dancing provides a friendly intergenerational environment in which people of all ages can contribute and participate equally.

Sing along to songs for the holidays at the Hubbard Library in Ludlow on Tuesday evening, Dec. 18th. David Polansky will share songs for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the entire winter season.

HIKES

Join the Berkshire Natural Resources Council in exploring the Clam River in Sandisfield on Wednesday morning. The evergreen-filled property bumps up against the river – explore the area, search for animal signs, and enjoy the winter air.

Hike Chapel Brook with the Trustees of Reservations in Ashfield on Thursday morning. The easy to moderate hike will include lots of opportunities to spot animal signs, enjoy the crisp winter air, and get some great exercise.

Northfield Mountain celebrates the solstice this year with a hike on the cross-country ski trails on Friday evening, Dec. 21st. BYO headlamp to light the way! The trek will be filled with facts and quotes about (and celebrating!) the winter solstice.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

[Photo credit: (ccl) Mike Allyn]

31 Community Highlights: Victorian Crafts to Holiday Traditions. Winter Yule to The Nutcracker.

9 Chanukah events are featured for the next week in our post, Chanukah Highlights in Western MA. Families of all backgrounds are welcome and many events can serve as a celebration for Chanukah or a family exploration of Jewish history and traditions.

Quarry Hikes to Animal Adaptations. Victorian Crafts to Holiday Traditions. Winter Yule to The Nutcracker… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!


HIKES/NATURE STUDIES

On Saturday morning families can preregister for one of two hikes. The first hike takes place at Peaked Mountain in Monson where participants can learn to search for signs of animals who are still around for the winter. The Trustees of Reservations – and local naturalist Kevin Kopchynski – will guide the exploratory hike.

Also on Saturday morning, Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries will sponsor a hike at the historic Becket Quarry. Families can look for moose tracks and industrial archaeology at the 300-acre Historic Becket Quarry and Forest Preserve. Located high atop the Berkshire Highlands and preserved by the Becket Land Trust, this former granite quarry offers a feast of fauna, glacial erratics and rich helpings of cultural history. This site features artifacts of the former Hudson-Chester Company that was in operation for almost a century until the 1960s and is often called a “ghost quarry” for its spooky, abandoned appearance. Best for ages 10yo and older.

HISTORY

Historic Deerfield continues their celebration of the holidays with traditional decorations, open hearth cooking demonstrations, silhouette making (a historic craft), and craft making for visitors all weekend.

In the afternoon on Saturday, the Wistariahurst Museum invites families to make Victorian crafts at their Holiday Crafts for the Family event in Holyoke. Learn how to make Christmas crackers, beautiful beaded ornaments, lanterns and more.

In the evening, families can celebrate the holiday season the old-fashioned way at Old Sturbridge Village while learning about the history of many holiday traditions. The historic village’s Christmas by Candlelight series offers families a chance to enjoy non-commercial, relaxed holiday festivities and activities and takes place Fri-Sun through Dec. 23.

Other opportunities to explore local history this weekend is at the Lenox Historical Society‘s annual Holiday Open House, a tour and lecture at the Shaw-Hudson House in Plainfield, and a tour of Arrowhead, home of Herman Melville, in Pittsfield.

THEATER & DANCE

This week there are a number of holiday theater and dance performances happening throughout Western MA to get your family into the holiday spirit! On Saturday evening in Northampton, the Northampton High School presents their Fall One-Act Festival and Smith College students present Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and on Sunday, Ventfort Hall in Lenox hosts a Christmas handchime concert.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Mill City Productions in North Adams presents, “Fireside Yuletide,” a theatrical reading of classic family holiday tales, and the Shea Theater in Turners Falls hosts “Welcome Yule,” a performance of stories, songs, and dance to drive away the dark of winter.

There are a couple of ballet productions of The Nutcracker all weekend too. The Pioneer Valley Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” at the Academy of Music in Northampton, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet present “The Nutcracker” at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

Later in the week on Wednesday & Thursday, Dec. 12 & 13, the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Academy presents an annual Holiday Jubilee Winter Showcase, also at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Looking for a Parents’ Night Out? Shakespeare and Company presents David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries at the Bernstein Theater in Lenox, every Friday-Sunday through Dec. 30.

HOLIDAY STROLLS CONTINUE

The 7th annual holiday celebration, “A Special Day in Northfield,” happens all day on Saturday. This non-commercial community holiday celebration offers families an opportunity to explore, be creative, and enjoy what Northfield has to offer! Local artists and antiques stores will be open, too, so if you want to do any holiday shopping, you can shop locally and/or handmade. Another holiday stroll that happens on Saturday is the 4th Annual Dickens Days Village Stroll happening all day in downtown Westfield.

Later in the day on Saturday, explore downtown Great Barrington during their Holiday Stroll – the town is decorated for the holidays, the air is cool and crisp, and the town is alive with holiday spirit. Visit locally owned shops to get a jump start on shopping locally (and potentially handmade!) for the holidays.

On Thursday evening, Dec. 13th, downtown Turners Falls comes alive for the holidays for, “It’s a Wonderful Night!” The town will be filled with festive storefront displays, roving musicians, caroling, a tree lighting, and a free screening of, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at the Shea Theater at 8pm. Some shops will have extended hours for the evening, in order to encourage visitors to shop locally for the holidays.

SINGING

The annual Lenox Caroling Festival takes place this weekend – and competition will take place on Saturday at numerous locations throughout the town. Visit one – or all! – of the locations to hear a variety of beautifully performed holiday music.

On Sunday afternoon in Northampton, the Whole Children Chorus and the Florence Community Band perform Songs of the Season at Northampton High School, and in Pittsfield, Berkshire Lyric presents, “Deck the Halls,” at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, featuring the Blafield Children’s Chorus, the Monument Mountain High School Chorus, the Spartones, and Guademaus.

The Northampton Community Music Center brings together choral groups from all over the Pioneer Valley for an evening Holiday Choral Festival for all ages on Monday, Dec. 10 at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel in Northampton.

PARENT WORKSHOPS

On Monday evening, the Northampton Parents Center is hosting a free workshop titled, “Talking To Your Kids About Sex: A Workshop for Parents of Young Children,” at Bridge Street School in Northampton.

The Collaborative for Educational Services host a free Active Child workshop on Tuesday evening at the South Hadley Family Center for parents to get advice and learn strategies for parenting a spirited child.

ARCHEOLOGY

Archaeologists must often apply a skill set similar to those used by forensics experts – they look at remnants of lives (caves, basements, stone walls, etc.) and use tiny clues in order to deduce the use of the place, item, etc. On Monday evening, Dec. 10th, older students and their parents can learn how archaeologists have used these skills to determine information about the history of the earliest European settlers in New England at Greenfield High School, where Central Connecticut State professor Ken Feder presents, “Monk’s Caves, Sacrificial Altars, and Wandering Celts.”

PASTRY ARTS

Whole Foods Market in Hadley is hosting a cooking class for 8-12yo kids on Tuesday evening, Dec. 11. Participants will make whole-grain cookies and bread while learning about making healthy choices for eating and developing healthy eating habits.

ARTS & CRAFTS

Visit Art Party Studio in Easthampton on Wednesday, Dec. 12th for an evening of wintry holiday crafts. There will be all sorts of special holiday materials to use – experiment with unique media (like glittery twigs, bells, and more!), and create a holiday masterpiece.

ANIMAL STUDIES

How do New England animals survive the winter? They all have unique adaptations that allow them to deal with the cold temperatures and changing food landscape. Learn about these adaptations and the creatures that you may see in the winter at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls on Friday morning, Dec. 14th.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

[Photo credit: (ccl) Jordan Chark]

29 Community Highlights: Gingerbread Houses to Latkes. MYO Gifts to Choral Performances.

Town wide holiday strolls and luminaria walks
bring community together in a festive holiday atmosphere while supporting local businesses. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Holiday Stroll to Luminaria Walk. MYO Gifts to Choral Performances. Gingerbread Houses to Latkes. Filmmaking to Sewing… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!

HOLIDAY STROLLS

Town wide holiday strolls are often times an annual affair that always brings community together in a festive holiday atmosphere while supporting local businesses. This week there are six holiday strolls we’ve highlighted:

  1. South Hadley Holiday Stroll on Sat., Dec. 1st: Tree lighting, Santa and holiday music.
  2. Williamstown Holiday Stroll on Sat., Dec. 1st: Parade (including a reindog parade!), Santa, performances, singing and sleigh rides.
  3. Stockbridge Luminaria Walk on Sat., Dec. 1st: Caroling by candlelight.
  4. Stockbridge Holiday Stroll on Sun., Dec. 2nd: Recreated downtown from the days of Norman Rockwell.
  5. North Adams Hometown Holidays on Thurs., Dec. 6th: Family activities, music, crafts and open shops.
  6. Pittsfield Upstreet Friday on Fri., Dec. 7th: Local artists and artisans at shops, galleries, and restaurants throughout town.

SINGING

As the days get shorter and shorter, people link to sing more and more! It’s a nice way of balancing out the increasing darkness as the Winter Solstice approaches. This week we’re highlighting seven choral and music performances to consider taking your family to this weekend:

  • Musicians from the Berkshire Music School will perform a special concert of holiday music at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 1. The show will also feature the Sunshine Singers – a youth chorus – and Bing’s Strings
  • Berkshire Theater Group presents Mary Verdi, a local singer-songwriter who performs annually for the holidays at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield. The show will feature a bell choir, a seven piece band, and an appearance from the Craneville Children’s Chorus. Two shows are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1st.
  • The Hilltown Choral Society presents a special holiday concert at the Village Congregational Church on Saturday evening, Dec. 1st in Cummington, and then on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 2nd at the First Congregational Church in Ashfield.
  • Amherst College’s Johnson Chapel will be filled on Sunday, Dec. 2nd for two shows with the sounds holiday music, performed by the school’s Choral Society and Madrigal Singers.

HISTORY

The holidays offer a unique lens with which to history. There are a few opportunities happening this weekend that visit local history and the history of New England around the holidays.

All day on Saturday, Dec. 1st, is the Historic Homes Tour in Stockbridge. Visit some of the area’s most interesting landmarks, including Naumkeag, Merwin House, Elms Cottage, and Edith Wharton’s former home, The Mount. Families can learn about local history and architecture – older students can use the tour as a way to pair American history with a look at the evolution of, and changes in, home design.

Storrowton Village in West Springfield is celebrating the holiday season this weekend during their Winter Festival. Along with tours of the beautifully decorated village, there will be demonstrations of 19th century crafts, ice sculpting, crafts for kids, music performances, storytelling, caroling, animals to meet and learn about, and more.

Historic Deerfield is celebrating the holidays all weekend too with traditional decorations, open hearth cooking demonstrations, wagon rides, and craft making for visitors (create a gift to share!). Visitors will learn about holiday celebrations in early New England, as well as the sweeteners and spices used in baking (and where they came from!) in Deerfield’s early days. It’s a unique opportunity for kids to learn about the history of the spice trade, and the long history of imported goods and dependency on a world market that the United States has.

The Keep Homestead Museum in Monson hosts a Holiday Open House on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 2nd. Decorated for the season, tour the museum and see how rooms might have been furnished at the turn of the century. There is furniture, silver and cut glass, collections of rocks, minerals and shells, quilts and other needlework done by the women of the family, along with the extensive button collection (the pride of the museum).

Betsy Ross – creator of the American flag – is a complicated and interesting historical figure. Learn more about her life as an upholsterer in Philadelphia – and her life outside of work – at the Jones Library in Amherst on Thursday evening, Dec. 6th. Great for older students learning about American history, feminism, and feminist figures.

CULINARY ARTS

Chandler’s Restaurant hosts a kids cooking class on Saturday, Dec. 1st. in South Deerfield. Parents can explore the world of culinary arts with their kids in a structured and relaxed environment. Youth participants are familiarized with raw ingredients, how to prepare them, and their nutritional value. This month homemade pasta is being made. A brief tour of Chandler’s commercial kitchen follows.

At Hops and Vines in Williamstown, families can make their own gingerbread houses on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 1st. Kids can practice their architectural and creative skills with a fun medium. Replicate your own home or an easily recognizable local building, or create a masterpiece all your own.

Get ready for Chanukah with a holiday cooking class offered by the Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy on Monday afternoon, Dec. 3rd in Longmeadow. The class, titled, “Cooking with Parents and Grandparents,” is open to all families from the community and will feature fun cooking activities, including donut making, edible-wearable menorah building, and dreidel (edible and non-edible) making! Kids can learn about Chanukah traditions and get ready to celebrate the holiday, too.

Want to learn how to make latkes for Hanukkah? Chef Greg will be doing a cooking demo with recipes to share on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 6th at Wild Oats Co-op in Williamstown.

MYO HOLIDAY GIFTS

Giving children an opportunity to make their own gifts to give for the holidays is not only an excellent, non-commercial, alternative to holiday consumerism, but it can also support creative free play! Here are five MYO Holiday Gift Highlights for this week:

  1. Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in Haydenville will host a day of wreath, craft and gift-making for all ages on Saturday, Dec. 1st. Great opportunity to MYO holiday gifts that are eco-friendly.
  2. Make your own unique and artistic holiday cards in the studio at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst on Saturday morning, Dec. 1st. Materials, including envelopes.
  3. Greenfield Center School host a Crafty Rumpus Open House, a creative, free holiday gift making event for families on Saturday, Dec. 1st in Greenfield.
  4. Learn to make a density ornament – using a variety of colored liquids – with Alchemy Initiative at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday, Dec. 1st.
  5. Make your own wintry snow globe at the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington on Friday afternoon, Dec. 7th! This special hands-on, just-for-kids craft time is back by popular demand!

ARTS & CRAFTS

Older teens interested in improving their artistic skills or their knowledge of art techniques and art history are invited to attend, “Que Sera, Seurat,” a free intergenerational workshop on pastel painting and pointellism at the Lee Library on Monday evening, Dec 3rd!

Help to make a video to advertise the Hatfield Library’s 2013 summer reading program to younger readers on Tuesday afternoon, Dec 4th. Sign up to be part of a 3-week project to create the video – and learn some filmmaking techniques while you’re at it! Open to 5th and 6th graders.

Families with preK kids can visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for Kids Create on Wednesday morning, Dec. 5th, for a hands-on art program for kids where they can learn about techniques and media for creating art.

The Goodwin Library in Hadley hosts authors Nicole Blum and Debra Immegut who will be sharing ideas from their new book, Improv Sewing – A Creative Approach to Freeform Techniques on Wednesday evening, Dec. 5th. Tools and supplies will be available for visitors to do some crafting of their own, too! Best for older kids and parents who have some basic sewing skills.

18 Community Highlights: Steampunk to Colonial Crafts. Family Films to Holiday Lights.

Apples were important in the diet of early Deerfield settlers- many homes even had their own orchards!  Learn about the varieties of apples grown and the dishes created with them at Historic Deerfield this weekend. There will also be a craft activity (from 12noon-4:30pm) where visitors can make their own apple pomander ornaments to take home.

Steampunk to Colonial Crafts. Family Films to Holiday Lights. Simplicity Parenting to Parent Cafe… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!


HISTORY

Celebrate Thanksgiving 1830’s style at Old Sturbridge Village! This weekend, Nov. 24th-25th, there will be lots of special activities and demonstrations taking place throughout the village, offering visitors a chance to learn about early New Englanders’ Thanksgiving traditions. See demonstrations of tin-oven cooking, watch a shooting match, try your hand at colonial crafts, and learn about the many Thanksgivings celebrated throughout the year in early New England.

On Monday evening, Nov. 26th, the Wistariahurst Museum in Hoyloke presents, “Decoding the 12 Days of Christmas,” with Dr. Tom Bernard. The presentation will look at the historic roots of the lyrics of the classic Christmas carol, and will provide cultural context for each line, as well as basic history of the pilgrimages that took place during the Middle Ages. Best for older students.

SERVICE BASED LEARNING

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night: Join Hilltown Families for an evening of volunteering together with your family during our first ever Family Community Service Night! On Friday, November 30th from 4:30-7:30pm in Northampton, families can come together for a fun evening visiting five different volunteer stations, each offering a simple, hands-on service project for all ages. Volunteering as a family helps children learn values like kindness, respect and friendliness, and on this evening you can volunteer with five different local non-profits in a single evening! Space is limited so reserve a spot for your family today!

MOVIE SCREENINGS

After all that eating on Thursday and shopping on Friday, why not relax and take in a movie with the kids on Saturday? The Lee Library screens recent blockbuster, Brave, in the morning, a movie about a fiery, feisty girl out to prove herself, and offers a refreshing change to the Disney female protagonist line-up. In the afternoon, Images Cinema in Williamstown screens the holiday classic, Home Alone! Find out what happens when an 8-year-old boy gets left at home while the rest of the family vacations for the holidays! And in the late afternoon and evening, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington is host their annual screening of the classic, The Wizard of Oz! It’s a classic film, and this is a rare opportunity to see it on the big screen.

If you want to take in something a little more intellectual, later in the week the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge offers a special screening of, Heirloom Meals: Savor the Holidays, a PBS production that focuses on the connections between food, family, and heritage. The production includes traditional recipes and stories of families’ handed-down ties to foods and takes place in the early evening on Friday, Nov. 30th. Great for older students with an interest in nutritional anthropology.

HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Throughout the holiday season, lights adorn trees, bushes, and buildings at Look Park in Florence! Visit the park’s Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Display to see a colorful light display – maybe even take a train ride through the park. Forest Park in Springfield is lit up for the holidays too! Springfield’s annual Bright Nights display features intricate, sparkly scenes throughout the park – there are elaborate displays, as well as decorative lights everywhere. Celebrate the holidays with a drive through the park to enjoy the festive displays.

Westfield lights up Monday night, Nov. 26th at the annual Lanternlight Parade and Greenlighting – marking the beginning of the city’s holiday celebrations.  Families can hear live music from Westfield High School students, and enjoy cookies and cocoa at a reception hosted by the Westfield Athenaeum Children’s Department.

The city of North Adams celebrates the first of the season’s Hometown Holidays events on Thursday evening, Nov. 29th, with a special community celebration featuring holiday crafts, face painting, carriage rides, ice art, live music, and more! Downtown businesses will be open, too, for early holiday shopping.

Light the Merry Maple with the Amherst Chamber of Commerce on Friday night, Nov. 30th in Amherst. The Amherst Regional Middle School chorus will perform, along with the UMass marching band, and there will be food, hayrides, and crafts, too. And in Pittsfield on Friday evening, families can begin their holiday season at the annual treelighting. The ceremony will feature the Taconic High School Chorus, a visit from Santa, and warm drinks for all.  The Berkshire Museum will be offering half-price admission during the tree lighting, too – visit to see this year’s Festival of Trees display!

ARTS & CRAFTS

The Westfield Athenaeum is hosting a free Steampunk workshop on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 24th, followed by an authentic Victorian Tea! Students in grades 6-12 can  learn about this pseudo-Victorian fashion and create their own Steampunk accessory. On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 25th, artist April Woodard-McNiff is offering a free 2-part printmaking workshop for kids at the Shutesbury Town Hall.

Later in the week on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 29th, the Monson Library hosts a free Knitting for Kids! Get your needles ready and learn very basic knitting skills. Kids can use what they learn to make scarves, head wraps, leg and arm warmers, potholders, and more – perhaps as a holiday gift!

PARENT WORKSHOPS

Greenfield Family Wellness is hosting a free workshop on Wednesday evening, Nov. 28th at the library at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School in Shelburne Falls – and it’s coming just in time, since it’s about parenting during the holidays! “Simplicity Parenting for the Holidays,” will offer parents suggestions, strategies, and support for creating a plan for effective, simplifying parenting plans for the holiday season. On Thursday evening, Nov. 29th in North AdamsChildcare of the Berkshires’ Parent Cafe takes place. This monthly event includes a free catered dinner, and loosely structured time to talk with other parents about parenting strategies, and challenges faced while parenting.  And the Federation for Children with Special Needs is offering a free parent workshop in the rights of parents of children who are on IEP’s on Thursday evening, Nov. 29th. The seminar will be conducted in Spanish, and will take place at the Care Center in Holyoke.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

%d bloggers like this: