Photography Exhibits Capture Scenes of Everyday Life at Home and Abroad

Local Photography Exhibits Illuminate Regional Histories

This month, two photography exhibitions in Western Massachusetts will offer audiences a similar, yet very different, viewing experience.  Lisa Quiñones’ Balkan Odyssey, now on view at Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery, and Chester Michalik’s Northampton In Time, on view at Historic Northampton starting Friday, July 11, both contain photographs of everyday life and scenes in their respective regions: Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, and Northampton, Mass. Read the rest of this entry »

Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950

Wistariahurst Museum is launching a new historical and cultural project entitled, Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950. With funding support from the Holyoke Cultural Council and the Country Dance and Song Society, Jacqueline Cooper is collaborating with the museum as the Project Director and is working to develop sketches of Holyoke’s past to form a collective of local music culture from 1800-1950.

Cooper and Wistariahurst are seeking to include community members of Holyoke and nearby towns to participate by sharing personal music-related memories. They are looking for community members, elders, descendants of earlier settlers, immigrants, and travelers who can share stories or family anecdotes related to particular songs that were listened to, played, sung, danced to and enjoyed in households, factories, at gatherings, or in clubs, churches, community centers, etc. They are looking for stories that not only represent local culture, but also reflect what working people at the heart of the community thrived on.

Do you, your parents, your grandparents, have a memory to share? Being interviewed for this project is an inspiring opportunity to have a music-related memory as part of Holyoke’s cultural heritage collection.  The research is the foundation for Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950, a live music and storytelling production to be performed at Wistariahurst in July of 2014.
Click here to find out how to participate…

Storytelling Tour at Storrowton Village Museum Highlights the Civil War

Storrowton Village Host Interactive Tour: Civil War
West Springfield, May 28th

The storytelling tour at Storrowton Village in West Springfield, MA recognizes the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War on Tuesday evening, May 28th. Those who are intrigued and fascinated by Civil War history and want to learn more about life during this period, are urged to attend this unique and educational learning experience. Storrowton Village plans to present four such programs each year.

Storrowton Village will present an interactive, educational tour titled Storrowton and the Civil War, Tuesday, May 28, from 6-7pm, offering an inside look at how folks in the Northeast coped with the Civil War and the absence of our men who were called to duty or joined the patriotic fervor.

Participants will meet “townspeople” and hear their personal stories and points of view regarding the Civil War. Storrowton Village volunteers will be portraying the characters of the time as visitors travel through the Village’s historic buildings meeting residents, shopkeepers, farmers, family members, and tradesmen along the way, all with information and their own experiences to share.

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Let’s Play: Simple Games & Storytelling

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Simple Games

A favorite game, Guess Which Hand, can be used to help tell stories, promoting childhood literacy! Choose a tiny object that has a special family memory or something fun to start a story about your day as a parent…

We recently attended literacy night at our school. My little one enjoys any and all extra free time with friends on school grounds. Whatever the activity, she loves to go. She asks to go to PTO meetings. It means time being silly in school running about and connecting with friends from other grades. Literacy night was perfect for her. Many friends from class, a storyteller/musician and to make it perfect—the parents were ushered into another room to hear from a literacy expert. Parent free silly time.

While the kids heard fantastic tales and played instruments in a very interactive experience (we could hear them across the school), the parents were reminded of early literacy basics such as daily reading with our children and practicing language skills at home. The imagination and ideas that result from reading stories together help in so many areas of early learning. We were given a bit of parent homework on literacy at various stages. I’ll add it to my summer reading and research stack. I try to leave events like this with one item to work on. One thing is manageable. More can be too much during the crazy end of school year rush. One extra on top of culture night, science fair and field day. The facilitator’s point that resonated with me this night—the average child only experiences 3 minutes of one on one, eye to eye conversations each day. The reminders to empty backpacks and put dirty clothes in the hamper do not count. She was talking about real one on one conversations about your day, friends or the playground happenings. Time where you both sit and truly listen to each other. I can top 3 minutes.

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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

 

Let’s Play: Stories from Family Holidays to Inspire Creative Free Play

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Stories To Inspire Creative Free Play

I was a bit of a geek as a teen so homework was completed right after school, part time job on weekends and just a handful of close friends. I spent a fair amount of free time at my older siblings’ houses playing with their kids. It was a blessing to be a part of their childhoods. I had part time, little siblings that were really my niece and nephews.

I learned a great parenting lesson from my oldest sister, Penny, nearly 25 years ago. She dives right into the winter holidays the day after Thanksgiving. She has an incredible collection including a wall of elves, a near life size snowman, a shelf of angels and a cabinet filled with Rudolph, Frosty, Grinch and Little Cindy Lou Who and all the other television characters we grew up with in the 70s and the Nativity. She makes the tree a family showcase with ornaments made over 20 years ago my her children. Holiday fills their home. When my nephew, now a college graduate and police officer, was 3 or 4 years old, she started a grand tradition that fed perfectly into his love of stories, play and imagination. A mysterious elf visited the house. The elf made tiny foot prints, ate cookies and left surprises. This was well before the current Elf on the Shelf craze. My sister created the fantasy he craved. Stories were told. Questions asked and answers often came on the fly to continue the magic of the elf for a very curious little boy. No one ever saw this elf. He came and went under the dark of night. Andrew never needed to actually see him. The stories alone kept the elf active and alive through December.

The excitement and mystery my sister created for my nephew is something I try to add to our house now. Plant a seed. Put a mind to work on the possibilities. Watch the love of a good story. Create fantasy. Give childhood a bit of magic.

What a great time of year to tell stories! Share family stories. What was this time of year like when you were little? What holidays did you celebrate? What special activities did you do? Boost family memories by telling stories about a special day spent together. Create new mysteries and adventures. What if Jack Frost did paint the windows with snowflakes? What does he look like? How does he get around the earth? Spark ideas to get your little ones telling stories and playing fantasy games. Storytelling improves vocabulary, writing and spelling. It’s fun. Stories can lead to hours of pretend play with parents, siblings, friends and visiting cousins using dress up, toy people, construction toys and tiny animals. Stories encourage children to create images in their minds bringing the story to life. Make illustrations! All ages can create stories with spoken words, drawings or detailed written tales.

December Collections

We are always collecting and saving items in bins and on shelves for creative projects. This month maybe games or a book or two related to story telling and a game to spark an idea:

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December Resources


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie St. JohnCarrie St. John

Carrie was born, raised and attended university in Michigan. As a child she rode bikes and explored her rural neighborhood freely with siblings and neighbor kids. Mom and Dad never worried. The kids always made it home after hours wading in the creek and climbing trees in the woods. After college she moved to Kyoto, Japan to study traditional Japanese woodblock printing. In 1995, she began a career at a small Chicago firm designing maps and information graphics. Life brought a move to Northampton in 2001. Carrie completed her MFA at UMass in 2004. Her little love, Sophia, was born in 2005. The two live in downtown Northampton where they constantly make things, look forward to morning walks to school and plan each spring for additions to their plot at the community garden. Carrie is a licensed family care provider and continues to do freelance work for clients in Chicago.

22 Tales of Life in Western MA

QUESTION & ANSWER

According to Kara Kitchen of Plainfield, the only good thing about having to commute out of the Hilltowns to shop for anything more than milk, butter & eggs, is that you get to come home to the Hilltowns! The Williamsburg Market (pictured here during the holidays) is a fine place to find eggs, butter & milk! As are the Old Creamery in Cummington, Elmer's in Ashfield and McCusker's in Shelburne Falls. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Garrison Keillor, the legendary author, storyteller, humorist, and creator of the weekly radio show A Prairie Home Companion, is making a stop in Northampton tonight.  Keillor said he plans to retire in “the spring of 2013,” in an interview with AARP, so this maybe his final visit to Western MA.  In light of his visit to the Happy Valley, we asked our readers to share a brief anecdote of family life in Western MA.   Here’s what they had to share:

Donna DuSell of Greenfield MA writes, “I was born in Greenfield and raised in Montague. My Dad worked for the state road crew. He would never pass up the opportunity to plow and make extra money. So while others prayed for snow on Christmas and New Year’s we prayed for clear weather. — Once when I was about five my Mom and sister were out somewhere when my Dad got the call to plow. He decided to take me with him rather than pass up the work. I sat between him and his partner as we plowed the roads in the dark, in this big truck I beleive they called the “Osh Kosh.” My feet did not reach the edge of the seat. — Probably couldn’t do that today. At least he wasn’t an air traffic controller, and at no time was I allowed to drive!”

Michelle Budig of Williamsburg, MA writes, “We moved to Williamsburg, MA from Philadelphia in 2001. We knew we were “home” after our dog escaped from our car while house hunting, was taken to the local vet by local Burgians, and the vet tracked us out-of-towners down at the Williamsburg Market where word had gotten out that the house hunters had lost their dog…. we were reunited with her only two hours after losing her.”

Helene Leue of Ashfield, MA writes, “Being asked if I lived at “Miss Freedman’s old place” and responding that yes we did, she was my husband’s godmother and having the person start telling us stories about Miss Freedman as a young woman in the early 1920s when the storyteller was a young girl. Realizing a nice sense of family history.”

Kathy Morrissette of Adams, MA writes, “In our town of Adams it doesn’t matter how old you are you are the little kid who played in someones yard or rode your bike too fast down the suicide hill. Now that I am in my late 50′s, I am comforted by the thought of a small town, familiar people, local merchants and teachers that had you in second grade.”

Kara Kitchen of Plainfield, MA writes, “The ONLY good thing about having to commute from the hilltowns is that you come home to the hilltowns! It takes 45 minutes in any direction to find a store with more than milk, butter+eggs, hardly ever have to pass another car (maybe a tractor or 2!), get to watch out for the deer, moose+bear, and the beautiful scenery changes everyday!”

Glenda Datsko of Millers Falls, MA writes, “Planting seasonal gardens, canning, caring for the neighbors chickens while they are away for the weekend and getting to keep the eggs….ahhh the good life. We planned on heading to NH for Thanksgiving and got a call the day before that a snow storm had gone through on Tuesday night and they were without power. I ran to Diemand farm and got the last turkey in the case to cook and bring with us.”

Julie Russell of Granby, MA writes, “Moved to Western MA two years ago from “a big city” and saying that it has taken some adjustment is an understatement. However, when a neighbor stops by and knocks on your door to tell you that you left your car light on in the driveway, so you don’t loose all of your battery — things have a way of looking up.”

Lisa Berry of Amherst, MA writes, “Western MA is great for families who like to get outside and into nature, so many opportunities so close by! Everyone is very stand-offish, a New England trait, so you don’t have to deal with people if you don’t want to. If you do want to deal with people, you can head to Yankee Candle at Christmastime! We love it!”

Libby Maxey of Conway, MA writes, “Western MA seems to me to be the land of dogs, and of friendly neighbors. (This west coast native has not seen much of the aloof New Englander in her six years here.) The couple down the street from us recently adopted two dogs, one of which shares a name with my 3-year-old. They made sure to bring him over for a visit so that each Henry could be properly introduced to the other!”

Jessica Larkin of Bernardston, MA writes, “It’s fun to live here, our lives revolve with the seasons. One of our favorite activities is finding butterfly eggs or caterpillars and assisting through their stages of life until the butterflies emerge. Such a wonderful way to learn about the circle of life!”

Susan Clark of Shelburne Falls, MA writes, “We live in Shelburne Falls and the seasons in Western Mass are so full and fun! In Spring we look forward to hiking the local parks and find pools full of tadpoles and salamander eggs!”

Tammy Ciak of Southwick, MA writes, ” Our family life involves coming home from work each day to our dog Bandit who is like our child. We have a pony, chickens & cats too. I am a law school educated girl with a farmer’s heart.”

Diane Kanzler of Greenfield, MA writes, “My best childhood memories are from when we lived on my grandpa’s farm in the Berkshires. On hot summer days after the chores were done, he’d scoop up us kids with the bucket loader of his tractor and dump us in the pond. About as good as it gets!”

Mariana Luz of Shelburne Falls, MA writes, “I love living in Western Mass; came here for school 25 years ago and never left. I raised my kids in Amherst, great town to raise children! Now I live in Shelburne Falls, which is the best place to live in the valley. People and very friendly, I love the small town, all the artists and I can walk to The Bridge of Flowers!”

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Ticket & Music Giveaway: Family Performance with Bill Harley

BILL HARLEY
Sunday, January 23rd @ 1:30pm
At Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton, MA

Hilltown Families and Spare the Rock present…

Hilltown Families & Spare the Rock present Bill Harley in his triumphant return to the Pioneer Valley as part of the fantastic No Nap Happy Hour Series at Flywheel in Easthampton, MA! Enter to win a family 4-pack of free tickets along with a copy of his newest Grammy nominated CD, "The Best Candy in the Whole World". Deadline to enter to win, 01/19/11 by 7pm (EST).

Grammy award winning storyteller Bill Harley will be singing songs and telling stories at  Flywheel Arts Collective in the Easthampton Old Town Hall on Sunday, January 23rd at 1:30pm as part of the on-going No Nap Happy Hour Series.  Families are invited to come sit and listen to Bill’s funny and engaging stories and songs.

“Harley delivers an uninhibited performance with wry sense of humor and has a love of life we can all share…” — Los Angeles Times

“He combines wry observation with well-crafted folk, pop and rock music to tell tales that tickle the funny bone and tease the brain.” – Boston Globe

Hilltown Families is giving away a family 4-pack of free tickets to see this show, along with 2 copies of Bill Harley’s newest CD release, The Best Candy in the Whole World. Deadline to enter to win is 01/19/11. Find out how to enter to win below.

ABOUT BILL HARLEY

A two-time Grammy award winning artist, Bill Harley uses song and story to paint a vibrant picture of growing up, parenting and modern family life. Poignant and hilarious, his work spans the generation gap, reminds us of our common humanity and challenges us to be our very best selves.

A prolific author and recording artist, Bill is also a regular commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered and featured on PBS. Harley joined the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence in 2001 and tours nationwide as an author and performing artist.  Harley is the recipient of the 2010 lifetime achievement award from RI Council for the Humanities “for his use of music, song, and story in building community; promoting our common humanity; and encouraging lifelong learning, exploring and growing”.

Bill is the author of numerous children’s books and is working on a new project relating to school culture. His new collection of stories and songs, The Best Candy in the Whole World, was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award in the Best Spoken Word Album for Children category. Harley also just published a new book for parents and educators called Between Home and School: Letters, Notes and Emails.

Find out more about Bill Harley at www.BillHarley.com.

ABOUT THE NO NAP HAPPY HOUR SERIES

Started by Bill Childs of Spare the Rock in 2009, the No Nap Happy Hour concert series continues at it’s new location, Flywheel (43 Main St., Easthampton, MA).  The series has been featuring the kinds of bands that seem to have taken their cue from They Might Be Giants in believing that kids’ music doesn’t have to condescend or, well, suck. The series has brought many fantastic acts to the Pioneer Valley, including Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Gustafer Yellowgold, AudraRox, Bill Harley, Justin Roberts, Lunch Money, Uncle Rock and the Deedle Deedle Dees. www.sparetherock.com

ABOUT FLYWHEEL

The Flywheel Arts Collective’s new home (Easthampton’s Old Town Hall) is a delightful space for families to come enjoy fabulous family entertainers! Home of the Easthampton Family Center, Flywheel is a collectively run, not-for-profit space, aimed at building community and giving artists opportunities to craft, practice, and perform their work in an environment where creativity is valued over profit. Volunteer-run and governed by consensus, Flywheel believes that art and information should be equally accessible and affordable to all people. www.flywheelarts.org

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a family 4-pack of free tickets to see storyteller Bill Harley at Flywheel Arts Collective in the Easthampton Old Town Hall on Sunday, January 23rd at 1:30pm, or a copy of Bill Harley’s newest CD release, The Best Candy in the Whole World, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. SHARE THIS PAGE ON FACEBOOK BY SELECTING “LIKE” BELOW
  2. RECOMMEND A SONG FOR OUR COMMUNITY PLAYLIST and be sure to tell us your
  3. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  5. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address)
  6. We’ll randomly draw our winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 at 7pm (EST). We will randomly select three winners.  One winner will receive 4 tickets, and two additional winners will receive a CD.  If you can’t make the concert but would like to enter to win a CD, please note you are entering to win just a CD.

If you don’t win, you simply still must come!  Bill Harley is a fabulously funny entertainer and the show will be a great way to spend a Sunday in January. Tickets can be purchased in advance online HERE and are $8 in advance/ $10 door. Family 4-pack: $25 in advance, $35 door.  Flywheel is located in the Easthampton Old Town Hall at 43 Main St.

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