Four Picture Books to Capture the Magic of Snow

Oprn Drdsmr: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

Snowflakes Ahead!

“It’s snowflaking!” my youngest shouts every time the snow flies. There is such joy and wonder in his simple expression that I can’t help but turn my face to the sky to catch some of that magic. It’s the same magic that has called all my kids outside, bright and early, after that first snowfall, still in their jammies and wild bedhead, just to get their mittened hands on snow, to catch flakes on their tongue, to grab a sled and go barreling down the hill. Four new picture books capture a bit of that snowflake magic – the quiet, the impermanence, the beauty, the thrill. So when your rosy-cheeked children have returned from a world of winter white, have donned dry socks and are nestled in the warmth of family, share a story of snow. And remember, spring is just a season away.

Big Snow

Open SesameIn Big Snow, David awaits the coming of a winter storm, hoping for the first big snow of the season. He tries to help his mother with holiday housecleaning, but each task reminds him of snow, from the flour that goes into the cookie dough, to the suds in the bathtub, to the crisp, white sheets. His excited anticipation keeps drawing him outside to check the skies. When his mother tells him to take a nap, David dreams of a giant blizzard, with snow drifts piling up in the living room. He wakes to his Dad’s footfalls and the real storm in full swing. The straight-forward storyline and soft watercolor illustrations portray a tender and warm family life, while capturing the excitement and anticipation of the first big snow.

Big Snow written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean. Published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-374-30696-0

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Citizen Scientist Opportunity: IceWatch

IceWatch: Citizen Scientist Project Exams Ecosystems via Ice

In addition to the sophisticated data that climatologists collect, some of the most valuable information helping to inform studies of climate change can be collected by citizen scientists! By helping scientists to identify changes in the beginning and ending of the coldest part of the winter, citizen scientists can become a part of studies of the climate changes taking place in regions all over the country.

This winter, families can contribute to climate studies by participating in IceWatch, a citizen science initiative that works to collect information about the ice-in and ice-out times of various bodies of water across the continent. By regularly observing a lake, pond, river, or bay, families can help to inform scientists about the length of the cold season which, when compared to data from past years, can help to determine the amount by which climate change has progressed regionally.

In order to participate, families of citizen scientists must first identify a local body of water to observe. The best places to observe are areas that are largely unaffected by human interference, such as dams, industrial outlets, or agricultural operations (such as large-scale livestock watering or fish farming). Here in western Massachusetts, many rivers and streams are dammed, but not all are actively being used for hydropower – meaning that they may still be suitable for observation. A little bit of research into the role of a dam up or downstream from your desired observation point can help to determine whether or not the body of water is affected by human interference while gaining a better sense of your local surroundings… Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 30th-April 5th, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Happy Spring! Happy Passover! Happy Easter! — Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! La la la…

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

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

BEST BETS

To discover Easter Events happening this weekend check out our post: Easter Events in Western MA, 2013

Saturday, March 30th from 10am-4pm – FAMILY MUSIC/BOOK FESTIVAL: It’s that time of year again! The River (WRSI 93.9 FM) hosts the annual Family Music Meltdown and Book Bash today at their new location Smith Vocational High School! The event is a celebration of kid-friendly music and great children’s literature, and is filled with fun things to do, see, and learn. Live performances will include The Nields, Mister G, The Deedle Deedle Dees, and Hey Dango; popular authors like Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady), Judith Schachner (Skippyjon Jones), and Tony Diterlizzi (the WondLa series) will read from their favorite books; and families can try out circus arts, crafts, meet farm animals, and visit local vendors. Local businesses will provide food in the food court, so be sure to bring an appetite! Locust Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Apr 4-18

Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival returns April 4-18 to Lander  Grinspoon Academy in Northampton,  MA. 20 Films / 8 Towns: International films  that entertain, educate & inspire. Especially  for families is last year’s favorite, DAVID on April 7. In this film a lonely Brooklyn  Muslim boy pretends to be Jewish with his new found friends in this tender drama that bridges culture & religion. Ages 8+ (Families with younger sibs welcome  to school library & playground). Buy a bag lunch/film ticket combo at  www.pvjff.org. Film-only tickets at the door. Lunch at 12noon; film at 1pm. Kidcentered discussion & activities.  Visit web site for all films: coming-of-age,  romantic comedy, ‘60s cult classic, documentaries of masters of the graphic  novel.

Apr 4 & 6

Parent Workshops with Aletha Solter, Ph.D. (Aware Parenting, author of 5 books) Cradle, Northampton. Why Babies Cry: Some Unrecognized Reasons Thurs Apr 4, 6-8pm, $35. Did you know that babies cry not just for immediate needs, but to release and heal stress? Recognize sources of stress, improve sleep, and help your baby release tension through therapeutic holding/listening. Discipline Without Punishments and Rewards Sat Apr 6, 9-1, $70 Raise cooperative, responsible, self-disciplined children. Pitfalls of punishments and rewards, basic techniques of democratic discipline, reasons for inappropriate behavior, how children’s behavior changes when their needs are met. Eliza 720-252-9982 Contact@InspiritAlive.com Register at cradlefamily.com

Apr 6 & 7

Quilt Show for the Family -Introduce your family and children to the exciting art and craft of quilting at the Hands All Around Biennial Quilt Show, April 6 and 7, at the UMass Amherst Campus Center. In recent years, many artists have expanded the rich American tradition of quilting to create exquisite works of arts. This show, featuring 300+ quilts, showcases the best contemporary quilting has to offer – traditional blocks and patterns next to pictorial and abstract quilts. Demos, kids activities, a special World War II quilt exhibit, fabric vendors, a mini-quilt exhibit and much more. $8 for adults, kids 5 and under for FREE, kids ages 6-12 – $2, students and military or veterans $4. 10am-4pm both days. handsacrossthevalley.org/quilt-show

Apr 7

Come Meet Eden Village Camp’s Founding Director,  Yoni Stadlin, at Congregation B’nai Israel (253 Prospect St, Northampton, MA) on April 7th at 11:30am. Snacks provided! Eden Village Camp is the innovative Jewish organic farm camp, focusing on food, wilderness connection & creative arts! The 3rd-11th grade campers and apprentices develop leadership, community-living & outdoor skills, explore a vibrant food culture, and awaken their sense of purpose, joy, & positive Jewish identity. Campers enjoy ethically-sourced (and Kosher) food; care for animals, experience cooking, herbalism, natural science, joyful Shabbat celebration & Jewish practice, swimming & more! Scholarships are available. Contact welcome@edenvillagecamp.org to learn more!

Apr 10

Cultivating Compassion–A Powerful Agent of Change. Got conflict in your life? Whether it’s tension with co-workers, your children, your spouse or anyone who touches your life, cultivating compassion eases the suffering.  Attend this FREE workshop to find out how!  In this interactive program, various research, exercises and discussion topics will be presented to highlight how compassion transforms relationships and reduces conflict. All are welcome to attend on April 10th, 2013 from 6-8pm at Forbes Library in Northampton, MA. Please register to reserve a seat @ Coaching-with-Compassion.com/events. This event is created and facilitated by Shana Hiranandani, M.A., BCC Board Certified Life and Career Transition Coach.

Jul & Aug

Journey Camp is a nurturing program where children can be themselves and make new friends. Each day offers creative play, walks in the woods and choices of workshops in art, music and drama. Hilltown session for boys and girls, ages 7-13, July 15-19, Taproot Commons Farm, Cummington. Session One for boys and girls, 7-12, July 1-5, at Woolman Hill, Deerfield, Girls Weeks, 7-12, Aug. 5-9 and Aug. 12-16, Woolman Hill, and Moonseed Teen Leadership for Girls, 11-18, July 29- August 1, Woolman Hill. Contact: Marsha Lieberman, 413-588-6399, marsha.journey@gmail.com; www.sarahpirtle.com

Accepting applications for fall 2013. The Bement School founded in 1925 and located in Deerfield is a co-educational junior boarding and day school serving 220 students in kindergarten through grade 9. Bement’s rich, traditional curriculum motivates and challenges students with strong academics, a renowned fine arts program, and a diverse athletic program. Students participate in athletics and fine arts every day. The pervasive atmosphere at Bement is that of a family, learning and living together. Bement actively seeks an academically diverse, international, and multi-cultural student body. For information on how to apply, financial aid, or to arrange a visit to campus, call 413-774-7061 www.bement.org.

SUMMER CAMP: Looking for a summer camp or program in Western MA?  Check out our featured post, 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a list that will wow and dazzle you! Summer opportunities range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs are featured! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans!

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your April Vacacation event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, community event,  workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: HILLTOWN FAMILIES EVENTS

Thank you to everyone who pre-registered for this free event. We are now full and registration is closed. If you’d like to be added to our cancellation list, visit the page and submit your contact info.

On Friday, April 5th from 4-7pm: ACT OF KINDNESS: Flowers for Friends: A Free Family Friday Night Event at The Art Garden with Hilltown Families. Sign up to bring your kids and come join your neighbors in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and then pass along to those in your community. With the idea of spreading kindness and beauty, families are encouraged to pass their posies along to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice. Space is limited. Must pre-register. Shelburne Falls, MA (FREE)

Space is limited and we’re filling up fast! All participants must pre-register for this free event. Don’t miss your chance!

On Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm: FAMILY COMMUNITY SERVICE EVENT: Join Hilltown Families for a Saturday morning of volunteering together with your family during our spring Family Community Service Event to be held at Leeds Elementary School.  We will be offering seven volunteer stations for families to participate in hands-on service projects for ALL AGES that support animal welfare organizations, conservation efforts and food security. Find out more and preregister here: Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: May 4th! Northampton, MA (FREE)


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
March 30th – April 5th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 23rd-29th, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

It’s officially spring, but the snow continues to linger…  The good news is that while kids might not be able to ride their trikes in the snow, the sledding hills are still a ton of fun!

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

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

BEST BETS

To discover Easter Events happening this weekend and next, check out our post: Easter Events in Western MA, 2013

This weekend, Saturday & Sunday, March 23rd & 24th from 9:30am-5pm – GEOLOGY: The Western Mass Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show takes place this weekend at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center! The show features the collections of numerous geologists, collectors, and dealers, and offers families an opportunity to get an up-close-and-personal look at gemstones, fossils, petrified wood, crystals, mineral specimens, and more. There will be demonstrations throughout the day, as well as opportunities to see and learn about equipment used to cut and polish stones. Budding geologists will be in heaven while surrounded by the museum-quality displays and the vast wealth of knowledge held by presenters. 1 Atwood Drive. Northampton, MA. (<$)

Saturday, March 23rd from 10am-2pm – SUSTAINABILITY: A Community Resiliency Summit at the Cummington Community House. This is a wonderful opportunity for families to network and find opportunities to get engaged in the community. Open to all, regardless of geography. Panels are planned on the topics “Food, Farm & Local Economy” and “Strengthening Local Institutions & Planning for Emergencies.” Lunch will be provided by the Village Church, followed by networking and discussions about steps we can take as a community to strengthen resiliency. Child-care will be provided. Pre-register if possible. 413-634-5005. 33 Main Street. Cummington, MA (FREE)

Saturday, March 23rd from 1:30-3pm – COMMUNITY SERVICE: Build a home for cave-nesting birds at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary! Bluebirds in particular will love nesting in these wooden nest boxes, made using white pine. Other species of birds to particularly enjoy nest boxes include tree swallows, tufted titmice, and white-breasted nuthatches. Families will also learn about good places to mount their boxes – if you have a good place within viewing distance of your home, use it as a way to learn about the habits of whichever bird species moves in! Registration required. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

March 22

ArtSpark, dance party and auction to benefit the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, Friday March 22nd, 7 to 11 p.m. at Look Park’s Garden House in Florence, MA. Music by the O-Tones, food, cash bar, silent and live auction with eclectic mix of handcrafted furniture, art, local business gift certificates, travel, and one-of-a-kind events up for bid. Tickets $20, available at Cooper’s Corner, State Street Fruit Store, the Creamery and at the door. For more information, 413-268-3421.

Apr 4 & 6

Parent Workshops with Aletha Solter, Ph.D. (Aware Parenting, author of 5 books) Cradle, Northampton. Why Babies Cry: Some Unrecognized Reasons Thurs Apr 4, 6-8pm, $35. Did you know that babies cry not just for immediate needs, but to release and heal stress? Recognize sources of stress, improve sleep, and help your baby release tension through therapeutic holding/listening. Discipline Without Punishments and Rewards Sat Apr 6, 9-1, $70 Raise cooperative, responsible, self-disciplined children. Pitfalls of punishments and rewards, basic techniques of democratic discipline, reasons for inappropriate behavior, how children’s behavior changes when their needs are met. Eliza 720-252-9982 Contact@InspiritAlive.com Register at cradlefamily.com

Jul & Aug

Journey Camp is a nurturing program where children can be themselves and make new friends. Each day offers creative play, walks in the woods and choices of workshops in art, music and drama. Hilltown session for boys and girls, ages 7-13, July 15-19, Taproot Commons Farm, Cummington. Session One for boys and girls, 7-12, July 1-5, at Woolman Hill, Deerfield, Girls Weeks, 7-12, Aug. 5-9 and Aug. 12-16, Woolman Hill, and Moonseed Teen Leadership for Girls, 11-18, July 29- August 1, Woolman Hill. Contact: Marsha Lieberman, 413-588-6399, marsha.journey@gmail.com; www.sarahpirtle.com

Accepting applications for fall 2013. The Bement School founded in 1925 and located in Deerfield is a co-educational junior boarding and day school serving 220 students in kindergarten through grade 9. Bement’s rich, traditional curriculum motivates and challenges students with strong academics, a renowned fine arts program, and a diverse athletic program. Students participate in athletics and fine arts every day. The pervasive atmosphere at Bement is that of a family, learning and living together. Bement actively seeks an academically diverse, international, and multi-cultural student body. For information on how to apply, financial aid, or to arrange a visit to campus, call 413-774-7061 www.bement.org.

Advertise your Summer Camp with Hilltown FamiliesMARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer. On Sunday, March 24th, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about our marketing package HERE.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your community event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Maria Curtin-McKenna is a Smith College Social Work student looking for mothers who have an ADD or ADHD diagnosis to join her research study about challenges, coping strategies and support experienced during the first year after the baby’s birth. The interview is audio-taped and confidential. It lasts about 1 hour and is held at a time and place convenient to the mom. A $15 thank you gift card to Target is provided. To participate, the mother must be 18 years or older, have and ADD or ADHD diagnosis, and have given birth to a child who is age 2-60 months. Contact Maria at 413-362-4053 or mcurtinm@smith.edu

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: HILLTOWN FAMILIES EVENTS

On Friday, April 5th from 4-7pm: ACT OF KINDNESS: Flowers for Friends: A Free Family Friday Night Event at The Art Garden with Hilltown Families. Sign up to bring your kids and come join your neighbors in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and then pass along to those in your community. With the idea of spreading kindness and beauty, families are encouraged to pass their posies along to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice. Space is limited. Must pre-register. Shelburne Falls, MA (FREE)

On Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm: FAMILY COMMUNITY SERVICE EVENT: Join Hilltown Families for a Saturday morning of volunteering together with your family during our spring Family Community Service Event to be held at Leeds Elementary School.  We will be offering seven volunteer stations for families to participate in hands-on service projects for ALL AGES that support animal welfare organizations, conservation efforts and food security. Find out more and preregister here: Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: May 4th! Northampton, MA (FREE)


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
March 23rd-29th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 16th-22nd, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

This is the last weekend to see the bulb shows at Mt. Holyoke’s Talcott Greenhouse and Smith College Botanic Garden! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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

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

BEST BETS

Saturday Morning Music Party: March 16th Hilltown Families & Flywheel present another Saturday Morning Music Party in Easthampton!

Saturday, March 16th from 10am-12noon - MUSIC PARTY: Hilltown Families and Flywheel Presents a Saturday Morning Music Party with special guest, Shiprock & Anchordog. Bring the family for another family friendly morning of live music & free pancakes! Local group, Shiprock & Anchordog will bring us a mixed media performance of theater and video set to music in the Americana vein about the story of two dog heroes and their adventures through forests, oceans and dreamscapes. Free pancakes will be flipped onto your plates beginning at 10am. Kids of all ages welcome! Happens at Flywheel. 43 Main Street (Old Town Hall). Easthampton, MA (>$)

Saturday, March 16th  from 9am-3pm – MAPLE SUGARING: Celebrate a delicious New England tradition at the town of Chester’s 28th annual Maple Fest!  Start the day with a pancake breakfast at the First Congregational Church.  Then, spend the rest of the day learning all about maple sugaring (you can even take a wagon ride to the High Meadows Sugarhouse), visiting with farm animals, listening to live music from the Pioneer Valley Fiddlers, and more.  There will be food available all day long, just in case you miss the pancakes!  Skyline Trail.  Chester, MA.  ($)

Sunday, March 17th at 11:30am – ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Western MA’s most Irish city! The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade includes floats, dancers, and other performers from local groups and marches all over the city! Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

March 17

Are you hungry for something to do this Sunday? Head to The Eric Carle Museum to celebrate The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day on March 17th from 12noon-5pm. Make your own caterpillars from found objects in the Art Studio. Join special story times. Meet the Very Hungry Caterpillar in costume and get a caterpillar tattoo. There will be caterpillar cookies, giveaways & a sale in The Carle Bookshop. Translated in over 50 languages, and celebrated a world over, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is universally known as one of the greatest childhood classics of all time. Bring a picnic lunch & spend the day! For more info visit www.carlemuseum.org or call 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA (FREE with Museum Admission)

March 22

ArtSpark, dance party and auction to benefit the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, Friday March 22nd, 7 to 11 p.m. at Look Park’s Garden House in Florence, MA. Music by the O-Tones, food, cash bar, silent and live auction with eclectic mix of handcrafted furniture, art, local business gift certificates, travel, and one-of-a-kind events up for bid. Tickets $20, available at Cooper’s Corner, State Street Fruit Store, the Creamery and at the door. For more information, 413-268-3421.

RH Conwell SchoolRH Conwell Community School of Worthington, MA is accepting applications for the 2013-2014 school year with openings in all classes from Pre-K through 6th grade. Located in the heart of the Hilltowns of Western MA, Conwell is an affordable private school with a supportive environment, offering a rigorous, encouraging, and developmentally appropriate program to all students. Children are taught to think creatively, read critically, and reason logically. Conwell has a high level of parent and community involvement in both classroom and after school activities. Students are valued as individuals and learning plans are tailored to meet their needs and learning styles. For more information visit online at www.conwellcec.org or call 413-238-5856.

Advertise your Summer Camp with Hilltown FamiliesMARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer. On Sunday, March 24th, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about our marketing package and early bird discounts HERE.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your community event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Habitat for Humanity is beginning some new local projects – and the organization is searching for families to become new homeowners!  There will be projects taking place in Northampton, Easthampton, and Turners Falls, and families who are able to make small mortgage payments and participate in the home’s construction are encouraged to apply.  Learn more about the opportunities available and how to be successful in the application project on Saturday. March 16th from 10am-12noon at Greenfield Savings Bank  (282 Avenue A.) in  Turners Falls, MA.  (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Enter for a chance to win tickets!

Next Saturday, March 23rd from 10am-2pm – SUSTAINABILITY: A Community Resiliency Summit at the Cummington Community House.  This is a wonderful opportunity for families to network and find opportunities to get engaged in the community. Open to all, regardless of geography. Panels are planned on the topics “Food, Farm & Local Economy” and “Strengthening Local Institutions & Planning for Emergencies.” Lunch will be provided by the Village Church, followed by networking and discussions about steps we can take as a community to strengthen resiliency. Child-care will be provided.  Pre-register if possible. 413-634-5005. 33 Main Street. Cummington, MA (FREE)

Easter EventsNext Sunday, March 24th from 12noon-4pm: MUSEUM ADVENTURES: There’s more to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute than its magnificent paintings. Celebrate the remarkable diversity and beauty of decorative arts in the collection—from elaborate works of silver and elegant furniture to charming teacups and colorful glass objects—at a free Decorative Arts Family Day. The day’s program offers plenty of fun for parents and children alike. Music, demonstrations, and art projects are just some of the activities that will highlight the decorative arts in the Clark’s collection. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Willamstown, MA (FREE)

On Friday, April 5th from 4-7pm: ACT OF KINDNESS: Flowers for Friends: A Free Family Friday Night Event at The Art Garden with Hilltown Families. Sign up to bring your kids and come join your neighbors in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and then pass along to those in your community.  With the idea of spreading kindness and beauty, families are encouraged to pass their posies along to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice. Space is limited. Must pre-register. Shelburne Falls, MA (FREE)


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
March 16th-22nd, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 9th-15th, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

At the beginning of Maple Sugar Season last year we invited our readers to share with us how Maple Sugar Season gets their family outdoors and participating in the harvest with their community. We also invited them to share their favorite recipe that they like to make for/with their family breakfast/brunch hour. Check out what they had to share in our post, Seasons at Our Table: Maple Sugar.

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

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

BEST BETS

Saturday, March 9th from 9am-12pm in Hampshire CountyKIDS’ STUFF SWAP: Northampton Dept. of Public Works is holding a Kids’ Stuff Swap and Art Workshops, PopUp Artists’ Shop and Environmental Info table at Smith Vocational School. Pre-registration. 80 Locust St. Northampton, MA (FREE)

Saturday, March 9th from 10am-4:30pm in Franklin CountyHISTORY: Children in early New England had to work often to help their families survive – somehow, though, they still had time to play!  Visit Historic Deerfield today to learn about and try out many Colonial-era toys often enjoyed by children in early Deerfield.  Visitors can make their own toys to take home, and can even try on 18th-century clothing to see what they might have looked like as a child long ago.  413-775-7170.  84B Old Main Street.  Deerfield, MA.  (FREE with museum admission)

Sunday, March 10th from 11am-3pm in Hampden County – MAPLE HARVEST DAY: Storrowton Village Museum’s 8th annual Maple Harvest Day will showcase the history and lore of maple sugaring in the Gilbert Farmstead’s front yard with Sugar Maple tree tapping, sumac spile making and sap boiling over an open fire, to educate the public about the origin and legend of the tradition. Inside the historic home, docents will demonstrate 19th century open hearth cooking at the cozy kitchen fireplace as well as quilting and spinning wool. 413-205-5051. Eastern States Expo. West Springfield, MA (FREE)

Sunday, March 10th at 1pm in Berkshire CountyANIMAL STUDIES: Meet some real-life bats today at the Berkshire Museum!  The museum is currently hosting an exhibit all about bats, which features specimens of actual bats, but no live bats.  However, today some fruit bats, a big brown bat, and a Malayan flying fox will all pay a visit to the museum!  Families can learn all about what bats eat, where they live, and the fragility of their populations before meeting the live bats.  Not to be missed – this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!  413-443-7171.  39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA.  (FREE with museum admission)

BULLETIN BOARD

March 9

Piti Theatre presents 4th Annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival on Sat., March 9 at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls. Family show at 2pm with Piti’s “To Bee or Not to Bee,” leading U.S. mask artist Larry Hunt of Masque Theater, children’s mask parade, syrup tasting, free Real Pickles and more! Evening show at 7pm for ages 8+ with Masque Theater’s 20 mask variety show, juggling/comedy with national touring actor Jack Golden, brother-sister duo June and the Bee. Family show $5, Evening $12/$8 under 16. Fri., 3/8: paper pattern mask making workshop for grades K – 5, 4:30 – 5:30 pm at Mem. Hall. Children can be in next day’s mask parade. Sun. 3/9: Mask Movement for ages 15+ at Hart Yoga, 1-4pm. info@ptco.org, www.ptco.org/shows/syrup

RH Conwell SchoolRH Conwell Community School of Worthington, MA is accepting applications for the 2013-2014 school year with openings in all classes from Pre-K through 6th grade. Located in the heart of the Hilltowns of Western MA, Conwell is an affordable private school with a supportive environment, offering a rigorous, encouraging, and developmentally appropriate program to all students. Children are taught to think creatively, read critically, and reason logically. Conwell has a high level of parent and community involvement in both classroom and after school activities. Students are valued as individuals and learning plans are tailored to meet their needs and learning styles. For more information visit online at www.conwellcec.org or call 413-238-5856.

Advertise your Summer Camp with Hilltown FamiliesMARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer. On Sunday, March 24th, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about our marketing package and early bird discounts HERE.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your community event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SUGAR SHACKS: Sugar shacks all over Western MA are open, boiling down sap, flipping jacks, and serving both up fresh out of the kitchen.  Find a recommended Sugar Shack here: Where’s Your Favorite Sugar Shack in Western MA?.

MotherWoman is coming to the Hilltowns, offering two support groups to Hilltown mothers.  The first group meets on Mondays in Ashfield at St. John’s Corner House from 11am-12:30pm.  Expectant mothers welcome. Free childcare is available for children up to age four. Contact Anna Westley for more info at 413-625-6948. A second group will be hosted by the Cummington Family Center at the Cummington Community House on the 2nd Thursday each month from 10-11:30am.  Contact Stacey Mackowiak for more info at 413-634-8853.  More info on both at www.itavillage.com.

Enter to win a pair of tickets for a Parents’ Night Out!

Volunteers wanted for Salamander Tunnel Maintenance Day in Amherst on  Saturday, March 9th from 1-3pm. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment will be cleaning Salamander tunnels and drift fences on Henry Street.  Volunteers will be raking leaves, shoveling sand and debris, clipping brush, repairing plastic mesh fences, pounding in wooden stakes, and picking up litter and will have some tools and gloves available for families to help out (but please bring your own if you have them.). All ages are welcome! Henry Street. Amherst, MA (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Mark Your Calendars: March 16th Hilltown Families & Flywheel present another Saturday Morning Music Party in Easthampton!

Next Saturday, March 16th from 10am-12noon - MUSIC PARTY: Hilltown Families and Flywheel Presents a Saturday Morning Music Party with special guest, Shiprock & Anchordog. Bring the family for another family friendly morning of live music & free pancakes! Local group, Shiprock & Anchordog will bring us a mixed media performance of theater and video set to music in the Americana vein about the story of two dog heroes and their adventures through forests, oceans and dreamscapes. Free pancakes will be flipped onto your plates beginning at 10am. Kids of all ages welcome! Happens at Flywheel. 43 Main Street (Old Town Hall). Easthampton, MA (>$)

We have 3 family 4-pack of tickets we’re giving away to see the musical Annie in Northampton, March 14-16!

Next Saturday, March 16th at 2pm - FILM/LITERATURE: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center hosts author Brian Selznick for a screening of the movie adaptation of his book, Hugo. The film (meant for families!) features Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese. Following the screening, Selznick discuss the process of transforming the book into film, and will answer audience questions. 413-528-0100. 14 Castle Street. Great Barrington, MA. ($)

Next Sunday, March 17th at 11:30am – ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Western MA’s most Irish city! The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade includes floats, dancers, and other performers from local groups and marches all over the city! Holyoke, MA. (FREE)


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
March 9th-15th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 2nd – 8th, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Looking for a whiff of spring? Starting this Saturday, March 2nd, both Smith College Botanic Garden and Mount Holyoke College’s Botanic Garden spring flower shows open featuring hundreds of spring-blossoming bulbs! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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

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

BEST BETS

Winter Bucket ListSaturday, March 2nd from 10am-4pm in Hampden CountyMUSEUM ADVENTURE: Happy 109th birthday, Dr. Seuss!  Celebrate today with the Springfield Museums, home of the Dr. Seuss sculpture garden.  Celebrations will take place all day long, including MYO Cat in the Hat bowties and birthday cards for Dr. Seuss, a chance to meet the Cat in the Hat himself, family science adventures, planetarium shows (additional charge), and a Dr. Seuss cake contest where visitors can vote for their favorite, most Seuss-est cake!  413-263-6800.  21 Edwards Street.  Springfield, MA.  ($)

Saturday, March 2nd at 10:30am in Hampshire CountyFAMILY PERFORMANCE: Grammy-nominated folk musician David Grover performs this morning at the Jones Library!  His beautiful music is unique amongst folk-style family music in that it speaks to people of all ages, and not just children.  413-259-3090.  43 Amity Street.  Amherst, MA.  (FREE)

Saturday, March 2nd at 1pm in Berkshire CountyMUSEUM ADVENTURE: It’s Family Curiosity Day at the Williams College Museum of Art!  Visit the museum to learn all about art – there will be gallery activities, artistic experiments, and lots of art projects!  413-597-3131.  15 Lawrence Hall Drive.  Williamstown, MA. 

Saturday, March 2nd from 11am-12:30pm in Franklin CountyLITERACY: Families with kids ages 6+ are invited to take part in a 6-week workshop series with professional storyteller John Porcino at the Dickinson Library!  Porcino will share beautiful children’s books with families, and the events are a celebration of stories – each week will focus on a new theme.  Registration required.  413-498-2455.  Main Street.  Northfield, MA.  (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Mark Your Calendars: March 16th Hilltown Families & Flywheel present another Saturday Morning Music Party in Easthampton!

Next Saturday, March 9th from 9am-12pm in Hampshire County  – KIDS’ STUFF SWAP: Northampton Dept. of Public Works is holding a Kids’ Stuff Swap and Art Workshops, PopUp Artists’ Shop and Environmental Info table at Smith Vocational School. Pre-registration.  80 Locust St. Northampton, MA (FREE) 

Next Saturday, March 9th from 11am-2pm Berkshire CountyMAPLEFEST: Maple sugaring season has arrived once again, and Hopkins Memorial Forest host its annual celebration to usher in the new season. The celebration will allow people to both observe and take part in the maple syrup production process, from tapping a tree to checking out the finishing and bottling of the final product.  Participants will also be able to visit a working sugar house, assist with sap gathering, and taste the homemade syrup on pancakes and “sugar on snow.” In addition, there will be demonstrations of old-time evaporating methods, dating back to the pre-colonial era, as well as maple sugaring exhibits, videos, and more. Intersection of Bulkley Street & Northwest Hill Road. 413-597-4277. Williamstown, MA (FREE)

Next Sunday, March 10th from 11am-3pm in Hampden County – MAPLE HARVEST DAY: Storrowton Village Museum’s 8th annual Maple Harvest Day  will showcase the history and lore of maple sugaring in the Gilbert Farmstead’s front yard with Sugar Maple tree tapping, sumac spile making and sap boiling over an open fire, to educate the public about the origin and legend of the tradition. Inside the historic home, docents will demonstrate 19th century open hearth cooking at the cozy kitchen fireplace as well as quilting and spinning wool. 413-205-5051. Eastern States Expo. West Springfield, MA (FREE) 

BULLETIN BOARD

March 3

Teen Social Justice Workshop: How Did Young People Lead the Drive for Workers’ Rights? Join Temple Israel (27 Pierce St.) in Greenfield on Sunday, March 3 from 12:30-2:30pm for the next in their series of teen social justice workshops exploring Jewish history and ethics. This week they will be learning about the essential role young people played in organizing the garment workers’ strikes in New York City. There will be history, study of Jewish ethical identity as expressed across the spectrum of religious observance, critical thinking activities and a special segment on learning Yiddish workers’ songs. Free and open to everyone. Refreshments will be provided. For more info contact Samantha Wood: cornerrobot@gmail.com. 413-522-3832

March 3

Come celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Celtic Heels Irish Dance Company at the Academy of Music Theatre, this Sunday, March 3rd, at 2pm. This vibrant performance will feature over 70 dancers of all ages as well as guest musicians Emerald Rae (a National Scottish Fiddle Champion) and Liz Simmons (a Honey Voiced Singer). Tickets are $12/adults, $10/seniors, $10/children and are available through the Academy of Music Theatre at www.academyofmusictheatre.com or by phone at 413-584-9032 ext. 105 (box office fees may apply). Join in the fun of the jigs and reels with your children at this toe tapping hand clapping afternoon of family fun!

March 9

Piti Theatre presents 4th Annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival on Sat., March 9 at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls. Family show at 2pm with Piti’s “To Bee or Not to Bee,” leading U.S. mask artist Larry Hunt of Masque Theater, children’s mask parade, syrup tasting, free Real Pickles and more! Evening show at 7pm for ages 8+ with Masque Theater’s 20 mask variety show, juggling/comedy with national touring actor Jack Golden, brother-sister duo June and the Bee. Family show $5, Evening $12/$8 under 16. Fri., 3/8: paper pattern mask making workshop for grades K – 5, 4:30 – 5:30 pm at Mem. Hall. Children can be in next day’s mask parade. Sun. 3/9: Mask Movement for ages 15+ at Hart Yoga, 1-4pm. info@ptco.org, www.ptco.org/shows/syrup

Beginning Feb 25

FMC Ice Sports offers a fun and unique learning environment for all ages. Participants in our Step 1 Learn to Skate programs are taught the basics of ice skating without relying on skating aids. This method of teaching increases a skater’s independence on the ice and encourages their learning of balance and maneuverability. Students eventually graduate to our Step 2 and Step 3 programs that focus on the more sport specific skills required in hockey and figure skating. FMC Ice Sports programs can be found at the Smead Arena in Springfield and the Collins Moylan Arena in Greenfield. Class information and registration are available online at www.fmcicesports.com or by calling 1-888-74-SKATE.

Advertise your Summer Camp with Hilltown FamiliesMARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer. On Sunday, March 24th, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about our marketing package and early bird discounts HERE.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your community event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

MotherWoman is coming to the Hilltowns, offering two support groups to Hilltown mothers.  The first group meets on Mondays in Ashfield at St. John’s Corner House from 11am-12:30pm, offering a free, safe, confidential drop-in group for mothers of infants & young children a place to feel heard, valued, understood, nurtured and energized.  Expectant mothers welcome. Free childcare is available for children up to age four. Contact Anna Westley for more info at 413-625-6948. A second group will be hosted by the Cummington Family Center at the Cummington Community House on the 2nd Thursday each month from 10-11:30am.  Contact Stacey Mackowiak for more info at 413-634-8853.  More info on both at www.itavillage.com.

Volunteers wanted for Salamander Tunnel Maintenance Day in Amherst on a Saturday in March (determined by the weather). One of Amherst’s many claims to fame are the Henry St. amphibian tunnels, North America’s first, designed to direct spotted salamanders under the road, thus avoiding the tires of passing autos. All are invited to ready the tunnels for the annual spring migration. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment will be raking leaves, shoveling sand and debris, clipping brush, repairing plastic mesh fences, pounding in wooden stakes, and picking up litter and will have some tools and gloves available for families to help out (but please bring your own if you have them.). All ages are welcome! FREE • Please call 413-256-6006 to be added to the call/email list to volunteer.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
March 2nd-8th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: River Otters in Western MA

Winter Otters

When winter is most wintery, the otter is most active. It is hungry, of course, and it is also very smart. The ice that forms in and above the streams shrinks the size of the stream, making it harder for fish and crayfish to hide. Not only that, the otter—of the weasel family (i.e., a mountain lion crossed with a squirrel)—is in summer a nocturnal feeder, but changes that habit in the winter, and feeds during the day. In the harshest and barrenest of late winter, the otter finds a feast. (Photo credit: Kurt Heidinger)

It’s the end of winter (almost), when months of frigid winds have whipped the bare hills and leafless trees into a freeze-dried state. The best loggers cut trees for firewood now, just before the March thaws, because the ground is frozen and the green wood is at its driest, all the sap stored underground (Think maple syrup!). How wonderful and wise and tough are the trees, an example for us all of character and of presence (A friend of mine, a Chilean ethnobotanist, once said, “Always live in the trees. Humans go crazy without them.” I still wonder if she’s correct—and I tend to agree.).

The creatures who live in our forests are likewise in their stiffest winter state, hungry and cold, their food supply growing ever more meager. The deep hard snow will soon be gone, but while it lasts, life gets dearer for all us living beings. Dessicated, shrunken, and gnarled, the bios—the shared life expressed by biodiversity —is ready to spring.

Before it does, get out of the house! As harsh as late winter is, it is an ephemeral world of austere beauty. Everybody wants summer right now, all my friends off last week in Florida, posting Facebook photos and saying nananabooboo—but what is summer anyway, if it is not earned by gritting through the iciest and bluest and shiveriest months of cold? Living four seasons deeply is what chisels the Yankee character. For each season, we have a way of living and that—our environmentally-determined multifaceted  character—makes us culturally unique and vibrant. Spring is not so incredible and sweet and exuberant unless it follows the kind of winter we’re having, and that makes the winter we’re having a perfect one.

SO: Grab some snowshoes and ski poles and take risk (I guess I should place a disclaimer here: what I will now suggest is somewhat dangerous, so be very careful and don’t over do it.)… put on those snowshoes and, preferably with a friend or two also on snowshoes, walk a stream bed…while you still can!  Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for February 23rd – March 1st, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Need to shake off some of that cabin fever? Heather from Northampton says, “Fill up a thermos with hot soup and go cross country skiing at Notchview (Windsor, MA) with the family.” One of many recommendations from our post, 50 Winter Suggestions: Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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

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

BEST BETS

Saturday, February 23rd at 11am & 1pm in Hampden County – FAMILY CONCERT: SteveSongs is coming to the Springfield Museum for a family concert sure to get the kids dancing way! A “meet and greet” will follow each concert. Check out these videos to get ready for next weekend. Springfield, MA ($)

Saturday, February 23rd from 10am-4pm in Berkshire County – WINTERFEST: City of North Adams’ 16th Annual WinterFest will have your family shaking of cabin fever! All of downtown will turn into a winter fun-land with activities happening all day, including horse-drawn wagon rides, ice sculptures, culinary delights, ice skating and many performances. 413-664-6180. Downtown. North Adams, MA (FREE)

Winter Bucket ListSaturday, February 23rd at 11am in Hampshire County – FAMILY CONCERT: The Northampton Community Music Center presents the Deedle Deedle Dees in concert at the Eric Carle Museum!  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.  413-658-1100.  125 West Bay Road.  Amherst, MA. ($)

Saturday, February 23rd at 11am in Franklin County – LUAU: Kids got cabin fever?  Pretend it’s summer for just a day – Chandler’s Restaurant is hosting a luau for kids!  Families can order lunch and enjoy special Hawaiian-themed food and drinks, as well as crafts, games, and Hawaiian music!  Reservations suggested.  413-665-1277.  25 Greenfield Road.  Deerfield, MA. ($)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Friday-Sunday, March 1st-3rd: WINTER CARNIVAL: The Holyoke Winter Carnival spans three days!  There will be a free luminaria event, ice skating, dog show, domino tournament, firemen’s hockey benefit, family movie night, chili cook-off, pancake breakfast, cake decorating contest, and spaghetti dinner featuring Zydeco Connection.  413-244-6766. Holyoke, MA 

Saturday, March 2nd from 10am-3pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Family Day at the Smith College Museum of Art.  Try your hand at several art projects inspired by fisherman, fireworks, flowers, and more on view in the Collecting Art of Asia exhibition.  Smith students will lead families with kids ages 4yo+ in projects, have snacks available and be on hand to assist.  Elm Street At Bedford Terrace. Smith College Museum of Art. Northampton, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Feb 24

Purim Justice Fair, co-sponsored by Congregation Bnai Israel and Beit Ahavah, will be held Sunday, February 24, from 3:30-5:30pm at Beit Ahavah, 130 Pine St, Florence. This family-oriented Purim Festival is for all ages. Festivities will include spirited singing, interactive games and booths including face-painting, bingo, palm reading, blackjack, bowling and ring-toss. All proceeds (suggested donations $3-$5) from the event will go to support local and international social justice and environmental causes. Please bring canned food for a sculpture activity to donated to Northampton Survival Center. Bring homemade humantaschen to share to take part in our humantaschen bake-off contest. Come in costume! Contact: rabbijacob@cbinorthampton.org

Beginning Feb 25

FMC Ice Sports offers a fun and unique learning environment for all ages. Participants in our Step 1 Learn to Skate programs are taught the basics of ice skating without relying on skating aids. This method of teaching increases a skater’s independence on the ice and encourages their learning of balance and maneuverability. Students eventually graduate to our Step 2 and Step 3 programs that focus on the more sport specific skills required in hockey and figure skating. FMC Ice Sports programs can be found at the Smead Arena in Springfield and the Collins Moylan Arena in Greenfield. Class information and registration are available online at www.fmcicesports.com or by calling 1-888-74-SKATE.

March

Snow Farm: The New England Craft Program in Williamsburg, MA is offering half-day Saturday workshops in March for students ages 13+. Try flameworking (glass beads and small sculpture), ceramics, digital printing on alternative surfaces, or stained glass with upcycled materials. A great parent/teen opportunity – or some creative alone time for mom or dad. Our instructors are fun, encouraging, and wildly talented. Our studios in a historic New England farm setting are comfortable and professionally equipped. Treat yourself! www.snowfarm.org/intergenerational-workshops.html. 413-268-3101. info@snowfarm-art.org.

Guess what’s growing in Pelham? A Preschool! One of the Valley’s pre-eminent elementary schools is growing to include a preschool in the fall of 2013! Pelham Elementary is renowned for its MCAS scores, respected for its staff, and revered for its reputation of being a caring, nurturing place for our youth. Open to residents of all towns, with a number of slots reserved for Pelham residents. Full day program, hours and prices competitive. Options for before and after school care. Make your child’s first experience in the world of education one to grow on. For details call 413-362-1101 or email Principal Lisa Desjarlais at desjarlaisl@arps.org.

ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT OR OPEN HOUSE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your community event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Advertise your Summer Camp with Hilltown FamiliesMARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer.  On Sunday, March 24th, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA.  Find out more about our marketing package and early bird discounts HERE.

The Amherst Toy Library is now opening!  Offering free toy rentals for children up to 8 years old!  Located on the 2nd floor of the Bangs Community Center in downtown Amherst, the Toy Library is open Wed & Thurs from 11am-1pm and Fridays from 9am-12noon.  Donation of new or gently used toys (puzzles, games, block, etc) are needed, but not stuffed animals or cloth toys.  If you’d like to donate or volunteer, contact Randa or Shangzhu at amhersttoylibrary@gmail.com

Allison Scott, Youth Action Coalition Programs Liaison writes: “GirlsEyeView (GEV) offers a supportive and creative space for young women to express themselves through photography & creative writing, free of charge. We write stories & poems, share our ideas about important issues, & laugh! GEV exhibits work several times a year in our schools & in community spaces. In Ware, we create color and b&w photos using digital cameras & Photoshop. Our program is open to girls in middle & high school as well as those who are not in school. We meet Mon & Wed from 2:30-5pm at Ware Jr/Sr High School. In Amherst, we shoot with black & white film & manual cameras, & develop our prints in the darkroom. We’re open to 7th-9th grade girls & we meet Tues & Thurs from 2:30-5pm at Amherst Regional High School.”  www.youthactioncoalition.org


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
February 23rd-March 1st, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for February 16th-22nd, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

School playgrounds might be quiet next week, but there’s still a whole lotta fun going on during school Winter Vacation Week! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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

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

BEST BETS

Children’s Theater at Williston Northampton performs “Wondrous Tales of Old Japan,” and Hilltown Families has a family 4-pack of tickets to giveaway for the opening day!

Saturday, February 16th from 9am-1pm in Hampden County – SPORTS: Celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day at Springfield College!  Girls will be able to try out and learn about new sports, and will learn about playing higher level sports from some dedicated female college athletes.  After the event, participants can cheer on the Springfield College women’s basketball team as they take on MIT.  Registration required.  Open to girls in grades K-6.  413-748-3000.  Alden Street.  Springfield, MA.  (FREE)

Saturday, February 16th at 12noon in Berkshire County – OUTDOOR ADVENTURE: Show off your snow-building talents at the Lee Cabin Fever Festival’s Children’s Snow Sculpting Competition!  Build, stack, and scrape away until you’ve created a beautiful, icy masterpiece.  Takes place on the Town Green at 1:30pm, participate in (or watch!) the annual Strut Your Stuff Stroll down Main Street, where participants bare their skin in the cold – the event features swimsuit-clad walkers and runners!  Main Street.  Lee, MA (FREE)

Saturday, February 16th at 2-3:30pm in Franklin County – MARDI GRAS: Celebrate Mardi Gras as a family at the Winklepicker Ball!  The family-friendly event will feature live music from the Primate Fiasco, the valley’s own New Orleans-style street band.  Takes place upstairs at Ashfield Town Hall.  413-628-4003.  412 Main Street.  Ashfield, MA.  ($)

Saturday, February 16th at 2pm in Hampshire County – THEATER: Piti Theater Company – just back from a tour in Switzerland – brings their popular show To Bee or Not to Bee to the Northampton Center for the Arts!  Their original show teachers audiences about the important role that bees play in the production of food.  Beekeepers worldwide have been experiencing trouble maintaining bee populations in recent years – the show’s topic is timely and important.  Kids will learn positive ways to support bees while enjoying the show!  413-625-6569.  South Street.  Northampton, MA.  ($)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Saturday, February 23rd at 11am & 1pm in Hampden County – FAMILY CONCERT: SteveSongs is coming to the Springfield Museum for a family concert sure to get the kids dancing way! A “meet and greet” will follow each concert. Check out these videos to get ready for next weekend. Springfield, MA ($)

Saturday, February 23rd from 10am-4pm in Berkshire County – WINTERFEST: City of North Adams’ 16th Annual WinterFest will have your family shaking of cabin fever!  All of downtown will turn into a winter fun-land with activities happening all day, including horse-drawn wagon rides, ice sculptures, culinary delights, ice skating and many performances. 413-664-6180. Downtown. North Adams, MA (FREE)

Sunday, February 24th at 2pm in Hampshire County – VARIETY SHOW: The Really Big Show, the Pioneer Valley’s very own Ed Sullivan show, takes place at the Academy of Music Theatre.  Monte from The River will MC and the show will include a variety of talent, including s contortionists, poets, jugglers, opera stars, comedians, child prodigies, animal acts and many other forms of entertainment.  1-800-838-3006. 274 Main Street. Northampton, MA ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

Feb 16

Sunnyside Child Care Presents: “Hot Choco LA LA LA.” Spend the morning singing and dancing with the Valley’s own Mister G! “Kid-friendly, bilingual rockstar…Mister G and his guitar will surely make you feel like bailando!” – The Washington Post. “Mister G is the musical equivalent of a tasty chocolate bar infused with a spicy chili kick!” -Scholastic Family and Children. Warm up with yummy hot chocolate, coffee, and pizza. Chill out by doing art with your friends. Join Sunnyside on Saturday February 16th from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm at the Florence Community Center (140 Pine St. Florence MA). Tickets just $5 per person ($20 maximum per family). All proceeds fund the Sunnyside Scholarship Fund. www.sunnysidekids.org

Feb 18-22

February vacation at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art! Open Monday, Feb 18! Join the museum for storytimes, art making, scavenger hunts & live performances! See your friends, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Madeline, Babar, Shrek, and many others in their galleries. Plus, The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School presents, Goldilocks & the Three Bears: An Epic, Feb 19-22 at 11am, 1pm & 3pm [$6 (Members $5). Museum admission extra.]. So you think you know this tale? Think again! In this epic adaptation, there’s a lot more in store for Goldy than three bears, some chairs, and bowls of breakfast food. Fun for the whole family! Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Museum Admissions Desk. 413-658-1126. www.carlemuseum.org

Feb 23 & 24

Beginning beekeepers will learn everything they need to know to keep bees in natural top bar hives when they attend a Gold Star Honeybees Weekend Intensive. The class is two full days, and packed with information! The class covers hive inspections, bee biology, wax and honey harvesting, problems like CCD, and why bees matter so much! Give your honey the sweet gift of beekeeping for Valentine’s Day! Location: Berkshire Community College, 1350 West Street, Pittsfield, MA in the Cafe. Dates: Feb 23 & 24. Times: 8:30am – 4:00pm. Local/organic meals are included. Register online at www.goldstarhoneybees.com or call 207-449-1121. Instructor: Christy Hemenway, author of “The Thinking Beekeeper.” For more info: classes@goldstarhoneybees.com

March

Snow Farm: The New England Craft Program in Williamsburg, MA is offering half-day Saturday workshops in March for students ages 13+. Try flameworking (glass beads and small sculpture), ceramics, digital printing on alternative surfaces, or stained glass with upcycled materials. A great parent/teen opportunity – or some creative alone time for mom or dad. Our instructors are fun, encouraging, and wildly talented. Our studios in a historic New England farm setting are comfortable and professionally equipped. Treat yourself! www.snowfarm.org/intergenerational-workshops.html. 413-268-3101. info@snowfarm-art.org.

Guess what’s growing in Pelham? A Preschool! One of the Valley’s pre-eminent elementary schools is growing to include a preschool in the fall of 2013! Pelham Elementary is renowned for its MCAS scores, respected for its staff, and revered for its reputation of being a caring, nurturing place for our youth. Open to residents of all towns, with a number of slots reserved for Pelham residents. Full day program, hours and prices competitive. Options for before and after school care. Make your child’s first experience in the world of education one to grow on. For details call 413-362-1101 or email Principal Lisa Desjarlais at desjarlaisl@arps.org.

ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT OR OPEN HOUSE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your community event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Advertise your Summer Camp with Hilltown FamiliesMARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer.  On Sunday, March 24th, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA.  Find out more about our marketing package and early bird discounts HERE.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
February 16th-22nd, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for February 9th-15th, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

This weekend, 1,410 handmade tokens of community & friendship will be circulating through the USPS to be distributed throughout the four corners of Western MA as part of the 5th annual Handmade Valentine Swap!  Thank you to all of the families who joined us this year!  It was another great swap!

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

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

BEST BETS

[RESCHEDULED FOR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10th] Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective present a Saturday Morning Music Party, a breakfast bash featuring dancing, performances and diversions for kids! Flywheel kicks off the first of two installments of the Saturday Morning Music Party at 10am on February 9th, 2013 at their headquarters in the town hall building at 43 Main Street in Easthampton, MA. This event is free and open to families and kids of all ages. Following breakfast, there will be a screening of a classic episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, an 80s-era, cult-classic kids’ television show. After the show, kids join DJ Youthelectronix for the best ever dance party before noon. Snow date: Sunday, February 10th at 10am.

VOTE FOR HILLTOWN FAMILIES! As Hilltown Families enters its eighth year, celebrate the past seven with us by voting for Hilltown Families as Best Blog in the Valley Advocate’s Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll for 2013! Best Blog is listed under the Information Age” category Deadline to cast your votes is Noon, Feb 13th. Participants must vote for a total of 10 local favorites… how about some of our sponsors (listed in the left-hand column)? Spread the word & share the ❤ love! Click here to cast your votes: www.valleyadvocate.com/ballot

By special arrangement with Hilltown Families, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox is pleased to offer our readers a rare opportunity to take in a classic Shakespearean performance paired with a guided tour backstage. On Friday, Feb. 15th at 10am, schools and homeschooling families are invited to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Tina Packer Playhouse, followed by a backstage guided tour where participants can learn how the process of theatre is crafted in the costume shop, prop studio, and production workshop. Tickets for this package are only $8/person and a Study Guide for educators is available to download before attending. To reserve discounted tickets, contact Alexandra Lincoln, and let her know you are a Hilltown Families reader: 413-637-1199 x131. Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox. www.Shakespeare.org.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Hilltown Families and the Berkshire Theatre Group have partnered up to offer a free family 4-pack of tickets to one lucky family to The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater on Tuesday, February 19th at 2pm, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA!

ART RECEPTION:  Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit of Life and Landscape in Western MA is currently being shown at the Forbes Library’s Hosmer Gallery!  There will be an artist reception on Wednesday, February 13th from 6-8pm, a chance to view the images featured here on Hilltown Families over the years, meet the artist, and reflect on what it means to live, work, and play here in Western MA.  The show’s vibrant images showcase some of the best – and most beautiful – parts of life unique to our area, and celebrate local culture and values.  413-587-1013.  20 West Street.  Northampton, MA.  (FREE)

Children’s Theater at Williston Northampton performs “Wondrous Tales of Old Japan,” and Hilltown Families has a family 4-pack of tickets to giveaway for the opening day!

KIDS ICE FISHING DERBY IN THE HILLTOWNS: Ashfield Rod &  Gun Club’s annual children’s ice fishing derby.  This year’s annual children’s ice fishing derby will be held on Saturday, February 16th on Ashfield Lake, from 8am to 12Noon.  All school age children are invited to attend and take part in this fun event.  Prizes will be awarded. After the fishing derby there will be a spaghetti lunch held at Sanderson Academy ($5 for adults).  Following the lunch a presentation will be given by Tom Ricardi on birds of prey. For more info call Joe Miraglia 413-628-4400, or Ken Magdycz 413-634-5585. Ashfield, MA (FREE)CHILDREN’S CONCERT: Johnny Appleseed, The Legend and Truth, will be performed, among other works, by Jane Yolen, accompanied by musicians at the Smith College Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall on Saturday, February 16th. Northampton, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Feb 9, 16, & 23

Come to Chandler’s Restaurant in South Deerfield for a Fancy Nancy luncheon on Feb. 2nd and 16th at 11am. Dress fancy for the luncheon while a special guest reads Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor. Full kids menu will be available with cupcakes for dessert! Make your reservations soon for Kid’s Cooking Class on Sat., Feb. 9th at 10:30am. $25/child includes lunch, instruction & lunch for one accompanying adult. Space is limited. Turn February vacation into a tropical vacation at our Winter Luau for the kids on Sat., Feb. 23rd at 11am. Full kids menu will be available along with some great specials and summery drinks! Crafts, games & Hawaiian music are on the agenda. Come dressed in your tropical finest! Reservations are requested: 413-665-1277.

Win a pair of tickets for a Parents’ Night Out to the WinklePicker Festival Mardi Gras Ball with music by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Feb 16 at 8pm at the Ashfield Town Hall. Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 02/12/13 by 11:59pm (EST)..

Feb 15-17

Celebrate the amazing food, festive music & vibrant culture of New Orleans at the 2nd Annual WinklePicker Festival, Feb. 15-17 in Ashfield! It’s a weekend-long Mardi Gras party – costumes, dancing, gumbo and all! This year they’re throwing not one but TWO Mardi Gras Balls. Saturday afternoon it’s a Family Ball with The Primate Fiasco, and that night, a Grown-Ups Ball with Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys. Sunday lineup: afternoon conversation/performance by Charles Neville & an evening concert with Eilen Jewell. Take a “Cooking New Orleans” class with Chef Carlos Neville, and enjoy authentic New Orleans dinners at Elmer’s, and a Sunday Gospel Brunch too. Advance tickets and more information at WinklePickerFest.com or call 413-638-4003.

Winklepicker Family-Friendly Mardi Gras Ball with The Primate Fiasco! Win a family 4-pack of tickets and shake off the winter blues at the Ashfield Town Hall during a winter afternoon of family-friendly creole fun on Feb 16 at 2pm! Deadline to enter to win: 02/12/13 by 11:59pm (EST).

Feb 16

WinklePicker Festival “Cooking New Orleans” Class: Learn to cook authentic New Orleans cuisine with Chef Carlos Neville, of Susan Spicer’s top New Orleans restaurant, Bayona! Chef Carlos, son of Neville Brother Charles Neville, and a longtime culinary school pastry and baking tutor, will teach you to cook like the biggest chefs do – sublimely. His food is absolutely the best New Orleans food outside that city. The class will be held Saturday, February 16th from 10am – 12:30pm, upstairs at Elmer’s Store, 396 Main St, Ashfield. Just come as you are, all materials needed are included. Capacity is limited; advance registration is strongly recommended. $65/class. Tickets are at Elmer’s Store and www.WinklePickerFest.com, or call 413-628-4003.

Feb 16

Sunnyside Child Care Presents: “Hot Choco LA LA LA.” Spend the morning singing and dancing with the Valley’s own Mister G! “Kid-friendly, bilingual rockstar…Mister G and his guitar will surely make you feel like bailando!” – The Washington Post. “Mister G is the musical equivalent of a tasty chocolate bar infused with a spicy chili kick!” -Scholastic Family and Children. Warm up with yummy hot chocolate, coffee, and pizza. Chill out by doing art with your friends. Join Sunnyside on Saturday February 16th from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm at the Florence Community Center (140 Pine St. Florence MA). Tickets just $5 per person ($20 maximum per family). All proceeds fund the Sunnyside Scholarship Fund. www.sunnysidekids.org

Thursdays

Having a Baby? Our Experts Help You Understand Your Options. The staff at Cooley Dickinson’s Childbirth Center know parents lead busy lives. That’s why organizers offer a childbirth education series held weekday evenings and weekends. Each series provide answers to questions about labor, birth, newborn care, breastfeeding, and more. Download the Having a Baby flyer here or register at www.cooley-dickinson.org/events. Baby is here. Now what? Once baby is born, parents don’t know what to expect. Join Beyond Birth, a group of new parents and babies up to four months old, at Cooley Dickinson Hospital Thursdays from 1–3 pm. A parent education specialist guides the group and answers questions. All are welcome no matter where you gave birth.

February

Cup & Top in Florence, MAFebruary is Cup and Top Cafe’s birthday month and it’s turning 7! To celebrate, every day in February, the cafe’s 77th customer will receive a $7 coupon to Cup and Top Cafe. It’s Cup and Top’s way of saying thank you for supporting a family friendly cafe where parents can meet to enjoy fair trade, organic coffee, and delicious food sourced from local farms, while their children enjoy themselves in the creative play space. So stop by Cup and Top Cafe in February, enjoy a treat, browse the walls and shelves adorned by local artists, and give yourself a chance to win! Cup and Top Cafe is located at 1 N. Main Street in Florence. See more at www.cupandtop.com.

ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT OR OPEN HOUSE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your community event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

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


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
February 9th-15th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for February 2nd-8th, 2013

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Ice Sculpture in Northampton

Northampton Center for the Arts writes: “Art celebrates ice one more time, as the third annual Northampton Ice Art Festival gets underway on Friday, February 8, 2013. The public is invited to witness the creation of fabulous ice sculptures that will grace a dozen downtown locations. Work starts at 10 am on the day of the event, and completed pieces will highlight Northampton’s “Arts Night Out,” 5pm-8pm. The icy masterpieces remain on display throughout the weekend—longer, if the weather cooperates.” 10 artists will carve 12 ice sculptures along the streets during Arts Night Out. Download a map here, (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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

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

BEST BETS

Friday-Sunday, February 1st-3rdWINTER FESTIVAL: The city of Greenfield’s annual Winter Carnival takes place all weekend, featuring an incredibly wide variety of wintry family-friendly events, both inside and out!  Highlights include the annual Sleigh Bell Run, a snowshoe trek, public skating, women’s hockey game.  Saturday is Family Fun Day, meaning that there will be lots of exciting indoor events at the Greenfield Youth Center all day long!  There will be a special performance featuring Jack Golden at 10am, a LEGO competition, face painting, crafts, games, and more.  Greenfield, MA.  (FREE, $)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective present a Saturday Morning Music Party, a breakfast bash featuring dancing, performances and diversions for kids! Flywheel kicks off the first of two installments of the Saturday Morning Music Party at 10am on February 9th, 2013 at their headquarters in the town hall building at 43 Main Street in Easthampton, MA. This event is free and open to families and kids of all ages. Following breakfast, there will be a screening of a classic episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, an 80s-era, cult-classic kids’ television show. After the show, kids join DJ Youthelectronix for the best ever dance party before noon.

By special arrangement with Hilltown Families, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox is pleased to offer our readers a rare opportunity to take in a classic Shakespearean performance paired with a guided tour backstage. On Friday, Feb. 15th at 10am, schools and homeschooling families are invited to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Tina Packer Playhouse, followed by a backstage guided tour where participants can learn how the process of theatre is crafted in the costume shop, prop studio, and production workshop. Tickets for this package are only $8/person and a Study Guide for educators is available to download before attending. To reserve discounted tickets, contact Alexandra Lincoln, and let her know you are a Hilltown Families reader: 413-637-1199 x131. Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox. www.Shakespeare.org.

VOTE FOR HILLTOWN FAMILIES! As Hilltown Families enters its eighth year, celebrate the past seven with us by voting for Hilltown Families as Best Blog in the Valley Advocate’s Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll for 2013! Best Blog is listed under the Information Age” category Deadline to cast your votes is Noon, Feb 13th. Participants must vote for a total of 10 local favorites… how about some of our sponsors (listed in the left-hand column)? Spread the word & share the ❤ love! Click here to cast your votes: www.valleyadvocate.com/ballot

BULLETIN BOARD

Jan 26

On Sunday, Feb 3rd Greenfield Center School will host a Birds of Prey Open House from 1-4pm. Come from 1-2 to hear Tom Ricardi, Raptor Rehabilitator, talk about his work. See several majestic live birds of prey. From 2-4 enjoy light snacks and bird-related activities and projects lead by Center School teachers. Dissect an owl pellet, make masks and more. Kindergarten through 5th grade classes will be open for touring. Admissions information available. All activities are free. www.centerschool.net Birds of Prey Open House, K-5th, Sun. Feb. 3, 1-4pm. Greenfield Center School is now accepting applications for fall 2013.

Feb 2, 9, 16, & 23

Come to Chandler’s Restaurant in South Deerfield for a Fancy Nancy luncheon on Feb. 2nd and 16th at 11am. Dress fancy for the luncheon while a special guest reads Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor. Full kids menu will be available with cupcakes for dessert! Make your reservations soon for Kid’s Cooking Class on Sat., Feb. 9th at 10:30am. $25/child includes lunch, instruction & lunch for one accompanying adult. Space is limited. Turn February vacation into a tropical vacation at our Winter Luau for the kids on Sat., Feb. 23rd at 11am. Full kids menu will be available along with some great specials and summery drinks! Crafts, games & Hawaiian music are on the agenda. Come dressed in your tropical finest! Reservations are requested: 413-665-1277.

Win a pair of tickets for a Parents’ Night Out to the WinklePicker Festival Mardi Gras Ball with music by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Feb 16 at 8pm at the Ashfield Town Hall. Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 02/12/13 by 11:59pm (EST)..

Feb 15-17

Celebrate the amazing food, festive music & vibrant culture of New Orleans at the 2nd Annual WinklePicker Festival, Feb. 15-17 in Ashfield! It’s a weekend-long Mardi Gras party – costumes, dancing, gumbo and all! This year they’re throwing not one but TWO Mardi Gras Balls. Saturday afternoon it’s a Family Ball with The Primate Fiasco, and that night, a Grown-Ups Ball with Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys. Sunday lineup: afternoon conversation/performance by Charles Neville & an evening concert with Eilen Jewell. Take a “Cooking New Orleans” class with Chef Carlos Neville, and enjoy authentic New Orleans dinners at Elmer’s, and a Sunday Gospel Brunch too. Advance tickets and more information at WinklePickerFest.com or call 413-638-4003.

Winklepicker Family-Friendly Mardi Gras Ball with The Primate Fiasco! Win a family 4-pack of tickets and shake off the winter blues at the Ashfield Town Hall during a winter afternoon of family-friendly creole fun on Feb 16 at 2pm! Deadline to enter to win: 02/12/13 by 11:59pm (EST).

Feb 16

WinklePicker Festival “Cooking New Orleans” Class: Learn to cook authentic New Orleans cuisine with Chef Carlos Neville, of Susan Spicer’s top New Orleans restaurant, Bayona! Chef Carlos, son of Neville Brother Charles Neville, and a longtime culinary school pastry and baking tutor, will teach you to cook like the biggest chefs do – sublimely. His food is absolutely the best New Orleans food outside that city. The class will be held Saturday, February 16th from 10am – 12:30pm, upstairs at Elmer’s Store, 396 Main St, Ashfield. Just come as you are, all materials needed are included. Capacity is limited; advance registration is strongly recommended. $65/class. Tickets are at Elmer’s Store and www.WinklePickerFest.com, or call 413-628-4003.

Join Sheep Shares Yarn & Fiber CSA and be a part of a local fiber farm. Yarn and/or fiber shares are shipped in spring and fall. Springdelle Farm is a 220 acre sheep farm located in Shelburne’s bucolic Patten District. The farm hosts special events for CSA members: Shearing Day Celebration (April); Strolling of the Sheep (June); Fiber Foliage & Friends (October). CSA has been featured in the Valley Advocate and Massachusetts Preview Magazine. For details visit www.foxfirefiber.com or email: barb@foxfirefiber.com.

Thursdays

Having a Baby? Our Experts Help You Understand Your Options. The staff at Cooley Dickinson’s Childbirth Center know parents lead busy lives. That’s why organizers offer a childbirth education series held weekday evenings and weekends. Each series provide answers to questions about labor, birth, newborn care, breastfeeding, and more. Download the Having a Baby flyer here or register at www.cooley-dickinson.org/events. Baby is here. Now what? Once baby is born, parents don’t know what to expect. Join Beyond Birth, a group of new parents and babies up to four months old, at Cooley Dickinson Hospital Thursdays from 1–3 pm. A parent education specialist guides the group and answers questions. All are welcome no matter where you gave birth.

February

Cup & Top in Florence, MAFebruary is Cup and Top Cafe’s birthday month and it’s turning 7! To celebrate, every day in February, the cafe’s 77th customer will receive a $7 coupon to Cup and Top Cafe. It’s Cup and Top’s way of saying thank you for supporting a family friendly cafe where parents can meet to enjoy fair trade, organic coffee, and delicious food sourced from local farms, while their children enjoy themselves in the creative play space. So stop by Cup and Top Cafe in February, enjoy a treat, browse the walls and shelves adorned by local artists, and give yourself a chance to win! Cup and Top Cafe is located at 1 N. Main Street in Florence. See more at www.cupandtop.com.

ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT OR OPEN HOUSE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your community event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

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


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
February 2nd – 8th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Great Day for Snow Play!

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Go Out in the Snow a Bit Each Day!

It’s a great day to get out into the snow!  Just add kids and go!  But before you head out, prepare so as to optimize the fun! Set up a healthy snack for the kids to energize and hydrate, then have them take a bathroom break BEFORE getting dressed in their winter gear. While they eat, gather up the warm clothes by the door. Layers. No cotton. Wool and other fibers are warmer. Long underwear. Turtlenecks. Sweaters. Snow pants. Snow jacket. Warm socks. Waterproof boots. Winter hats. Warm mittens you can tuck up into the jacket sleeves. And extra mittens to swap out when the first pair gets wet. When its really cold, add a neck warmer and leg warmers. Cover all the skin you can in layers. Then open the door and let ‘em out… and the kids will just play!

Snow has a magic effect. There are the traditional snowy day activities. Sledding. Slipping and sliding on patches of ice. Climbing snow hills. Building a snow person. Walking through the drifts. A snowball fight. Constructing a snow fort or igloo. Making snow angels. For variety, as the winter lingers on, present some other options.

  • Paint Snow: Fill spray or squirt bottles with water and food coloring to paint in the snow (Avoid spraying each other as food coloring can stain.).
  • Build Winter Fairy Houses: Build mini houses with icicles for walls. They can be houses for snow fairies similar to summer time fairy stick houses.
  • Make Mini Snow People: Use snowballs and tiny foods like raisins and nuts for faces and toothpicks for arms for mini snow people.
  • Blow Bubbles: Blow bubbles on a cold, cold day. They freeze.
  • Hula Hoop: Have a hula hoop contest dressed in all those layers.
  • Flashlight Tag: It gets dark early, so consider a game of flashlight tag before dinner.
  • Box Sled: Use a cardboard box or trash can lid for a sled.
  • Tracking: Go on a hunt for animal tracks in the snow.
  • Indoor Snow Bin: IF it gets too cold outside, bring a plastic bin of snow inside to play. Add a few action figures, toy trees and some ice cubes or sugar cubes for building and pretend to have a tiny winter landscape inside.

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Enjoy the season!

January Collections

We are always collecting and saving items in bins and on shelves for creative projects. This month add a few things to enhance snow play:

  • spray or squirt bottles
  • food coloring
  • flattened cardboard boxes and large trash can lids make great sleds
  • traditional summer playthings like bubbles or a hula hoop
  • large plastic bin to bring snow inside

Related Post: 9 Resources for Surviving & Thriving the Winter in Western Massachusetts


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.

50 Winter Suggestions: Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA

Winter Bucket List
Reader Recommendations for Western MA

Elise Gibson of Williamsburg writes, “Pack up your cross-country skis AND your ice skates and head to the DAR State Forest in Goshen. Once you’re there you can judge the conditions and see which activity suits the day. Sometimes we do both! Plus, no fee in the wintertime!” (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Western Massachusetts is rich in opportunities to get out and about with the family… any time of the year!  Winter offers outdoor activities like snowshoeing, sledding, skiing and ice skating.  And local businesses and attractions welcome you indoors to warm up with comforts, culture and entertainment.  Whether you’re visiting the area, or are fortunate enough to live here year round, winter in Western MA is a joyous time of year!

We asked our readers to recommend their favorite attractions, must see or must do family activities during the winter, and we received fifty great tips.  While not an exhaustive list (nor in any order) of the fun adventures families can have in Western MA, it’s a great place to start.  If you have a recommendation to add to this list, please do!  Post your suggestion below.

  1. “We’re looking forward to renting a cabin at Mohawk Trail State Forest (Charlemont, MA).” – Amy Meltzer (Northampton, MA)
  2. “The things I most enjoy… going ice skating on Ashfield Lake and DAR State Forest; going sledding on the Ashfield Golf Course.” – Laura Arruda (Ashfield, MA)
  3. Ice skating at UMass Mullins Center, snow shoeing to the Northfield Mountain Chocolate Pot, and pond hockey and sledding wherever we can!” – Rebecca Chambers (Amherst, MA)
  4. “Fill up a thermos with hot soup and go cross country skiing at Notchview (Windsor, MA) with the family.” – Heather (Northampton, MA)
  5. “My 3 and 5 yr old daughters and I LOVE to warm up inside the Smith College greenhouses! The bulb show in March is refreshing and vibrant. It’s fun to be in the humid greenhouses while its a winter wonderland outside.” – Heather Johnson
  6. “Holyoke has done a great job making over Community Field. They’re supposed to have ice skating and hot chocolate in the winter.” – Christa Figueroa (Holyoke, MA)
  7. “If you aren’t a member of one of the best spots in the Berkshires- you are missing out! We join the Berkshire Museum as a family and Grandma and Grandpa can bring our grandchildren there all year for free. We have 6 grandchildren and they love the aquarium, the digging for bones, natural history, Native American dress-up, vacation plays or feeding times for fish, discounts on all things charged and the gift shop. As another benefit you will be given a list of hundreds of museums across the country to enter free with this membership- such as NY museums, the Boston science center and SO many other great things. Join- support the area and take advantage of SO much.” – Bernice Hagan
  8. “Catching a Springfield Falcons ice hockey game or a Springfield Armor basketball game at the Mass Mutual Center (Springfield, MA)  is always a fun family outing.” – Christine Curtis (South Hadley, MA)
  9. “Always a perfect spot to go sledding behind C.T. Plunkett Elementary School in Adams… hike and explore Greylock Glen while there.” – Kim Robert
  10. “The Springfield Museums always have a family friendly exhibit!” – Ellen Rustico (Goshen, MA)
  11. Monson Library has some great events: a science club on Thursday afternoon once a month; Lego club; book club; and many more.” – Jo Sauriol
  12. “Cross country ski at Stump Sprouts (Hawley, MA). Hot chocolate at Mocha Maya’s (Shelburne Falls, MA). Ice skate or broom hockey! Bake a batch of cowboy cookies and cozy down for an indoor snow day with a good book or a movie. Invite friends for pancakes on Sunday. Snowshoe the neighborhood on a snow day. All fun things we do in winter!” –Dory Pelletier (Belchertown, MA)
  13. “The banks of the Westfield River when the ice begins to break up. It’s so awesome to see the different kinds of ice layered in massive chunks stranded on the banks.” Deanna Scarfe (West Chesterfield, MA)
  14. “The Cyr Skating Arena (Springfield, MA) is one of my families favorite places to go in the winter. They have ice skating sessions open to the public and very affordable. And you can bring your own skates or rent some there. It is located in Forest Park in Springfield, the same place as Bright Nights.” – Heather Houghton-Smith (East Longmeadow, MA)
  15. “Love to snowshoe at Northfield Mountain.” – Bonnie beth Pierce (Greenfield, MA)
  16. “Visit the Windsor Library – there are always new books. I can’t keep up with the Librarian’s wonderful choices!” – Valerie Kohn (Windsor, MA)
  17. “There are so many great winter activities in Western MA to choose from! Here a few of my favorites: Indoor: escaping to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory (South Deerfield, MA) and sampling first run of the year maple syrup at a sugar shack. Outdoor: hiking at Mount Tom State Reservation (Holyoke, MA) or cross-country skiing a trail in the woods.” – Susan VanPelt (Holyoke, MA)
  18. “I love to visit the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls. Here you can learn about the Connecticut River Watershed’s rich natural, cultural and industrial history.” – Sylvia Snape (Plainfield, MA)
  19. “Find any snowmobile trail and follow it (Regardless of whether or not you have a snowmobile)!” – Miranda Edison (Worthington, MA)
  20. “Go see a frozen waterfall. Check out your favorite summer spot and see all the cool ice formations.” – Maxine Oland (Belchertown, MA)
  21. “Walking from our house (downtown Northampton) to the Smith College greenhouses and then going to share a pot of tea at a coffee shop.” – Lisa Andrews (Northampton, MA)
  22. “A trip to Yankee Candle (South Deerfield, MA) never gets old, especially for young kids. We go about once a month in the winter. We walk around the whole place (great for tiring out toddlers), smell candles, and visit Santa’s workshop. In Santa’s workshop they have a train table for kids to play at and it’s always a big hit with our two little ones.” – Kristen Estelle (Goshen, MA)
  23. “Come shopping in Shelburne Falls. Holiday lights strung across Bridge street. Galleries with local crafts. Walk along the Bridge of Flowers. Have lunch or dinner in one of the fine restaurants.” – Karen Powers
  24. Sledding at the Worthington Golf Club hill — and after that if you’re still ready for more winter fun — across the street is ice skating on the pond – maybe a pick up ice hockey game for little ones … Being a thermos of hot cocoa to keep toasty!” – Amy Kane Coyne (Hinsdale MA)  Read the rest of this entry »

9 Resources for Surviving & Thriving the Winter in Western Massachusetts

Survive & Thrive the Winter in Western MA!

Follow the links for recommendations and words of wisdom from our readers for families on surviving and thriving in Western MA in the winter! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Now that we finally have some snow, winter play can begin!  Wondering where to get outside for a little winter fun? Or where to go inside for a winter birthday party or ice skating? There’s no better source of information on how to survive and thrive during winter in Western MA than Hilltown Families’ readers!

Over the years Western MA families have shared their favorite places to go sledding and where to get a cup of hot chocolate after (or coffee for the parents!).  They’ve discussed how to get kids to dress for the cold, and where to take the family for a horse drawn sleigh ride (or an indoor winter birthday party).  Find out what local treasures and words of wisdom our readers have offered in these nine posts from our archives, and add your 2-cents too!

  1. Where’s a Good Sledding Hill for PreK Kids in Western MA?
  2. Horse-Drawn Sleigh & Hayrides in Western MA
  3. Where to Enjoy Hot Chocolate in Western MA
  4. The Struggle of Winter Wear
  5. What’s Your Family’s Favorite Indoor and Outdoor Snowy Day Activities
  6. Winter Resources & Activities for Families with Special Needs in Western MA
  7. Recommendations for Indoor Places to Host a Winter Birthday Party
  8. Ice Skating in Western Massachusetts
  9. Best Cup of Joe in Western MA?

Greenfield Winter Fare Celebrates Local Food in Franklin County!

5th Annual Winter Fare in Greenfield
Kicks off on Saturday, Feb 4th for a Weeklong Celebration

There will be four local food community potlucks scheduled throughout the week, including the towns of Greenfield, Gill, Ashfield and Conway. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Greenfield’s annual Winter Fare will take place on Saturday, February 4th! Along with the farmers’ market, workshops, and barter market that Winter Fare offers, there will be several events happening across Franklin County to celebrate local food, too!

Greenfield’s first Winter Fare took place five years ago, spearheaded by Juanita Nelson, and was designed as a celebration of local food during the season when local farms are least visible.  However, despite the cold, ice, and snow, there’s still an abundance of local food available during the winter!

At the Greenfield’s Winter Fare, community members can come together to enjoy local foods, share their own home-preserved foods, and learn more about growing, preserving, composting, etc. at the many workshops offered.  The main Winter Fare event will take the place of the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market at the Second Congregational Church (Main Street) from 10am-1pm.  Other events include a local foods brunch spotlighting local honey and a new show from Piti Theater Company on Feb 5th., a screening of the documentary, “King Corn” on Feb. 8th, a seed swap and composting workshop on Feb. 12th, and four different local food potlucks throughout the week.

Greenfield’s Winter Fare celebrates delicious locally grown and produced foods, and provides numerous learning opportunities to the community.  Visit the farmers’ market and explain to your kids how it’s possible to buy local greens, squash, carrots, and apples during the winter when nothing grows outside, or teach them some kitchen skills and create a local dish to contribute to a potluck.  You could even do some canning with your kids to trade at the barter market!  The possibilities are endless.  To learn more about the many events taking place all over Franklin Count, visit www.winterfare.org.

Q&A: The Struggle of Winter Wear

Question and Answer

Six year old Carina Lemire of Chesterfield, MA dressed for the weather while participating at the Berkshire Trails Bill Koch Youth Ski League at Notchview in Windsor, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Anyone else fight with their kids to keep their jackets/gloves/hats on when it’s cold outside?!… Anyone winning those fights?!

  • Nancy Cavillones writes: I decided a long time ago that if its so cold they would freeze without the gear, then we have no business being outside in the first place. So, I don’t even fight that battle… so not worth it! They can learn the hard way what happens when you don’t listen to your mother (insert evil cackle).
  • Roberta Fortini-Curran writes: Every day.. and no I’m not!  But then again, I didn’t listen when my mother told me.
  • Michael Phillips writes: Sometimes my mouth starts moving, but usually the awesome memories of sledding and rolling around all day in the snow with just a t-shirt on slip into my head in time.  If kids are having too much fun to be cold then they are fine. Hot chocolate will motivate any blue children inside for a bit.
  • Josh Stearns writes: I actually wrote about the hats/gloves/jacket struggle recently.
  • Jude McGowan writes: Parents need to be parents and make sure their kids are dressed appropriately… I see way too many kids who are walking around w/out coats and hats/mittens because their parents don’t want to “upset” their children. Making sure your kids are protected against the elements is part of the job description… we are not here to be their buddies… they may not like our choices for them, but until they are able to make good choices, that’s our job.
  • Megan Sielken writes: Wow, if only “not wanting to upset my child” were the reason my kid occasionally appears outside without his mittens on… I guess I choose to have fewer fights and keep the mittens in my bag for the time when he’s ready to put them on on his own terms.  Yes, the role we play as parents is complicated and most certainly challenging. And when I see children outside without various pieces of outerwear, I can certainly imagine the earnest efforts their parents must have taken to ensure their child’s well-being.
  • Pauline Renee writes: Usually if I let him outside without what *I* consider appropriate gear. He will let me know when he gets cold.  I know when I was pregnant I would get very tired of explaining to people that I WAS NOT COLD going outside coatless in New England winters… my body was running at a much higher temp than theirs and I was perfectly comfortable. I would imagine that in many cases our kids feel the same. Anyway, while I agree that we have to keep our kids *safe*, I think it’s also wise to let children pay attention to their body signals. If it’s a matter of playing in the snow with no mittens on a cold day, I would make him wear mittens (because then it’s a *safety* issue versus a comfort issue… frostbite versus being chilly… being cold does not make you sick). If it’s a matter of us walking around outside in weather that is cold but there’s no risk of frostbite or anything, it’s not a battle I need to fight just to show I’m the boss. Kids tend to run hotter than we do. If he asks for his coat while we’re outside, he gets it. I don’t play the “your punishment for not putting it on inside is that you now have to suffer.” I think it teaches kids that they can trust us to support them in making very small choices in life. — On a somewhat related note, I read an article where a study showed that litler kids (like under 4 years old or so) truly do NOT recall how they felt last time, too, so saying “remember how you felt last time?” is a little useless. They need the new experience for awhile. — To more directly answer your question: We don’t have the battle often, and I *think* that because we don’t battle the small stuff, our almost 5-year old is starting to understand that when we ARE firm it’s for a good reason.
  • Sienna Wildfield writes: Our daughter is 8yo and we’ve been struggling with her for many years on the winter dress issue. Making her wear outerwear that is bulky and gets in the way of her climbing trees or running wild makes her feel constrained (read “miserable”…)… and often times she complains of being too hot. As one of her veteran teachers once pointed out about recess time, some kids are just warmer than others. — It’s refreshing to read that other parents have the same struggles and that many let their kids self regulate. That’s about where we’re at these days. When our daughter was younger, before she had the ability to recall previous experiences of being cold, as Pauline points out, we were more insistent that she dressed for the weather. Now we pick and choose our battles, and on winter days when she complains about being too hot in her winter jacket, we make her at least carry it so she has it for when she does get cold. — I feel one of my many jobs as her parent is to help foster her abilities to make healthy and wise decisions on how to take care of herself. If I allow her to get cold now (with jacket in hand) the hope is eventually she’ll learn to pack/wear a jacket/hat/mittens on her own when I’m not around to nag her!

Families Can Eat Locally Year Round: Northampton Winter Fare

Northampton Winter Fare: Eat Locally Year Round

Bring your own home-preserved foods to trade with neighbors at the Barter Market during the Winter Fare. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

It is possible for families to eat locally year-round, and there is a lot of amazing local food to be had even in the depths of winter. On January 15th, 2011 from 10am-2pm, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) is bringing Winter Fare, a vibrant, diverse farmers’ market and community event to Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton. Bring your shopping bags and stock up on fresh salad greens, root vegetables, local grains and bread, eggs, meat, cheese, maple syrup, honey, jam, pickles, and more, all grown by local farmers.

CISA strongly believes that healthful, local food should be available to everyone in the community, so Northampton Winter Fare will accept SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), and CISA will be matching the first $5 of all SNAP purchases.

In addition to perusing the array of local foods, shoppers can attend one of the several educational workshops scheduled during the market. The workshops include introductions to culinary and medicinal herbs, growing grains and legumes in the home garden, composting, and a short film. All the workshop leaders are local people who practice these skills at home, and the workshops are free and do not require pre-registration.

At 11:30am, the Soup Café will open for business so shoppers can take a break and enjoy a hot cup of soup. Offerings include a butternut soup from Karma, white bean and vegetable soup from Paul and Elizabeth’s Restaurant, curried root vegetable soup from Cup and Top Cafe, and potato leek from Serio’s Market. Bring your own mug to help us reduce waste.

The Barter Market, a fun, lively food-swapping event, begins at 1pm. Bring your own home-preserved foods and trade with your neighbors to diversify your pantry and get to know other people that can, dry, and freeze the local harvest.

More details about Winter Fare, including complete lists of vendors and workshops, are available at www.buylocalfood.org. Volunteers are still needed to make this event possible! Please contact CISA at 413-665-7100 or volunteer@buylocalfood.org to sign up or for more information.

The weekly winter farmers’ markets in Northampton and Amherst will be closed on January 15th. Northampton Winter Fare is sponsored by River Valley Market, UMass Five College Federal Credit Union, Easthampton Savings Bank, and Florence Savings Bank.

First Day Hikes in Western MA

DCR Sponsors First Day Hikes

“What better way to kick off the new year than with a hike at a state park?” said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Please join us outdoors on New Year’s Day.” (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will sponsor free “First Day” family hikes in 14 state parks across the Commonwealth on New Year’s Day, as a way to connect children and parents with the great outdoors even – or maybe especially – in winter. Several will be here in Western MA.

First Day hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, with views and vistas unimpeded by foliage. Wildlife that might be spied along these walks will almost certainly include song birds, turkeys and bald eagles. If you do see a Bald Eagle, remember that MassWildlife is holding their Midwinter Bald Eagle survey period right now through January 12, 2011. Everyone who is outdoors and sees an eagle during this time period is encouraged to report his or her sighting! You can send your report to mass.wildlife@state.ma.us. Please provide the date, time, location, and town of eagle sightings, plus the number of birds, whether juvenile or adult, and your contact information.

If you’re lucky (and quiet), you might also catch sight of a red fox, moose, porcupine or fisher.  The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Pocket Guide to Animal Tracks can help identify which animals may have passed by.

DCR’s First Day Hikes in Western MA include:

The DCR advises that in preparation for each hike, pay close attention to the details of starting time and location. Dress warmly. Wear layers of clothing and sturdy, warm hiking boots or shoes, as well as hats and gloves. Binoculars always come in handy, and do bring water.

In the event of inclement weather, please call 617-626-1450 after 3 p.m. on December 31 for any possible cancellations.  All hikes will be led by park staff members and will last about two hours. Participants are urged to arrive half an hour early to register. For details, visit www.mass.gov

Other (non-DCR) first day hikes:

  • 10am: First Day 2011 Hike with Williamsburg Woodland Trails at Bradley Sanctuary.  Directions here. 268-7523 Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

Eco-Friendly Holiday’s (Web Reviews)

Eco-Friendly Holiday’s (Web Reviews)

Hanukkah: Let There Be (Renewable) Light: A New Look at Hanukkah

This site considers “the connection between Hanukkah [Festival of Lights], energy use, and the environment,” and provides “holiday tips and resources for families, schools, and congregations to infuse Hanukkah celebrations with additional meaning,” and “tips for what you can do save energy in your congregation/school and at home.” Includes a “CFL installation ceremony,” an essay about the meaning of the darkness of winter, and more. From the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL).

FamilyFun: Have a Happy Green Holiday

Collection of children’s craft activities for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve that “give a gift to Mother Earth … [by turning] holiday and household surplus into festive decorations and eco-friendly packaging.” Includes instructions for a bubble packaging advent calendar, new uses for old greeting cards, fabric wrapping (inspired by Japanese furoshiki), and more. From FamilyFun magazine.

Eco-Friendly Kwanzaa

Craft ideas for making your own Kwanzaa celebration supplies. Includes instructions for making a Kwanzaa candle holder and mat. Also describes how to create other Kwanzaa symbols. From Care2, an activist organization.


Source: Librarians’ Internet Index, http://www.lii.org

HFVS Mid-Winter Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW
Mid-Winter 2009 Episode


WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
Saturday mornings from 9-10am

02/07/09 PLAYLIST

New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
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  • The Nields – “Aikendrum” [All Together Singing in the Kitchen]
  • The Nields – “Percy on Pluto” [Rock All Day]
  • Lunch Money – “It Only Takes One Night to Make a Balloon Your Friend” [Dizzy] Music
  • The Ovaltineys & Monte Ray – “Balloons” [Vintage Children's Favorites]
  • Captain Bogg & Salty – “Purple Tiki” [Emphatical Piratical] Music
  • Captain Bogg & Salty – “Port Side” [Emphatical Piratical] Music
  • The Nields – “Superhero Soup” [Rock All Day]
  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • Tom Glazer – “Snowflake, Snowflake” [Weather Songs]
  • Eric Herman – “Snow Day” [Snow Day]
  • Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Snow Day” [Special Kind of Day]
  • Carole King – “Chicken Soup with Rice” [Really Rosie]
  • Vince Guaraldi- ” Skating” [A Charlie Brown Christmas]
  • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
  • Sweet Honey in the Rock – “Chinese Proverb” [Experience... 101]
  • Duplex – “Dear Emily”
  • Charity and the JAMband – “The Bird” Music
  • Michael Hearst – “Where Do Ice Cream Trucks Go in the Winter?” [Songs For Ice Cream Trucks]
  • Lunasa – “January Snows” [Otherworld]

Shadows Between Winter and Spring

CANDLEMAS DAY

The mid-point of winter in the United States is marked by Groundhog Day, a day with rich European history, “clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening in specific dates,” writes Bill Anderson in his book Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992.

Anderson also writes, “The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

Recommended Links for Exploring Groundhog Day and Candlemas:

Read the rest of this entry »

Bundle Up!

Cold-Weather Checklist
Keep kids warm when the temperature drops.

Snow Play in Cummington, MA

(c) Sienna Wildfield

When the weather outside is frightful but your child thinks going out is delightful, it’s important to follow a few simple guidelines and know what too much cold looks like and what to do about it. Then you can let him go in the snow, worry-free.  Review Toby Leah Bochan guidelines for keeping kids warm.

In addition to bundling up our own kids at home, there are several ways to help children other than our own keep warm:

FREECYCLE – Seeing as kids grow like weeds, even when it’s cold outside, they outgrow their hats, mittens, jackets and boots nearly every winter season. Places like Hilltown Freecycle are free outlets for local hilltown families to offer their winter warm hand-me-downs. They go directly to the families without much of a “middle person.”  Other Freecyle listservs in Western Mass include Amherst, Greenfield, Holyoke, Northampton, Springfield, and many others.  Click here to find the listserv that serves your locality.

HILLTOWN FAMILIESHilltown Families assists in the distribution of child sized hats to families in need in the hilltowns (click here to read more).  Hats are available to individuals on a first come, first serve basis. To reserve a hat for a child in need, email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.  Hilltown Families also has a local listserv open to local families.  Participants are encouraged to offer their hand-me-downs to other members, organize clothing swaps, and to post resources for families in need.

WARM UP AMERICA! FOUNDATION – A national foundation that has caught the attention of children & adult knitters is Warm Up America! Foundation. Warm Up America! (WUA!) is an organization made up of volunteers who create handmade afghan blankets, clothing and accessories to help those in need. Volunteers donate their time to crochet and knit a 7″ X 9″ rectangle (or more). Sections are either joined by individuals or groups in a community and donated locally or sent to Foundation headquarters for joining and distribution.

The beauty of so many different participants is that a WUA! afghan resembles a patchwork quilt of many colors and textures, just as the participants and recipients represent the varied faces of America.WUA! afghans are distributed to individuals and families in need through community service organizations as well as through chapters of national organizations such as the American Red Cross. Sponsors of WUA! in communities around the country are encouraged to donate completed afghans within their own community in the true spirit of “neighbor helping neighbor.” Agencies to which the Foundation has donated afghans include women’s shelters, children’s hospitals, daycare centers and other community service centers.

WUA! also has a program called Kids Warm Up America! Young people across the country are teaming up with their peers to Warm Up America!, helping others, and in the process are discovering these crafts are fun and relaxing. Kids who participate benefit from providing community service while developing self esteem, problem solving, and math and motor-skill development while participating in an intergenerational activity that is a fun group project and provides the learning of an enjoyable skill that will last a lifetime. Additional ways to keep kids warm outside of our local community are accessible through the Warm Up America! Foundation.

If you know of any additional resources for families to either received or donated (services or articles of clothing) please share them with us in the comment section below.

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