Learning Landscapes: Use and Value Diversity

Use and Value Diversity in the Learning Landscape

Diversity is at the core of life. Human diversity is also key to creativity, resilience and a vibrant, healthy human society. Each person, each child, is an individual with intrinsic worth and it is essential that we use and value the diversity within and between learners, among other people, and in our environment. However, bringing diversity into children’s learning landscapes and lives is often misunderstood.

In our interconnected global world educators, families, and communities are being pushed to use and value diversity. Interestingly, this is one of the thinking tools of permaculture – “Use and Value Diversity.” In the desire to serve the honorable goals of equity, tolerance and understanding, we (and our children) are often led to believe that diversity in and of itself is a desired outcome or state of being.

Diversity without regard to the natural relationships and connections between elements in our human and natural systems does not itself lead to the positive results that many imagine. When we try to change the “story” without understanding that all is in relation we can inadvertently create confusion or worse chaos.   Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: February 8th-14th, 2016


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

This week we are featuring 25 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


See your banner here! Sponsor Learning Ahead!

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Mardi Gras Episode with Guest DJs, Johnette Downing & Scott Billington (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show
Listen to Podcast:

Mardi Gras Episode
with Guest DJs, Johnette Downing & Scott Billington

Children’s book author and musician Johnette Downing and Grammy Award winning producer Scott Billington offer a carnival of Louisiana roots music; a showcase of Cajun, New Orleans Rhythm and Blues, Zydeco, Brass Band and Jazz music by Louisiana artists. – www.johnettedowning.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
February 6th & 7th, 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: Reading Rocks! By Johnette Downing Children’s book author and musician Johnette Downing sings “Reading Rocks!” from her Reading Rocks! CD to get children boppin’ into books and rockin’ into reading!


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

Listen to Podcast:

PLAYLIST

  • Professor Longhair – “Go to the Mardi Gras” (The Complete Ric & Ron Recordings,
  • Vol. 6: Classic New Orleans R&B and More, 1958-1965)
  • The Hawkettes – “Mardi Gras Mambo” (The History of Rhythm & Blues, Volume 3 –
  • The Rock’n’roll Years)
  • Zachary Richard – “File’ Gumbo” (Zack’s Bon Ton)
  • Johnette Downing – “Bon Jour Mes Amis,” (From the Gumbo Pot)
  • Papillion – “Cocodrie” (Cajun for Kids)
  • Johnette Downing – “Why the Possum Has a Large Grin,” (Reading Rocks!)
  • Huey Smith and the Clowns – “Don’t You Just Know It” (Having a Good Time With
  • Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & His Clowns – The Very Best of, Vol. 1)
  • Robert Parker – “Barefootin’” (Introduction to Robert Parker)
  • Fats Domino – “Walkin’ to New Orleans” (The Fats Domino Jukebox: 20 Greatest
  • Hits)
  • Nathan the the Zydeco Cha Chas – “Festival Zydeco” (Creole Crossroads)
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band – “Little Liza Jane” (My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now)
  • Johnette Downing and Jimmy LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band – “Dixieland
  • Jazz” (Dixieland Jazz for Children)
  • Louie Prima – “Banana Split for My Baby,” (Louis Prima Collectors Series)
  • Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World,” (What a Wonderful World)
  • Johnette Downing and Jimmy LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band – “It’s Time for
  • Mardi Gras,” (Dixieland Jazz for Children)

Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for February 6th & 7th, 2016

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Mark your calendars and join us next Saturday, February 13, for another Saturday Morning Music Party at Flywheel in Easthampton!

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for February 6th-12th, 2016 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 40 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Caramelization to Lunar New Year. Mardi Gras to Hip Hop., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and our list of  Winter Classes, Auditions & Open Houses in Western MA.

February 6th-12th, 2016

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Mardi GrasWinter CarnivalIce ArtComputer ScienceHackathonFilmFood ScienceTrackingLocal FoodFood SwapChinese New YearLocal HistoryScience HistoryIce HarvestingSTEMTheaterAnimal StudiesOrnithologyMuseum AdventuresBlack History MonthArt StudiesMusic StudiesParenting WorkshopsParents’ Night Out

Family Volunteer Days

 RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

 

  1. HFVS African Music Episode with Guest DJ, Jay Sand (Podcast/Radio Show)
  2. Open Sesame: Celebrating Black History with Children’s Picture Books
  3. HFVS Love Episode with Guest DJ, Alex Mitnick (Radio Show/Podcast)
  4. Q&A: Intergenerational Opportunities in Western MA
  5. DIY: How to Make Swedish Paper Hearts 

 

RECAP MAP SPONSOR

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

40 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Caramelization to Lunar New Year. Mardi Gras to Hip Hop.

Have you ever wondered what makes  caramel chewy? Chemistry! This chewy consistency is due to a chemical reaction that occurs when milk is added to hot sugar syrup. Now, can you identify which molecules of milk (protein? fat?) or why sugar and not salt contribute to this chemical reaction? Support an interest in chemistry, pastry arts and food science by learning the basics of caramelization from chef and author Bill Collins in the Learner’s Lab at the Berkshire Museum this weekend. Go curious and ask questions! And then make plans to cook up some chewy caramel covered pastries when you get home… making your kitchen your very own chemistry lab!

Caramelization to Food Swap. Lunar New Year to Theater Shorts. Cougars to Crows. Mardi Gras to Black History Month. Acapella to Hip Hop. .. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week: The town of Greenfield‘s 94th Annual Winter Carnival brings indoor and outdoor fun to locations across town, Friday, February 5 – Sunday, February 7! A tradition for nearly a century, Winter Carnival includes everything from traditional winter activities like the Cardboard Classic sled race and ice carving to a chili cook-off and a road race for the hardiest of runners. The event begins on Friday, February 5th with ice carving downtown, the annual Parade of Lights, and a fireworks display! Ongoing weekend events at Beacon Field include skating, sledding, the creation of a snowman village, a snow sculpture contest, a winter-themed story walk, and marshmallow roasting by the warming fire. 413-772-1553. 20 Sanderson Street, Greenfield, MA. (<$ SUGGESTED DONATION)


Mardi GrasWinter CarnivalIce ArtComputer ScienceHackathonFilmFood ScienceTrackingLocal FoodFood SwapChinese New YearLocal HistoryScience HistoryIce HarvestingSTEMTheaterAnimal StudiesOrnithologyMuseum AdventuresBlack History MonthArt StudiesMusic StudiesParenting WorkshopsParents’ Night Out


Join our stellar team supporters!
Become a sponsor of Learn Local. Play Local. and see your banner here:


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for February 6th-12th, 2016

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

Winter birdwatching provides a way to participate in important citizen science projects! Through Mass Audubon, families can learn about and report data on numerous bird species found in New England. While some of the species included in Mass Audubon’s resources for reporting bird sightings focus on summertime species, there are a great many birds found in wintertime who can be included as well – meaning that families have access to lots of wildlife-related citizen science opportunities during the colder months!

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

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

Hilltown Families Event

Feb 13

Saturday Morning Music Party: Sat., Feb 13, 10am-12noon in Easthampton! Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids! During a free breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and fruit, families can craft handmade valentine’s with the Easthampton Family Center while enjoying a new performance with our special guests, Scotty Swan Puppet Co. After the breakfast, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon!” Save on the babysitter and shake off the winter blues with a Morning Music Dance Party! 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

Bulletin Board

Home School Sale

Happy Valentine’s Day from Oak Meadow! From Feb. 1 to 14 enjoy 15% off their flexible, progressive homeschooling curriculum for kindergarten to grade 12. Use independently or enroll in their teacher-supported distance learning school. The student-centered, nature-based curriculum fosters creativity and intellectual development through hands-on activities and interdisciplinary projects. High school students can take charge of their own learning thanks to options such as life experience credit, independent study, and dual enrollment. Visit their Bookstore to save 15% on all items, including the new digital curriculum option. It’s not too early to plan for the next school year. Ready for a change now? You can start any time.

Feb 4

To Catch a…Slice? A Pizza Party with Varian Johnson at the Odyssey Bookshop, Thursday, February 4th at 6pm. Come nosh on free pizza with Varian Johnson, awesome author of the wonderfully diverse and action-packed To Catch a Cheat, the sequel to the popular Great Greene Heist. Johnson will give you the scoop on all the scheming in his new novel starring middle school mastermind and con-man Jackson Greene and his gang of talented friends while you munch on the best school lunch there is: PIZZA! There will be giveaways and a raffle to win copies of The Great Greene Heist! This event is appropriate for ages 8 and up! Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., South Hadley, MA. Email RSVP to kids@odysseybks.com.

Feb 6

Sunnyside Presents: “February Fiesta!” Spend the morning singing and dancing with the Valley’s own Latin Grammy-Winner Mister G! “Kid-friendly, bilingual rockstar…Mister G and his guitar will surely make you feel like bailando!” – The Washington Post. Come dance, decorate a maraca, and eat pizza with your friends! Join Sunnyside on Saturday February 6th from 10:00am-12noon at the Florence Community Center (140 Pine Street, Florence, MA). Tickets $8 per person ($25 maximum per family). All proceeds fund the Sunnyside Scholarship Fund. www.sunnysidekids.org

Info Session Feb 6

Montessori Middle School Information Session. What’s different about a Montessori middle school? Would it be a good fit for my adolescent? Come learn the answers to these and other questions on Saturday, February 6 at 10:30am in the Community Room at Lilly Library in Florence. Corey Hadden, middle school teacher, will discuss adolescent development and how the Montessori middle school curriculum supports the student at this critical point in their development through challenging academics, a focus on exploring identity and purpose, and opportunities to contribute to the larger community. The Montessori School of Northampton’s middle school program will open in September 2016. For more information: northamptonmontessori.org or 413-586-4538.

Feb 6

This Saturday, February 6, from 10am-4pm join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and First Book for Friendiversay, a celebration of friendship and reading! Free Admission! Meet and have your photo taken with costume characters Elephant and Piggie. Enjoy art making, films, storytimes and three galleries of inspiring picture book art. Pack a picnic lunch or enjoy food from Foley’s Franks. Every child will receive a free Elephant and Piggie book while supplies last. For more information or to view the day’s schedule visit www.carlemuseum.org or call 413-658-1126. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is located at 125 West Bay Road in Amherst, MA.

Open House: Feb 7

Birds of Prey! — Sunday, February 7th, 1-4pm: The Center School’s Admissions Open House featuring a live birds of prey presentation. All are welcome to join the Center School for the annual Birds of Prey Open House. From 1pm-2pm Tom Ricardi, internationally renowned raptor rehabilitator will give a presentation with live birds of prey. See eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and more. Then, from 2pm-4pm all classrooms will be open and teachers will be leading bird-related activities: build nests, paint eggs, make bird masks, dissect owl pellets and more. Meet teachers, parents and students and learn about what makes the Center School special. Light refreshments served. This event is free and open to the public. For more info visit centerschool.net

Full Moon Girls: Enlivening and deepening girls’ connection to themselves, community and the natural world. At Full Moon Girls, girls gather together with strong women mentors to play, explore, challenge their edges, and learn new skills. This program nourishes the individual and cultivates an environment for growth, leadership, and resilience. Girls play games, build friction fires, learn wild edibles, engage in storytelling, gain wilderness skills, make trusting friendships, learn songs, and more! Fridays weekly in Conway, Feb 5-May 27,9:30-3:30. Girls 9-15. $55-75/day. Saturdays monthly in Montague, Jan 30-Jun 4, 9:30-2:30. Girls 7-15. $45-75/day. Scholarships available! Contact us at FullMoonGirlsInfo@gmail.com or 413-367-6191.

Feb 13

WinterFest Amherst 2016 is the best family entertainment value of the winter! Saturday, February 13, from 1-6pm, Cherry Hill Golf Course, North Amherst. If there’s no snow we’ll make snow! Featuring a Chili Cookoff Competition, Best in Snow Dog Show, snow sculpting contest, golf competitions, Mobile Disk Golf Experience, sledding, wine and cheese tasting, Fat Track Bike Rides, horse drawn wagon rides, dancing, live music and more! The Cardboard Classic Sled Race invites everyone to bring a decorated old cardboard box to compete in this crowd-pleaser. Fireworks at 6pm! Families of 3+ just $20. For more information please follow on Facebook or visit www.cherryhillgolf.org. Presenting Sponsor: Integrity Development and Construction.

Feb 13-21

The New England Air Museum will hold family fun school vacation week programs from Feb 13-Feb 21. Explore three giant hangars filled with over 80 aircraft and experience the wonders of flight. A variety of activities will be offered daily including hands-on Build and Fly Challenges, open Cockpit Experiences aboard real aircraft, Aircraft Quests, and more! The Museum’s Flight Sim Spot will also be open daily between 11am-3pm. Additional activities are scheduled for the following days: Feb 13– Open Cockpit; Feb 15– Aeromodeling Workshop; Feb 16– The Great Paper Airplane Contest; Feb 17– Nose Art Design Workshop; Feb 18– Kites in Flight Workshop; Feb 19– LEGO Flying Machine Contest. Visit www.neam.org for more information. Windsor Locks, CT.

Feb 15-19

Puppet Festival February 15-19 at the Springfield Museums. This school vacation, join the Springfield Museums for their Puppet Festival, featuring the region’s finest puppet ensembles. Performances include a mashup of Little Red Riding Hood and the Gingerbread Man by Barefoot Puppets, and shows by Wayne Martin’s Puppets and Puppet Showplace Theater, among others. There’s also live animal demonstrations and plenty of hands-on art and science activities, all free with museum admission! And don’t miss Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs, an exhibit that gets to the “furry facts” about man’s best friend. For information, visit springfieldmuseums.org.

Feb 15-19

The Art Garden has invited five regional artists to their studio for a fun and creative February Vacation Program. Visiting artists will do morning workshops in mosaic, fiber arts, paper cutting, printmaking & make-your-own-scratch cards! Afternoons are dedicated to mixed media studio projects. Program runs Monday through Friday from 9am-3pm at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls. Extra hours available. Ages 7-17+ welcome. The Art Garden fosters a culture of inclusion with instruction tailored to meet the needs of all ages. Registration is required. Cost is $325 for the full week. Sibling discounts and financial assistance are available. Individual days possible if space permits. Call 413-625-2782 or email csartgarden@gmail.com to register.

Feb 15-19 & Mar 7-11

February & March CyclePottery Vacation Camps are open for registration! Campers will learn how to use a potter’s wheel to throw functional stoneware forms and handbuild with graphic artist Amber Bartosz. New to the camps: Students will glaze on the the final day! Sessions are: Feb. 15th-19th & March 7th-11th, 9am-3pm, 6 students max, Ages 9+, Fee $450. 10% discount if paid in full by Feb. 8th or Feb. 22nd. CyclePottery is located at 225 Nonotuck Street in Northampton, MA. For more info visit www.CyclePottery.com and registration forms contact Kathryn @ kathryn@cyclepottery.com 413-219-9594.

Our Place Summercamp gets kids out of the house and into nature. For 5 days campers hike, climb, wade and swim “our place”: the 5 ecoregions of the Nonotuck biome. These activities aren’t just “fun”—they’re designed to increase camper’s perceptual abilities, stimulate their critical thinking skills, inspire their creative imaginations, and counteract “nature deficit disorder.” Through active physical and mental engagement with “our place,” they gain a deep and lasting appreciation of it—and themselves. Campers go from site to site—mountains, forests, brooks, industrial brownfields, you name it—enjoying an adventurous, collaborative, inquiry-based investigation into the mysteries of the bios (life) that is where we live: our place! info@biocitizen.org

MARKET 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 13th, 2016, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2016 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE. Take advantage of our Early Rate by signing your camp/program today!

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

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


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
February 6th-12th, 2016

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Word Up Family Day Explores Intersection of Visual Art and Storytelling

Word Up Family Day Explores Intersection of Visual Art and Storytelling

All art tells a story, and families are invited to explore the intersection of art and storytelling at The Clark Art Institute’s Word Up Family Day. Held on Sunday, February 7th from 1-4pm in Williamstown, MA, this free event spotlights artists’ books, artistic pieces that challenge the traditional notion of a book by telling stories through nontraditional structures and symbols (both linguistic and visual). Including a variety of storytelling and story-making activities, the event can add a community-based element to studies of the art of sharing stories.

Read the rest of this entry »

Our Growing Roots: Slow Cooker Warms the Tummy

Cooking Up Some Winter Warmth

In this installment of “Our Growing Roots: Real Food, Real Connection,” Cheryl explores how to create simple, food-based connections during the cold winter months as she shares some of her favorite family-friendly slow cooker recipes.

I lose a lot of people when I talk about how much I love winter. I honestly do. The chilly weather, endless mugs of hot chocolate, and lazy weekend afternoons curled up on the couch…isn’t this what being a New Englander is all about? Regardless of your stance, I think we can all agree that the declining temperatures offer a perfect opportunity to connect indoors through cooking and togetherness. Plus, warming up beside a toasty oven is a definite bonus! It’s also the time of year when kids get increasingly antsy with cabin fever and, this year, a lack of snow to keep them occupied. Children are constantly searching for things to do, so gather them up and allow them to get their hands dirty!

Some of our favorite family meals during the winter happen through the magic of a slow cooker. It’s a winter staple in our home now, however, my love of the cherished Crockpot hasn’t always run deep.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese New Year Brings Opportunities for Cultural Studies

Chinese New Year Brings Opportunities for Cultural Studies

Ringing in the year of the fire monkey, Chinese New Year takes place this year on February 8, 2016. By exploring Chinese art, food, music, and traditions, families can gain background knowledge to support participation in regional celebrations of the lunar holiday.

If New Year’s Eve was actually a full two weeks worth of celebrating, what elements would you add to the event? Besides ringing in a new calendar year, we often spend a little bit of time reflecting on the past year and making plans for bettering ourselves during the coming one when New Year’s Eve rolls around. But what if the celebration lasted for fifteen days instead of just a single one!? With more time dedicated to beginning a new year, what parts of local culture would you like to have as a part of the celebration?

After a family brainstorm of your ideal two-week New Year’s celebration, explore the traditions of the Chinese New Year and compare. Celebrations of the Chinese New Year do, in fact, cover a full fifteen days. And it’s second name – the Lunar New Year – explains why it takes place after our own calendars have already rolled over to the next year.

The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, meaning that the date indicates both the current moonphase and the time of the solar year. Because of this, the Chinese New Year takes place on a different date on our own calendars each year, and is always held between a month and a month and a half after our own January 1st New Year’s celebration. In 2016, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated beginning on February 8th, and will honor the year of the fire monkey.

Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Beneski Museum

Discovery and “Wow” Moments at the Beneski Museum

From February 16-19, 2016, families can enjoy student docent–guided tours at 11am and 1pm daily. Scavenger hunts for the whole family will be available throughout the entire month. Admission is always free.

The Beneski Museum of Natural History in Amherst is one of New England’s largest natural history museums, boasting three floors of exhibits with more than 1,700 specimens on display, and tens of thousands of specimens available for use by scholars and researchers from across campus and around the world!

At the Beneski, visitors can step inside the museum and see:

  • Dramatic displays of fossil skeletons, from fish to dinosaurs to Ice Age megafauna
  • An extraordinary collection of dinosaur footprints
  • Geological specimens and immersive exhibits that tell the history of the local landscape through geologic time, including when dinosaurs inhabited the area
  • Dazzling mineral specimens from around the world and meteorites from beyond Earth

Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: When My 1st Grader Asks About Sex

Consenting to Questions

It starts simply enough. These conversations do. We pull onto I-91, skirt Northampton afternoon traffic to the edge of town to get my allergy shots.

Mama, why do they throw away the needles? Why don’t they use them again?

My practice is to answer my child’s questions when he asks. The trick is answering only the question he has asked. Questions beget questions.

I explain about contamination, how my blood is on the needle and could share germs with somebody else if the allergy nurse used it again. I can’t recall now whether he asked what germs or whether I volunteered information, but within a quarter mile I was explaining HIV.  How scientists haven’t figured out how to fix the disease from those germs so the best thing is to not get it.

How do you get it? Of course he asks.

Not through sneezes or spit like colds, but from blood and …. take a deep breath as silently as possible so he doesn’t notice the pause before I answer honestly… from the liquids from your penis or vagina. (Yes, I know, not from pee. But I was improvising at 65 mph!)

Which of course begs the question how those liquids get shared. And suddenly I‘m talking about sex with my first grader. Again. Read the rest of this entry »

Birds! Community-Based Education Right in Your Backyard

Backyard Birding in the Winter Months

The American tree sparrow can be spotted more easily in the winter due to its markings popping against the neutral tones of the season. Also with the curtains of leaves not offering any cover, it’s a great time of year to study birds and how they hop and fly.

During the winter, young wildlife enthusiasts can focus their attention on feathered friends, one of the few creatures who are still very visible throughout the coldest months of the year. Whether your family are avid birders or simply enjoy watching feeder visitors, there are lots of ways to learn about the local environment and to participate in citizen science by watching birds this winter! From owls to chickadees, there are many ways to engage with the local landscape and to help contribute information to important studies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: February 1st-7th, 2016


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

This week we are featuring 17 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


See your banner here! Sponsor Learning Ahead!

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Insect Episode with Jeff & Paige (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety ShowListen to Podcast:

Hilltown Family Variety Show
Insect Episode with Jeff & Paige

Go on a musical hike with guest DJs Jeff and Paige to explore insects. Through music and story you’ll learn: how to identify an insect, how insects connect with animals, how insects help humans, and how humans can help insects! Jeff and Paige will play some of their favorite songs as well as fun tunes from other children’s musicians and from a few adult acts. Make sure you have room to dance as you explore nature and science with Jeff and Paige. – www.jeffandpaige.org

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
January 30th & 31st, 2016

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: “A Conversation Between an Entomologist and an Insect”


 

 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Jeff and Paige – “A Conversation Between an Entomologist and an Insect” [Get Outdoors]
  • Ayla Nereo – “Eastern Sun” [Hollow Bone]
  • They Might Be Giants – “Why Does the Sun Shine?” [Here Comes Science]
  • The Smurfs – “Poor Little Silly Shy Smurf” [The Smurfs All Star Show]
  • Banana Slug String Band -“Decomposition” [Singing in our Garden]
  • Jeff and Paige – “New Tree Grows” [21st Century Energy Superheroes]
  • Justin Roberts – “Pop Fly” [Pop Fly]
  • The Bell Hours – “Farther Apart [The Bell Hours]
  • Sarah Jarosz – “Little Song” [Song Up In Her Head]
  • Jeff and Paige – “Bats” [Get Outdoors]
  • Mikey Mike -“Likin’ the Lichen” [Mikey Mike the Rad Scientist]
  • Jeff and Paige – “Thank You Honeybee” [Songs from the Trail]
  • Blitzen Trapper – “Fur” [Fur] 4:08
  • Jeff and Paige “The Great Monarch Migration” [Mighty Wolf]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for January 30th & 31st, 2016

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Cast your vote by 12noon, Feb 3!

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for January 30th-February 5th, 2016 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Deadline to sign up: Jan 30 by 12midnight.

Also check our weekly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 42 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Canines to Insects. Trains to Timber. Russian Folktales to Winter Camping., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and our list of  Winter Classes, Auditions & Open Houses in Western MA.

January 30th-February 5th, 2016

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Museums AdventuresCynologyEntomologyTrainsSocial Emotional LearningCreative-Free PlayColonial HistoryHistorical TradesIce HarvestingStorytellingOutdoor AdventuresIce FishingSports HistoryWorld StudiesDance StudiesWinter CelebrationsMusic StudiesCulture StudiesParenting SkillsWomen’s StudiesTextile ArtsRefugee StudiesPaleontologyInclusion

Family Volunteer Days

 RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Birding in Winter Offers Great Reward
  2. Words of Winter Wisdom for Life in Western MA
  3. 20 Recommendations for Staying Entertained Inside on a Snow Day!
  4. Keeping Warm & Safe When It’s Extremely Cold!
  5. Science & Fun of Chain Reactions

RECAP MAP SPONSOR

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

42 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Canines to Insects. Trains to Timber. Russian Folktales to Winter Camping.

Model railroad fans from throughout New England and beyond come together this weekend to share their passion for trains of all sizes at the Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show at the Eastern States Exposition. A great intergenerational hobby, model trains can support a variety of interests, from history to carpentry to economics to set design. Come curious and ask questions! West Springfield, MA. ($-$$)

Canines to Insects. Trains to Timber. Russian Folktales to Winter Camping… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlights this week:  Kicking off winter festival season is The Art Garden’s outdoor Winter Celebration on Saturday, January 30, 4pm-8pm. A celebration of local art and the collective experiences of winter (both literally and metaphorically), this special event includes both indoor and outdoor elements. In the rail yard just outside The Art Garden, families will find creative winter-inspired installations and participatory art pieces, as well as (weather permitting) a fire around which to gather and bask in the contrast between the light of fire and the chill of winter. Indoors, the Winter Celebration brings an opening reception for Winter, a community exhibit centered around its namesake and offering families the opportunity to explore the many different creative representations and interpretations of winter. 413-625-2782. 14 Depot Street, Suite 2, Shelburne Falls, MA.


Museums AdventuresCynologyEntomologyTrainsSocial Emotional LearningCreative-Free PlayColonial HistoryHistorical TradesIce HarvestingStorytellingOutdoor AdventuresIce FishingSports HistoryWorld StudiesDance StudiesWinter CelebrationsMusic StudiesCulture StudiesParenting SkillsWomen’s StudiesTextile ArtsRefugee StudiesPaleontologyInclusion


Join our stellar team supporters!
Become a sponsor of Learn Local. Play Local. and see your banner here:


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for January 30th-February 5th, 2016

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“[Last year] was the first year my three year old participated in the Valentine’s Day swap & we had a blast making and receiving our cards in the mail. This site truly enhances what western Massachusetts is all about community and our great state!” – Summer Mikaitis (Pittsfield, MA)

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

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

Hilltown Families 8th Annual
Handmade Valentine Swap

Deadline to sign up: Jan 30.

It’s that time of the year again for the Hilltown Families Annual Handmade Valentine Swap! For the past eight years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Making handmade valentines is a great way to push against the commercialization of yet another holiday, while being creative with your family and friends. JOIN US! It’s free to sign up and open to all families in western Massachusetts! Last year our community generated over 1,550 handmade valentines! Let’s do it again!

Support Hilltown Families with Your Vote!

Deadline to cast your votes is Wednesday, Feb 3rd by 12noon!

Hilltown Families is celebrating 10 years! — TEN YEARS!!! Celebrate with us by casting your vote for Hilltown Families as BEST BLOG in the Valley Advocate’s Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll for 2016! BEST BLOG is listed under the “Information Age” category. Deadline to cast your votes is Wednesday, Feb 3rd by 12noon. Participants must vote for a total of 10 local favorites… how about some of our sponsors! Click here to cast your votes: www.valleyadvocate.com/best-of

Bulletin Board

Accepting applications for fall 2016. 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 413-774-4209 www.bement.org.

Jan 30

Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs Exhibit Opening Celebration Saturday, January 30 10am-5pm at Springfield Museums. Ever wonder how wolves transformed into our favorite furry companions? Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs is a fascinating look at the history, biology and evolution of man’s best friend. The exhibit opens Saturday January 30 at the Springfield Museums with full day of family fun, including a magic show by Greg McAdams and his furry sidekick Axel, plus animal demonstrations by Rae Griffiths of Teaching Creatures, and themed art and science activities. For more information, visit springfieldmuseums.org

Open House: Jan 30

The Common School: Community, collaboration, social justice, intrinsic motivation, deep understanding, diversity, inclusivity, environmental education- Come learn how these words are put into action at their winter Open House on Saturday, January 30, from 10am-12noon. Play in their classrooms, meet their teachers, chat with current parents, and tour their beautiful campus situated amongst 120 acres of conservation land on Larch Hill in Amherst. Light refreshments provided. Questions? Contact Director of Admissions, Dana Kadish at outreach@commonschool.org or visit www.commonschool.org.

Open House: Jan 30

Amherst Montessori School will host an Open House for parents on Saturday, January 30 from 10am-12noon. Meet teachers and administrators, tour their beautiful new school in South Amherst, and learn about the Montessori curriculum for infants through sixth grade. AMS programs feature thoughtfully-prepared classrooms to support the child’s development, and a curriculum that integrates music, art, practical life, outdoor time, PE, Spanish, and more. January’s Open House will also offer an elementary level parent panel for interested families. Register online at amherstmontessori.org.

Begins Feb 1

Meadowedge Art for Children in Bernardston begin their next session of classes and events on Feb 1-May 23, with an additional Tuesday class for 8-11 years old, and a new Preschool Program for 3-5 year olds on Saturday mornings! For homeschoolers, there are private and small group lessons. Along with lots of drawing, there are many media to explore: clay hand building, stone carving, felting, tie dyeing, batik, doll making, fairy and creature houses, wood projects, game design, carving and printing, glass and ceramic mosaics, mandala drawing, book making, & collage. Summer Arts/Swim workshops start in June with information and signups available February 13. For more info: www.meadowedgeart.org; cfulton@meadowedgeart.com; 413-219-7807.

Home School Sale

Happy Valentine’s Day from Oak Meadow! From Feb. 1 to 14 enjoy 15% off their flexible, progressive homeschooling curriculum for kindergarten to grade 12. Use independently or enroll in their teacher-supported distance learning school. The student-centered, nature-based curriculum fosters creativity and intellectual development through hands-on activities and interdisciplinary projects. High school students can take charge of their own learning thanks to options such as life experience credit, independent study, and dual enrollment. Visit their Bookstore to save 15% on all items, including the new digital curriculum option. It’s not too early to plan for the next school year. Ready for a change now? You can start any time.

Expanded caregiver-and-me schedule beginning soon at The Center Dance Studio in Amherst! Now offered three times weekly, Garden of Verses provides a gentle, joyful introduction to creative movement to babies/toddlers (ages 0-5) & their caregivers. Using imagery, rhyme & song, children are guided through foundational movement patterns that promote kinesthetic awareness, coordination & focus. Storybook pages spring to life as children reimagine timeless classics & embody beloved characters; props, instruments & costumes enhance the magic. How hungry is your little caterpillar? Join Garden of Verses to find out. For more info visit visit www.thecenterdance.com or email thecenterdanceschool@gmail.com. 321 Main Street. Amherst, MA. 413-687-7953.

Feb 6

Sunnyside Presents: “February Fiesta!” Spend the morning singing and dancing with the Valley’s own Latin Grammy-Winner Mister G! “Kid-friendly, bilingual rockstar…Mister G and his guitar will surely make you feel like bailando!” – The Washington Post. Come dance, decorate a maraca, and eat pizza with your friends! Join Sunnyside on Saturday February 6th from 10:00am-12noon at the Florence Community Center (140 Pine Street, Florence, MA). Tickets $8 per person ($25 maximum per family). All proceeds fund the Sunnyside Scholarship Fund. www.sunnysidekids.org

Feb 4

To Catch a…Slice? A Pizza Party with Varian Johnson at the Odyssey Bookshop, Thursday, February 4th at 6pm. Come nosh on free pizza with Varian Johnson, awesome author of the wonderfully diverse and action-packed To Catch a Cheat, the sequel to the popular Great Greene Heist. Johnson will give you the scoop on all the scheming in his new novel starring middle school mastermind and con-man Jackson Greene and his gang of talented friends while you munch on the best school lunch there is: PIZZA! There will be giveaways and a raffle to win copies of The Great Greene Heist! This event is appropriate for ages 8 and up! Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., South Hadley, MA. Email RSVP to kids@odysseybks.com.

Info Session Feb 6

Montessori Middle School Information Session. What’s different about a Montessori middle school? Would it be a good fit for my adolescent? Come learn the answers to these and other questions on Saturday, February 6 at 10:30am in the Community Room at Lilly Library in Florence. Corey Hadden, middle school teacher, will discuss adolescent development and how the Montessori middle school curriculum supports the student at this critical point in their development through challenging academics, a focus on exploring identity and purpose, and opportunities to contribute to the larger community. The Montessori School of Northampton’s middle school program will open in September 2016. For more information: northamptonmontessori.org or 413-586-4538.

Open House: Feb 7

Birds of Prey! — Sunday, February 7th, 1-4pm: The Center School’s Admissions Open House featuring a live birds of prey presentation. All are welcome to join the Center School for the annual Birds of Prey Open House. From 1pm-2pm Tom Ricardi, internationally renowned raptor rehabilitator will give a presentation with live birds of prey. See eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and more. Then, from 2pm-4pm all classrooms will be open and teachers will be leading bird-related activities: build nests, paint eggs, make bird masks, dissect owl pellets and more. Meet teachers, parents and students and learn about what makes the Center School special. Light refreshments served. This event is free and open to the public. For more info visit centerschool.net

Full Moon Girls: Enlivening and deepening girls’ connection to themselves, community and the natural world. At Full Moon Girls, girls gather together with strong women mentors to play, explore, challenge our edges, and learn new skills. This program nourishes the individual and cultivates an environment for growth, leadership, and resilience. Girls play games, build friction fires, learn wild edibles, engage in storytelling, gain wilderness skills, make trusting friendships, learn songs, and more! Fridays weekly in Conway, Feb 5-May 27,9:30-3:30. Girls 9-15. $55-75/day. Saturdays monthly in Montague, Jan 30-Jun 4, 9:30-2:30. Girls 7-15. $45-75/day. Scholarships available! Contact us at FullMoonGirlsInfo@gmail.com or 413-367-6191.

Feb 13

Saturday Morning Music Party: Sat., Feb 13, 10am-12noon in Easthampton! Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids! During a free breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and fruit, families can craft handmade valentine’s with the Easthampton Family Center while enjoying a new performance with our special guests, Scotty Swan Puppet Co. After the breakfast, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon!” Save on the babysitter and shake off the winter blues with a Morning Music Dance Party! 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

MARKET 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 13th, 2016, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2016 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE. Take advantage of our Early Rate by signing your camp/program today!

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

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


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
January 30th-February 5th, 2016

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: February 2016

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
February 2016

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

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday!

There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.


Berkshire Family Fun, a project of Hilltown Families, is sponsored in part by MASS MoCA:

Berkshire Family Fun is also supported in part by a grant from the Hinsdale/Peru, Mount Washington, Monterey, North Berkshire, Pittsfield, Washington, and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Handbill & Callboard: Theater Studies Through Engagement in Western MA for February

Handbill & Callboard:
February Theater Productions and Call for Auditions in Western MA

Support a love for theater with these featured February theater productions in Western MA! A great way to engage in your community while supporting an interest in theater studies.

Performances include community theater at the the Majestic Theater in West Springfield, improve at 121 Club at Eastworks in Easthampton, youth theater at the Drama Studio in Springfield, a new play festival at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield, and a new playreading series at Smith College Department of Theatre in Northampton!  Read the rest of this entry »

Visual Art in Western MA: February Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

Visual Art in Western MA:
February Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

Heath Seniors Painting Exhibit
Heath Free Public Library
Currently on view

The Heath Seniors Painting Exhibit at the Heath Free Public Library will feature more than twenty paintings. These beautiful works of art were created by senior Heath residents this past fall during Open Art Studio sessions in the Heath Senior Center. Both the display and the opening Artists’ Reception offer a unique opportunity to connect across generations. Each senior artist brings rich history and experience to their art, providing a platform for the development of community relationships and learning through storytelling. This creates a mutually beneficial experience, helping children strengthen their sense of place through the building of intergenerational relationships. Heath Free Public Library. 413-337-4934. 1 East Main Street, Heath, MA. (FREE)

Berkshire Now: Peter Gordon
Berkshire Museum
On view through February 21, 2016

This solo show of collages and paintings by Peter Gordon offers a powerful reminder of how our use of natural resources, goods, and services impact the environment. Using a contrast of natural and man-made elements, Berkshire Now: Peter Gordon at the Berkshire Museum emphasizes the fragility of the ecosystem in the context of modern society. In vivid collages, Gordon uses clippings of prices, sales slogans, and real estate offerings as the backdrops for animals, out of place in their now unfamiliar territory. Gordon hopes that his work will encourage viewers to make and promote environmentally conscious decisions in their daily lives. The exhibit is on display now through February 21, 2016 at the Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE W/ADMISSION)

Jan Ruby-Crystal
Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery
On view through February 27, 2016

This exhibition of paintings and handmade paper considers themes of life and decomposition as viewed through close visual studies. Jan Ruby-Crystal at Hope & Feathers Gallery displays thoughtful paintings of fruits and vegetables as they decompose, exploring how their patterns and shape changes through the process. The artist offers a transformative perspective as she shows how the decayed pulp can be converted into handmade paper. As the artist notes, “A new beauty arising from their end.” Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery. 413-835-0197. 319 Main Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Making Snow in the Kitchen

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Making Snow Where There is None

Looking for ways to “make” snow at home? Check the kitchen pantry! Shredded coconut. Potato flakes. Flour. All are great for inspiring creative-free play during a snowless winter!

Winter is here. But without snow in New England it feels a little different. I am not complaining, because it is nice to take the children out without the gamut of snow gear, however it does feeling like something is missing; SNOW!

Often winter indoor activities are quiet, clean and predictable. I have found that by creating toddler friendly sensory activities help these cold winter days just melt by. Here are a few fun snow related activities that can be adjusted for even the littlest toddler.

Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Empathy at Valentine’s Day

Using Valentine’s Day to Promote Social and Emotional Growth

Nobody is entirely sure who the real St. Valentine was – we can say with certainty that he lived in Rome at a time that’s a few centuries shy of being two millenia ago. With an existence that’s now so long ago and far away, it’s no wonder that the true story of St. Valentine has gotten lost in the shuffle somewhere. Whatever the origins of our modern love-centric Valentine’s Day are, the holiday brings about the opportunity for a mid-winter outpouring of love, friendship and appreciation toward those around us. While the early winter holiday season is a time for sharing and caring, Valentine’s Day allows us to emerge from the doldrums of winter ready to consider others in a new light: looking upon those around us with empathy and offering them support – or at the very least, learning to do so.  Read the rest of this entry »

Winter Festival Season 2016 in Western MA

It’s no secret that winter here in western Massachusetts can be tough on both body and soul. The daylight hours are short, the temperatures are low, and it’s tough to truly enjoy the outdoors. This year in particular, the lack of snow has made enjoying the wintry landscape more difficult than usual: many of our usual body-moving, energy-expending activities are less-than-ideal without at least a good six inches of the fluffy white stuff. Luckily, winter festival season is upon us! Throughout the upcoming month, communities all over western Massachusetts will rally for celebrations of all kinds, both indoors and out. Opportunities for play and learning will abound at these seven upcoming community celebrations! Read the rest of this entry »

Open Sesame: Snowmen in Story Come Alive

Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

Snowmen Stories: Picture Books That Celebrate Winter’s Whimsy

“Do you want to build a snowman?” is a question kids have been asking for far longer than the song made popular by the movie, Frozen. And kids will continue to ask whenever the snow falls, because building a snowman is a quintessential act of winter whimsy. One that is working in layers, whether the creator realizes it or not. At its most basic, building a person out of snow is just good, plain fun. When you add a friend or two or three into the mix, building a snowman becomes a cooperative effort, an exercise in teamwork. It requires a playful attitude and an artistic eye. And it never hurts to believe in a bit of magic. For if the stories are true, snowmen do come to life! It also calls for a certain acceptance of impermanence. As even the youngest builders discover, snowmen do not last forever. And as such, the snowman becomes the perfect symbol for the cycles of love, loss, and renewal. With snow in the forecast, isn’t it time to build a snowman?

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Handmade Valentine Swap

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: January Segment
Handmade Valentine Swap Filled with Values & Learning

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Monday, January 25th, 2016 with Sienna and Ashley talking about Hilltown Families upcoming Handmade Valentine Swap and how it can support community values and learning:

Sign your family up for the 8th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap by Jan 30, 2016 and get ready to make and receive 10 handmade valentines with families from around the region.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Rivers Near and Far

In Chile

Rivers are everywhere, and one of the joys of paying attention to them is—if you let them, they bring you places far from what you have left behind. Sometimes that new space, that new place to wander, is exactly what is needed, for there the unexpected can find you, and in finding you, can awaken you to the multiplicity (and miracles) of worlds there are on our small, living planet. In this post, I am taking you to a river new to me, far from those who are my friends and teachers in Western Massachusetts… Read the rest of this entry »

Support Hilltown Families with Your Vote!

Learning Ahead: January 25th-31st, 2016


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

This week we are featuring 17 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


See your banner here! Sponsor Learning Ahead!

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Animals in American Folk Music Episode with Guest DJ, Andy Furgeson (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Animals in American Folk Music Episode
with Guest DJ, Andy Furgeson

LISTEN TO PODCAST: 

This week’s guest DJ, Andy Furgeson, a.k.a. Red Yarn, hosts a Animals in American Folk Music Episode, exploring the theme of animals in American Folk Music.  Andy mixes old folksongs with newer adaptations and original songs in the folk tradition. A few critters from these folksongs even show up in the studio! – www.redyarnproductions.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
January 23 & 24, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: “Little Lap Dog Lullaby” by Laura Veirs from the album Tumble Bee. Stop action animation by Helen Woolston.


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Laura Veirs – “Little Lap Dog Lullaby” [Tumble Bee]
  • Jim Jackson – “Old Dog Blue” [Anthology of American Folk Music]
  • Elizabeth Mitchell – “John the Rabbit” [You Are My Flower]
  • Red Yarn – “Bob the Rabbit” [The Deep Woods]
  • Pete Seeger – “Mister Rabbit” [Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Fishes: Little & Big]
  • Peggy Seeger – “There Was An Old Frog” [The Long Harvest]
  • Bruce Springsteen – “Froggie Went A Courtin’” [We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions]
  • Field Recording of Prison Gang – “Grizzly Bear” [The Folk Box (Elektra/Folkways)]
  • Mo Phillips – “Bear Shirt” [Robot Rodeo]
  • Mike Seeger – “Peep Squirrel” [Animal Folk Songs For Children… and Other People!]
  • Red Yarn – “The Fox” [The Deep Woods]
  • Lead Belly – “Grey Goose” [Lead Belly Sings For Children]
  • Pointed Man Band – “Grandmother’s Invisible Duck [Swordfish Tango]
  • Ella Jenkins – “Did You Feed My Cow” [African American Folk Rhythms]
  • Caspar Babypants – “Bad Blue Jay” [Sing Along!]
  • Cat Doorman – “All the Birds” [Songbook]
  • The Everly Brothers – “Muskrat” [The Golden Hits of the Everly Brothers]
  • Red Yarn – “Rattlesnake” [The Deep Woods]
  • Blitzen Trapper – “Furr” [Furr]
  • Johnny & Jason – “Gotta Go” [Be Alive]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for January 23rd & 24th, 2016

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for January 23rd-29th, 2016 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 45 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Ice Harvesting to Quantum Physics. MakerSpace to Ballet., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and our list of Winter Classes, Auditions & Open Houses in Western MA.

January 23rd-29th, 2016

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Animal StudiesNature StudiesHikingDendrologySnow SportsAdaptive SportsSocial JusticeCanadian StudiesColonial HistoryIce HarvestingLocal HistoryHuman StudiesWorld HistoryBalletMakerSpaceQuantum PhysicsComputer CodingMusic StudiesUpcyclingQuiltingLiteracyPhilosophyCommunity ConnectionsCommunity MealParenting SkillsTheater StudiesOpera

Family Volunteer Days

 RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Tu B’Shevat: New Year of the Trees
  2. Greenfield’s Museum of Our Industrial Heritage New Web Exhibits
  3. From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket
  4. 5 Ways Springfield Shaped the Art of Dr. Seuss
  5. HFVS Underground Railroad Episode (Podcast/Radio Show)

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: