Under the Hat: When Sound Crosses Borders

The Universal Language of Dogs

Dogs all over the world understand each other, instantly! This universal language can be found in music too, crossing cultures and facilitating communication without barriers. Knowing how to play music can cultivate a sense of cultural appreciation and connection, building a bridge of cooperation and joy between people without the need for spoken language.

I’ve been a professional musician for thirty years, but it wasn’t until I started collaborating with artists from other countries and cultures that I finally understood the old cliché that music is a “universal language.”

I’m currently recording an album of original songs for a new bilingual album called, Los Animales. Part of the fun of making the record is working with great musicians from different parts of Latin America. Yesterday I was in a studio in Los Angeles with my friend Mari Nobre, who is a wonderful Brazilian singer. Over lunch we started talking about the different sounds we have for the way dogs bark in English and Portuguese. While we say “woof woof,” in Brazil they make a sound like “au, au.”

This realization led to a conversation about how dogs all over the world understand each other instantly. We concluded that there’s a universal language of dogs, which enables dogs to communicate and interact instantly regardless of where they’re from.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs

The Art of Eric Carle:
Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs

On View April 7 – August 30, 2015

Amateur entomology takes the spotlight at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art during the next few months, as a new bug-themed exhibit fills the galleries! The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs will be on view from April 7th – August 30th, 2015, and brings with it not only beautiful and delightful images featuring a host of insects, but a swarm of special bug-themed and Eric Carle-centric events as well.

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Sparked by copious amounts of time spent outdoors as a child, Eric Carle’s picture books have often featured lovable insect characters, from fireflies to ladybugs to the iconic starving green caterpillar. The images featured in the exhibit are full of wings, crawly legs, and stingers, but portray the crawliest of earth’s inhabitants beautifully, with respect, reverence, and the light, playful style unique to Carle’s artwork.

In addition to a bug-filled gallery, the Eric Carle Museum will hold special events to accompany the exhibit. Over the next few months, families can take advantage of opportunities to engage in bug-themed hands-on art making in the museum’s studio, and can create their own original bug creations to add to a community art project that will adorn the trees in the museum’s orchard. Additionally, special events featuring bug-themed storytelling and comedy will be held, and the museum’s Children’s Book Festival (held on June 6th) will be bug-themed as well!  Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: April 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
April 2015

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of April. 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.

“I love Hilltown Families! I live in Berkshire County and am much more aware of fun family events in the surrounding towns to take my daughter too… My daughter has enjoyed so many events we would not have known about.” – Rebecca Heath (Pittsfield, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Vision Boards Can Support Youth with Goals

Vision Boards: Tool for Supporting Children with Accomplishing Goals

Vision boards – a tool for supporting children in keeping goals in mind – can serve as a powerful visual reminder of the importance of hard work and responsibility. When displayed in an important place at home, vision boards can help children to keep their goals in mind every day!

Almost all children hold firmly the belief that wishes really do come true, no matter what you ask for. Young folks often sincerely believe that shooting stars bring ponies and that wishing wells turn up time machines. Generally, though, children grow out of this belief at a certain point, as developmental shifts take place and their understanding of the world becomes more grounded in reality. However, believing in wishes doesn’t necessarily have to be something that children let go of entirely as they get older. While they must, of course, learn to stop expecting unicorns and superheroes, they can be supported in learning to wish for reasonable things and to work towards making that wish come true on their own.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Have No Fear of Feelings

Sensitive Souls

Being sensitive is what makes me who I am; someone who strives on a daily basis to improve, a writer who notices the most minute life details, a philosopher who searches for meaning in the most mundane places.

When I was 9, while eating dinner in a fancy restaurant with my parents and sisters, an elderly woman at another table began to choke. The two men seated with her stood up quickly and one grabbed her around her middle to perform the Heimlich maneuver (although at the time, I didn’t know that was what he was doing). There was quite a lot of commotion surrounding the scene; silverware clanking on dishes, women gasping, and chairs scraping, but I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off of the poor woman’s face. She was so clearly suffering, and so terribly full of fear. In an instant, her fear seemed to wash over me and I began to panic as well. My body started to shake. I felt the familiar sourness of nausea. My hands trembled and my armpits prickled with sharp needle-like jabs. I was overwhelmed with dread and turned to my mother who was standing across the table from me. I appealed to her with the only word that my dry lips could form, “Mommy?”

There was a lot of meaning in that single utterance…Mommy can we help? Mommy I am scared. Mommy I don’t like how fearful I feel. Mommy will it be ok? Perhaps because she was feeling just as scared, or maybe because she didn’t have any answers to those invisible questions, she responded with a scolding “Logan, don’t start!!”  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Vernal Pools

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: March Segment
Vernal Pools: Natural Habitats & Local Species as Community Resources

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, Ashley Kohl and Seth Stutman, 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 Thursday, March 26, 2015, highlighting how local habitats and native species can be used as a catalyst for learning. Through the lens of Vernal Pools and the animals that depend on them for survival, Sienna shares three methods of engagement as a way to support interests and education via Vernal Pools:


Vernal Pools: Methods of Engagement that Support Community-Based Learning

When looking for community-based resources that support learning via the lens of vernal pools, consider nature center, conservation organizations and your local library.

Phenology-based activities coincide with the natural changing of our seasons (our ultimate accessible community-based educational resource) and are great catalysts for learning through community engagement. Maple syrup season, filled with delicious community activities and opportunities, is our most recent seasonal activity here in Western MA.  But can you name other seasonal events coming our way as winter transitions into spring? The one we want to highlight this month is Vernal Pools!

As the seasons transition and habitats and animals respond to the change in weather and climate, Vernal Pools begin to emerge and come to life based on the timing of this change and the relationship plants and animals have with their environment! Taking advantage of these changes and getting out into your community to participate in nature-based learning activities will support the development of skills and integrated learning in a wide variety of subjects.

Methods of engagement as they relate to Vernal Pools can include nature-based learning, service-based learning and citizen scientist, and the embedded learning families can extracted from these engagement opportunities can range from ecology to natural history, entomology to zoology, scientific process to art!

The following methods of engagement and events highlight these community-based resources and the embedded learning you can extract from participation: Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: March 30th-April 3rd, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 11 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.


Sponsor Learning Ahead


Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Twofers & Threefers Episode with Guest DJ, Randy Kaplan

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Twofers & Threefers Episode
with Guest DJ, Randy Kaplan

Randy returns to the Hilltown airwaves with a set of twofers and threefers: short mini-segments of two or three related songs——songs by the same group, in the same style, or whose themes or subject matter connect in some way. You’ll hear blues, folk, country, calypso, a few off-the-beaten-path numbers, and even a show tune lullaby sung by Randy’s wife, Julie May Kaplan…and, of course, a few trademark Randy songs as well.  — www.randykaplan.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 28th & 29th, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video:  “Crew Cut” from Jam on Rye:


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Dave Van Ronk – “Did You Hear John Hurt?” […And The Tin Pan Bended, And The Story Ended… {Live}]
  • Mississippi John Hurt – “My Creole Belle” [Satisfied…..{Live}]
  • Doc Watson – “Curly Headed Baby” [Memories]
  • Randy Kaplan – “Crew Cut” [Jam on Rye]
  • Dan Bern – “My Frigerator Broke” [Three Feet Tall]
  • The Clash – “Lost in the Supermarket” [London Calling]
  • Randy Kaplan – “So Funny I Forgot to Laugh” [Jam on Rye]
  • Pete Townsend – “Sleeping Dog” [Who Came First {Bonus Track}]
  • Randy Kaplan – “Virginia, Vega, and I” [Jam on Rye]
  • Truckstop Honeymoon – “Home Is Not a Hotel” [The Madness of Happiness]
  • Truckstop Honeymoon – “Couch Surfing with a Family of Six”[The Madness of Happiness]
  • Sam Manning’s Orchestra – “Back to my West India Home” [Calypso Calaloo]
  • Charlie Binger & His Quartet – “Jamaica Is the Place to Go” [Trojan CALYPSO Box Set (Disc 1)]
  • Dan Bern – “Cheetah” [Three Feet Tall]
  • Randy Kaplan “Slow Motion Mom” [Jam on Rye]
  • Julie May Kaplan – “Goodnight, My Someone” [Jam on Rye]

 


 

Related Post: Jul 21/22, 2012 — Guest DJ, Randy Kaplan — Playlist/Video ♦ Podcast

 

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 28th & 29th, 2015

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 March 28th-April 3rd, 2015 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 monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 28 Community Highlights: Pysanky to Passover. Aerodynamics to Shakespeare., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA  for a comprehensive list!

March 28th-April 3rd, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

GeologyFolk Art/UkrainianPuppets/Marionettes  ♦ Library AdventuresSTEMConservationTheater/MusicalsHistory/ArtifactsAerospace ScienceCommunity Meal/PassoverParenting/HomeworkSleddingFamily MusicPaleontology

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Phenology: Connecting with Nature Science & Local Culture
  2. Children’s Book Highlights the Pioneer Valley
  3. Citizen Scientists Wanted to Map the Stars
  4. Parenting Green: The Gift of Honey
  5. HFVS Occupation Episode with Guest DJ, Brandon Smith (Radio Show/Podcast)

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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28 Community Highlights: Pysanky to Passover. Aerodynamics to Shakespeare.

Saturday, March 28, 12noon-2pm – PYSANKY: Learn about “pysanky,” or Ukrainian Easter eggs, at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library with local art teacher Marion Abrams. Abrams will teach kids and families ages 8 and up about pysanky and thow to paint these beautifully decorated eggs using beeswax and dyes. Please register in advance. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Pysanky to Passover. Fossils to Dinosaurs. Aerodynamics to Shakespeare… 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: Families can join Mass Audubon for a Bluebird Nest Box Building Workshop at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, March 28, from 1:30pm-3pm. Build pre-cut nest boxes to help provide much-needed nesting sites for cavity nesting birds like bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens, chickadees, and others. Participants will also learn how and where to mount the boxes, and will learn about Eastern Bluebird conservation efforts. Call to register. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. ($$)


GeologyFolk Art/UkrainianPuppets/Marionettes  ♦ Library AdventuresSTEMConservationTheater/MusicalsHistory/ArtifactsAerospace ScienceCommunity Meal/PassoverParenting/HomeworkSleddingFamily MusicPaleontology


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 28th-April 3rd, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

”Hilltown Families has benefited us in so many ways… expanding our abilities to attend family events around the area, be it in nature, music, dance, art. Our child has grown and learned so much (and will continue to) by being able to expand his horizons in so many ways… more than we could have ever imagined. Thank you HILLTOWN FAMILIES! YOU ROCK!” – Erin Long (Easthampton, 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.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Bulletin Board

Mar 28

Valley Vegfest, Saturday, March 28, 10-4, at JFK Middle School, Bridge Road in Northampton. Featuring passionate speakers, vegan food vendors, veg-friendly products, and non-profit organizations dedicated to animal welfare, healthy living, and the environment. Learn about and sample delicious healthy foods. Join in discussions and demonstrations. Enjoy entertainment and activities for kids. Speakers include Kathy Stevens, founder and director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary; Reed Mangels, nutritionist and author, Pattrice Jones, co-founder of VINE Sanctuary; Tim Van Orden, vegan athlete and raw food proponent; and Mary Lawrence, author and vegan chef. Admission is free– donations welcomed. Details at www.valleyveg.org

Mar 28

Independent Middle School Fair. An opportunity for families to learn about seven local schools with middle-school programs. Meet representatives from The Academy at Charlemont, Academy Hill School, The Bement School, The Center School, Four Winds School, The Hartsbrook School, and Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School. Saturday, March 28, 2-4pm, at Four Winds School, 54 French King Highway (Route 2), in Gill, MA. More information at www.fourwindsschool.info or call 413-863-8055.

Mar 28 & 29

Pioneer Valley Ballet’s original performance of Aladdin and his Magic Lamp performs March 28 & 29 at the Academy of Music in Northampton. The colorful characters and spell-binding choreography of Aladdin and his Magic Lamp takes audience members on a magical ride through a land brimming with genies, dreams, love, and adventure. A perfect spring adventure for the whole family! Tickets: pioneervalleyballet.tix.com

Mar 29

New England Air Museum will hold its annual Space Expo on Sunday, March 29th from 10am-4pm. This is your opportunity to experience aerospace science and technology as well as meet pioneers from the aerospace industry. More than 15 exhibitors from across New England will participate in the event including demonstrations and hands-on activities. Visitors can meet an astronaut, try on a space suit, pilot a space craft simulator, touch a meteorite, learn about the atmosphere of Mars, build a rocket, and much more. NEAM is located in Windsor Locks, CT. For more info call 860-623-3305 or visit www.neam.org.

Apr 4

Sunnyside Child Care Presents: “Here Comes The Sun!” Spend the morning singing and dancing with the Valley’s own local heroes The Nields! The Nields are celebrating the release of their seventeenth album with a benefit for Sunnyside. Come Sing and Dance with us! Join Sunnyside on Saturday, April 4th from 10:30am–12noon 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

Apr 18

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids with the second in our series happening on Saturday, April 18 from 10am-12noon. Mark your calendars and make plans to ome enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! Takes place at Flywheel in the old town in Easthampton, MA. 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)

Apr 23

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Thursday, April 23rd, 6-8pm, celebrating National Volunteer Month. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

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.mps and Programs in Western MA. 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
March 28th-April 3rd, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | School Closures | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

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Let Them Grow: Bringing A Taste of Winter Indoors!

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Chipping Away at Winter

As winter begins to wind down and we are left to unbury ourselves from the squishy sugar snow, I would like stir in a few more weeks of winter themed activities.

Recreating a frozen world is easy and by bringing a piece of winter to the table, you can create a fine motor and sensory adventure for your little one! All of these winter themed activities are variations of the same basic idea, freeze things inside ice and challenging your child to get them out. You can freeze the objects in ice cube trays, small plastic bowls or in giant trays. Add food-grade dye to match the theme, use sparkles or sand for texture- Have fun creating a mini frozen world. Then, offer tools such as squirt bottles of warm water, eye droppers, toothpicks, forks, child knives, tweezers, mini hammers, chop sticks… or whatever you can dream up to help excavate the ice.

Here are just a few suggestions. I like to do these at the table, in trays to hold the mess. These activities also work great in a water table, in the bathtub, or outside on the ground: Read the rest of this entry »

Parents’ Night Out: Sinbad at the Calvin Theatre this Saturday!

Parents’ Night Out!

One of Comedy Central’s all-time top 100 standup comedians, Sinbad tells hilarious stories about the foibles of daily life, and he’s profound without being profane. We’re giving away two pairs of tickets for a night out in Northampton, MA, at the Calvin Theatre. Click on the image to find out how you can enter for a chance to win tickets:

Lenox Peeps Show Diorama Contest Presents Creative History Learning Opportunity

Let Your Puns Run Wild!

Peep through a history book or two in order to get ready for what might be the punniest contest of the year – the Lenox Peeps Show Diorama Contest calls for entrants to create dioramas featuring Peeps of any species as miniature mannequins in important moments in history. The most creative of dioramas not only dramatically display a piece of history, but use puns either in their title or within the diorama itself (think Declaration of Indepeepdence or the Leaning Tower of Peepsa). Read the rest of this entry »

Independent Bookshop Hosts Annual Youth Writing Contest in Pioneer Valley

Inspring Young People to Write

Writing Poetry

Young authors have a competitive outlet for their creativity this spring – Odyssey Bookshop’s 22nd annual Children’s Writing Contest is happening now! While the contest deadline isn’t until Friday, April 24th, now is the time to begin crafting an original story and, perhaps, an accompanying illustration. The contest is open to writers in first through fifth grade, and authors are expected to complete their submission on their own. Read the rest of this entry »

Open Sesame: Celebrating Women’s History with Children’s Picture Books

Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

Women In History: Three New Books

For more than thirty years, the National Women’s History Project has been devoted to “writing women back into history.” They created a national clearinghouse of multicultural women’s history, which includes information, materials, resources, referrals, training and strategies to anyone interested in learning about women’s roles in American history. Their successful lobbying efforts led Congress to recognize March as Women’s History Month, which has become a time to celebrate the bold and beautiful, courageous and curious, strong, smart, and compassionate women in our collective history. We have so much to learn from their example, which is why we need to keep getting books about these women into children’s hands. Here are three new books that recognize girls with big dreams. But first, recognition of a local woman who left her imprint on American history and on our own local history… Read the rest of this entry »

Easter Events in Western MA, 2015

Easter Events in Western MA 2015

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Community events that celebrate Easter take place over the next few week.

We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2015.

Mapping Vernal Pool Habitats Hosts Loads of Learning

Mapping Vernal Pools

Families can explore and map local vernal pools all on their own! The process of inspecting, mapping, and tracking present species is quite a project to undertake as a family, but is one that can provide endless opportunities for learning and exploration of the natural world.

Vernal pools are the breeding grounds for some of spring’s most exciting life – literally! Not only are they home to special species like fairy shrimp, who spend their entire lives in vernal pool habitats, but the watery mini-ponds provide a venue for salamander and frog species to lay eggs for late-spring hatching. While some vernal pools in western Massachusetts are well known (Sheburne’s High Ledges are home to a local favorite), there are certainly many, many more vernal pools whose locations have yet to be officially determined.

Families can explore vernal pools in their neighborhoods by using the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program’s GIS Data vernal pool maps, which can be downloaded either as a GIS layer (for tech-y families) or as a datalayer in an online map. While there’s still lots of snow on the ground, the sound of peepers will soon be serenading the hills on spring evenings, and vernal pools will be slowly coming alive with fresh water and lots of fascinating life.

But what about those vernal pools that have yet to be mapped by the state? Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: The Living Land Wants to Play

Our Bodies of Water

The land is an organism, wrote Aldo Leopold, the Yale-trained game management specialist, about seventy-five years ago. An organism is alive, and its life is made up of the contributions of disparate organs, each of which would be lifeless without the collaborations of all the others.

The idea—actually fact—that land is an organism is, of course, an ancient one, as venerable as our anthropomorphic figure of “mother earth.” Leopold’s work, especially his classic book A Sand County Almanac, reveals how he struggled through his education in empirical science to prove something that we, as a species, have felt and known for eons. If Plato was correct, and knowledge is remembering something we have forgotten, then Leopold stands as a vibrant example of a knowledgeable person. His experience of translating the wisdom of our ancient ancestors into the lexicon of science is one that anybody who loves and tries to protect land knows well. Read the rest of this entry »

Become A Citizen Scientist & Get to Know Your Local Dragonfly!

Community-Based Education Right In Your Back Yard

Families can join in on an important citizen science project called Dragonfly Pond Watch.

While a season filled with winged insects may seem months away, now is the time to begin learning how to be on the lookout for seasonal indicator species! Certain creatures who migrate to warmer climes during Massachusetts’ winter can help to make the start of warmer weather with their presence. Just as returning robins dotting late-winter feeders mean that spring is near and the emergence of salamanders marks spring’s first good rain, the appearance of dragonflies can serve as an important seasonal indicator, too! Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Pioneer Valley: The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

Museum Honoring Dr. Seuss to Open in Pioneer Valley

Conceptual design for City Zoo Interactive Display, Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, Courtesy of Springfield Museums.

Given the worldwide impact of Dr. Seuss’ work, it’s hard to believe that there is no museum in his honor. That is set to change in 2016, when the Springfield Museums will open the first museum dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of Springfield native Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Plans are now underway for the creation of The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, which will feature a highly interactive literacy-based exhibition featuring beloved Seuss characters, as well as exhibits to honor Geisel himself and the community which fostered his early development and creative genius. The museum will be housed in the William Pynchon Memorial building on the Springfield Museums campus in downtown Springfield, MA.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: March 23rd-27th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 11 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.


Sponsor Learning Ahead


Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Sky Episode with Guest DJ, Suzanne Jamieson Selmo

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Sky Episode with Guest DJ, Suzanne Jamieson Selmo

Suzanne Jamieson Selmo celebrates the SKY and everything in it. She takes us through a whole day, from waking up with the sun to going to bed with the stars and the moon…and lots of fun stuff in between. She threads through poetry, history, and science into the hour and showcases a variety of music… from old classics to modern pop, jazz standards to popular children’s music. It’s a celebration of the sky with great tunes! — www.suzannejamiesonselmo.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 21st & 22nd, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video:  Caspar Babypants- “Bird in an Airplane Suit” [Rise and Shine!]


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

1. Hilary Duff- “Wake Up” [Most Wanted]
2. Suzanne Jamieson Selmo- “Here Comes the Sun” [Shine]
3. Caspar Babypants- “Bird in an Airplane Suit” [Rise and Shine!]
4. Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights- “My Butterfly” [What a Zoo!]
5. Laurie Berkner- “Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)” [Buzz Buzz]
6. Taylor Swift- “Superman” [Superman-Single]
7. The Beatbuds- “When the Rain Falls Down” [The Beatbuds, Volume 1]
8. Lesley Gore- “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” [20th Century Masters: The Millenium
Collection]
9. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole- “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” [Alone in IZ World]
10. Selena Gomez- “When the Sun Goes Down” [When the Sun Goes Down]
11. Katy Perry- “Firework” [Teenage Dream]
12. Jack Johnson- “Constellations” [In Between Dreams]
13. Suzanne Jamieson Selmo- “Moonlight in Vermont” [Shine]
14. The Marcels- “Blue Moon” [The Marcels-Single]
15. Suzanne Jamieson Selmo- “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 21st & 22nd, 2015

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 March 21st-27th, 2015 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 monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families and 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA  for a comprehensive list!

March 21st-27th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Language Play: Learning to Play an Instrument Support Language Skills
  2. Maple Dessert to Follow a Spring Dinner
  3. Let Them Grow: Learning Activities for Mud Season
  4. HFVS Spring Equinox Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. Local Camp Director Gives Pointers on How to Select a Summer Camp

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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Suggested Events for March 21st-27th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I always check out your Facebook page and check the weekly events. Your website provides us with information about all the great events at museums and elsewhere.” – Lyza Fennell (Southampton, 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.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Bulletin Board

Mar 21

Piti Theatre Co. presents their 6th annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls, MA, on Saturday, March 21, featuring the high-flying cirque show RUCKUS! by Nimble Arts, an award-winning troupe with Cirque de Soleil veterans at 5pm. Blending live music and magic, Piti Theatre presents the world premiere of “Innocenzo” a play for all ages about a clown who gets sick from electrosmog and then starts to heal at 3pm. SYRUP celebrates spring with syrup tasting, free pickles, a raffle, maple treats around the village and door prizes in a historic venue. Circus workshops for ages 7+ on Sunday, March 22 at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary (2pm: aerial silks, 3pm: juggling). Info and tickets: www.ptco.org/syrup

Mar 22

Celebrate spring with The Very Hungry Caterpillar on Sunday, March 22 from 12noon to 4pm at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. Guests can dance a Wiggle Jiggle down the Great Hall with the beloved Caterpillar, make found object caterpillars in the Art Studio, taste Very Yummy Smoothies from Whole Foods, enjoy special storytimes, and search for the Caterpillar’s favorite foods in a museum-wide scavenger hunt. Help welcome The Carle’s new custom Volkswagon Bug and have your picture taken in it. Plus, free apples and Caterpillar Cookies! For more information and a schedule of activities, please visit www.carlemuseum.org or call 413-658-1126. All activities free with Museum Admission!

Mar 28

Valley Vegfest, Saturday, March 28, 10-4, at JFK Middle School, Bridge Road in Northampton. Featuring passionate speakers, vegan food vendors, veg-friendly products, and non-profit organizations dedicated to animal welfare, healthy living, and the environment. Learn about and sample delicious healthy foods. Join in discussions and demonstrations. Enjoy entertainment and activities for kids. Speakers include Kathy Stevens, founder and director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary; Reed Mangels, nutritionist and author, Pattrice Jones, co-founder of VINE Sanctuary; Tim Van Orden, vegan athlete and raw food proponent; and Mary Lawrence, author and vegan chef. Admission is free– donations welcomed. Details at www.valleyveg.org

Mar 28

Independent Middle School Fair. An opportunity for families to learn about seven local schools with middle-school programs. Meet representatives from The Academy at Charlemont, Academy Hill School, The Bement School, The Center School, Four Winds School, The Hartsbrook School, and Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School. Saturday, March 28, 2-4pm, at Four Winds School, 54 French King Highway (Route 2), in Gill, MA. More information at www.fourwindsschool.info or call 413-863-8055.

Mar 29

New England Air Museum will hold its annual Space Expo on Sunday, March 29th from 10am-4pm. This is your opportunity to experience aerospace science and technology as well as meet pioneers from the aerospace industry. More than 15 exhibitors from across New England will participate in the event including demonstrations and hands-on activities. Visitors can meet an astronaut, try on a space suit, pilot a space craft simulator, touch a meteorite, learn about the atmosphere of Mars, build a rocket, and much more. NEAM is located in Windsor Locks, CT. For more info call 860-623-3305 or visit www.neam.org.

Farm Hands Preschool at Town Farm in downtown Northampton has several openings in their toddler room (18 to 33 months) for the coming school year (summer start dates are possible too)! Farm Hands Preschool is a small, loving, real-work-and-play-based community that trusts children to know themselves best. Teachers work as researchers and guides, providing support, materials, time, and space to meet individual and group needs. What are they up to these days? Tapping trees, planning their gardens, and still sledding every day down the dike! Find more information at www.thefarmeducationcollaborative.org or by emailing alya@thefarmeducationcollaborative.org or calling 413-695-4645.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, March 21st, 9-11:30am. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids with the second in our series happening on Saturday, April 18 from 10am-12noon. Mark your calendars and make plans to ome enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! Takes place at Flywheel in the old town in Easthampton, MA. 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)

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.mps and Programs in Western MA. 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
March 21st-27th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | School Closures | Berkshire Family Fun

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Performing Arts Festival Comes to the Hilltowns

Sugar season is upon us, and coming with it is Piti Theater Company’s sweetest performances this weekend, co-sponsored by Hilltown Families! SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival brings locally created original theater and exciting performances from special guests to Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls for two days of performances, workshops, and sweet entertainment all around!

This year, Piti Theater Company will use the festival to launch a local tour of their new show, Innocenzo, which addresses concerns about electromagnetic pollution. Designed to be watched, appreciated, and understood by children, the show tells the story of a clown who falls sick with a mysterious illness, only to find out that he is being affected by electromagnetic pollution. The show does have a happy ending, but shares important information about the affects of a somewhat new (and rarely publicly addressed) concern. True to Piti’s theatrical style, the show is both educational and eye-opening, yet blends this with original music and clowning for a well-rounded and captivating show. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Being Creative With Your Old Books

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Playing with Books

Books support literacy and learning. And when you have too many books in duplicate and falling part, they can even support creative-free play!

We might have a book problem at our house. Some are read over and over. Some are just collected such as the various printings of Moby Dick. Some gather dust. I am not sure where that yellowed copy of How to Use a Microscope came from but we have never opened it. Books are everywhere. All of my art history, theory, design and teaching manuals line one wall of the bedroom. The fiction and garden books are packed into the bookcase turned headboard. Sewing, knitting and books on art for kids fill the shelf under the bench. Current reads by both of us are scattered about the living room. Cookbooks belong to the pantry. And my daughter has arranged her library by subject and book series. She is a series reader and collector. How many versions of Harry Potter does one need? We might be book hoarders. Or maybe we aren’t because we recognize a problem developing.

Books just find their way into our house. We love to browse the local book shop and our neighborhood used bookstore. Book fundraisers are always good for a bargain. We often check the book share-and-take corner in the school lobby. Grandma feeds the addiction. Books are everywhere and hard to pass by without at least a peek.

Brainstorming here on what to do with the extras. There are the ones we start and a chapter or two in realize there is no interest. And there are old ones aged and crumbling. Those 20 year old copies of college textbooks are not needed. There must be some way to use these for play purposes. So here are some ideas! Read the rest of this entry »

Big Wiggle Tour Makes Its Valley Stop!

Caterpillar Mobile Inspires Kids To Read

The Very Hungry Caterpillar himself will be gracing the streets of the Pioneer Valley very soon! Following a cross-country tour of libraries and bookstores between California and Massachusetts, a Volkswagen Beetle designed to look just like the iconic children’s book caterpillar will be making its new home at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. The new caterpillar-mobile’s arrival will coincide with Very Hungry Caterpillar Day, held on Sunday, March 22nd from 12noon-4pm! Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: The Judgement (Re)call

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

Winter is the Cruelest Season

A friend recently told me that March is “Non-judgement Month.” She went on to explain that a colleague was having a rough time last March and declared the entire month judgement-free.

It started me thinking about judgement, and while I certainly support non-judgement as I understand it, I recognize that as humans we make judgements every day: “The roads look slippery, so I will go home early.” “ You look great in black.” “The kids have had a tiring week. Rollerskating Friday night is too much.”  – These are all judgement statements, but they aren’t objectionable (with the exception of not rollerskating). So what is it about judgement that makes us cringe? Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate & Learn about the Vernal Equinox at UMass Sunwheel

Celebrate the Vernal Equinox at UMass Sunwheel in Amherst

This Friday, March 20th, 2015, on the day of the vernal equinox, families can visit the UMass Sunwheel in Amherst for a morning and/or evening gathering.

As we spend the month of March wishing away the snow and scouring the local landscape for signs of spring to appear, we often forget to prepare ourselves for the truest sign of spring there is: the vernal equinox. Marking the very first official day of spring, the vernal equinox is the moment at which the sun is located directly over the Earth’s equator. Along with a shadow-less noontime around the equator, the equinox brings six months of darkness to the south pole and six months of a perpetually visible sun to the north pole. And here in western Massachusetts? We get the beginning of springtime, lengthening days, gradual warmth, sweet maple syrup, and community celebrations that mark the change of season… Read the rest of this entry »

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