Literary Guide for Lois Lowry’s “Gathering Blue”

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Designed for use with readers at a 5th grade level, our literature guide for Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue offers families support in adding insight, visualization, and even mastery of a new skill to a great summer read!

Looking for ways to enhance family reading time? Summer is the perfect time to explore books as a family, and to expand stories and create opportunities for deeper learning together. Hilltown Families offers a wealth of resources for supporting families in this endeavor, beginning with the very first featured title in our 2015 Summer Reading Resource series of literary guides!

Featured weekly throughout the summer, this year’s installments in the annual Summer Reading Resource series include downloadable guides to children’s literature written by students and alumni from the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England. Each literary guide pairs a featured book with suggestions for ways to help children expand their thinking, create connections to the text, and allow their literacy skills to grow. These guides contain outlines with discussion topics, critical thinking questions, and suggestions for many other activities that can provide supplemental education at home. The titles featured throughout the summer will cover a wide range of genres, themes, and reading levels, so as to provide something for everyone and to support families in their pursuit of new and fascinating reading material.

The books included in the series include both picture and chapter books, and cover all of the ages and developmental capacities typically found in grades K-6. Check back weekly for a new guide, or peruse the resources offered in our 2013 and 2014.

The first guide in this summer’s series is Gathering Blue, written by literary great, Lois Lowry.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: The Bumpy Inconsistent Emotional Journey of Parenthood

Sensitive Souls

I am a teacher; have been for 23 years. If you don’t know, a teacher’s clock is different than other adults. For us, this week is the end of the “year.” June is when the last chords play on a song that has it all; soft parts, loud parts, fast, heart-racing tempos and slow, feet-dragging beats. In June, I am pensive and melancholy because of the ending…the missing of students and parents and colleagues with which you spend most of your day. In June, I am reflective. I look back and take stock.

My “year” started in September.
My daughter went to kindergarten.
My eldest went away to college.
My 18 year old went to jail.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Learning on the Watershed

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: June Segment
Habitat to Support Community-Based Education

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 host, Ashley Kohl, 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, June 25, 2015, this month looking at community-based education through the lens of habitat.  Sienna and Ashley talk about community-based events and resources that support an integrative approach to nature-based learning:

Summer months are a great time of year to get outside with your kids and allow nature to become their classroom.  During the warmer months, look through the lens of your local habitat to find ways for your families to engage in your community while supporting interests and education.  What you will find are opportunities and resources that integrate learning cross a variety of interests, including:

  • River ecology to support interests in insects.
  • Wetlands to support learning about the food chain.
  • Bogs for discovering unique native plants.

Points of entry to community engagement that not only support interest and education, but also support the values of many families include:

  • Outdoor adventures supporting intergenerational engagement while learning about the river.
  • Citizen scientist opportunities to engage families in the scientific process while learning about river ecology.
  • Family volunteering that support service-based learning while keeping our rivers clean and protected.

Discover information and ideas highlighted here in our post,
Learning Along the Watershed: Rivers, Wetlands & Bogs.


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be Thursday, July 25!

Learning Ahead: June 29th-July 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 7 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.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Songs About America Episode with Guest DJ, Rocknoceros (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

 Songs About America Episode with
Guest DJ, Rocknoceros

Rocknoceros joins us as our Guest DJ with a Songs About America Episode. The musical trio explore their record collections to find tunes that celebrate, illustrate, and even criticize the Land of the Free.  Starting with the Chuck Berry-inspired rock ‘n roll of the 1950s, the selections quickly span the decades that followed and the various styles that continue to thrive today.  Join in the fun as the band members discuss the people and places that help make American music what it is, with a few asides about lemonade stands and Irving Berlin. — rocknoceros.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
June 27th & 28th, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO: Read along with Rocknoceros as they sing about the Lone Star State in this up-tempo country rocker from the “Plymouth Rockers” CD.


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Rocknoceros – “United States of America” [Rocknoceros]
  • Otis Redding – “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” [The Essentials: Otis Redding]
  • Ramones – “Rockaway Beach (Live)” [It’s Alive (Live)]
  • Recess Monkey – “Lemonade” [In Tents]
  • Chuck Berry – “Sweet Little Sixteen” [20th Century Masters – The Millenium Collection: The Best of Chuck Berry]
  • The Beach Boys – “Surfin’ U.S.A.” [Surfin’ USA]
  • Van Halen – “Dancing In the Street” [Diver Down]
  • Bruce Springsteen – “Born In the U.S.A.” [Born In the U.S.A.]
  • Rocknoceros – “Squeakers” [Plymouth Rockers]
  • Elton John – “Philadelphia Freedom” [Greatest Hits 1970-2002]
  • Grateful Dead – “U.S. Blues” [From the Mars Hotel]
  • Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer – “I’m My Own Grandpa (feat. Riders In the Sky)” [Dancin’ In the Kitchen]
  • Dwight Yoakam – “The Late Great Golden State” [21st Century Hits:  Best of 2000-2012]
  • David Bowie – “Young Americans” [Young Americans]
  • Rocknoceros – “God Bless America” [Plymouth Rockers]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for June 27th & 28th, 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 June 27th-July 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 33 Community Highlights: Geocaching to Lavender. Robotics to Victorian Ballroom Dance., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

June 27th-July 3rd, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

CanoeingSTEMFood & NutritionBirds of PreyHabitatEntomologyGarden-Based LearningLiving HistoryGuided WalkFamily VolunteeringGeocachingLibrary AdventuresAncestryOutdoor Film

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. Literary Guide for William Steig’s “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble”
  2. The Garden Plot: Tending Gardens & Family Learning Opportunities
  3. HFVS Guest DJ, Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  4. Fibonacci Sequence & Golden Ratio Drive Nature Based Education
  5. Open Sesame: New Picture Books Explore Rich Themes

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

33 Community Highlights: Geocaching to Lavender. Robotics to Victorian Ballroom Dance.

Lavender is known for its wonderful scent, which calms the nerves, and for the delicate flavor it imparts to baked goods like scones and shortbread. Immerse your senses in lavender on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 from 10am – 4pm at Johnson Hill Farm‘s Lavender Festival, where you can enjoy a lavender labyrinth, a dove release, art and crafts by local artisans, workshops, and demonstrations. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Lavender to Robotics. Geocaching to Static Electricity. Victorian Ballroom Dance to Cedar Wetlands…. 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: Geocaching lets you go on real treasure hunts all across the globe. From “geo,” meaning “Earth,” and “cache,”meaning “hidden goods,” geocaching is an activity in which you can follow clues that lead you to concealed treasures. At the end of a geocache you might find a Tupperware container full of glow-in-the-dark plastic lizards (you get to take one!), or a baggie filled with a mishmash of items left by others who found the cache before you (take one and leave something of yours), and — always– a log book in which to enter information about yourself.  Sunday, June 28 at 2pm & 3pm, a Geocache 101 class and potluck supper, hosted by the Becket Athenaeum, highlights Becket’s geocache scene, with activities led by experienced geocachers and a fun supper afterwards to meet others who are interested in this incredibly fun hobby. 413-623-5483. Becket Center Park, Main Street, Becket, MA. (FREE)


CanoeingSTEMFood & NutritionBirds of PreyHabitatEntomologyGarden-Based LearningLiving HistoryGuided WalkFamily VolunteeringGeocachingLibrary AdventuresAncestryOutdoor Film


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Springfield Museums:


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for June 27th-July 3rd, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families is the first place I check when deciding what to do with a free weekend, day, or even hour! My favorite thing is when they post a question to the community and we can read the opinions and recommendations of our fellow parents – this is true community engagement in the 21st century. This website is an absolute service to our community – not just people with kids but for everyone! I’d be at a total loss most weekends or when guests visit, if not for Hilltown Families, and I think we should support it as it has supported us.” – Lauren W. (Northampton, 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

Over 60 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

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

Jun 27

Join us on Saturday, June 27 from 10am-12noon for a meaningful morning volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

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, June 27th, 10am-12noon, Farming with Friends at Mountain View Farm. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Jun 27

Join us for Franklin Land Trust’s 24th Annual Farm & Garden Tour on Saturday, June 27th from 10am-4pm. This is one day self-guided tour of the secret gardens, working farms and special places in Ashfield & Conway. Some highlights include: an off-the-grid home, bee yard, beautiful rock walls, wattle fence of alder whips, espaliered star magnolia, collection of heirloom roses (dating to the Roman Empire) an edible landscape, permaculture, herbs, habitats for native pollinators; one-of-a-kind barn artistically decorated with glass beads and jewelry, organic fruit farm and a country casual garden with easy care plants. Tickets are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. $15 for a reserved luncheon. www.franklinlandtrust.org or 413-625-9151

Jun 30-Aug 18

Camp Odyssey Craft Camp: Tuesdays June 30th- August 18th. Camp Odyssey is a once-a-week one hour camp featuring one book and activity for kids every Tuesday afternoon at 3pm. Each week they feature a different activity book and matching activity, ranging from make your own lava lamps and cupcake decorating to making grass hair funny faces! A required $5 supply fee or the purchase of the book featured (per child) to attend. Pre-registration is required (at least 2 days prior to event.) A full list of activates and ages ranges can be found listed at www.odysseybks.com Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. Email kids@odysseybks.com to register.

Jul 6 – Aug 14

Great family entertainment, live animal demos, and fun art and science activities every weekday. It’s the Summer Spectacular Family Series at the Springfield Museums, July 6th through August 14th. Performers this summer include the Akwaaba Drum & Dance Ensemble, Mister G, and The Nields. Plus, don’t miss Curious George: Let’s Get Curious at the Springfield Science Museum through September 6. For more information, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

Jul 8-12 & Jul 22-25

Hooray! Hooray! NCTKids is bringing everybody’s favorite first grader to the stage in this lively musical adaptation of Barbara Park’s beloved Junie B. Jones book series. Junie B. (the B. stands for Beatrice only she does not like Beatrice, just B.) sings and dances her way through First Grade with the help of her teacher Mr. Scary, the Cafeteria Lady and friends like Sheldon and Herb and even that tattle-tale, May. Grab your top-secret personal beeswax journal and join us for all the fun. Directed by Cate Damon with musical direction by Mitch Chakour. July 8-12 & July 22-25 at 10:30am in Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Green Street, on the Smith College Campus in Northampton. All seats: $10. Box Office: 413-585-3220

Fall Openings

Amherst Montessori School has Fall 2015 openings for pre-school and Kindergarten. Financial aid available! Amherst Montessori School nurtures the child’s spirit, curiosity, confidence, and leadership, building the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. 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. Young Toddler through Sixth Grade. For more information or to schedule a visit, please call 413-253-3101 or email Shelley Poreda, Director, at sporeda@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

All Summer

Rent a summer cottage on the Lower Highland Lake in the heart of the Hilltowns for a relaxing family get-away! Located in Goshen, MA, 3 unique summer cottages are for rent by the week. Ideal for families, artists & reunions, there are many weeks still available this summer. Fondly called the ”Goshen Ocean,” the lake offers swimming, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, wind surfing, & fishing. A favorite with the kids is the trampoline raft! The lake abuts the 1500 acre DAR State Forest that has miles of marked hiking & mountain bike trails. No need to drive to Maine to get away; Goshen Summer Rentals are only 25 mins from downtown Northampton & across the lake from Camp Howe! Last minute inquiries welcome. www.goshensummerrentals.com 413-695-3874

July

The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children & Teens—a program of Cooley-Dickinson VNA & Hospice provides support to grieving young people & their families, announces Summer in The Garden. This FREE program takes place July 2015. Summer in The Garden is open to grieving youth (ages 5-18) & an adult caregiver. Participants will make projects in small groups, for example an “intention stick” where participants will write messages of intention or inspiration on a stick before embellishing with meaningful colors, ribbons, shells. Summer in The Garden will be on 7/21, 7/23, 7/28 & 7/30 at 168 Industrial Dr. Northampton For more information AND to RSVP call Shelly Bathe Lenn at 413 582 5312. Shelly_Lenn@cooley-dickinson.org

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
June 27th-July 3rd, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Picky Eaters, Part 1: The Root

Picky. Finicky. Persnickety. Choosy. Stubborn. Boring. Narrow. Limited.

Where does picky eating come from? Dealing with picky eaters can be a challenge for the omnivorous or adventurous cook. Let’s explore some of the reasons some folks keep a limited diet – and how we can address those needs and help them expand their tastes!

If you’ve ever used one of these words to describe yourself, your child, or someone you know, you probably know the frustration of trying to feed someone who doesn’t seem to like a wide variety of foods.

Perhaps it’s your screaming toddler, who’s latched onto a diet of grape juice and animal crackers; your nine year old who would eat peanut butter sandwiches for every single meal if she could, or even your spouse, who methodically reads the online menu and identifies what he’s going to order before you hit the restaurant.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons that people get labeled “picky eaters.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Along the Watershed: Rivers, Wetlands & Bogs

Learning through the Lens of Habitat: Watersheds in Western MA

Our natural landscapes come to life in the summer months, offering families numerous opportunities to learn about local plant and animals species and a variety of habitats found in our region. These community-based resources are available everywhere, from the parks in our cities to rural countryside. While the months are warm, look for ways to engage in your community in meaningful ways while supporting nature-based interests and education.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When thinking about the flora and fauna found in our local habitat, consider how these environments support them and how they are all connected with one another.  In western Massachusetts we have a variety of natural surroundings we can examine, including rivers, wetlands and bog, and how they support insects, birds and plants.  Check out these community events that utilized our local habitats and species to support learning, along with points of entry to community engagement that include intergenerational adventures, citizen science and community service… Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Creating Child Friendly Food Experience

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Play With Food

Stirring, whisking, beating, blending, pouring and smearing are all ways that your child can help you in the kitchen. Using these verbs while working can be very helpful to making cooking and creating fun and help your child become more skilled in these areas.

I can see why adults are continuously reminding children not to play with food. It’s messy, it’s rude and it’s bad mannered but it is FUN! So, why not? Food is fun, it’s squishy and adults are always playing with it. We are always there at the kitchen counter cooking, cutting and serving so why not let your little one have a little fun in the kitchen and allow your child to experiment with foods in a natural way.

Cutting foods, pouring water and self-feeding are amazing skills that even the youngest toddlers can master with little practice. Introducing utensils at a young age can only help your child develop the fine motor skills that it takes to self-feed and master skills that she will need to become a skilled independent preschooler.

Offering the opportunity is the first step in creating a child friendly food experience. It is easy to prepare a child friendly work and feeding space in your home or outside. This area will help give your child clear expectations of what should happen there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hit a Home Run with Community-Based Learning this Summer through Local Baseball!

Art, History, and Baseball: Learning from a Great American Pastime

Be a part of a great American pastime this summer and head to the ballfield! Families can explore everything from art and design to American history by using baseball as a lens through which to explore local museums, online resources, and fantastic children’s literature.

A springtime standard for many western Massachusetts families, the sport of baseball is certainly one of our country’s favorite pastimes. Certainly the sport has much to offer families in terms of entertainment, but baseball as a topic of study can serve as an entry point into learning about much more than team dynamics and the specifics of the game. Baseball-inspired studies can spark explorations of civil rights, immigration, local and national history, art, design, and more.

While most youth baseball and softball teams play their seasons during the late spring and early summer, baseball as a spectator sport carries on throughout the summer and early fall. Locally, three collegiate summer teams make a summer outing to a baseball game quite accessible for families. The Pittsfield Suns play at Wahconah Park, Holyoke’s Valley Blue Sox‘s home games are at Mackenzie Stadium, and the North Adams SteepleCats play at Joe Wolfe Field.

Read the rest of this entry »

Open Sesame: 4 New Books to Welcome Summer

Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

Four New Books to Welcome Summer

Welcome Summer! Welcome glorious season of long days and warm nights, perfect for swimming and ice cream and going to the circus and gazing at a sky of shimmery stars. Here are four new books – three picture books and a middle grade novel – that revel in these summer delights.

Pool by JiHyeon Lee is a beautiful example of wordless storytelling at its finest. The book opens at a public pool, where a boy waits beside the water. By the time he jumps in, the pool is full of other swimmers. He dives below the crowded surface to the depths where he meets a girl. The black, white, and gray line drawings of the surface juxtapose a world below, where colors shift and change and become brighter in colored pencils and pastels. The new friends share an aquatic adventure as they encounter fish and other interesting creatures in an imaginative, watery landscape. When they swim to the surface, all of the swimmers (drawn in black and white) leave the pool, and only the friends remain, in color. The book’s large format allows readers to dive into the wondrous illustrations and experience the feeling of being underwater and the pure joy of friendship.

  • Pool by JiHyeon Lee. Published by Chronicle Books, 2015. 56 pgs.  ISBN: 978-1452142944

Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Reading Programs Focus on Heroes

Discover Literary Heroes this Summer

With the end of the traditional school year comes an overwhelming sense of freedom for children and adults alike. Summer vacation brings what can feel like an endless stretch of days, the hours of which children can only begin to imagine how they’ll fill. Alongside outdoor adventures, creative free play, and some much-needed unstructured down time, families can fill up those long days of summer with great books – endless volumes of which are available in our local libraries.

too darn hot

In Massachusetts – and across the country – public libraries participate in the Collaborative Summer Library Program. Each year brings a new theme to the program, and libraries work to incorporate educational programs, celebrations of learning, and constant reading in order to provide a comprehensive summer reading program that not only encourages families to read together, but allows participants’ reading to be supported by educational activities that relate to the program’s theme. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Living Patterns of Watersheds

Thinking Like a Watershed

In the same way all the tiny veins at a leaf’s edge connect to the midrib and then the leaf stem and then the branch and tree trunk and roots, so do our upland streams and brooks flow down into our rivers that empty into our oceans.

Make this summer the summer you discover (if you haven’t yet) the Westfield River watershed.

A watershed is—imagine—a giant bathtub, where the high sides of the tub are defined by ridgelines; and when the shower is on (rain), all the water is contained in the tub shape, flows to the bottom (river), and exits through the same drain.

A better way to imagine what a watershed is: it is a leaf-shaped geography. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: June 22nd-26th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 12 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.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS All Kinds of Families Episode with Guest DJ, Alastair Moock (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

All Kinds of Families Episode with
Guest DJ, Alastair Moock

Grammy nominee Alastair Moock is guest DJ this week of the Hilltown Family Variety Show with an All Kinds of Families Episode. — www.moockmusic.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
June 20th & 21st, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO:  “It Takes All Kinds,” from Alastair Moock’s new album, All Kinds of You and Me.


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Alastair Moock – It Takes All Kinds [All Kinds of You and Me]
  • Marlo Thomas & Harry Belafonte – Parents are People [Free to Be… You and Me]
  • Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer – Happy Adoption Day [Dancin’ in the Kitchen]
  • Papa Crow – Baby Makes Three [Things That Roar]
  • Alastair Moock – My Life is a Lot Like Yours [All Kinds of You and Me]
  • Frances England – Family Tree [Family Tree]
  • Brady Rymer – The Relatives Came [Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could]
  • Tig Notaro – Family Tree [Good One]
  • Father Goose – Panama [It’s A Bam Bam Diddly!]
  • Quartetto Cetra – Nella Vecchia Fattoria [Putumayo Kids Presents – Animal Playground]
  • Grenadilla – Family Song [Grenadilla]
  • Paul Simon – That was Your Mother [Graceland]
  • Jazzy Ash – Every Family’s Different [Home]
  • Johnny Cash – I Got a Boy Named John [The Johnny Cash Children’s Album]
  • Aaron Nigel Smith & One World Chorus – Grateful [Welcome to the Village]
  • Alastair Moock – Kenya Imagine? [All Kinds of You and Me]
  • Alex Mitnick – Love is All it Takes [Love Songs for My Baby]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for June 20th & 21st, 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 June 20th-26th, 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 30 Community Highlights: Otters to Pollinators. Wild Food to Aviation., 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!

June 20th-26th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Nature StudiesNative PollinatorsWild FoodHistoryAviationLibrary AdventuresArt AppreciationSTEMFilm StudiesFlora & FaunaLocal Food Festivals  ♦ Summer SolsticeDancing

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. Worthington Historical Society Educates all Ages About a Community’s Roots
  2. Family Camping Grows Respect for Nature
  3. What to Play? Summer is Time to Absorb the World
  4. Hindsight Parenting: Nothing Beats Planning for the Summer
  5. Literary Guide for Arthur Dorros’ “Abuela”

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

30 Community Highlights: Otters to Pollinators. Wild Food to Aviation.

River otters, muskrats, and beavers live in the habitat along the Connecticut River! On Saturday, June 20 at 10:30am, the Sunderland Public Library invites children up to 8 years old and their caregivers to explore this habitat in depth. Participants will look for evidence of these animals and perhaps see the creatures themselves! 413-665-2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Otters to Pollinators. Strawberries to Wild Food. Solstice to Aviation… 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 spend Friday, June 19 from 12noon-10pm and Saturday, June 20 from 8am-12noon at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Holmes Road, Pittsfield, MA) participating in the 6th Annual Berkshire BioBlitz. The BioBlitz, which takes place over a full 24-hour period, invites the public, biologists, naturalists, and environmentalists to come together with the goal of identifying and cataloging all living species within Canoe Meadows. There will be experts on hand to assist with identification and teach about the different species found in the sanctuary, and there will be walks, talks, demonstrations, and more to engage participants and teach about local ecology and natural history. This is a unique and exciting free citizen science opportunity for the entire family – all ages can help look for plants, animals, and fungi and learn how to identify them. The BioBlitz will get the whole family interested in and excited about science, nature, and conservation. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)


Nature StudiesNative PollinatorsWild FoodHistoryAviationLibrary AdventuresArt AppreciationSTEMFilm StudiesFlora & FaunaLocal Food Festivals  ♦ Summer SolsticeDancing


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Springfield Museums:


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Suggested Events for June 20th-26th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“As someone new to the area, Hilltown Families has been a great source of information for events going on in Western Mass that
my almost 3 year old (and his parents!) will enjoy, as well as stories that are of interest. I appreciate the balance of fun, community-service, and educational events discussed and promoted on the site. It is great to have a one-stop shop for this information!” – Laura D. (Amherst, 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

60 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

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

Jun 20

Relaunch of Heather Has Two Mommies with author Leslea Newman at Odyssey Bookshop on Saturday, June 20 at 11am. FREE. Published originally 25 years ago this beloved story has been found on the shelves of many different families. Once known as the most challenged book in America, Heather Has Two Mommies has been given new life with new updated text, colorful, sweet illustrations but the same heartfelt message that it is love, and love alone, that makes a family. Odyssey Bookshop welcomes Leslea Newman to celebrate the relaunch of this beautiful picture book. Kids encouraged to celebrate their families in drawings at kids craft table! Perfect for all ages. Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., South Hadley. RSVP required. Email RSVP@odysseybks.com

Jun 27

Join us for Franklin Land Trust’s 24th Annual Farm & Garden Tour on Saturday, June 27th from 10am-4pm. This is one day self-guided tour of the secret gardens, working farms and special places in Ashfield & Conway. Some highlights include: an off-the-grid home, bee yard, beautiful rock walls, wattle fence of alder whips, espaliered star magnolia, collection of heirloom roses (dating to the Roman Empire) an edible landscape, permaculture, herbs, habitats for native pollinators; one-of-a-kind barn artistically decorated with glass beads and jewelry, organic fruit farm and a country casual garden with easy care plants. Tickets are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. $15 for a reserved luncheon. www.franklinlandtrust.org or 413-625-9151

Begins Jul 9

Dance this summer at The Center in Amherst! Enroll now for a 6 week session, starting Thursday, July 9th. In this 45 minute class for kids aged 2-6, students will leap, twirl and spin their way into the world of children’s literature. Using picture books, nursery rhymes and songs as inspiration, children will be introduced to the fundamentals of creative movement in a fun, nurturing environment. Whether they’re soaring like the red bird that brown bear saw, leaping and pouncing at the Wild Rumpus, or dancing the alphabet, kids will love this interactive class that honors the reader, and storyteller, in all of us. For more information visit www.thecenterdance.com or email thecenterdanceschool@gmail.com.

Fall Openings

Amherst Montessori School has Fall 2015 openings for pre-school and Kindergarten. Financial aid available! Amherst Montessori School nurtures the child’s spirit, curiosity, confidence, and leadership, building the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. 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. Young Toddler through Sixth Grade. For more information or to schedule a visit, please call 413-253-3101 or email Shelley Poreda, Director, at sporeda@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

Jun 27

Join us on Saturday, June 27 from 10am-12noon for a meaningful morning volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

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, June 27th, 10am-12noon, Farming with Friends at Mountain View Farm. 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. 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
June 20th-26th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

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2015 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western Massachusetts

4th of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western MA for 2015

From the state where the American Revolution began, families can take part in the multitude of Fourth of July celebrations happening in Western MA! Be sure to check out the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events for a comprehensive list of family and community events happening in Western MA.

To follow is a preview of events, parades & fireworks happening to celebrate the 4th of July for 2015. Please take the time to confirm events you wish to attend, including time, place, age appropriateness, location and costs before attending.

Be sure to check out the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events every Thursday for a comprehensive list of family and community events happening in Western MA.  Subscribe to our free eNewsletter and have weekly update sent to your inbox every Thursday! Read the rest of this entry »

11 Highlights for Father’s Day in Western MA

Calling All Sports Fans, History Buffs, Aviators, Foodies & Music Lovers!

On Sunday, dads and grandfathers with younger kids can enjoy a free train ride and round of mini golf at Look Park or take a free trolley ride at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. Other locations honoring dads and granddads on Father’s Day include Historic Deerfield which offers free admission, or a free ride on the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round.

Happy Father’s Day! This Sunday, June 21, 2015, there are lots of opportunities to explore Western MA with the sons, fathers, step-fathers, and grandfathers in your life!

SPORTS FAN

Few events have the old time, hometown feel of a community baseball game! Don’t miss the 2nd annual Ashfield Baseball and Softball Jamboree  and old timers game on Sunday, June 21, 10:30am, which honors the long tradition of playing these sports in Ashfield. Folks can join in the games or enjoy spectating. Games will play throughout the day into the evening. 413-628-4441. The Field, Ashfield, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION)

Other games happening on Father’s Day: Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Getting Creative in the Cleanup

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Combining Play and Cleanup

Many parents know someone who loves to build with those brightly colored, interlocking building blocks. It starts as a toddler with the bigger, chunkier version and continues up into the tween to teen years for some kids with the 2,000+ piece master builder sets that take hours and hours to complete. There can be some tiny and unusual parts. We always seem to have a few extra odds and ends after a big build. Do you have extra people heads or arms or a single square of floor tile?

While in search of a fun way to organize these bits and pieces, we came across an easy project that clearly connects the contents of the containers to the supplies inside. No need to label. Kids can have a creative-free play activity while helping you save the dog or the vacuum from sucking up little bricks and plastic body parts.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltowns Celebrate their History & the Season this Weekend

3 Hilltown Celebrations

As part of Ashfield’s 250 celebration, 396 rockets will light up the sky over Ashfield Lake on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 9pm! Preceded by a free potluck community supper at Town Fall and an afterparty at The Lakehouse. Other places to wine and dine include Elmer’s and Country Pie! Ashfield, MA (FREE)

This Father’s Day weekend in the Hilltowns, three communities celebrate the season and their history!

ASHFIELD

Ashfield is celebrating its 250th birthday this weekend! On Saturday, June 20, a fun-filled parade will traverse the streets with unicycles, antique vehicles, costumes, and many, many community organizations taking part, beginning at 10am.. Starts at the intersection of Emmett Rd & 116 in South Ashfield, goes through the center of town, and ends at Belding Park. Make a day of it by visiting the farmers’ market, enjoying food and music on the Common, and participating in a community and history scavenger hunt at 12:30pm. Folks can dance or clap along at a 2pm contra dance or visit the Ashfield Historical Society’s textile window displays. (FREE) Then from 6pm – 9pm is the Party Under the Stars, a great and festive community event where you can mingle with your friends and neighbors! There will be live music, food, and beverages. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-628-4441. Curtis House, 14 South Street. ($)

CHARLEMONT

Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of Charlemont at this daylong event filled with fascinating local stories, songs, food, games, a scavenger hunt and entertainment on Saturday, June 20 from 9:30am – 8:30pm. 413-339-0117. Downtown. (FREE) Then on Sunday morning from 8-10am, there will be a a community pancake breakfast sponsored by the Friends of the Charlemont Fairgrounds. 413-625-2623. Town Fairgrounds ($)

BECKET

The summer solstice (June 21, 2015) marks the start of summer, the day on which the sun looks highest in the sky and the longest stretch of daylight of the year. Mark this special day at the Becket Arts Center‘s Summer Solstice Community Celebration, where visitors will enjoy an opening reception for a new art exhibit, children’s activities, a silent auction, food, and live music from Becket native, Bobby Sweet. 4pm – 9pm. 413-623-6635. 7 Brooker Hill Road (< $)

Cooling Down with Local Strawberries!

Take advantage of strawberry season!

In June, Western Mass is a blush of strawberries as harvest approaches. Don’t be afraid of buying too much as they can be frozen and used throughout the year.

It’s been really exciting the past few weeks in Western MA. Everything is growing like crazy, farmers’ markets are getting busy and the first of CSA share pick-ups are starting to happen. We are pretty lucky to live in an area where we are surrounded by such rich soil, have access to local farms and live where we can know where our food comes from. Thankfully, a good number of farms in the area also offer subsidized community agricultural shares.

One of my favorite things to see at the farmers’ market, is the abundance and variety of beautiful foods. I also appreciate the hard work that goes behind all that we see and buy at the market. It takes a lot of sweat and dedication to make these things happen.

This week at the market, I was really excited to see that it’s Strawberry season. The sweetness and beautiful rich reds in them, say enough. I usually try to get as many as I can, from either local markets, pick your own farms or from my own garden. If you ever find you have more than you need, just freeze them and use them throughout the year. I still have a few quarts of local berries in my freezer from last summer, that go well in many things. Read the rest of this entry…

Teens 101: Allowing our Children to Choose What’s Best for Them

All the Things We Thought Were Important

To bush or not to brush. To mitten or not to mitten. Is it worth the fight and sometimes unhappy kids? Learning to listen and allow my kids to make their own choices allows them to make choices that are right for them.

When my kids were little, we had some friends who never made their kids brush their hair.  They didn’t have dreadlocks- it wasn’t a cultural or aesthetic choice, it was just a choice not to argue about it.  Combs were offered and suggested, but in the end the family went out and about happily whether or not the children had combed hair or snarls.

At my house the children did not go out happily, nor did they go out with snarls in their hair.  Frequently they went out with eyes red from crying after lots of fussing and fighting about hair brushing.  Their hair got brushed because I am bigger and stronger and insistent and have the car keys.  But it was sometimes awful.

Then we’d be out and see these other kids with their messy hair, and who cared?  I didn’t.  I didn’t judge those kids or that family.  I noticed, in an amused sort of way, and then the very next day I went back to fighting with my own kids about their hair.  A model of another option was right there in my life, but I didn’t consider it.  I wanted calmer, happier interactions with my small children, but not so much that I was willing to be seen in public with them looking unkempt.

Was that for them?  No.  That was for me.  That was all ego.  I couldn’t be the mom with the kids with messy hair, and if that meant some crying and screaming before we went out, so be it.  Somehow I thought it was that important. Read the rest of this entry »

Six Community Organizations that Support Learning on the River

Six Community-Based Resources Support Learning on the River

Our river ecosystems are about more than just water – they about thousands of species of plants and animals, fascinating natural history, and the connections between humans and their surroundings. By utilizing resources made available by a handful of local community-based organizations and events, families can learn about and connect with our local landscape.

The Westfield and Connecticut River are ecosystems made up of beautiful landscapes and filled with fascinating natural history, home to a great many creatures of all shapes and sizes. By utilizing resources offered by community organizations and plugging into local networks, families can access the many community-based learning opportunities that our local habitat affords us. From species identification to Native American culture, the our rivers are filled with opportunities to engage in community-based education… Read the rest of this entry »

Empowering Our Girls: Being a Role Model

19 Ways to be a Healthy Role Model for Your Daughter.

As we know, our children will learn more from what they see us doing, than what we tell them to do. Correct? Sometimes it is hard to sit with that truth. The truth is that we all may have some ways of acting and communicating that may need some revision. We are after all, only human. But do we need to carry on certain less-than-ideal ways of being that have been passed down from generation to generation?

I challenge myself and invite you to join me in being a better role model for our daughters (and sons!). The benefits of doing so will ripple through their lives and the lives of future generations! Here are 19 ways we can consider being a healthy role model for our daughters…

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Summer Solstice Illuminates Learning for Families

Time & place literally provides for experiential education opportunity on the longest day of the year!

Science, Culture & Community-Based Educational Opportunities! Learn about & celebrate the longest day of the year!

Soon, celebrations will take place all over the northern hemisphere to mark the arrival of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, bringing with it the shortest night of the year while positioning us here in Western MA as close to the sun as it will be for the rest of the year. The simplest way to mark the summer solstice is simply to enjoy the extra daylight while it lasts, but there are a variety of other community-based ways to celebrate how world cultures and ancient civilizations marked the longest day of the year, getting kids engaged and learning about the longest day of the year.

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