Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 29th & 30th, 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 Suggested Events for August 29th-September 5th, 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 20 Community Highlights: Mushroom Walk to Cemetery Walk. Lava Lamps to Installation Art., 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!

August 29th-September 4th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Agricultural FairsMycologyMedia LiteracyBack-to-SchoolFlora & FaunaEntomologySTEMNative American CultureInstallation Art  ♦ TheaterFilmKayakingImmigrationCemetery WalkUpcyclingAutomotive Engineering

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

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 »

20 Community Highlights: Mushroom Walk to Cemetery Walk. Lava Lamps to Installation Art.

Foraging for mushrooms may sound like an interesting pursuit, but it requires training. Many edible mushrooms have near-identical impersonators which are highly toxic. One of the best ways to become a safe mushroom forager is by learning from an expert, ideally out in nature where mushrooms can be observed. Try a guided mushroom walk this weekend in Westhampton to learn about edible mushroom in our region.

Nipmuc to Back-to-School Celebrations. Motorama to Cemetery Walk. Lava Lamps to Installation Art…. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlights this week: Aggie Fair season marches on with the Cummington Fair, which runs August 27-30. This fair began back in 1883, when the Hillside Agricultural Society began to place strong focus on “the attainment and diffusion of scientific and practical knowledge in the cultivation of the soil.” The modern day fair offers many connections to those first events, and also includes components relevant to current times. Saturday’s theme is “Old Fashion Fair Day,” featuring many animal shows, a youth tractor pull, a roast beef dinner, live entertainment, and an evening square dance. 413-634-5091. Cummington Fairgrounds, 97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA. ($; FREE for children under 10)


Agricultural FairsMycologyMedia LiteracyBack-to-SchoolFlora & FaunaEntomologySTEMNative American CultureInstallation Art  ♦ TheaterFilmKayakingImmigrationCemetery WalkUpcyclingAutomotive Engineering


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


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Suggested Events for August 29th-September 5th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I moved to the area this past summer and Hilltown Families has been a wonderful resource for me as a newcomer. It has pointed my family towards some great activities and local eateries (Cummington Fair, Bread Euphoria, etc.). More importantly it has given me, as a newcomer, a broader sense of how active this community is and what people here care about. So thank you for that!” – Jenni H. (Sunderland, 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.

Bulletin Board

Aug 30

Meet Mo Willems and Elephant and Piggie! Join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA (125 West Bay Road), for a fun day with author and artist Mo Willems on Sunday, August 30th beginning at 10am. Meet Mo and get books signed. See new Elephant and Piggie films by Weston Woods! Make art inspired by Mo’s work and get a pigeon tattoo! As a special treat, Herrell’s ice cream will be serving ice cream flavors in honor of Elephant and Piggie! Note: Scheduled films followed by a Mo Willems Q&A are sold out, but films will be repeated throughout the day. See www.carlemuseum.org for more information. 413-658-1105.

Sept 3

The Center Dance Studio, an innovative dance studio in Amherst, is holding an Open House on Thursday, September 3rd from 4:15-6pm. Come by to see their new location on Main Street! Stop in to learn about their classes and philosophic approach where children spin stories from movement using classical and modern dance techniques. Sister duo Ashley and Caddy Carlisle combine their years of dance training with a special teaching approach that gets kids reading, writing and dancing; connecting, collaborating and creating. It’s a holistic approach to dance. For more information visit www.thecenterdance.com or email thecenterdanceschool@gmail.com. 321 Main Street. Amherst, MA. 413-687-7953.

Sept 5 & 6

Labor Day Family Campout! Have you ever wished that you could take your family camping? Come and spend an adventure-filled weekend camping with the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) at Notchview in Windsor, Sept 5 & 6! Ideal for both experienced campers & first-timers. Families have a choice of activities to choose from, including hikes to a search for owls, star gazing with a local expert, and stories & songs by the campfire. TTOR will provide a campout dinner, s’mores around the fire on Saturday night, and breakfast Sunday morning. Bring your adventuresome spirit & camping essentials (list provided). Member: $30/adult, $20/child. Nonmember: $40/adult, $30/child. Pre-registration required by 9/1: 413-532-1631×10 or email westregion@ttor.org

Begins Sept 8

Kathryn Kothe Roszko of CyclePottery in Florence will be starting a new session of after-school kids‘, ages 8+, beginner-intermediate wheel throwing on Sept 8th for 6 weeks, Tues 4-5:30 & Wed 1:30-3. Starting the same week, Bonnie Cooper of bcooperclay will join Kathryn to teach handbuilding & wheel throwing to teens/adults on Wed from 5:30-8. Bonnie will also be teach handbuilding on Tues from 5:30-8. Bonnie has 20 years experience teaching ceramics and exhibiting nationwide. Open studios for former students and non-beginners will begin on Sun from 12-3. Both classes have a max of 4-6 students. Please visit www.CyclePottery.com and CyclePottery on Facebook for more information. Contact Kathryn at 413-219-9594 or kathryn@cyclepottery.com

Begins Sept 8

Sign up for Theater Improvisation with Heidi Haas! Improv increases spontaneity, creativity and self-confidence. Classes focus on tuning into one’s scene partners, creating bold characters and developing skits with each other. Classes are offered for 5th-8th graders on Wednesdays from 3-5pm and for K-4th graders on Thursdays from 3:30-5pm in Florence, MA. The first 10 week session begins in Sept. Heidi has been teaching theater to children since 1996 and is also a clinical social worker with a specialty in child/family concerns. Check out her website at www.heidihaasimprov.com to register call: Heidi Haas 584-5562 or email Heidi_Haas@comcast.net

Begins Sept 12

Acting Classes for Children! Starlight’s Youth Theatre invites 2nd-7th graders to sign up for Fall acting classes under the direction of the amazing Cyn Strycharz. Young actors will create scenes, work on stage movement and character development plus a performance including scenes from Dr Seuss’ stories and Phantom Tollbooth. Storybook Theater: 2nd-3rd grade 9am presentation on Nov 14th. Actor’s Tool Box: 4th-5th grade 10am, show on Nov 14th. Lights Up: 6th-7th grade 11:15am show Dec 6th. Classes start Saturday, September 12 and are held at Mapleridge Community Center (Route 116) near the Amherst/Sunderland town line. Questions? Email starlights.yt@gmail.com. Class size is limited. Reserve your spot www.starlights-youth-theatre.com

Begins in Sept

Founded by two Pioneer Valley parents when they lived in Brooklyn, NY, Tinkergarten® has come to Western MA! Tinkergarten provides educational classes for kids ages 18 mos to 8 yrs in the healthiest classroom of all—the outdoors. The program aims to revive the most influential part of childhood — time to tinker in nature. The curriculum is designed to help kids become well-balanced people who can problem-solve, lead, and create. Angela Russo, talented Tinkergarten leader and local mom, is offering Fall classes and free trials in Amherst and Northampton. Learn more about the program and Angela’s classes at http://tkgtn.com/g0ce1. Want to give it a try? Use code hilltownfam15 to save 15% before 9/1. Have questions? Call 805-751-8465.

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

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12, all day, for a meaningful time 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, Sept 12 , all day, Take Action Against Hunger (National Hunger Action 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)

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
August 29th-September 4th, 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 »

Berkshire Family Fun: September 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
September 2015

“Hilltown Families is a great resource in planning family activities! Without fail, I can always find a listing for a great family event!” – Carol Crosier (Pittsfield, MA)

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

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.


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


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

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Let Them Grow: Three Edible Creative Free-Play Recipes

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Eat What You Play!

Now that my newborn is becoming a toddler overnight, I have begun to include her in toddler–esque art projects. This is exciting in so many ways. As all kids, she explores, experiments and creates every waking moment. Like every one-year-old she loves sensory exposure at its best- mostly by mouth. So, the question became how do I include her without poisoning her, letting her choke, or dumbing down toddler activities? Because she mouths everything and taste it just the same, I decided to create a few sensory activities that would be safe and fun for both infants and toddlers. And what do they both love? Food! Read the rest of this entry »

Soup’s On: Picky Eaters, Part 3

Picky Eaters, Part 3

Welcome back to the kitchen. In June, we enjoyed a lengthy discussion about picky eaters, and the roots of restrictive eating. July saw us tackle the task of getting young picky eaters to broaden their horizons. This month, we’re going to talk about older youth and young adults, and how NOT to turn dinnertime into a battlefield of exasperation.

But first, a review of things we know about older youth and food:

  1. By the time people reach the age of 9 or 10, they’ve begun to develop the “catalog” of experiences and tastes that we talked about in the earlier articles. They may be able to identify preferences for sweet foods over salty ones, or have a list of favorite foods.
  2. Their taste buds are still changing, as they will continue to do into adulthood. They may not taste things as strongly as they did when they were younger. It can help kids to know this, especially if they’re being asked to try something they remember disliking as a youngster.
  3. They are old enough to prepare simple meals for themselves, or even the family. That’s helpful, as we’ll see later on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for Ezra Jack Keats’ “Whistle for Willie”

Literary Guide for Ezra Jack Keats’ Whistle for Willie

Literary guide for Ezra Jack Keats’ Whistle for Willie

One of many wonderful and beloved children’s books by Ezra Jack Keats, Whistle for Willie is a simple story that perfectly captures the play-based learning that is essential to early childhood. The child engaging in such play is a character named Peter, a young boy who graces the pages of six of Keats’ other stories as well.

Whistle for Willie begins as Peter is exploring his neighborhood one afternoon, wishing desperately that he could whistle. Peter observes an older boy whistling to summon his pet dog, and longs to do the same – but he just can’t seem to make his lips work properly. Throughout the rest of the story, Peter alternates between longing for the ability to whistle and engaging in creative free play using chalk, a mirror, and even an empty box that he finds on the street. Peter’s play is unstructured and driven by impulse, and echoes the play that all children engage in during early childhood. Young readers can easily relate to both Peter’s play and his desire to be just a little bit more grown up (and to prove this growth by whistling loud and clear!).  Read the rest of this entry »

Open Sesame: More Than One Side To A Story

Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

Multiple Perspectives:
Two New Novels Show There’s More Than One Side To A Story

I just finished two new novels which use multiple perspectives to tell a story. This technique is neither new nor unusual in contemporary kid lit, but the ways in which these authors wield it, make the stories fantastically realized and totally engaging to read. My mind had to work a little harder to piece together what was happening, because the stories are not so straightforward and have shifting points of view. But I enjoyed having to mentally “chew” on the stories in this way. Maybe you and your young people will too.   Read the rest of this entry »

DownStreet Art Promotes Community Engagement in the Arts in the Northern Berkshires

DownStreet Art Promotes Community Engagement in the Arts in the Northern Berkshires

Previously in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+ , Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays, Turners Falls RiverCulture, and Holyoke’s Gateway City Arts, all of which support a community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, many communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.

This month, we feature DownStreet Art, an arts organization in North Adams that works to facilitate dialog between the local community and the arts, with the goal of creating social and economic capital as a result. A town formerly dependent on industry, North Adams has seen a rise in the role of the arts in the city community – a change that has helped the city to increase in both tourism and resident participation in community events. Following, largely, the establishment of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), the northern Berkshires have seen a rise in the role of the arts in the local community, and since its founding in 2008, DownStreet Art has connected over 100,000 people with arts-based events in North Adams’ downtown district, helping to fuel the cultural resurgence that brings the city to life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Back-To-School with Community-Based Education

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: August Segment
Community-Based Education, Your Year Round Back-to-School Resource!

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

This monthly segment continued on Thursday, August 19, 2015, for their back-to-school week, this time looking at how community-based education supports learning all year round! Sienna and Ashley talk about community engagement as a way of supporting self-initiated self-directed learning, or even a classroom-based curriculum or subject, including history, math, architecture, science, art, botany and biology.

Looking at your community through the lens of an interest is just one point of entry to community-based education. With back-to-school in the air we wanted to encourage our readers, parents, teachers and administrators to remember Hilltown Families as your community resource for supporting interests and education, both inside the classroom and at home.

Discover information and ideas highlighted here in our post,
Community-Based Education Makes Every Day Back-To-School Day

To stay tapped in to community-based educational opportunities happening in western MA, tune in to Hilltown Families by subscribing to our free weekly eNewsletter and receive an update every Thursday!


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, September 24!

Learning Ahead: August 24th-28th, 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

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HFVS On the Road Episode with Guest DJ, Steve Weeks (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

On the Road Episode with Guest DJ, Steve Weeks

Come join us as the Hilltown Family Variety show goes on the road with Steve Weeks.  We’ll be visiting the Dakotas, the gulf coast, the Great Smoky Mountains, Southern California, the Canadian maritimes and more as we hear from folks all across the country and discover what’s going on in their local communities.  Bring your map, buckle up, and tune in for a Hilltown Family Variety Show road trip!” —  www.steveweeksmusic.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
August 22nd & 23rd, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO:  “Change of Heart”by Steve Weeks


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Scribblemonster – “Our Summer Song” [Shark Sandwich]
    • Interview: Traci Juhala of North Dakota
    • Interview: Marivel Zambrano-Esparza of Santa Barbara, CA
  • Steve Weeks – “Dog Beach” [Once I Lived Upon the Sea]
    • Interview: Megrez Rudolph of Fairhope, AL
  • Peter Mulvey – “Sympathies” [Silver Ladder]
    • Interview: Ellis Rice of Las Vegas, NV
    • Interview: Rachel of Oak Ridge, TN
  • The Osborne Brothers – “Rockytop” [Appalachian Stomp]
    • Interview: Celeste of New Orleans, LA
  • Steve Weeks – “Once I Lived Upon the Sea” [Once I Lived Upon the Sea]
    • Interview: Gary LaFranier of Lame Deer, MT
  • North Bear – “Daddy’s Girl” [Feelings & Emotions]
    • Interview: Elia of Yuma Arizona
  • Gustafer Yellowgold – “Telephone Called” [Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom]
    • Interview: Cindy of Gulfport, MS
  • Steve Weeks – “My Grandpa Gave Me a Hammer ” [Once I Lived Upon the Sea]
    • Interview: Caleb Miles of Bridgetown, NS
  • Caleb Miles – “Satya” [Long Dark Road]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 22nd & 23rd, 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 Suggested Events for August 22nd-28th, 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 29 Community Highlights: Tomato Festival to Corn Fest. Poetry Slam to Zine Camp., 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!

August 22nd-28th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Food FestivalsLiterary ArtsOutdoor AdventuresAgricultural FairsCollaborative ConsumptionPerformance ArtPaleontologyCommunity CelebrationsSocial StudiesLocal HistoryCommunity MealSingingCreative WritingBiologyLEGOsOutdoor Music

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

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 »

29 Community Highlights: Tomato Festival to Corn Fest. Poetry Slam to Zine Camp.

Can’t get enough of ripe, summertime tomatoes? Visit Red Fire Farm‘s Tomato Festival this Saturday, August 22 from 8am-5pm, where you can geek out on all things tomato! Learn through the lens of this juicy fruit!

Tomato Festival to Corn Fest. Poetry Slam to Zine Camp. Harvest Supper to Civics… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlights this week: How many different kinds of corn are there? Which varieties are grown in Western Massachusetts? Explore the different textures and flavors of butter & sugar corn, white corn, and candy corn, among others, at Whitney’s Farm Market‘s 6th annual Corn Fest this Sunday, August 23 from 1pm-5pm ! There will be a corn shucking contest, a corn eating contest, races, a petting zoo, and some delicious corn chowder. Visitors are also invited to bring a jar of homemade pickles (with name and phone number on the jar) to enter in the Pickle Patch competition for a chance to be crowned “best pickle in Berkshire County.” 413-442-4749. 1775 South State Road, Cheshire, MA. (FREE)


Food FestivalsLiterary ArtsOutdoor AdventuresAgricultural FairsCollaborative ConsumptionPerformance ArtPaleontologyCommunity CelebrationsSocial StudiesLocal HistoryCommunity MealSingingCreative WritingBiologyLEGOsOutdoor Music


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for August 22nd-28th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“We just moved back to the Valley, and Hilltown Families has helped us rediscover the Pioneer Valley, now with children, and get to know it again on a deeper level.” – Maria Bianciardi (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.

Bulletin Board

Aug 22

Pioneer Valley Ballet is hosting an Open House on Saturday, August 22, 10am-noon. Tour PVB’s studio in Easthampton, meet the trainers, and sample a class. At 11:30, children ages 4-6 can participate in a free 30-minute Creative Ballet Class—an excellent introduction to PVB’s training programs that create exceptional young dancers. For more information, call 413-527-6363 or visit us online at www.pioneervalleyballet.org

Aug 24

On Monday, Aug 24 from 7:30-8:30pm at the Forbes Library (20 West St., Northampton), Writing & Executive Function Coach, Kim Starkman, will offer a free class, “How to Help Your Child Become a Successful, Confident and Independent Learner: Strategies for School, Work, & Life.” Executive Function (EF) is an umbrella term for how we use our brain to organize, prioritize, plan, self-modulate, sustain attention and complete tasks. These are all skills needed to do well in school, on a job, and in life. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of what EF is and how to help their own children overcome challenges and become more successful, confident & independent learners. For more info call 413-587-1011 or email kimstarkman@gmail.com

Aug 30

Meet Mo Willems and Elephant and Piggie! Join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA (125 West Bay Road), for a fun day with author and artist Mo Willems on Sunday, August 30th beginning at 10am. Meet Mo and get books signed. See new Elephant and Piggie films by Weston Woods! Make art inspired by Mo’s work and get a pigeon tattoo! As a special treat, Herrell’s ice cream will be serving ice cream flavors in honor of Elephant and Piggie! Note: Scheduled films followed by a Mo Willems Q&A are sold out, but films will be repeated throughout the day. See www.carlemuseum.org for more information. 413-658-1105.

Begins Sept 8

Kathryn Kothe Roszko of CyclePottery in Florence will begin new sessions of after-school kids’ (ages 8+) beginner-intermediate wheel throwing classes beginning Sept 8: Tues. from 4-5:30 & Wed. 1:30-3 for 6 weeks. Starting the same week, Bonnie Cooper of bcooperclay will join CyclePottery studio to teach handbuilding classes to teens & adults on Tues. & Wed. nights from 5:30-8. She has 20 years of experience teaching and exhibiting ceramics nationwide. Also, open studios for former students and non-beginners will begin soon on Sundays from 12-3. Both classes are small with 4-6 students max. Visit www.CyclePottery.com for more info and visit CyclePottery on Facebook. Contact Kathryn at 413-219-9594 or kathryn@cyclepottery.com

Begins in Sept

Founded by two Pioneer Valley parents when they lived in Brooklyn, NY, Tinkergarten® has come to Western MA! Tinkergarten provides educational classes for kids ages 18 mos to 8 yrs in the healthiest classroom of all—the outdoors. The program aims to revive the most influential part of childhood — time to tinker in nature. The curriculum is designed to help kids become well-balanced people who can problem-solve, lead, and create. Angela Russo, talented Tinkergarten leader and local mom, is offering Fall classes and free trials in Amherst and Northampton. Learn more about the program and Angela’s classes at http://tkgtn.com/g0ce1. Want to give it a try? Use code hilltownfam15 to save 15% before 9/1. Have questions? Call 805-751-8465.

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12, all day, for a meaningful time 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, Sept 12 , al day, Take Action Against Hunger (National Hunger Action 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)

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
August 22nd-28th, 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 »

Community-Based Education Makes Every Day Back-To-School Day

Hilltown Families: Your Back-to-School Resource, All Year Long!


During the summer months, most children have enjoyed following their interests through outdoor play, reading books they have selected, day-trips with their family, and adventures out in their community. Once late August and early September roll around however, these carefree months of following their own interests and daily rhythms turn towards more organized learning experiences; and for many, the excitement starts to build as families become involved in back-to-school preparations. Maybe this school year will be your child’s first time away from home, or your child is mentally preparing for middle school, or this is their final year in high school… whatever the case, back-to-school can be an exciting time of year for most.

Whether or not your kids are excited about going back to school, or maybe your family homeschools or unschools, that freedom of self-directed learning experienced in the summer months can continue all year round through community engagement outside of the classroom day via community-based education. Read the rest of this entry »

Illustration History: Online Educational Resource & Archive for the Art of Illustration

Online Resource Provides Close-Up Look at the Art of Illustration

All children are familiar with illustrations, even if just from noticing an illustrator’s name noted on the cover of a favorite picture book. Illustration as an art form encompasses much more than images for children’s books; the art of illustration includes the creation of images for everything from advertisements to comic books. Using the Norman Rockwell Museum’s newest online resource, Illustration History, families can learn about the numerous forms of illustration, notable illustrators, and the connections between the art of illustration and history, culture, economics, and technology.

Launched just recently, Illustration History serves as both an educational resource and an archive, broadening the possibilities for learning with an extensive database of images and information about artists and illustration history. Read the rest of this entry »

What to Play?: 25 Undone Family Summer Fun Ideas

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Family Assignment—Have Fun!

We are in the home stretch. I can’t believe school vacation is coming to an end. Our summer went too fast!

We say those words every year so in the spring we made a list of summer ideas. Many we did not get to. Friends popped over. Sleepovers were planned last minute. Some days we just needed to be lazy. Visitors arrived. What to do in the little time we have left? Fun without forcing it. I think we will aim for one thing a day but if we decide to read for hours in the shade or host a sleepover—a different play happens and that is okay too.  Read the rest of this entry »

Sewing Skills Connect Local Culture, Local History, and Self-Sufficiency

Sewing Skills Connect Local Culture, Local History, and Self-Sufficiency

While hand-sewn clothes have largely been replaced by factory-made ones, the ability to sew remains a useful skill. For children, learning to sew can present opportunities not only to learn a new skill, exercise creativity, and hone fine motor skills, but it can lead to community-based learning about local culture and local history, as well!

Learning to sew can be difficult, but by starting small, families can share (or learn together) the basic needle skills necessary for hand sewing. Adults or teens who are able to stitch using a simple needle and thread can share that skill with children, allowing them to learn how to patch together fabrics or perhaps mend their own clothes. Families who have sewing machines at home can share machine skills with older children who are able to control the machine’s pedals, buttons, and dials while still keeping a good stitch pace. Read the rest of this entry »

Teens 101: Getting Things Done

Creating a Different Way Forward

“No one lies on their death bed and wishes they spent more time at the office.”

My dad shared that adage with me at some point in my youth, which was ironic, because my dad sure did spend a lot of time at the office when I was a kid. Luckily he’s not yet on his death bed, and has been making up for it.

Now I share it here, with next generation irony, because my office is wherever my computer is, and I sure do spend a lot of time at it. I am in no position whatsoever to remind anyone that there is more to life than working, because lately, working is my life.

But of course it isn’t. My children are my life, my husband, my family. This is what matters to me. So why is it so hard to put my work away and be with them?  Read the rest of this entry »

Empowering Our Girls: Keeping our Teenage Daughters Safe

12 Essential Tips to Keep Your Teenage Daughter Safe

We all want to feel confident when our teenage daughters go out at night with their friend, knowing they know how to prevent themselves from being in unsafe situations, and how to defend and advocate for themselves when they needed to.  As a teenager, I experienced sexual assault, and now as a mother of a precious ten year old daughter, I do what it takes to keep her safe, including teaching self defense to girls for the past 30 years. Here I am sharing tips on ways we can keep our daughters safe as they navigates through their teenage years, and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Scientists Opportunity: School of Ants

Western MA Families Can Help Scientists Learn About Diversity of Ants Across the United States While Discovering Local Ecology

Adventurous, bug-loving families can help to contribute to ongoing ant research and identification of species by participating in a project called School of Ants. Families are asked to collect ant samples from at least two locations near their home and mail their specimens to an entomology research center.

Ants are amazing…. and sometimes a nuisance – they’re attracted to food when you snack outside, they crawl on your feet when you sit in the grass, and sometimes they’re so brazen as to venture into our homes, snagging sweet treats from our floors, counters, and cupboards. Nuisance though they can be, ants are also fascinating: they can lift enormous amounts of weight, they create a very intricate social structure, and they can live in the most unlikely of places, like cracks in busy city sidewalks.

Ants are one of the least understood crawly critters found around us. There are numerous species of ants found all over North America (and the world!), yet the habits of many of these species have not been extensively researched. Of particular interest to researchers are invasive species of ants – types that have been brought in from other parts of the world and are adversely affecting other populations that they now share an environment with…

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: August 17th-21st, 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 »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 15th & 16th, 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 Suggested Events for Month August 15th-21st, 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 27 Community Highlights: Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals., 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!

August 15th-21st,2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Agricultural FairsWestern MA CultureEarth ScienceLocal HistoryImmigrationClimatologyVisual ArtPaintingLiteracyTeen PartyEntomologyPuppet ShowCommunity ServiceShakespeareOutdoor TheaterCommunity MealWalking GroupsParent SupportWeekday SpotlightDance Studies

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. HFVS Back to School Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  2. 11 Suggestions on How Western MA Families Can Make Wise Back-to-School Purchases
  3. Q&A: Hair Cuts in Western MA
  4. Tips for a New School Year
  5. 6 Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

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 »

27 Community Highlights: Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals.

Many children are inclined to collect stones and shells based on their texture, color, beauty, or interesting features. What makes up these rocks, minerals, and shells, and what can we learn about our planet through these natural objects? Attend the Gaylord Memorial Library‘s “Mother Earth” program to learn all about earth science on Saturday, August 15th at 11am! Geared for children ages 2-5. Registration required. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Immigration to Climatology. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlights this week: Aggie Fair season is upon us! Don’t let these weekend events pass you by without exploring one with your family! The Middlefield Fair, which runs August 14-16, features a 4-H club petting zoo, 4×4 truck pulls, a fiddle contest, a roast pork lunch, and horse pulls on the second day. Learn more about agricultural fairs at Hilltown Families’ posts about youth aggie fair participation and the fairs’ multidisciplinary learning opportunities. 413-623-6027. 7 Bell Road, Middlefield, MA. (< $)


Agricultural FairsWestern MA CultureEarth ScienceLocal HistoryImmigrationClimatologyVisual ArtPaintingLiteracyTeen PartyEntomologyPuppet ShowCommunity ServiceShakespeareOutdoor TheaterCommunity MealWalking GroupsParent SupportWeekday SpotlightDance Studies



Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for Month August 15th-21st, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families is THE best resource for activities for children and families in Western Mass, in my opinion! I have found that you have certain happenings on your page that I had not seen advertised anywhere else! That makes you my ‘go to’ resource! And I really like the areas you cover as well….I can find an activity in Greenfield, Deerfield, Westfield or Springfield…or anywhere on between! You also give very complete information on the events you are suggesting to your audience. What’s not to like? Hilltown Families is THE best!” Christine Bray (Ludlow, 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.

Bulletin Board

Aug 15

Vortex Dance Fitness Studio in Easthampton is holding an Open House on Aug 15 from 11am-1pm for all to come see the studio and talk about kid classes. Vortex teaches cabaret style dance which is a mix of jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip-hop, in a fun, friendly atmosphere. Classes are designed to teach some technique and get students moving, connecting their physical, mental, and emotional selves for optimum well-being. They use a cooperative not competitive approach and hope to foster new friendships while having a wonderful time getting a great workout! Vortex is located on the 2nd floor of the Eastworks Building in Suite 251 right above Riff’s Restaurant in Easthampton, MA. www.vortexdancestudio.com

Aug 24

On Monday, Aug 24 from 7:30-8:30pm at the Forbes Library (20 West St., Northampton), Writing & Executive Function Coach, Kim Starkman, will offer a free class, “How to Help Your Child Become a Successful, Confident and Independent Learner: Strategies for School, Work, & Life.” Executive Function (EF) is an umbrella term for how we use our brain to organize, prioritize, plan, self-modulate, sustain attention and complete tasks. These are all skills needed to do well in school, on a job, and in life. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of what EF is and how to help their own children overcome challenges and become more successful, confident & independent learners. For more info call 413-587-1011 or email kimstarkman@gmail.com

Aug 22

Pioneer Valley Ballet is hosting an Open House on Saturday, August 22, 10am-noon. Tour PVB’s studio in Easthampton, meet the trainers, and sample a class. At 11:30, children ages 4-6 can participate in a free 30-minute Creative Ballet Class—an excellent introduction to PVB’s training programs that create exceptional young dancers. For more information, call 413-527-6363 or visit us online at www.pioneervalleyballet.org

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12, all day, for a meaningful time 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, Sept 12 , al day, Take Action Against Hunger (National Hunger Action 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)

Sep 27

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will once again be holding their 5th Annual Will Bike 4 Food charity cycling event on Sunday, September 27th. You have the opportunity to support their community by riding as an individual or forming a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 3.5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of all ages and levels can get involved. This year’s event will include a new location (Hatfield Lions Club Pavilion), new routes, and the biggest after-party yet with food, beverages, games and live music. To register, or to learn more about Will Bike 4 Food, visit their website at www.willbike4food.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
August 15-21,2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

People-Watching! Supporting Language Arts, Theater & Community Awareness

Late-Summer People-Watching as Inspiration for Young Writers and Thespians

A fun way to learn about a local culture, people-watching can serve as a great tool for young writers and thespians too! The observations made in a particular context can help inspire or contribute to the development or portrayal of a character. Visit some of our suggested people-watching locations!

Inspiration can come in many forms for young writers and creators, and the sparks that ignite the creative process can sometimes come from unexpected places. Often, inspiration can come from experience, allowing works to be created as a result of personal experience, but other times, inspiration needs to come from external sources. A great (and always accessible) source of inspiration is people-watching – an activity that can lead to everything from laughter to critical and reflective observations about human nature.

People-watching is especially useful for young writers and thespians, as close observation of human behavior can help with character development in writing, and can help actors, directors, and costume designers draw from experience when portraying characters from a story. Best when done in a situation in which you are not directly involved, people-watching can allow those to participate to gather useful information about how people move and talk, as well as the choices that they make, the clothes that they wear, and the people who they associate with. People-watching can feel a bit like judging people, but when observations are made through careful, critical thought, they are much more useful than the snap judgments that are sometimes made at first glance, and an excellent way to develop an appreciation and acceptance of the wonderful diversity found in our communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Hunger Action Month Empowers Our Community to Support Food Security

You can take action to support our community during Hunger Action Month

You can ‘Go Orange’ on Thursday, September 3 to help raise awareness of food insecurity. Share your photos on social media, using #HungerAction.

September is Hunger Action Month, a time when the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks unite and ask everyone to take action to fight hunger in their community. It is your opportunity to join a movement that has a real and lasting impact on our effort to feed more people than ever before.

Hunger affects communities all across our region—rural, urban and suburban. In cities and towns across Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, more than 235,000 people struggle with food insecurity. As individuals, charities, businesses and government, we all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need. During Hunger Action Month, you can find a way that’s right for you to make a difference. There are a number of ways to help, including raising awareness of hunger issues, advocating for change, donating food and funds, or volunteering your time and skills. We all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need.

Here are just a few of the opportunities you have to get involved:  Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s “The Outside Inn”

Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s The Outside Inn

Download Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s The Outside Inn

Introduced to readers by a beautiful bug-laden cover, title page, and dedication, George Ella Lyon and Vera Rosenberry’s The Outside Inn is quite obviously a book about nature, and just so happens to be our next installation of our 2015 Summer Reading Resource series. The children who grace the cover and the story’s first page (with a dish-filled wagon in tow) show the story’s connection to childhood – clearly ready to engage in some creative free play, the quartet seem right at home in the muddy puddle in which they have settled at the story’s start. Just as the children begin to dig their muddy meals, narration of their invented game begins. Told in rhymes that beautifully capture children’s imagination and the possibilities for nature-based play, The Outside Inn is not only a silly story for children to enjoy, but it serves as a representation of the mind of a young child.  Read the rest of this entry »

Nature Table for August

A Collection of Experiences

Every month, Hilltown Families features a new nature table whose contents inspire learning along a common theme easily spotted in our surroundings that month. A tradition carried out by teachers, environmental educators, and nature-curious families, nature tables bring a little bit of the outdoors inside for inspection, dissection, identification, creative play, art projects, and lots of other educational activities. The idea behind a nature table is to help open up children’s eyes to the unique attributes of each season, and to help them learn how to see these things in nature for themselves. A nature table can include a variety of items, and is often accompanied by a set of books and/or field guides so that children can take part in further learning at their own will.

So many of this summer’s days have been spent in cold waters underneath an umbrella of green and camp kids I have the privilege of spending time with. The young naturalists leading me through the forests that fill the Nonotuck Biome have reveled in the discovery of everything from water snakes to the perfect walking stick, and have walked with wonder through the process of falling in love with their surroundings. The small discoveries are frequent, serving as the pulse that pushes us further into the river-y veins that give life to our landscape.

It is, however, in examining closely not each small moment but the sum total of all of the small moments that we realize what we have truly learned together: that the earth is alive, and intensely so. When we compile the many experiences that we have had within a day, a week, or a season, we are left not with a stream of images but something larger – something encompassing our entire bodies, our entire consciousness.

Experiencing the seamless flow of life from field to forest to flowing waters with all of our senses allows us to connect the millions of moments we have experienced singularly: the texture of paper birch leaves; the sweet smell of a mushroom-covered nurse log; the chill of river waters moving under a thick canopy; the pattern of sunlight on moss; the maddeningly infinite song of water rushing over rock; and the endless other sensory experiences that light up our synapses when we experience our landscape fully.  Read the rest of this entry »

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