Shaker Song to Gospel Music. Sojourner Truth to George Washington. Arctic Wolves to Mountain Lions… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!
Celebrate George Washington’s birthday at Old Sturbridge Village during President’s Day Weekend. Saturday, February 16th-Monday, February 18th. There will be special toasts, presidential games, and performances of “I Cannot Tell a Lie: Celebrating the Accomplishments of George Washington in Story and Song.” Families will learn about the life and accomplishments (ones we all know and ones we don’t!) of our country’s first president. It’s a great opportunity for younger students who are just beginning to learn about American history to learn some fun facts about George Washington.
How did New Englanders keep their food cold and enjoy cool drinks during the summertime, before the invention of refrigerators? With ice, harvested from local lakes and ponds! Take part in a traditional ice harvest on Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton, rescheduled from last week to this Saturday. This free event will allow visitors to learn about the annual harvests that were once an important winter activity in New England, and will teach them about the many different instruments used to cut the ice and how they were transported. Perfect for families interested in local history, or as a supplement to studies of life and culture in early America.
The Academy of Music in Northampton hosts a performance of “Truth,” a new American folk-opera about Sojourner Truth, a legendary (and historically quite significant!) African-American heroine on Saturday evening. The musical will teach students not only about the history of the abolition movement, but will introduce them to a different style of musical – one that is not pop or classical opera, but that draws from traditional folk music in order to tell a story.
What can you say with a fan? Waving one at yourself signals that it’s hot outside, but other motions historically communicated a lot more! On Thursday morning, February 21st, visitors to the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke will be able to see and learn about a variety of antique fans and about the Victorian art of communicating with fans.
Homemade dinner is always delicious – but it’s even better when you cook it over an open hearth! Old Sturbridge Village is hosting a special open hearth cooking event for families Wednesday evening, February 20th, where kids ages 8+ and their accompanying adults can work together to prepare and eat their own 1830’s-style dinner. Traditional recipes will be used to make delicious food including mulled cider, stuffed roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and more. The workshop will be lead by costumed historians, and will be a collaborative effort. Great for families learning about American history and culture.
Learn to make some simple treats for a tea party at the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington! on Monday morning, February 18th. This free event is just for kids – they’ll learn to make blood orange curd, a delicious spread best enjoyed on top of scones (some of which will be provided) and with tea!
Meet a wolf up close and personal at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Tuesday afternoon, February 19th! The Wolf Conservation Center brings their 10-year-old Arctic Gray Wolf, Atka, to the museum for visitors to greet and learn about.
The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater comes to the Colonial Theater on Tuesday afternoon in Pittsfield! Made up entirely of rescued animals, the group performs a wide array of circus tricks, accompanied by human clowns and jugglers. The animals are all found in shelters, and have been incredibly well trained (and well loved!) in order to prepare for the performances – families will love the animals’ tricks!
Older students (16+) can learn all about the history of mountain lion tracking in North America tonight at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on Friday evening, February 22nd in Easthampton. Tracker and photographer Sue Morse will share a presentation on her experiences searching for (and finding!) one of the most beautiful and rare North American mammals.
Northampton Recreation is offering a special workshop for kids who love LEGOS on Saturday morning, February 16th! The Play-Well LEGO team will be at JFK Middle School in Florence for a workshop where kids can solve challenges using electronic LEGO Technic components! It’s a great activity for older students who are interested in learning how to expand their LEGO building hobby.
The East Longmeadow Library is hosting a free LEGO playtime on Tuesday afternoon, February 19th, where kids can use a variety of blocks to create masterpieces inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are!
The Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield invites any school aged LEGO enthusiast to share ideas and creative energy during monthly meetings of their LEGO Club. This Wednesday afternoon, February 20th, the theme will be “Zoo and Farm Animals.” Enjoy an hour of socializing with other LEGO fanatics, listening to music, using your imagination and sharing your ideas with your peers.
In preparation for the Science and Sustainability Expo happening on April 13, there will be a free Green Dollhouse Workshop for parents, educators and youth accompanied by a parent on Wednesday, February 20th in Greenfield. In this workshop, you will get started on building your own Green Dollhouse to enter in the Green Dollhouse Challenge at the Science and Sustainability Expo. You will exchange ideas, make plans, and explore materials. Share knowledge and learn about green building features and sustainable landscapes.
Teens interested in learning to use digital media for artistic expression (for film, photo, or audio) can take part in the Springfield Library’s Teen Technology Minicamp during school vacation week! Running Monday-Wednesday afternoons, February 18th-20th, the free camp partners the library with WGBY to bring participants a wealth of technological knowledge. Teens will learn to use programs such as iMovie, Audacity, and Photoshop, and will be able to complete at least one finished project. Pieces can even be entered into the Central Library’s Creative Arts Festival in June. Takes place at the Mason Square Library.
Celebrate Mardi Gras as a family at the Winklepicker Family-Friendly Ball in Ashfield on Saturday afternoon, February 16th. This family-friendly event will feature live music from The Primate Fiasco, the valley’s own New Orleans-style street band. Takes place upstairs at Ashfield Town Hall.
Celebrate the Lunar New Year, as celebrated in China, Korea, and Vietnam on Sunday afternoon, February 17th! The Asian Cultural Center of Vermont is celebrating the holiday at the River Garden in Brattleboro, VT. There will be a wide variety of crafts and other activities from which to learn about cultural traditions, and families can bring an item to share at a potluck (try cooking a new Asian recipe for some kitchen skills practice!). The festival will be visited by a 30-foot dragon – the most exciting part of the event by far! No knowledge of Asian cultures is necessary – it’s a free event for fun and learning.
Wondrous Tales of Old Japan – a collection of four short Japanese Kabuki-style folktales – takes the stage at the Williston Northampton School this week! Students will perform the kid-friendly show every afternoon this week, February 18th-23rd, in special arrangement with Plays for Young Children. Takes place in the Williston Theater in Easthampton.
Visit Treehouse in Pittsfield on Friday morning, February 22nd for some old fashioned Shaker song and dance! Families can learn traditional Shaker music, lyrics, and movements, and can see the exhibition of photographs of Shaker life on display in the store as part of the 10×10 festival.
During Purim, it is a tradition to send gifts and food to neighbors! On Friday morning, February 22nd in Northampton, learn about this tradition – called mishloach manot – with Lander Grinspoon Academy kindergarten teacher Amy Meltzer, while playing Purim games, singing songs, and doing crafts!
The Jones Library in Amherst comes alive Saturday morning with the sounds of Markamusic, a high energy band playing South American and Latin American influenced folkloric music.
The Pan African Historical Museum USA is celebrating Black History Month with Tower Square all month long. On Saturday afternoon, February 16th, learn about the history of gospel music at a Gospel Cafe in Springfield.
Learn about the roots of (and connections between) American blues music and jazz tap dancing with Robin O’Herin and Stefanie Weber at Spectrum Playhouse in Lee on Sunday afternoon, February 17th! Best for older students, the workshop will include lots of fun music and dancing, and requires no prior experience! Dancers of all abilities are welcome.
The Springfield Museums celebrate Feel the Beat Week during school vacation week, filling the museums with exciting music-related performances, activities, and more. Families can explore the GUITAR exhibit and learn about the more than 60 instruments displayed. The Okra Dance Company presents American Dance from Africa to Broadway, an exploration of the African and European roots of stage dance performance.
Images Cinema screens this year’s crop of Oscar-nominated animated shorts – a group of five interesting and funny family-friendly short films on Saturday, February 16th in Williamstown. Kids will love the collection, and the films are short enough to hold antsy kids’ attention (though they are recommended for ages 8+). Older students interested in animation and film studies can learn about the art of film by seeing the shorts – designated as the year’s best.
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will screen Mary Poppins on the big screen on Sunday afternoon, February 17th in Great Barrington! Mary Poppins (1964, G) is a musical film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Andrews won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance and the film also won Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, Original Music Score, and Best Song (for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”).
Dress as your favorite character from The Wizard of Oz and visit The Clark in Williamstown for an afternoon of singing along to Sing-Along Wizard of Oz, a combination of theater and film remastered for the big screen. Happens on Thursday afternoon, February 21st.
Celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day at Springfield College on Saturday, February 16th! Girls will be able to try out and learn about new sports for free, and will learn about playing higher level sports from some dedicated female college athletes. After the event, participants can cheer on the Springfield College women’s basketball team as they take on MIT. Open to girls in grades K-6.
The game of volleyball has local roots! Learn about how it was developed, as well as the evolution of the sport, by visiting the Volleyball Hall of Fame for free in Holyoke on Friday afternoon, February 22nd.
Meet the Springfield Falcons hockey team on Wednesday afternoon, February 20th in Springfield, and take a shot on their goalie! Tower Square is hosting this free off-ice event, where kids can take part in stickhandling games, get autographs from the players, and do other fun hockey-related activities.
Northampton Recreation is offering supervised open basketball in the gym at JFK Middle School in Florence on Thursday morning, February 21st. Stop by to shoot some baskets!
Enjoy an afternoon of adaptive skating and ice games on Thursday, February 21st at Fitzpatick Arena in Holyoke! The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is sponsoring this free event, where ice sleds and walkers will be available, as well as regular skates, and wheelchairs can be brought right onto the ice. There will be low-key games of broomball, races, and other fun skating games.
The Berkshire Museum and Pop-up Adventure Play offer families a special opportunity for creative free-play throughout school vacation week in Pittsfield! 10 Days of Play brings a roomful (literally!) of materials to build anything a child’s heart desires – cardboard boxes abound, along with necessary items like scissors and duct tape. Families can build castles, mazes, space ships, and other fantastic creations together, allowing kids to exercise their creativity, take part in non-commercialized educational play, and work on skills for cooperation and collaboration. Kids can play at the museum multiple times, too- every day brings a new adventure.
The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, a community supported art-making space, is offering a drop-in mixed-media art program during school vacation week. Bring your kids and their friends to paint, draw, collage, make puppet, small sculptures.. you name it! Loads of opportunities for creative free art play!
Berkshire Theater Group presents Pinnochio at the Berkshire Museum, Monday-Friday, February 18th-22nd in Pittsfield. There will be performances every morning throughout the week, allowing families lots of opportunities to see a theatrical version of the classic children’s story.
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School presents, Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst during school vacation week! And it’s not the usual Goldilocks either – there are some extra characters whose roles and identities will be quite a surprise!
Find out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.