These are just a few of the community 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 learning highlight this week: Ask your child what a family would have done in the 1800’s if their home caught on fire before the invention of modern day fire departments. They might have had to rely on private fire brigades, but only if their home had a fire insurance mark! Learning about the history of the occupation of a fireman gives a unique perspective into the history of our country and the development of technology. This year’s Storrowtown Village‘s First Person Presentation is “A Fireman of 1899 – His Life and Job,” presented by retired firefighter, teacher, and historian William Moss on Friday evening, January 17th in West Springfield. Moss will be at Storrowtown, dressed in period costume, to discuss the lives and challenges of 19th century firefighters, taking families through a typical day in the life of a fireman during the 1800′s. To further your learning at home, tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show Firefighter Episode with guest DJs, Chicago Firefighters John and Pete. A fun radio show/podcast for the whole family!
STEM ♦ Animal Advocacy ♦ Immigration ♦ Creative Free Play ♦ History ♦ Psychology ♦ Nature Studies ♦ Parent Workshops ♦ Community Service ♦ Contemporary Art
STEM education continues out of school at our area libraries this week, via LEGOs & marshmallows! Kids ages 6 and up can come to the Sunderland Public Library for a free LEGO Club on Saturday morning, January 11th. LEGOs are a great creative medium for kids interested in design and architecture, and can help them develop their own creative stories based on characters and structures that they build. Then on Monday afternoon, January 13th, kids can have a free hands-on learning experience with engineering and design by making their very own marshmallow catapults at the Westfield Athenaeum. This interactive opportunity will make kids think about the physics of motion and potential energy… even if they don’t realize it! Who knew marshmallows could serve as a gateway to science!
Do you consider yourself an advocate for animal welfare? Do your kids bring home every stray cat or dog (or fledgling) with whom they cross paths? Having an understanding of the history of the movement to prevent cruelty towards animals can help animal lovers young and old feel more rooted in their understanding and support of animal welfare. Berkshire Humane Society will host Diane Beers, Ph.D., author of “For the Prevention of Cruelty: The History and Legacy of Animal Rights Activism in the United States” (Ohio University Press, 2006.), as part of their free Coffee Hour Speaking Series on Sunday afternoon, January 12th in Pittsfield. Older students can learn about the animal welfare movement in the United States as Dr. Beers traces its history from its earliest beginnings until the 1970’s.
This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield is, “One Hundred Years of Jewish Life in the Valley: From Shtetl to Suburb,” presented by Dr. Stuart A. Anfang of Temple Beth El on Thursday at noon, January 16th. The story of Jewish immigrants and their work to develop a thriving community over the last century is a fascinating tale of courage, hard work, and perseverance. Their story is unique, but also emblematic of the challenges faced by so many immigrant groups throughout America’s history. Dr. Anfang will discuss the struggles and triumphs of Jewish immigrants and their descendants in the Valley during the late 19th and 20th centuries. Older self-directed learners interested in Jewish culture and local history will benefit from this presentation.
Put a little (if not, then a lot!) of creative free play into your child’s day! Families are invited to “Parents and Kids: Making Messy Art Together,” a free workshop on Thursday morning, January 16th at the Ware Family Center. Come be creative and explore artistic possibilities with paints, doughs, crayons, chalk, and collage. These activities can help develop fine motor skills while allowing kids the opportunity to be creative and messy… promote emotional well-being while giving them a positive way to express their feelings. If you join in, scribbles and blobs of paint can be cut into hearts and made into handmade valentines! Sign up and swap them with friends and neighbors participating in the Hilltown Families 6th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap!
The Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History‘s permanent collection includes the Esta Manthos Indian Motorcycle Collection with artifacts, memorabilia and photographs of the production of Indian Motorcycles in Springfield in the early 1900′s, the Automobile Gallery with motorcar artifacts and antique automobiles once manufactured in the Pioneer Valley, and the Granville Brothers Aircraft display with artifacts of aviation history of the Valley. It’s a great local resource for supplementing interests in local history, industry and transit technology. On Sunday early afternoon, January 12th, the museum is offering an informal docent-led “mini-tour” on bicycles, motorcycles, and airplanes. Take in a tour and learn about local history through the lens of transportation.
Ask your child what a family would have done if their home caught on fire before the invention of modern day fire departments. They might have had to rely on private fire brigades if their home caught on fire, sometimes times passed over by firemen if their home did not have a fire insurance mark. Learning about the history of the occupation of a fireman gives a unique perspective into the history of our country and the development of technology. This year’s Storrowtown Village‘s First Person Presentation is “A Fireman of 1899 – His Life and Job,” presented by retired firefighter, teacher, and historian William Moss on Friday evening, January 17th in West Springfield. Moss will be at Storrowtown, dressed in period costume, to discuss the lives and challenges of 19th century firefighters, taking families through a typical day in the life of a fireman during the 1800′s. To further your learning at at home, tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show Firefighter Episode with guest DJs, Chicago Firefighters John and Pete. A fun radio show/podcast for the whole family!
The Stockbridge Library presents a talk by Dr. Jonathan Aronoff, entitled “The Lost Generation of Boys,” as part of their free Sunday Speaker Series on Sunday afternoon, January 12th. Aronoff is a licensed psychologist, psychoanalyst, and personal coach who focuses on adolescent and young adult males. His talk is about the current trend of immaturity, impatience, passivity, and/or abusive, violent, and aggressive behaviors displayed by many young men and boys who gravitate towards technologically-driven activities as a way to withdraw from the real world. Aronoff will discuss factors that have contributed to this trend and possible ways that adults can socialize and mentor boys to help steer them from this path.
Do you ever wonder what certain animals do in the winter? Or what the difference is between hibernation and dormancy? Why some animals come out in the winter and others you won’t see until the spring? Mass Audubon is hosting an indoor/outdoor Winter Wildlife Program for children 5 and up at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday morning, January 11th in Easthampton. Play a game to learn about hibernation, migration, and sleepers, and learn which animals stick around for the winter and how they survive the cold. Add some chemistry to your animal studies at the Sanctuary and join in the making of a jello animal and see how it fares in the cold weather!
What signs of nature and animal behavior can young naturalist discover in the winter months? Nature-lovers of all ages are invited to explore the outdoors with the Trustees of Reservations and naturalist Kevin Kopchynski at Peaked Mountain in Monson on Saturday, January 11th. Look for tracks in the snow, identify winter weeds, ask questions about ice formations, and discover a rich world of outdoor learning in the winter!
Want to stay inside where it’s warm but still want to take your kids out to learn about their natural surroundings? Take a closer look at one of our local watersheds at the Great Falls Discovery Center’s, “Watershed Investigators,” a free family indoor program where kids can learn new ways to look at and understand the world around them using games, crafts, exploration, etc. Designed to best fit students in grades 2-5, but all ages are welcome. Takes place on Saturday early afternoon, January 11th in Turners Falls.
A great hands-on opportunity for children to learn about the lifecycles of insects, the importance of local habitat, and how “grow” their own food is to keep bees with their family! Learn about beekeeping at the Amherst Winter Farmers’ Market on Saturday early afternoon, January 11th. Emma Golden is offering a free workshop, “Bee Prepared – A Primer on Backyard Beekeeping.” Families can learn the basics of backyard beekeeping and what it takes to become a backyard beekeeper themselves!
Does your child struggle with reading or spelling? Leslie Chalmers Gravel, a licensed and certified speech and language therapist, will be at the Forbes Library in Northampton on Saturday morning, January 11th, to present “Help for Struggling Readers and Spellers of All Ages: Teaching for Understanding.” This workshop is designed to help parents and educators learn how to help struggling readers by learning about the purpose of English spelling, sounding out words, and analyzing the structure and meaning of words.
Are you interested in becoming involved in your local government, or learning how local government operates? The Amherst League of Women Voters is offering a brown bag talk – How to Run for Office or Join a Town Committee in Amherst – with Sandra Burgess, Town Clerk, and Diana Stein, Select Board Member on Tuesday at 12noon at the Bangs Community Center. Those who attend can learn what it takes to run for office and/or join committees… a great opportunity for older self-directed learners to learn about local government and how it get involved in their local community.
What time do your kids go to bed? What time do they get up? Do they nap? These are all questions parents of young children find themselves discussion with other parents of young children. The Westfield Athenaeum is offering a free workshop for parents on sleep development in young children on Thursday evening. Alice Barber from the Behavioral Health Network will be at the library to discuss the science of sleep, how much sleep is enough, and what happens when kids get too little sleep.
Teachable moments are a golden opportunity to teach kids something, anywhere, on the spot. It can happen at any time, in everyday places we all go. It can happen in a car, at the mall, around the kitchen table, at the post office, in the yard, on a plane, in an elevator, at the beach – anywhere you can imagine. All kids are naturally curious and teachable moments are a perfect way to give them our attention. On Thursday evening, the Jones Library in Amherst presents a free parenting talk with Dr. Connie Hebert titled, “Catching Teachable Minutes with Kids.” The talk is for parents, grandparents, guardians, and anyone else who takes care of or spends time with children. Dr. Hebert will discuss “the teachable minute,” helping parents become experts at catching teachable moment so they can interact with kids of all ages, anytime and anywhere.
Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Next Friday afternoon, January 17th, Hilltown Families will be hosting a free Family Community Service Night with The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls. We are inviting families to join us for an evening of DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition. Come with an outgrown felted wool sweater, and/or fleece outerwear to be repurposed into easy-to-sew mittens and scarves to donate to New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT).
Saturday, January 11th, is a great day to take in contemporary art at MASS MoCA in North Adams. The museum will be hosting a day long free day with art-making, dance performances, roaming musicians, gallery tours, and more. Check out the exhibit, Freedom: Just Another Word For…, with contemporary works gathered under the theme of freedom, and contemporary Canadian art in the exhibit, Gisele Amantea: Democracy, featuring artists from nearly every province and territory across Canada, among many many other contemporary art exhibits. From brick-wall to brick-wall in this 200 year old National Historic Registered complex, there will be something for all ages to enjoy… for free!
Find out about these events and many 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.
[Photo credit: (cc) Angelo DeSantis]