25 Community Highlights: Community Celebrations to Community Service. Science to Art History.

Discover the world of native woodland plants  at Mt. Skinner State Park in Amherst on Tuesday evening, May 20! Mt. Skinner is home to many unique, beautiful, at-risk medicinal plants, in addition to spring ephemerals like Dutchman Britches picture here, medicinal trees, and other woodland plants. This walk would be great for older students who are interested in medicinal plants.

Corn Broom to Native Woodland Plants. Mud Day to Long Meddowe Days. Architecture to Endangered Species… 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: On Monday, May 19th, student volunteers from the Northampton High School Key Club will be making meal packages. The Key Club has teamed up with Kids Against Hunger, a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to providing food for starving and malnourished children and their families locally and around the world. The community-service learning event will take place in the high school cafeteria from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The event will produce between four to five thousand nutritious meals. The Key Club is thankful to Youth Service America and the Disney Friends for Change Program for helping provide funding to purchase the raw ingredients for this event. The NHS Key Club invites students who are at least eight years old and are enthusiastic about making a difference to join them. Pre registration required. Please email the president of the Key Club, Zachary, at zachdietz1@gmail.com to RSVP.


Community CelebrationsSTEMArt/HistoryCommunity ServiceArchitectureImmigrationPoetryMuseum AdventuresAnimal StudiesBusinessSports HistoryLocal HistoryPlant Studies


Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

Community Celebrations

Families can spend time together outdoors with community members and friends at the fifth annual Mud Day celebration at Muddy Brook Elementary School in Great Barrington on Saturday, May 17. This community event connects us to each other, reminds us of the ingredients for a sustainable future,  and gives us a clearer sense of place. There will be tons of outdoor activities for kids, including tug of war, a treasure hunt, mud pie-making, face painting, jump rope, tie dying, and more. Every grade level shares  activities involving recycling, re-using, and reducing waste–melting crayon scraps into new crayons,   pulling garlic mustard (an invasive plant species), for example.  There will also be live music, food from local vendors, and representatives from local organizations. This event is open to the public and is a fundraiser for the school.

Enjoy a day of railroad-themed fun at Chester on Track on Saturday, May 17! This free event begins with a parade through town, then the historic railroad station will be open, and families can visit to learn about the many different type of trains found in Chester and the town’s railway history. The old jail will also be open to visitors, a mineral collection will be on display, there will be reenactors from Storrowton Village, a train show, tractor pull, horse rides, a craft fair, live music, a bake and book sale, and more. Fun community-based educational for all ages!

The 35th Annual Long Meddowe Days celebration takes place Saturday & Sunday, May 17 & May 18 on the Town Green in Longmeadow! The first Long Meddowe Days event took place in 1980 to celebrate the incorporation of Longmeadow in 1783. Families can learn about the town’s long and rich history at this event through tours of various historic sites, like the Olde Burying Yard, Storrs House, and the First Church, and by stopping at the many stations around the Town Green. These stations depict important moments in Longmeadow’s history, either in written or pictorial displays, and its transition from small farming village to modern suburb. In addition to these free community-based educational events, there will also be a pancake breakfast, 5K race/walk, food and craft vendors, kids’ activities, Civil War reenactors, a community campfire, and more.

STEM

Did you know that there’s a computer programming language so easy to use even kids can do it? It’s called Scratch, and it was developed by MIT as an accessible programming language that anyone can use with a little training. There will be a Scratch Day at Forbes Library in Northampton, on Saturday, May 17, where kids ages 7 and up can come learn Scratch and try out programming for free! Kids who are interested in computers and technology will enjoy learning about Scratch from local educators and developers. Make sure to register ASAP – spaces are filling up fast!

What do you think of when you think of robots? C-3PO or R2D2? Transformers? Wall-E? In reality, there are many different types of robots that are used for everything from surgery to helping out on assembly lines. Robots are even used by the military and for educational purposes. Kids in grades 6 and up who are interested in technology and engineering can attend “Robots on the Run!” at the David and Joyce Milne Public Library in Williamstown on Wednesday afternoon, May 21. Staff from the Rhode Island Computer Museum will be at the library to teach kids about robots, circuits, interactive software, and more at this free event. Kids can even bring their own broken electronics to take apart in order to learn more about circuits.

Kids ages 2 ½ to 5 years can explore simple tools and shapes at the STEM Sprouts Explorers free event at the Adams Library on Tuesday afternoon, May 20.  Learning about shapes and magnets can help kids learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Kids ages 3-5 can explore science, technology, engineering, and math at the STEM Sprouts Playgroup at Amelia Park Children’s Museum in Westfield on Thursday morning, May 22! There will be free fun, hands-on activities to get kids engaged in science, technology, engineering and math!

Art/History

Did you miss the Library of American Landscape History’s exhibition  “A Genius For Place” on display at the UMass Libraries?  It’ll be on view next at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA, from Sunday, May 18 through Monday, August 18, 2014.   In the exhibition, historian and founder of LALH Robin Karson and  photographer Carol Betsch explore seven man-made American landscapes  from the early 20th century through photographs of each estate.  One of  the featured estates, Naumkeag, is located in Stockbridge, MA, and is open to the public: a great way  to supplement your study of American landscape history in a local context.  Learn more about the exhibition, the accompanying book, and Naumkeag at the exhibition’s opening reception at Wistariahurst on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 1pm.  Jane Roy Brown, the director of educational outreach at LALH, will give remarks, and the film “Fletcher Steele and Naumkeag: Playground of  the Imagination” will be shown.  Copies of the “A Genius For Place”  book, autographed by Karson and Betsch, will be available for purchase  at the event.  Wistariahurst suggests a donation of $5 per visitor to  benefit the museum’s garden restoration.

The Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is offering a docent-led “mini-tour” on Sunday afternoon, May 18 by Pat McCarthy titled, “American Scene Artists: The New Woman in the Neighborhood.” McCarthy will show and discuss works by women in the museum. Students interested in art and/or women studies can see primary source examples at this hour-long tour at the Springfield Museums.

Community Service

Families with older children can volunteer to help the Pelham Historical Society with Spring cleaning on Saturday morning, May 17! Bring a duster and come prepared to clean the museum in preparation for Summer. Older students can gain valuable experience and gain civic pride for valued resources in their community by helping out at this community service event.

Families with older children can join in a work party at Medicine Mammals. in Wendell on Saturday afternoon, May 17. Come help out with chores, attend an intergenerational community potluck dinner, and enjoy drum and guitar music together.

On Monday, May 19th, student volunteers from the Northampton High School Key Club will be making meal packages. The Key Club has teamed up with Kids Against Hunger, a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to providing food for starving and malnourished children and their families locally and around the world. The event will take place in the high school cafeteria from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The event will produce between four to five thousand nutritious meals. The Key Club is thankful to Youth Service America and the Disney Friends for Change Program for helping provide funding to purchase the raw ingredients for this event. The NHS Key Club invites students who are at least eight years old and are enthusiastic about making a difference to join them. Pre registration required. Please email the president of the Key Club, Zachary, at zachdietz1@gmail.com to RSVP.

Community members can come together on Wednesday morning, May 21 ,to help The Trustees of Reservations prep the Ashley House property in Sheffield for the busy Spring and Summer seasons. Volunteers will work to clean Ashley House, the Elizabeth Freeman Interpretive Center, and the kitchen gardens. Older self-directed students can get their hands dirty helping out and gain experiencing volunteering for this regional organization while learning about the history of the Ashley House.

Architecture

Learn about the architecture of the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton on one of their free building tours on Wednesday afternoon, May 21. Architect Tom Douglas and Academy Technical Director Hugh Hall will teach about the building’s architectural features, its Renaissance style, the use of gas and electric lamps, full-fly hemp system, and more. This tour would be great for older students and adults interested in architecture or in learning about the history behind one of Northampton’s most well-known buildings.

Immigration

What was it like for a German immigrant arriving in western Massachusetts in the early 1900′s? Where would a woman have found work? Where would she have settled in the region? The NCCHP Living History Series will introduce us to German immigrant, Gertrude Failing Groff, with living history docent, Elizabeth Wood, through her free program, “From Stuttgart to Springfield: A Visit in 1911 With a German Immigrant,” on Wednesday evening, May 21, in Granville. Come hear about Gertrude’s experiences sailing to America on the steamship Deutschland and entering the United States through Ellis Island. Find out what searching for employment in the garment industry in 1900 was like and how Gertrude eventually made her way to Springfield. Explore the experiences of the early 20th century immigrants from a sociological and historical perspective as Gertrude Failing Groff begins her quest to start a new life in this country.

Poetry

Emily Dickinson is perhaps Amherst’s most well-known resident throughout history. She was born and raised in the town, spent her life there, and is now buried there. The Emily Dickinson Museum commemorates her death (May 15, 1886) with an annual, free Poetry Walk around Amherst on Saturday afternoon, May 17. Participants will meet at the Museum and share readings of Dickinson’s work at relevant sites around Amherst, such as Dickinson’s North Pleasant Street home, the Evergreens, and her grave in West Cemetery. This year’s walk celebrates romantic love and Dickinson’s poems and letters that reference love. Older students who are fans of Emily Dickinson’s work, or who would like to learn more about her interesting life, lived right here in Amherst, would enjoy this program. Great event in a local context to support an interest in language art and poetry.

Museum Adventures

Saturday, May 17 is Family Fun Day at Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum! This free event is all about the installation, “Animals in the Art of the Ancient Americas.” Kids can learn about these animals and the art they are present in. The animals include alpacas, jaguars, deer, and dogs, all present on pottery and textiles from Central America and the Andes. There will also be family drop-in craft and gallery activities. Discover this great local museum and learn all about animals in art at this fun family-oriented event

The historic house museum, Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum in Hadley, opens on Saturday afternoon, May 17, for its 65th season. Built in 1752 by Moses and Elizabeth Porter, this Museum was central to the 600-acre farmstead known as “Forty Acres.” Today, the property is surrounded by over 350 acres of protected farmland, forest and river frontage. The Museum showcases the activities of a wealthy and productive 18th-century household including numerous artisans, servants and slaves who made “Forty Acres” an important social and commercial link in local, regional and national cultural and economic networks. Since 1799 there have been no structural changes to the house. In the 19th century the house evolved into a rural retreat for the family and in the mid 20th century became an early example of historic preservation. The museum is listed on the National Historic Register and contains the belongings of seven generations of one extended Hadley family.

Animal Studies

What’s the difference between an endangered and an extinct species? The Zoo in Forest Park is holding Endangered Species Day for visitors of all ages. Bring your questions and learn about why it’s important to protect endangered species and how you can help protect them on Saturday, May 17 in Springfield.

Business

What’s a cooperative economy? How do businesses function as a co-op? Real Pickles and Artisan Beverage Cooperative are celebrating their first years as a co-op and they are celebrating on Saturday afternoon, May 17 in Greenfield, along with PV Squared who has been functioning as a co-op for ten years. Old kids can bring their questions and find out how a co-ops functions, and families can take a free factory tour to see how Real Pickles makes their pickles while enjoying music and food.

Sports History

Do you know which baseball player became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball in the United States? Jackie Robinson, of course! Meet Jackie Robinson at a special first-person performance at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge on Saturday evening, May 17. View Murray Tinkelman’s player-signed artworks, then enjoy this educational and fascinating performance all about the life of Jackie Robinson. Older students who are interested in baseball and American history are invited to this living history performance

Local History

Before 1797, brooms in America were mostly hand-made from branches and brush.  Beginning in the early 1800’s, the cultivation of the broom corn plant began, finding it’s way to the Pioneer Valley during the first half of the 19th century. Professor George Ashley presents, “Made in the Happy Valley – The Corn Broom Industry in Hatfield and Hadley” at the Wistariahurst Museum, discussing the popular broom corn industry that existed in the early 19th Century in Hatfield and Hadley. Farmers grew sorghum, a plant closely farmers called broom corn, and removed the stiff tassels from the tops of the plants to use as the bristles for round brooms. The popularity of these brooms died out once flat brooms started being produced. Older students interested in local history and industry will enjoy learning about the rise, peak, and fall of this cash crop grown in early Pioneer Valley history.

Join Storrowton Village for an interactive tour, Storrowton and the Civil War, on Tuesday evening, May 20. This tour will give you a look into the past at what life was like for New Englanders during the Civil War. You can sit in on a recruitment meeting, speak with a blacksmith about the increase of manufacturing during the war, hear from women about sewing and making clothes, learn about how the war affected families, and what the impact on local industries was. Best for older teens and adults.

Gravestone Girls will be at the Chicopee Public Library on Tuesday evening, May 20, with a free virtual tour of Chicopee’s cemeteries. Older students will love learning about Chicopee’s history, some interesting local cemeteries, grave art, and monuments.

Plant Studies

Discover the world of native woodland plants with Brittany Wood Nickerson of Thyme Herbal at Mt. Skinner State Park in Amherst on Tuesday evening, May 20! Mt. Skinner is home to many unique, beautiful, at-risk medicinal plants, in addition to spring ephemerals, medicinal trees, and other woodland plants. This walk would be great for older students who are interested in medicinal plants.


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Ashfield, Bernardston, Charlemont/Hawley, Chesterfield, Conway, Heath, Leyden, Montague, Montgomery, South Hadley and Shutesbury Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

[Photo credit: (cc) Bill Bumgarner]

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