Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured learning highlight this week: Did you know that Hawley has a rich geologic history? From pillow rocks to a 25-foot by 25-foot charcoal kiln, Hawley has plenty of interesting geology to learn about! You can explore Hawley’s geology with the Sons and Daughters of Hawley at their annual Hawley tour, “The Bedrock of our Foundation: Rocks and Gardens of Hawley,” on Saturday, June 28. Bud Wobus, Professor of Geology at Williams College, will speak about Hawley’s many interesting rocks and geologic features. Participants can also see and learn about the town’s charcoal kiln, which dates back to 1870 and was used to produce charcoal fuel for local industry. Older students interested in local history and geology would enjoy this fascinating and unique tour.
4th of July ♦ Geology ♦ Bird Studies ♦ History ♦ Museum Adventures ♦ Dance ♦ Astronomy ♦ Plant Studies ♦ Outdoor Adventures ♦ Community Celebrations ♦ Reading & Writing ♦ STEM ♦ Community Service ♦ Maps ♦ Agriculture
Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
From the state where the American Revolution began, families can take part in the multitude of Fourth of July celebrations happening in western Massachusetts beginning this weekend! Fireworks are happening in Holyoke on Friday, June 27, and four more displays are planned for Saturday, June 28. On the eve for July 4th, you can catch fireworks in Easthampton or South Hadley, and then on Friday, July 4th, fireworks and parades take place across the region, from North Adams to Springfield! Check our post, 2014 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western Massachusetts, for all the details!
Did you know that Hawley has a rich geologic history? From pillow rocks to a 25-foot by 25-foot charcoal kiln, Hawley has plenty of interesting geology to learn about! You can explore Hawley’s geology with the Sons and Daughters of Hawley at their annual Hawley tour, “The Bedrock of our Foundation: Rocks and Gardens of Hawley,” on Saturday, June 28. Bud Wobus, Professor of Geology at Williams College, will speak about Hawley’s many interesting rocks and geologic features. Participants can also see and learn about the town’s charcoal kiln, which dates back to 1870 and was used to produce charcoal fuel for local industry. Older students interested in local history and geology would enjoy this fascinating and unique tour.
Learn all about volcanoes at M.N. Spear Memorial Library on Wednesday evening, July 2! Kids can come build their own volcano in the first part of this free three-part volcano series taking place in Shutesbury.
Did you know that Northfield’s Barton Cove is home to a family of bald eagles? Their nest was constructed 26 years ago and three eaglets successfully fledged from the nest for the first time ever last summer. You can learn about these eagles (and this year’s eaglets) and hope to catch a glimpse with Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center on a Family Eagle Expedition on Saturday morning, June 28. Families can use tandem kayaks to explore Barton Cove and study the interesting plant and animal species that live there. Get kids interested in kayaking and other outdoor activities, while giving them a rare chance to see these eagles and eaglets up close!
Discover Northampton’s fascinating connections to the anti-slavery movement on a walking tour hosted by Historic Northampton and the David Ruggles Center, “A Walking Tour of Abolition Era Sites in Downtown Northampton,” with Steve Strimer on Saturday morning, June 28. This 1.5-mile walking tour will take you from Elm Street to Old South Street and will show you many of Northampton’s interesting historic sites, including the house where the Catherine Linda slave case played out, where author and abolitionist Lydia Maria Child briefly lived, the homes of two supposed Underground Railroad conductors, and City Hall, where ten former slaves called on the town to refuse the Fugitive Slave Act. This walking tour will engage older students and adults in local history, teaching about how the abolitionist movement played out in Western Massachusetts.
Later in the afternoon on Saturday, June 28th, again, join the David Ruggles Center, this time for a reading of Frederick Douglass’ “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro,” a speech initially delivered on July 5, 1852, in response to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This free communal reading takes place on the Amherst Town Common and will teach students about American history.
Play some interesting historical games at the Mason Library in Great Barrington on Saturday, June 28. You can learn about historical miniature games and how to play them. An interesting lesson in the history of games!
The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College has an impressive collection of art, including American and European paintings, Mexican ceramics, Tibetan scroll paintings, ancient Assyrian carvings, West African sculpture, and others. You can learn about their permanent collection and special exhibitions at “It’s Cool at the Mead,” the museum’s series of free gallery talks, every Thursday at 2pm and every Friday at 11am until August 22. Each gallery talk will cover a different topic, making this is a great way to learn about the museum’s many unique works of art and overarching themes. Art-lovers of all ages can discover what the museum has to offer and learn about art history at these fun and informative gallery talks.
Dance lessons! Learn jazz, hip hop, swing, ballet, salsa, bellydance, and more at the Sunderland Library on Wednesday evening, July 2. Open to kids ages 10-18. No dance experience is required at this free event, so this is a great chance to try something new!
Jacob’s Pillow in Becket is a dance center, school and performance known for the oldest internationally acclaimed Summer dance festival in the United States. On Friday afternoon, July 4th, Jacob’s Pillow is offering an afternoon of free activities for families as part of Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays! There will be kids’ dance activities, a kid-friendly tour of the grounds, a free outdoor performance by Yin Yue Dance Company, arts and crafts, stories, family dance classes, and more. This is a great chance for families to explore Jacob’s Pillow together!
Learn about astronomy at the Pelham Library on Wednesday evening, July 2. The Springfield Museums’ mobile, inflatable planetarium will be at the library for a free star program.
Join Acorn Kitchen for a wild food walk and tasting at Knightville Basin in Huntington on Saturday morning, June 28. Learn about and try several different species of wild plants on this walk. Best for older students interested in edible wild plants.
Grow Food Amherst will have a special free event for kids each week at the Amherst Wednesday Market in Kendrick Park. This week on Wednesday afternoon, July 2, kids can learn how to become a “fungi ally.”
Learn about mushrooms at Bascom Lodge atop Mt. Greylock with John Wheeler, founder of the Berkshire Mycological Society, on Wednesday evening, July 2. This free talk will focus on identification, seasons, and typical habitats of local mushrooms. Best for older students interested in learning about mushrooms and their various habitats.
Join the Great Falls Discovery Center for Bike Path Bingo, a free canal-side nature walk for kids on Saturday morning, June 28 in Turners Falls. Kids will learn about the natural world using binoculars, field guides, and a fun game to test their observation skills.
The Housatonic Valley Association is offering a free paddle trip on the Housatonic River on Wednesday afternoon, July 2 in Stockbridge! Families with children ages 6 and up can paddle through Historic Stockbridge and see the Stockbridge Country Club and the Norman Rockwell Museum, learn about the River’s fascinating wildlife, and more.
Hampshire Regional CFCE is holding a free Beginning of Summer Celebration at the Westhampton Public Library for all kids ages 8 and under on Saturday morning, June 28. There will be presentations by Mad Science, a StoryWalk (Frank Asch’s Water), art and fine motor activities, time to play in the water, snacks, and free book for every child.
Families can come to The Mount in Lenox for a free Community Garden Party on Sunday, June 29. Tour the house, explore the grounds, and participate in all-ages activities The Downtown Pittsfield Farmers’ Market will also be on site selling local produce and goods. Family members of all ages will love getting to explore this local landmark on this day of fun!
Looking for a fun event for the whole family? Get a head start on your Independence Day celebrations at Sheep Hill in Williamstown with the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation’s Firefly Hike, Music, and Campfire event on Thursday evening, July 3! Families can go on a hike in search of fireflies, hear a live performance by local musician Mike Quinones, roast marshmallows, and spend time with friends and community members. This event is a great opportunity to become acquainted with the Sheep Hill property and the work being done by the WRLF. It is also a unique and engaging low-cost event for the entire family.
Kids in grades 5-12 can come to the Sunderland Public Library for a free writing workshop on Tuesday evening with different authors and illustrators. Practice your writing skills and do creative writing exercises. Runs every Tuesday through July 29.
You and your child can work together to develop pre-reading skills at the free “Every Child Ready to Read” workshop on Wednesday morning, July 2 in Great Barrington. This free workshop is for kids birth-age through five years and runs every Wednesday until July 30. The workshop includes a literacy workshop, storytime, and playgroup. This is a great chance to introduce your young child to the world of reading!
CFCE is offering a free STEM program for young children at the Rowe Town Library on Saturday morning, June 28. Come learn about science, technology, engineering, and math, do hands-on activities, and take home a STEM kit to continue learning at home.
The Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield presents a science program by Keith Michael Johnson, “Science Isn’t Always Pretty,” on Tuesday afternoon, July 1. He will do show and tell, share fun facts, and more. This event is great for kids 5 and up and connects with the summer reading theme of “Fizz, Boom, Read!”
Food security is an important issue in Massachusetts with 1/5 kids classified as “food insecure.” It often happens when children are out of school that parents have financial difficulty making up the lost ground that was given by free school meals. Families can help in closing this summer meal gap by joining us at an intergenerational Family Volunteer event at The Food Bank of Massachusetts in Hatfield on Tuesday, July 1, for a family volunteer day. Help fight food insecurity in our region by helping the Food Bank sort food donations, tour the Food Bank warehouse, and meet other community members working to fight hunger. Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to come help out at this intergenerational event; kids 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Youth ages 8 and up can attend Map Camp with Joey Chernila at the Mason Library in Great Barrington, Monday, June 30 through Thursday, July 3. Learn how to make artistic and informative maps using the Mason’s children’s book collection for inspiration and Great Barrington’s Main Street for information.
Join CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) for a tour of Pomeroy’s Vegetable Farm and Meadowbrook Farm on Sunday, June 29. Families can come tour these two local farms and learn about how they operate, what they grow, and can pick peas, carrots, and strawberries. This is a great opportunity to get kids engaged in local agriculture by touring two local farms. BYO picnic.
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.