41 Community Highlights: Straw Rockets to Storytelling. Candyland to Bread Baking.

The Trustees of Reservations and the Hilltown Land Trust are teaming up to offer a day full of Snowshoe Shenanigans at Notchview on Saturday, February 14, 10am-2pm! There will be a 1K snowshoe race, a snowshoe relay race, an obstacle course for kids, sledding, snow sculptures, a snowshoe hike, a bonfire, and other winter fun. Cost includes a day pass to Notchview. Pre-register. 413-628-4485 x4. Route 9. Windsor, MA. ($$)

Porcupines to Arctic Gray Wolf. Candyland to Bread Baking. Straw Rockets to Storytelling… 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: 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 will be held approximately once a month on various days and times. Participation is free and open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Tuesday, February 17 from 6-8pm. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (FREE)


Animal StudiesTrackingCreative-Free PlayCulinary ArtsSTEMOrnithologyHistoryStorytellingFamily PerformancesService-Based LearningAviationPreschool Highlights


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Animal Studies

Porcupines and fishers are two common mammals that are not frequently seen out and about in the same way that other mammals like deer or squirrels. Learn how to track them with Mass Audubon and Williamsburg Woodland Trails at their “Tracking the Porcupine and Fisher” program at Graves Farm on Saturday, February 14 from 10am-1pm. Participants will learn how to read and interpret the tracks and sign of these mammals, and then follow their tracks to learn about their behavior, where they went, who they were with, and what they ate. Learning how to interpret animal tracks can turn a regular hike into an exciting, mystery-solving adventure as you try to identify the tracks and see where they go. This program is best for older students and adults. Call Mass Audubon at 413-584-3009 to register. Graves Farm is on Adams Road in Williamsburg, MA. ($$)

Hopkins Memorial Forest will host an animal tracking adventure on Saturday, February 14, 10am-3pm. Naturalist and tracker Dan Yacobellis of Tamakoce Wilderness Adventures, trained in the ancient art of tracking by the Lakota people of in South Dakota, will lead participants in the field to look for tracks of native Berkshire wildlife. The program will be focused on following tracks in the outdoors, however there will be opportunities to go indoors to warm up and review some of the fundamentals of tracking and animal behavior. Space is limited and interested participants are asked to make a reservation by contacting the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College. It is appropriate for people of all ages. dlewis@williams.edu. 413-597-2346. Hopkins Memorial Forest. 271 Northwest Hill Road. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

The Springfield Museums have tons of fun activities for school vacation week, including a Wolf Talk on Tuesday, February 17, 11am. Wolf Talk Educational Programs will present this talk, which includes information about wolves, wolf behavior, eating habits, and pack structure. A live Ambassador Wolf will be present, as well as skulls, furs, and more. The talk is a great supplement to the Science Museum’s Animal Secrets exhibit. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Discover the amazing lives of wolves and the many roles they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems at the Berkshire Museum on Wednsday, February 18, 1pm! Atka, an 11-year-old Arctic Gray Wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center, will be at the Museum to help teach about wolves. This is a rare opportunity to see this misunderstood predator up close. Cost includes museum admission. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

The Springfield Museums will host a presentation on Rainforest Reptiles on Thursday, February 19, at 11am and 1pm. Learn about fascinating reptiles and meet alligators, turtles, snakes, and more. The talk is a great supplement to the Science Museum’s Animal Secrets exhibit. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Premium Live Animal Show happens at the Springfield Museums on Friday, February 20, from 11am and 1pm. Learn about some interesting animals at this fun, educational program. The talk is a great supplement to the Science Museum’s Animal Secrets exhibit, an interactive experience designed to allow children 3-8 the chance to explore the hidden lives of forest animals. Visitors can also explore Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami at the D’Amour Museum 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Creative-Free Play

What would it be like to take a hike through a forest made of peppermint sticks, or to climb a mountain made of gumdrops? Ask your child and hear the squeals the ideas generate! On Saturday, February 14 from 10am-12noon, the classic racing board game, Candy Land, comes to life at the Hatfield Public Library! The basement of the library will be transformed into a life-size Candy Land game! Just like the classic board game, players will use cards to make their way around the board. The Molasses Swamp, Peppermint Forest, Gumdrop Mountains, and other locations will be set up as different stations with activities like crafts and puzzles. The event is free and open to all ages, making it a great opportunity for intergenerational fun and community play. Community members of all ages can work together to make their way around the board and participate in the activities set up along the way. You can even come in costume, dressed as Candy Land characters like Gramma Nutt, Mr. Mint, or King Kandy!

Culinary Arts

Looking for a creative way to warm during this snowy school vacation week? Join the Pioneer Valley Bread House for a free bread-baking workshop on Tuesday, February 17 from 4pm-6pm at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. Use natural dyes to make some exciting, colorful bread to brighten up these grey February days. Families and community members of all ages can come together to engage in this creative, hands-on activity that promotes working collaboratively and sharing experiences through baking. Gluten-free friendly. 83 College Street. South Hadley, MA (FREE)

Join Odyssey Bookshop at the South Hadley Public Library for an afternoon of cooking with author Deanna F. Cook! Kids (ages 5+) can attend this fun cooking class, where they will learn to make delicious chocolate-dipped snacks on Wednesday, February 18, 3pm Cook will also sign copies of her book, Cooking Class, which will be on sale at the event. This is a great way to introduce kids to the culinary arts! Call the Odyssey to sign up. 413-534-7307. 2 Canal Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

STEM

It’s Super Science Saturday at the Westfield Athenaeum Saturday, February 14, 2-4pm. Mad Science Physics Olympics happen from 2-3pm; Science for kids ages 3-5 & their caregivers happens from 3-4pm. Call 413-562-6158 ext. 5 or stop by the library to register. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA (FREE)

Take a field trip just over the boarder to Brattleboro, VT during school vacation week and experience the wonders of engineering and physics at the Eighth Annual Domino Toppling Extravaganza at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center on Monday, February 16 at 5pm. All ages will be amazed by the incredible chain reaction that occurs once the first domino falls. The intricate layout of the dominoes makes this event even more exciting – in addition to lines of dominoes, there are patterns, characters, logos, symbols, and structures within the domino course, all designed and built by domino whiz kids. Check out this video from the 2013 event to see the excitement! Call the museum at 802-257-0124 for more information. The museum is located at 10 Vernon Street in Brattleboro, VT. (>$)

Mad Science presents “Sounds Like Science” at the North Adams Public Library for ages 5 and up. This super fun, interactive show on Tuesday, February 17, 6pm, tackles the topic of the science of sound, and features tons of cool sounds and a chance to try making your own sounds of science. 413-662-3133 x14. 74 Church Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Visitors to the New England Air Museum can build their own model airplanes and then fly them on Wednesday, February 18, 10am-2pm. Kids can learn about engineering and aviation through this hands-on activity. For ages 8-14. Aero modeling kit cost (>$) not included with admission. 860-623-3305. 36 Perimeter Road. Windsor Locks, CT. ($)

Learn about STEM at s Scienceteller’s performance at the Wendell Free Library on Wednesday, February 18, 7pm. The performance blends science with storytelling for a fun-filled, educational experience. 978-544-3559. 7 Wendell Depot Road. Wendell, MA. (FREE)

Explore STEM topics at the East Longmeadow Public Library‘s Think Tank on Thursday, February 19, 1pm-3pm! All ages can come do fun projects at the Think Tank. 413-525-5400 x1511. 60 Center Square. East Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Visitors to the New England Air Museum can build their own straw rockets on Friday, February 20, 10am-5pm! Come to the museum and make a rocket built around a straw, then fly it to a target using a compressed air launcher – a fun, hands-on activity that gets kids interested in aviation and engineering! Cost included with museum admission. 860-623-3305. 36 Perimeter Road. Windsor Locks, CT. ($)

Ornithology

Wildlife rehabilitator Tom Ricardi will be at the Springfield Armory to present a Birds of Prey program on Saturday, February 14, 1:30pm-2:30pm. Come learn about these fascinating birds and see an owl, hawk, golden eagle, and falcon up close. 413-734-8551. 1 Armory Square. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

The Springfield Museums will host  a presentation – Owls of the World: Who’s Watching You? on Wednesday, February 18, at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Eyes on Owls presents this educational program, which introduces you to the owls of New England and beyond. There will even be six live owls! The talk is a great supplement to the Science Museum’s Animal Secrets exhibit. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Learn about birds of prey during school vacation week at Yankee Candle Village on Wednesday, February 18, 12noon-4pm. Tom Ricardi and his birds of prey will teach about these fascinating birds, their natural history, and their behaviors. 877-636-7707. 25 Greenfield Road. South Deerfield, MA.

History

Discover the fascinating history of gravestone art in New England at the Westhampton Public Library‘s program, “Art in the Face of Mortality: A Sampling of Gravestone Art in the CT River Valley,” with Alfred and Betsy McKee on Sunday, February 15, 2pm-3pm. The McKees will discuss the work of some prolific 18th and 19th-century Valley gravestone carvers. This program would be great for older students and adults who are interested in this unique aspect of Pioneer Valley history. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Celebrate Susan B. Anthony’s 195th birthday with the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum at the Adams Free Library on Sunday, February 15, 3pm. Susan B. Anthony “herself” will tell stories of her life, work, and adventures. Author Jeanne Gehret will portray Anthony at this educational and lively event. Birthday cake and drinks will be provided for guests. 413-743-7121. 92 Park Street. Adams, MA. (FREE)

Springfield Armory visitors can learn about armory workers and then craft their own armory worker dolls using recycled cloth and wire materials on Sunday, February 15 & Thursday, February 19, 1:30pm. This is a fun, hands-on way to learn about history! 413-271-8551. 1 Armory Square. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Storrowton Village is offering a school vacation camp for kids ages 7-12 – “A Day Away in the Past.” This one-day camp takes children back in time to the 19th Century, where they will do hands-on activities, craft projects, and play games that give them an early American experience. Takes place on Wednesday, February 18 & Thursday, February 19, 10am-3pm. Pre-registration and prepayment required. 413-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. ($$)

Learn about the Skinner family at the Wistariahurst Museum on Wednesday, February 18 & Thursday, February 19, 1pm-3pm. Travel the world as the Skinners did at this fun program – see historic travel albums from their trips to Japan and learn about silk and Japanese customs. Make good luck charms as souvenirs of your visit to Japan. Best for ages 8 and up. Register by February 14. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. ($$)

Storytelling

Hampshire Youth Connect presents a storytelling program with Onawumi Jean Moss in the Dakin and Merrill Living Rooms at Hampshire College on Monday, February 16, 11:30am-1pm. All ages can attend this participatory program, which celebrates Black History Month through storytelling and the sharing of stories that are shaped by identity. 893 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

The Berkshire Music School presents a performance of Grandmother Spider at the Berkshire Museum on Monday, February 16, 1:30pm. The performance is an original composition by the school’s composer-in-residence Alice Spatz, and is based on a Cherokee creation story about the origin of light. Family members of all ages will enjoy this performance. 413-443-7171 x360. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Berkshire Theatre Group presents Atlantis, Lost! And Other Legends from the Strange Waves at the Berkshire Museum, Monday, February 16 through Friday, February 20, at 11am. The production consists of a collection of stories about historical wonders and the waters of the world. Audience members of all ages will enjoy this performance of modern mythology. Cost includes museum admission. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Family Performances

Join the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for a theater performance by Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School on Tuesday, February 17 through Thursday, February 18 at 1pm & 3pm. The students will perform Strange Love in Outer Space, a musical about an alien princess, a worm, a merman, and a pirate on the planet Contasia. Catch a glimpse of love in outer space at this quirky performance. Recommended for ages 7 and up. Tickets available in advance. 413-658-1126. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. ($)

The Berkshire Theatre Group presents a performance of Going to the Farm with Spot on Wednesday, February 18, 2pm. Join Spot the Dog, his dad Sam, and his friend Helen on their interactive adventure to Sam’s farm, where all the animals are lost. Audience members can help Spot and Helen locate all the animals and bring them back to the farm. Kids will love this super fun performance, which takes place at the Colonial Theatre. Tickets available in advance. 413-997-4444. 111 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Bill Blagg’s 10 Illusions is coming to the Colonial Theatre on Thursday, February 19, 2pm! This magic show features amazing illusions, comedy, and audience participation, making it a great show for the whole family! Tickets available in advance. 413-997-4444. 111 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

The Magic of Bill Blagg is coming to CityStage on Friday, February 20, 2pm & 7:30pm! Family members of all ages will love seeing this exciting magic show, which features illusions, levitation, vanishing acts, and much more. Tickets available in advance. 413-788-7033. 1 Columbus Center. Springfield, MA. ($$)

CactusHead Puppets presents The Pied Piper of Hamelin at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art on Friday, February 20, 11am & 2pm. The town of Hamelin has a rat problem, and there’s only one person who can help! CactusHead Puppets bring the story of the Pied Piper to life with a cast of colorful characters in this comedic adaptation of the traditional folktale. Not only does the town find a musical solution to pest control, but the kids of Hamelin also teach the grownups a lesson about generosity. In the end, the townspeople all come together in celebration. Join puppeteers John and Megan Regan as they present this classic tale, told with multiple puppetry styles, and plenty of dancing rats! Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Museum Admissions Desk or by calling 413-658-1126. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA (>$)

Service-Based Learning

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 will be held approximately once a month on various days and times. Participation is free and open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Tuesday, February 17 from 6-8pm. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (FREE)

Aviation

The New England Air Museum is holding an Open Cockpit Day on Sunday, February 15 & Thursday, February 19 from 10am-5pm.  Come learn about historic aircraft and climb inside the Vietnam-era “Huey” helicopter, North American F-100 Super Sabre jet fighter, the Coast Guard HH-52 rescue helicopter, and others. All ages can come to NEAM for a super educational and fun-filled day! 860-623-3305. 36 Perimeter Road. Windsor Locks, CT. ($)

Five Preschool Highlights

  1. Kids can get creative and write and illustrate their own stories at the Amherst Winter Farmers’ Market at a workshop with Multi-Arts on Saturday, February 14, 11am-12:30pm. Kids ages 6-13 can come from 11am-12noon, and ages 3-5 (accompanied by parent) can come from 12noon-12:30pm. Kids will love creating their own stories at this fun workshop! 170 Chestnut Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)
  2. Preschool-aged children can learn about measuring and dinosaurs at the Wendell Free Public Library as part of a series of programs focusing on science, technology, engineering, art, and math on Sunday, February 15, 2pm. This is a great chance to introduce young kids to STEAM topics! Call to register. 978-544-3559. 7 Wendell Depot Road. Wendell, MA. (FREE)
  3. The Berkshire Music School presents a performance of Grandmother Spider at the Berkshire Museum on Monday, February 16, 1:30pm. The performance is an original composition by the school’s composer-in-residence Alice Spatz, and is based on a Cherokee creation story about the origin of light. Family members of all ages will enjoy this performance. 413-443-7171 x360. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)
  4. Stop by the Hatfield Public Library for fun DIY crafts and coloring activities on Tuesday, February 17, 10am-5pm. 413-247-9097. 39 Main Street. Hatfield, MA. (FREE)
  5. Join the East Longmeadow Public Library for a program with author/illustrator David Hyde Costello on Wednesday, February 18, 11am. He will focus on his book Little Pig Joins the Band using songs and homemade instruments. Kids in preschool and above will love this super fun show!413-525-5400 x1511. 60 Center Square. East Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)
  6. Learn all about frogs with Teaching Creatures at the New Salem Library’s Story Stars storytime on Thursday, February 19, 10am. Best for ages 2-8. 978-544-6334. 23 South Main Street. New Salem, MA. (FREE)
  7. Matt Heaton will perform “Toddlerbilly Troubadour” at the Berkshire Museum on Friday, February 20, 1:30pm-2:30pm. His kid-friendly sing-alongs will entertain young kids of all ages! 413-443-7171 x360. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Buckland, Colrain, Cummington, Deerfield, Hadley, Longmeadow, Montgomery, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Sunderland, and Westhampton Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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