30 Community Highlights: Otters to Pollinators. Wild Food to Aviation.

River otters, muskrats, and beavers live in the habitat along the Connecticut River! On Saturday, June 20 at 10:30am, the Sunderland Public Library invites children up to 8 years old and their caregivers to explore this habitat in depth. Participants will look for evidence of these animals and perhaps see the creatures themselves! 413-665-2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Otters to Pollinators. Strawberries to Wild Food. Solstice to Aviation… These are just a few of the community-based 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 community highlight this week: Families can spend Friday, June 19 from 12noon-10pm and Saturday, June 20 from 8am-12noon at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Holmes Road, Pittsfield, MA) participating in the 6th Annual Berkshire BioBlitz. The BioBlitz, which takes place over a full 24-hour period, invites the public, biologists, naturalists, and environmentalists to come together with the goal of identifying and cataloging all living species within Canoe Meadows. There will be experts on hand to assist with identification and teach about the different species found in the sanctuary, and there will be walks, talks, demonstrations, and more to engage participants and teach about local ecology and natural history. This is a unique and exciting free citizen science opportunity for the entire family – all ages can help look for plants, animals, and fungi and learn how to identify them. The BioBlitz will get the whole family interested in and excited about science, nature, and conservation. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)


Nature StudiesNative PollinatorsWild FoodHistoryAviationLibrary AdventuresArt AppreciationSTEMFilm StudiesFlora & FaunaLocal Food Festivals  ♦ Summer SolsticeDancing


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Springfield Museums:


Nature Studies

Succession is the process by which species fill in the niches within an ecosystem over time. It is an especially interesting process to track after environmental upheaval, such as the dramatic logging that took place last year at the Clam River Reserve in Sandisfield. During this period of the habitat’s evolution we can expect to see an especially diverse array of birds. You might even catch a glimpse of the stunning indigo bunting! Berkshire Natural Resources Council staff will lead two guide hikes at the Clam River Reserve on Saturday, June 20 from 8am – 9:30am & 10am – 12:30pm. At 8am, learn about forestry and do some bird watching, and at 10am, explore the new Clam River Trail. Sturdy shoes, long pants, snack, and water are recommended. Best for older children. 413-499-0596. Hammertown Road, Sandisfield, MA (FREE)

Native Pollinators

We often see lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) flitting around outside pollinating wild flowers, but how many of the several dozen species native to the Northeast can you identify? Project Native‘s native butterfly house opens for the season on Saturday, June 20 from 9:30am – 5pm! This butterfly house experience will help you learn to identify and understand butterflies and their habitats. 413-274-3433. 342 North Plain Road, Housatonic, MA. (>$)

Discover the wide variety of local pollinators that play an essential role in the life cycle of native flowering plants during a guided walk at Chesterwood on Saturday, June 20 from 11:30am – 1pm. A team of a scientist, a naturalist, and a sculptor will lead participants on a stroll through the sculpture garden grounds, highlighting interesting natural science facts and artistic techniques/inspirations. 413-298-3579. 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge, MA. (FREE with admission, $)

Wild Food

There’s eating local, and then there’s eating wild and local! Chances are you’ve never tasted milkweed bud soup, cattail relish, or linden rose custard, but on Saturday, June 20 from 10am – 1pm you can taste these dishes and more at Acorn Kitchen‘s Wild Food Feast and Plant Walk. Traverse beautiful terrain and forage with experts, learn how to prepare the wild plants you identify/collect, and please your palate with bites of specially-prepared wild food dishes. RSVP requested. 413-685-5425. 494 Stage Road, Cummington, MA. ($$/Children under 12 = FREE)

History

Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee and the David Ruggles Center invite you to come along for a walk through Florence to learn all about this stirring chapter of local and national history on Saturday, June 20 at 10am! Interested in other local walking tours? Visit our post highlighting some of the best walking tour opportunities in the area. Sojourner Truth statue, corner of Park Street & Pine Street, Florence, MA. (FREE)

Springfield Armory‘s connections to wars throughout our country’s history and in gaining a sense of what some aspects of life were like during different war periods? Armory Day on Saturday, June 20 from 10am – 4:30pm promises to be a multisensory, immersive experience, in which attendees can experience blank firings of cannons and rifles, watch dances performed by dancers in World War I period costumes, listen to the songs of a Civil War era-inspired gospel choir, and converse with historic reenactors playing the parts of infantry members. 413-734-8551. 1 Armory Square, Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Trustees of Reservations, gives visitors an opportunity to enjoy expansive wilderness areas (including one of the tallest stands of pine trees in the Northeast!) and observe artifacts from Bryant and his family, sights one might never have encountered before! Saturday, June 20 from 12pm – 4pm is a family day event which includes guided tours of the homestead. 413-532-1163 x 10. 207 Bryant Road, Cummington, MA. (< $)

Aviation

Turners Falls Airport hosts its annual Aviation Weekend on Saturday, June 20 from 10am – 4pm! Last year’s celebration featured airplane rides, parachuters, an aeronautical simulator, extreme flight demos, and more! Come out this year to explore aviation in an exciting, immersive environment. 413-863-0044. 10 Aviation Way, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Several historic WWII aircraft will be visiting the New England Air Museum from Wednesday, June 24 through Sunday, June 28. History and aviation buffs will appreciate this unique opportunity to view aircraft such as the B-29 “Fifi” (which will also be flown on the weekend for visitors to witness!). 860-623-3305. 36 Perimeter Road, Windsor Locks, CT. ($)

Library Adventures

Reading with and to your child is rich with opportunities for learning! Share ideas, questions, connections, explore other places and ways of life, and build a love of reading and lifetime learning.The Wilbraham Public Library is kicking off its summer reading program (for all ages!) with the theme “Every Hero has a Story” on Saturday, June 20 from 10am – 2pm. Stop in, sign up, borrow some books, and enjoy a free ice cream cone, too! Rising 6th – 12th graders are also invited to join peers in the teen loft to create beaded anklets, bracelets, and necklaces from 10 am – 1pm. 413-596-6141. 25 Crane Park Drive, Wilbraham, MA. (FREE)

The Hatfield Public Library is kicking off its summer reading program (for all ages!) with the theme “Every Hero has a Story” on Saturday, June 20 from 11am – 12pm. Children are invited to dress up as a superhero, and they will be able to meet real superheroes, too! Games, crafts, and refreshments will be provided. 413-247-9097. 39 Main Street, Hatfield, MA. (FREE)

The Springfield City Library is hosting many hero-themed events this summer as a part of its summer reading program. On Monday, June 22 at 12pm, try out the Superhero Box Car Challenge (East Forest Park branch) which invites families to turn an ordinary cardboard box into an imaginative car. What a great way to practice brainstorming and engineering together! You might try out the Traveling Heroes Paper Dolls program (East Springfield branch) in which you make a paper doll, mail it to someone, and the recipient takes photos of the paper doll tagging along with them for a week. All library locations will also have a rhyming scavenger hunt for children aged 5 and up to complete. 413-263-6828. 220 State Street (central branch), Springfield, MA (FREE)

Get ready for a summer full of reading adventures! The East Longmeadow Library’s Children’s Room kicks off its summer reading program today with pizza, drinks, and music from Jon O’Neill on Monday, June 22 at 12pm. While at the celebration, children of all ages can register to participate in the summer reading program and pick up all necessary materials to track their summer reading. 413-525-5400×1506. 60 Center Square, Suite 2, East Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Encourage kids’ excitement about the natural world and animal diversity by bringing them to an animal “meet and greet” at the Erving Public Library on Monday, June 22 from 6:30pm – 8pm. Participants will be able to meet, pet, and perhaps even hold some very interesting creatures! 413-423-3348. 17 Moore Street, Erving, MA. (FREE)

Visit the Spear Memorial Library to sign up for the “Every Hero has a Story” summer reading program, make a superhero costume, and play games on Tuesday, June 23 at 6:30pm. 413-259-1213. 10 Cooleyville Road, Shutesbury, MA. (FREE)

Pumpernickel Puppets will perform Sir George and the Dragon, a sweet puppet show appropriate for children ages 3 and up, to celebrate the start of the Edwards Public Library‘s summer reading program on Thursday, June 25 at 6pm. Preregistration recommended. 413-527-9480. 30 East Street, Southampton, MA. (FREE)

Art Appreciation

Art offers us unique ways to engage children’s empathy and compassion. Help the children in your life continue to develop these essential awarenesses by visiting Kidspace at MASS MoCA from now through May 2016, when the experiential exhibition Walk in My Shoes will be featured. This exhibition, which opens Saturday, June 20 from 11am – 1pm, has been specifically designed to activate empathic responses and amplify awareness of one’s compassion towards others. 413-662-2111. 1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA. ($)

STEM

Preschool and early elementary-aged children are the perfect age to dive into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning on Saturday, June 20 from 10:30am – 2pm! Try out the “WEE Build It” STEM for Tots program today at the Monson Library. Ages 3-6. 413-267-3866. 2 High Street, Monson, MA. (FREE)

In the summertime we often associate marshmallows with campfires and s’mores, but when you pair them with a pile of toothpicks, these tasty puffs morph into incredible geometric sculptures! Kids age 6-11 can visit the Meekins Library on Saturday, June 20 from 11am – 1:30pm to try their hand at marshmallow architecture. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street, Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Children aged 4 – 8 years are invited to the North Adams Library to build with Legos on Tuesday, June 23 from 3:3opm – 4:30pm! Build with your children or watch them as they create interesting structures, all the while developing spacial and fine motor skills, as well as an understanding of basic engineering concepts…all through play! 413-662-3133. 74 Church Street, North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Building with Legos is not only fun, it helps children develop spatial skills, fine motor coordination, and affords plenty of opportunities to experiment with trial and error and engage one’s imagination. In keeping with its summer reading theme of “Every Hero has a Story,” the Wilbraham Public Library is hosting two Lego-themed programs on Wednesday, June 24. Children aged 5 and up are invited to build something heroic using the library’s extensive Lego collection at 10:15am (registration begins June 17), and rising 6th-12th graders are invited to do so at 1:30pm (registration begins June 10). 413-596-6141. 25 Crane Park Drive, Wilbraham, MA. (FREE)

Children can explore and develop systems of measurement at the Community Network for Children‘s “Measuring Dinosaurs” program on Wednesday, June 24 at 11am. Participants will compare familiar objects (including their own bodies!) with “dinosaur measurements” to gain a sense of how different systems of measurement compare. Ages 3-6 with a caregiver. 978-544-3559. Wendell Free Library, 7 Wendell Depot Road, Wendell, MA. (FREE)

Film Studies

Explore Hollywood’s transition from silent film to the modern era of sound-enriched film at Nina Kleinberg’s Film School in 60 Minutes at Amherst Cinema on Saturday, June 20 at 12pm. Following Kleinberg, get a glimpse into old Hollywood as it transitioned from silent films to those with sound at the Cinema‘s screening of Singin’ in the Rain (G) at 2:30pm. Audience members will also be treated to two of the most famous and entertaining dance sequences of all time, Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain and Donald O’Connor’s Make ’em Laugh. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (<$)

Flora & Fauna

Families can spend Friday, June 19 from 12noon-10pm and Saturday, June 20 from 8am-12noon at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Holmes Road, Pittsfield, MA) participating in the 6th Annual Berkshire BioBlitz. The BioBlitz, which takes place over a full 24-hour period, invites the public, biologists, naturalists, and environmentalists to come together with the goal of identifying and cataloging all living species within Canoe Meadows. There will be experts on hand to assist with identification and teach about the different species found in the sanctuary, and there will be walks, talks, demonstrations, and more to engage participants and teach about local ecology and natural history. This is a unique and exciting free citizen science opportunity for the entire family – all ages can help look for plants, animals, and fungi and learn how to identify them. The BioBlitz will get the whole family interested in and excited about science, nature, and conservation. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

River otters, muskrats, and beavers live in the habitat along the Connecticut River! On Saturday, June 20 at 10:30am, the Sunderland Public Library invites children up to 8 years old and their caregivers to explore this habitat in depth. Participants will look for evidence of these animals and perhaps see the creatures themselves! 413-665-2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Local Food Festivals

Do you keep driving by local farm stands and gazing at the quarts of ripe strawberries? Dive into the sweetest part of the strawberry season at Warner Farm‘s 3rd Annual Strawberry Fest on Saturday, June 20 from 12pm – 5pm. The fields will be open for PYO berries, and there will be hay rides, live music, games, and delicious food–including strawberry shortcake, of course! 413-665-8331. Old Amherst Road, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Red Fire Farm grows at least nine varieties of organic strawberries, and you can taste them all at their annual Strawberry Soiree on Saturday, June 20 from 2pm – 5pm! Head up to their strawberry fields to pick organic strawberries, shop their farmer’s market booth, participate in a strawberry tasting, and enjoy some tasty strawberry shortcake. There will also be a walking tour of the farm’s new interpretive trail, and the evening features a ticketed Strawberry Feast out in the fields. 413-467-7645. 184 Meadow Road, Montague, MA (FREE/Soiree = $$)

Summer Solstice

Sunday, June 21, 2015, the UMass Sunwheel in Amherst will hold two events on the solstice, honoring the coming and going of daylight. Early risers can attend the sunrise event (arrive at 5am) at the Sunwheel, and those who prefer to enjoy sunset can attend a similar event held at 7:30pm. Each event will include descriptions of the scientific reasons for the solstice, as well as stories about the creation of the UMass sunwheel and other sun-honoring landmarks around the world (including Stonehenge in the United Kingdom and Chichen Itza in Mexico). The events differ only in that the morning event will be much more ceremonial and reflective, and will include meditation, poetry, and song in addition to the educational elements. The Sunwheel is located on Rocky Hill Road, near McGuirk Stadium.

Throughout history, societies have noted astronomical events and integrated them into traditions and rituals. Come out to the Ashfield Common on Sunday, June 21 at 9am to participate in a summer solstice celebration that includes song and dance. This is an opportunity for making memories, as participants will be invited to bring pets (or their pictures) and seeds and walk with them in between flaming bales of hay to bless them and hope for a good fall harvest! 413-625-6378. Town Common, Ashfield, MA. (FREE)

Dancing

Listening and dancing to music can transport us to another era, and gives us opportunities to meet interesting folks we might not have otherwise met! Come out for the Otis Cultural Council‘s Sup’ & Swing on Saturday, June 20 at 6pm, a community picnic dinner and evening of dancing, with music performed by the New England LiveSwing Orchestra. 516-697-0549. Izaak Walton Field (Tannery Road & Route 8), Otis, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit (cc) Eric Kilby]


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, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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