33 Community Highlights: Geocaching to Lavender. Robotics to Victorian Ballroom Dance.

Lavender is known for its wonderful scent, which calms the nerves, and for the delicate flavor it imparts to baked goods like scones and shortbread. Immerse your senses in lavender on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 from 10am – 4pm at Johnson Hill Farm‘s Lavender Festival, where you can enjoy a lavender labyrinth, a dove release, art and crafts by local artisans, workshops, and demonstrations. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Lavender to Robotics. Geocaching to Static Electricity. Victorian Ballroom Dance to Cedar Wetlands…. 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: Geocaching lets you go on real treasure hunts all across the globe. From “geo,” meaning “Earth,” and “cache,”meaning “hidden goods,” geocaching is an activity in which you can follow clues that lead you to concealed treasures. At the end of a geocache you might find a Tupperware container full of glow-in-the-dark plastic lizards (you get to take one!), or a baggie filled with a mishmash of items left by others who found the cache before you (take one and leave something of yours), and — always– a log book in which to enter information about yourself.  Sunday, June 28 at 2pm & 3pm, a Geocache 101 class and potluck supper, hosted by the Becket Athenaeum, highlights Becket’s geocache scene, with activities led by experienced geocachers and a fun supper afterwards to meet others who are interested in this incredibly fun hobby. 413-623-5483. Becket Center Park, Main Street, Becket, MA. (FREE)


CanoeingSTEMFood & NutritionBirds of PreyHabitatEntomologyGarden-Based LearningLiving HistoryGuided WalkFamily VolunteeringGeocachingLibrary AdventuresAncestryOutdoor Film


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


Outdoor Adventures

The Housatonic River is one of Western Massachusetts’ many amazing bodies of water, and the stretch that runs through Lenox is considered one of the most beautiful paddles in the state! Folks with canoe experience are invited to join the Housatonic Valley Association for a paddle out to Woods Pond along this stretch of the river on Saturday, June 27. 9am – 3pm. Along the way, you will learn about the environmental threats the river is facing as well as the proposed remediation plan which would return it to a cleaner, healthier state. Families with teenagers welcome. Preregistration required. 413-394-9796. Fred Garner Park, Pomeroy Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

STEM

Renewable energy is a promising component of establishing a sustainable energy future and healthier Earth. Come explore solar and wind power at Holyoke Codes’ Robotics Renewable Energy Workshop on Saturday, June 27 from 9:30am – 12:30pm, where participants ages 7 and up will use Lego EV3 and renewable energy kits to build renewable energy stations which can power vehicles and houses. Topics addressed during this engaging, hands-on workshop will include energy supply, transfer, conversion, and consumption. Children under 17 should be accompanied by an adult. Registration required via Holyoke Codes website. Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Visit the Berkshire Athenaeum Saturday, June 27 from 10:30am – 12pm to experience science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) adventures during their “Play and Learn” program. Appropriate for infants through age 12. Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. This is also the first day of the library’s summer reading program. People of all ages are encouraged to participate in this year’s program, so stop by to register and pick up a bingo-style incentive card! 413-499-9480. One Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Misconceptions about the Earth-Sun-Moon system abound in young children’s media (e.g., the moon is only out at night), and these can lay foundations that make learning the proper content more challenging later in life. Bring your 2-5 year old to the Gaylord Memorial Library on Saturday, June 27 at 11am for the first of a new monthly STEM-based series. This program, “Hey! What’s Up?”, will focus on the concepts of day and night, and the roles that the Sun and Moon play in our daily skies. Registration required. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Kitchen chemistry is a fun and safe way to get children interested in and engaged with scientific thinking and basic science concepts. Think baking soda and vinegar volcanoes and cabbage juice acid/base indicator! The SABIC Innovation Lab at the Berkshire Museum invites kids to try out experiment like these in its Kitchen Ka-Boom program on Saturday, June 27 at 11am. Reservations requested. 413-443-7171 x 360. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Explore the differences between static and current electricity using a variety of conductors, insulators, magnets, and a Van de Graaff generator (those big towers which, when you put your hand on them to get “charged”, cause your hair to stick out in wild and crazy ways)! Hosted by the Springfield Science Museum at the Zoo in Forest Park on Saturday, June 27 from 1pm – 2pm. 413-733-2251. 302 Sumner Avenue, Springfield, MA. (< $)

Food & Nutrition

One way to help ensure that your family’s meals are nutritious is to make them colorful. “Eat a rainbow” is a great mealtime refrain and can serve as a fun challenge for picky eaters, too! On Saturday, June 27 at 10am Cameron Allshouse, certified health coach and dance instructor/choreographer, will teach workshop participants how to eat a rainbow by making a variety of colorful fruit crisps. 413-822-5697. Pittsfield Farmers Market, The Common, First Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

An abundance of delicious, nutritious wild plants surround us, but we must be able to properly identify them! Aidan Hawkowl will lead a wild food walk at the Amethyst Brook Conservation Area on Sunday, June 28 at 1pm, teaching participants how to identify key plants along the way! Contact the Northampton/Amherst Herbal Group if you would like to participate. Amethyst Brook Conservation Area, Pelham Road, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Birds of Prey

Tom Ricardi, wildlife rehabilitator, cares for hawks, owls, falcons, an eagle, and a turkey vulture, and he is bringing them to Bartholomew’s Cobble so you can meet them in person on Saturday, June 27 from 10am – 12pm! Learn about these birds through Tom’s interesting stories and extensive knowledge. Sponsored by the Trustees of Reservations and appropriate for all ages. 413-299-8600. 105 Weatogue Road, Sheffield, MA. ($/FREE for children under 12)

Children who come to understand and value nature often carry that perspective into adulthood. Give the children in your life a strong, early connection to the world around them through activities like Kidleidoscope Tuesdays at the Great Falls Discovery Center! Children ages 3-6 and their caregivers are invited to visit for a story, game, and craft related to the natural world. On Tuesday, June 30 from 10:30am – 11:30am the topic will be eagles! 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Habitat

Cedar wetlands are special natural areas that support stands of cedar trees as well as uncommon and rare plant and animal species. The Wilbraham White Cedar Swamp Trailwalk area is a regionally significant conservation territory and offers the only local glimpse into a cedar swamp which has not been largely disturbed by human activity. Saturday, June 27 from 10am – 1pm their hike, organized by Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, offers participants a unique opportunity to examine this incredibly rich native landscape in depth. Preregistration required. 413-584-3009. McDonald’s Preserve, Washington Road, Wilbraham, MA. ($)

What stories does a landscape tell? Do you know how to read the land and learn about its history? Join ecologist Tom Wessels to learn how to look for and interpret evidence that can be found throughout any natural landscape on Saturday, June 27 from 10am – 2:30pm. This program, hosted by the Bidwell House Museum, includes a talk, slideshow, BYO lunch, and exploration of the Bidwell Forest. Reservation required. 413-528-6888. 100 Art School Road, Monterey, MA. ($)

Entomology

Dragonflies and damselflies belong to the order Odonata, meaning “toothed one”. (Yes! These carnivorous insects have serrations on their strong jaws!) While they have many shared characteristics, there are important differences that allow us to tell a dragonfly from a damselfly. Learn all about these beautiful creatures and their ancient origins as you search for them on an outdoor exploration with entomologist Kirsten Martin at Glendale Falls Brook on Saturday, June 27 from 10am – 2pm. Organized by the Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee. Registration required. 413-623-2070. Clark Wright Road, Middlefield, MA. (FREE)

Garden-Based Learning

Have you tasted one of Bug Hill Farm‘s delicious cordials, syrups, or sauces? Come see where they grow all of the berries with which they create their tasty products, and learn about their important efforts to support honeybees and other native pollinators while you’re at it on Saturday, June 27 at 10am/12pm/2pm. Owner/grower Kate Kerivan will be offering three personal walking tours through the property over the course of the day. 413-628-3980. 502 Bug Hill Road, Ashfield, MA. (FREE)

Discover all of the “secret” gardens, working farms, and special natural places in Ashfield and Conway at the Franklin Land Trust‘s 24th Annual Farm & Garden Tour on Saturday, June 27 from 10am – 4pm. Tours are self-guided and include stops at organic fruit and veggie gardens, edible landscapes, examples of permaculture, a one-of-a-kind decorated barn, and many more delights! 413-625-9151. Locations throughout Ashfield & Conway, MA. ($)

Do you enjoy studying gardens as you stroll through your neighborhood and town? Don’t miss this great opportunity to tour eight private gardens belonging to members of the Garden Club of Amherst on Saturday, June 27 from 10am – 4pm, hosted by the Amherst Historical Society & Museum. 413-256-0678. Strong House, 67 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. ($)

Lavender is known for its wonderful scent, which calms the nerves, and for the delicate flavor it imparts to baked goods like scones and shortbread. Immerse your senses in lavender on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 from 10am – 4pm at Johnson Hill Farm‘s Lavender Festival, where you can enjoy a lavender labyrinth, a dove release, art and crafts by local artisans, workshops, and demonstrations. No pets, please. 413-522-9068. 51 Hog Hollow Road, Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Herbs add great depth of flavor to many dishes, can provide health benefits, and provide nourishment and habitat for our pollinators. Visit the Westhampton Public Library on Tuesday, June 30 from 7pm – 8:30pm for “Grown in Westhampton: A Celebration of Herbs” to learn more about how to grow, use, and store a variety of these delicious herbal plants. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road, Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Living History

Journey back through time as you take in a Victorian ballroom dance performance by the Small Planet Dancers, a community-based troupe focused on historically accurate cultural dance on Saturday, June 27 at 11am. This performance is hosted by and will take place on the lawn of the Amherst Historical Society & Museum. 413-256-0678. 67 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

If you’ve ever seen a photo of Emily Dickinson, chances are she was wearing a dark, high-necked, long-sleeved dress and a ribbonlike adornment around her neck. What else was in Emily’s wardrobe? Patterns and prints? Buttons and pleats? In “Fashioning Emily: Translating Historical Fashion for the Modern Eye” on Saturday, June 27 at 5pm, costume designer Elizabeth Pangburn will answer the question, “How to dress Emily?”, drawing from fashion history. At the close of the talk, the audience will help choose a costume design to be used for Emily’s character in a production later this summer. Co-sponsored by the Emily Dickinson Museum and the TheatreTruck. 413-542-8161. Amherst College Alumni House, 75 Churchill Street, Amherst, MA. (< $)

Guided Walk

North Adam’s main street actually traces the path of the original Mohawk/Mahican Trail. A guided walk down this stretch of road with local historian Paul W. Marino on Saturday, June 27 at 2:30pm offers participants a wealth of information about what this area was like before North Adams was here (not to mention some great exercise and opportunities to meet others in your community!). Wear good walking shoes and bring sunscreen and water. Rain date 6/28. 413-207-1344. West end of Main Street (past Subway), North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Family Volunteering

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 are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on  Sunday, June 28 from 10am-11:30am, Farming with Friends at Mountain View Farm. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Geocaching

Geocaching lets you go on real treasure hunts all across the globe. From “geo,” meaning “Earth,” and “cache,”meaning “hidden goods,” geocaching is an activity in which you can follow clues that lead you to concealed treasures. At the end of a geocache you might find a Tupperware container full of glow-in-the-dark plastic lizards (you get to take one!), or a baggie filled with a mishmash of items left by others who found the cache before you (take one and leave something of yours), and — always– a log book in which to enter information about yourself.  Sunday, June 28 at 2pm & 3pm, a Geocache 101 class and potluck supper, hosted by the Becket Athenaeum, highlights Becket’s geocache scene, with activities led by experienced geocachers and a fun supper afterwards to meet others who are interested in this incredibly fun hobby. 413-623-5483. Becket Center Park, Main Street, Becket, MA. (FREE)

Library Adventures

The Southwick Public Library launches its Suntime Reading Program on Saturday, June 27 at 10am, featuring giant games (picture life-size Connect Four!), face painting, popcorn, and more. 413-569-1221. 95 Feeding Hills Road, Southwick, MA. (FREE)

On Saturday, June 27 at 10:15am, celebrate the kick off of Wilbraham Public Library‘s summer reading club, “Every Hero has a Story” with a performance for the whole family by special guest Tom “T-Bone” Stankus, a lively musician and entertainer! Pre-registration required. 413-596-6141. 25 Crane Park Drive, Wilbraham, MA. (FREE)

Children often think that heroes can only be adults with superpowers. What they don’t realize is that they possess the abilities to be heroes, too! For an inspiring start to its summer reading program, on Saturday, June 27 at 11am, the Whately Library presents Mike Bent’s entertaining variety show of magic, comedy, puppets, and music to help kids discover the “superpowers” that already exist within them. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately, MA. (FREE)

Ignite your child’s excitement about summer reading by attending the Berkshire Athenaeum‘s superhero-themed kick-off party on Saturday, June 27 from 1pm – 3pm, which includes a mini comic-con, a costume contest, prizes, and other activities for children and teens. 413-499-9489. 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

This summer’s reading program theme is “Every Hero has a Story,” so it is not surprising that the theme of swordsmanship might arise in related books! On Monday, June 29 at 6:30pm, the Westhampton Public Library invites children ages 10+ to an interactive presentation of sword use by local experts from the Association for Renaissance and Medieval Swordsmanship. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road, Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Sara Gardner presents her Kids Dig It! Jazz Heroes musical program at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Tuesday, June 30 at 1pm. Adults and children alike will have a great time participating in the interactive jam session and soaking in the sounds of traditional New Orleans dixieland. 413-499-9489. 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Heroic characters from literature will arrive in puppet form at the Sunderland Public Library on Wednesday, July 1 at 6pm! Caravan’s HEROES uses its beautiful puppets, humor, and audience engagement to teach children what a hero is, where we can find heroes every day, and how they can be real heroes, too. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Children age 3 and up are invited to Mary Jo Maichack’s program, “The Itsy Bitsy Spiderman: A Heroic Climb” at the West Springfield Public Library on Thursday, July 2 at 10:30am.  There will be stories, music, dancing, and drama! 413-736-4581 x 3. 511 Main Street, West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Ancestry

Sometimes it is nice to shake things up over the summer by trying out a new activity while spending time with new people. If you’re looking to add some pizazz to your child’s days, try the Odyssey Bookshop‘s Camp Odyssey Craft Camp on Tuesday, June 30 from 3pm – 4pm. This is a unique once-a-week, hour-long camp that features a book and related activity. This week, participants will create name banners. What a great way to get in touch with one’s own life story! How did this come to be the child’s name? What does the name mean? What role has this name played in the child’s family history? Participants will be able to reflect on and celebrate their own names while learning about the names of other children in the program, building new social connections and enhancing appreciation for the breadth of human differences. Older children may attend on their own; children as young as 3 are welcome if a caretaker accompanies them. Pre-registration required. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (< $)

Outdoor Film

Mass MoCA has a great idea to get you in the Fourth of July spirit: an outdoor screening of Top Gun (PG, 1986), projected on the side of an airplane hangar on Friday, July 3rd at 8:30 pm! BBQ food, popcorn, and beverages will be available for purchase; just bring your own lawnchair(s). The first 100 kids get free gliders. Gates open at 7pm. Raindate is 7/5. 413-662-2111. Harriman-West Airport, 836 State Road, North Adams, 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, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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