27 Community Highlights: Penguins to Cicadas. Lava Lamps to Pteridology.

When flowers are in bloom, it can be easy to overlook the other plant life around them. Late summer affords us a wonderful window of opportunity (between two seasonal flower blooms) to focus in on ferns! On Sunday, August 2 from 12pm-2pm there will be a 2-hour hike, sponsored by the Hilltown Land Trust,  leading participants past many different types of ferns. Learn how to identify and differentiate common local fern species. Wear long sleeves and pants, sturdy shoes, and insect repellant, and bring water as well as a magnifying glass and fern guide if you have them. Great community-based educational opportunity for self-directed and life-long learners. Rain cancels. Registration required. 508-997-0496. Taproot Commons Farm, 11 Porter Hill Road, Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Penguins to Cicadas. Lava Lamps to Pteridology. Choral Arts to Comics… 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 highlights this week: Creating a map requires that we take a different look at our surroundings, examine spatial relationships, recognize landforms, and consider scale. Families can try their hand at cartography, or mapmaking, at Chesterwood‘s “Walking the Line” workshop on Saturday, August 1 from 11:30am-1pm. Participants will be invited to create maps of both real and imagined places. 413-298-3579. 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($)


OrnithologyNative American CultureCartographyCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryGraphic NovelsService-Based LearningBotanyMusic StudiesLibrary AdventuresSTEMEntomology


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ORNITHOLOGY

Saturday, August 1. 10am — PENGUINS
Support an interest in ornithology, ecosystems, or event film studies at Amherst Cinema. The Cinena’s Family Films Series has an animal theme for the month of August! This week’s film is March of the Penguins (G, 2006). Described as “one of the most eye-ravishing documentaries ever made,” this movie follows Antarctica’s emperor penguins as they make their annual journey across a harsh landscape to their nesting grounds. 413-253-2547 x 6. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (< $)

Friday, August 7. 11am-1pm — BIRDS OF PREY
Most days you can glance up at the sky and find a red-tailed hawk soaring above. Hawks and other raptors live throughout the Pioneer Valley, but face threats due to human activities. Learn more about these amazing animals, and how and why to help protect them and their habitats, at Tom Ricardi’s birds of prey presentation, hosted by the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Participants will be able to meet some of the birds Tom has rehabilitated at his local wildlife center, too! 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($; FREE for children under 12)

Culture

Saturday, August 1. 11am-7pm — NATIVE AMERICA
The Pocumtuck Homelands Festival welcomes participants to celebrate Native American culture and history through a day of live music, drumming, dancing, storytelling, children’s games, arts and crafts, and demonstrations. A special component of this year’s festival is the music by Cheyenne flute player, Joseph FireCrow, one of the top three Native American flutists in the world! Sponsored by the Nolumbeka Project. 413-773-9818. Unity Park Waterfront, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Cartography

Saturday, August 1. 11:30am-1pm — MAPMAKING
Creating a map requires that we take a different look at our surroundings, examine spatial relationships, recognize landforms, and consider scale. Families can try their hand at cartography, or mapmaking, at Chesterwood‘s “Walking the Line” workshop. Participants will be invited to create maps of both real and imagined places. 413-298-3579. 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($)

Culinary Arts

Saturday, August 1. 12pm-8pm; Sunday, August 2. 12pm-6pm —FOOD TRUCKS
The food truck phenomenon has allowed people to try all sorts of cuisines, many of which celebrate fresh, local ingredients. This weekend The Big E hosts the largest gathering of gourmet food trucks from around New England, offering families a great way to try new foods! Visitors can sample dishes from over 50 food trucks, while enjoying live music and family-friendly activities, too. 413-737-2443. 1305 Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, MA. (< $)

Saturday, August 1. 12:30pm-3:30pm — COOKING WITH LOCAL INGREDIENTS
Do you know how to prepare za’atar, use purslane, or create thai basil pesto? Learn how to incorporate locally-grown elements in your cooking at Bug Hill Farm‘s final farm-to-table luncheon of the summer, featuring workshops by guest chef Didi Emmons and food writer Odessa Piper. Great for mature teens and adults interested in local and wild foods and the culinary arts. Stay afterwards to pick-your-own berries, herbs, and flowers! Rain date August 2. Registration required. 423-639-3980. 502 Bug Hill Road, Ashfield, MA. ($-$$)

Tuesday, August 4. 4pm — HISTORY OF THE PICNIC
Chances are, you’ve had at least one picnic meal this summer. When did picnicking come into fashion? Why did people decide to dine outdoors rather than in? Food historian Francine Segan will take us through a history of picnicking in her talk at the Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum. A Victorian tea will follow the presentation. Great for mature teens and adults interested in local and food history. Reservations highly recommended. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street, Lenox, MA. ($$)

Local History

Saturday, August 1. 10am — HILLTOWN ANCESTRY
Catamount Hill is perched in Colrain, and was home to a settlement of people dating back to the 18th century. Every five years since 1875, former Catamount Hill residents and their descendants have gathered to share stories and keep the community spirit of the original settlement alive. For this 29th Quinquennial Reunion, the Catamount Hill Association invites descendants and anyone interested in the people and history of Catamount Hill to attend the gathering. 413-625-6965. Colrain Central School, 22 Jacksonville Road, Colrain, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 1. 2:30pm — LOCAL EDUCATION HISTORY
Cummington’s Historical Museum, the Kingman Tavern, will feature Dennis D. Picard presenting as the School Master in, “All to The Tune of a Hickory Stick: A Look at Education in the One Room Schoolhouse.” This historical museum of two or three rooms is an early 1800’s house of seventeen rooms, which was a tavern. There is also a replica of a 1900 country store, a two-  story barn, a carriage shed, and an 1840’s cider mill.  413-563-1981. 41Main Street, in Cummington, MA (FREE)

Saturday, August 1. 4pm-5pm — BERKSHIRE EXPERTS
How has your life been affected by the artists, scientists, inventors, and athletes who hail from Stockbridge? Find out at the Outstanding in Their Fields: Some Surprising Local Experts cemetery walk, led by a volunteer from the Stockbridge Library’s Museum and Archives. 413-298-5501. Cemetery gate, Main Street, Stockbridge, MA. (DONATION)

Sunday, August 2. 9:30am-5pm — REVOLUTIONARY WAR
It is one thing to view photos, read text, or see a film about another era, but it is another experience entirely to Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and activities of that time. This weekend, Old Sturbridge Village will be transformed into a military camp with close to 1000 actors portraying soldiers from several nations in its Revolutionary War re-enactment, “Redcoats and Rebels.” Visitors can witness battles and soldier training camps, view cannon demonstrations, and learn scouting techniques. There will also be opportunities to play 18th century baseball and try out dances that were common at the time. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA. ($$)

CARTOONS & GRAPHIC NOVELS

Saturday, August 1. 4pm-7pm. — COMIC & CARTOON ART
A perfect connection with this summer’s reading program theme, the Berkshire Art Association and Comic and Cartoon Art present Reimagined! An International Show of Comic and Cartoon Art which runs from August 1-29. The family-friendly opening party will include music, face painting, and, of course, comic art making. Comic-inspired costumes and attire are encouraged. Children can make connections between the art they view and the themes and stories they have encountered in their summer reading adventures! Both local and international comic artists will be featured in the exhibit. Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, August 4. 6pm — GRAPHIC NOVEL
Graphic novel and adventure fans won’t want to miss this Odyssey Bookshop event with debut graphic novel author, Marika McCoola. McCoola will share from her book, Baba Yaga’s Assistant. Due to potentially scary nature of the storyline and characters, most appropriate for older students. RSVP requested. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 5. 10:30am — CARTOONING
Cartoonist Paul Merkin brings his fun, interactive cartoon art show to the Adams Free Library to celebrate super heroes with kids of all ages! 413-743-8345. 92 Park Street, Adams, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, August 6. 1pm — GRAPHIC NOVELS
What does it take to create a graphic novel? Many kids find joy in expressing themselves through writing and drawing in this format once they learn some tools and skills of the trade! Participants in this graphic novel workshop at the Berkshire Athenaeum will learn how to create and develop characters, plot stories, and represent their ideas in pictoral form (even if they feel they lack the artistic skills to do so). Open to teens ages 13-18. Registration required. 413-499-9480 x 5. 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Service-Based Learning

Thursday, August 6. 6-8pm — FAMILY VOLUNTEER DAY
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 Thursday, Aug 6 , 6-8pm, Potluck and Volunteer. (Bring your favorite dish to share.) Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Botany

Sunday, August 2. 12pm-2pm — PTERIDOLOGY (Study of Ferns)
When flowers are in bloom, it can be easy to overlook the other plant life around them. Late summer affords us a wonderful window of opportunity (between two seasonal flower blooms) to focus in on ferns! This 2-hour hike, sponsored by the Hilltown Land Trust, will lead participants past many different types of ferns, and everyone will learn how to identify and differentiate common local fern species. Wear long sleeves and pants, sturdy shoes, and insect repellant, and bring water as well as a magnifying glass and fern guide if you have them. Rain cancels. Registration required. 508-997-0496. Taproot Commons Farm, 11 Porter Hill Road, Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Music Studies

Sunday, August 2. 1pm —SYMPHONY
Tanglewood‘s Watch and Play program gives children ages 3-10 the opportunity to listen to and interact with a variety of orchestral instruments and musical arrangements. The setting is casual and welcoming, and children are encouraged to converse with musicians to explore their music-related curiosities. Pre-registration required. 413-637-5180. The Shed at Tanglewood, 297 West Street, Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 2. 1:30pm-3:30pm — DIXIELAND STOMP
Born in New Orleans in 1901, Louis Armstrong started working at a young age to help support his struggling family. His many jobs took him to all parts of the city, thus exposing him to many types of music. Learn more about Armstrong’s interesting life history and enjoy some of his most well-known songs at the Keep Homestead Museum‘s Dixieland Stomp performance. Bring a picnic and a blanket or lawn chair. Performance will be moved to the barn in case of rain. 413-267-4137. 35 Ely Road, Monson, MA. (FREE)

Monday, August 3. 9am-12pm — CHORAL ARTS
Berkshire Lyric invites children ages 6-13 to join its free, week-long choral camp which runs August 3-August 7. Participants will do musical exercises and fun activities to develop their skills. 413-298-5365. Dalton Congregational Church, 514 Main Street, Dalton, MA. (FREE)

Library Adventures

Tuesday, August 4. 1pm — REAL-LIFE HEROES
What does a day in the life of a local police officer or firefighter look like? Visit the Berkshire Athenaeum for a special program of real-life hero stories with Chief of Police Michael Wynn and Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski. Suggested for children ages 5 and up. 413-499-9480 x 5. 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 5. 5:30pm-6:30pm — ARTS & CRAFTS
Make super hero costumes and celebrate Heath’s local heroes at the Heath Free Public Library‘s summer crafts program. Open to children ages 5-12 and their families. 413-337-4934. Heath Fairgrounds, Heath, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, August 6. 6pm-7pm — BOOK TALK
Children encounter all sorts of heroes –from ones with magical powers to those who might sneak by, unnoticed–in their adventures with reading. This summer, the Tilton Library is hosting several book talks (with pizza!) in their children’s room. These are open to everyone but will be of most interest and value to participants who have read the book in question. Tonight’s talk focuses on Harry Potter (Rowling). Please sign up in advance if you plan to attend and would like pizza. 413-665-4683. 75 North Main Street, South Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

STEM

Tuesday, August 4. 3pm – 4pm — DENSITY & CONVECTION
Lava lamps are entertaining to watch, and can also teach us a thing or two about density and convection. This week at the Odyssey Bookshop‘s Camp Odyssey Craft Camp, kids will be able to make their own lava lamps to enjoy all summer long while contemplating the scientific phenomena that underlie the lamps’ mystique. Ages 7 and up. Pre-registration required. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (< $)

Wednesday, August 5. 6pm — MESSY SCIENCE
Children ages 3-6 are invited to the Spear Memorial Library for Steamrollin’ Summer fun, a hands-on science/technology/engineering/art/math (STEAM) program. Children should be accompanied by a caregiver and wear clothes that can get messy. 413-259-1213. 10 Cooleyville Road, Shutesbury, MA. (FREE)

Entomology

Wednesday, August 5. 10:30am-12pm — CATERPILLARS/BUTTERFLIES
Basic naturalist skills are fun to develop and will serve a person for a lifetime! Learning to use a hand lens helps develop fine motor skills and increases one’s ability to observe, and subsequently, describe objects. Discovering how a field guide is organized and how it is used helps one establish a stronger understanding of systems of classification and allows for lots of practice with comparing and contrasting. Project Native‘s Bug & Butterfly Safaris invite children to develop and practice these skills as they traverse fields in search of eggs, caterpillars, and butterflies to relocate into the Butterfly House. All ages welcome; all children should be accompanied by an adult. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Rain cancels. 413-274-3433. 342 North Plain Road, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 5. 8pm-10pm — SOUNDS OF SUMMER
Are those crickets you’re hearing at night, or cicadas? Could that be a tree frog in your backyard or is it a peeper? And how can you use cricket chirps to determine air temperature?! Find out at the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation‘s “Sounds of the Summer Night” program. S’mores will be served at 8pm, and the sound studies begin at 8:30pm. Rain date August 12. 413-458-2494. Sheep Hill, Route 7 (1 mile south of the Williamstown Rotary), Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit: (cc)  Ian Matchett]


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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