25 Community Highlights: Evergreen Wreaths to Colonial Crafts. Barbershop Music to Roving Scientists.

Does your family get an evergreen tree to put in your home for the holidays? Visiting a local tree farm, selecting a tree with your children, and in some cases, sawing down the tree together,  offer numerous learning opportunities! What are the different kinds of evergreen trees? What types of climates do they grow in. What is the history behind the tradition of erection evergreens in our homes during the holiday season? Why do we decorate them and how have these decorations evolved and changed over the years with the invention of new materials and electricity? What does the seed of an evergreen look like and what sort of animals and insects do they depend upon to reproduce? Discovering the answers to these questions can help curious kids feel connected to not only your holiday tree, but also to the flora and fauna (and history!) of Western MA!

Evergreen Wreaths to Colonial Crafts. Barbershop Music to Roving Scientists. Landscape Architecture to Activism… 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 weekOld Sturbridge Village invites you to return to a simpler time, when Christmas meant carols and community, not catalogs and chaos, at their annual Christmas by Candlelight event. Enjoy sleigh rides, carols, model railroads, holiday magic shows, dances, and story readings. Watch demonstrations of gingerbread baking and cider making, and learn about the history of holiday traditions such as roasted chestnuts, yule logs, mistletoe, and more! Visitors will also have an opportunity to make a Christmas keepsake to take home. This event runs December 4-6, 11-13, and 18-20, and advance ticket purchase is recommended. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA. ($)

Black FridayGiving TuesdayOutdoor AdventuresSocial JusticeClimate MarchPlant StudiesArchitectureMYO GiftsWreathsFilmTextile ArtsSewingColonial HistoryFood HistoryColonial ChristmasParenting/Professional WorkshopsSTEMLEGOsMuseum AdventuresChoral Music

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Outdoor Adventures

Sunday, November 29, 9:30am and 11am
Put on your traveling shoes and join the Trustees of Reservations and Hilltown Land Trust for the “Gorge Après Gorge 5K Run and 3 Mile Walk” at the Chesterfield Gorge along the wild and scenic Westfield River. Timed 5K race begins at 9:30 am. Unique top finisher awards (knitted hats!) and cookie medals for all participants. Proceeds benefit the Zephyr Rapinchuk Memorial Fund and the Hilltown Land Trust. Individual and family registration fees. The 11th annual three-mile walk (or snowshoe!) begins at 11am and is free. Enjoy the outdoors with friends, neighbors, and future friends. Warm up with hot chocolate, coffee, and tea at the finish line. Please bring some treats to share and BYOM (bring your own mug) for this volunteer-run event. 413-628-4485, ext. 3. Ireland Road (Chesterfield Gorge), West Chesterfield, MA (FREE to $$$)

Social Justice/Activism

Sunday, November 29, 5:30pm-7pm in Northampton
Sunday, November 29, 6pm-7pm in Amherst
Take action with people around the world at the Global Climate March. On the eve of the historic Paris climate conference, tell world leaders you want a future with a clean, livable planet. Show your children how community can rally in non-violent ways to speak up and out on collective values. Explain to them how the right to gather is fundamental to our American democracy and use this opportunity to explain the differences in other types of governments across the globe and across time.  In Northampton, March leaves Northampton High School (380 Elm Street) at 5:30pm and arrives at city hall at 6pm for an outdoor rally. 413-585-0791. In Amherst, meet on the Amherst Common. 413-585-0791. Northampton & Amherst (FREE)

Plant Studies

Saturday, November 28, 8:30am-4pm
Warm up at the Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory & Plant House! Not only is it a dry/warm destination on a wet/cold day, but there are loads of learning opportunities awaiting you! They offer an audio tour for both kids and adults, and a “Woods of the World” display that features panels of wood from over 170 trees from all around the world! With ten different indoor exhibits to explore, the learning possibilities offered by the conservatory are endless. 413-585-2740. 16 College Lane on the Smith College campus. Northampton, MA (FREE/Donations)


Saturday, November 28, 10am-4pm
Sunday, November 29, 10am-4pm
A visit to Naumkeag provides a stylish image of life and design from a golden time. This National Historic Landmark managed by the Trustees of Reservations, is host to several landscapes designed by Fletcher Steele—the father of modern American landscape design. Designed by the firm of McKim, Mead, & White, this architectural masterpiece is a Gilded Age Berkshire “cottage,” intact with original 19th- and 20th-century artwork, furnishings, decorative arts, and the personal and household items of daily life. Naumkeag served as a summer retreat for three generations of the fascinating Choate family and their staff. Hear their stories and catch a glimpse of American history. House tours depart every hour between 10:30AM – 3:30PM and are 45 minutes in length. 413-298-3239 x3016. 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($)

MYO Gifts/Crafts

Saturday, November 28, 9:30am-12:30pm
Turn trash into treasure when you make your own upcycled ornament, using yarn and CDs, during Stop ‘n’ Craft at the Emily Williston Memorial Library. 413-527-1031. 9 Park Street, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, November 28, 10am-4pm
Step back in time more than 200 years and meet the Society of the 17th Century, a group of re-enactors who will bring the historic Hall Tavern building at Historic Deerfield to life with an array of period arts, crafts, and trades. Also enjoy open-hearth cooking demonstrations, and make a handmade gift with the help of a museum educator. 413-774-5581. Visitor Center, 84B Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA. (FREE Members and Deerfield Residents, $ Non-members)

Monday, November 30, 12:30pm-3pm
Wreaths were used by various ancient cultures to symbolize success, eternal life, and victory. In more modern times, a wreath on the front door is a sign of welcome and generosity during the holiday season. Add a personal touch to your holiday decorations by adorning your own wreath or creating a table arrangement at the Storrs Library. The Longmeadow Gardeners will show you how. Bring your own wreath or container. Other materials provided. Call to register. 413-565-4181, ext. 1620. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (<$)

Monday, November 30, 5pm-8pm
Learn to make beautiful natural wreaths, seasonal symbols of welcome, and help decorate the doorways of Historic Deerfield. Bring your creativity, enthusiasm, and an extra pair of pruning shears. No experience required. Supplies and refreshments provided. 413-775-7179. 84B Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, November 28, 10am
In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (PG, 1988), shown as part of the Family Film Series at the Amherst Cinema, Director Terry Gilliam applies his Monty Python sensibilities to the “career” of famed German prevaricator Baron von Munchausen. The baron is seen quelling a war that he himself started, flying into the stratosphere on the back of a cannonball, ballooning to the moon, exploring the innards of a volcano, and being swallowed by a whale. In short, all of his fabulous lies are here presented as “truth,” played out in full view of nonplussed witnesses played by Eric Idle, Charles McKeown, Jack Purvis, and Sarah Polley. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (<$)

Textile Arts

Saturday, November 28, 10am-12:30pm
Learn to sew and support your community at the same time at “Sew-In Saturday” at Storrs Library. In addition to the satisfaction of creating something yourself, sewing promotes mindfulness and builds hand-eye coordination. And doing it in a group strengthens social bonds! Help the library sustain its membership in BagShare by sewing a book bag. Feel free to bring your own project to work on. Suitable for tweens/teens/adults. 413-565-4182. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Colonial History

Saturday, November 28, 10am-4pm
How did your Thanksgiving dinner compare to one prepared more than 200 years ago? Come to Historic Deerfield and see cooks prepare traditional Thanksgiving dishes using hearth cooking methods and find out. Learn about the history of harvest celebrations and the evolution of the American Thanksgiving holiday. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA. (FREE Members and Deerfield Residents, $ Non-members)

Friday, December 4, 4pm-9pm
Old Sturbridge Village invites you to return to a simpler time, when Christmas meant carols and community, not catalogs and chaos, at their annual Christmas by Candlelight event. Enjoy sleigh rides, carols, model railroads, holiday magic shows, dances, and story readings. Watch demonstrations of gingerbread baking and cider making, and learn about the history of holiday traditions such as roasted chestnuts, yule logs, mistletoe, and more! Visitors will also have an opportunity to make a Christmas keepsake to take home. This event runs December 4-6, 11-13, and 18-20, and advance ticket purchase is recommended. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA. ($)

Parenting/Professional Workshops

Monday, November 30, 6-7:30pm
Join other parents in informal conversation to share experiences, support each other through the challenges we all face, and talk (and laugh?) about the ups and downs of parenting, while you enjoy a free meal, at the “Parent Cafe,” sponsored by the Collaborative for Educational Services and held at the Belchertown Family Center. For parents of children ages birth-8. Pre-register for free childcare. 413-570-3061. 720 Franklin Street, Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, December 2, 3:30pm-5:30pm
The Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition presents “No Such Thing As a Bad Kid: Key Strength-Based Principles and Techniques for Understanding and Responding to Children, Youth, and Families Struggling with Emotional and Behavioral Challenges.” Strength-based practice is an emerging approach to helping at-risk children, youth, and their families that is exceptionally positive and hope-inspiring. Author and speaker Charlie Appelstein will highlight some of the key principles and techniques of this transforming modality. Open to all school personnel and social service providers who work with youth and families. CEUs available for $15. 413-207-5725. Easthampton High School, 70 Williston Avenue, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, December 2, 6pm-8pm
Enjoy a catered supper and then learn from nationally recognized speaker and author Charlie Appelstein, who will talk about “Responding Versus Reacting to Your Kids: Key Principles and Techniques for Effective Parenting,” courtesy of the Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition. He will discuss everything from positive parenting, preventing problem behavior, and building self-esteem to communication, consequences, and incentives. 413-207-5725. Cafe Commons, Easthampton High School, 70 Williston Avenue, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, December 2, 6pm-8pm
Join a community discussion about youth substance abuse, when the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition presents “What’s The Harm?” at the Mt. Greylock Regional High School. What are the risks of alcohol and drug experimentation to teens, and what are the responsibilities of adults in the community? Pizza served at 6pm, followed by a presentation and Q&A. Registration requested but not required. 413-663-7588, ext. 14. Meeting Room, 1781 Cold Spring Road, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, December 3, 6pm-7:30pm
Do you ever disagree about child-rearing with your child’s other parent? In “Two Parents, Two Parenting Styles,” presented by the Collaborative for Educational Services, you’ll learn various approaches to child rearing, look at how you were parented and its impact on how you raise your own children, and be introduced to parenting styles that are effective in raising healthy, caring kids. 413-586-4900, ext. 5568. Easthampton High School, 70 Williston Avenue, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, November 28, 10:30-11:30am
Come to the Sunderland Public Library for LEGO Club! The program allows children to explore the wonderful world of LEGOs with other interested children. A different theme is picked each session, and kids can build on that theme or build a creation of their own. After each club meeting, kids can put their LEGO creations on display at the Library for all to see until the next club. This program is geared for elementary school children (with an adult) but is open to kids of all ages. The LEGO Club will continue to meet every other Saturday. 413-665 2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, November 28, 10am-5pm
The Berkshire Museum’s Spark!Lab is open for drop in play. In Spark!Lab, everyone is an inventor! Spark!Lab is a hands-on, creative laboratory that engages children and families in the process of innovation: try the variety of activities, from creating a wheeled vehicle to experimenting with percussion to assembling safe electrical circuits. Visitors of all ages can work together to combine skills and ideas to create inventions with real-world applications. 413-443-7171. Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield, MA. (FREE with museum admission)

Sunday, November 29, 11am-2pm
Families can explore the Springfield Science Museum and meet the Roving Scientist for demonstrations and hands-on science activities. Free with museum admission. Every Sunday. Museum passes available at some local libraries. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Museum Adventures

Saturday, November 28, 2pm and 3pm
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is pleased to present Picture Book Theatre featuring Eric Carle’s “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” said the Sloth and Rooster’s Off To See The World. Directed by founder Therese Brady Donohue, Picture Book Theatre is now in its 10th season and is known for adapting picture books into puppets and dance productions suitable for all ages, especially the very young. 413-658-1126. 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA. ($)

Saturday, November 28, 1pm-4pm
The Norman Rockwell Museum presents Illustrators Ted and Betsy Lewin, who will discuss their new memoir, How To Babysit a Leopard, and Other True Stories from Our Travels Across Six Continents.The Lewins, beloved authors and illustrators of award-winning books for children, have traveled the world, including the Amazon River, Botswana, Egypt, Lapland, the Sahara Desert, and India. They will talk about adventures in these places, then children will create artwork inspired by some of them. Book signing to follow. Drop-in art activities offered throughout the day (children can design exotic creatures to take home). 413-298-4100. 9 Route 183, Stockbridge, MA. (FREE Members, $$ Non-members)

Friday, December 4, 10:15am
The Clark Art Institute is holding a New Parents Gallery Talk. New parents and their infants are welcome to visit the museum for an informal guided talk. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Choral Music

Sunday, November 29, 2pm
The Berkshire Hills Chorus of the Sweet Adelines has sung barbershop music for 45 years. With members from throughout Berkshire County, ranging in age from 18-70, the group performs the close, four-part, a cappella music that is characteristic of this American genre that originated in the 1800s. Enjoy their holiday concert at the Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street (Route 7), Pittsfield, MA. ($ Members, $$ Non-members)

Thursday, December 3, 5:30pm
The West Springfield Park & Recreation Department’s 28th annual Caroling on the Green invites everyone to join in a community sing-along, led by local artists and a children’s choir. Singing begins at 5:45pm, but be sure to arrive by 5:30pm to get your songbooks! This is an outdoor event, so dress warmly. 413-781-3020. Elm Street Gazebo, West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit: (cc) MOTT]

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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