21 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Chrysanthemums to Dracula. Dia de los Muertos to Halloween.

While it is well known internationally, the Day of the Dead originated in Mexico, where it is celebrated as a public holiday. Dia de los Muertos honors the deceased through the creation of altars and other traditions and ceremonies. You can learn about the significance of this holiday in Latinx culture, and enjoy performances from the Aztec group Xochiquetzal, at Mount Holyoke College on Tuesday, November 1, 7:30pm. Campus Center Lower Level, 100 Elm Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Chrysanthemums to Dracula. Science Fiction to Orchestra. Dia de los Muertos to Halloween.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:  Celebrate autumn weather, the harvest of pumpkins, and local music at Pumpkinfest on Saturday, October 29, 10am-9pm! This all ages event will feature live local music and dance all day long, as well as a pumpkin judging contest. There will also be a pumpkin decorating contest. Live music will include local artists such as Jimmy Just Quit and Curly Fingers Dupree. Visit the Franklin County Pumpkinfest Facebook Page for more information. Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)


PsychologyHauntingsMusic StudiesZoologyLiterary AdaptationFood CultureCemetery StudiesEtymologyService-Based LearningFood SecurityFilm StudiesScience FictionCulture StudiesDay of the DeadLocal HistoryHorticulture


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Psychology/Halloween

“At this very moment, people are lining up somewhere to scare themselves, be it with a thrill-ride or a horror movie. In fact, in October of 2015 alone, about 28 million people visited a haunted house in the US. But you might wonder: What could possibly be fun about being scared? Margee Kerr examines the biology and psychology behind what makes fear so fun.” – TED-Ed

View full lesson at Why is being scared so fun? by Margee Kerr.

HAUNTED HOUSE
Saturday, October 29, 2pm-4pm
Children of all ages are invited to wear their Halloween costumed and walk through the haunted house at Heritage Woods Senior Living. This is the 3rd annual haunted house. All are welcome. 413-786-9704. 462 Main Street. Agawam, MA. (FREE)

HAUNTED TRAIN RIDE
Saturday, October 29, 5:30pm-8:30pm
Look Park in Florence is a destination for parents whose children love trains. The park is home to a Steamer Train, offering a one-mile ride around the Park and Zoo. The train runs regularly and rides last about 10 minutes. On October28, 29, and 30, you can get in the Halloween spirit by taking a haunted train ride! This program is weather dependent. For more information, call 413-584-5457 or check the Look Park website. 300 North Main Street. Florence, MA. (<$)

HAUNTED HOUSE
Sunday, October 30, 6pm-9:30pm
Why do people enjoy feeling spooked, or scared? In a safe, controlled environment, frightening, spooky, or creepy sights can be exhilarating or even funny. This year, the Chesterfield Haunted House will have a circus theme. Come get spooked! 401 Main Road. Chesterfield, MA. (DONATION

HORROR IN FILM
Sunday, October 30, 2pm
The spooky fall season leading up to Halloween is a great time to rewatch classic films or see them for the first time. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a classic 1950s science fiction / horror film. Amherst Cinema is screening this film as part of a 1950s science fiction series, along with an introduction and discussion lead by film expert and filmmaker Nina Kleinberg. 413- 253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Music Studies

ORCHESTRA
Saturday, October 29, 10am-11:30am
Families are invited to celebrate the film scores of John Williams, who composed for movies such as Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and E.T. The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra will provide live demonstrations and an “instrument petting zoo.” Feel free to dress in costume! Abbey Chapel. College Street. South Hadley, MA. (<$)

John Williams conducts Jurassic Park with the Boston pop…

A CAPPELLA
Saturday, October 29, 11am and 1pm
A cappella music, a genre of music consisting of vocals without instrumental accompaniment, has its origins in Jewish and Christian worship songs. A cappella, today, exists in a variety of forms. You can hear a cappella groups from Williams College as they perform for audiences of all ages at the Clark Art Institute. Singers will perform a wide range of musical genres, from popular songs and jazz standards to original compositions. Ephoria will perform at 11am, The Octet at 1pm. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Zoology

MAMMALS
Saturday, October 29, 11am
All kids are scientists! You can encourage their inquisitive minds from a very young age, helping your children to enjoy science. This Young Scientists’ Club event at the Gaylord Memorial Library will focus on animals: “Mammoths, tigers, and bears, oh my!” The program will begin with a book reading. Participants will learn about prehistoric animals with hands on activities. No registration is required. Ages 5 and up. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

ZOO ADVENTURES
Saturday, October 29, 11am-1pm
If you’ve put a lot of effort into your Halloween costume, you may want to wear it more than once. Costumes are not just for trick-or-treating, there are lots of community events to celebrate Halloween. “Spooky Safari” at Zoo in Forest Park invited you to come dressed in your favorite Halloween costume for trick-or-treating, costume contests, games, prizes, a raffle and more. 413-733-2251. 293 Summer Avenue. Springfield, MA. (<$)

NATIVE SPECIES
Sunday, October 30, 2pm-4pm
Spending time outdoors can connect us with our senses as we watch and listen to animals, and take in the smells and sensations of being in nature. Animals, too, use their senses to find food and survive. Kids ages six and up, and their caregivers, are invited to a guided hike to learn about local animals and their survival techniques. Children must be accompanied by an adult. This hike is about 2 ½ miles long, and covers easy terrain. Please bring water, bug spray, and sunscreen, and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Meet at the Notch Visitor Center of Mount Holyoke Range State Park.. 413-253-2883. 1500 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Literature

LITERARY ADAPTATION/FILM STUDIES
Saturday, October 29, 12pm-3pm
Dracula is a well known character and a popular Halloween costume, year after year. Did you know that the story of Dracula can be traced back to Romanian folklore influences. Dracula was written by Bram Stoker in 1897, and later became a play before it was turned into the 1931 horror film and numerous renditions as spotlighted in the video above. In a presentation at the Westfield Athenaeum, Children of the Night: A History of Dracula in Literature and on Screen, Barry Dietz will illuminate the history of Dracula. There will also be a lunch, and raffle prizes. This presentation will take place in the Lang Auditorium at library. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA. 

Learn more about the history of Dracula in film and across time…

FOOD CULTURE

Called “pompions” by the first European colonists, pumpkins were a food essential to winter survival – and they were grown in many more varieties than they typically are today. The custom of carving pumpkins into Jack O’Lanterns was introduced to American culture by Irish immigrants, influencing our cultural landscape to this day. Traditionally carved from root vegetables, including turnips and potatoes, new hybrids of pumpkins are grown specifically for carving.

PUMPKIN CARVING
Saturday, October 29, 10am-12pm
Pumpkin carving and outdoor scavenger hunts are two ways to engage with nature as it changes around us during the fall season. Families are invited to pumpkin carving and a scavenger hunt of Halloween creatures in the house at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. Please call ahead to reserve a pumpkin. For more information, call the Trustees at 413-628-4485 x3.207 Bryant Road. Cummington, MA. (<$)

PUMPKIN FESTIVAL
Saturday, October 29, 10am-9pm
Celebrate autumn weather, the harvest of pumpkins, and local music at Pumpkinfest! This all ages event will feature live local music and dance all day long, as well as a pumpkin judging contest. There will also be a pumpkin decorating contest. Live music will include local artists such as Jimmy Just Quit and Curly Fingers Dupree. Visit the Franklin County Pumpkinfest Facebook Page for more information. Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

There are so many different uses for pumpkins!  One of America’s oldest native crops, modern day uses include carving as ornaments for Halloween, prepared as pies, and highlighted as a main attraction in agricultural fairs (largest pumpkin contests) and fall festivals (pumpkin roll & pumpkin games).  Needless to say, pumpkins are an integrated part of our fall traditions in Western Massachusetts. Read more about pumpkins from our Sept/Oct edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA.

Cemetery Studies

GUIDED WALK
Saturday, October 29, 11am-12pm
Cemetery walks are a spooky and educational activity for fall. This tour of the Forestdale Cemetery, lead by city historian Penni Martorell, will educate you through examples of monuments, markers, crypts, crosses and more. Learn about the history of Holyoke’s founding families, as well as some of the facts of death and dying in the 19th century. The tour meets at the Wistariahurst visitor center. Reservations are required. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. (<$)

GRAVESTONE STUDIES/LECTURE
Sunday, October 30, 2pm
Filled with stone markers that chronicle a community’s history, local cemeteries can provide visitors with a look deep into the past. “Gravestone Studies” is its own academic discipline overlapping with disciplines such as history and anthropology. Terry McMaster’s photography exhibition, “Ancient Gravestones of The Elbow/Palmer, Massachusetts, and Vicinity,” explored gravestones from an artistic perspective. In this closing exhibition lecture, he will discuss the Scots-Irish of the area captured in his artwork. This presentation at Palmer Historical and Cultural Centerwill examine the gravestones of Scots-Irish and will look at the impact those pioneers had on that landscape. 413-289-9295. 2072 Main Street. Three Rivers, MA.(FREE)

CEMETERY TOUR
Monday, October 31, 2pm
Believe it or not, Halloween can be the perfect time to learn about local history. Even spooky cemeteries can be resources for learning about past residents of your town. You can start your Halloween celebrations with guided tours from representatives of Historic Deerfield. Participants will tour the Old Burying Ground and discover the history of the families that lived in Deerfield. 413-774-5581. 80 Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Related posts:

ETYMOLOGY
With this TED-Ed talk, LET your interest in cemeteries and graveyards lead you on a vernacular journey towards the origins of the word, hearse.

SERVICE-BASED LEARNING

FOOD SECURITY
Sunday, October 30, 1pm-3pm
Halloween is a chance to meet your neighbors and connect to your community. This year, you can make Halloween an even greater giving experience volunteering with your child! At this Hilltown Families Family Volunteer Day with The Food Bank of Western MA there will be a number of educational and hands-on activities for children and their caregivers. Engaging children in community service can increase their participation as future volunteers, helping to create more resilient and sustainable communities. Register online. 97 North Hatfield Road. Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Film Studies

SCIENCE FICTION
Sunday, October 30, 2pm
The spooky fall season leading up to Halloween is a great time to rewatch classic films or see them for the first time. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a classic 1950s science fiction / horror film. Amherst Cinema is screening this film as part of a 1950s science fiction series, along with an introduction and discussion lead by film expert and filmmaker Nina Kleinberg. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Culture Studies

DAY OF THE DEAD
Tuesday, November 1, 7:30pm
While it is well known internationally, the Day of the Dead originated in Mexico, where it is celebrated as a public holiday. Dia de los Muertos honors the deceased through the creation of altars and other traditions and ceremonies. You can learn about the significance of this holiday in Latinx culture, and enjoy performances from the Aztec group Xochiquetzal, at Mount Holyoke College. Campus Center Lower Level, 100 Elm Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Local History

GREENFIELD
Wednesday, November 2, 6pm
Greenfield was once a center for industrial work. This First Wednesday Speaker Series event at the Greenfield Public Library will delve into Greenfield’s history through the perspective of men and women who works in its plants. Tom Goldscheider will relay this history, drawing information from archival materials at the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

AMHERST
Friday, November 4, 12:15pm
Western Massachusetts is home to many historic school houses people can visit to learn more about the history of education. The Little Red Schoolhouse on the edge of the Amherst College campus is an eighty year old school house which was slated for demolition in 2012. The school house was preserved through an active effort of community members working in combination with the college. Thus, the structure (which has since been moved) provides insight into the challenges of historical preservation. This “History Bites” lunchtime lecture from the Amherst Historical Society will educate attendees on the history of the schoolhouse. 413-256-0678. Strong House, 67 Amity Street. Amherst. (FREE)

HORTICULTURE

FLOWERS
Friday, November 4, 7:30pm
“Chrysanthemum” is a beautiful word for an equally beautiful family of flowers. The word is derived from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower), though it refers to many different types of flowers in a range of colors and appearances. You can explore various chrysanthemums at Smith College Botanic Garden’s Fall Chrysanthemum Show. First, you may want to attend this lecture: “The Lost Wilderness; Rediscovering William Francis Ganong’s New Brunswick,”by Nicholas Guitard. Photographer and naturalist Nicholas Guitard will relay the journey of William Francis Ganong who mapped, photographed and documented the physical geography of the New Brunswick wilderness. A reception at the Lyman Plant House and preview of the Fall Chrysanthemum Show in the illuminated Lyman Conservatory will follow. 413-585-2740. 16 College Lane. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Blandford, Bernardston, Chesterfield, Erving, Holyoke, Montague, Montgomery, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Warwick and Williamsburg Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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