September 12-18, 2020: Suggested Learning Ideas, Events & Resources for Western MA

Awarded the “Essential Agent of Change Award” by the MDPH’s Massachusetts Essentials for Childhood, Hilltown Families is recognized as a leading family strengthening initiative in the region, promoting “positive parenting through the social norm of community social connectedness.” Serving Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families continues to support the development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, farms, individuals, schools, and non-profit organizations are invited to collaborate with Hilltown Families in their community outreach. With 10,000 opt-in subscribers and over 2.7 million visits to our web site alone, Hilltown Families can deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out about our affordable advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by contacting us at info@hilltownfamilies.org… and scroll down to discover learning ideas and community-based educational opportunities to explore at home and outdoors this weekend and next week.

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Virtual. Adapted In-Person/Outdoors & Indoors.

Girls Scouts. Western MA. Girl Scouts is a way of life that brings out the best in your girl, and helps her bring out the best in everyone around her. The Girl Scouts have a variety of options your girl can choose from – virtual programs and troop or in-person programs and troops, or hybrid mix of both. Sign your girl up today to start her leadership journey! While your girl is learning about the outdoors, STEM, important life skills, and finances, she’ll also discover new ways to make your family and community stronger, kinder, and better for everyone. For more information: info@gscwm.org; 413-584-2602; gscwm.org.

Options: Adapted In-Person/Outdoors. Virtual. Hybrid.

Join Girls on the Run this fall! In today’s unpredictable world, the social-emotional skills and strategies learned at GOTR are more important than ever. At GOTR, youth build self-confidence, develop healthy relationships, and learn skills such as managing emotions, resolving conflict, and helping others. GOTR will be offering three options for this fall: In-person, hybrid, and all virtual. Their teams are smaller this season, and they have adapted all the lessons to ensure safety and social distancing. Fall season begins September 14 for eight weeks, ending with a site based 5K celebrations and/or their virtual GOTR 5K on November 14. Contact Alison.berman@girlsontherun.org for more information and see their website for team options: www.girlsontherunwesternma.org

Virtual, Adapted In-Person/ Indoors, Private Tutoring & Coaching

New England Center for Circus Arts. Brattleboro, VT. Come to the New England Center for Circus Arts to add creative physical activity to your child’s learning experience. Join their classes or bring your own group for private lessons. Online and in-person options provide inspiring and fun movement activities for circus enthusiasts and novice students wanting to add balance and dexterity to their lives in a fun and unique way. Circus is a broad and active art form offering aerials, acrobatics, juggling, clowning, trampoline, and more for developing team-building, diligence, and invention. Classes can be simply circus or connect with NECCA to consider an educational residency model where circus is the medium for framing experiential learning discussions. For more information: info@necenterforcircusarts.org; 802-254-9780; necenterforcircusarts.org.

Virtual

Yoga Sanctuary. Northampton, MA. Join Yoga Sanctuary for yoga for the whole family – online! Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Yoga with Baby, and Yoga for Teens 6 week series start the week of 9/21/20. The Prenatal Yoga and Postpartum Yoga with Baby series include check-in, breathwork, meditation, and physical (asana) practices for pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. Yoga for Teens provides a welcoming space for all teens to connect deeply to breath and movement, building flexibility and strength, and cultivating inner resilience. All kinds of bodies and experience levels welcome. Their weekly adult classes provide nurturing and expert instruction in alignment-based hatha, flow, yin and restorative yoga. Join their strong, sweet community where their yoga practice nourishes body and soul. For more information: info@yoga-sanctuary.com; 413-585-9642; www.yoga-sanctuary.com.

Virtual. Adapted In-Person/Outdoors.

Hilltown Sleddogs. West Chesterfield, MA. Meet Marla BB & the Hilltown Sleddogs, who mushed 750 miles across interior Alaska last winter on the Iditarod/Serum Run Trail. In 1925, mail carriers mushed antitoxin to dying children of Nome during a Diptheria Epidemic. On February 22, 2020, the Team mushed from Nenana (near Fairbanks) past the Tolovana Roadhouse (where Wild Bill Shannon almost froze to death) onto the Yukon River through Native Athabaskan Villages then across Norton Sound & the Bering Sea Coastal Yupik Villages. They camped in Arctic Oven Tents at -45 degrees, slept in tribal halls, community centers & schools where children ran out to greet the dogs. On March 13th, the Expedition arrived in Nome only to learn the rest of the country was in lock-down due to a Pandemic! For more information: hilltownsleddogs@gmail.com; 413-296-0187; www.hilltownsleddogs.com.


Discover virtual & adapted programming in our 2020/2021 Class Directory for Western MA!


Virtual

Community Music School of Springfield’s Prelude Preschool of the Arts. Springfield, MA. Prelude Preschool of the Arts’ remote programming features music, visual arts, theater, movement, and academic instruction – presented within engaging themes while nurturing 2-6 year-olds’ social-emotional development. Choose from 1 of 3 programs and a host of enriching add-ons to fit your family’s needs best, whether you’re keeping your little one at home all day, or you’d like to infuse some art into after-school time. Prelude’s remote programs are thoughtfully designed to nurture your child’s creativity and love for learning while fostering social connections. Prelude is also committed to providing caregiver-turned-teacher support, both in the form of easy-to-access materials and optional adult group interactions. Preschool. Early Childhood Education Program. Ages 2-6yrs. For more information: rstorozyk@communitymusicschool.com; 413-750-9560; communitymusicschool.com/prelude.

Indoor & Outdoor Program

YMCA in Greenfield Preschool. Greenfield, MA. An exceptional experience for the young learner! Healthy child development and learning starts early. That’s why YMCA in Greenfield Preschool offers an early childhood education program that helps children learn the essential skills they’ll need later on. Certified, trained, supportive staff work to help everyone have the best possible start in their education! The Y Preschool allows children to: grow personally, clarify values, develop specific skills, improve personal & family relationships, and become better leaders. Early learners become instilled with the YMCA’s mission of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility while encouraging an atmosphere of cooperation, mutual respect, and a safe environment for all. Preschool. Ages 2.9-5yrs. For more information: ljackson@your-y.org; 413-773-3646; www.your-y.org.


Find what you’re looking for in our 2020/2021 Preschool & Daycare Directory for Western MA!


The 10th Annual Will Bike 4 Food is taking place with a virtual twist! Join The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for a month-long version of their WB4F cycling event to provide emergency meals to local families & individuals during Hunger Action Month in September. Riders of all ages & abilities are welcome to participate, cycling at any time, anyplace, and any distance to raise funds to support neighbors facing hunger. To encourage WB4F participants to stay active while safely engaging with fellow cyclists, The Food Bank is partnering with local fitness establishments, offering virtual fitness classes & online workshops. Individuals/teams register at WillBike4Food.org. Registration is $35 to benefit The Food Bank. Inquiries: jennifert@foodbankwma.org.


ADVERTISE HERE: Partner with Hilltown Families in your online advertising! Delivering your message each week to over 25,000 subscribers, web visitors, and social media followers, Hilltown Families can deliver your message to thousands of readers in Western MA who are committed to their community and willing to support one another in times of need. In-person and virtual event organizers, local and online businesses, virtual and local service providers, non-profit organizations, and individuals are encouraged to reach out to find out about our affordable advertising options and marketing packages. To find out how we can partner together in your online marketing and outreach, contact Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org.


SUGGESTED LEARNING IDEAS,
RESOURCES, & EVENTS
September 12-18, 2020

Saturday, Sept 12Sunday, Sept 13
Monday, Sept 14Tuesday, Sept 15Wednesday, Sept 16
Thursday, Sept 17Friday, Sept 18

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Online and in-person events and resources shared below are done so as a courtesy and not as an endorsement. While we do our best to share accurate and up-to-date information, please take the time to confirm information, age appropriateness, registration requirements, safety protocols, and associated costs.

Discover virtual & adapted programming in our 2020/2021 Class Directory for Western MA!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Suggested Events

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


HAWK MIGRATION SEASON

September is the season of Hawk migration. But Hawks aren’t the only bird of prey you can spot migrating this month. According to Mass Audubon, “Most numerous is the broad-winged hawk, which at times can be seen in flocks, or kettles, of hundreds, occasionally thousands of birds, “boiling” high into the sky. The next most commonly seen September migrants are the feisty sharp-shinned hawk, American kestrel, osprey, northern harrier (marsh hawk), and turkey vulture.” This seasonal phenomenon can be a catalyst for learning about ornithology and meteorology. Knowing the differences between different raptors and how weather patterns impact migration conditions not only supports interests and education but can also help us connect to seasonal changes through native species and local habitat. Learn more about hawk migration, what to listen for, and other raptors of the world to compare and contrast with these videos.

 

LOCAL RESOURCES

Depending on where you live in Western MA, select a spot nearest your home for an outdoor morning adventure watching hawks:

  • Mt. Tom State Reservation (Easthampton, MA)
  • Fobes Hill (Windsor, MA)
  • Mt. Greylock State Reservation (Adams, MA)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES


Find what you’re looking for in our 2020/2021 Preschool & Daycare Directory for Western MA!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Suggested Events

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


APPLE SEASON

Apples, one of the earliest (and most delicious) signs of fall, have been an essential part of New England agriculture for centuries. McIntosh apples are undeniably the most iconic of New England’s apples and makeup over two-thirds of the region’s apple crop! Macs and countless other delicious and fascinating varieties of apples are grown at orchards across western Massachusetts. Families can enjoy this year’s apple crop by visiting an orchard to pick or purchase a bushel. Participate in the tradition of apple-picking and support local agriculture! Check with these local apple orchards for picking conditions and opportunities this year: Park Hill Orchard (Easthampton), Outlook Farm (Westhampton), Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery (Ashfield), Quonquont Farm (Whately), Clarkdale Fruit Farms (Deerfield), and Bashista Orchards (Southampton). Before heading out, learn about the history of the apple pie, and then while visiting these properties, take a picnic lunch and read Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking” and William Cullen Bryant’s “The Planting of an Apple-Tree.”

“Have you ever walked into a grocery store and wondered where all the varieties of apples came from? You might find SnapDragon, Pixie Crunch, Cosmic Crisp, Jazz, or Ambrosia next to the more familiar Red Delicious and Granny Smith. So why are there so many types? Theresa Doud describes the ins and outs of breeding apples.” – TED-Ed

Now that you’ve learned about the different types of apples in your grocery store check out these apple recipes from our contributing writers, integrating culinary arts and kitchen math into your apple lessons this month: Apple Chutney & Apple Cake.

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Discover virtual & adapted programming in our 2020/2021 Class Directory for Western MA!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Suggested Events:

 

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


AUTUMN FOLIAGE

Fall in Western Mass is when nature literally takes center stage; a destination visitors outside the area flock to because of the gorgeous dynamism of the season. The trees and their changing foliage are great connectors for kids (in a sense they connect to themselves!) to the outdoors and their sense of place. In this change lies a wonderful community-based educational opportunities tied to art and science. Read our post, Autumn Leaf Collecting Supports Art & Science, to see how you can get your kid hooked on fall by collecting, creating and learning in their own backyards! Also check out these videos to support learning about botany, chemistry, and ecology through the lens of fall foliage!

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Find what you’re looking for in our 2020/2021 Preschool & Daycare Directory for Western MA!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Suggested Events:

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


SEED SAVING

Once you’ve reaped the delicious benefits of a summer’s harvest, look to your dinner plate to find a purpose for what you’ve grown. Seed saving is a way to practice self-sufficiency and resilience, and also helps to preserve plant varieties for years to come. In addition to the cultural and agricultural value of holding onto these plants (and their seeds), practicing seed saving at home is a great way to engage in hands-on science learning, supporting interests in botany, gardening, and food security. Read more in our post, Seed Capital Provides Return for Nature-Based Education.

Check out our literary guide for “A Seed is Sleepy,” an incredibly rich textual exploration of the world of seeds. Using our guide, families can learn about the science of seeds by finding hands-on place-based ways to connect with the environment: Literary Guide for Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long’s “A Seed is Sleepy”.

For further seed-related learning, check out these titles:

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Discover virtual & adapted programming in our 2020/2021 Class Directory for Western MA!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Suggested Events:

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


MONARCH BUTTERFLIES

Birds aren’t the only fauna who migrate. Monarch butterflies make perhaps the most epic of all migratory journeys. Though their long trek can sometimes take up to four generations to complete, it spans an almost unbelievably large portion of North America. The butterflies begin high in the mountains of southwestern Mexico, and, come springtime, gradually work their way as far north as Saskatchewan, Canada and as far east as Maine and the southernmost parts of New Brunswick. The distinctive black-and-orange butterflies lay their eggs along the way, and depend on the availability of milkweed-filled habitat throughout their journey. While no one butterfly makes the round trip from Mexico to Maine and back again, the pattern of monarch movement across the continent is incredibly sophisticated and, at times, beautiful.

Much like bees, butterflies play an essential role in our local (and global!) ecosystems. As pollinators, butterflies help to ensure that plants exchange genetic material, something we depend on to enjoy many of our favorite foods! However, changes in the way that humans live and how we interact with our surroundings have caused butterfly populations to decline (especially the iconic monarch). Learning about butterflies and their role in our ecosystem is essential to understanding and appreciating our surroundings; luckily, opportunities for learning about this beautiful Lepidoptera abound!

“Habitat loss and the destruction of native plants have been responsible for the rapid decline of the monarch butterfly, the most recognized butterfly in North America. To help protect these majestic insects as they migrate, citizens in the U.S. are resorting to a simple yet powerful tool: gardening. Gardens full of milkweed and nectar plants can serve both as rest stops for adult monarchs and as nurseries for their eggs.” – National Geographic. Learn more about their plight and the value of planting milkweed and nectar plants in this National Geographic video:

The classic orange of a Monarch Butterfly can be found in many different types of animals. But why is the color blue so rare in nature? “Among living things, the color blue is oddly rare. Blue rocks, blue sky, blue water, sure. But blue animals? They are few and far between. And the ones that do make blue? They make it in some very strange and special ways compared to other colors. In this video, we’ll look at some very cool butterflies to help us learn how living things make blue, and why this beautiful hue is so rare in nature.” – It’s Okay To Be Smart

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Find what you’re looking for in our 2020/2021 Preschool & Daycare Directory for Western MA!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Suggested Events

 

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOURS

We’re rich in walking tours here in western Massachusetts; an excellent community-based educational learning activity families can do together. Unlike scheduled tours guided by interpreters, self-guided walking tours offer lots of flexibility and opportunities to social distancing. Find out more about these local resources in our post, Over 25 Walking Tours Support Community-Based Education in Western MA.

We are also fortunate to have easy access to nature in our communities through local trails, nature preserves, and forests. This diversity of options inspires naturalists and conservation-minded enthusiasts to lead guided walks, hikes, and river paddling trips, teaching our local landscapes and biodiversity. Find our about guided & self-guided hikes and Vistas in our Sept/Oct Season edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA.

Thanks to the internet, we can take a virtual walking tour of places worldwide, learning about natural history and cultural heritage through their landscape and cityscapes. Here are a few walking tours you take from the comfort of your couch. Destinations include: Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka, Japan; Nami Island in Chuncheon, South Korea; Back streets and shopping streets of Le Marais, France; and Beverly Hills.

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Discover virtual & adapted programming in our 2020/2021 Class Directory for Western MA!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Suggested Events:

 

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


CATERPILLARS

Tomato hornworm. Tent Caterpillar. Monarch Caterpillar. Yellow Woolly Bears. These are New England caterpillars’ names, many of us know, which is limiting when considering that there are 20,000 different species of known caterpillars around the world! In the late summer, searching for caterpillars in veggie gardens, meadows, and trees’ leaves before turning autumnal colors can be a catalyst for learning about botany, entomology, and ecology. Getting curious and asking “why-what-how-who” questions is an excellent place to start! Why is this caterpillar on this plant? How did it get there? What is it’s defense mechanism? Who is it protecting itself from? How does the caterpillar turn into a butterfly? Is it a butterfly, or is it a moth? When will it metamorphose? Sketch or photograph your discoveries. Search for answers online or ask a local naturalist. Understanding the nature and behavior of native species helps strengthen a sense of place by allowing us to read our landscape through flora and fauna surrounding us and how everything fits into seasonal patterns.

What’s going on inside a caterpillar cocoon/chrysalis:

Caterpillar cameos:

The birth of a caterpillar:

How to draw a caterpillar for kids:

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Hilltown Families’ list of Suggested Events is supported in part by grants from the Amherst, Bernardston, Buckland, Chester, Gill, Goshen, Hadley, Heath, Hinsdale-Peru, Holyoke, Montgomery, Mt. Washington, New Salem, Northern Berkshire, Pelham, Plainfield, Rowe, Shelburne, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Washington, Westhampton, and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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