Berkshire Family Fun: July 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
July 2015

“I love receiving Hilltown Families as it give me ideas to share with my family and others around me. We should all support Hilltown Families so they can continue and be an asset to our community. ” Susan Robert (Cheshire, MA)

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of July. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.


Berkshire Family Fun, a project of Hilltown Families, is sponsored in part by MASS MoCA:


Berkshire Family Fun is also supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltowns Celebrate their History & the Season this Weekend

3 Hilltown Celebrations

As part of Ashfield’s 250 celebration, 396 rockets will light up the sky over Ashfield Lake on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 9pm! Preceded by a free potluck community supper at Town Fall and an afterparty at The Lakehouse. Other places to wine and dine include Elmer’s and Country Pie! Ashfield, MA (FREE)

This Father’s Day weekend in the Hilltowns, three communities celebrate the season and their history!

ASHFIELD

Ashfield is celebrating its 250th birthday this weekend! On Saturday, June 20, a fun-filled parade will traverse the streets with unicycles, antique vehicles, costumes, and many, many community organizations taking part, beginning at 10am.. Starts at the intersection of Emmett Rd & 116 in South Ashfield, goes through the center of town, and ends at Belding Park. Make a day of it by visiting the farmers’ market, enjoying food and music on the Common, and participating in a community and history scavenger hunt at 12:30pm. Folks can dance or clap along at a 2pm contra dance or visit the Ashfield Historical Society’s textile window displays. (FREE) Then from 6pm – 9pm is the Party Under the Stars, a great and festive community event where you can mingle with your friends and neighbors! There will be live music, food, and beverages. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-628-4441. Curtis House, 14 South Street. ($)

CHARLEMONT

Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of Charlemont at this daylong event filled with fascinating local stories, songs, food, games, a scavenger hunt and entertainment on Saturday, June 20 from 9:30am – 8:30pm. 413-339-0117. Downtown. (FREE) Then on Sunday morning from 8-10am, there will be a a community pancake breakfast sponsored by the Friends of the Charlemont Fairgrounds. 413-625-2623. Town Fairgrounds ($)

BECKET

The summer solstice (June 21, 2015) marks the start of summer, the day on which the sun looks highest in the sky and the longest stretch of daylight of the year. Mark this special day at the Becket Arts Center‘s Summer Solstice Community Celebration, where visitors will enjoy an opening reception for a new art exhibit, children’s activities, a silent auction, food, and live music from Becket native, Bobby Sweet. 4pm – 9pm. 413-623-6635. 7 Brooker Hill Road (< $)

Nature-Based Education Supported via Berkshire BioBlitz

6th Annual Berkshire BioBlitz

Families are invited to be citizen scientists in the Berkshires, June 19th & 20th at the Berkshire Bioblitz! From their participation in the bioblitz, kids will learn to identify plant and animal species that they see often, and learn about the role that each species plays within the local ecosystem. Participate in a mammal tracking workshop, Owl Prowl and Moth-Light demo. Great for budding naturalists!

In celebration of local biodiversity, Berkshire County’s annual BioBlitz will be held at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary on Holmes Road in Pittsfield starting at 12noon on Friday, June 19, and ending at 12noon on Saturday, June 20. This year’s free event is hosted by Mass Audubon’s Berkshire Sanctuaries at their Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary and co-sponsored by Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Dr. Augie’s Science Education Programs and the Berkshire 4-H. Canoe Meadows is home to a wide variety of plants and trees as well as turtles, ospreys, otters, and owls. Gentle, flat trails wind through the sanctuary’s scenic woods, fields, and wetlands, and along the edge of the Housatonic River.

The BioBlitz is an opportunity for biologists, naturalists and environmentalists to work in collaboration with the general public to gather in a given area and—in a 24-hour period— complete a formal survey of all living species while seeing first-hand the importance of a healthy, active ecosystem in their own community. Approximately 20 specialists will be on hand to explore, identify and educate, including local mushroom specialist John Wheeler of the Berkshire Mycological Society, Scott LaGreca, lichen specialist, Cornell University, and author of Insects of New England and New York, Tom Murray. Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: June 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
June 2015

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of June. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“First thing I check in the morning… last thing I check at night.. Hilltown Families is my constant check in to keep [my family] out and about. It’s a great way to meet other local families and stay connected with all our friends spread out through these hills. Thanks for all the great ideas and insight!” Brehan Bruce of Becket, MA


Berkshire Family Fun, a project of Hilltown Families, is sponsored in part by MASS MoCA:


Berkshire Family Fun is also supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

3rd Thursday Celebrates Pittsfield Arts Community

Arts & Cultural Showcase Connects Community to Each Other

The City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development is revitalizing 3rd Thursday, the largest free outdoor event series in the Berkshires, and taking the festival back to the street for its ninth season!

Previously in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+ and Turners Falls RiverCulture, both of which support a community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, many communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.

This month, our focus moves to the Berkshires, where the city of Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays is about to kick off its 9th season of arts- and culture-based community events. A project of the city’s Office of Cultural Development, 3rd Thursdays celebrate all that the city has to offer, combing art, performance, food, and local culture to create exciting and engaging events that bring community members together in the heart of the city to learn and connect.  Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: May 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
May 2015

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of May. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“First thing I check in the morning… last thing I check at night.. Hilltown Families is my constant check in to keep [my family] out and about. It’s a great way to meet other local families and stay connected with all our friends spread out through these hills. Thanks for all the great ideas and insight!” Brehan Bruce of Becket, MA


Berkshire Family Fun, a project of Hilltown Families, is sponsored in part by MASS MoCA:


Berkshire Family Fun is also supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

New England Culture & Learning Through the Lens of Sheep & Wool

Sheep & Wool: Catalysts for Community-Based Education in Western MA

In the early spring, New England history and culture come alive with the arrival of newborn lambs and the shearing of sheep for the production of wool. The wool industry has strong ties to western Massachusetts, with annual events that celebrate our historical past and other events which showcase modern day shepherds and their flocks.

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Four community events take place this spring that are rich in learning opportunities! Baby animals, history, animal husbandry, and even fiber arts, are all great catalysts for learning through community engagement at these annual events: Read the rest of this entry »

Spring on Shaker Farm Comes Alive with Baby Animals

Hancock Shaker Village Celebrates Spring with New Life

Celebrate spring with baby animals at Hancock Shaker Village! The historic village opens for the season with a barn filled with new babies for visitors to welcome to the world. Families can take behind-the-scenes tours of the farm and learn about the village’s history and unique architecture, too!

Spring has come to Hancock Shaker Village in all its glory, bringing with it baby animals of all shapes and sizes! Opening for the season after months of snowy and frigid weather, the historic Shaker village is offering visitors the chance to celebrate the coming of spring by visiting with the farm animals’ new babies – chicks, lambs, piglets, and more!

Hancock Shaker Village’s first day of the season will be Saturday, April 11th, 2015, and families can pat, snuggle, and gaze longingly at the young creatures in the village’s historic 1826 round stone barn. A unique structure, the barn was once home to 52 dairy cows in the village’s heyday and, though it has been restored since, it remains a prominent structure within the village. Families will not only delight in visiting the baby animals, but will marvel at the unique structure’s materials and design both inside and out!

In addition to baby animals and a spring-y landscape, families can enjoy special Behind-the-Scenes farm tours at 11am and 1pm, where interpreters will lead families on an exploration of the village’s Field and Forest Trail to see beehives, composters, orchards, greenhouses, and pasture land. Fun and informative for children of all ages, the tour will give visitors a look at the farm’s inner workings and the cyclical nature of farm life. Exploring the greenhouses provides a glimpse of newly sprouted seedlings, beehives teach about pollination, and composters illustrate the final stop for bits of plants and vegetables.  Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: April 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
April 2015

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of April. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“I love Hilltown Families! I live in Berkshire County and am much more aware of fun family events in the surrounding towns to take my daughter too… My daughter has enjoyed so many events we would not have known about.” – Rebecca Heath (Pittsfield, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is also supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lenox Peeps Show Diorama Contest Presents Creative History Learning Opportunity

Let Your Puns Run Wild!

Peep through a history book or two in order to get ready for what might be the punniest contest of the year – the Lenox Peeps Show Diorama Contest calls for entrants to create dioramas featuring Peeps of any species as miniature mannequins in important moments in history. The most creative of dioramas not only dramatically display a piece of history, but use puns either in their title or within the diorama itself (think Declaration of Indepeepdence or the Leaning Tower of Peepsa). Read the rest of this entry »

Easter Events in Western MA, 2015

Easter Events in Western MA 2015

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Community events that celebrate Easter take place over the next few week.

We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2015.

2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA

Hopkins Memorial Forest’s annual Maplefest in the Berkshires

Hopkins Forest to Host Annual Maplefest

Traditionally, March is the busiest time for syrup producers in New England. As the days begin to warm, sugar-rich sap starts to flow upward from its winter storage in the trees’ roots to the twigs and buds; it is this sap that has been harvested for generations to produce maple products throughout the region. Sugaring has been going on in Hopkins Forest since the mid-80s when Williams College students constructed a sugar house in an existing maple grove.

With the moderating weather, maple sugaring season has arrived just in time for Hopkins Memorial Forest’s annual Maplefest celebration on Saturday, March 14, from 11am-2pm. This annual event, which exalts the time-honored Yankee tradition of producing home grown sweeteners from local maple trees, will enable people to observe and take part in the process of producing maple syrup, from the tree to the bottle.

Participants will be able to visit a working sugar house; to observe the finishing and bottling of the final product; to try their hands at tapping a tree and gathering sap; and to taste homemade syrup on pancakes and “sugar on snow.” In addition, there will be demonstrations of old-time evaporating methods—going back to the pre-colonial era—children’s activities, videos and more.  Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: March 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
March 2015

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of March. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“I appreciate the extensive calendar listings and postings on Hilltown Families. They cover a wide geographic area and inspire me to visit new museums and other places and also remind me to return to some old favorites.” – Bridget Spann (Williamstown, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is also supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Human Library Project Returns to Williams College

Human Library Project at Williams College
Promoting Dialogue, Reducing Prejudice
Friday & Saturday, February 27 & 28, 2015

Founded in 2001 in Denmark to promote human rights and social cohesion, the human library project seeks to create greater understanding between people and provide a safe space where we can learn more about each other and work through stereotypes and discrimination present in our community in order to ultimately to forge new connections between people. Williams College invites all members of the community to experience the Human Library, Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 from 1-4pm  at Paresky Center on the Williams College campus. This is a free, interactive event and reservations are not required.

The best kind of learning takes place experientially, when we get to interact with materials and navigate situations in a way that allows us to make discoveries. However, we can’t learn everything experientially – sometimes, we have to simply take someone’s word to be true when it’s not possible to have a lesson for ourselves. And what do we do when an experience isn’t accessible and nobody around us has any useful input? We head to the library, and find a book to provide us with the information that we desire. There’s just one problem with books, though – as information-filled as they are, they can’t answer your questions!

This Friday and Saturday, Williams College in Williamstown, MA, presents a unique (and very rare!) opportunity to not only learn from books, but to have them answer your questions, too! The 2015 Human Library is, as its name implies, made up not of actual books but of human books – human beings whose unique life experiences make up volumes and volumes of information, stored amongst a network of brain cells and synapses instead of a stack of bound pages. Open from 1-4pm on Friday, February 27th and Saturday, February 28th, the Human Library offers nearly forty different human books who can be checked out for periods of up to half an hour. Each human book will begin by answering a few (3-5) predetermined questions before allowing their borrower to ask their own questions… Read the rest of this entry »

Clark Lifts Lid on Major 20th Century Modernist Movement

Machine Age Modernism Exhibit At Clark Art Institute Captures Turmoil & Upheaval

Clark Art Institute’s Machine Age Modernism exhibition explores groundbreaking printmaking and offers community-based learning opportunity on art history. Exhibition opens February 28, 2015 in Williamstown, MA.

The Clark Art Institute considers the history and politics that inspired many artists working during and between World Wars I and II in the exhibition Machine Age Modernism: Prints from the Daniel Cowin Collection. Influenced by such prewar movements as Futurism and Cubism, and using innovative techniques developed by artists associated with London’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art in the 1930s and 1940s, artists of the Machine Age defied aesthetic and technical conventions in order to convey the vitality of industrial society and changed printmaking in the process. Machine Age Modernism will be on view in the Clark Center February 28–May 17, 2015.
Read the rest of this entry »

10 Days of Play: A Multi-Sensory Experience To Energize The Mind

The Science of Play Opens Up Creative & Critical Thinking

Play comes in many forms, but whatever it looks like, it’s great for your brain! The Berkshire Museum celebrates the importance of play during their annual event, 10 Days of Play. Held now through February 22nd, 10 Days of Play celebrates the recreational and educational value of play amongst community members of any age. Read the rest of this entry »

Annual Winter Celebrations in Western MA: Your Cure to Cabin Fever!

Winter Celebrations in Western MA Spotlight Local Culture

During this part of the year, the cold and dark make it difficult to truly enjoy the outdoors. For the past month, temperatures in the single digits (and beyond!) have kept kids and adults alike on the couch instead of in the snow, and we’re all starting to get cabin fever! Luckily, mid-winter ’tis the season to celebrate, as western Massachusetts comes alive with seasonal festivals galore. The coming weeks bring a deluge of indoor and outdoor community celebrations happening across western Massachusetts, offering families opportunities for winter sports, outdoor adventures, friendly competition, community-building, and learning of all kinds! Read the rest of this entry »

Trust In The Trustees. Winter Staycation is Where It’s At!

The Trustees of Reservations Offer Accessible Winter Family Fun for School Vacation

Photo credit: (c) Sienna WildfieldPlanning to staycation during February school vacation week? If so, The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) have you covered with community-based programs and activities for all ages designed to expand your family’s horizons. Whether it’s learning to snowshoe, identifying animal tracks, or making maple sugar, The Trustees have programs to teach you and your kids something new this winter across western MA! Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: February 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
February 2015

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of February. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“This was the first year my three year old participated in the Valentine’s Day swap & we had a blast making and receiving our cards in the mail. This site truly enhances what western Massachusetts is all about community and our great state!” – Summer Mikaitis (Pittsfield, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is also supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Youth Mentoring

How Building Relationships Strengthens the Fabric of A Community

Children benefit greatly from positive interactions with adults, and can gain confidence, skills, knowledge, and experience from close relationships with caring and involved adults. In addition to relationships with parents and other family members, relationships with mentors help to give children and teens these same things. Mentors – dedicated and caring adults who enjoy spending time with and supporting children – help to provide a non-parental positive adult influence in their mentees’ lives and support children in gaining confidence, making healthy choices, developing positive relationships, and discovering new interests and opportunities for learning.

Childcare of the Berkshires’ Youth Mentoring Program offers just such an opportunity to children and adults in the northern Berkshires. Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: January 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
January 2015

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of January. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“I like the ability to see what is happening in the area. We have experienced many different and delightful events that I would not known of if I did not know about the [Hilltown Families] eNewsletter.” – Kathy Couch (East Otis, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is also supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Events for Families in Western MA: 2014

Berkshire Family Fun: December 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
December 2014

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of December. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“We can’t possible participate in all the wonderful events that are happening in our area but to have a web site where you can find the one that is right for you or your family is invaluable. I find just reading about all the exciting things that are happening in my area gives me a boost. I think what a vibrant and amazing place I live in, how lucky my family is to have all these options. It is a rich and varied resource that I have grown to depend and rely on. Thank you Hilltowns Families for keeping us connected and growing.” – Meredyth Babcock (Becket, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is sponsored in part by:

Read the rest of this entry »

Family Apple Pie Recipe from Iconic Red Lion Inn

Apple Pie for the Holidays
with Executive Chef, Brian Alberg of The Red Lion Inn

Apple Pie is an American staple. First brought to the colonies in the 16th century, the pie has gone through several alterations over the centuries to become one of the most popular desserts in the country. There are almost unlimited ways to create an apple pie and Executive Chef Brian Alberg of The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, MA, has an Apple Pie recipe that is delicious! Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: November 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
November 2014

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of November. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“Being new to the area I love that you keep me informed about all that’s going on in the area. I find it so helpful for getting to know our new home.” Brittany Handfield (Williamstown, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is sponsored in part by:

Read the rest of this entry »

Spark!Lab Lights the Fire of Invention

Think Outside the Box at Spark!Lab in the Berkshires

Everyone is an inventor in the Berkshire Museum’s exciting new Spark!Lab, opening to the public on Saturday, October 11, 2014, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Spark!Lab provides opportunities for children and families to explore their inventive creativity — by designing, innovating, collaborating, and problem-solving — because these experiences empower kids to develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed today and in the future.

Developed at the Smithsonian Institution by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), the Berkshires’ very own Spark!Lab is part of a nation-wide initiative to engage youngsters in the act of invention and innovation. Here is a sneak peek of Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History:

The Berkshire Museum’s Spark!Lab will be the third in the country to open! Read the rest of this entry »

Graveyards Inspire Curiosity and Learning in October

Learning Lurks Amongst the Gravestones in Historic Cemeteries

Rich with community history, cemeteries across western Massachusetts offer families a variety of rich learning experiences this fall. From gravestone rubbings to tours of historic burying grounds, there are many ways in which families can tap into the knowledge buried amongst the graves.

Accompanying fall’s spook-filled Halloween celebrations come opportunities to explore and learn about cemeteries and graveyards across western Massachusetts. Filled with stone markers that chronicle a community’s history, local cemeteries can provide visitors with a look deep into the past. Some local communities have been existed for over 300 years, and gravestones in such places speak volumes about centuries past. Everything from the names of buried people to the style of the stone can tell visitors something about the time period to which that a headstone dates back. And on top of learning about the history of a place, visitors can celebrate and honor the things that members of generations past have contributed to their present day community.

A study of a local cemetery (or a few of them!) can help students to understand how individuals’ life stories contribute to the re-telling of history. For young cemetery explorers, making gravestone rubbings is a fun way to introduce the study of headstones, and can help children learn that cemeteries don’t have to be scary. Turning the beauty of hand-carved headstones into a similarly beautiful art-producing activity adds to the intrigue of a cemetery, but decreases the fear factor.

Boden Cemetary - Letterboxing-3

To broaden and deepen independent cemetery studies, browse through resources offered by The Association for Gravestone Studies. The locally-based organization offers resources for learning to preserve and conserve cemeteries, support for decoding the symbolism found on headstones, and extensive online archives. For a look at cemeteries a bit further from home, apply what you’ve learned by exploring nearby burial grounds to images historic headstones from around New England.

In addition to self-guided studies of cemeteries are many upcoming opportunities for community-based learning surrounding cemeteries. From walking tours to stone carving, these intergenerational community events offer a wide range of exciting learning opportunities! Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: October 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
October 2014

October 4 & 5, the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area presents Heritage Walks, which celebrate the Berkshire communities, natural areas, history, and different cultures of the many places recognized as part of this National Heritage Area. A full list of Heritage Walks can be found here.

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of October. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“I’m relatively new to the Berkshires so I’m mostly familiar with the southern Berkshires. I love finding out about all these lovely little towns north of me, and knowing about all the various events going on ALL THE TIME, from concerts to theater, to apple picking. I moved here to live in the country and Hilltown Families keeps me informed of all the wonderful things country life has to offer.” – Valerie Sheehan (Lenox, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is sponsored in part by:

Read the rest of this entry »

Ragamala: Indian Exhibit Sings A Thousand Words

Miniature Paintings from 17th- and 18th- Century India Capture Moods of Music and Poetry at Williams College Museum of Art

Ragamala represents a dynamic intermingling of music, poetry, and painting in India. Ragamala is Sanskrit for a “garland of ragas,” which are unique musical compositions. Drawn from the museum’s rich Indian collection, this exhibition features sixteen ragamala paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but what about a picture that illustrates those words… or even a song? How might you translate the mood evoked by an instrumental song into a picture, painting, or even a poem?

Between the 16th and 19th centuries in India, a classical Indian musical tradition called a raga, took on a new characteristic that did just that.  A raga, which translates roughly from Sanskrit into beauty, melody, and color, is similar to a musical scale: a selection of musical notes arranged specifically to convey, or color, a mood; discrete ragas are used to represent specific times of day and/or seasons.  These complex, richly textured melodies inspired poets to create poems based on the moods they evoked.  Artists then transposed these poems and melodies into paintings that visually convey the moods, events, and seasons represented by each raga and poem, and often include a few lines from the associated poem.

The Williams College Museum of Art will have a ragamala–a set of these miniature paintings–on display between September 27, 2014 through January 4, 2015.  Sixteen miniatures from the museum’s notable Indian art collection will be on view.  Read the rest of this entry »

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