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 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.

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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.
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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 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.

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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 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:

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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:

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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:

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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 »

Stroll through History & Culture on a Housatonic Heritage Walk

Housatonic Heritage Walks Highlight Berkshire Natural, Cultural and Historic Heritage

Housatonic Heritage Walks take place Sept 20 & 21 and then again Oct 4 & 5. Don’t miss these  community-based educational opportunities taking place in Western MA this fall!

Rich with cultural heritage and fascinating history, explorations of western Massachusetts’ Berkshire region lend themselves to studies of the local flora and fauna, watersheds and river ecology, local and national history, and even great literature. A home to everything from prehistoric landforms to icons of the wealth of members of generations past, the Berkshire are a perfect place for adventurers of all ages to explore and learn about.

This year’s Housatonic Heritage Walks bring nearly sixty opportunities for families to engage in inter-generational community-based learning about science, history, culture, literature, and more. Held over the course of two weekends, the walks aren’t all technically walks. While most of the events in the series involve walking tours, exploratory hikes, or other activities that take place on foot, families can take part in canoe and bicycle trips as well!

On Saturday, September 20th, and Sunday, September 21st, exciting events begin at 9am and continue throughout the day – all over the Berkshires! Families can tour the historic Colonial Theater, paddle the Housatonic, walk with cows at a local farm, and learn about the plants of the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Each and every event highlights a different – and very important – part of the Berkshires’ cultural heritage, and teaches participants about the roots of the Berkshire communities that we know today.

Additionally, on Saturday, October 4th and Sunday, October 5th, similar events will be held. Read the rest of this entry »

Clark Art Institute Exhibit Stars in Film Series

Film Series Pays Homage to “Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution” Exhibit; Gives Context in Popular Culture

In conjunction with the Clark Art Institute’s recently opened exhibition, Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution, the Institute offers a series of three free Saturday films beginning Saturday, September 20 at 2 pm. “Documents of Freedom: A Film Celebration” features three films centered around some of the documents in the exhibition, which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see an original 1215 Magna Carta alongside the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and other key documents in the founding of America.

The family-friendly matinees are as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Learn the Ways of Pollinators and then Support Them!

The Berkshire Museums BeMuse Program Series Tells all on Pollinators and how you can get Involved!

The Berkshire Museum will present a workshop and documentary screening with landscape designer and filmmaker Kim Smith on Saturday, September 20, 2014, as part of the Museum’s BeMuse program series. The slide-illustrated talk, Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden, begins at 10am and the screening of the film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail, will follow the talk, beginning at 11:30am. Both programs are part of the Museum’s BeMuse program series. Come learn about these local pollinators, what habitats they thrive in, how you can support them and join Kim in a Q&A discussion following both the workshop and screening. Come curious and bring your questions!  Read the rest of this entry »

High Tech Planetarium Takes Us to the Stars

Williams College Host Planetarium Show this Fall

Williams College in Williamstown, MA, invites families to experience the wonders of our universe at their Milham Planetarium, located inside the Old Hopkins Observatory at Williams College. Astronomy students at the college will host free shows for the public on Friday evenings at 8pm, September 12-December 5, 2014.

The Hopkins Observatory, built in 1836-38 by the first professor of astronomy at Williams College, Albert Hopkins, is the oldest extant observatory in the United States.

Audiences will be treated to shows hosted by Williams College students from their high-precision Zeiss Skymaster ZKP3/B opto-mechanical planetarium projector, installed in April 2005.  The Zeiss Skymaster is capable of demonstrating phenomena including: retrograde motions of the planets, phases of the moon, the varying temperatures/colors of stars, locations of neighboring galaxies, the mythological figures and zodiacal signs ascribed to constellations, the Southern Hemisphere’s sky, comets, artificial satellites, and much more.

For reservations (recommended) contact Michele Rech at 413-597-2188 or email at mcr4@williams.edu. Others will be admitted as space permits. Large groups should call for special appointments. Shows will last about 50 minutes.

The Hopkins Observatory is on a small hill on the north side of Main Street east of Spring Street in Williamstown and just east of Lawrence Hall Drive, on which planetarium patrons share parking with the Williams College Museum of Art. A campus map showing the Hopkins Observatory’s location can be found on the www.williams.edu or at 829 Main Street, Williamstown, MA.

- Submitted by Noelle Lemoine


Learning About Immigration in Modern Times at Norman Rockwell Museum

Norman Rockwell Museum To Host 3rd Annual United States Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony

For the third year, Norman Rockwell Museum is partnering with the Berkshire Immigrant Center to host a naturalization ceremony, to be held in the Museum’s galleries on Saturday, September 6th, 2014, starting at 10am.  Berkshire County residents who immigrated to the country from around the world will be sworn-in as new naturalized United States citizens during a special ceremony to be held against the backdrop of Norman Rockwell’s iconic Four Freedoms paintings.

Often, immigration is taught to students in a way that focuses on the history of immigration in the United States. Central to the development of our country and responsible for bringing people from all over the world to be part of communities across America, immigration is discussed with students mainly in the past tense. We focus on who immigrated when and why, without spending much time looking at who is immigrating now. Learning about immigration as something that happened in the past does, of course, help students develop an understanding of the ways in which our country has constantly changed throughout the last few centuries, but it doesn’t teach them that the United States is continuously evolving. By examining modern immigration, students can develop an understanding of what immigration means in modern times…

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Berkshire Family Fun: September 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
September 2014

Housatonic Heritage Walks take place Sept 20 & 21 and then again Oct 4 & 5. Don’t miss these community-based educational opportunities taking place in Western MA this fall!

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of September. 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 for helping us find something to do on any day of the week. We have meet such wonderful people at the various events they have posted. They are a great source for community.” – Alisa Blanchard (Pittsfield, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is sponsored in part by:

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Multimedia Exhibit at MASS MoCA Brings Extinct Pigeon Back to Life

Video Installation Commemorates a Species’ Centennial of Extinction at MASS MoCA through Spring 2015

When you think about pigeons, what immediately comes to mind? Chances are, you’re remembering an encounter with a rock pigeon–a gray bird with black stripes on its wings, often spotted pecking at the sidewalks or perched on architectural features in urban areas. These birds are so eponymous with the word “pigeon,” and so closely associated with cities like Boston and New York, that it may surprise you to learn that this particular breed of pigeon is actually native to Europe – and that, long before the rock pigeon arrived in North America, a native breed called the passenger pigeon dominated the skies. Prior to the 20th century, this one breed was so populous – estimated at between three and five million – that they represented more than one-quarter of all the birds in North America. They lived and traveled in enormous flocks: their numbers were so great that a migrating flock could darken the sky, concealing the sun, for several hours at a time. By the end of 1914, however, the breed had become entirely extinct.

“I was so moved by this exhibit, and my daughter was fascinated!” – Sarah Rankin (Hilltown Families reader)

Eclipse, a new multimedia exhibition at MASS MoCA, explores the phenomenon of species extinction through the history of the passenger pigeon, a century after the death of the last known bird. On view through spring 2015, the exhibition is comprised of an immersive video and audio installation in the four-story “lightwell” at the center of the MASS MoCA complex. Read the rest of this entry »

When Dinosaurs Walked…Western Mass

Paleontology Fascinates and Stimulates Learning in Kids

As one of They Might Be Giants’ best-loved (and paleontologist-narrated) children’s songs proclaims, “I love diggin’ in the dirt!” The potential for getting dirty is just what many kids need in order to become interested in dinosaurs, but it’s not the only hook. In addition to the fun that comes from digging and discovering, dinosaurs are fascinating to children for the magic and mystery that surrounds them – though we have lots of evidence that supports their long-ago existence, young ones whose understanding of time has not fully developed are astounded by the beasts of long ago. Drastically different from most of the creatures seen on Earth today (at first glance), dinosaurs’ shape, size, and even habitat are fascinating and almost unbelievable to youngsters.

Engaging children in dinosaur-related learning allows them not only to learn about the prehistoric beasts, but presents opportunities for lots of other types of learning as well. Learning to identify dinosaur species can help young children practice putting words to specific characteristics related to a species’ shape, size, and coloring, while for older learners, species identification serves as a means of understanding the role of each specific body part that distinguishes one type from the next – information that can help children to understand animal adaptations and evolution. Additionally, dinosaur studies supports children in learning about the climate- and landscape-related changes that the Earth undergoes over time. Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: August 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
August 2014

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of August. 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 love that Hilltown Families keeps us updated on events in the larger area, in both the Berkshires and the Valley…We use the calendar section, the camp guide, the school guides, and much more.” – Caitlin Loverin (Pittsfield, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is sponsored in part by:

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Western Mass Historical Heritage for All to Explore

Summer is History-Exploring Season in Western MA!

This summer, the Sheffield Historical Society hosts the Milt Barnum All American Tool Exhibit, an extensive show of tools used by workers of all kinds throughout the past few centuries. Check out our list of 15 historical societies and history museums below and find out what these community-based educational resources have to offer and discover your local history while nurturing a better sense of place in your kids and in yourself!

Nestled amongst the hills of western Massachusetts are pockets of history – the streets of cities and towns are lined with historic buildings, fields are dotted with centuries-old cemeteries, and even the landscape itself tells stories of generations past, its shape hinting at human influences. It’s obvious that our communities’ history surrounds us, but the challenge in learning about local history is learning how to access it in a meaningful way. Luckily, historical societies and museums across the region offer families a wide variety of ways to learn about the history of their community. From wartime tales to walking tours, resources for learning about local history abound during the summer in western Massachusetts.

An added bonus of the easy accessibility of local history resources is that children will be supported in learning about the history of their own community and a familiar landscape, but they’ll also learn about major historical events – events that took place on a national or international level – and the ways in which they affected folks here in western Massachusetts. In allowing children to learn about large-scale events or cultural shifts on a small scale, families can support learning about broad topics on a level that meets children where they’re at developmentally, while strengthening their sense of place. Adding familiar context to an unfamiliar or confusing topic can help children to understand it – and they’ll develop a deeper connection to their history once it becomes personal. Many local historical societies only open their doors to the public during summer months (for many reasons, including the availability of volunteer staff and the lack of heat in many old buildings), so don’t miss this year’s history-exploring season! In addition to open museum hours, many historical societies and museums offer interactive activities, speakers and educational events, and other special programming – be sure to check out your local society’s calendar for learning opportunities that extend beyond a visit to the local museum or archives. Here are history museums, historical societies and events to consider this summer with your family throughout the region: Read the rest of this entry »

The Berkshires are Alive with Live Theater Opportunities this Summer!

Diverse Theater Selection Brings Entertainment & Education Opportunities for Entire Family

The Berkshires are alive! Get your tickets for a theater production and bring the family. There are options that fit all budgets!

The Berkshires region of western Massachusetts is filled with endless opportunities for learning and playing – especially in the summer. A popular vacation destination for locals and out-of-towners alike, the region offers up a wide variety of things to do, places to visit, and stuff to see. And this summer, some of the best stuff to see is on stage at the Berkshires’ many theaters and performance spaces! From children’s theater to clowning, Shakespeare to musicals, the Berkshires’ numerous theater companies are dishing out shows that not only entertain, but also present valuable learning opportunities. Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: July 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
July 2014

“I moved to Western MA a year ago and this website is my resource for most of our family outings. I look at it weekly to plan an adventure and have used it as my ‘summer fun’ planning guide this year. I appreciate the work you are doing to collect this information and it has made a huge difference in my understanding of the variety and cultural diversity there is to offer in this area!” – Erica Cruz (Adams, 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.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

Read the rest of this entry »

MASS MoCA’s “It’s Only Human” Illuminates Art, Science & Education

Art Using X-ray Scans Sparks Discussion of Body Image & More at MASS MoCA
Saturday, June 14, 2014 through Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MASS MoCA’s Kidspace kicks off the summer with a new exhibition and activity program. The exhibition, “It’s Only Human,” features work by British artists Nick Veasey and Marilene Oliver, who are both internationally recognized for their innovative uses of medical imaging technology in their art. Both artists’ works illuminate the complexities of human bodies and the systems by which they are regulated, and inspire dialogue about the inner beauty of all human beings, regardless of our outer appearances, and serve as a creative jumping-off point for discussions of anatomy, health, and wellness, as well as self-image. While this exhibition is on display at Kidspace, visitors of all ages – especially those interested in science and medicine – will find it engaging and educational.

Veasey’s work is often focused on the human skeleton and inner structural elements. He is famous for creating one of the largest X-ray scans in the world – of a Boeing 777 airplane! – and this exhibition at Kidspace features a similarly gigantic X-ray of a bus filled with passengers. Do you think you will be able to distinguish the structure of the bus from the skeletal structures occupying it? Veasey has also X-rayed a person on a motorcycle. What can you infer about his choice to scan vehicles used for human transportation, including their passengers? Why might this be significant? Why it is important to be able to identify the structures embedded within everyday objects and people? Read the rest of this entry »

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