Weekdays in Western MA: February 27th – March 3rd

Weekdays in Western MA:
February 27th –  March 3rd

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


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35 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Tiny Houses to Fermented Foods. Physics to Anthropology.

Local flower societies and college conservatories are community resources that can offer opportunities to learn about habitat, the life cycle of plants, and the structural nuances that differentiate one species from another. Three upcoming annual flower shows featuring orchids, flower bulbs and spring flowers are perfect events to support these interests and to inspire a love for flowers! Read more in our post, Orchids & Tulips: Learning About Botany & Habitat.

Buddhism to World Culture. Citizen Science to Neutrinos. Comics to Anime. Tiny Houses to Fermented Foods. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:

On Tuesday, February 28, 6:30pm at the Westhampton Public Library, Family Code Night will take the intimidation away from computer coding for kids as well as parents! Children ages five and up, and their caregivers, are invited to learn the basics of computer coding through fun puzzles. No experience is necessary for this introductory STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program. Registration is required. Participants are encouraged to bring one device for every two participants, if possible. Laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets will all work as long as they are able to connect to WiFi. There will be a limited number of laptops available for use. The event will take place at the Hampshire Regional High School library. Questions? Call the library at 413-527-5386 or email westhampton@cwmars.org. 19 Stage Road Westhampton, MA. (FREE)


ReligionBotanyRace IdentityFilm StudiesNature-Based LearningRoboticsNeurodiversityComputer CodingPhysicsAnthropologyArchitectureHistoryRacial JusticeMaple SyrupTheater StudiesMusic StudiesInclusionOrchidsTrackingImmigrationSTEMCulinary Arts


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Suggested Events for February 18th – 24th, 2017

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families always offers such a complete listing of fun and educational events in the area for all ages… One of the great resources that make living in Western MA so family friendly. Thanks!” – Freja Joslin (Northampton, MA)

“Hilltown Families always offers such a complete listing of fun and educational events in the area for all ages… One of the great resources that make living in Western MA so family friendly. Thanks!” – Freja Joslin (Northampton, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our Suggest An Event bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness, and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after-school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Click HERE to find out more.

Summer Camp

advertise with Hilltown FamiliesMARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer. On Wednesday, March 8th, 2017, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2017 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

Bulletin Board

Feb 25

Meet Curious George and others at the WGBY Love for Learning PBS Kids fan fair Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10am to 3pm at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. It’s like a comic book convention for PBS Kids (ages 2–8). Children are encouraged to dress up as a favorite character. Enjoy show-themed activity stations, tabletop fun from community partners, and live demos from children’s book authors and illustrators. Plus, meet live characters, including Curious George, Buddy from Dinosaur Train, The Cat in the Hat, and others. The event is free (with suggested donation in support of public television). Event details and registration available at wgby.org/fanfair. Questions? Contact Marie Waechter at mwaechter@wgby.org.

Feb 26

Mister G February Fiesta! Presented by Sunnyside Child Care Center (one of the area’s longest running early childhood centers, offering quality care for children ages 18 months through five years). Come hear Latin Grammy winner Mister G perform songs in English and Spanish for kids from 1-100! Crafts, pizza, popcorn, and fun for all. Sunday, February 26, 10am-noon, at the Florence Civic Center, 140 Pine St., Florence. $8/per person or $25 for the family! www.sunnysidekids.org.

Open House: Mar 4

Sunnyside Child Care Center in Northampton is holding an Open House on Saturday, March 4, 9:30-11am. They are enrolling now for Fall 2017. Sunnyside provides play-based programs with an emergent curriculum for ages 18 months-5 years on 8 wooded acres between Northampton and Easthampton. Sunnyside values and promotes diversity, and offers flexible scheduling and a sliding scale tuition to make their high-quality childcare more accessible. Visit them at the open house, or call to schedule a tour. Sunnyside, 557 Easthampton Rd., Northampton. 413-727-3665. www.sunnysidekids.org.

Mar 4

The Common School: Community, collaboration, social justice, intrinsic motivation, deep understanding, diversity, inclusivity, environmental education- Come learn how these words are put into action at their Nursery Open House, Saturday, March 4, from 10am-12noon. Featuring: Teaching Creatures at 11:30am with their special program: Amazing Mammals. Play in their classrooms, meet their teachers, and chat with current parents. Light refreshments provided. Questions? Contact Director of Admissions, Dana Kadish at outreach@commonschool.org or visit www.commonschool.org.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your summer camp, class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, after-school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community-building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish, and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.

2017 Preschool Directory for Western MA

Are you looking for a preschool that fits your child’s personality and reflects your family’s values? Check out our growing Preschool Directory, covering all four counties in Western Massachusetts, and find the perfect place for your young one! — Have a school you’d like to include in this list? Click here to find out how to have it added.

Featured Winter & Spring Classes in Western MA

What are your child’s interests? What are your interests? This fall there are a number of after-school, homeschool, evening, and weekend classes to choose from to supplement and support the interests of your family! Check out our growing list of classes, programs, open houses and even auditions for this fall in our dedicated post, 2017 Winter & Spring Classes, Auditions & Open Houses in Western MA, and find the perfect activity for your child, teen, and even lifelong learners! — Have a class you’d like to add to this list? Click here to find out how to have your class, lessons, program, auditions, and open house included.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
February 25th – March 3rd, 2017

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Cultural Itineraries | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Storyhour & Playgroups| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

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25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Philosophy to Silent Film. Musical Petting Zoo to Planetariums.

Family game sessions are one way to get both parents and kids to put aside their work, and their screen-based entertainment, to spend time together. Simple games can challenge young kids to think critically, while harder games can challenge older children through friendly competition. Spice up your family game experience by joining other families at the Meekins Library Game Afternoon on Thursday, February 23, 1pm-3pm. All ages are welcome and there will be snacks! Drop in anytime. Ages five and under must be accompanied by an adult. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Gender Studies to Film Studies. Wild Cats to Natural History Museum. Choreography to Classical Music. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:  When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. At the Berkshire Museum’s Instrument Petting Zoo on Thursday, February 23, 2pm-3pm, participants will be able to see, listen to, and play lots of different instruments! Picking the right instrument is an important factor for sustaining a lifelong hobby of musicianship. Explore risk-free as part of Ten Days of Play 2017. Included with regular museum admission. Check out a museum pass from your library for free admission. To find out which local library has free museum passes for borrowing, check our Educational Support & Local Resources page. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. ($; children under 18 <$; members, ages three and under FREE)


 ArcheryPhilosophyOrnithologyGuided HikeFilm StudiesPaleontologyNature PhotographyArt StudiesIce HarvestingAstronomyPoetryWinter SportsCritical ThinkingDance StudiesZoologyCitizen ScienceAfrican American HistoryMusic StudiesFigure Drawing  ♦ Nature CenterIntergenerationalAviation


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Suggested Events for February 18th – 24th, 2017

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families is THE place to find out what to do with your kids in the valley. All year long I turn to Hilltown Families to find something fun to do, especially on weekends and school vacations. Thank you!” – Niki Lankowski (Whately, MA)

“Hilltown Families is THE place to find out what to do with your kids in the valley. All year long I turn to Hilltown Families to find something fun to do, especially on weekends and school vacations. Thank you!” – Niki Lankowski (Whately, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our Suggest An Event bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness, and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after-school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Click HERE to find out more.

Summer Camp

advertise with Hilltown FamiliesMARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer. On Wednesday, March 8th, 2017, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2017 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

Bulletin Board

Feb 19-26

As part of its Four Sundays in February Series, the Northampton Arts Council presents Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child (2/19 @2pm), the nationally syndicated radio show for kids and their adults, live on stage featuring Grammy Award Winner Dan Zanes plus other special guests; KidsBestFest & YouthFilm (2/20-24 @1:30pm), a weeklong FREE kids film festival; and The Really Big Show (2/26 @2pm), the Pioneer Valley’s own variety show showcasing local talent. All events take place at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton, Mass. More info and tickets at hamparts.org.

Feb 20-24

February school vacation week activities at New England Air Museum! Monday, February 20th through Friday February 24th, in Windsor Locks, CT . Explore three giant exhibit hangars filled with over sixty historic aircraft, and experience the wonders of flight through hands-on activities including hands-on Build & Fly Challenges, interactive Flight Science Demonstrations, computerized Flight Simulators, and Open Cockpit Experiences in historic aircraft. Visitors can also take to the skies at the museum’s Virtual Flight Center using advanced, three screen yoke and pedal flight simulators. The Virtual Flight Center is open to visitors ages 10 and older. For updated information and more special events, visit: www.neam.org.

Feb 21-24

Tuesday, February 21, to Friday, February 24, 8:45am-3:30pm: Kids ski and chill out during school vacation week at Notchview! In the morning, kids learn to ski or fine tune their skiing skills with knowledgeable ski instructors. After a full morning of cross-country skiing on the trails, everyone heads back to the lodge for lunch followed by an afternoon of choice activities including more outdoor exploration of the woods or indoor arts and crafts. Lunch included! Ages 7-12. There are still spots available! Members: $288; Nonmembers: $360. To register email acaluori@thetrustees.org or call 413-628-4485 x3.

Feb 25

Meet Curious George and others at the WGBY Love for Learning PBS Kids fan fair Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10am to 3pm at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. It’s like a comic book convention for PBS Kids (ages 2–8). Children are encouraged to dress up as a favorite character. Enjoy show-themed activity stations, tabletop fun from community partners, and live demos from children’s book authors and illustrators. Plus, meet live characters, including Curious George, Buddy from Dinosaur Train, The Cat in the Hat, and others. The event is free (with suggested donation in support of public television). Event details and registration available at wgby.org/fanfair. Questions? Contact Marie Waechter at mwaechter@wgby.org.

Feb 26

Mister G February Fiesta! Presented by Sunnyside Child Care Center (one of the area’s longest running early childhood centers, offering quality care for children ages 18 months through five years). Come hear Latin Grammy winner Mister G perform songs in English and Spanish for kids from 1-100! Crafts, pizza, popcorn, and fun for all. Sunday, February 26, 10am-noon, at the Florence Civic Center, 140 Pine St., Florence. $8/per person or $25 for the family! www.sunnysidekids.org.

Open House: Mar 4

Sunnyside Child Care Center in Northampton is holding an Open House on Saturday, March 4, 9:30-11am. They are enrolling now for Fall 2017. Sunnyside provides play-based programs with an emergent curriculum for ages 18 months-5 years on 8 wooded acres between Northampton and Easthampton. Sunnyside values and promotes diversity, and offers flexible scheduling and a sliding scale tuition to make their high-quality childcare more accessible. Visit them at the open house, or call to schedule a tour. Sunnyside, 557 Easthampton Rd., Northampton. 413-727-3665. www.sunnysidekids.org.

Feb 20-24

February vacation at Amherst Archery! Picture spending all day at the archery range immersed in a wide variety of kid and teen-accessible archery activities! Besides Olympic-style target archery and plenty of archery games, kids will also engage in archery art projects, make their own arm guards from recycled materials, explore archery history, anatomy of archery, and even learn some fun physics through hands-on archery experiences. Each day will provide different surprises. All archery and art supplies provided. Families provide lunch and snacks. The now famous “ARTchery” project will be included! Programs taught by certified USA Archery coaches at the range in Florence. Enroll for the entire week or by the day. Ages 7 and up. www.amherstarchery.com.

Accepting applications for fall 2017. The Bement School founded in 1925 and located in Deerfield is a co-educational junior boarding and day school serving 210 students in kindergarten through grade 9. Bement’s rich, traditional curriculum motivates and challenges students with strong academics, a renowned fine arts program, and a diverse athletic program. Students participate in athletics and fine arts every day. The pervasive atmosphere at Bement is that of a family, learning and living together. Bement actively seeks an academically diverse, international, and multi-cultural student body. For information on how to apply, financial aid, or to arrange a visit to campus, call 413-774-4209 www.bement.org

FMC Ice Sports offers a fun and unique learning environment for all ages. Participants in their Step 1 Learn to Skate programs are taught the basics of ice skating. Students graduate to their Step 2 and Step 3 programs that focus on the more sport specific skills required in hockey and figure skating. FMC Ice Sports programs can be found at the Smead Arena in Springfield and the Collins Moylan Arena in Greenfield. Class information and registration are available online at www.fmcicesports.com or by calling 1-888-74-SKATE. Use promo code HTF201617 and receive $10 OFF your entire purchase of any instructional program!

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your summer camp, class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, after-school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community-building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish, and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Featured Winter & Spring Classes in Western MA

Are you looking for a preschool that fits your child’s personality and reflects your family’s values? Check out our growing Preschool Directory, covering all four counties in Western Massachusetts, and find the perfect place for your young one! — Have a school you’d like to include in this list? Click here to find out how to have it added.

Featured Winter & Spring Classes in Western MA

What are your child’s interests? What are your interests? This fall there are a number of after-school, homeschool, evening, and weekend classes to choose from to supplement and support the interests of your family! Check out our growing list of classes, programs, open houses and even auditions for this fall in our dedicated post, 2017 Winter & Spring Classes, Auditions & Open Houses in Western MA, and find the perfect activity for your child, teen, and even lifelong learners! — Have a class you’d like to add to this list? Click here to find out how to have your class, lessons, program, auditions, and open house included.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
February 18th-24th, 2017

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Cultural Itineraries | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Storyhour & Playgroups| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

34 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Winter Festivals to Valentine’s Day. Nordic Skiing to Immigration Studies.

Winter Trails is a national annual event that offers families new to snowshoeing and nordic skiing the chance to try out snowshoes and cross-country skis on local trails while showcasing the health benefits of these two outdoor winter activities.  On Saturday, February 11, 10am-3pm Notchview in Windsor will be participating!

Ice to Fungi. Winter Festivals to Puppetry. Valentine’s Day to Nordic Skiing. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:

Red Gate Farm is teaming up with local libraries to provide programs to get young children interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. On Saturday, February 11, 10:30am-11:30am, participants will be learning the science of seeds! Children up to age seven will be investigating seeds at the Buckland Public Library. Planting seeds at home can help kids become interested in plant and soil science and horticulture by watching their seeds grow into beautiful plants. Teaching kids about horticulture can also help instill important values by teaching them about sources of healthy, local foods. 413-625-9412. 30 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)


STEMBotanyFolk MusicLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesCreative-Free PlayLiteratureArt StudiesNature StudiesOutdoor AdventuresPlacemakingPuppetryTheaterCulture StudiesWomen’s StudiesImmigration StudiesAnthropology MycologyHydrologyPoetryOpera  ♦ Guided Hikes  ♦ ShakespeareFinancial Literacy


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Weekdays in Western MA: February 6-10, 2017

Weekdays in Western MA:
February 6-10, 2017

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

29 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Community Sing to Poetry. Gospel to Japanese Culture.

Valentine’s Day is not just for couples! Parents can use this holiday to engage in intergenerational crafts with their children, and teach them concepts of service and kindness. Come to the Meekins Library on Saturday, February 4, until 1:30pm for a morning of Valentine’s Day activities! People of all ages are invited to craft valentines and decorate cookies. Participants are encouraged to donate some of their valentines to the Williamsburg Senior Center. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Permaculture to Teddy Roosevelt. Anime to Hawaiian Culture. Electoral College to Calligraphy. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:  Saturday, February 4, from 10am-12noon at Flywheel Arts Collective, Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the Saturday Morning Music Party series with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, and diversions for kids! During a free breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and fruit, you can craft handmade Valentines with the Easthampton Parents Center. Then we’ll enjoy special guests, DandyLions Garden, a musical act for kids and inner children alike. We’ll round out the morning with DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon!” This is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. For more information, email info@hilltownfamilies.org.


PermacultureMuseum AdventuresAmerican HistoryFiber ArtsFilm StudiesIntergenerationalLanguage ArtsCreative-Free PlayMusic StudiesCulture StudiesClimate ChangeAnthropometryPolitical ScienceReligion StudiesArt StudiesWinter FestivalsWomen’s HistoryTheater Studies


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Become a sponsor of Learn Local. Play Local. and see your banner here:


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Suggested Events for January 28 – February 3, 2017

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“[Last year] 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)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our Suggest An Event bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness, and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after-school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Click HERE to find out more.

Hilltown Families Events

It’s that time of the year again for the Hilltown Families Annual Handmade Valentine Swap! For the past nine years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Making handmade valentines is a great way to push against the commercialization of yet another holiday, while being creative with your family and friends. JOIN US! It’s free to sign up and open to all families in western Massachusetts! Last year our community generated over 1,550 handmade valentines! Let’s do it again! Deadline to sign-up is Wed. Feb 1st!

Saturday, February 4, from 10am-12noon at Flywheel Arts Collective, Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the Saturday Morning Music Party series with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, and diversions for kids! During a free breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and fruit, you can craft handmade Valentines with the Easthampton Parents Center. Then we’ll enjoy special guests, DandyLions Garden, a musical act for kids and inner children alike. We’ll round out the morning with DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon!” This is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. For more information, email info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Bulletin Board

Open House:Jan 28

The Common School: Community, collaboration, creativity, social justice, inclusivity, environmental education – Come learn how these words are put into action at their winter Open House on Saturday, January 28, from 10am-12noon in Amherst. Play in their classrooms, meet their teachers, chat with current parents, and tour their beautiful campus situated amongst 140 acres of conservation land on Larch Hill in Amherst. Light refreshments provided. Questions? Contact Director of Admissions, Dana Kadish at outreach@commonschool.org or visit www.commonschool.org.

Open House: Jan 29

Cloverdale Cooperative Preschool invites new parents to an Open House on Sunday, January 29th, from 2:30-4pm. Cloverdale is located in back of the First Congregational Church on 130 Pine Street in Florence and is a half-day preschool with the option of STEAM focused extended day hours. Come find out about their new expanded hours starting next fall while spending time playing with your children in their engaging learning environment. Meet the teachers and some parents who will answer your questions about their program. For more information, visit www.cloverdalepreschool.com or call 413-586-1106 after 12:30pm.

Open House: Jan 29

Sunday, January 29th: Open House from 2-3:30pm at Smith College Center for Early Childhood Education (Fort Hill). Visit welcoming classroom environments, chat with teachers, and find out more about the Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum. Providing engaging, intentional early experiences that support children in becoming lifelong learners, joyful investigators, and thoughtful citizens of the world. Fort Hill has dedicated visual arts and music teachers and studios, an emphasis on natural materials, and classroom experiences that nurture joy, curiosity, deep thinking, and imagination. Consider joining the Fort Hill family! Actively accepting applications for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers for 2017-2018. Contact forthill@smith.edu for information.

Open House: Feb 4

The Campus School at Smith College. Prospective kindergarten through grade 6 students and their parents are invited to an open house on Saturday, February 4, from 9:30am-11:30 am at the school on Prospect Street. Tour the school. Meet teachers, staff, and parents. For more information, contact the admission office at 413-585-3270 or visit their website, www.smith.edu/sccs.

Open House: Feb 5

Sunday, Feb. 5th: The Center School Admissions Open House, 2pm-4pm. The Center School is a preschool through 8th grade progressive school, serving Hampshire and Franklin counties. Prospective families are invited to explore the school on Sunday, Feb. 5th for a Birds-of-Prey themed Admissions Open House. Come early to enjoy a live Birds of Prey presentation with raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi from 1pm-2pm. Then, classrooms will be open and teachers will be offer bird-related activities for kids of all ages. Light refreshments will be available. The Center School has been offering rigorous education for deep thinkers and creative spirits for 35 years and is currently accepting applications for all ages, for fall of 2017. centerschool.net

Feb 20-24

Looking for something fun and creative for your kids during the February break? Check out Valley Performance Playground’s February Vacation Camp with Sarah Marcus and Felicia Sloin! This 1-week camp runs Monday, February 20 – Friday, February 24 from 9am-3pm and will feature theater games, singing, drumming, movement, and fun times with creative friends for students ages 7-11. Valley Performance Playground’s February Vacation Camp takes place at the Northampton Karate Studio, 320 Riverside Drive, in Florence. Cost: $250. Registration Deadline Feb 1. For more information, email sarahlaurenmarcus@gmail.com or visit online at www.facebook.com/valleyperformanceplayground.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your summer camp, class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, after-school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community-building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish, and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
January 28 – February 3, 2017

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an EventCultural Itineraries | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Storyhour & Playgroups| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

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27 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Peace Movements to Microbiology. Service-Learning to Ecology.

Winter is a great time to learn new recipes, and cook warm comfort foods for friends and family. Bring your favorite soup to the Buckland Public Library for Winter Soup night on Tuesday, January 24, 5:30pm-7pm! Guests may bring bread, cheese and other tidbits. All are welcome. 413-625-8541. 30 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Celtic Mythology to Microbiology. Sound Waves to Chinese New Year. Peace Movements to Fiber Arts. Tracking to Townshend Acts. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:  Hilltown Families will be hosting a new Service-Learning Micro-Event Series featuring “Acts of Kindness” volunteer stations for families at multiple locations this winter, beginning on Saturday, January 21, 10am – 2pm! This series is modeled after our larger community-service events, with a shift towards smaller micro-volunteer opportunities through the spring at community events, including winter farmers’ markets, in the hopes that these smaller volunteer opportunities will allow us to engage new audiences with service-learning opportunities! The first Service-Learning Micro-Event will take place at the Amherst Winter’s Farmers’ Market in the Amherst Regional Middle School. Families will have an opportunity to stop by a pop-up volunteer station anytime between 10am-2pm to create handmade valentines to be distributed to seniors in the community. 170 Chestnut Street. Amherst, MA. (VOLUNTEER)


KindnessVolunteeringOrnithologyGuided HikesFilm StudiesMuseum AdventuresSTEMMakerspaceCultural StudiesConstitutional LawCivic EngagementHerpetologyTextilesGamesIntergenerationalMeteorologyDance StudiesNew England HistoryPolitical ScienceLiteracyCommunity MealsArt StudiesArchitecture


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22 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Scutes to Scales. Social History to Music Theory.

Playing music is a physical as well as mental process, encouraging careful listening and focus. Reading musical scores requires us to train our brain to recognize patterns and decode information. We can get our children started with exploring sound, building instruments, and creating music at the Clark Art Institute’s Music Day on Sunday, January 15. 1pm-3:30pm. In conjunction with I/O Fest this day of musical exploration will also feature performances brought to you by the Williams College Department of Music. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (Adults $; Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID FREE)

Reptiles to Shays’ Rebellion. Music Theory to Social History. MLK Day of Service to Nature Studies. Photography History to Racial Equality. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week: Have you ever heard the term “scute?” This biological term refers to an external bodily “plate,” such as a turtle’s shell, crocodile skin, and bird feet. Children and their parents are invited to learn about “Scutes and Scales” at this biologically themed nature event at the Hitchcock Center on Saturday, January 14, 10am-11am. This program is part of an ongoing Saturday Science series for children and their parents to explore natural topics through scientific activities. These events will take pace on the second Saturday of the month, through June. Call ahead to reserve your spot. 413-256-6006. 845 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)


ZoologyCivic EngagementTeen AdvisoryRevolutionary WarLocal HistoryMusic StudiesAmerican HistoryCivil RightsService-Based LearningMartin Luther King, Jr.HerpetologyCulture StudiesSkillsharingCommunity MealSocial HistoryPhotographyCulinary ArtsSocial Justice


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Weekdays in Western MA: January 7 – 13, 2017

Weekdays in Western MA:
January 7 – 13, 2017

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Meteorology to Mixed Media. Basketball to Tea.

Learn about Jewish culture through the lens of food by screening three short films at the Yiddish Book Center on Sunday, January 8, 2pm. The center will be showing In The Last Blintz, Life and Hummus, and Bagels in the Blood. These films will explore Jewish food culture from New York, to Israel and Palestine, to Montreal. 413-256-4900. 1021 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tea Ceremony to Sports History. Ornithology to Nutritional Anthropology. Aromachology to Dyslexia. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:  Card games challenge your logical reasoning abilities, sometimes also involving mathematics and various social skills. Playing games in general is a great way to connect with your kids in a low-tech way, without screen technology. Do you or your kids like to collect card games? Kids and parents are invited to Make It Springfield to meet and play collectible card games on Sunday, January 8, 12pm-2pm. Challenge your brain by learning a new game, while meeting new families with shared interests. 168 Worthington Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)


Winter SportsNordic SkiingMindfulnessJapanese CultureLEGOSSTEMArt StudiesBasketballAnimal StudiesCivic EngagementGamesJewish CultureSleep ScienceParent SupportSkillsharingAromatherapyTheater HistoryLearning DifferencesWomen’s History


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Weekdays in Western MA: December 31, 2016 – January 6, 2017

Weekdays in Western MA:
December 31, 2016 – January 6, 2017

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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19 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Guided Hikes to First Night. Dance Party to Winter Sports.

There are many ways to remain active and engaged with the outdoors during the winter. Nordic skiing, downhill skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing are a sample of activities that allow one to get outside, stay fit, and maintain a healthy lifestyle while exploring the beauty of nature in the winter. Choosing a winter sport is not only spending time outdoors, it’s also participating in the traditions of local culture and history. Download our Jan/Feb edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for places to ski, skate and snowshoe in Western MA.

Gregorian Calendar to Engineering. Telescope to Owls. Snow Sports to Sweetgrass.  These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week: On New Year’s Day, Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids! This year, we are starting off this family series on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, with a First Day Morning Music Party from 10am-12noon in Easthampton, MA. Come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! It takes place at Flywheel in Easthampton’s old Town Hall. This event is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. So much cheaper than a night out on the town and just as much fun!


Calendar HistoryEcologySTEMPlacemakingLiving HistoryOutdoor AdventuresWinter SportsYo-YoPhysicsAstronomyLiteracyPlant StudiesAfrican American HistoryNew Year CelebrationsGuided Hikes Native American StudiesOrnithologyCollaborative Consumption


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Learning Ahead: Jan & Feb Cultural Itinerary for Western MA

Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for
Western Massachusetts
Seasons: January & February

Who am I? Where am I? These are the fundamental questions proposed by the humanities. Inquiries related to local history, literature, and education, inspire us to think deeply about the places where we live and how our identity fits into the context of our community and the seasons.

Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts is a bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

With these downloadable seasonal itineraries, self-directed teens, lifelong learners, and families are encouraged to engage together in cultural opportunities that support similar interests, resulting in a shared history, strengthening sense of place.

Looking through a seasonal lens, a January and February cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts includes:

  • NATURE-BASED activities connect us to the land: Nordic skiing, alpine skiing, ice skating, & snowshoeing
  • VALUE based engagement on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Service-Based Learning Events & Civic Engagement
  • Learn about New England TRADITIONS: Ice Harvesting
  • African American History Month as a CATALYST for learning: Poetry, History & Art
  • Mark the SEASON by sharing & connecting: Winter Festivals & Placemaking
  • INTERGENERATIONAL engagement for Valentine’s Day: Handmade, Non-Commercial & Creative-Free Play
  • Looking through the LENS of Presidents’ Day: Freedom & Literacy
  • Discover seasonal FOOD: Winter Farmers’ Markets
  • Local HABITAT connects us to ourselves: Writing & Mindfulness

Click here to download PDF (44 pages).


Mass Humanities This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Special thank you to sponsors of this issue, including: The Trustees of ReservationsSpringfield Museums.

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Learning Landscapes: Embracing Change in the Light of Solstice

Many people believe that Earth is closer to the sun in the summer and that is why it is hotter or, conversely, it is the farthest away in winter and, hence, colder. Even though this seems to make logical sense, it’s incorrect. This cognitive dissonance can be a solution and ignite natural curiosity and wonder that leads to greater love and a sense of responsibility to care for Earth. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekdays in Western MA: December 26 – 30, 2016

Weekdays in Western MA:
December 26 – 30, 2016

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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Weekdays in Western MA: December 19 – 23, 2016

Weekdays in Western MA:
December 19 – 23, 2016

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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27 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Winter Solstice to Dreidel. Holiday Icons to Dance Studies.

This Sunday, December 18 at the Springfield Museums, connect with your Jewish heritage or learn about traditional Hanukkah celebrations. They will be hosting “Illuminating Gallery Activities” including dreidel games, candle rolling, and more. Participants can craft their own Star of David out of frosted paper. Decorate Suf Ganiyot, a round jelly doughnut often eaten in celebration of Hanukkah. What to make your own Suf Ganiyot (pictured here) at home? Here’s a quick and easy recipe.

Technology to Mills & Canals. Animation to Ballet. Christmas Icons to Astronmy. Dreidel to Suf Ganiyot. Psychology to Neuroscience. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this weekThe Umass Amherst Sunwheel has attracted tens of thousands of visitors who wish to learn about solar and lunar cycles. Sunwheels, circular stone structures, are designed such that the stones line up with the locations on the horizon of the rising and setting Sun during solstices and equinoxes. On Wednesday, December 21, 7am and 3:30pm, you can witness this event during the Winter Solstice, and also learn about the seasons, the phases of the moon, the story behind the building of the sunwheel, and more. Bring questions and dress appropriately. The gatherings last about one hour and are held in all weather except rain or blizzards. Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (DONATION)


STEM ♦  Local HistoryArt StudiesLocal FoodDance StudiesOrnithology ♦  LiteracyNon-CommercialPlacemakingGingerbreadHoliday LightsWinter SolsticeMYO Gifts ♦  HanukkahAnimationCitizen ScienceAstronomyDreidelBakingHoliday IconsPsychologyNeuroscienceMeditation


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Weekdays in Western MA: December 12 – 16, 2016

Weekdays in Western MA:
December 12 – 16, 2016

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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18 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Pleasure to Cynicism. Stuffed Animals to British Christmas Traditions.

What’s on your child’s wish list for this holiday season? How about sewing them their very own soft toy? The value of a soft toy incorporates not only non-commercial gift giving and creative-free play, it has psychological implications that support kindness… to themselves! Learn more in this video then engage in a service-based learning event.

Dance Studies to Evolution. Pleasure to Cynicism. Stuffed Animals to British Christmas Traditions.  These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:  Add a dose of history to your holiday celebrating! The historic William Cullen Bryant Homestead will be decorated for an old-fashioned hilltown Christmas celebration, complete with carolers in the parlor, a lighting of the Christmas tree, holiday treats, and an artisan gift shop. Christmas themed celebrations will take place Saturday, December 10, 1pm-4pm and 6pm-8pm; Sunday, December 11, 1pm-4pm. For information call The Trustees at 413-628-4485 x3 or email acaluori@thetrustees.org.. 207 Bryant Road. Cummington, MA. (Members <$; Non members $; Children FREE)


Dance Studies ♦  Environmental ScienceMusic HistoryEvolutionPleasureMYO GiftsBallet HistoryBreakfast with SantaBritish ChristmasChristmas TreesLiving HistoryToy ExchangeCommunity MealNew England Christmas HistoryPsychologyGuided WalkToysSewingPastry ArtsCynicismTheaterIrish Dance


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Weekdays in Western MA: December 5th – 9th, 2016

Weekdays in Western MA:
Monday December 5th – 9th, 2016

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.Save

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28 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Holiday Lights to Wreath Making. Theater to Singing.

Have you ever thought about why we decorate our Christmas trees with strands of light? Ever think about the origin of this tradition? Find out about the history of Christmas lights, then take in a community tree lighting ceremony and a drive through Forest Park in Springfield or Look Park in Florence for contemporary displays of holiday lights.

Tree Lighting to Wreaths. Consumerism to Holiday Strolls. Pastry Arts to A Christmas Carol. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week:

As the temperature drops and the skies become increasingly more grey, towns across Western Massachusetts are beginning to look more and more festive by the minute!  Leafless trees now don coats of twinkling lights, streetlights are wrapped cozily in strands of deep green garland, and bright red bows decorate wreaths – welcoming both visitors and the holiday season.  Celebrate the holiday season this year by bringing your family to one of the many holiday strolls that happen this month! your family’s holiday season this weekend by visiting one of the holiday strolls being offered!


Literary Adaptation ♦  Singing ♦  Gingerbread Houses ♦  Breakfast with SantaPlacemaking ♦  ConsumerismRadio TheaterPastry Arts  ♦ Gift SwapHoliday StrollsLiving HistoryTransportationCarolingLocomotionWreathsCommunity MealCraftsTree Lighting


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Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Non-Commercial Gift Giving

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Holiday Segment
Non-Commercial Gift Giving

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Monday, November 21, 2016. In this segment, Sienna and Lauren talked about non-commercial gift-giving ideas and the value of making your own gifts to give for the holidays.

Click on image to view video.

Download a copy of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA for Nov/Dec. (38 page PDF) for the holiday season.


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be December 26th, 2016!

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Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Holiday Strolls & Community Singing

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Holiday Segment
Learning with Holiday Strolls and Caroling

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. In this segment, Sienna and Lauren talked about engaging and learning with holiday strolls and community singing during the holiday season.

Click on image to view video.

Download a copy of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA for Nov/Dec. (38 page PDF) for the holiday season.


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be December 26th, 2016!

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Learning Landscapes: Integrating Permaculture with Community-Based Education

Thanksgiving is Over, Now What?

How can you leverage everyday experiences, curiosity, and natural relationships in your child’s learning landscape?

Thanksgiving is over.

Did you and your children get enough? Give enough? Did you open your home to and give thanks for family, friends, people three degrees removed, or the bounties of Earth because the traditional customs of this holiday often calls us to do so?

Did you and your children fully live with an attitude of gratitude and feel the power, glory and story that Thanksgiving can evoke? What story was that exactly and were you touched by other’s stories? What’s the story that will endure?

Permaculture, infused into not only the learning landscape but our holistic life landscape, calls us to self-regulate to make ethical choices, take action, and live knowing “all is in relation.” To paraphrase Dr. David Blumenkrantz, we are a collection of works of human experience. In this way, we are a library of life connected to the wisdom of our ancestors and a thread into the future.

Our story emerges in relation to our shared covenant that brings our community together. We chose to co-create a shared story through a bond of ethics and thinking tools that help us go beyond scientific observations of the patterns of nature and connect us with the ancient wisdom and sacredness of all.

We are drowning in information that tells us how to do “enough”

to prove to others that we have enough,

but we are starving for the wisdom to find peace in the fact that

we are already enough.

“We are starving for wisdom.” Why is that? Perhaps what we choose to feed might be worth exploring. There is a Middle Eastern Islamic folk tale that illustrates this point more clearly. It goes like this:

Mullah Nasruddin had been working in the fields all day long. He was tired and sweaty and his clothes and shoes were covered with mud and stains. Because he had been fasting all day long, for Ramadan, he was also quite hungry.

The wealthiest man in town had invited everyone to come break their fasts in his home that evening with a huge feast. Nasruddin knew that he would be late if he went home to change his clothes before heading into town. He decided it was better to arrive in dirty clothes than to be late.

When Nasruddin arrived, the wealthy man opened the door and looked Nasruddin up and down scornfully. Without a word of welcome, he gestured for Nasruddin to come in and walked abruptly away. Nasruddin joined the throngs of people, who were all dressed in their finest clothing and the tables were laden with all sorts of delicious foods.

Despite his efforts to hurry, the seats were all taken and nobody tried to move over or make a space for Nasruddin. Nobody offered him food. Nobody spoke to him. It was as if he wasn’t even there. The other guests ignored him so completely that Nasruddin could not enjoy the food on his plate, no matter how finely prepared and how tasty it was. In fact, after only a few bites, Nasruddin was so uncomfortable that he decided to leave.

He hurried home and changed into his finest clothing, including a beautiful coat. Nasruddin returned and this time the host welcomed him with a huge smile. As Nasruddin entered, people waved and called to him from all corners of the room as they invited him to sit near them and offered him food.

Nasruddin sat down quietly. Picking up a plump fig, he carefully placed it into a coat pocket, saying, “Eat, coat, eat.” Next he took a handful of nuts and put them into the pocket, saying, “Eat, coat, eat.” Now he began to feed his coat in earnest, grabbing all sorts of foods.

One by one the guests became silent as they watched this strange behavior. Soon everyone in the room was quietly staring at Nasruddin, wondering what he was doing. The host hurried over. “Nasruddin, whatever are you doing? Why are you feeding your coat in this manner?”

“Well,” replied Nasruddin, “when I first came to this feast in my old farming clothes, I was not welcome. No one would speak with me. But when I changed into this coat, suddenly I was greeted warmly. So I realized it was not me that was welcome at this party, but my clothing. And so I am feeding my coat.”

What exactly are we “feeding” in our lives, our communities, especially at this time of year when the power, glory and story of what it means to be enough, have enough, do enough, and live enough is waiting to confront us at every turn? It can feel unescapable and in our society where connecting with and honoring the “me” may not be balanced with our responsibilities and the awesome possibilities of the “we.”

What might be possible if the story we were telling ourselves and our children is:

I am enough and you are enough and together we are more than enough.

Together we can change the story and transform the future.

What might embracing an enduring attitude of gratitude as part of a greater “we” look like? Here are three ideas that can positively impact our local communities directly:

Setting a Place at the Table

Giving to homeless shelters, food banks or soup kitchens is a wonderful way to support those in need, but for many (and especially kids) this becomes a faceless activity that doesn’t hold personal, emotional meaning. Instead, consider how you can hold a place open at your table for someone in need each and every meal.

How can you do this? Literally, set a place at your table for that “someone.” Physically creating space brings it to the forefront of our thinking each and every time we sit down to eat. Instead of plating up food, place a jar with a coin slit on the place. Each time you sit down to eat add money into the box in support of feeding just one more person.

At the end of December (or better yet January when the goodwill and giving has often tapered off) add up all that you have put into the box and find a person (or more than one) in your community to hand it to directly. Maybe you find people through your local shelter or soup kitchen or perhaps you find and thank someone like a waitress who you see working especially hard, a musician sharing her gift to make that corner of the street just a bit more beautiful or you invite a person who is asking for food to join you at the café nearby for a meal.

After personally placing some money to help in the hands of others, kids may enjoy making drawings of the people and pasting them on the jar. Continue and do this again next month.

Giving Bag

How many of us have seen someone asking for money, food, bus fare or whatever? How many of us even look at the person in the eye and greet them kindly, regardless of whether we have money to give? How can you not just give in kindness or share a dollar if you happen to have one on you, but instead be prepared to give and be awaiting the call? Keep a couple bags in the car with food, water, and warm socks and money for bus fare to give when you find someone who needs help. This is a true story that a friend shared:

Today I met a woman in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s. I was sitting in my car answering a text and she was walking between the cars. She walked up to mine and I rolled down my window. She needed money for food and a ride to a nearby town. I couldn’t give her a ride because I needed to get home to my two kids who were home sick, but I could listen to her, empathize and give her one of the bags we keep in the car with food, water, and warm socks and money for bus fare. When I got out if my car to talk to her she smiled and thanked me. “Most people just ignore me and walk away,” she said. “Another lady ordered me an Uber and when the driver arrived and saw me, he drove away.” When I got the bag out of my trunk and gave her money, she burst into tears and I gave her a hug. All it takes is kindness and knowing that we are all struggling and we can do this if we all help a little.  

Cultivate Community Supported Education (CSE)

The idea of joining a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to support our local farmers is well accepted. Why not do the same for education by cultivating Community Supported Education (CSE)? Together we can!

PERMIE KIDs is an educational resource network that inspires, supports and shares the collective wisdom of nature and community-oriented families, educators, artists and designers. Our story is one that is about community-oriented experiential education by design. The underlying ethics and values of our story are designed to help not only our family and local community, but our worldwide community remember and use what is already present in our lives and connect with the wisdom and work of others to create resilient and regenerative “learning landscapes” that help children design beautiful relationships with themselves, others and Nature.

Although PERMIE KIDs is an online space where educators, artists, musicians and more can come together and share their wisdom, this idea can also be done at a micro-level in your own local communities. Sharing and exchanging educational ideas and resources with others is not a new idea, but in a world where “me” often outweighs the “we” it takes a community organizer who can re-ignite interest and opportunities to do so. What might be possible if you were to embrace the role of community organizer and design a Community Supported Education (CSE) in your place?

What might you and your children have to share with this world that can nourish life? An attitude of gratitude nourishes life. Opportunities to embrace this are all around if we open our minds, hands and hearts.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jen MendezJen Mendez

Jen is a wife, mother of two joyous children, experiential education mentor, and founder of PERMIE KIDs. She has a M. Ed. in International Education and has worked with children in the U.S. and overseas from early childhood through the primary years, as well as parent-educators. She integrates an ethical, design science methodology with her love for education to help others learn to design a customized education with their children that honors themselves, others, and the earth.

Weekdays in Western MA: November 28, 2016 – December 2, 2016

Weekdays in Western MA:
November 28, 2016 – December 2, 2016

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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Weekdays in Western MA: November 21 – November 25, 2016

Weekdays in Western MA:
November 21 – November 25, 2016

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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