November 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Community Based Education, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity)
Tags: dinosaurs, Natural History, paleontology
Upcoming Events Highlight Local Paleontology Connections
Western Massachusetts’ natural history is one of epic proportions – dinosaurs loved our local landscape! In addition to the numerous year-round community-based opportunities to explore paleontology, families can take advantage of upcoming community events in order to further explore dino-centric studies, including Dinosaur Hunter, Paul Sereno!
Here in western Massachusetts, dinosaurs play a huge role in the history of our landscape.
A wealth of community-based educational resources help to support paleontological studies of all kinds, and the local connection to dinosaurs can help budding paleontologists put their dinosaur-centric knowledge into a local context.
To support locally based studies of all things dinosaurs, families can utilize learning opportunities offered by two upcoming events.
Read the rest of this entry »
October 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm (Community Based Education, Franklin County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Museum Adventures)
Tags: Community Based Education, museum education, Museum10, Museums, Western Massachusetts Museums
Visit Historic Deerfield this October for Fun Seasonal Activities with your Family
Explore archaeology, open hearth cooking, colonial life, and so much more at Historic Deerfield this October. Who knew there were so many fun (and tasty!) ways to get to know history?
October is a wonderful month to visit Historic Deerfield with your family. From the crisp, cool mornings and the first months of school, autumn brings its own sense of renewal as the long, hot days of summer ebb away. At Historic Deerfield, the Old Main Street comes alive with fall color. A robust schedule of historic trade demonstrations, educational programs and events await visitors of all ages.
Highlights this fall for families include the Archaeology Lab program, offered as a drop-in activity on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4pm through November 22, 2015. Visitors can explore the science behind historical archaeology; help clean, sort, and identify artifacts; and learn about soil during a “shoe box” dig. Make some clay marbles based on archaeological finds to take home. Read the rest of this entry »
September 23, 2015 at 1:30 pm (Family, Food, Franklin County)
Tags: dinner, dinner table, Family Day, Family Dinner, family dinner project, family mealtimes, family time
Monday, September 28th is Family Day
Monday, September 28th, 2015, is Family Day, and the Communities That Care Coalition is encouraging families to celebrate by spending quality time together as a family. Family Day is a national movement, launched by Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) to celebrate parental engagement as an effective tool to help keep kids substance-free, healthy and happy. Read the rest of this entry »
September 21, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Franklin County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: Family Structure, Grandfamilies, grandparents
Grandfamilies Offers Unique Support to Families
A support group for families in which a relative parents another relative’s children, Grandfamilies offers support for adults navigating both the joy and challenges of such a family structure.
Communities are made up of families of all kinds, and the United Arc is offering local families a new resource for support. Located in the Hilltowns and Franklin County, Grandfamilies is a support group for families in which a relative cares for another relative’s children. This type of family structure is not uncommon, and can happen for a multitude of reasons. Grandfamilies offers folks who have such a family structure with a space in which to share the joy and satisfaction of raising children, and also serves as a source of support for the grief, financial strain, loss of independence, and other challenges that can accompany this type of family situation.
Grandfamilies groups provide families with the opportunity to learn about other useful community resources, share stories, and connect with other community members who are also raising a relative’s children. Grandfamilies group meetings are relaxed, and offer a friendly and supportive atmosphere within which participants can engage in essential and meaningful self-care. Read the rest of this entry »
September 16, 2015 at 9:00 am (Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Herencia Latina, Latino American, Latino American History, Latino Americans, Latino History Day
Herencia Latina Brings Exploration of Latino History and Culture to the Pioneer Valley
Held over the course of nine months, Herencia Latina brings a host of educational opportunities and cultural celebrations to the Pioneer Valley.
For over a century, Latino Americans have been a part of communities within the Pioneer Valley. With over 50 million people making up Latino communities across the country, the group is the largest minority group in the country.
In order to celebrate and educate about Latino American history and culture, the Pioneer Valley History Network – in conjunction with local museums, libraries, colleges, and community organizations – brings Herencia Latina to western Massachusetts.
Offering seemingly endless opportunities to explore the history of Latino Americans in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, Herencia Latina brings educational opportunities to western Massachusetts through May of 2016. Read the rest of this entry »
August 4, 2015 at 9:00 am (Community Based Education, Franklin County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Museum Adventures)
Tags: Community Based Education, museum education, Museum10, Museums, Western Massachusetts Museums
Surprise your Eyes at the Smith College Museum of Art
Where do you begin your Museum adventure? For many visitors to the Smith College Museum of Art, their first stop is to check out the artist-designed restrooms! Designed by artists Ellen Driscoll and Sandy Skoglund as functional—and permanent—works of art, each is unique and beautiful. A popular spot for selfies, the women’s restroom features works from the Museum’s collection reproduced in a blue underwater world through etched glass panels. In contrast to the cool hues and mermaid paradise of Driscoll’s women’s restroom, across the way Skoglund intended to create a space that would incorporate “patterning and visual sizzle.” The men’s room is black and white from floor to ceiling, creating the sensory experience of stepping into an optical illusion. For the wall tiles, Skoglund used imagery based on global creation stories with the common theme of liquid origins. From the fixtures to the floors and even the toilet bowls and urinals, visitors are invited to be part of the art themselves through the use of these unforgettable spaces.
The artist-designed restrooms are located on the lower level of the Museum, which has been a hub of activity this summer. While the restrooms will remain untouched, extensive renovations to the rest of the floor are underway. When completed in October, the Museum’s gallery updates and improvements will offer new ways to experience and interact with SCMA’s treasured collection of exceptional art.
Don’t miss these highlights on a visit this fall: Read the rest of this entry »
July 7, 2015 at 9:00 am (Community Based Education, Franklin County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Museum Adventures)
Tags: Community Based Education, museum education, Museum10, Museums, Western Massachusetts Museums
From Mead to You: Making Learning Connections at the Mead Art Museum
Experience, investigate, and explore world-class art and hidden treasures at Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum. In July, families can travel the world without ever leaving the area through the Mead’s family workshops and open house days. Enjoy art-making, guest performances, tours, and more—all of it free and open to all.
Search for secret doors in a seventeenth-century paneled room. Puzzle over a cuneiform inscription that praises a powerful Assyrian king. Marvel at a hanging sculpture spinning in a still gallery.
Visitors to the Mead Art Museum do so much more than see objects—at the Mead, art is experienced, investigated, and explored. Set on Amherst College’s beautiful main quadrangle and flanked by a fascinating, stand-alone stone steeple, the Mead offers a world of resources for connecting art across countless cultures, mediums, and eras.
Just as its south-up, equal-area map (on permanent display in the Kunian gallery) turns traditional worldviews “upside-down,” the Mead provides learning opportunities that encourage creative thinking and a global, culturally-aware approach to art history. Read the rest of this entry »
June 17, 2015 at 9:00 am (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity)
3 Hilltown Celebrations
As part of Ashfield’s 250 celebration, 396 rockets will light up the sky over Ashfield Lake on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 9pm! Preceded by a free potluck community supper at Town Fall and an afterparty at The Lakehouse. Other places to wine and dine include Elmer’s and Country Pie! Ashfield, MA (FREE)
This Father’s Day weekend in the Hilltowns, three communities celebrate the season and their history!
Ashfield is celebrating its 250th birthday this weekend! On Saturday, June 20, a fun-filled parade will traverse the streets with unicycles, antique vehicles, costumes, and many, many community organizations taking part, beginning at 10am.. Starts at the intersection of Emmett Rd & 116 in South Ashfield, goes through the center of town, and ends at Belding Park. Make a day of it by visiting the farmers’ market, enjoying food and music on the Common, and participating in a community and history scavenger hunt at 12:30pm. Folks can dance or clap along at a 2pm contra dance or visit the Ashfield Historical Society’s textile window displays. (FREE) Then from 6pm – 9pm is the Party Under the Stars, a great and festive community event where you can mingle with your friends and neighbors! There will be live music, food, and beverages. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-628-4441. Curtis House, 14 South Street. ($)
Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of Charlemont at this daylong event filled with fascinating local stories, songs, food, games, a scavenger hunt and entertainment on Saturday, June 20 from 9:30am – 8:30pm. 413-339-0117. Downtown. (FREE) Then on Sunday morning from 8-10am, there will be a a community pancake breakfast sponsored by the Friends of the Charlemont Fairgrounds. 413-625-2623. Town Fairgrounds ($)
The summer solstice (June 21, 2015) marks the start of summer, the day on which the sun looks highest in the sky and the longest stretch of daylight of the year. Mark this special day at the Becket Arts Center‘s Summer Solstice Community Celebration, where visitors will enjoy an opening reception for a new art exhibit, children’s activities, a silent auction, food, and live music from Becket native, Bobby Sweet. 4pm – 9pm. 413-623-6635. 7 Brooker Hill Road (< $)
June 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Contest, Franklin County, Greenfield, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Events in Western Massachusetts, franklin county, Green River Festival, Greenfield Community College, hot air balloon rides, Hot Air Balloons, Music Festival, Pioneer Valley, Ticket Giveaway, Western Massacusetts
Take the Family to the
GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL
Happening July 10th-13th, 2015
Enter for a chance to win a pair of weekend tickets to the Green River Festival happening July 10th-13th in Greenfield, MA. Kids 10 and under get in free. Win tickets and take the family! Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 6/30/15.
The 29th annual Green River Festival happens again this year on July 10th-13th, 2015… and Hilltown Families has two pairs of weekend tickets to giveaway! With a pair of tickets, and free admittance for children ten and under, two adults can take a gaggle of kids and plan on spending the day at this great western Massachusetts music festival! Tickets do not including parking or food.
Click here to find out how you can enter for a chance to win!
June 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Community Based Education, Franklin County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Museum Adventures)
Tags: Community Based Education, museum education, Museum10, Museums, Western Massachusetts Museums
Yiddish Book Center: Something for Everyone (and You Don’t Need to Speak Yiddish)
Learning about Jewish culture and history often leads parents and children to conversations about their own family’s history, culture, and traditions.
In the Yiddish Book Center’s kindervinkl (children’s corner), three-year-old Eli dons a white apron and begins whipping up an (imaginary) meal of brisket and, for dessert, homentashn. When he’s done, he and his mother settle on a red bench nearby and begin reading picture books.
In the welcome gallery, a dad and two preteen girls enjoy a short film about the history of the Center. When the film ends, they head over to a reproduction Yiddish print shop with vintage printing equipment, including a Yiddish Linotype, a hot-lead typesetting machine used for decades at the New York Yiddish newspaper the Forverts. Read the rest of this entry »
June 2, 2015 at 9:00 am (Franklin County, Hilltown Families, History)
Tags: fabric and textile industry, Local History, Museum Exhibit, Textile History, Western Massachusetts History
Historic Deerfield Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Their Textile Collection
Early 19th-century tartan wool cloak.
On June 4, 1965, the brand new Fabric Hall was opened to the public at Historic Deerfield (then known as The Heritage Foundation). Situated behind the Silver Museum in a renovated 1870s barn (now Historic Deerfield’s History Workshop), Fabric Hall showcased the museum’s growing collection of clothing, needlework and domestic textiles. The gallery, which included innovative ambient lighting, air conditioning, and radiant floor heat, conveyed an early awareness of the need to monitor environmental conditions to protect fragile items. Fabric Hall was the dream of Helen Geier Flynt (1895-1986) who, along with her husband, Henry N. Flynt (1893-1970), founded Historic Deerfield. No longer limited to the small spaces of the historic house museums, Fabric Hall allowed Mrs. Flynt free reign to display a range of items in the collection, from more exotic and opulent textiles to historic fashions and textiles demonstrating aesthetic or technical excellence. Read the rest of this entry »
June 1, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Franklin County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity)
Tags: community event, nature education, place-based education, river festival, western massachusetts
Local Celebration Inspires Community-Based Education
Celebrate the role of water in our local landscape at Shelburne Falls’ RiverFest, an annual community event celebrating local culture and local water. Families can learn about the local landscape, celebrate local history, and participate in the annual Frog and Flower Parade, which showcases community spirit and beautiful (and funky) handmade representations of familiar river creatures.
The rivers of western Massachusetts run like veins through our local landscape, each one giving life to the valleys through which it flows. Families can celebrate the life-giving nature of our local waterways at the Deerfield River Watershed Association’s annual RiverFest, a community celebration of the river’s role in local life. While RiverFest specifically celebrates the village of Shelburne Falls’ relationship with the Deerfield River, the Deerfield’s watershed feeds directly into the Connecticut River, a body of water whose currents have helped to define much of life in our part of the state. So no matter how near or far from the river your home may be, it’s still important to honor the river!
Held primarily on Saturday, June 6th, RiverFest offers a wide variety of events, including opportunities for both celebration and community-based learning. With the bulk of the festival’s excitement taking place on (and very close to) Shelburne Falls’ Main Street, it’s easy for families to explore and learn on foot. Main Street highlights will include live music and dancing throughout the day, fly-casting, river rafting, Native American storytelling, birds of prey demonstrations, various kids’ games and activities, as well as vendor tents and tables. Read the rest of this entry »
May 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm (Community Based Education, Franklin County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Museum Adventures)
Tags: Community Based Education, museum education, Museum10, Museums, Western Massachusetts Museums
Museums10 Deepens Western Mass Cultural Life Through Creative Collaboration
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts in Amherst, MA.
Western Massachusetts is rich with opportunities for families to get out into their community to explore, to get to know the world better, and gain a deeper understanding of history. The museums in our region embody that richness to the fullest! Now in its 10th year, Museums10 can point to the fact that they host more exhibitions annually than at the Met, Lourve, and Guggenheim combined and house 1.3 million collection objects (equal to what you’d find at the Harvard Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Art Museum put together!).
Who is Museums10? Ten years ago, 10 local museums came together to build a collaborative to foster greater cooperation. The hope was that by working together they could accomplish more than any could solo. During the past decade, they’ve hosted large joint exhibitions, worked with local organizations to create events, and built relationships with area schools to help make the museums part of children’s educational lives during the school day. Read the rest of this entry »
May 4, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Franklin County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity, Volunteer Opportunity)
Tags: community based learning, Community Events, Connectict River Valley, The River's Song, Western Mass arts
The River’s Song Celebrates Connecticut River with
Wonderful Range of Events
What does drumming, spoken word, hands-on art making, environmentally-themed storytime, and a parade have to do with the Connecticut River? It’s all a part of The River’s Song, a community celebration that combines art, local history, and community-based learning opportunities to create an event that honors and celebrates the Connecticut River, the Pioneer Valley’s natural artery.
Held on Saturday, May 16th at locations throughout downtown Turners Falls, The River’s Song is a unique community celebration in that its offerings are quite diverse, yet are all still directly related to the Connecticut River and its role both in the local landscape and in our lives. With events beginning at 9am and running past 9pm, The River’s Song offers over 12 hours of river-themed play and learning. Read the rest of this entry »
May 4, 2015 at 9:00 am (Community Based Education, Franklin County)
Tags: integrated learning, Shakespeare, Young Shakespeare Players East
Lend Us Your Ears!
Young Shakespeare Players East Performs
Julius Caesar at The Shea Theater In Turners Falls
Young Shakespeare Players East actors in early rehearsals for Julius Caesar. — For the YSP East actors, participating as an ensemble member in Julius Caesar is an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the play as they learn not only about Shakespeare and ancient Rome, but also about the role of politics, history, and government. For audiences this is an opportunity to experience the beauty of Shakespeare’s language and the tragedy and intrigue of ancient Rome as staged by a group of dedicated and talented young actors.
The Young Shakespeare Players (YSP) East, a non-profit youth theater program located in Turners Falls, MA, will present its production of the full length version of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar on Saturday May 9 & Sunday May 10, 2015 at 12noon and 6pm at The Shea Theater (71 Avenue A) in Turners Falls, MA. All performances are free and open to the public. YSP East encourages people of all ages to attend.
Young Shakespeare Players (YSP) was founded in 1980 by Richard DiPrima in Madison, Wisconsin, and YSP East is proud to be the first ‘chapter’ of YSP outside of Madison and to make Turners Falls and the Shea Theater its new home. The program gives young people ages 7-18 the opportunity to perform full-length, original works of Shakespeare. There are no auditions or rejections. Every young person who participates receives one or more substantial speaking roles.
YSP East is excited to present its production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar on May 9 & 10, 2015, at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls. Julius Caesar addresses timeless themes such as conspiracy, democracy, liberty, corruption, ambition and tyranny. The actors of Young Shakespeare Players East will re-create one of the most famous and important moments in world history — by performing, uncut, one of the most famous and important plays in world history.
Shakespeare created many memorable scenes and lines in Julius Caesar, and audiences will recognize them as the YSP East players perform such dramatic scenes as the assassination of Caesar on the steps of the Roman Senate, and Antony’s famous speech, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;…” Read the rest of this entry »
April 7, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Art, Franklin County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity)
Tags: art workshops, community art event, Community Based Education, Creative Free Play, interactive community events
Interactive Event & Workshops Invites Community to Make its Mark
Draw all over the walls (and the floor and the tables) at the Art Garden’s first annual 12-hour Hilltown Draw Around! Creative types of all ages are invited to participate in art making, community-building, and creative free play all day long!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to draw all over a room? The Art Garden is offering families exactly that opportunity! The first annual Hilltown Draw Around is a 12-hour interactive community art-making extravaganza held in a paper-covered gymnasium. Families can drop by between 12noon and midnight on Saturday, April 11th for a day filled with drawing workshops, community building, creative free play, and endless opportunities to draw anything and everything. And it’s not just for self-proclaimed artists – anyone and everyone is welcome to come and explore the creative materials available and make their own mark on the event.
A variety of volunteer-lead workshops throughout the day offer participants opportunities to learn new drawing-related skills or to participate in special projects – and many workshops use drawing as an entry point for interdisciplinary learning. A mathematical drawing workshop will teach participants about fractals, geometry, and the Golden Ratio, while a synesthesia-based drawing experience will help participants make connections between spoken language, color, and art, as well as teaching about the cognitive phenomenon that is synesthesia. Read the rest of this entry »
April 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Art, Franklin County, Hilltown Families)
Tags: arts and culture Western Mass, arts education, arts in western massachusetts, western Massachusetts arts community
Turners Falls Artscape Promotes A Diversity of Artistic Disciplines
Last month in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+, which supports the community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.
This month, we highlight the work of Turners Falls RiverCulture, an organization combining art, history, and recreation to build connections between community members and the cultural learning opportunities that exist within Turners Falls. RiverCulture both creates community-based learning opportunities and serves as a vehicle for connecting the community with preexisting opportunities to access resources for learning about local arts and culture. Read the rest of this entry »
March 24, 2015 at 10:27 am (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Berkshire County, Easter, easter egg hunt, Easter Egg Hunts in Western Massachusetts, Easter Events for Families, Easter Events in Massachusetts, franklin county, Greenfield, Hampden County, hampshire county, Southwick, Springfield, Things to do in Western Massachusetts for Easter, western massachusetts, Westfield
Easter Events in Western MA 2015
During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.
Community events that celebrate Easter take place over the next few week.
We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2015.
March 18, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Franklin County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Nimble Arts Troupe, Piti Theater Company
Sugar season is upon us, and coming with it is Piti Theater Company’s sweetest performances this weekend, co-sponsored by Hilltown Families! SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival brings locally created original theater and exciting performances from special guests to Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls for two days of performances, workshops, and sweet entertainment all around!
This year, Piti Theater Company will use the festival to launch a local tour of their new show, Innocenzo, which addresses concerns about electromagnetic pollution. Designed to be watched, appreciated, and understood by children, the show tells the story of a clown who falls sick with a mysterious illness, only to find out that he is being affected by electromagnetic pollution. The show does have a happy ending, but shares important information about the affects of a somewhat new (and rarely publicly addressed) concern. True to Piti’s theatrical style, the show is both educational and eye-opening, yet blends this with original music and clowning for a well-rounded and captivating show. Read the rest of this entry »
March 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity, Summer Camp)
Tags: Berkshire County, camp, Camps, franklin county, Hampden County, hampshire county, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Summer Camps, New England Summer Camps, Summer Activities, Summer Camp, Summer Camps, Summer Camps in the Berkshires, Summer Camps in the HIlltowns, Summer Camps in the Pioneer Valley, Summer Camps in Western Massachusetts, Summer Program, Summer Programs, Western MA, western massachusetts
February 4, 2015 at 12:30 pm (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity)
Tags: cabin fever, Community Celebrations, winter activities, Winter Festival
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 »
February 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Franklin County, Hilltown Families, History)
Tags: commuinity based education, flooded towns, Local History, Massachusetts History, photo exhibit, Photography Exhibit, Quabbin Reservoir
What’s in a Name? Villages, Hamlets and Hollows of the Swift River Valley
An exhibit of historic photographs, What’s in a Name? Villages, Hamlets and Hollows of the Swift River Valley, opens at the Great Falls Discovery Center in the village of Turners Falls, MA, with a public reception on Saturday, February 7, 2015, 1-3pm.
Seventy-six years ago four towns in west-central Massachusetts were destroyed to construct the Quabbin Reservoir—to quench the thirst of the growing city of Boston to the east. In addition to the four “lost towns”— Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott—land was purchased from nine other towns: Belchertown, Hardwick, New Salem, Orange, Pelham, Petersham, Shutesbury, Ware, and Wendell. These towns were made up of small villages and even smaller hamlets and hollows. People settled near each other for one reason or another— perhaps they were extended family, or worked in a mill or factory. Sometimes the name of the village or hamlet gives us a clue as to its origins, for example, the names Atkinson Hollow and Cooleyville came from families, Bobbinville from the factory that made bobbins, and Soapstone Station from the quarries nearby.
An exhibit of historic photographs of villages, hamlets and hollows, reproduced from the collection of the Swift River Valley Historical Society, is opening at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls on Saturday, February 7th. The public is cordially invited to an opening reception from 1 to 3 pm. On view are images of families, houses, stores, mills, factories, schools, churches, and scenic vistas. The family-friendly exhibit includes an interactive area inspired by village schoolhouses and colorful 3-D art by Pioneer Valley Regional School District students under the guidance of their art teacher, Althea Dabrowski.
Read the rest of this entry »
January 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Franklin County, Hilltown Families, History)
Tags: American History, Cheapside, Connecticut River Valley, History, Massachusetts History, Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, pioneer valley history
When the Connecticut River Dammed Us All To A Different Topography
In centuries past, before car travel was the norm and the Connecticut River had been dammed to generate electricity, boats and barges on the river helped to connect communities in the Pioneer Valley to the small cities and towns further down the river’s bank. Throughout the Pioneer Valley, there are traces leftover from the days before automobile and if you know where to look, these traces can help to teach about the development of these local communities.
One such place that gives clues as to its past is a village in the southeastern end of Greenfield. Originally called Cheapside, all that’s left of this early 19th century hub is a street bearing the former port’s name. Cheapside Street runs parallel to the western shore of the Connecticut River, and marks what was once Cheapside Port, a bustling barge stop. Read the rest of this entry »
November 27, 2014 at 4:59 am (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, Holidays, Western MA Events, Western Massachusetts Events)
Tags: Christmas, Hanukkah, Holiday Events, Kwanzaa, western massachusetts, Winter Solstice
Find out about family holiday events in Western MA!
We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to
check back each week!
Friday, November 28th — Thursday, December 4th, 2014
Friday, December 5th — Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Friday, December 12th — Thursday, December 18th, 2014
Friday, December 19th — Thursday, December 25th, 2014
Berkshire County ♦ Franklin County ♦ Hampden County ♦ Hampshire County
Tree Lighting ♦ Santa ♦ Holiday Strolls ♦ MYO Gifts ♦ Caroling/Choral Music ♦ Hanukkah ♦ Christmas ♦ Kwanzaa ♦ Winter Solstice
Read the rest of this entry »
October 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Franklin County, History)
Tags: cursive, cursive writing, Education
The Lost Art of Cursive
New Exhibit Debuts at Hatfield Fall Festival
What ever happened to the art of cursive writing? Find out about cursive writing and interesting related historical facts at the Hatfield Fall Festival on Sunday, October 5, 2014, from 11am-3pm. There will be exhibits related to local history and fun activities for the entire family. During the Fall Festival, stop by the Historical Museum (2nd floor of Hatfield Public Library) for a new exhibit titled, “Simple Tools, Elegant Script: The Lost Art of Cursive.”
Did you know that the Declaration of Independence was written with a quill pen? Or that feathers from the left wings of birds were favored by right-handed people? Did you know that children’s school work, and business and municipal records up until the 1920s and ’30s were mostly written using dip pens? Come see how the tools have changed over time and what handwriting looked like when writing was an art.
To complement the exhibit, organizers will be offering an all-ages activity, “Calling All Scribes!” where you can try your hand at writing using old-fashioned tools, led by Hatfield resident and calligraphy neophyte Hollington Lee. (Located in the Children’s Room, 1st floor of the Hatfield Public Library.).
Does handwriting matter in modern times? Are your kids learning cursive writing in school? Psychologists and neuroscientists say new evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep. Check out these articles and share your thoughts:
- Cursive Is an Endangered Species, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 27, 2014
- The Lowdown on Longhand: How Writing by Hand Benefits the Brain, Edutopia, August 6, 2014
- Some Teachers Haven’t Written Off Cursive Yet, USA Today: The Arizona Republic, July 27, 2014
- What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades, The New York Times, June 2, 2014
- Should Schools Still Teach Cursive?, MindShift, June 28, 2013
- How Handwriting Trains the Brain: Forming Letters Is Key to Learning, Memory, Ideas, The Wall Street Journal, Updated Oct. 5, 2010
October 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Cemeteries, Gravestones, Graveyard, Graveyards, History
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.
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 »
September 10, 2014 at 9:00 am (Community Based Education, Franklin County, History)
Tags: Experiental Learning, experiential education, fall history, Fall in Western Massachusetts, History
Immerse Yourself in Fall & Uncover Its Traditions
Late summer and autumn were busy times in early American kitchens. The abundance of fresh produce needed to be processed and preserved for the winter. This fall, Historic Deerfield interpreters will be cooking dishes featuring apples, pumpkins, and corn.
As brightly colored leaves replace the lush green of summer, sweaters and sweatshirts emerge on chilly mornings, and fresh, local apples become a daily staple. A full calendar of events at Historic Deerfield offers families countless ways to learn about fall in early New England. Families can visit the 350-year-old village for demonstrations and hands-on experiential activities so as to learn – through immersion – about the changes that fall brought to some of western Massachusetts’ earliest settlers.
Of course, some fall traditions remain a part of New England culture today. Exploring Historic Deerfield can help families to uncover the roots of some of their own fall activities and traditions, and can help children to understand the season-related reasons for the timing of certain cultural events. Harvesting the last of the summer’s bounty, for example, and celebrating the changing of the seasons through food of all kinds is a seasonal activity that families will easily relate to. A visit centered around learning about the settlers of Deerfield’s open-hearth cooking style and the crops that they harvested in fall can help children to compare and contrast the things that happen during their own lives in the fall with the events of autumn for early New Englanders. Read the rest of this entry »
September 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Franklin County, Volunteer Opportunity)
Volunteer at the Franklin County Fair!
Volunteers are needed to assist with the recycling and compost program at the Franklin County Fair in Greenfield. This volunteer opportunity would be good for older students, especially those interested in composting and/or recycling. Volunteering at a large event like the Franklin County Fair can teach students the importance of community service and how valuable volunteers are when it comes to making events like this run with minimal waste.
Volunteers are needed to assist with the recycling and compost program at the Franklin County Fair in Greenfield. The fair runs from Sept 4-7, 2014, and volunteers are needed from Sept 3-10, 2014. Volunteers will be responsible for collecting recyclables and compostable material from the designated bins, sorting and processing the materials, and monitoring the bins during fair hours. All volunteers get free admission to the Fair and are able to explore the fairgrounds and enjoy all the fair has to offer before and after shifts and during breaks. A great community service opportunity for teens and families to do together!
Last year volunteers helped the Fair recycled and composted over 3.3 tons of materials! This volunteer opportunity would be good for older students, especially those interested in composting and/or recycling. Volunteering at a large event like the Franklin County Fair can teach students the importance of community service and how valuable volunteers are when it comes to making events like this run with minimal waste.
The sign-up deadline for volunteers is Sept 3rd, 2014, at 5pm. Sign up & more information here. Please email or call Amy Donovan if you have any questions at email@example.com or 413-772-2438. The fair takes place at 89 Wisdom Way in Greenfield, MA. More information on the Franklin County Fair can be found on the fair’s website.
August 18, 2014 at 9:00 am (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Climate Change, dinosaur exhibits, dinosaurs, experiential education, Nature, prehistoric, Springfield Museums
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 »
July 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: community education, community learning, historical heritage, History, Massachusetts History, Western MA history, Western Mass History
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 »
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