Hilltowns Celebrate their History & the Season this Weekend

3 Hilltown Celebrations

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

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

ASHFIELD

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

CHARLEMONT

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

BECKET

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

Ticket Giveaway: 2015 Green River Festival!

Take the Family to the
GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL
Happening July 10th-13th, 2015
Greenfield, MA

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!

Museum Adventures: Yiddish Book Center

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 »

The Fabric of History in Western Mass Weaves a Tale

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 »

Take Me to the River: Honor Your Watershed at Shelburne Falls RiverFest

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 »

Museum Adventures: Museums10 Turns 10 & Continues to Think Smart

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 »

The River’s Song Blends Art & Science While Supporting Community-Based Learning

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 »

Young Shakespeare Players East Integrates Lessons in History & Government with Theatre

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 »

Hilltown Draw-Around Unleashes Creative Free-Play!

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 »

RiverCulture: Another Success Story in the Western MA Arts Scene

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 »

Easter Events in Western MA, 2015

Easter Events in Western MA 2015

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

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

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

Performing Arts Festival Comes to the Hilltowns

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 »

2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA

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

Winter Celebrations in Western MA Spotlight Local Culture

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

Remembering the Lost Towns Through Swift River Historic Photos

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 »

Greenfield’s Museum of Our Industrial Heritage New Web Exhibits

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.

Greenfield's Museum of Our Industrial Heritage New Web Exhibits

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 »

Holiday Events for Families in Western MA: 2014

The Lost Art of Cursive

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:

Graveyards Inspire Curiosity and Learning in October

Learning Lurks Amongst the Gravestones in Historic Cemeteries

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

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

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

Boden Cemetary - Letterboxing-3

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

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

Experiential Learning at Historic Deerfield

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 »

County Fair Teaches Importance of Community Service

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 amy@franklincountywastedistrict.org 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.

When Dinosaurs Walked…Western Mass

Paleontology Fascinates and Stimulates Learning in Kids

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

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

Western Mass Historical Heritage for All to Explore

Summer is History-Exploring Season in Western MA!

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

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

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

Ticket Giveaway: 2014 Green River Festival!

Take the Family to the
GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL
Happening July 12th & 13th, 2014
Greenfield, MA

Enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Green River Festival happening July 12th or 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: 7/2/14.

The 28th annual Green River Festival happens again this year on July 12th & 13th, 2014… and Hilltown Families has two pairs of tickets to giveaway, one pair for each day! 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!

Just Roots Community Farm Fosters Youth Collaboration

Innovative farm program uses accessible skillshare as community builder

Just Roots Community Farm isn’t “just” anything – never just this or just that, the farm incorporates many different projects, practices, and goals into its overarching purpose. Located on the former Poor Farm in Greenfield, MA, Just Roots works to promote knowledge of, demand for, and access to local food in Franklin County. Through a variety of offerings including community workshops, affordable CSA shares, volunteer workdays, and educational programming, Just Roots serves as a community-centered vehicle for resiliency, self-sufficiency, sustainability, and endless learning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Greenfield: A Town with an Innovative Past, Present and Future

Take an educational trip right into Greenfield’s innovative past, present and future

Taken from the upper story front porch of the Grand Trunk Hotel in Turners Falls, this image shows the trolley near Second Street and Avenue A (c.1890), an example of trolly use in the Pioneer Valley. – Courtesy Image.

The Pioneer Valley Institute is offering a day tour of the highlights of Greenfield on Saturday, June 7: “Spring into Greenfield: A Trolley Ride Through our Town’s History and Architecture.” The town’s trolley bus will be the mode of transportation for the day, and is a reminder of the active trolley system available 100 years ago throughout the Connecticut River Valley.

Greenfield, its buildings, its industries, and farmland, offers a complex story. This hub town for Franklin County is the site of fine examples of architectural design, of industrial innovation, and of current efforts to retrofit Greenfield’s fine older buildings to conserve energy for the coming decades. Greenfield was a crossroads for train freight service and will soon see restored passenger service. Waterpower and fine farmland attracted early settlers and investors, and innovators and businesses continue to recognize opportunities in the town.

Read the rest of this entry »

We (heart) the Deerfield River: A Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night

Art Garden Event: River Fest Parade

Hilltown Families and The Art Garden partner for a final community-service art-making event for the season

Our watersheds are vital and important ecosystems for animal and plant species. Celebrate the Deerfield River Watershed with friends, family, Hilltown Families and The Art Garden on Friday, June 6th, from 4-7pm in Shelburne Falls for our final community-service art-making event for the season.

At this event we will be focusing on what we love about the Deerfield River Watershed and preparing for the annual Deerfield RiverFest’s Frog and Flower parade on June 7. Be a part of creating large cardboard fish, frogs and flowers for the parade, as well as individual processional artworks. All ages can participate! Materials provided. Takes place at The Art Garden.

Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Join us for an evening of community service art-making on Friday, June 6th from 4-7pm at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA, for We (heart) the Deerfield River, the final event in a series of five free family community service nights!

The Art Garden is located at 14 Depot Street in Shelburne Falls, MA (in the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum building.) SEE MAP. Questions? Email Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fish Ladder & Lift Elevates Local Learning & Critical Thinking

All ages learn about wide variety of fish in their natural habitat and the environmental challenges facing river life

Community-based educational opportunities await children of all ages on the riverbank.

One of western Massachusetts’ (and western New England’s) most important and valuable natural resources is the Connecticut River. Over 400 miles long, the river runs from the Canadian border in Quebec to the Long Island Sound, and its waters and watershed provide habitat to thousands of species. However, our region’s history includes lots of water-powered manufacturing and hydroelectricity projects, all of which have permanently changed the Connecticut River.

Thanks to programs funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, educational resources are available for learning about the river and understanding the complexities of our current relationship with it. This time of year, the most fascinating way to learn about the river is by visiting a fish ladder or fish elevator, where numerous species of fish can be observed right in their natural habitat! Most importantly, families can learn about anadromous fish – ones who are born in freshwater, spend most of their lives in the ocean, and return to freshwater to spawn in the springtime. The many dams on the Connecticut River have caused a decline in populations of such fish, as they block the path from the ocean to many species’ spawning grounds. However, projects such as the fishlift at the Robert E. Barrett Fishway in Holyoke and the Turners Falls Fish Ladder attempt help to move fish from one side of a dam to another – allowing them a slightly better chance of reaching their destination and successfully spawning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Industry of the Past & Natural History Explored this Weekend

History of Logging & Hawley Bog
Pioneer Valley Institute Features Local Industry & Natural History Events This Weekend

Submitted image.

Western Massachusetts is rich with both local and natural history – both of which are topics that Greenfield Community College’s Pioneer Valley Institute highlights in its educational programs. Blending topics like geology and natural biodiversity with the study of local agriculture, industry, and culture, the Pioneer Valley Institute offers intriguing programs that allow community members to explore their surroundings while also learning about their natural and cultural significance. Read the rest of this entry »

Random Acts of Kindness on Friday with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden

Flowers for Friends: Family Workshop
with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden
Friday, April 11th, 2014 from 4-7pm

Share a small act of kindness to another! Decorate pots and plant posies to pass along to others in your community with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th from 4-7pm (FREE).

In the spirit of spreading kindness to others, Hilltown Families presents a free family workshop, Flowers for Friends, at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 4-7pm.  Families are invite to join neighbors & friends in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and pass along to another in their community.

Participating families are encouraged to give their posy to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice.  — Pay it forward with a small act of kindness!

This is the second year in a row we are coordinating this event. See photos from last year here and check out this video that features last year’s event: Read the rest of this entry »

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: