Suggested Events for September 5th-11th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families has been a lifesaver since our daughter was born. We check event listings weekly and are so impressed with the focus on healthy families and communities.” – Angela de Oliveira (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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Sept 3

The Center Dance Studio, an innovative dance studio in Amherst, is holding an Open House on Thursday, September 3rd from 4:15-6pm. Come by to see their new location on Main Street! Stop in to learn about their classes and philosophic approach where children spin stories from movement using classical and modern dance techniques. Sister duo Ashley and Caddy Carlisle combine their years of dance training with a special teaching approach that gets kids reading, writing and dancing; connecting, collaborating and creating. It’s a holistic approach to dance. For more information visit www.thecenterdance.com or email thecenterdanceschool@gmail.com. 321 Main Street. Amherst, MA. 413-687-7953.

Sept 5 & 6

Labor Day Family Campout! Have you ever wished that you could take your family camping? Come and spend an adventure-filled weekend camping with the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) at Notchview in Windsor, Sept 5 & 6! Ideal for both experienced campers & first-timers. Families have a choice of activities to choose from, including hikes to a search for owls, star gazing with a local expert, and stories & songs by the campfire. TTOR will provide a campout dinner, s’mores around the fire on Saturday night, and breakfast Sunday morning. Bring your adventuresome spirit & camping essentials (list provided). Member: $30/adult, $20/child. Nonmember: $40/adult, $30/child. Pre-registration required by 9/1: 413-532-1631×10 or email westregion@ttor.org

Begins Sept 12

Acting Classes for Children! Starlight’s Youth Theatre invites 2nd-7th graders to sign up for Fall acting classes under the direction of the amazing Cyn Strycharz. Young actors will create scenes, work on stage movement and character development plus a performance including scenes from Dr Seuss’ stories and Phantom Tollbooth. Storybook Theater: 2nd-3rd grade 9am presentation on Nov 14th. Actor’s Tool Box: 4th-5th grade 10am, show on Nov 14th. Lights Up: 6th-7th grade 11:15am show Dec 6th. Classes start Saturday, September 12 and are held at Mapleridge Community Center (Route 116) near the Amherst/Sunderland town line. Questions? Email starlights.yt@gmail.com. Class size is limited. Reserve your spot www.starlights-youth-theatre.com

Sept 13

On Sunday, September 13, from 2 to 4 pm, the Northampton Community Music Center will host its annual Open House & Instrument Petting Zoo. Come see, hear and try out different musical instruments, meet our teachers, take free demo classes, and enjoy a performance by NCMC’s ukulele choir. NCMC is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1986 with 50 professional faculty members serving more than 800 students annually. NCMC also hosts more than 75 performances and events each year. Programs include instruction in 25 different instruments, choruses, instrumental ensembles, vocal performance classes, recording studio classes, summer programs and special workshops. Financial aid available. For information, call 413-585-0001 or visit www.ncmc.net.

Sept 13

Parent of a 12-18 year old? Interested in learning a different way to communicate with your child/teen about difficult subjects? Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a non-judgmental conversation style that uses open-ended questions to foster parent/child connection and encourage youth to make difficult positive changes. John Brelsford, PhD, LMHC has over 40 years of experience in the human service field and is a member of MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers) Join NPC on Sunday, September 13th from 3-6pm at Northampton Survival Center, 265 Prospect Street in Northampton, MA. Light refreshments will be provided. Register at www.northamptonprevents.org or email pmcneil@northampton-k12.us for more info.

Sept 17

The 4th Annual Celebrate Amherst Block Party happens Thursday, September 17th from 5-9pm! Organized by the Amherst Business Improvement District with support from major sponsor, TD Bank, the block party is the largest single-day event in downtown Amherst. This free event brings over 6,000 people into downtown to eat, shop, and have fun! North Pleasant Street is blocked off and becomes a playground for street performers, dance performances, delicious food from downtown restaurants, and three stages that feature a DJ and live music performances by local favorites, such as children’s musician Mister G and more! For more details and information, visit www.amherstdowntown.com or contact the BID office at info@amherstdowntown.com.

Visit Days: Sep 18 & 26

Full Moon Girls: Enlivening and deepening girls’ connection to themselves, community and the natural world. At Full Moon Girls, girls gather together with women mentors to play, explore, challenge their edges, and learn new skills. This program nourishes the individual and cultivates an environment for growth, leadership, and resilience. Girls can build friction fires, learn wild edibles, engage in storytelling, gain wilderness skills, make trusting friendships, learn songs, and more! Fridays weekly in Conway, Oct 2-May 27, 9:30-3:30. Girls 9-15. $55-75/day. Saturdays monthly in Montague, Sept 26-Jun 4, 9:30-2:30. Girls 7-15. $45-75/day. Scholarships available! Contact us at FullMoonGirlsInfo@gmail.com or 413-367-6191.

Sep 27

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will once again be holding their 5th Annual Will Bike 4 Food charity cycling event on Sunday, September 27th. You have the opportunity to support their community by riding as an individual or forming a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 3.5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of all ages and levels can get involved. This year’s event will include a new location (Hatfield Lions Club Pavilion), new routes, and the biggest after-party yet with food, beverages, games and live music. To register, or to learn more about Will Bike 4 Food, visit their website at www.willbike4food.org.

Begins in Sept

Founded by two Pioneer Valley parents when they lived in Brooklyn, NY, Tinkergarten® has come to Western MA! Tinkergarten provides educational classes for kids ages 18 mos to 8 yrs in the healthiest classroom of all—the outdoors. The program aims to revive the most influential part of childhood — time to tinker in nature. The curriculum is designed to help kids become well-balanced people who can problem-solve, lead, and create. Angela Russo, talented Tinkergarten leader and local mom, is offering Fall classes and free trials in Amherst and Northampton. Learn more about the program and Angela’s classes at http://tkgtn.com/g0ce1. Want to give it a try? Use code hilltownfam15 to save 15% before 9/1. Have questions? Call 805-751-8465.

Begins in Sept

Sign up for Theater Improvisation with Heidi Haas! Improv increases spontaneity, creativity and self-confidence. Classes focus on tuning into one’s scene partners, creating bold characters and developing skits with each other. Classes are offered for 5th-8th graders on Wednesdays from 3-5pm and for K-4th graders on Thursdays from 3:30-5pm in Florence, MA. The first 10 week session begins in Sept. Heidi has been teaching theater to children since 1996 and is also a clinical social worker with a specialty in child/family concerns. Check out her website at www.heidihaasimprov.com To register call: Heidi Haas 584-5562 or email Heidi_Haas@comcast.net.

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 without relying on skating aids. This method of teaching increases a skater’s independence on the ice and encourages their learning of balance and maneuverability. Students eventually 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.

Audi- tions

Pioneer Valley Ballet is holding auditions for its annual production of The Nutcracker. This opulent ballet performs at The Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton, MA on December 11, 12, and 13, 2015. Roles include Gingerbread, Candy Canes, Trees, and Party Kids. Children 5 – 11 years old are invited to audition. No dance experience needed. Children must be 5 year old by September 12. Advance registration required. Registration and information at www.pioneervalleyballet.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, program, 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. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
September 5th-11th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroscience for Kids: Understanding the Brain for Deeper Learning

Neuroscience for Kids: Understanding the Brain for Deeper Learning

As children grow and learn, they become increasingly more aware of their own interests and the methods of learning that they most enjoy. Inevitably, however, there will be challenges in a child’s pursuit of knowledge that make learning frustrating or stressful. However, with an increased awareness of how the human brain works and an understanding of metacognition, young learners can learn to see challenges in a different light.

Metacognition, easily and loosely defined as “knowing about knowing,” involves understanding how learning works in the human brain and understanding and paying close attention to how your own personal learning takes place. For young learners, the biggest challenge presented by metacognition is understanding how the brain works; tuning in to personal learning style is easier and is a much more long-term process. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Growing Roots: Farmers’ Markets Feed a Sense of Community

Our Growing Roots: A Market Analysis

Finding community connection at our farmers’ markets!

Next time you walk into your local supermarket, take a moment to notice the perfect symmetry of it all. Under the bright fluorescent lights, you’ll find endless rows of neatly packaged foods, ready to eat, easy to prepare, no thought required. A plethora of colors and flashy logos jump out at you, while commercial cartoon characters are strategically placed on cereal boxes and fruit snacks to lure your children into their sugary grasp. Ingredient labels are long and indiscernible and we are often unaware of where in the country or the world these products originated from. The big box grocery store landscape can give us a limited and detached sense of how food and community are related.

Personally, I have always enjoyed the unrefined simplicity of farmers’ markets. I love the atmosphere of small tables draped in mismatched cloth, crates overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies, and the sense of true community. Upon first glance, these joys are simple ones. However, farmers’ markets offer us a unique experience unrivaled by most conventional grocery stores.  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: University Museum of Contemporary Art

Turning 40, the University Museum of Contemporary Art Continues to Shine

September is a hectic but exciting time of the year. As summer winds down and new routines set in, we invite you to explore what the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) has to offer!

Now in our fortieth year as a teaching museum at UMass Amherst, we continue to serve the community as a powerful resource. Through our outstanding exhibitions, visiting artists program, growing permanent collection, and varied educational programming, the museum is an amazing place to explore.  Read the rest of this entry »

Astronomy Resources for Budding Scientists

Astronomy Resources for Budding Scientists!

Being accessible to everyone, everywhere, at all times, the sky is the ultimate community-based educational resource! Using a wealth of resources from books to apps, citizen science to local planetariums, families can explore outer space together and learn experientially about the sky above us.

Studies of outer space can be intriguing to young minds – particularly due to their mysterious nature. In plain sight all day and all night, the sky is filled with fascinating things both big and bright that are impossible to touch and nearly impossible to experience (there aren’t a lot of job openings for astronauts these days).

In order to support young Earth-bound astronomers in their pursuit of learning about all things outer space, families can utilize online resources, books, and – best of all – numerous community-based learning opportunities and resources!

Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Classes, Auditions & Open Houses in Western MA

Learning Ahead: August 31st-September 4th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 9 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

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


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for August 29th-September 5th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I moved to the area this past summer and Hilltown Families has been a wonderful resource for me as a newcomer. It has pointed my family towards some great activities and local eateries (Cummington Fair, Bread Euphoria, etc.). More importantly it has given me, as a newcomer, a broader sense of how active this community is and what people here care about. So thank you for that!” – Jenni H. (Sunderland, 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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Aug 30

Meet Mo Willems and Elephant and Piggie! Join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA (125 West Bay Road), for a fun day with author and artist Mo Willems on Sunday, August 30th beginning at 10am. Meet Mo and get books signed. See new Elephant and Piggie films by Weston Woods! Make art inspired by Mo’s work and get a pigeon tattoo! As a special treat, Herrell’s ice cream will be serving ice cream flavors in honor of Elephant and Piggie! Note: Scheduled films followed by a Mo Willems Q&A are sold out, but films will be repeated throughout the day. See www.carlemuseum.org for more information. 413-658-1105.

Sept 3

The Center Dance Studio, an innovative dance studio in Amherst, is holding an Open House on Thursday, September 3rd from 4:15-6pm. Come by to see their new location on Main Street! Stop in to learn about their classes and philosophic approach where children spin stories from movement using classical and modern dance techniques. Sister duo Ashley and Caddy Carlisle combine their years of dance training with a special teaching approach that gets kids reading, writing and dancing; connecting, collaborating and creating. It’s a holistic approach to dance. For more information visit www.thecenterdance.com or email thecenterdanceschool@gmail.com. 321 Main Street. Amherst, MA. 413-687-7953.

Sept 5 & 6

Labor Day Family Campout! Have you ever wished that you could take your family camping? Come and spend an adventure-filled weekend camping with the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) at Notchview in Windsor, Sept 5 & 6! Ideal for both experienced campers & first-timers. Families have a choice of activities to choose from, including hikes to a search for owls, star gazing with a local expert, and stories & songs by the campfire. TTOR will provide a campout dinner, s’mores around the fire on Saturday night, and breakfast Sunday morning. Bring your adventuresome spirit & camping essentials (list provided). Member: $30/adult, $20/child. Nonmember: $40/adult, $30/child. Pre-registration required by 9/1: 413-532-1631×10 or email westregion@ttor.org

Begins Sept 8

Kathryn Kothe Roszko of CyclePottery in Florence will be starting a new session of after-school kids‘, ages 8+, beginner-intermediate wheel throwing on Sept 8th for 6 weeks, Tues 4-5:30 & Wed 1:30-3. Starting the same week, Bonnie Cooper of bcooperclay will join Kathryn to teach handbuilding & wheel throwing to teens/adults on Wed from 5:30-8. Bonnie will also be teach handbuilding on Tues from 5:30-8. Bonnie has 20 years experience teaching ceramics and exhibiting nationwide. Open studios for former students and non-beginners will begin on Sun from 12-3. Both classes have a max of 4-6 students. Please visit www.CyclePottery.com and CyclePottery on Facebook for more information. Contact Kathryn at 413-219-9594 or kathryn@cyclepottery.com

Begins Sept 8

Sign up for Theater Improvisation with Heidi Haas! Improv increases spontaneity, creativity and self-confidence. Classes focus on tuning into one’s scene partners, creating bold characters and developing skits with each other. Classes are offered for 5th-8th graders on Wednesdays from 3-5pm and for K-4th graders on Thursdays from 3:30-5pm in Florence, MA. The first 10 week session begins in Sept. Heidi has been teaching theater to children since 1996 and is also a clinical social worker with a specialty in child/family concerns. Check out her website at www.heidihaasimprov.com to register call: Heidi Haas 584-5562 or email Heidi_Haas@comcast.net

Begins Sept 12

Acting Classes for Children! Starlight’s Youth Theatre invites 2nd-7th graders to sign up for Fall acting classes under the direction of the amazing Cyn Strycharz. Young actors will create scenes, work on stage movement and character development plus a performance including scenes from Dr Seuss’ stories and Phantom Tollbooth. Storybook Theater: 2nd-3rd grade 9am presentation on Nov 14th. Actor’s Tool Box: 4th-5th grade 10am, show on Nov 14th. Lights Up: 6th-7th grade 11:15am show Dec 6th. Classes start Saturday, September 12 and are held at Mapleridge Community Center (Route 116) near the Amherst/Sunderland town line. Questions? Email starlights.yt@gmail.com. Class size is limited. Reserve your spot www.starlights-youth-theatre.com

Begins in Sept

Founded by two Pioneer Valley parents when they lived in Brooklyn, NY, Tinkergarten® has come to Western MA! Tinkergarten provides educational classes for kids ages 18 mos to 8 yrs in the healthiest classroom of all—the outdoors. The program aims to revive the most influential part of childhood — time to tinker in nature. The curriculum is designed to help kids become well-balanced people who can problem-solve, lead, and create. Angela Russo, talented Tinkergarten leader and local mom, is offering Fall classes and free trials in Amherst and Northampton. Learn more about the program and Angela’s classes at http://tkgtn.com/g0ce1. Want to give it a try? Use code hilltownfam15 to save 15% before 9/1. Have questions? Call 805-751-8465.

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 without relying on skating aids. This method of teaching increases a skater’s independence on the ice and encourages their learning of balance and maneuverability. Students eventually 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.

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12, all day, for a meaningful time volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, Sept 12 , all day, Take Action Against Hunger (National Hunger Action Month). Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

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, program, 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. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
August 29th-September 4th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for Ezra Jack Keats’ “Whistle for Willie”

Literary Guide for Ezra Jack Keats’ Whistle for Willie

Literary guide for Ezra Jack Keats’ Whistle for Willie

One of many wonderful and beloved children’s books by Ezra Jack Keats, Whistle for Willie is a simple story that perfectly captures the play-based learning that is essential to early childhood. The child engaging in such play is a character named Peter, a young boy who graces the pages of six of Keats’ other stories as well.

Whistle for Willie begins as Peter is exploring his neighborhood one afternoon, wishing desperately that he could whistle. Peter observes an older boy whistling to summon his pet dog, and longs to do the same – but he just can’t seem to make his lips work properly. Throughout the rest of the story, Peter alternates between longing for the ability to whistle and engaging in creative free play using chalk, a mirror, and even an empty box that he finds on the street. Peter’s play is unstructured and driven by impulse, and echoes the play that all children engage in during early childhood. Young readers can easily relate to both Peter’s play and his desire to be just a little bit more grown up (and to prove this growth by whistling loud and clear!).  Read the rest of this entry »

DownStreet Art Promotes Community Engagement in the Arts in the Northern Berkshires

DownStreet Art Promotes Community Engagement in the Arts in the Northern Berkshires

Previously in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+ , Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays, Turners Falls RiverCulture, and Holyoke’s Gateway City Arts, all of which support a community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, many communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.

This month, we feature DownStreet Art, an arts organization in North Adams that works to facilitate dialog between the local community and the arts, with the goal of creating social and economic capital as a result. A town formerly dependent on industry, North Adams has seen a rise in the role of the arts in the city community – a change that has helped the city to increase in both tourism and resident participation in community events. Following, largely, the establishment of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), the northern Berkshires have seen a rise in the role of the arts in the local community, and since its founding in 2008, DownStreet Art has connected over 100,000 people with arts-based events in North Adams’ downtown district, helping to fuel the cultural resurgence that brings the city to life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: August 24th-28th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 12 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

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


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:


North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for August 22nd-28th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“We just moved back to the Valley, and Hilltown Families has helped us rediscover the Pioneer Valley, now with children, and get to know it again on a deeper level.” – Maria Bianciardi (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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Aug 22

Pioneer Valley Ballet is hosting an Open House on Saturday, August 22, 10am-noon. Tour PVB’s studio in Easthampton, meet the trainers, and sample a class. At 11:30, children ages 4-6 can participate in a free 30-minute Creative Ballet Class—an excellent introduction to PVB’s training programs that create exceptional young dancers. For more information, call 413-527-6363 or visit us online at www.pioneervalleyballet.org

Aug 24

On Monday, Aug 24 from 7:30-8:30pm at the Forbes Library (20 West St., Northampton), Writing & Executive Function Coach, Kim Starkman, will offer a free class, “How to Help Your Child Become a Successful, Confident and Independent Learner: Strategies for School, Work, & Life.” Executive Function (EF) is an umbrella term for how we use our brain to organize, prioritize, plan, self-modulate, sustain attention and complete tasks. These are all skills needed to do well in school, on a job, and in life. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of what EF is and how to help their own children overcome challenges and become more successful, confident & independent learners. For more info call 413-587-1011 or email kimstarkman@gmail.com

Aug 30

Meet Mo Willems and Elephant and Piggie! Join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA (125 West Bay Road), for a fun day with author and artist Mo Willems on Sunday, August 30th beginning at 10am. Meet Mo and get books signed. See new Elephant and Piggie films by Weston Woods! Make art inspired by Mo’s work and get a pigeon tattoo! As a special treat, Herrell’s ice cream will be serving ice cream flavors in honor of Elephant and Piggie! Note: Scheduled films followed by a Mo Willems Q&A are sold out, but films will be repeated throughout the day. See www.carlemuseum.org for more information. 413-658-1105.

Begins Sept 8

Kathryn Kothe Roszko of CyclePottery in Florence will begin new sessions of after-school kids’ (ages 8+) beginner-intermediate wheel throwing classes beginning Sept 8: Tues. from 4-5:30 & Wed. 1:30-3 for 6 weeks. Starting the same week, Bonnie Cooper of bcooperclay will join CyclePottery studio to teach handbuilding classes to teens & adults on Tues. & Wed. nights from 5:30-8. She has 20 years of experience teaching and exhibiting ceramics nationwide. Also, open studios for former students and non-beginners will begin soon on Sundays from 12-3. Both classes are small with 4-6 students max. Visit www.CyclePottery.com for more info and visit CyclePottery on Facebook. Contact Kathryn at 413-219-9594 or kathryn@cyclepottery.com

Begins in Sept

Founded by two Pioneer Valley parents when they lived in Brooklyn, NY, Tinkergarten® has come to Western MA! Tinkergarten provides educational classes for kids ages 18 mos to 8 yrs in the healthiest classroom of all—the outdoors. The program aims to revive the most influential part of childhood — time to tinker in nature. The curriculum is designed to help kids become well-balanced people who can problem-solve, lead, and create. Angela Russo, talented Tinkergarten leader and local mom, is offering Fall classes and free trials in Amherst and Northampton. Learn more about the program and Angela’s classes at http://tkgtn.com/g0ce1. Want to give it a try? Use code hilltownfam15 to save 15% before 9/1. Have questions? Call 805-751-8465.

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12, all day, for a meaningful time volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, Sept 12 , al day, Take Action Against Hunger (National Hunger Action Month). Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

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, program, 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. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
August 22nd-28th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Community-Based Education Makes Every Day Back-To-School Day

Hilltown Families: Your Back-to-School Resource, All Year Long!


During the summer months, most children have enjoyed following their interests through outdoor play, reading books they have selected, day-trips with their family, and adventures out in their community. Once late August and early September roll around however, these carefree months of following their own interests and daily rhythms turn towards more organized learning experiences; and for many, the excitement starts to build as families become involved in back-to-school preparations. Maybe this school year will be your child’s first time away from home, or your child is mentally preparing for middle school, or this is their final year in high school… whatever the case, back-to-school can be an exciting time of year for most.

Whether or not your kids are excited about going back to school, or maybe your family homeschools or unschools, that freedom of self-directed learning experienced in the summer months can continue all year round through community engagement outside of the classroom day via community-based education. Read the rest of this entry »

Sewing Skills Connect Local Culture, Local History, and Self-Sufficiency

Sewing Skills Connect Local Culture, Local History, and Self-Sufficiency

While hand-sewn clothes have largely been replaced by factory-made ones, the ability to sew remains a useful skill. For children, learning to sew can present opportunities not only to learn a new skill, exercise creativity, and hone fine motor skills, but it can lead to community-based learning about local culture and local history, as well!

Learning to sew can be difficult, but by starting small, families can share (or learn together) the basic needle skills necessary for hand sewing. Adults or teens who are able to stitch using a simple needle and thread can share that skill with children, allowing them to learn how to patch together fabrics or perhaps mend their own clothes. Families who have sewing machines at home can share machine skills with older children who are able to control the machine’s pedals, buttons, and dials while still keeping a good stitch pace. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: August 17th-21st, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 12 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

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


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:


North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for Month August 15th-21st, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families is THE best resource for activities for children and families in Western Mass, in my opinion! I have found that you have certain happenings on your page that I had not seen advertised anywhere else! That makes you my ‘go to’ resource! And I really like the areas you cover as well….I can find an activity in Greenfield, Deerfield, Westfield or Springfield…or anywhere on between! You also give very complete information on the events you are suggesting to your audience. What’s not to like? Hilltown Families is THE best!” Christine Bray (Ludlow, 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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Aug 15

Vortex Dance Fitness Studio in Easthampton is holding an Open House on Aug 15 from 11am-1pm for all to come see the studio and talk about kid classes. Vortex teaches cabaret style dance which is a mix of jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip-hop, in a fun, friendly atmosphere. Classes are designed to teach some technique and get students moving, connecting their physical, mental, and emotional selves for optimum well-being. They use a cooperative not competitive approach and hope to foster new friendships while having a wonderful time getting a great workout! Vortex is located on the 2nd floor of the Eastworks Building in Suite 251 right above Riff’s Restaurant in Easthampton, MA. www.vortexdancestudio.com

Aug 24

On Monday, Aug 24 from 7:30-8:30pm at the Forbes Library (20 West St., Northampton), Writing & Executive Function Coach, Kim Starkman, will offer a free class, “How to Help Your Child Become a Successful, Confident and Independent Learner: Strategies for School, Work, & Life.” Executive Function (EF) is an umbrella term for how we use our brain to organize, prioritize, plan, self-modulate, sustain attention and complete tasks. These are all skills needed to do well in school, on a job, and in life. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of what EF is and how to help their own children overcome challenges and become more successful, confident & independent learners. For more info call 413-587-1011 or email kimstarkman@gmail.com

Aug 22

Pioneer Valley Ballet is hosting an Open House on Saturday, August 22, 10am-noon. Tour PVB’s studio in Easthampton, meet the trainers, and sample a class. At 11:30, children ages 4-6 can participate in a free 30-minute Creative Ballet Class—an excellent introduction to PVB’s training programs that create exceptional young dancers. For more information, call 413-527-6363 or visit us online at www.pioneervalleyballet.org

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12, all day, for a meaningful time volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, Sept 12 , al day, Take Action Against Hunger (National Hunger Action Month). Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Sep 27

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will once again be holding their 5th Annual Will Bike 4 Food charity cycling event on Sunday, September 27th. You have the opportunity to support their community by riding as an individual or forming a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 3.5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of all ages and levels can get involved. This year’s event will include a new location (Hatfield Lions Club Pavilion), new routes, and the biggest after-party yet with food, beverages, games and live music. To register, or to learn more about Will Bike 4 Food, visit their website at www.willbike4food.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, program, 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. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
August 15-21,2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

People-Watching! Supporting Language Arts, Theater & Community Awareness

Late-Summer People-Watching as Inspiration for Young Writers and Thespians

A fun way to learn about a local culture, people-watching can serve as a great tool for young writers and thespians too! The observations made in a particular context can help inspire or contribute to the development or portrayal of a character. Visit some of our suggested people-watching locations!

Inspiration can come in many forms for young writers and creators, and the sparks that ignite the creative process can sometimes come from unexpected places. Often, inspiration can come from experience, allowing works to be created as a result of personal experience, but other times, inspiration needs to come from external sources. A great (and always accessible) source of inspiration is people-watching – an activity that can lead to everything from laughter to critical and reflective observations about human nature.

People-watching is especially useful for young writers and thespians, as close observation of human behavior can help with character development in writing, and can help actors, directors, and costume designers draw from experience when portraying characters from a story. Best when done in a situation in which you are not directly involved, people-watching can allow those to participate to gather useful information about how people move and talk, as well as the choices that they make, the clothes that they wear, and the people who they associate with. People-watching can feel a bit like judging people, but when observations are made through careful, critical thought, they are much more useful than the snap judgments that are sometimes made at first glance, and an excellent way to develop an appreciation and acceptance of the wonderful diversity found in our communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Hunger Action Month Empowers Our Community to Support Food Security

You can take action to support our community during Hunger Action Month

You can ‘Go Orange’ on Thursday, September 3 to help raise awareness of food insecurity. Share your photos on social media, using #HungerAction.

September is Hunger Action Month, a time when the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks unite and ask everyone to take action to fight hunger in their community. It is your opportunity to join a movement that has a real and lasting impact on our effort to feed more people than ever before.

Hunger affects communities all across our region—rural, urban and suburban. In cities and towns across Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, more than 235,000 people struggle with food insecurity. As individuals, charities, businesses and government, we all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need. During Hunger Action Month, you can find a way that’s right for you to make a difference. There are a number of ways to help, including raising awareness of hunger issues, advocating for change, donating food and funds, or volunteering your time and skills. We all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need.

Here are just a few of the opportunities you have to get involved:  Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s “The Outside Inn”

Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s The Outside Inn

Download Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s The Outside Inn

Introduced to readers by a beautiful bug-laden cover, title page, and dedication, George Ella Lyon and Vera Rosenberry’s The Outside Inn is quite obviously a book about nature, and just so happens to be our next installation of our 2015 Summer Reading Resource series. The children who grace the cover and the story’s first page (with a dish-filled wagon in tow) show the story’s connection to childhood – clearly ready to engage in some creative free play, the quartet seem right at home in the muddy puddle in which they have settled at the story’s start. Just as the children begin to dig their muddy meals, narration of their invented game begins. Told in rhymes that beautifully capture children’s imagination and the possibilities for nature-based play, The Outside Inn is not only a silly story for children to enjoy, but it serves as a representation of the mind of a young child.  Read the rest of this entry »

10 Messy Summer Science Activities for Outside!

One of the best ways to engage in hands-on science learning is by simply messing about. When children’s play leads them to make observations about the things around them and the ways in which they interact with each other, they learn powerful lessons that they’ll remember for years to come. Luckily the time of year messy science learning can be done outdoors! Below are ten suggestions for hands-on science activities that families can engage in both to learn about a specific topic and to encourage self-directed “messing about” with safe science materials once formal experimentation has been done.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: August 10th-14th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 8 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

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


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for August 8th-14th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

HTF Events Banner

“Family life in the Hilltowns is brighter, bolder and culturally enriched by the support of Hilltown Families. It has been the number one constant resource for events, concerts, and community education for our family in our parenting journey. Hilltown Families has widely become essential support for family life in Western Massachusetts, a network that grows happier healthier families through community, connection, and education. Thank you Hilltown Families for all you do!” – Zoe J. (Shelburne Falls, 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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Hilltown Families Event

Aug 8

Get your groove on! Hilltown Families & Flywheel are hosting a Saturday Block Party for Kids at Millside Park in Easthampton on August 8! DJ Youthelectronix will DJ a dance party (and if you’ve been to our winter dance parties, you know how much fun these are!), Robbins-Zust Family Marionettes will be performing the classic fairytale “Firebird,” and we’ll have juice boxes galore!!! This summertime family celebration is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to invite your neighbors to join us too! — Rain location: Flywheel.

Bulletin Board

Aug 5-8

Ahoy there maties! The adventure starts with a mysterious map. Could X mark the spot for buried treasure? Add in pirates and a stranger and the plot thickens. Now you’re off to the high seas. Adventure, skullduggery, secrets, promises broken, and even a couple of laughs. Welcome to PaintBox Theatre’s Treasure Island—the adventure of a lifetime! Long John Silver ordered that you to come dressed as a pirate. (They need a crew!) Performances are Wednesday, August 5 – Saturday, August 8, 10:30am and 1:00pm. daily, at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-923-7159. PaintBoxTheatre.com.

Aug 8 & 15

Vortex Dance Fitness Studio in Easthampton is holding an Open House on Aug 8 from 4:30-6pm and Aug 15 from 11am-1pm for all to come see the studio and talk about kid classes. Vortex teaches cabaret style dance which is a mix of jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip-hop, in a fun, friendly atmosphere. Classes are designed to teach some technique and get students moving, connecting their physical, mental, and emotional selves for optimum well-being. They use a cooperative not competitive approach and hope to foster new friendships while having a wonderful time getting a great workout! Vortex is located on the 2nd floor of the Eastworks Building in Suite 251 right above Riff’s Restaurant in Easthampton, MA. www.vortexdancestudio.com.

Sep 27

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will once again be holding their 5th Annual Will Bike 4 Food charity cycling event on Sunday, September 27th. You have the opportunity to support their community by riding as an individual or forming a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 3.5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of all ages and levels can get involved. This year’s event will include a new location (Hatfield Lions Club Pavilion), new routes, and the biggest after-party yet with food, beverages, games and live music. To register, or to learn more about Will Bike 4 Food, visit their website at www.willbike4food.org.

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12 from 9-11:30am for a meaningful time volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, Sept 12 , 9-11:30am, for Hunger Action Month in Hatfield. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your open house, after school class, community event, school, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, program, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Eventsand 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. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
August 8th-14th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Morning Summer Block Party for Kids!

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton is holding our first ever outdoor summer block party for kids at Easthampton’s beautiful Millside Park, located just off the Easthampton Bike Trail.* Join families from across the region on Saturday, August 8 from 10am-12noon for a summer celebration that features dancing, a marionette performance and refreshments. This family event is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend.   Read the rest of this entry »

Our Growing Roots: Real Food, Real Connection

Our Growing Roots: A Debut

As I share my first post as a Contributing Writer for Hilltown Families, I am aware of the heart swell of emotion I feel for the opportunity to unite with the larger community. You see, Western Massachusetts is a place I have always called home; a place my husband and I have chosen to give our own children roots. My connection to the area is strong and I am honored to share my thoughts and experiences of food-based connections as it relates to our local habitat and culture.

When I was younger, I did not have the same appreciation for the richness of this region as I do today. What I have come to love most about our little corner of the world are the abundant farm lands, orchards, apiaries, and local merchants that provide our very basic and fundamental life source – food. All of these threads are woven throughout our rural areas, small cities and towns, like a stitch that holds us together. Whether it’s a special holiday, family gatherings, or a barbecue with friends, food plays an important role not only in our survival, but in the way we connect with those around us.  Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for Farley Mowat’s “Owls in the Family”

Literary Guide for Farley Mowat’s Owls in the Family

Download Literary Guide for Farley Mowat’s Owls in the Family

Bird enthusiasts rejoice – the next installation of our 2015 Summer Reading Resource series is Owls in the Family! Inspired by true events in author Farley Mowat’s childhood in northern Canada, Owls in the Family is charming, humorous, and full of adventures involving creatures of all kinds. As the title suggests, two of the story’s main characters are Great Horned Owls who have been adopted by a human family. Set in rural Saskatchewan, the story revolves around the owls, Weeps and Wol, and Billy, their rescuer, and follows the trio through a series of adventures.

Weeps and Wol, both saved from grim fates, are the stars of Billy’s pet collection. The owls share the spotlight with snakes, gophers, and other small creatures common to the plains of western Canada. Each chapter of the book features a different story of adventure involving Billy, his friends, and either Weeps or Wol (or both, often). Readers follow Billy through the training of the owls, a community pet parade, days swimming on the banks of a river, trips to school with owls in tow, and a move to the big city of Toronto, among other things.

Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Smith College Museum of Art

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.

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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 »

17 Kitchen Scraps Born Anew for Experiential Learning

Kitchen Scrap Gardening

While almost all food scraps make great compost, certain scraps can make something even more wonderful – more food! Families can engage in hands-on experiential learning by collecting bits of these special foods and creating their own mini-gardens. Young gardeners can learn about how plants grow, and can enjoy delicious homegrown foods with ease!

Compost bins are filled with all kinds of special wonders – worms and bugs, favorite foods in all stages of decomposition, and a host of smells both sweet and savory. Did you know, though, that some of the bits of food that land in your compost bin can live a second life? Many of the food scraps that we discard can be turned into new plants and, eventually, more food! Creating a kitchen scrap garden is incredibly easy and equally as fascinating, and it can lead to fantastic experiential learning on the topic of plant growth and biology.

Plants possessing the ability to regenerate easily fall into a few different categories. Edible bulbs, like scallions and green onions, will happily continue to produce flavorful green shoots so long as their white bulbs are preserved. Biennial green stalk-y plants like celery, bok choy, lettuce, and cabbage can grow anew if the portion of the plant where the leaves and stalks originate from is saved. Plants whose roots we enjoy, however, work a little bit differently. Rather than saving a small, inedible portion of the plant to regenerate more edible stuff with, food scrap gardeners actually use the edible portion of the plant to sprout more. Ginger and potatoes both grow in this way.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: August 3rd-7th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 9 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

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


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for August 1st-7th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I am currently single parenting a child with special needs; recently separated & often feeling very isolated. Hilltown Families shares information that brings people together & opens up great discussions on ways to support one another; as well as stimulating entertainment within the community. Thank-you for being there for us!” – Sarah M. (Chicopee, 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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Aug 5-8

Ahoy there maties! The adventure starts with a mysterious map. Could X mark the spot for buried treasure? Add in pirates and a stranger and the plot thickens. Now you’re off to the high seas. Adventure, skullduggery, secrets, promises broken, and even a couple of laughs. Welcome to PaintBox Theatre’s Treasure Island—the adventure of a lifetime! Long John Silver ordered that you to come dressed as a pirate. (They need a crew!) Performances are Wednesday, August 5 – Saturday, August 8, 10:30am and 1:00pm. daily, at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-923-7159. PaintBoxTheatre.com.

Aug 6

Join us on Thursday, Aug 6 from 6-8pm for a meaningful time volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Thursday, Aug 6 , 6-8pm, Potluck and Volunteer. (Bring your favorite dish to share.) Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Aug 8

Get your groove on! Hilltown Families & Flywheel are hosting a Saturday Block Party for Kids at Millside Park in Easthampton on August 8! DJ Youthelectronix will DJ a dance party (and if you’ve been to our winter dance parties, you know how much fun these are!), Robbins-Zust Family Marionettes will be performing the classic fairytale “Firebird,” and we’ll have juice boxes galore!!! This summertime family celebration is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to invite your neighbors to join us too! — Rain location: Flywheel.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, program, 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. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
August 1st-7th, 2015

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History, Culture & Community Can All Be Found at Western MA Agricultural Fairs

Agricultural Fairs Celebrate and Preserve Local Culture

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Agricultural fairs, primarily established by agricultural societies for the purpose of agriculture promotion, science and education, celebrate New England history and local culture in communities all over western Massachusetts throughout late summer and early fall.  These generations-old traditions of agriculture, self-sufficiency, and resiliency in rural communities afford families opportunities to participate in intergenerational community-based traditions while offering a myriad of entertainment and learning experiences through the lens of culture and food.  Read the rest of this entry »

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