Cinema Northampton Brings the Big Screen to the Big Outdoors

Catch that Fave From Your Childhood & Your Child on the Big Outdoor Screen!

Classic films come to big screen this summer with Cinema Northampton! Made possible by a collaboration by many local organizations, the film series brings old favorites to an outdoor screen on the lawn at Forbes Library for a fun intergenerational evening. It’s movie-going at its best!

Old classics come to the big screen this summer thanks to Cinema Northampton, a community film series made possible by a collaboration between a handful of local organizations. Bringing outdoor movies during the summer months and indoor movies once its cold out, the Cinema Northampton series brings together cinephiles of all ages – offering older folks a chance to watch a favorite film from childhood, and providing an opportunity to share the classics with children.

Created through the pooled resources and expertise of Northampton Community Television, the Forbes Library, the Northampton Arts Council, the Academy of Music, and Northampton’s Parks and Recreation Department, Cinema Northampton is unique amongst summer film and performance series in the Pioneer Valley. As evening is often the most enjoyable part of the day during the hottest parts of the summer in western Massachusetts, films will be screened outdoors in the evening on the lawn at Forbes Library. Families can bring blankets and comfortable seating, bug spray, and snacks or food to buy treats from local vendors who will be on hand to share their wares. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: May 26th-29th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 6 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 May 23rd-29th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

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

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending. Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Nearly 60 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Bulletin Board

May 23

This Memorial Day weekend make your memories at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst! The Berkshire Theatre Group presents Atlantis, Lost! And Other Legends of the Strange Waves on Saturday, May 23 at 11am & 1pm. Atlantis, Lost! is a collection of stories about historical wonders and the waters of the world. This assortment of wet and wonderful tales includes the lost civilization of Atlantis, the life of a pirate, the origin of surfing and the Loch Ness monster. Ride the strange waves and discover a whole new view of the world through these inspired episodes of modern mythology. Tickets are $6.50 (Members $5.50) and may be purchased in advance at the Museum Admissions Desk or by calling 413-658-1126. www.carlemuseum.org

Jun 6

Renowned ecologist & educator Tom Wessel is coming to Ashfield on June 6 as part of the Bug Hill Farm On-Farm Workshop Summer Series. Set on 50 acres of fields, forest & trails, Bug Hill Farm is a certified organic, PYO uncommon fruit & edible flower farmstead, crafting healthy value-added products in their commercial kitchen. Serving as an educational center for visitors interested in the complementary aspects of ecological restoration, sustainable small-scale farming & local micro- businesses, the farm serves as a model for environmental, agricultural & social sustainability. Wessels is just one of many talented workshop presenters hosted by the farm. Find out about this series & to register at www.bughillfarm.org, or call 413-628-3980.

Jun 26-Jul 27

Share the local Hilltown summer experience with a student from Spain and receive a camp discount/voucher & stipend (Total $1,000). Students personally screened and placed in host families with children of same ages & interests to create a strong connection. Local organizers Joe Bock & Paula Garcia are always close-by & in touch to ensure a successful experience. Attending a camp during the stay? Better! Get a discount/rebate in addition to $700 stipend. Paperwork for student done/paid by organizers. Hosts also invited to Six Flags & New York City trip. Many references available. Great way to make a friend from Spain, have fun & represent the Hilltown community. Jun 26-Jul 27 joe.homestaysusa@gmail.com 413-203-1371 homestaysusa.org

Jul 21-27

ibmeThis summer teens can unplug & tune in at Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme), July 21-27, at Powell House in Old Chatham, NY. Teaching mindfulness helps lay down the foundation for a successful life by building emotional resiliency, developing self-awareness, and strengthening communication skills. iBme teen retreats offer a life transforming experience in the serenity of nature through meditation & mindfulness that is both interactive & fun. Teens return home having learned valuable skills and techniques to calm and focus their minds. Supporting diversity, iBme welcomes all backgrounds & abilities. Affordable financing for all families. No teen is turned away due to lack of funds. For info/register: 978-254-7082. contact@ibme.info.

Jun 27

Join us on Saturday, June 27 from 10am-12noon for a meaningful morning 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, June 27th, 10am-12noon, Farming with Friends at Mountain View Farm. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden) 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 May 23rd-29th, 2015

SaturdaySunday MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Nearly 60 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA

Connect to Your Community & Follow the Path of History

Join the Dots of Local History Through
Place-Based Educational Walking Tours

Families can explore local connections to important moments in national history by participating in walking tours of Florence, offered by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee. Held monthly, tours weave stories together with exploration of local landmarks to make for a place-based exploration of history.

This summer, national history becomes place-based through a series of walking tours in Florence. Offered by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee, these tours will shed light on local connections to abolition, the Underground Railroad, and, of course, the many remarkable historical figures who spearheaded the radical movements of the 19th century.

Following the path of one of 25 great local walking tours, each expedition will include a thorough look at notable Florence landmarks and will tie each important location to people and events linked to some major parts of history. Among such locations are Park Street cemetery, final resting place of at least four former slaves; the Nonotuck Silk Mill dam, located near a mill where abolitionists processed sugar beets – grown as an alternative to sugar cane; and the Florence Congregational Church, where greats such as Frederick Douglass spoke beneath a 150-year-old old growth pine. Read the rest of this entry »

Sheep and Woolcraft Fair Connects Visitors with Local History, Animal Husbandry, and Fiber Art

41st Annual Sheep and Woolcraft Fair Connects Visitors with Local History, Animal Husbandry, and Fiber Art

Want to learn how to dye wool with Kool-Aid or make a needle-felted fairy? Perhaps you’ve never seen sheep dogs in action or can’t tell a Cotswold from a Corriedale? Indulge your curiosities by attending the 41st annual Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair this Memorial Day weekend!

You may sing your children songs about them and count them when you’re falling asleep, but did you know about sheep’s important role in our history and everyday lives? The first viable flock of domesticated sheep arrived in the colonies in 1609, and shortly thereafter a small but strong wool industry was up and running. Landowners built stone walls to corral their flocks (you probably have come across these in your wanderings!) and colonists even cleared the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket so they could be used for sheep storage. The colonies were so successful in their maintenance of flocks and production of wool that the British government eventually banned colonial wool exports to lessen competition with their own wool markets. This act was one of several that incensed colonists and led to the Revolutionary War. Sheep playing a role in our fight for independence? Absolutely! Read the rest of this entry »

Digging Northampton’s History: A Community Archaeology Project

Digging Northampton’s History: A Community Archaeology Project

On Tuesdays through Saturdays from May 19 through June 6, 2015, an archaeological excavation is being conducted in Northampton at the site of the Parsons House, built in the early 1700s by Nathaniel Parsons, the grandson of Joseph Parsons, one of the founders of the city.

What good does collecting trash do when you’re studying history? A whole lot of it, if it’s the right trash! Local historians and archaeologists, both professional and amateur, will set about collecting historic trash for the community project, Digging Northampton’s History. An archaeological exploration of the history of Historic Northampton’s Nathaniel Parsons House, the project aims to collect artifacts so as to learn more about the lives of women and children in Northampton during the 18th century. Read the rest of this entry »

New England During the Civil War

Living History Gives Educational Insights Into Life in Another Time

Storrowton Village Museum will present an interactive, educational tour titled “Storrowton and the Civil War,” Tuesday, May 19 from 6-7 p.m., offering an inside look at how folks in the Northeast coped with the Civil War and the absence of our men who were called to duty or joined the patriotic fervor.

Participants will meet “townspeople” and hear their personal stories and points of view regarding the Civil War. Storrowton Village volunteers will be portraying the characters of the time as our visitors travel through the Village’s historic buildings meeting residents, shopkeepers, farmers, family members, and tradesmen along the way, all with information and their own experiences to share. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate the Turtle on World Turtle Day!

Laughing Brook Hosts Family Friendly Nature Celebration

Fascinating creatures that they are, turtles have been given their very own holiday! Families can celebrate World Turtle Day with a visit to Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to learn about local turtles, or can explore the wetlands of the Berkshire to look for these endangered bog turtles!

Unbeknownst to most of us, the nearby bogs of the Berkshires are the perfect habitat for a very precious and endangered species, the bog turtle! One of ten species of turtles found in Massachusetts, the perfect habitat for this tiny rare turtle can be found in the naturally alkaline wet patches of field and meadow across the westernmost portion of our region. Families can learn more about this and other species of testudines by engaging in community-based opportunities for hands-on learning about habitat conservation and species preservation.

Bog turtles are not exclusive to western Massachusetts. They can, in fact, be found as far south as Georgia, but local populations are nevertheless endangered. The closet turtle populations to those in the Berkshires are located 250 miles away, a separation that has been caused by land development. As a result, local bog turtles are genetically isolated – a fact that, when combined with habitat loss and other factors, puts them in danger. Luckily, researchers from The Nature Conservancy have worked to study and monitor bog turtle populations using turtle-mounted radio transmitters. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: May 18th-22nd, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 14 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 May 16th-22nd, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

My family recently relocated to Western Mass and I am LOVING Hilltown Families – so many great ideas for weekend activities, I just wish the weekends were longer! Katie D. (South Hadley, 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.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Over 55 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Bulletin Board

May 15 & 16

CATS, let the “Memory” live again! The magical legendary Broadway hit by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which ran for 21 years in London and 18 years on Broadway, will come alive on stage at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton by the talented Starlight’s Youth Theatre on May 15 & 16! This song and dance masterpiece of second chances and unconditional love, based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, tells of Jellicle cats and the quest to be the lucky one who will ascend to “the Heaviside Layer.” Come support over 60 teens from across the Pioneer Valley! This show is the purrfect opportunity for the entire family to create a “memory” that will live forever. Tix: www.academyofmusictheatre.com. Questions: starlights.yt@gmail.com

May 16

Pioneer Valley Ballet is hosting an open house on Saturday, May 16, 10am-12noon. Tour PVB’s studio in Easthampton, meet the trainers, and sample a class. At 11:30am, 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 PVB online at www.pioneervalleyballet.org.

May 16

The OnTrend Spring Craft Fair will be held on Saturday, May 16 at the Hadley Farms Meeting House in lovely Hadley, MA. The fair will showcase talented indie crafters and makers of all kinds from throughout New England and New York. Shoppers will find high-quality handmade jewelry, paper goods, wood crafts, home goods, ceramics, and much more. Come support our talented local artisans — shop local, shop small! Free to attend. Free gift for the first 100 shoppers! For more information, visit ontrendcrafts.com or email Jennifer at jennifer@ontrendcrafts.com.

May 20

Open School Day at the Montessori School of Northampton: On Wednesday, May 20 at 9am, the Montessori School of Northampton at 51 Bates Street will host a morning Open School Day. This is an opportunity for parents to spend time in classrooms and observe Montessori in action. The visit will also include a tour of the school, which includes programs for students age 2 through 12, and a group parent meeting with the Head of School and Director of Admissions. The morning will end at 11am. Parents must register in advance with the Director of Admissions at laura@northamptonmontessori.org or at 413-586-4538 x103. More information on the school can be found at northamptonmontessori.org.

May 10-25

Mother’s Day to Memorial Day Discount! Oak Meadow is offering 10% off enrollment and 15% off materials in their Bookstore from May 10 to 25. Their student-centered, nature-based homeschooling curriculum for students in K-12 allows families to set their own natural rhythm of learning and encourages creativity, critical thinking, and intellectual development through hands-on activities and interdisciplinary projects. Use their curriculum independently or enroll in their fully accredited distance learning school.

Jun 26-Jul 27

Share the local Hilltown summer experience with a student from Spain and receive a camp discount/voucher & stipend (Total $1,000). Students personally screened and placed in host families with children of same ages & interests to create a strong connection. Local organizers Joe Bock & Paula Garcia are always close-by & in touch to ensure a successful experience. Attending a camp during the stay? Better! Get a discount/rebate in addition to $700 stipend. Paperwork for student done/paid by organizers. Hosts also invited to Six Flags & New York City trip. Many references available. Great way to make a friend from Spain, have fun & represent the Hilltown community. Jun 26-Jul 27 joe.homestaysusa@gmail.com 413-203-1371 homestaysusa.org

Jun 27

Join us this Saturday, June 27 from 10am-12noon for a meaningful morning 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, June 27th, 10am-12noon, Farming with Friends at Mountain View Farm. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

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
May 16th-22nd, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Folk School Taps into Community Resiliency

Classes & Workshops Drive Self-Sufficiency Through Skill Sharing

The primary purpose of the Taproot Commons folk school style workshops is to uplift community teaching talent, and inspire perpetual creativity toward a replenishing future. Taproot is invested in making life-long learning affordable, non-competitive, non-coercive, independent from outside funding, and to the purpose of interdependence. The focus is on re-skilling, melding old and new technologies, regenerative agriculture and forestry, deep understanding of local and natural history, true arts and crafts, and embracing alternative ways of knowing in this unremitting information age.

True resiliency depends on having a wide breadth of knowledge – and lots of it. As such, community resiliency and sustainability depend not only on the knowledge and skills of individuals, but upon the knowledge and skills of a community as a whole. In Cummington, MA, Taproot Commons’ new folk school style workshops offer opportunities for community members to work towards accomplishing a goal of true community resiliency and interdependency.

Though this year marks the first of Taproot Commons’ folk school offerings, the course selection is a dream come true for aspiring homesteaders – yet is still accessible to those who are just beginning to dabble in self sufficiency. Thirty workshops have already been scheduled between now and October, and topics covered include everything from soapmaking and pressure canning to plein-air drawing and livestock buying and butchering. While some workshops offer educational opportunities that are centered around more common skills related to gardening, food preservation, and herbal medicine, others touch on much more obscure and tough-to-learn skills like saw sharpening, buying livestock, and making hay by scythe. Read the rest of this entry »

Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum Opens Doors on 3 Centuries of Rural Living

Community-Based Education Opportunity in an Idyllic Setting

A beloved Western Mass historical institution opens its door for its 66th season when Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum takes us on a tour of 3 centuries worth of rural life. A gorgeous setting on the Connecticut River, the Museum hosts many interesting programs including the family friendly music series- ideal for a summer picnic.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, an historic house museum dating to 1752 in Hadley, Massachusetts, opens Saturday, May 16 for its 66th season. Guided tours will be available Saturday through Wednesday from 1-4:30pm, closed Thursdays and Fridays.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington House, known as Forty Acres, is an 18th-century farm on the banks of the Connecticut River that today showcases life in rural New England over three centuries.  Through the words, spaces and possessions of the women and men who lived here, the Museum portrays the activities of a prosperous and productive 18th-century farmstead. Members of this household along with numerous artisans, servants and slaves made “Forty Acres” an important social and commercial link in local, regional and national cultural and economic networks. During the 19th century the estate evolved into a rural retreat for the family. In the 20th century the house was preserved as a museum by family members and now contains the possessions of six generations of this extended family. Read the rest of this entry »

Pay It Forward Inspires Community Volunteering

Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke Draws Upon Community-Based Learning

 Welcome LightHouse Holyoke to Hampden County!

Into the midst of the educational upheaval happening in Holyoke enters LightHouse Holyoke, Personalized Education for Teens, a new school alternative opening in September 2015. Located in the Innovation District of Holyoke, MA, LightHouse will support teens to pursue individualized educational paths while drawing upon community-based learning opportunities and courses.

Each student’s use of the program is personalized, and LightHouse offers four optional Pathways as a foundation: Entrepreneurship, Arts, Tech, and College Prep.  Learning overlaps in the 8-week classes. Additionally, students learn through tutorials – one-on-one, individualized learning experiences that generally (but not always) focus on core academic areas. Students further their learning by engaging with community organizations, allowing them to put theory into practice in real-life contexts.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: May 11th-15th, 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.


Join our stellar team of supporters!
Become a sponsor of Learning Ahead and see your banner here:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mother’s Day in Western MA

Happy Mother’s Day

Take the mom(s) in your life to the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, one of the Commonwealth’s most unusual and enchanting “gardens,” found in Franklin County. The Bridge of Flowers is a former trolley bridge that was originally built in 1908, but became weed-covered 20 years later. In 1929, a plan was implemented to turn the bridge into a garden that would span the length of the bridge. Currently more than 20,000 people per year enjoy its impressive and rich floral beauty from the first appearance of tulips in April through the bloom of autumn mums. Free to the public.

If you’re looking for ideas for getting out on Mother’s Day, we have a few suggestions…

Not up for breakfast in bed, then head out for breakfast or brunch.  We asked our readers for family friendly restaurant recommendations for Mother’s Day and they had several to offer. Check out Mother’s Day Brunch to see their suggestions… and add one of your own.

After breakfast/brunch, celebrate Mother’s Day by taking her to one of the many gorgeous gardens dotted throughout Western Massachusetts including the Bridge of Flower in Shelburne Falls, one of the Commonwealth’s most unusual and enchanting “gardens” is found in Franklin County.  Read our post The Art of Great Gardens in Western MA for a list of recommended public gardens in the region.

If you’re looking for something a little more scheduled, here are more ideas: Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for May 9th-15th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I have been referring to Hilltown Families for years — I make my weekly calendar from the suggested events list! As a mother of 3, 5 and under, it has been an invaluable resource for our family.” – Ellen Ferris (South Hadley, 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.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Over 55 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Hilltown Families Event: Saturday, May 9

May 9

Join us this Saturday, May 9 from 9-11:30am for a meaningful morning 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, May 9th, 9-11:30am with a community potluck and volunteer day. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

Bulletin Board

May 8

Platypus Police Pizza Party with Jarrett Krosoczka at Odyssey Bookshop, Friday, May 8th at 6pm. FREE. Join the Odyssey Bookshop in the celebration of the release of Platypus Police Squad: Last Panda Standing, the third installment in the hilarious, high-action illustrated middle grade series featuring two platypus detectives, perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Jarrett’s own Lunch Lady series. Hear from Jarrett and two South Hadley Police officers, decorate your own police academy badges and have all you can eat pizza (no synthetic fish guarantee)! Perfect for ages 7+. Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. RSVP required. Email RSVP@odysseybks.com

May 9

Saturday, May 9, 1-2 pm, Radical Renewal. Six Steps to Nourish the Heart and Soul of Mothering. For Mothers of all ages and stages. Gift yourself an hour to step away. Step away and remind yourself of what you need to sustain your joy and resilience as a mother. Radical Renewal is a way to reframe your relationship to mothering, profoundly impacting what you know to be true in the journey of nurturing your children as you nourish yourself. Bring your sister, your mother, girlfriend or daughter and renew yourself in the holistic environment of Eastover Retreat Center in Lenox, MA. Refreshments served. Free Mother’s Day program. Registration requested: eastover.com/marilyn-taylor.html; Marilyn@confident-directions.com.

May 10-25

Mother’s Day to Memorial Day Discount! Oak Meadow is offering 10% off enrollment and 15% off materials in their Bookstore from May 10 to 25. Their student-centered, nature-based homeschooling curriculum for students in K-12 allows families to set their own natural rhythm of learning and encourages creativity, critical thinking, and intellectual development through hands-on activities and interdisciplinary projects. Use their curriculum independently or enroll in their fully accredited distance learning school.

Open House: May 9

Ashfield Community Preschool invites families to their annual open house on Saturday, May 9 from 9:30am-Noon. This event is for families with young children ages 15mo-5yo who are looking for quality care & small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield (103 Baptist Corner Rd). Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing a sunflower house & pumpkin patch. Their developmentally appropriate curriculum is inspired by the natural world. In this pastoral setting the preschool offers a 6 week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists. Open House on May 9. Tour their facility & grounds and register for summer & fall sessions. 413-628-3248. New Toddler Program Opening Fall 2015!

May 15 & 16

CATS, let the “Memory” live again! The magical legendary Broadway hit by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which ran for 21 years in London and 18 years on Broadway, will come alive on stage at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton by the talented Starlight’s Youth Theatre on May 15 & 16! This song and dance masterpiece of second chances and unconditional love, based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, tells of Jellicle cats and the quest to be the lucky one who will ascend to “the Heaviside Layer.” Come support over 60 teens from across the Pioneer Valley! This show is the purrfect opportunity for the entire family to create a “memory” that will live forever. Tix: www.academyofmusictheatre.com. Questions: starlights.yt@gmail.com

May 16

The OnTrend Spring Craft Fair will be held on Saturday, May 16 at the Hadley Farms Meeting House in lovely Hadley, MA. The fair will showcase talented indie craters and makers of all kinds from throughout New England and New York. Shoppers will find high-quality handmade jewelry, paper goods, wood crafts, home goods, ceramics, and much more. Come support our talented local artisans — shop local, shop small! Free to attend. Free gift for the first 100 shoppers! For more information, visit ontrendcrafts.com or email Jennifer at jennifer@ontrendcrafts.com.

May 16

Pioneer Valley Ballet is hosting an open house on Saturday, May 16, 10am-12noon. Tour PVB’s studio in Easthampton, meet the trainers, and sample a class. At 11:30am, 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 PVB online at www.pioneervalleyballet.org.

Jun 26-Jul 27

Share the local Hilltown summer experience with a student from Spain and receive a camp discount/voucher & stipend (Total $1,000). Students personally screened and placed in host families with children of same ages & interests to create a strong connection. Local organizers Joe Bock & Paula Garcia are always close-by & in touch to ensure a successful experience. Attending a camp during the stay? Better! Get a discount/rebate in addition to $700 stipend. Paperwork for student done/paid by organizers. Hosts also invited to Six Flags & New York City trip. Many references available. Great way to make a friend from Spain, have fun & represent the Hilltown community. Jun 26-Jul 27 joe.homestaysusa@gmail.com 413-203-1371 homestaysusa.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
May 9th-15th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

3rd Thursday Celebrates Pittsfield Arts Community

Arts & Cultural Showcase Connects Community to Each Other

The City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development is revitalizing 3rd Thursday, the largest free outdoor event series in the Berkshires, and taking the festival back to the street for its ninth season!

Previously in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+ and Turners Falls RiverCulture, both 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, our focus moves to the Berkshires, where the city of Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays is about to kick off its 9th season of arts- and culture-based community events. A project of the city’s Office of Cultural Development, 3rd Thursdays celebrate all that the city has to offer, combing art, performance, food, and local culture to create exciting and engaging events that bring community members together in the heart of the city to learn and connect.  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 »

Feasthampton Celebrates Launch of Easthampton Public Seed Library

Feasthampton’s public seed lending library increases community food security

Feasthampton, an Easthampton-based group dedicated to encouraging community food security and environmental sustainability, is opening a free, public Seed Lending Library hosted at the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton on Monday, May 11, 2015, from 6 – 8 pm. The Seed Lending Library will be one of only a handful of similar efforts in Massachusetts, and is a major step in the path to food security in the Pioneer Valley.

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Feasthampton, an Easthampton-based volunteer group dedicated to encouraging community-wide projects directed toward local food and environmental resiliency, will celebrate the launch of its free, public seed lending library, hosted at the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton, on Monday, May 11, 2015, from 6-8 pm. The Easthampton Seed Library provides increased opportunity for community resiliency through promoting biodiversity, food access, and a non-monetized, sharing economy accessible to all. The Easthampton Seed Library will offer free, public access to: an ongoing supply of locally adapted, organic, open-pollinated seed, and occasional seed saving and gardening workshops. 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 »

Recognizing and Supporting Seniors during Older Americans Month

‘Get into the Act’

Senior volunteers have fun and prepare bags of groceries to be distributed through The Food Bank’s Brown Bag: Food for Elders program. Click here to register to join The Food Bank and Hilltown Families for another free Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, May 9 from 9-11:30am.

In May, the nation will be celebrating Older Americans Month to recognize seniors’ contributions and provide them with resources to stay healthy and active. Older adults are a vital part of our society. Since 1963, communities across the country have shown their gratitude by celebrating Older Americans Month each May. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Get into the Act,” to focus on how seniors are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.

Throughout the country, older Americans face a number of unique challenges that contribute to food insecurity. Many seniors are living on fixed incomes that often force them to choose between paying for healthcare or prescriptions and buying groceries. Although food insecurity affects people of all ages, seniors are particularly vulnerable because they have unique nutritional needs related to aging and/or medical conditions.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: May 4th-8th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 10 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.


Join our stellar team supporters!
Become a sponsor of Learning Ahead and see your banner here:

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Suggested Events for May 2nd-8th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I especially love the summer camp information all in one place! It’s good to know about parent/child craft classes too… Thanks for all you do!” – Martha Lorantos (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.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Over 55 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Hilltown Families Event

May 9

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, May 9th, 9-11:30am with a community potluck and volunteer day. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

Bulletin Board

May 2-3

The Alchemy Artisan Fair is proud to present it’s second annual show at Gateway City Arts at 92 Race Street in Holyoke from 10am-6pm on Saturday, May 2nd, and 11am-4pm on Sunday, May 3rd. Shop the work of over 30 local artisans, participate in a hula hoop jam with Kimqui Hoops, master your yo-yo skills with the A-Z Science and Learning Yo-Yo School, learn how to make your own mini-comic book with My Monster Hat, paint your own one of a kind stoneware bowl with The Celadon Studio or just chill in the beer garden and enjoy the day. Tickets are $5 at the door, free for children under 12. More information at www.alchemyfair.com

May 3

Sunday May 3, 2015 from 11am- 4pm: The Massachusetts Renaissance Center invites you to a day of music, theater, juggling, falconry, dancing and more at the 13th Annual Community Renaissance Festival in Amherst! Fun for all ages! Free admission and Free parking! Phoenix Swords returns with their popular swordsmanship demonstrations that are fun for the whole family! Robie Bones is back to lead music making! Play Renaissance games with Mutton and Mead! See demonstrations by local artisans and try your hand at one of these Renaissance crafts! There will be a Renaissance Poetry Performance Contest with cash prizes to win! For a complete schedule and parking info visit www.umass.edu/renaissance and click the festival link, or call 413-577-3600.

May 3

It’s a… Book! Book Launch with Angela DiTerlizzi at Odyssey Bookshop, Sunday, May 3rd at 3pm. FREE Join book lovers for the ultimate “book shower” with local author, Angela Diterlizzi. The author who brought you, Say What and Some Bugs, has returned to celebrate the joys of a new baby in her latest picture book, Baby Love. From bubble baths & baby kisses to chubby thighs & lullabies this book will delight babies young & old! A wonderful event for new parents, new babies and children of all ages, celebrate the arrival of this new creation. With sweet treats, book shower games and a toddler bubble dance party, this event will be fun for the whole family. Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., South Hadley. RSVP required. Email RSVP@odysseybks.com

May 8

Platypus Police Pizza Party with Jarrett Krosoczka at Odyssey Bookshop, Friday, May 8th at 6pm. FREE. Join the Odyssey Bookshop in the celebration of the release of Platypus Police Squad: Last Panda Standing, the third installment in the hilarious, high-action illustrated middle grade series featuring two platypus detectives, perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Jarrett’s own Lunch Lady series. Hear from Jarrett and two South Hadley Police officers, decorate your own police academy badges and have all you can eat pizza (no synthetic fish guarantee)! Perfect for ages 7+. Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. RSVP required. Email RSVP@odysseybks.com

Open House: May 9

Ashfield Community Preschool invites families to their annual open house on Saturday, May 9 from 9:30am-Noon. This event is for families with young children ages 15mo-5yo who are looking for quality care & small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield (103 Baptist Corner Rd). Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing a sunflower house & pumpkin patch. Their developmentally appropriate curriculum is inspired by the natural world. In this pastoral setting the preschool offers a 6 week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists. Open House on May 9. Tour their facility & grounds and register for summer & fall sessions. 413-628-3248. New Toddler Program Opening Fall 2015!

Jun 26-Jul 27

Share the local Hilltown summer experience with a student from Spain and receive a camp discount/voucher & stipend (Total $1,000). Students personally screened and placed in host families with children of same ages & interests to create a strong connection. Local organizers Joe Bock & Paula Garcia are always close-by & in touch to ensure a successful experience. Attending a camp during the stay? Better! Get a discount/rebate in addition to $700 stipend. Paperwork for student done/paid by organizers. Hosts also invited to Six Flags & New York City trip. Many references available. Great way to make a friend from Spain, have fun & represent the Hilltown community. Jun 26-Jul 27 joe.homestaysusa@gmail.com 413-203-1371 homestaysusa.org

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation is happy to announce that it will provide $4000 per year to qualifying younger students and $5000 to high school students who attend one of the region’s Jewish day schools. Ensuring small classes, excellent teachers and a nurturing environment, Jewish day schools can provide your child with a superb secular and Jewish education. Participating schools include: Heritage Academy, Longmeadow; Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, Longmeadow; Lander-Grinspoon Academy, Northampton; and Hebrew High School of New England, West Hartford. For more information, visit www.hgf.org/TIP

Preschool Openings

Preschool Openings at the Common School in Amherst. What is the best way to insure a quality education for your child? Invest in it early. The Common School provides the foundation for life-long learning by emphasizing how to learn. Experiential activities, a strong social curriculum, environmental awareness and imagination are hallmarks of our pre-school program- paving the way for strong academic success. Openings for 3 – 5 year olds for fall 2015. Call for a tour 413-256-8989 and visit their website www.commonschool.org

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your summer camp, class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, 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
May 2nd-8th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Westfield State Students Dominate Shoe Drive

Westfield State students collect shoes to help in fight against global poverty

Attention anyone with a closet:  Those shoes you no longer want are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.  That’s the message  delivered by Westfield State student and Circle K member Rebecca Talamini ’15, who organized a Soles4Souls shoe drive and collected over 880 pairs of shoes to help the poor, and 35 single shoes to donate to amputees!

Circle K Club, a Kiwanis-affiliated organization of university students, placed donation boxes around campus, at Paper Mill Elementary School (with help from the K-Kids Club), and at South Middle School. South Middle School’s drive, led by Dianna Stutzhuk, Shaunessey Lambert, and Elise Urbanski, collected 200 pairs for Soles4Souls.  Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Planning!

Nothing Beats Planning for the Summer!

Even though it feels like spring has only just arrived, now is the time to begin planning for summer! By considering options for summer camps, making lists of day trip destinations, and researching campsites to reserve, families can ensure maximum adventure and learning throughout the summer months!

Though spring’s very first fingers of green have just begun to poke their tips out of the ground, summer is going to be upon us before we know it! For families, springtime can be filled with excitement and renewed enthusiasm for outdoor adventures, and alongside spring sports or the busy-ness of the end of the traditional school year, spring can slip away into summer before we know it. With summertime less than two months away, now is the time for families to begin thinking about summer adventures and summer schedules. What kinds of learning experiences do you hope for your children to have? Where would you like to visit? What new things would you like to try? How much time will you have together as a family?

In order to plan for the summer months, families should take into account the adventures and learning opportunities afforded by the multitudes of local summer camp opportunities, as well as the camping and day trip destinations located within a few hours’ drive of anywhere in western Massachusetts. In the words of “Hindsight Parenting” author Logan Fisher, nothing beats planning for the summer! Read the rest of this entry »

Put Your Species Identification Skills to the Test!

Family Friendly Fundraiser Gets in Touch with Nature

Ready, set, identify! Families can learn about local biodiversity and help to support local environmental education opportunities by participating in the Hitchcock Center for the Environment’s 16th annual Biothon – a mad dash to identify as many species as possible!

Ready, set, identify! Western Massachusetts families are invited to put their species identification skills to the test during The Hitchcock Center for the Environment’s 16th annual Biothon! While other organizations might hold a walk-a-thon, a marathon, or even a draw-a-thon, the Hitchcock Center’s annual fundraiser asks participants to do exactly what it is that the event raises money for – explore, interact with, and learn about the local landscape.

Participants in the 2015 Biothon will be competing to see who can identify the most species in a location. Intended as an exploration in biodiversity, Biothon asks teams to set their own time, location, and species type (birds, mammals, trees, fungi, or everything!) before setting out into the field to identify what has been found. The winning Biothon team will be the one who manages to find the greatest amount of biodiversity in their chosen location, but truly, all participants are winners, as they will get to participate in a valuable experiential learning opportunity! Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Celebrating Local Culture Through Sheep & Wool

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: April Segment
Celebrating New England Culture Through Sheep & Wool

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

This monthly segment continued on Thursday, April 23, 2015, highlighting community-based resources and events that use sheep and wool as a lens for learning about our local culture and history.  Sienna and Ashley talk about events and activities families can access to support learning this time of year as it relates to our cultural heritage and learning connections with sheep and wool:

In the early spring, New England history and culture come alive with the arrival of newborn lambs and the shearing of sheep for the production of wool. The wool industry has strong ties to western Massachusetts, with annual events that celebrate our historical past and other events which showcase modern day shepherds and their flocks.  Discover local events and resources that make connects and support learning in our post, New England Culture & Learning Through the Lens of Sheep & Wool.


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be Thursday, May 28!

You’re Your Community’s Expert. Invite People to Explore… 

Jane’s Walks Inspires Us to Showcase Our Community’s Beauty

janes walkImagine that a new family moves into your neighborhood. What parts of your community would you most like to share with them? How would you help them to learn about what makes your neighborhood unique? What hard-to-find things would you be sure to let them know about? Families can use their imaginations to answer these questions and more in order to develop tours of their very own communities. Read the rest of this entry »

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