Swedish Paper Hearts For Valentine’s Day

Hilltown Families Valentine Social: A Look Back

(c) Hilltown Families - Making Swedish Paper Hearts

Weaving Swedish Paper Hearts (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

With classroom rosters in hand, several hilltown families set to work on making Valentines during a Hilltown Families Valentine Making Social on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007. Families from Ashfield, Chesterfield, Cummington, Plainfield, and West Chesterfield gathered together with red and pink construction paper, glitter glue, white doilies and an assortment of stickers to set forth on the venture of making Valentines for friends, family and classmates.

Making 20 Valentines can seem daunting. Making nearly 50 seems unreasonable. But when you have two children in school, that’s what the tally can add up to. Never mind having more than two children attending the same school! Some might say, “That’s what Hallmark’s for,” but we’re talking about hilltown families – motivated, creative and expressive folks who take on the task of Valentines with excitement and enthusiasm, letting the glitter fly!

Preceding the cutting, glueing and glittering, children were shown a five-minute video which demonstrated how construction paper was made. Narrated by Fred Rogers, children took a video tour through a construction paper factory, illustrating how red construction paper is made – from log to shrink wrapped product. This video tour can be found as an extra feature on the DVD Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: What Do You Do with the Mad That You Feel?

As the Valentine social progressed, and the kids finished their little love-notes, running off to play, the parents settled into their own projects and conversations. Over discussions on education, winter sports and safety, parents made heart-shaped mobiles, steamers of doilies and Swedish Paper Hearts. And when the kids tummies started to rumble, muffins donated by Bread Euphoria were served with tea and fruit.

WEAVING SWEDISH PAPER HEARTS

Weaving Swedish Paper Hearts can seem difficult at first, but once a rhythm is discovered, it is a pleasant activity to unwind with while relaxing with friends and community.  These paper hearts were traditionally made as ornaments filled with goodies that went on the Christmas Tree, but they also  make a wonderful Valentine’s craft. Learn how to make Swedish Paper Hearts for your loved ones.

(Originally posted: 2/13/07)

The Year of the Rabbit

Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Chinese Lunar New Year is on February 3rd this year. If you’re considering celebrating this year’s Chinese New Year for the first time, there are many web sites to guide you on decorations, food, activities, and crafts, and to learn how the day is determined.The libraries have several titles to lend for your family to discover the cultural traditions of the Lunar New Year. There are also a variety of supplemental social study curriculums that take a closer look at these traditions, superstitions and customary foods from Asian countries.

SUPERSTITIONS

The Lunar New Year is full of superstitions. Cutting your noodles on this day is said to shorten your life, and cleaning your home the day of the Lunar New Year is a big no-no, for it’s customary to clean in the days prior. Discovering these superstitions can lead to an exploration of their history with your children; opening up discussions on why they originated.

TRADITIONAL FOODS & DECORATIONS

There are many traditional foods you can serve on this day, or popular dishes from your local Chinese restaurant, along with a New Year’s Cake (Neen Gow) and fortune cookies. Decorating your home with paper lanterns, colorful dragons, Red Couplets, bowls or oranges and arrangements of flowers can be fun too.

LENGTH OF CELEBRATION

The Lunar and Chinese New Year can be celebrated for up to 15 days, depending on the culture that is in observance. The Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days (from the first full moon to the next new moon), but the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is celebrated for only half that time. A single evening of celebration to discover more about this culture is perfectly okay too.

SUGGESTED READINGS AVAILABLE THROUGH YOUR LOCAL MA LIBRARY

Everybody Cooks Rice (By Norah Dooley)
A child is sent to find a younger brother at dinnertime and is introduced to a variety of cultures through encountering the many different ways rice is prepared at the different households visited.

Lion Dancer : Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year (By K. Waters & M. Slovenz-Low)
Describes six-year-old Ernie Wong’s preparations, at home and in school, for the Chinese New Year celebrations and his first public performance of the lion dance.

Look What Came from China (By Miles Harvey)
Describes many things, both familiar and unfamiliar, that originally came from China, including inventions, food, tools, animals, toys, games, musical instruments, fashion, medicine, holidays, and sports.

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes (By Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz)
A great book that gives reviews the history of and supplies recipes, crafts and legends of five different Chinese holidays, including: Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, Qing Ming, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

China (DK Eyewitness Books) (by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore)
I love Eyewitness Books!  Their China book takes a look at Chinese culture with “eye-popping” images!

The Wishing Tree (By R. Thong)
Ming’s wishes at the tree on Lunar New Year with his grandmother always seemed to come true, but one year the tree does not help, and he alone must make peace with the loss of his grandmother and the spirit of the tree.

Kwanzaa Community Celebration in Western Mass

Berkshire Community Kwanzaa Celebration
December 30th, 2010 in Pittsfield, MA

The Women of Color Giving Circle of the Berkshires presents the 5th annual Berkshire Community Kwanzaa Celebration on Thursday, December 30th, from 6pm to 8pm at the American Legion (41 Wendell Ave.)  in downtown Pittsfield.

Kwanzaa is a festival that is celebrated annual from December 26 through January 1.  An annual celebration of family and community, the name Kwanzaa is a Swahili word for “first fruits”.

The Berkshire Community Kwanzaa Celebration on the 30th is a community celebration open to everyone.  The evening will focus on food, singing and  ceremony to highlight Nia, the fifth principle of Kwanzaa.  Swahili for purpose, Nia is celebrated on this 5th day of Kwanzaa.  According to Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Kerenga, on this day “we focus on ways to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”

Local member of the Grammy Award-winning African-American women’s a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, Evelyn Harris, will be performing during the celebration.

The fifth annual Berkshire Kwanzaa Celebration is cosponsored by the City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development. Tickets will be sold at the door (>$). For more information, contact Nakeida Bethel-Smith at 464-7307.

5 New Holiday Music CDs & Songs for Families

Holiday Music For Kids

Do you hear what I hear? It’s holiday music and Christmas cheer! Despite all the stress, I still absolutely love the holidays, and one of my favorite things about the season is all the happy music. Here are some new CDs and songs that we’re enjoying this year….

Ben Rudnick & Friends

Ben Rudnick & Friends are about to play their 9th Annual Holiday Extravaganza Concert at the Regent Theatre (Boston, MA) on December 11th. It’s always a wonderful show full of Christmas and Chanukah songs all wrapped up in that unique BR&F style.

And every year people ask if they have a holiday album… and every year they have to say no, but maybe next year… Until now!

They finally did it! And it was well worth the wait! Their new album, It’s Santa Claus, features eight classic Christmas songs, from Frosty the Snowman to Jingle Bells, and one super cool original song, It’s Santa Claus!

Of course, now they need to put together a CD of all their fun Chanukah songs. OK guys, that’s your assignment for next year!

Daria

Daria’s Songs for Merry Multicultural Mirth is a sweet collection of songs from around the world. We’ve always loved the song Ocho Candelikas, a traditional song sung in Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews. What I love about Daria’s version is that she’s added an English verse, too, so we can sing along. Spanish speakers will enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between Spanish and Ladino.

Daria does such a great job of bringing different cultures together! This CD also feature songs in Spanish (Feliz Navidad), German (Ihr Kinderlein Kommet), and English (Rockin’ Jingle Bells). Check out the liner notes to the album where you can read more about each song and download the lyrics.

Phil Cooke

Speaking of Christmas celebrations around the world, Phil Cooke from Australia has just released a new album, Christmas Time is Coming! Is that Santa surfing on Christmas day? Of course! In Australia it’s summer time during the holidays, so why not?

One of my favorite songs on this album is No Worries Mate (Santa Claus He’s a Surfie). It’s fun and playful—like all of Phil’s songs. Did you know Rudolph once forgot to put sun screen on his nose? How do you think he got that burn?

Renee & Jeremy

I am of the opinion that Renee & Jeremy can do no wrong. Everything they do is brilliant! So of course their new cover of Little Drummer Boy is instantly my favorite version of this song ever. Period.

Combine this song with the beautiful art work by Hsinping Pan that always graces their albums and you’ve got perfection. I love the colors and joy displayed on this CD.

And speaking of art work, have you seen the video for Renee & Jeremy’s It’s a Big World? It’s shockingly beautiful.

DidiPop

Another fun Christmas single comes from DidiPop this year. Let’s Make Santa Claus Happy Tonight is simply adorable. Didi sings along with her kids who are soooo excited about Santa stopping by during the night.

The song is upbeat and playful and reminds us adults about how much fun Christmas Eve is and how hard it is to wait for morning.

And is that an ukulele I hear in the song? That reminds me of Didi’s newest album, DidiPop Goes to Hawai’i, set for release on December 14th. You don’t want to miss it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Chocolate Scorecard: 7 Ways to Get Child Labor Out of Your Holiday Candy

Is There Child Slave Labor In Your Child’s Halloween Candy?

Get child labor out of your chocolates for Halloween and the holidays. Click on the card to down load this chocolate scorecard from Green America.

Good news for parents this Halloween: It’s easier than ever to avoid buying chocolate from Hershey, the largest U.S. chocolate company. Hershey fails to ensure that child labor is not part of its chocolate. Two major reports this September called out Hershey’s failure and the prevalence of egregious child labor, forced labor and trafficking abuses in the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana where Hershey sources much of its cocoa.

Just in time for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the December holidays, the independent, non-profit Green America has outlined seven ways to find and give Fair Trade chocolate people can feel good about, and take constructive actions to get Hershey to go Fair Trade.

  1. Use the new “Get Child Labor Out of Your Chocolates Scorecard” to shop online. Among the “A” ranked alternatives to Hershey chocolate are Alter Eco, Coco-Zen, Divine, Equal Exchange, Shama, Sjaak’s, Sweet Earth Organic and Theo Chocolate, all of which are Fair Trade. All of Hershey’s competitors have some form of labor certification for their chocolate, leaving Hershey as the only company on the list without one. Confused by what all of those certification symbols mean? The Scorecard includes a short overview of the most widely used labels and explains what they mean.
  2. Shop for Fair Trade chocolate locally. You can find dozens of locations around the U.S. online here. Other places to check in Western MA are River Valley Co-op (Northampton), Cornucopia (Northampton), Whole Foods (Hadley & Williamstown), Green Fields Market (Greenfield), and Berkshire Co-op Market (Great Barrington).
  3. Fair Trade Your Halloween. You can hand out bite-sized Fair Trade chocolates and let parents of Trick-or-Treaters know why Fair Trade matters. In addition, thousands of families across the US are taking part in local “reverse trick-or-treating” to educate other families about the abuse of children in the cocoa production.
  4. Help raise awareness by holding a screening in your home of “The Dark Side of Chocolate.” Filmmakers Miki Mistrati and U. Robin Romano traveled to cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire and what they found was dark. Few improvements have been made on the ground and egregious labor rights abuses continue, years after major chocolate companies committed to ending this exploitation. Get more information about how to get involved here
  5. Take Green America’s new action targeting Hershey. Don’t just avoid Hershey chocolates; let this company know what you think. Go here to send your message to a Hershey’s executive now.
  6. Take action on Facebook. You can start by “liking” Hilltown Families or Green America’s latest posts about Hershey, so your friends can see them. You can also go to Hershey‘s Facebook page and leave your own comments for them and their customers to see. Every few days, Hershey posts a new question designed to keep up the chatter on their page, constantly exposing their brand to more eyeballs. That’s where you can add your comments about expecting Hershey to be more responsible.
  7. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You’ll find all the background information that you need for your letter to the editor by downloading the “Time to Raise the Bar” report.

Green America Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Todd Larsen, said:

We understand that parents who may become aware of the concerns regarding Hershey chocolate and abusive child labor may feel powerless to do anything about it. That’s why we want them to know that there are constructive actions they can take to make a difference. While Hershey pays its CEO $8 million annually, the company is doing little to end the practice of forced child labor in cocoa-growing regions, where many children are not paid for their labor and are abused. This corporate giant is hoping that parents will throw up their hands and just go along as they always have in the past. Our message is simple: You can be sure that you are not putting child slave labor in your child’s Halloween bag or those of other children.

  • K-6 Teachers: Click Here for Fair Trade Cocoa Curriculum

Read the rest of this entry »

Wicked Wickets in Worthington

Worthington’s Halloween Celebration

"This is a chance for people to come down to see all the kids in their costumes," said Janine Modestow, Recreation Committee member.(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

This year, the town of Worthington, MA will celebrate Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 30, and offer a new twist, Wicked Wickets, as well as scarecrow-making, a carved pumpkin walkway, a deejay, and an opportunity for residents to give out candy on the R.H. Conwell Community Education grounds. The event is sponsored by the Recreation Committee.

The fun begins on Friday, Oct. 29, with a free scarecrow-making class at 3 p.m. at the R.H.Conwell Community Education Center (147 Huntington Rd.). At that time, residents can also drop off scarecrows made at home to be judged at the school on Saturday.

On Saturday, Oct. 30, residents are invited to bring carved pumpkins to either the Town Hall at 160 Huntington Road or the center. The pumpkins will be used to mark a path between the two buildings, which are situated diagonally across from each other. Everyone is invited to participate in decorating the Town Hall, starting at 3 p.m.

Residents who wish to hand out candy at the center may arrive and set up at 4 p.m.

“This is a chance for people to come down to see all the kids in their costumes,” said Janine Modestow, Recreation Committee member. The candy handout will give residents who live on the outskirts of town and who are not often visited by trick-or-treaters the chance to join in the fun.

At 5 p.m., townwide trick-or-treating begins. Children can stop by the center and continue through town. Residents who wish to have trick-or-treaters stop at their home are asked to signal this by leaving their lights on.

Teenagers are invited to create a wicket, with a scary theme – or not – to play Wicked Wickets, a combination of haunted croquet and miniature golf that will be played on the Town Hall side lawn, weather permitting. Relying on imagination, the wicket can be carved out of pumpkin or a pile of wood with a space large enough for a croquet ball to roll through.

Then, at 6 p.m. residents will play Wicked Wickets to the sounds of a performing deejay. Prizes for scarecrows will be given out. The Boy Scouts will serve up free hot dogs and burgers, and the Recreation Committee will provide cider, doughnuts and coffee. The cleanup party for the day’s event begins at 8 p.m.

Rag Shag Parades – A Western MA Tradition

Is Western Mass Home to the Rag Shag Parade?

Kids line up for Ashfield’s Rag Shag Parade. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

A couple of years ago the question on the origins of the “rag shag parade” was proposed to our readers:

I had never heard of a rag shag parade until I moved to Western Mass. And as far I can tell, this style of parade is a local phenomenon. You don’t hear about rag shag parades happening in Minnesota or Louisiana. Not even Boston! Correct me if I’ve overlooked something, but they seem to take place largely in Western Mass, with at least eleven happening this week. So what gives? How did they originate, and why Western Mass?

And just what is a rag shag parade? Judging from my limited experience, rag shag parades are free-for-all community events where families dress-up in costume and loosely parade down their local town’s main drag. Sometimes fire engines lead the way, sometimes fire engines close up behind. At at the end of the parade there are typically refreshments, activities and/or a bonfire. The kids run around, the adults hide behind masks, and often times trick-or-treating begins. I’m certain there are variations to this format. We’ve been to a number of rag shag parades since our daughter was born. All in Western Mass and all followed a similar pattern. Share with us your favorite rag shag parade stories.

The Great Pumpkin sits outside of the Ashfield Hardware Store and Country Pie on Main Street on Halloween night, waiting for the rag shag parade and trick or treater’s to travel by. This one ton beauty was grown in Plainfield and wired to hear and speak to passersby. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

R. Joshua Mobley posted a great response to this inquiry.  He writes:

“In response to your inquiry on the history of the Rag-Shag, yes it is a New England, and more specifically, W. Mass phenomenon. This history is a little sketchy, but what I found out was that the actual term “Rag-Shag” is an inverse derivative of “Shag-rag”, which literally means: The unkempt and ragged part of the community. Being that the term has slang origins, the actual point of origin is vague at best, circa turn of the 20th century.

“Essentially it was the ruffians and derelicts that began the parade, sort of as a protest to the disparity of classism. It was the only acceptable way their voice could be heard from a voiceless group. Over time it merged with Halloween festivities such as trick-or-treating which did not become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934,and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.”

The Wonders of Summer, Family & Community

Making Memories

Real-home-town parades for the 4th of July. (Photo credit: Dana Pilson)

There’s nothing better than a good old red white and blue, wrapped yourself up in an American flag, July fourth holiday. And nothing says July fourth better than a parade and fireworks. This year proved to be one of the best. Our little village puts on a real-home-town parade, replete with sirening fire engines, antique cars sporting American flags, proud selectmen, a tiny marching band, baseball players, prancing miniature ponies, and bringing up the rear, on pony clean-up duty, a former Massachusetts governor driving a golf cart. The whole town turns out — and every year, Daisy and I struggle with the decision: should we march in the parade, or watch? We could march with the library, our CSA, Daisy’s dance troupe, or her school. Or we could sit on the curb and cheer, collecting candy tossed from the floats. Author Elizabeth Winthrop, a part-time Berkshires resident, wrote The Biggest Parade, a children’s book based on the Williamstown parade. The mayor in the story is so concerned with making sure everyone has a role in the parade that there’s no one left to watch!

Spectators clap and cheer the parade on, including Dana and her daughter, Daisy.

This year, we decided to be spectators. Seated on the sidewalk amongst friends and family, we clapped and cheered and held our ears to block out the wailing fire engine sirens. We sprang up to gather candy and waved to the selectmen and all our friends marching with various groups. As usual, we procured a free balloon from the toy store, enjoyed a festive free barbecue, and had a slice of birthday cake proffered by the local coffee shop. These are memories in the making. Each year, we add to the store of July fourth memories, cementing in Daisy’s head what it means to create traditions: not just family traditions, but communal.

In the evening, we usually travel to Bennington, VT, to watch fireworks, even though they start around 9:30pm and we don’t manage to get back home until close to 11pm. Some families might argue that fireworks start too late, there are too many teenagers tossing firecrackers at each other, and the kids need to be in bed. But July fourth comes but once a year. What do I want Daisy to remember: an evening spent like most others? Or the excitement of heading out to the local park, finding a spot on the hill for our blanket and chairs, munching on cold grapes as toddlers race around with sparklers, watching the golden sunset as the stars, moon and planets emerge, and then, finally, after so much waiting, witnessing the magic as the sky lights up with exploding colors?

We have so few opportunities to create lasting visceral memories. Fireworks can hardly be caught on film, you cannot capture the boom that rattles your insides, the crackle and sputter, or the screaming of the twirly whirlies. Words can’t adequately describe the feel of the cool evening grass in your toes, the taste of quickly melting ice cream, the smell of the sizzling sparklers, uttering in unison “ooh, aah, peachy keen,” and then the absolute darkness when the fireworks end and we feel our way back down the hill towards the parking lot. These all must be felt, and experienced using all our senses.

July fourth may be our country’s birthday, but it is also a celebration of the wonders of summer, family, and community. Our family might be small, a tiny unit of three, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make big, rich memories to last a lifetime.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Dana “Dee” Pilson

Dee lives with her professor husband and young daughter in rural Pownal, Vermont, just over the state line from Williamstown, Massachusetts. She is an art historian and has worked in museums in New York City, Boston, and Williamstown. She has been an avid writer since the tender age of eight, filling journals with personal essays and short stories, as well as mounds of poetry, both serious and whimsical. New Yorker by birth, New Hampshire-ite by schooling, and now Vermonter by choice, Dee writes about art and architecture, the environment, books, food, exercise, travel, and green living. Her new blog, “The Power of One,” focuses on issues related to parenting an only child in today’s child-centric world. dpilson@aol.com

Suggested Events 07/03/10-07/09/10

Like This!

Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Summit Farm in Plainfield, MA has pick-your own organic strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in the hilltowns. Raspberries are ripe for the picking now, and blueberries will be ready mid-July. Call Ed Stockman for harvest schedule: (413) 634-5024. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. 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.

DINNER IN THE HILLTOWNS

Friday, July 2nd at Blue House Cafe in Haydenville: Gluten-free and vegan dishes. BYOB. 268-7441

Friday, July 2nd at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield: Garlic Cilantro Chicken with Sauteed peppers and onion – or – Portabello mushroom tacos. Both come with mixed beans, salsa and sour cream. BYOB 628-4003

Friday & Saturday, July 2nd & 3rd at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville: Oven fried chicken and herbed biscuits with Grafton smoked cheddar and honey butter, with Potato salad and Veggie option of Veggie burgers. Watermelon and watercress salad. Watermelon and cucumber mojito. Chocolate semifriedo with blackberry mint sauce. Also available: Sandwiches, salads, soups and pizza (including Gluten-Free pizza!).  Beer & wine available. 268-7757

BULLETIN BOARD

ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

Deadline to enter to win: July 11th

Alyssa Pratt-Miranda writes: I think most people in this group have established childcare already (or older children), but I thought I’d post this just in case. Our first baby is due in November and we’d love to look into nanny share options when I have to start up work again in February of 2011. We’re moving to Easthampton in August. I haven’t really thought through the logistics yet so we are pretty flexible with days, times, and whose house the kids would be at. Are there any families in the same situation, or do you know of any expecting mamas in the Noho area who might be interested in talking with us about this? Post replies here.

Deadline to enter to win: July 7th

PEDIATRICIAN: Love your pediatrician? Share the love and let us know. Recommend a pediatrician to families in Western Mass looking for a doctor for their kids HERE.

PAINTBOX THEATER GIVEAWAY: Congratulations to Chrisoula Roumeliotis of Worthington, MA on winning a family season pass for four to the Paintbox Theater Summer Series! – If you did not win tickets, you should still check out this summer theater series. For more info call (413) 585-3220, or visit New Century Theatre at www.newcenturytheatre.org/paintbox.html

Deadline to enter to win: July 7th

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? Have an idea for an on-going column? Have a review or resource you’d like to share? We welcome writings that reflect the positive work and educational efforts activists, families, teachers, and artists work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Katie Flanders writes: Any good preschools around the Hilltowns? Thanks! Post replies here.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

This week on the HFVS we will be spinning birthday songs and new tunes by The Sweet Colleens, Coal Train Railroad, Caspar Babypants, The Not-Its!, and Sugar Free Allstars.Tune in on Saturdays from 9-10am, or listen to our podcasts HERE. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • HFVS Podcast

    PODCAST: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!


    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Markets | Listen Here

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Saturday – 7/3

    Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

    8:30am-12:30pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: On the town green. Ashfield, MA (MARKET)

    9:30am-4:30pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Open Hearth Cooking Demo at Historic Deerfield.  During the hot summer months, come learn how people in early New England kept cool, and preserved summer produce.  Open hearth cooks will demonstrate how to make cooling beverages including lemonade and switchel (a drink made with molasses, ginger, sugar and water).  See how people preserved summer vegetables like cucumbers or beets.  Drop in anytime. 775-7175 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA (FREE w/admission)

    10am – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: A Wheelie Good Time on the Manhan Rail Trail – Bring Strollers, wagon, bikes, trikes or just your feet for a child friendly stroll along the Manhan Rail Trail with the Easthampton Family Center.  Meet on Payson Ave at the Easthampton Safety Complex. Picnic Snack provided after the stroll. 563-7672 Easthampton, MA (FREE)

    10am-5pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Kick off your 4th of July weekend celebration at Norman Rockwell Museum with their annual family baseball festival. Share a rare inside look at baseball legend Babe Ruth, through a special visit from his granddaughter Linda Ruth Tosetti; enjoy a game of catch with the Troy, N.Y.-based ValleyCats; learn about creating award-winning sports illustrations with artist Graig Kreindler; and enter into a 3D art-making workshop with pop artist Charles Fazzino. Children and teens 18 and under are free, adults free with Museum admission. www.nrm.org Stockbridge, MA ($)

    11am-10pm – 4TH OF JULY: Fourth of July family celebration on the Town Common.  Chicken dinner (11-3), Russian Dancers (11:30), Pioneer Valley Concert Band (1pm) and fireworks in the evening. Call for tickets for Russian Dancers: 896-0506 West Springfield, MA

    12:30pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Chow Time in the aquarium at 12:30pm at the Berkshire Museum. 443-7171 www.berkshiremuseum.org Pittsfield, MA (FREE w/museum admission)

    1pm – SCIENCE STUDIES: Amherst Solar will be set up with their telescopes on the Amherst Town Common all summer.  Stop by with the kids and see Sunspots, Prominences, Limb Darkening and more.  256-6234  amastro.org Amherst, MA (FREE)

    1-5pm – HISTORIC ADVENTURES: Tour the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. Explore the ancestral home of the great 19th-century poet, newspaperman, and essayist, and wander the grounds above the Westfield River. Try the “I Spy” family activity using a hands-on spy pack to discover the Homestead’s secrets. 634-2244 Cummington, MA (>$)

    6pm – 4TH OF JULY: Pre-firework activities at Michael E. Smith Middle School (100 Mosier St.). (Rain date: 7/5) Fireworks at dark. South Hadley, MA (FREE)

    6pm – SPORTS FANS: Take the family out to the ballpark to see a Pittsfield Colonials baseball home game at Wahconah Park. www.pittsfieldcolonials.com Pittsfield, MA ($)

    6:15pm – DANCE: At Jacob’s Pillow, “First Lady of Tap” Dianne Walker, with award-winning performers Derick K. Grant and Tasha Lawson and live music under the direction of Paul Arslanian, showcases a range of tap styles with dancers of The School after their first week of intensive study at the Inside/Out Stage. 243-0745 www.jacobspillow.org Becket, MA (FREE)

    7:30-10pm – NATURE STUDIES: Firefly program at Sheep Hill.  Annual Firefly Hike and Campfire.  The evening will feature campfire stories, S’mores, and the glittering jewels of the summer meadow.  There will be nature crafts for children before it gets dark, and stories by the fire followed by a walk through the darkening meadow to experience the dazzling firefly show. www.wrlf.org Williamstown, MA (>$ donation)

    8:45pm – DRIVE-IN MOVIE: Northfield Drive-In movie theater is featuring ooo as their first show, and ooo as their second show this weekend. (603) 239-4054 www.northfielddrivein.com Northfield, MA ($)

    6pm – 4TH OF JULY: Entertainment at Stanley Park with music and F-15 flyover.  Fireworks at dusk.  Westfield, MA

    Dusk – FIREWORKS:  The following towns have firework displays: East Longmeadow, South Hadley and Westfield.  Click here for details.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    4th of July 2010: Western MA is Alive with Fireworks & Celebrations

    2013 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks


    Celebrating 4th of July in Western Massachusetts with the Family in 2010

    There’s no better destination to celebrate the Fourth of July than Massachusetts,” said Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel + Tourism. “From the world renowned Boston Pops concert on the Charles river to the many parades, fireworks, festivals and attractions, there are so many ways to experience the independent spirit and pride that makes Massachusetts unique.”(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    From the state where the American Revolution began, families can take part in the multitude of Fourth of July celebrations happening in Western MA. Only in Massachusetts can you travel the freedom trail, tour the home of Paul Revere and be a part of where America’s independence began. In Western MA, families and visitors can witness the historical reenactments in the hills of the Berkshires and Greater Springfield area, participate in the parades, music programs and dance performances, and take the families to see one of the many firework displays that happen throughout the region.

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    Father’s Day Weekend at Old Sturbridge Village

    Old Sturbridge Village Offers Special Father’s Day Weekend Demos, Art & Music

    Bring your favorite dad to Old Sturbridge Village for Father’s Day Weekend and enjoy singing, dancing, artwork demonstrations and musical performances as part of Music & Art Weekend. On Saturday, June 19th an evening at the kiln is the highlight, and on Sunday, June 20th Dads get 50% off admission.

    Pops and their families can learn to play the jaw harp and tin whistle, have their silhouette made, learn 1830s-style contra-dancing, and enjoy musical performances, including: Tasteful Tunes and Devil’s Ditties, fife and drum music, a recorder concert, and a performance on the antique pipe organ in the Center Meetinghouse.

    “Of all the activities we demonstrate at the Old Sturbridge Village, firing the potter’s kiln is surely the most dramatic,” notes Jeff Friedman, of Princeton, MA, head of pottery interpretation at OSV. “It’s a rare opportunity to see an oven of such size roaring and glowing”

    Built with 15,000 bricks, the Old Sturbridge Village kiln is an “updraft bottle kiln,” of the style used in the early 1800s. When fully loaded for firing, the kiln holds 800 freshly glazed pots stacked 10 feet high. It takes three cords of wood stoked over 24 hours to bring the kiln to maximum firing temperature of 1,900 degrees. At that temperature, the kiln bricks glow and the flames roar, rising 24 feet high to come out of the top of the stack. The pottery is fired all night, and it takes another 40 hours for the kiln to cool before the dramatic “drawing the kiln” – unloading the finished wares.  Firing of the kiln happens only on Saturday, June 19th ($$).

    Highlights on Father’s Day weekend include:

    • Music on the Antique Pipe Organ
    • Try Your Hand at Fishing, or Marbling Paper
    • Demonstrate and Teach 19th-Century Dance & Country Music
    • Play Marbles by the District School
    • French and English (Tug O’ War) on the Common
    • Join a 19th-century Baseball Game
    • Antique Musical Instrument Demonstration
    • Learn to Play the Tin Whistle and Jaw Harp
    • Tasteful Tunes and Devil’s Ditties: Songs & Stories of Long Ago
    • Hoop Races by the Graveyard

    Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is one of the largest living history museums in the country. For all times and details of activities throughout the weekend: www.osv.org, (800) 733-1830.

    Suggested Events 05/29/10-06/04/10

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    Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    With temps soaring past 95-degrees this past week, families cooled off with snow cones from Town Farm at the Tuesday Farmers' Market in Northampton, while others headed to Musante Beach, Ashfield Lake, Splash Park at Look Park or the Westfield River. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. 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.

    DINNER IN THE HILLTOWNS

    Friday, May 28th at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield: Freshly smoked pork, spare ribs and kielbasa, potato salad, cole slaw, beans and corn bread -or- double-crusted Spinach Pie with fresh spinach, red onions, garlic, mozzarella and feta cheeses. BYOB 628-4003

    Friday, May 28th at Blue House Cafe in Haydenville: Tex-Mex Chalupa – a grilled burrito with organic black beans and brown rice, our homemade vegetarian sloppy joe, salsa, spinach, cheddar cheese and sour cream;  Arugula Pesto Panini (vegan version available); and  Thai Coconut Soup with vegetables and tofu. Gluten-free and vegan dishes too. BYOB. 268-7441

    Saturday, May 29th at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville: Veggie Lassagnia, Garlic Bread and side salad. Sandwiches, salads, soups and pizza (including Gluten-Free pizza!). Open mic! Beer & wine available. 268-7757

    MARK YOUR CALENDARS

    Saturday, June 5th, 12noon-4pm: Holyoke Youth ExtravaGREENza, Nuestras Raices Farm “La Finca,” 245 High Street, Holyoke. Students from Holyoke Works’ new Green Careers Program share their work on environmental issues: global warming and climate change, recycling, increased bike use in the city, safe chemicals in the workplace and at home, energy audits and weatherization, and school and community gardens. Nuestras Raices’ Food and Fitness Project will kick off the event with a “Raw Feast.” Following lunch there will be interactive learning opportunities by all groups, with music and a green-themed raffle.  For more information, contact Laura Porter at Holyoke Works at 413-532-2683 or email lauraporter@yahoo.com.

    FEATURED EVENT

    On June 4th, Chris Smither will be performing a Friday night fund-raising concert at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls for the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School … and we have a 4-pack of free tickets along with a signed CD to offer one lucky person! Deadline to enter to win is 05/28/10. Find out how to enter to win HERE.

    BULLETIN BOARD

    BECOME A SPONSOR: Hilltown Families supports sustainable development of our local economy. Local businesses, individuals, institutions and schools are encouraged to become sponsors and communicate with our large, family-oriented audience. Get the word out about the valuable services you offer while you support Hilltown Families’ work in building community.  Please email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.

    Michael Kalagher of Plainfield, MA writes: Richard Shephard from Cummington is using his talents to assist environmental groups in documenting the tragedy on the Gulf Coast. See some of his work at www.rsairphoto.com. There is also an important blog you can link to from his site.

    Nan of Ashfield, MA writes: No-Risk Kid Meals at Elmer’s in Ashfield.  Beginning this week, kids aged six and under eat Free between 5 and 6:30 pm (when they are with a regular-paying person over the age of six!)  I saw that on a billboard while I was driving back from New Orleans and thought, “Man, what a good idea!”

    Beth Skolnick Bigelow wrote: There is a Native American Indian Pow Wow this weekend (Sat, Sun and Mon) at Indian Plaza, Route 2 in Charlemont, MA. It is a nice family event.

    VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: West County Resilence Conversation is looking for volunteers to help during Riverfest in Shelburne Falls on Saturday, June 12th. Click here for more info.

    MUSIC GIVEAWAY: Randy Kaplan has released a new family CD, The Kids Are All Id, and we have a signed copy to giveaway to one luck family!   Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, June 2nd 2010. Click here to enter to win.

    GIRLS ART CAMP IN THE HILLTOWNS: ArtStar Girl’s Camp in Williamsburg (June 28th-July 2nd) (July 5th-July 9th) for girl’s between the ages of 8-12 will spend the day (10am-2pm) creating batik, silkscreening and tie dye as well as experiencing hand sewing and book making! Girls will be encouraged to explore their own artist expression in a relaxed lounge like environment at the private home studio of Marie Westburg, artist and Art Therapist. Sessions are limited to eight so sign up now! Cost is $180 per child. See artstarlounge.com for more information, or email artstarmarie@verizon.net.

    CHORUS AUDITION: The South Hadley Children’s Chorus will have auditions on Wednesday, June 2nd in 10-minute “slots” between 4-6 pm at the Center Congregational Church. Boys and Girls ages 7-14 from many Pioneer Valley towns, rehearsing Wednesday afternoons in South Hadley, from early September thru mid-May. We sing all sorts of songs—“classical”, folk songs, Broadway and jazz tunes, in English and many other languages. Audition is informal & painless. Tests your ability to read words and “echo” the pitches you hear sung to you. Older, musically-experienced children may be asked to show knowledge of music notation. To schedule an audition time, parents should call or email Director Cathy Melhorn 413-548-1098; cmelhorn@mtholyoke.edu.

    TICKET GIVEAWAY: Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in Northampton, MA for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT!  You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets! This month we are pleased to offer a chance for two folks to win a pairs of tickets to see celebrated Nashville singer/songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman as she returns to the area with a powerful new album, Back To Love. Click here to enter to win.

    SCIENCE MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Robots + Us at the Connecticut Science Center opens this weekend. This exhibit offers a playful look at how biology and engineering are coming together to close the gap between reality and the robotic dreams of some.  Build your own jitterbug robot, visit Low Life Labs and find out what robot designers are learning from.  Museum is in Hartford, CT and is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm., and it will be open on Memorial Day! www.ctsciencecenter.org

    FREE HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENTS:  It may be hard to believe right now, but snow and cold will be coming back! No time like the present to call and schedule your no-cost home energy assessment. Slots fill up quickly, so call today. It is free and there are great incentives to be had! WMECO and other gas and electric utility companies offer this free assessment to residents through Mass Save, the statewide home energy efficiency program. There are no income requirements to participate, and incentives include up to 75% off up to $2000 in insulation upgrades, and an even better deal on air sealing. Call 866-527-7283, or visit http://www.masssave.com for more info.

    Liz Friedman writes: Calling Mama Volunteers – Table for MotherWoman’s 5% Day at Whole Foods. We are looking for a couple good mama’s to help us table at Whole Foods in preparation for our big 5% Day at Whole Foods. Are you available for as little as 1 hour on any of the following days: Tuesday, June 1st 2 – 6pm; Saturday, June 5th 11am – 4pm; and Monday, June 7th 10am – 6pm. Contact Liz@motherwoman.org

    ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events.


    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Market | Listen Here

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Saturday – May 29th

    6-10am – FAMILY RADIO Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

    8am-6pm – SHEEP & WOOLCRAFT FAIR: All weekend at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

    8:30am-12:30pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: First Market of the Season! With Rhubarb Pie playing music. On the town green. Ashfield, MA (MARKET)

    9am-3pm – PLANT SALE: At the Amherst Farmers’ Supply, sponsored by the 4-H. Amherst, MA (SALE)

    9:30am-4:30pm – NATURE STUDIES: At the Historic Deerfield, families can investigate the diverse ingredients of soil and learn how it formed as part of the museums program, “The Earth Beneath Our Feet.”  Make soil and take home seeds to plant. 775-7214 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA (FREE with Admission)

    9:30am-5pm- WOOL DAYS: During Wool Days Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village this weekend, families can meet the new baby animals, watch historical demos, be hands-on, take a boat ride, get crafty and much more. Sturbridge, MA ($)

    10am –BIKE RIDE: Pittsfield’s Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a community bike ride, beginning at the Controy Pavilion on Onota Lake at Burbank Park. A fun way to spend an afternoon with friends and family! Younger riders are welcome and encouraged to ride the trail along the lake within Burbank Park. Registration starts at 9am. 448.9678 Pittsfield, MA

    10am-6pm – CULTURAL BAZAAR: The Cultural Survival Bazaar happens this weekend on the Amherst Common. Amherst, MA (FREE)

    10am-12Noon: CRAFT WORKSHOP: Make Knitting Needles for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

    10am-5pm – CRAFT FAIR: Craft Fair in Haydenville: Fine Arts & Crafts in a Country Setting. 3 Grove Street. Haydenville, MA (FREE)

    10am-5pm – HISTORIC EXPLORATIONS: Visit the 48-acre Naumkeag Estate in the Berkshires from and view Miss Choate’s tree peonies and tour her 44-room Berkshires Cottage, given intact to The Trustees of Reservations 50 years ago. Children will enjoy the “Kipper” activity pack as they explore the magical Blue Steps, Chinese Garden, Oak Lawn, Peony Terrace, Afternoon Garden and Evergreen Garden. Location: Naumkeag Estate, 5 Prospect Hill Road. 298-3239 Stockbridge, MA ($, KIDS FREE)

    11am-12Noon – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Learn to Spin for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

    11am-4pm – RIVERFEST: Riverfest at Cole Field, sponsored by the Hoosic River Watershed Association. An annual celebration of the river is fun for the entire family and includes rafting, canoeing, live music and other live performances, riverbank art, pony rides, live birds of prey, live river critters, crafts and activities for kids, good food, and more! 458-2742 www.hoorwa.org Williamstown, MA ($)

    12Noon-4pm – MUSUEM ADVENTURES: Chesterwood Opening Day with events for famileis, including art and nature activities, a Lincoln impersonator, live music, and the grand opening of the “Discovery Room” in the Barn Gallery. 298-3579 www.chesterwood.org Stockbridge, MA ($)

    12Noon-5pm – ART ADVENTURES: Canal Gallery’s Artists’ Market, between 2 canals next to the Childrens’ Museum. This Artist Market comes alive with music, food, and color. Inspired by markets of a 100 years ago; also those in warmer more colorful places and early Americana circuses & carnivals. 532-4141 Holyoke, MA

    12:35pm, 1:45pm & 3pm – THEATER: Paintbox Theater will perform their twist of Cinderella at the Paradise City Arts Festival, at the 3-County Fairgrounds. http://www.paradisecityarts.com Northampton, MA ($)

    1pm – FLOWER SHOW: Take the kids to see the stunning beauty of the lovely Iris. The Western New England Iris Society is hosting an Iris Show a the Shelbure Buckland Community Center. Spend the day in Shelburne Falls! Shelburne Falls, MA

    1-3pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Kool-Aid Dyeing for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

    1-3pm – CHESS: Drop-in Chess at the Forbes Library Mezzanine. Casual meets every Saturday the library is open. All competition levels are welcome. Drop in for part or all of the session. Bring your own set if you have one or use one of the library’s. Northampton, MA (FREE)

    1-4pm – TEEN LITERARY EVENT: Jane Austen Tea Party at The Meekins Library. Croquet, Badminton, and Games of Chance. Jane’s favorite foods. Watch the movie “Lost in Austen.” For teens 13+ Williamsburg, MA

    2-3pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Felting Treasure Bags for Kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

    2-4pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Needle Felting For Young People (Ages 9-14) at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

    4:30-6:30pm – PUPPET PERFORMANCE: Marmalade Productions and the Bumble Bee Players presents The Watershed Waltz at the Ramsdell Library. Celebrate with song, puppet fish, birds, and aquatic creatures. For all ages. 274-3738‎ Housatonic, MA

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    Motherhood in the 1800’s at OSV

    Historical Look at Motherhood at Old Sturbridge Village on Mother’s Day

    With so much cooking done at hearthside, fire was the number one danger for children in early New England households. No doubt one of the earliest words children learned was ‘Hot!’

    Moms get free admission to Old Sturbridge Village on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 9th, and family events are planned throughout the weekend. Children can meet the baby animals on the farm, and enjoy indoor crafts, including making block printed note cards for a Mother’s Day gift. Moms can gain insights on childbirth, raising children and running a frugal household from OSV costumed historians portraying Midwife Lucy Tucker and 19th century author Lydia Maria Child, who wrote The Mother’s Book. OSV horticulturists will present “The Family Nurse’s Tour of the Herb Garden” and a special Mother’s Day Brunch will be served in the Oliver Wight Tavern.

    Although Mother’s Day is a modern invention, OSV historians note that by the 1830s, a “cult of domesticity” began to glorify the home and women’s role in it. Home was viewed as a sanctuary and refuge from the increasingly bustling and depersonalized outside world.

    Despite this trend to glorify home and hearth, “being a mom in the 1830s was a very rigorous job,” notes Deb Friedman, director of public program at Old Sturbridge Village. “Women typically had five or six children and they worked straight through their pregnancies – handling all the endless chores necessary in running a household.

    Unlike today, there were no ready-made strollers, swings, porta-cribs and playpens,” Friedman says. “Moms made do with what they had. For baby walkers, they simply placed ladder-backed chairs flat on the floor so babies could push the chair and toddle behind. Antique chairs were often worn flat on the back from generations of children learning to walk.”

    With so much cooking done at hearthside, fire was the number one danger for children in early New England households. “No doubt one of the earliest words children learned was ‘Hot!’ ” Friedman says.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Suggested Events 04/03/10-04/09/10

    Follow Hilltown Families on

    Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    We've posted a couple of resources for dying eggs naturally over on our Facebook page. Click on the photo above to surf over and see what gems await you there! While you're there, become a "fan" and share some of your own! (Photo credit: Brian Dewey)

    Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. 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

    FRIDAY NIGHT IN THE HILLTOWNS

    6:30pm – MUSIC: Chris Scanlon & The Other Guys/Span of Sunshine to play at The Blue House Cafe. 268-7441 Haydenville, MA (FREE)

    MARK YOUR CALENDARS

    Saturday, April 10th from 5:30-7:30pm – CUMMINGTON FAMILY CENTER: The CFC will be holding their annual silent auction fundraiser at the Cummington Community House.  Tickets are $10 and include delicious appetizers, wine and beer, baked goods, music and childcare. On the auction block is a diverse mix of local goods and services. It’s a super fun event — a chance to party and catch up with neighbors and friends — while meeting new ones — and supporting local communities. 634-5362 Cummington, MA (FUNDRAISER)

    Sunday, April 11th from 3-5pm – TRANSITION WILLIAMSBURG: Come learn more about The Transition Movement at a Community Mapping Project happening at the Williamsburg Grange.  There will be a screening of the film In Transition: From Oil Dependence to Local Resilience, along with a clothing swap and community potluck.  Child care available.  Come check out what all the buzz is about!  Click here for more info. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

    FEATURED EVENT

    Deadline to win: 03/31THE NIELDS: Saturday, April 3rd at 10:30am – FAMILY CONCERT:  The Nields at the First Churches of Northampton (129 Main Street) in The Sanctuary. The harmonious sisters sing new renditions of old folk songs as the finale of Nonotuck Community School’s Winter/Spring Family Concert Series. http://www.nonotuck.org 586-5996 Northampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)

    BULLETIN BOARD

    SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement on our List of Weekly Suggested Events. – SPONSORSHIP: Interested in supporting the work of Hilltown Families?  Find out how to be a sponsor! Serious inquiries can email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.

    MEDICINE GIRLS: An herbal program for girls aged 8-12 years old starting out on the Herbal Medicine Path. Classes will be held on Sundays at Blazing Star Herbal School from 2-5pm in Ashfield, MA, on 4/18, 5/2, 5/16, 6/6, 6/20, plus one mid summer date 7/18 (for special herb harvesting). Activities will include: Herbal Prepreations, Folk Lore, Ethical Wild Crafting, Wild Foods, Global Studies, Botanical Art, Medicine Wheels, Power Animals & Plants and First Aid. Girls will be introduced to the practical skills essential for every aspiring herbalist. Join this circle of learning and make new friends with other girls who share the same passion for healing. More info tlemos@noho.com 413 625 6875 www.blazingstarherbalschool.typepad.com

    CITIZEN SCIENTISTS: Kristen & Jane of Berkshire Environmental Action Team write: The salamanders are crossing! The salamanders are crossing!  If you know of a road where woodfrogs or salamanders cross, now is the time of year to document this. Check out the website: Linking Landscapes. You can use the map tools to zoom in and put a marker right where you saw the amphibians crossing. Then you fill in your name, the date that you saw them crossing, the road and town, the weather, how many of each species you saw, and any other comments. Please help us get these places on the map, so in the future salamander crossing structures can be installed to help these fascinating creatures make it safely across the road.

    Deadline to win: 04/07TICKET GIVEAWAY: Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance for two families to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see Secret Agent 23 Skidoo at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA. on Sunday, April 11th at 2pm. Mister G will be opening. Deadline to enter to win is 04/07/10. Find out how to enter to win here.

    CHESTER SPAGHETTI SUPPER: The Chester Elementary PTO is hosting its annual Spaghetti Dinner on Friday, April 9. Dinner will be served from 5 – 7 p.m. Adult tickets are $7, and children ages 3 – 12 will be $5. All children under 3 are free. The menu includes spaghetti and meatballs, salad, rolls, various drinks, and cake for dessert. Students have assembled baskets to be raffled off at the end of the dinner. Tickets will be available for purchase. There will also be a gift card raffle. If you have any questions, please call the school office at 685-1360.

    VULTURE CULTURE: Can anything be done to change the “Vulture Culture?” Kids won’t stop until adults change themselves, says expert – The suicide of South Hadley’s Phoebe Prince is getting a lot of press this week, with District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel’s announcement that 9 students will be prosecuted for criminal charges, including harassment, violation of civil rights, stalking, bodily injury and statutory rape. Psychiatrist Dr. Susan Lipkins told the Today Show’s Anne Curry this morning that bullying is on the rise because of the pervasiveness of demeaning and derogatory behavior, insults, innuendo and downright meanness in our culture. From reality TV to School Committee meetings, from the halls of Congress to talk radio, adults are modeling bad behavior for children. Lipkins’ website has her definition of bullying and more on the Vulture Culture” – how we encourage bullying.

    HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOWHilltown Family Variety Show

    This week’s episode is Chantey & Mambo, with a few sea chanteys (Dan Zanes, Country Joe McDonald, and Astrograss) and mambo tunes (Beny More and Ricardo Lemvo).. Tune in to 103.3FM WXOJ this Saturday from 9-10am, or listen to our podcasts HERE. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

    HFVS Podcast

  • HFVS Podcast: Listen to our most recent episodes anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!
  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio from 9-10am.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA from 9-10am.

  • WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Next week is the Week of the Young Child in Northampton, MA. Click on the image to find out the details!

    Saturday – 04/03/10

    Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

    7:30am – NATURE STUDIES: The Hoffmann Bird Club is sponsoring “Birding Beyond Your Backyard,” a two-hour bird walk at Pittsfield Lakes. Pre-registration encouraged. 655-8594 Pittsfield, MA (FREE)

    9am, 10:15am & 11:30am – EASTER EVENT: Have breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Look Park. 584-5457 www.lookpark.org Florence, MA ($)

    9am-12Noon – ART: Printmaking in the art studio at the Eric Carle Museum for kids ages 8-10. 658-1100 www.carlemuseum.org Amherst, MA ($$)

    9am- 4pm – SPORTS FANS: Take the kids to Amherst College to see a variety of sporting events: tennis, track, softball, baseball and lacaross. 542-2000 www.amherst.edu Amherst, MA

    9:30am-5pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: At the Old Sturbridge Village this weekend, nearly 40 of the museum’s rarest bonnets are on display and village historians will demonstrate bonnet-making. See how clever New England women transformed old bonnets by adding feathers, flowers and frills. (508) 347-3362 www.osv.org Sturbridge, MA

    10am-3pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES:  It’s Family Day at the Smith College Museum of Art. 585.2760 www.smith.edu Northampton, MA (FREE)

    10am – EASTER EVENT: Egg hunt at Berkshire South for young kids. www.berkshiresouth.org Great Barrington MA (>$)

    10:30am – FAMILY CONCERT: The Nields will perform a family benefit concert at The First Churches as a benefit for the Nonotuck Community School. 586-5996 www.nonotuck.org Northampton, MA ($)

    11am – EASTER EVENT: Egg hunt at the Rod and Gun Club.  All are welcomed. Worthington, MA (FREE)

    11am-1pm – NATURE STUDIES: Naturalist Brandon Abbott will lead a hike to vernal pools at Fitzgerald Lake.  See quacking wood frogs and salamander eggs maybe even some fairy shrimp.  Meet at North Farms Road entrance. Florence, MA (FREE)

    1-2pm – EASTER EVENT: Egg Hunt at Look Park.  Broken down into age divisions, this year’s egg hunt will include over 10,000 eggs that contain either candy or a small toy.  587-1044 www.lookpark.org Florence, MA (FREE)

    1pm – THEATER: Grab the kids and become a Shakespearean actor for an afternoon with Shakespeare & Company. 637-1199 www.shakespeare.org Lenox, MA (>$)

    6pm – WORLD DANCE: Smith College students will perform music and dance from all around the world at the John M. Greene Hall at Smith College. www.smith.edu Northampton, MA (FREE)

    6-8pm – MUSIC: Bread Euphoria will be holding a Bread & Acoustic Jam with local musicians. Come jam, or just come and listen. www.breadeuphoria.org Haydenville, MA (FREE)

    6:30pm – FAMILY MOVIE: Family movie night at the Shutesbury Town Hall.  Grab the kids and come see Ponyo.  A fundraiser for M.N. Spear Memorial Library. www.mnspear.org Shutesbury, MA (>$, fundraiser)

    8pm – CONCERT: Tony Vacca is having a drumming fundraising event for the Senegal-America project at the Academy of Music. 584-9032 x105 www.tonyvacca.com Northampton, MA (Fundraiser)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Celebrate Irish Heritage in Western Mass All March Long!

    Celebrating Irish Heritage in Western Mass
    Parades, Music, Celebrations & More

    Staking a claim as the most Irish state in the Nation (24 percent of the state claims Irish ancestry), Massachusetts celebrates all month long with parades, celebrations, music and events highlighting a rich and cultural heritage. This St. Patrick’s Day season, don’t miss out on some of the biggest and most colorful parades and events happening in Western Mass, and all across the state.

    To follow are events that celebrate St. Patrick’s Day happening here in Western MA:

    Sunday, March 7th
    2pm – IRISH TEA PARTY: Celebrate St. Patrick with entertainment and refreshments. An afternoon show that features local musicians and dancers, as well as refreshments, raffles and selection of essay contest winners from local children. At the Cultural Centre at Elms College. 413 265-2537 www.irish-cairde.org Chicopee, MA

    Thursday, March 11th
    7:30pm – THE IRISH ROVERS AT THE COLONIAL THEATRE: These international ambassadors of Irish music will deliver a rollicking, rousing performance of good cheer that will have audiences on their feet, singing and clapping along. At The Colonial Theatre, located at 111 South Street. 413 997-4444 www.thecolonialtheatre.org Pittsfield, MA

    Wednesday, March 17th
    ST. PATRICK’S DAY AT JIMINY PEAK MOUNTAIN RESORT
    – St. Patrick’s Day e-coupon on March 17th. Green snow on parts of the mountain along with green beer and other special events. Click here to sign up for your e-coupons. 413 738-5500 www.jiminypeak.com Hancock, MA

    Sunday, March 21st
    Noon – ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE: The 55th annual Holyoke Parade is reckoned to be one of the largest in the nation. The parade is the culmination of numerous Irish events in March that celebrate the Irish community of western Massachusetts, many of whom emigrated from County Kerry and the Blasket Islands in the 20th century. 413 533-1700 www.holyokestpatricksparade.com Holyoke, MA

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Suggested Events 12/19/09-12/25/09

    Follow Hilltown Families on

    Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    Click here to suggest an event

    Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer one family a chance to win a family 4-pack of free tickets to a New Year’s Eve family matinée concert to see Grammy Award Winner They Might Be Giants at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA on Thursday, December 31st at 3pm. Deadline to enter to win is 12/24/09.

    If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending.
    FRIDAY NIGHT IN THE HILLTOWNS

    • Ashfield: Dinner at Elmer’s starting at 5pm. 628-4003 ($)
    • Haydenville: Stephen Katz will be performing cello music at the Blue House Cafe from 6:30-7:30pm. 268-7441. (Free/Donation)
    • Russell: Nighttime hike at Noble View.  Learn about owls, star-gaze, enjoy hot cocoa.  Dress for weather and bring flashlight & mug.  Call to reg. 564-0895 (Free/Donation)
    • West Cummington: Dinner at Remmington Lodge.  Call to confirm 634-5493. ($)
    • Worthington: Holiday caroling (5pm) and potluck dinner (6:30pm) at the town hall.  Dress for the weather and bring a flashlight. 238-0296 (Free)

    BULLETIN BOARD

    CHRISTMAS DINNERS DELIVERED IN THE HILLTOWNS: New this year! Manna Soup Kitchen Volunteers will deliver Christmas Day dinner to homes in Williamsburg, MA.  More info here.

    SUSTAINING AND IMPROVING READING AT HOME: Parents can do so much at home to help their child educationally. As you prepare for the holiday break, consider both gifts (books, journals, “special” pens and pencils) and activities (courtesy of Education World) to help your child have fun while they continue to build their reading and writing skills!

    HILLTOWN FOOD, CLOTHES & PET FOOD DRIVE:  The Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA is collecting warm clothes, canned and dried goods for the Hilltown Pantry and the Northampton Survival Center, also collecting goods for our animal friends at the Dakin Animal Shelter.

    CALL FOR ART: The Wendell Free Library invites families to send a postcard size art work for their mail art exhibit, GREEN SEEN. All techniques and media welcome. Participants’ mail art works will be displayed as soon as they are received at the library. Mail art will be documented at the library website and contributors will receive a printed documentation. Ongoing exhibit will end in June and works will become part of a permanent art collection at the Wendell Free Library. Contact: Christine Tarantino, tarantinochristine@yahoo.com (FREE)

    REGIFTING IN THE HILLTOWNS: Pick up a last-minute gift for the kids at the Meekins (Library) Market in Williamsburg, MA.  All items between $.05 and $5.00–Perfect presents for the whole family, all lovingly donated to the Meekins Market. Stuffed animals, jewelry, all kinds of cool stuff!

    Sunday (12/20/09) - 4pm - CHRISTMAS CAROLING: Meet in front of the Williamsburg Market to sing winter songs and Christmas carols. Cookies and hot cocoa. Williamsburg, MA (Free)

    UPCOMING EXHIBIT: Harry Potter’s World Exhibition at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA Harry Potter’s World, which runs January 28-February 26, will focus on Harry’s magical world and its connections to Renaissance thinkers, lore, and practices.

    WINTER FARE: Northampton Winter Fare: Eat Locally Year Round.  Most farmers’ markets, farmstands, and CSAs have closed for the season, but locally grown food can still be found in the Valley. On January 9th from 10am-2pm, a vibrant, diverse farmers’ market and community event is coming to Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton, MA. CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) is organizing the first Northampton Winter Fare based on Greenfield’s very successful Winter Fare celebration, which is held in February. In addition to perusing an amazing array of local foods, shoppers can mingle over hot soup, attend one of the educational workshops scheduled during the market, and barter home-preserved local food with their neighbors. Winter Fare is a mid-winter celebration of local agriculture, and it promises to be one of the warmest community events of the season.

    SUPPORT THE REGIONAL LIBRARY SYSTEM: Springfield Falcons VS Hartford Wolfpack.  An action packed Hockey Game on January 23rd, 2010 at 7:30 MassMutual Center Arena. Come out and meet Wally the Green Monster along with a night of action packed hockey to benefit the Regional Library System that faces deep state budget cuts! Tickets $17 $10 this game only.  Ticket order forms available at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA, or call Julia Kincade at (413) 739-3344 x 105. The offer is NOT valid at the box office. Tickets will be mailed up to January 18th.

    LIBRARY FINES: Forbes Library will be holding a “Food for Fines” program from Monday, January 4th through Saturday, January 16th, 2010. Support your local community, clear your library account and return our books to circulate to others! During this time, patrons may pay any Forbes Library overdue fines on their account with a donation of canned goods (please check your expiration dates) or healthy non-perishable food items. This applies to late fines only and not to lost or damaged fees. All food collected will be given to the Northampton Survival Center for distribution to those in need in Northampton. High demand food items are non-dairy milk, cereal, crackers, canned fruit, peanut butter, tuna fish, hearty winter canned soup, macaroni and cheese, pasta and sauce, beans, and rice. Suggested donation is one item for each $1 waived in fines.

    LIBRARY FINES: BTW, did you know you can now leave AV material (books on tape or CD, videotapes, DVDs) in the drop box in front of the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA? That’s will sure help save on the fines! Please make sure you put it in the correct door!

    HOMESCHOOLING: Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts is planning a visit to the American Textile Museum and programs for grades 3-12 on Friday, February 5th, 2010. The museum is located at 491 Dutton Street, Lowell, MA. (Meet at 10:15 am in the main lobby.) More info here.

    VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Hampshire County seeks volunteers to help children in Hampshire County. Three to five hours per week. Staff will provide training, support and activity ideas. Call (413) 253-2591.

    SUPPORT SERVICE: Parents Helping Parents is a weekly confidential and anonymous support groups for parents who want a better relationship with their children. (800) 882-1250, ext. 101.

    SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement on our Weekly List of Suggested Events. Serious inquiries can email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.

    HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

    Our Holiday Podcast of the HFVS is up, along with one from our archives, which aired on Christmas Day ’07 back when we use to do our show on Tuesday nights.  Click HERE to check out both podcasts and to listen now.

    Families have three ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • HFVS Podcast: Listen to our most recent episodes anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!
  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio from 9-10am.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA from 9-10am.

  • WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Santa in Peru, MA in 2006 (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | School Closings and Delays | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    SATURDAY (12/19/09)

    Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

    10am – FOOD DRIVE | CHRISTMAS MOVIE: Showcase Cinemas is having a food drive. Bring in a canned good and get in free to see It’s a Wonderful Life. 733-5134 West Springfield, MA (Food Donation)

    10am- 12Noon – PLAYGROUP GROUP | MOTHERS OF COLOR: Color Play is our new monthly social and craft for families raising children of color (all ages). Transracial adoptees and LGBTQ families are strongly encouraged to join. (413) 658-5096 Northampton, MA (Free)

    12Noon-3pm – CO-OP OPEN HOUSE: The River Valley Market Co-Op is celebrating the 165th anniversary of the opening of the very first food co-op. Food & music and more. www.rivervalleymarket.coop Northampton, MA (FREE)

    1-2:30pm – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES | SNOWSHOE: Family Snowshoe Stroll Land of Providence Reservation. Come enjoy our newest reservation on showshoes on this 1 mile, easy walk. Beginners welcome. Snowshoe rentals available or bring your own. Call in advance to reserve snowshoes. (413) 532-1631 www.ttor.org Holyoke, MA (Members FREE, $)

    2-3:45pm – ICE SKATING: Boys and Girls Club of Pittsfield. (413)448-8258 Pittsfield, MA ($)

    2-3:50pm – ICE SKATING: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink. (1267 South Church Street) Skate rentals available. (413) 664-8185 North Adams, MA ($)

    3-5pm – SANTA IN THE HILLTOWNS: Santa will be at Stanton Hall, arriving by fire truck. Huntington, MA (FREE)

    4-9pm –HOLIDAY EVENT: Look Park’s Winter Wonderland is a series of Holiday Events that combine the long-standing tradition of “Santa’s Workshop” with the Look Park “Holiday Light Displays”, Hayrides around the park and our Look Park Zoo. Florence, MA

    4-9pm – CHRISTMAS EVENT | MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Twelve Nights of Christmas at Old Sturbridge Village. Dec. 3-6; 10-13; &. 17-20.  Stroll our candlelit Village, enjoy sleigh rides (snow permitting), meet Santa and Father Christmas. 1-800-SEE-1830 www.osv.org Sturbridge, MA ($)

    4-6:50pm – ICE SKATING: Mullins Center Ice Rink.  Rentals available. (413) 545-3990 UMass. Amherst, MA ($)

    5pm – FAMILY CONCERT: School for the Dead will play a show on First Churches’ front lawn. Northampton, MA (Free)

    5pm & 6:30pm – CHRISTMAS EVENT | MOVIES: Holiday movies will be shown at the town hall in Worthington. Worthington, MA (FREE)

    6-9pm – KIDS NIGHT OUT: At the YMCA. Parents take the night off and let the kids watch a movie, swim and play. Pittsfield, MA

    6pm-12Midnight – HOLIDAY CELEBRATION: Luminary display, dessert social, bonfire, caroling, hayrides and more at the Florence Civic Center. (413) 320-2306 Florence, MA (FREE)

    6:30pm – WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION: Celebrate at the Center for Cultural Evolution. Come to the Round House for stories, music and a Mummers’ Play. Bring snacks to share and canned goods for food drive. RSVP (413) 624-5140 www.roundhouseculture.com Colrain, MA ($ Donation)

    8pm – CHRISTMAS EVENT | THEATER: “A Christmas Carol” at the Academy of Music. (413) 584-9032 www.academyofmusictheatre.com Northampton, MA ($)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Eco-Friendly Holiday’s (Web Reviews)

    Eco-Friendly Holiday’s (Web Reviews)

    Hanukkah: Let There Be (Renewable) Light: A New Look at Hanukkah

    This site considers “the connection between Hanukkah [Festival of Lights], energy use, and the environment,” and provides “holiday tips and resources for families, schools, and congregations to infuse Hanukkah celebrations with additional meaning,” and “tips for what you can do save energy in your congregation/school and at home.” Includes a “CFL installation ceremony,” an essay about the meaning of the darkness of winter, and more. From the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL).

    FamilyFun: Have a Happy Green Holiday

    Collection of children’s craft activities for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve that “give a gift to Mother Earth … [by turning] holiday and household surplus into festive decorations and eco-friendly packaging.” Includes instructions for a bubble packaging advent calendar, new uses for old greeting cards, fabric wrapping (inspired by Japanese furoshiki), and more. From FamilyFun magazine.

    Eco-Friendly Kwanzaa

    Craft ideas for making your own Kwanzaa celebration supplies. Includes instructions for making a Kwanzaa candle holder and mat. Also describes how to create other Kwanzaa symbols. From Care2, an activist organization.


    Source: Librarians’ Internet Index, http://www.lii.org

    Online Resources to Discover & Celebrate the Festival of Lights

    100 Links (October/November 2009)

    100 Links (October/November 2009)

    Nearly every day I add recommended links to the Hilltown Families bank of on-line resources.  Some of you might find these links well suited for your family, others, maybe not so much.  But it’s a fun and useful list worth perusing!  If you have a link you’d like to share, post it in our comment box.

    Where are these links? You won’t find them on your blog reader nor via email if you subscribe to our newsfeed.  But if you visit the blog on-line and scroll half way down, on the left you will find the column, “Links We Recommend,” with a list of our most recent recommended links.  If you haven’t been visiting the site regularly to peruse these great resources, not to worry – below is the last 100 links we’ve posted in the past two months: (you will need to use the “back” button to return to this page).

    Archived Lists of 100 Links: If you’d like to peruse our List of 100 Links from months past, click HERE and then scroll up or down.

  • Energy Kids: Resource For Teachers
  • The Olive Press: How Olive Oil is Made
  • Hanukkah Music for Kids: Celebrate the Festival of Lights with Music!
  • Study: Preschoolers watching TV at home-based daycare may spend hours in front of TV screen
  • How to Host a Preschool Christmas Party (article)
  • The New WIC Food Package
  • Handmade Christmas Stockings and Tree Skirts made from Recycled Sweaters (DIY)
  • Eco-Friendly, Handmade Advent Calendar for Green Kids (DIY)
  • Toy for Joy Campaign in Western Mass
  • ThinkGreen.com
  • Braille Bug
  • National Park Service: Archeology for Kids
  • Holiday Food Safety Success On-Line Kit
  • Make a Gratitude Cake
  • Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree: A Fun and Easy Activity For The Kids (article)
  • Parenting 101: Talking about money with your kids and teens
  • Ark of Taste: Growing and Eating Endangered Foods
  • Largest crib recall in U.S. history announced
  • Puzzles.com (Resource for Puzzling on the Internet)
  • The War on Soy (article)
  • Virtual Field Trip: How Wheat Works
  • Moms Against Mercury (advocacy group)
  • American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life (MOMA)
  • USDA Backs Rewarding Schools Serving Healthy Food (article)
  • Massachusetts Home Learning Association
  • eFieldTrips.org
  • 10 No-Sauce Foods (Parenting.com)
  • Ditch The Characters For The Classics (Article from Tampa Tribune)
  • Putting the Book Back in Book Fair (Article from mothering.com)
  • Taking consumerism out of school book fairs (article)
  • Kids Craft Weekly: An Advent Challenge
  • Charity Directory of Massachusetts
  • Shriners Hospital (MA Charity)
  • Children’s Miracle Network (Charity)
  • Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society (MA Charity)
  • American Cancer Society (Charity)
  • United Way of the Pioneer Valley (MA Charity)
  • Raise Healthy Eaters (blog)
  • Carrot Museum
  • Virtual Tour of Cranberry Bog
  • Learning A-Z : Free Flu Resources
  • Getting Boys To Read
  • Hadley Neighbors for Sensible Development
  • Kids Craft Weekly: Fancy Holiday Cards
  • Dr. Goodword’s Word Wizard
  • Earth from Space
  • Video: A Vaccine Primer. Health Professionals Speak Out
  • Rules of the Road for Parents in a Digital Age (article)
  • Mathematics Lessons That Are Fun
  • Read the rest of this entry »

    Holiday Food Safety

    Holiday Food Safety Resources

    New Web Site

    The Thanksgiving feast traditionally marks the beginning of the holiday season. A new web site, www.holidayfoodsafety.org, puts food safety in the context of all the planning and preparation families put into their holiday celebration. The site includes food shopping and preparation tips, recipes, and food safety advice and activities — all in one convenient location.

    FDA Hotline

    The FDA hotline at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366) fields consumers’ questions about safe handling of the many foods that go into a delicious holiday meal, including eggs, dairy, fresh produce, and seafood. The hotline operates Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Consumers can also email questions to consumer@fda.gov.

    Where Cooks Can Turn

    Cooks taking on turkey preparation are just a phone call away from advice at the USDA meat and poultry hotline, 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854). The hotline operates Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, and will operate on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. Consumers can also “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day, at AskKaren.gov.

    Good Advice

    “The most critical food safety practice when preparing a whole turkey is using a food thermometer,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande. “The minimum internal temperature must reach 165° F for safety.”

    “Foodborne bacteria never take a holiday, so it’s important to be mindful this Thanksgiving of the four core safe handling messages of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill when preparing your holiday meal,” said PFSE Executive Director Shelley Feist.

    HFVS Thanksgiving Episode/Podcast

    CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW

    HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW
    Thanksgiving Episode & Extended Podcast

    Saturday from 9-10am
    WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
    Northampton, MA

    listen NOW | listen LIVE | archived podcasts request a song
    subscribe to free podcast | archived shows | contests | myspace | facebook

    EXTENDED PODCAST BEGINS

    Make a What-I’m-Thankful-For Placemat

    Make a What-I’m-Thankful-For Placemat
    by Danielle Wood

    With a table laden with turkey, gravy, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, it’s easy to come up with reasons to give thanks this holiday season. But Thanksgiving is a great excuse to pause and give thanks for more than what’s sitting on the table. This activity gives kids a chance to make a cute collage of things that make them happy, and it’s perfect décor for holiday dinnertime, or any day of the year!

    READ MORE:  Make a What-I’m-Thankful-For Placemat

    Community Potlach in the Hilltowns

    3rd Annual Community Holiday Potlach
    10am-3pm on Saturday, November 28th in Cummington, MA

    Join us for the 3rd Annual Community Potlatch in Cummington, MA at the Village Congregational Church for a new (but very OLD!) concept in gift giving! This is holiday fun with your neighbors, plus more sharing and less consumption. It will even clean out your closet and save you money!

    Potlatch, a word of Chinook origins that means GIVING, is based on a tradition of native tribal chiefs competing to see who could be the most generous. It’s an odd idea (to us!) but the “winner” was whoever gave away the most stuff. Here is the our version:

    Come to the Potlatch with as many GIFT QUALITY (this part is important!) items that you already have but do not need, are not using or even plain just don’t like. Especially popular are books, toys and games, clothing (new quality only) and gadgets. They don’t have to be perfect or in a box, you just have to believe they would make a good gift for someone else. We will display them at the Potlatch for others to choose as a gift they would like to give for the holidays. And of course, while you are there, pick out anything you see that you might like to give. All items are given and taken freely. No money is involved.

    Hot drinks will be offered. Last year, food for sharing spontaneously appeared. So if you are wondering, “Would it be appropriate to bring a plate of cookies?” YES!

    Although we would love to see you, if you would just like to contribute “re-gifting” items but can’t be there on Sat., we will accept drop-offs. Please send an e-mail to corvus57@yahoo.com with POTLATCH in the subject line so a time can be arranged.

    Sponsored by: You and Your Neighbors

    2009 Winter Fair in the Hilltowns: An Alternative to Traditional Holiday Buying

    2009 Winter Fair Eco-Craftmaking and Book Fair

    As an alternative to traditional holiday buying, the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School will host a family book and eco-craftmaking fair on Saturday December 5, 2009 from 10 am to 4 pm at the “Brassworks” building on Rte. 9 (132 Main St.) in Haydenville, MA. Parents and children alike will have the opportunity to make a variety of craft items, many using recycled and natural materials including full-sized wreaths, fabric gift bags, felt key chains, gnomes and fairies, decorated candles, lavender sachets and gingerbread people.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Win Tickets to See Moscow Ballet Performance of “Great Russian Nutcracker”

    Moscow Ballet Performance of Great Russian Nutcracker
    At Symphony Hall in Springfield, MA
    Sunday, November 15th @ 2pm

    Hilltown Families is very excited to be able to offer two family 4-packs of free tickets to see the world-famous Moscow Ballet give a benefit performance of Great Russian Nutcracker at Symphony Hall in Springfield, MA on Sunday afternoon, November 15th, at 2:00 pm. This extraordinary performance of Tchaikovsky’s Great Russian Nutcracker is a benefit for children’s services at the Brattleboro Retreat. Deadline to enter to win is SUNDAY, 11/08/09 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.

    ABOUT THE MOSCOW BALLET

    The Moscow Ballet is proud to unveil their 2009 Great Russian Nutcracker holiday tour! Praised for exquisite dancing and gorgeous costumes, the Great Russian Nutcracker is directed by Ballet Master Anatoli Emelianov. It is also set against Valentin Fedorov’s spectacular hand-painted backdrops and life-sized dancing puppets.

    This year’s tour stars the ballet world’s Prima Ballerina, Cristina Terentieva and her partner Alexei. Cristina is a Gold Medalist of the 2008 Varna International Ballet Competition where Vladimir Vasiliev of the Bolshoi bestowed upon her the highest honors. Also starring in the Great Russian Nutcracker is the award winning couple Akzhol Mussakhanov and Ekaterina Bortykova.

    The Moscow Ballet is proud to announce the addition of the Russian Father Christmas, a large magical clock and Snegurochka, the Russian Snow Maiden taken from Russian folklore, to this year’s Great Russian Nutcracker. Although the additional characters are an integral part to this year’s performance, the Moscow Ballet is particularly excited about welcoming Aleksey Burakov to the stage as the character, Herr Drosselmeyer.

    In the classic tale of the Great Russian Nutcracker, the mysterious godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, enters the room where everyone is celebrating and brings all the kids different gifts. After Clara is left without a gift, Herr Drosselmeyer presents a toy Nutcracker, dressed in a soldier’s traditional parade uniform, to the little girl.

    Critics rave that the Great Russian Nutcracker is “flawless,” “breathtaking,” and “dazzling.” Whimsical and imaginative storytelling blend with the richness of Russian classical ballet to make the Great Russian Nutcracker a memorable holiday treat for everyone.

    Discover more about the Moscow Ballet company at www.nutcracker.com.

    BENEFIT PERFORMANCE FOR THE CHILDREN’S SERVICES AT THE BRATTLEBORO RETREAT

    Proceeds from the ballet will help support children’s services at the Brattleboro Retreat in Brattleboro, Vermont. This performance, which is also part of the Retreat’s 175th anniversary celebration, marks the second consecutive year that the Moscow Ballet has appeared in Springfield’s Symphony Hall in partnership with the Brattleboro Retreat.  Children in the production will be cast out of the Brattleboro School of Dance in Brattleboro, VT.

    “Young people in our country who suffer with mental health challenges are vastly underserved, which is why we’re doing our part to help change that,” said Dr. Robert E. Simpson, president and chief executive officer of the Brattleboro Retreat. “The Nutcracker is a ballet for and about children—a beautiful family event. We are grateful for the opportunity to join hands for this cause with a world-class production like the Moscow Ballet.”

    The Brattleboro Retreat, founded in 1834, is a not-for-profit, regional specialty psychiatric hospital and addictions treatment center, providing a full range of diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitation services for individuals of all ages and their families. Nationally recognized for its premier treatment in behavioral healthcare, the Brattelboro Retreat offers a high quality, individualized, comprehensive continuum of care including inpatient, partial hospitalization, residential and outpatient treatment.

    HOW TO WIN

    A chance for two different families to win a free 4-pack of tickets is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply

    1. POST A COMMENT BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
    2. FULL NAME and where you
    3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) You must include your town and state to be eligible.
    4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
    5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.
    6.  

    IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Sunday, 11/08/09 @ 7pm

    DISCOUNTED TICKETS FOR HILLTOWN FAMILIES

    If you don’t win you should still go! Tickets are available online through TICKETMASTER by calling 800-745-3000. To receive discounts on most ticket levels, enter the promotion code HEALTH.

    Purchased Patron ticket holders (not discounted) will be treated to a fabulous post-performance reception in the Mahogany Room at Symphony Hall. Light fare and refreshments will be served. Meet and greet ballerinas and members of the Nutcracker cast! Proceeds from the ballet will help support children’s services at the Brattleboro Retreat in Brattleboro, Vermont.

    Suggested Events 10/31/09-11/06/09

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    Rag Shag Parade in Ashfield, MA (2007)

    Rag Shag Parade in Ashfield, MA, 2007. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

    HALLOWS’ EVE EVENTS

    Loads of  events for families this Friday night.  Click here to see our listed of Friday events.

    BULLETIN BOARD

    • Workshop Giveaway with Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield

      Click on banner to learn more.

      CAMPAIGN FOR A COMMERCIAL-FREE CHILDHOOD: Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO screen time for children under the age of 2? And that the Boston-Based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood successfully filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission forcing companies to stop claiming that videos are educational for infants, resulting in a full refund to anyone who purchased a Baby Einstein DVD in the last five years.

    • SAVE THE DATE: CHARLES NEVILLE, ELEMENTARY STUDENTS TO PERFORM: Third and four grade students attending Gateway elementary schools will hold a concert on Tuesday, November 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Gateway Performing Arts Center in Huntington, MA. At 7 p.m., Charles Neville will perform with The Skeletones, and will do a couple of numbers with the children.
    • Click on banner to learn more.

      WORKSHOP ON SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT FOR YOUNG CHILDREN: The Gateway Family Center in Huntington, MA is offering Caro Lambert, a Pediatric Speech and Language Pathologist from Lambert Speech and Language on Tuesday, November 24 at 10 a.m. at the Gateway Family Center. Lambert will give a workshop for parents on the typical developmental stages and ages for acquiring speech and language skills, as well as warning signs. Activities to promote speech, language, feeding and oral motor development will be discussed. Free and open to the public. Please register with Kim Savery at 667-2203 ext. 3 or email at ksavery@hchcweb.org

    • FOOD SECURITY: The Central Connecticut River Valley Institute (“CCRVI”) will be taking the next step in its Shelburne Falls Food Security Project this fall and winter. They will be creating a set of standard designs for small, family-oriented, perennial food garden plots which can be easily used by families wishing to create their own perennial food garden. More info HERE.
    • Click on banner to learn more.

      WEST COUNTY RESILIENCE CONVERSATION: The next meeting is on November 3, 2009 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM at Shelburne Senior Center, 5 Main Street, Shelburne Falls, MA. They will be discussing and planning our group’s future directions. Among the topics we’ll discuss: Reskilling, West County Time Bank, Outreach and Education, Ideas for a Resiliency Fair, List of Resources and Next steps. More info HERE.

    • HOMESCHOOL: Homeschool Fall Fair will be on Saturday, November 7th, 2009 in Arlington, MA. More info HERE.
    • SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement on our Weekly List of Suggested Events. Serious inquiries can email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.

    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | School Closings and Delays | Free Museum PassesFamily Centers (Ages 0-4)

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    RAG SHAG PARADES ON HALLOWEEN

    Click here to listen and subscribe to the Hilltown Family Variety Show Podcast!

    • Ashfield, MA Parade kicks off at 6:15pm from Neighbor’s and ends up at the fire station for donuts and cider.
    • Cummington, MA Parade begins at 5:45pm at Berkshire Elementary School on Main Street.
    • Conway, MA Parade at 6:30pm.
    • Plainfield, MA Followed by bonfire.
    • Florence, MA Gather at 5:30pm at Triangle Park. Parade kicks off at 6pm. Free and open to all. Kids will march from Trinity Row Park to the Civic Center for costume judging and treats.
    • Shelburne Falls, MA Parade marches over bridge. Gathers around 5:30pm, but not confirmed.
    • Westhampton, MA Gather in the Hampshire Regional parking lot at 6:15pm.
    • Williamsburg, MA 6:00pm starting at Mill Street and ending at the Williamsburg Fire Station for games and refreshments.
    • Worthington, MA Rag Shag Review a the town hall at 7pm.

    SATURDAY

    • 10am-1pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT / PET: “Dog-O-Ween” will be at the Eastfield Mall. Bring your four legged friends for a day of doggie games, a costume contest and more! All dogs must be leashed and friendly while in the mall, event proceeds benefit Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. 413-543-8000 Springfield, MA (FREE)
    • 3-5pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT / NATURE STUDIES: Haunted Hawleyween: Festive and Educational Event for the Whole Family at Kenneth Dubuque State Forest on West Hawley Road. There will be games, treats and forest adventures – help the animals of Hawley rescue their treasure. Open to all ages. Hawley, MA
    • 7pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT / HAYRIDE: McCray’s Farm and Country Creamery will have a Haunted Hayride. Zombies are on the prowl for the 19th “Anniverscary” of the Monster Mash Haunted Hayride at McCray’s Farm. Rides start at 7 p.m. and end when the last rider runs screaming. South Hadley, MA

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Suggested Events 10/24/09-10/30/09

    CLICK HERE FOR HALLOWEEN 2009 EVENTS

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

     

     

    Halloween Prank at the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA

    Halloween prank spotted in the parking lot outside the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Click here to suggest an event

    Click here to suggest an event.

    If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

    If you’re looking for events happening the day/night of Halloween, visit our Suggest An Eventpage for posts.

    FEATURED EVENTS

    • HAUNTED HOUSE IN THE HILLTOWNS: On Saturday, Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA will have a Haunted House with “not-so-scary” attractions, hay ride, games and treats.  Come in costume.  More info at www.redgatefarm.org.
    • SUNDAY IN WILLIAMSBURG: Williamsburg will have their fall festival on Sunday.  Festivities include music, animals, crafts, food, kid games, and more.  Also in Williamsburg is a hike up Petticoat Hill Reservation.  Details below.

    HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

    This weeks episode of the HFVS is our HALLOWEEN Episode which features music by Barenaked Ladies, The Who, Ella Fitzgerald, Oingo Boingo, Justin Roberts, Steve Weeks, and many many more.  Our EXTENDED PODCAST is over an hour of great tunes for the Halloween season.  

    Families have three ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

       

    1. HFVS Podcast: Listen to our most recent episodes anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!
    2. Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio from 9-10am.
    3. On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA from 9-10am.
    4.  

    BULLETIN BOARD

    Climate Action Carnival (10/24/09)

    Climate Action Carnival in Greenfield, MA.

    • Amy Coyne of Goshen, MA writes: The New Hingham School in Chesterfield, MA is starting a ski club this year! Skiing or snowboarding at Berkshire East. If any families are interested, there is still space–in fact we need more participants to make this happen! It will be one day a week–after school. A bus will leave from the school on Smith Road in Chesterfield @ 3:30–you will have to be there at that time to board bus, you don’t have to attend the school to join this fun activity! It looks like Thursday or Friday will be the day, I think, but it is yet to be determined. Joan Griswald is the person to contact. joan@bybhealth.com or 413-268-7482. She’ll need to know ages of the children–if equipment will need to be rented-for child/ and or parent–if lessons are needed etc.
    • Jason Trotta, Executive Director of the Northampton Community Music Center in Northampton, MA writes: Dear Home-Schooling Parents of Western Massachusetts; As Director of the Northampton Community Music Center, I wanted to bring to your attention the many opportunities for music education that are available at our Center. You can visit our web site at http://www.ncmc.net for more information. I am also open to creating specially-designed, affordable music classes for groups of home-schooled students, and invite parents who are interested to contact me directly to discuss the possibilities. — I also wanted to invite any families with children in grades 3-8 to attend a free open rehearsal of our Community Children’s Choir directed by Joan Cornachio – Tuesday, October 27, 5:00-6:30 PM. This wonderful chorus sings in several wonderful community concerts each year, and has been featured at the opening ceremonies for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and in Commonwealth Opera’s productions of “La Boheme” and “Brundibar.” Call me if you have further questions. Otherwise, just come on over and check us out next Tuesday evening. (413) 585-0001 jason@ncmc.net
    • WINNERS OF DAN ZANES TICKETS: Congratulations to Jessica Day of Leyden, Deborah Doulette of Whately, Julie Russell of Granby, and Minuet Fusto of Greenfield. They are the lucky winners of 4-tickets to see Dan Zanes and Friends this Friday night at the Fine Arts Center at UMass in Amherst, selected by random.org.
    • WINNER OF AUTUMNAL TITLES FROM STOREY: Congratulations to Lilly Lombard of Northampton, MA. Using random.org she was randomly selected to receive these three seasonal titles by Storey Publishing.
    • HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION THIS SATURDAY: Regional Household Hazardous Waste Collection for area hilltowns is on Saturday, October 24th, 2009 from 9am-12Noon at the RH Conwell School in Worthington, MA. Pre-register to dispose of your families hazardous waste. More info here.
    • CLIMATE DAY:  Saturday is the 350.org International Climate Action Day. Click here to find out what’s happening to mark this day in Cummington, Ashfield, Williamstown, Northampton & Greenfield. Other town events will be added here when submitted.
    • FREE MUSIC DOWNLOAD: Charity and the JAMband is offering a free music download of a new song, “Rockstar.” This month’s song is a rallying cry to dance your dance, sing your song, shine your light, stay grounded and keep loving all along the way. Grab your kids, pick up a hairbrush or your air guitar, and call upon the music within you. You Know What To Do: SING, DANCE, LOVE, ROCK, SHINE. Click here to find this free download.
    • SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement on our Weekly List of Suggested Events. Serious inquiries can email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.


    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | School Closings and Delays | Free Museum PassesFamily Centers (Ages 0-4)

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    SATURDAY – 10/24

    • 10am-3pm – HISTORY/OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary sponsors a hike with environmental historia Mike Whalen to a “ghost town” in Catamount State Forest. Hike is 5 miles. (413) 584-3009 Colrain, MA
    • 11am – PUPPET SHOW: Marmalade Productions is pleased to present Michael’s Surprise Show at the Stockbridge Library. Michael’s Surprise Show is an unpredictable and inspiring journey into the world of puppets. The walls of Michael’s workshop are full of surprises and all things possible – shoes speak, tennis balls demand their right, even his broom has an attititude. Throughout Michael’s surprise show he shares his secrets of creation with his audience, inviting them to explore the world around them with the eyes and hands of a puppeteer. This program is recommended for kids of all ages and their grown-up friends. For further information, please call the Stockbridge Library at 413-298-5501. Stockbridge, MA
    • 7pm – TALENT SHOW: Fuller’s Follies at the Village Congregational Church. Bring the family and enjoy the amazing talent found right here in the hilltowns. Bring a food donation for the Hilltown Food Pantry. Cummington, MA

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Day of the Dead is Celebrated in the Hilltowns

    El Diá de los Muertos Celebrated at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA

    Day of the Dead Altar at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA

    Bring your Day of the Dead mementos to add to the community altar at the Meekins Libray in Williamsburg, MA on Saturday, October 31st. Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 2nd. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Hilltown Families and ArtStar in Williamsburg, MA have partnered up and joined the Meekins Library‘s Day of the Dead Community Celebration with the culinary folk art, Mexican Sugar Skulls.

    These sweet Mexican culinary folk art pieces were made at ArtStar, an art enrichment studio in Williamsburg, MA. Hilltown Families joined in and documented the craft of making sugar skulls by putting together a do-it-yourself post with photos and directions for people to follow here. The sugar skulls are now on display at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA as part of their annual Day of the Dead Altar (pictured here).

    On Saturday, October 31st, all community members are invited to join in the celebration of this traditional Mexican holiday by bringing mementos in memory of ancestors and lost loved ones to add to this annual community altar. Photos, cards, sugar skulls and real or paper marigolds are welcomed.

    The Meekins Library is opened Tues. 12Noon-5pm; Wed. 10am-8pm; Thurs. 3pm-8pm; and Sat. 9am-3pm. For further information, call the Meekins Library at 413-268-7472.

    Find out more about the Day of the Dead (known as El Diá de los Muertos in Spanish) at El Diá de los Muertos (Video & Resources).

    Packaging Girlhood: Halloween & Girls

    Your Daughter’s Halloween Costume: Tips for Dads

    Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers' SchemesThe search for your daughter or stepdaughter’s Halloween costume can be treacherous, filled with over-sexed and stereotyped “choices.” Here are some healthy ideas from Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. and Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), to fight back and let her creativity sparkle!

    1. She can be anyone or anything on Halloween, so help her think outside the box (especially boxes of store-bought costumes.) Imagination and creativity can help girls break out of gender stereotypes… and are great practice for reality. Read the rest of this entry »

    DIY: Mexican Sugar Skulls

    HOW TO MAKE MEXICAN SUGAR SKULLS
    A Culinary Folk Art for Day of the Dead
    By Sienna Wildfield

    Making Mexican Sugar Skulls-52.JPG

    In the studio with Hilltown Families Guest Artist Marie Westburg of ArtStar in Williamsburg, MA making Mexican Sugar Skulls for Day of the Dead.  (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    What better avenue for children to explore and discover different cultures than FOOD?!  Right? … We all eat.  And whether it’s a yearly birthday cake, fish on Friday, pancakes on Sunday, or a couple of loaves of challah on a Friday night, most of us routinely and joyfully participate in different food traditions.  The culinary experience of exploring food customs from around the world can bring families an integrated course of study on cultural traditions and arts.

    This time of year in Central and Southern Mexico, in preparation for the Mexican holiday El Diá de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), mounds of Sugar Skulls are sold in open air markets.  The Day of the Dead is on November 2nd and we’ve explored this Mexican holiday in a previous post: El Diá de los Muertos (Video & Resources).  Making Mexican Sugar Skulls with your kids is a creative hands-on project that can aid in the exploration of this traditional Mexican Folk Art while affording an opportunity to discuss and participate in one of the various customs of this Mexican celebration.

    Hilltown Families Guest Artist Marie Westburg of ArtStar, an art enrichment studio in Williamsburg, MA, recently invited us over to make this sweet Mexican culinary folk art.  In her cozy studio our kids got together and crafted skulls out of sugar and meringue powder and decorated them with bags of colorful icings, beads and sequins.  It’s a fun project to make with a group of friends, but give yourself enough time.  The skulls take 12-24 hours to harden before they can be decorated. To follow is a DIY for this fun seasonal activity:  Read the rest of this entry »

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