100 Links (Fall 2010/Winter 2011)

100 Links (Fall 2010/Winter 2011)

Nearly every day we 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 below.

Where are these links? You won’t find them on your blog reader nor via email if you subscribe to our newsfeed.  Sometime we share these links on the Hilltown Families Facebook page, with members of our listserv, or even Tweet about a few – but if you visit Hilltown Families on-line and scroll half way down, on the left you will find the column, “Links We Recommend.” There you’ll find our list of the most recent recommended links.

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

100 Links (Fall 2010/Winter 2011): If you haven’t been visiting the site regularly to peruse these great resources, not to worry – below is the most recent 100 links we’ve shared: (you will need to use the “back” button to return to this page):

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Free Friday Mornings at Tanglewood for Families & Educators

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Education and Community Programs Present Free Friday Mornings for the Tanglewood 2010 Season

Free kid-friendly education program every Friday morning at Tanglewood in Lenox, MA for students ages 8 and up. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Homeschool parents, educators, and community and youth groups in Western MA are invited to reserve Shed seating for a closed rehearsal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood (Main Gate, 297 West St, Lenox, MA). It’s called the Friday Morning Rehearsal, and happens each Friday at the Tanglewood Main gate at 8:30am. It is a festive morning education program for families that offers a free, fun, and kid friendly approach to classical music.

Each week children and adults are treated to a delightful music presentation by a young musician from the area, a brief tour, and a few words about the upcoming rehearsal, before entering the Shed for a closed session–all free of charge. The Shed is open to third grade age and up, as the intensity of quiet and stillness required is often to much for younger kids. But this is a family friendly program where parents with young children often bring a picnic or just relax on the lawn. Children love to listen from the lawn, and can often be seen twirling to the music.


It is ultra easy to come to a rehearsal, it is done by email. The person to contact is education manager Darlene White at dwhite@bso.org. If you are a parent, educator or a community or youth leader, simply email your request, be sure to include phone and contact information, and your affiliation (such as teacher, parent, etc.).  Also include what Friday (or Fridays) you would like to attend, and how many persons will be attending in your group. If some in your group will be listening from the lawn, let Darlene know that as well. If you like, you can reserve more than one week in advance.


The education program runs year round and they have some great education resources, so If you are a teacher, let Darlene know your school, grade level, and subject.


Because Shed seating is limited, reservations are confirmed on a first-come-first-serves basis. Groups are welcome, and it is best – especially for groups – to reserve early.

For more information, email Darlene White at the Boston Symphony Orchestra Berkshire Education and Community Programs Office: dwhite@bso.org.

OSV Programs for Homeschoolers

Fall 2010 Programs for Home School Families at Old Sturbridge Village

At OSV, children can learn about the transportation revolution in the 19th century. (Photo credit: OSV)

  • “Hop into History” overnight program August 14th
  • Home School Days September 14th and November 10th

Living history museum Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) will offer programs just for home school families, beginning with a Hop into History Overnight sleepover on Sat., August 14th, and continuing with a special September 14th Home School Day on Travel: People and Goods in Motion, and a November 10th Home School Day on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Newly introduced by OSV, Hop into History Overnight are designed for groups of young people ages 6-12, giving them an exciting “night at the museum.” The August 14th overnight program for home school families includes an evening tour of the Village, 45-minute hands-on activities, storytelling, 1830s games, two-day admission to the museum, and a Continental breakfast. Learn more.

Theme for the September 14th Home School Day at Old Sturbridge Village is Travel: People and Goods in Motion, giving children the opportunity to learn about the transportation revolution in the 19th century: new roads, canals, stagecoach routes and railways, which allowed for easier transport of people and goods all over New England and beyond. Registration for this Home School Day opens August 16th.

At the November 10th OSV Home School Day, children can learn more about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving’s famous tale of a headless Hessian soldier returning to haunt a rural community. Storytelling, demonstrations, and hands-on activities will be offered, along with shadow puppet performances and workshops by visiting artist, Andrea Caspari. Online registration will be available one month in advance.

Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is open year-round. Hours vary seasonally. Parking is free and visitors get a free second-day return visit within 10 days. For information: www.osv.org or call 1-800-733-1830. A calendar of additional days when home school families can receive discounted admission will be announced in September. For details call 508-347-0285; http://www.osv.org. For a summary of OSV offerings for home school groups: learn more.

Museums to Join Public Reading of Frederick Douglass Speech

Springfield Museums to Join Public Reading of Frederick Douglass Speech
Wednesday, June 30th at Noon

The communal reading and discussion of abolitionist Frederick Douglass's 1852 speech, "The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro" would be a great supplement to America history curriculum for older students. Younger students can discover Frederick Douglass at home in David Adler's book, "A Picture Book of Frederick Douglass."

The Springfield Museums are participating in a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s fiery 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro.” The shared reading will take place at noon on June 30th in Court Square in Springfield and will be followed by a discussion at First Church.

On July 5, 1852, Douglass, a former slave and leading abolitionist, addressed the “race question” at an event in Rochester, NY, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. “Fellow-citizens,” he began, “why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” The full text of the speech is available online at the Mass Humanities website, www.masshumanities.org.

The program is intended to take up the challenge leveled by Barack Obama at Constitution Hall in Philadelphia: “I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle. Race is an issue this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. To work for ‘a more perfect union’ we need to start to understand complexities that we’ve never really worked through. [This] requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point.”

The event is part of a state-wide series of readings which is partially funded by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Local collaborating organizations are Mass Humanities, the Springfield Cultural Council, Art for the Soul Gallery, and the Springfield Museums. Additional sponsors are The Brethren, Olive Tree Books and Voices, PAHMUSA, Springfield NAACP, and the Teaching American History Program of the Springfield Public Schools.

Mummies Come to the Berkshires

Wrapped! Search for the Essential Mummy
Tells the Inside Story of Mummies: both figuratively and literally!

"Wrapped! Search for the Essential Mummy" will be on view from June 19 to October 31, 2010. at the Berkshire Museum in Downtown Pittsfield. FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL: On June 20th, kids can bring their Dads for Free!

Museum visitors often leave an exhibition of Egyptian artifacts with the impression that mummies are all the same and that all mummies were kings or princes during their lives. In reality, mummies are individuals; they vary in terms of their manner of preparation, the decoration of their sarcophagi, and the region in which they lived. And, of course, before they were mummies, they were living people, of either gender, belonging to different classes, working in a variety of occupations – who died of as many causes as people die today. Underneath their ancient linen wrappings lies a multitude of mysteries often too great for scientists and researchers to uncover. Nevertheless, since their first discovery by Western cultures, seekers across the centuries have been trying to unwrap the secrets of mummies.

From June 19 to October 31, 2010, the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA will take museum visitors several steps closer on this quest. The Museum’s groundbreaking, world-premiere exhibition, Wrapped! Search for the Essential Mummy, transports visitors to the Egyptian tombs of Akhmim and the funerary tables and labs of ancient mortuaries; through the discovery of mummies by Western explorers and the ensuing “unrolling” soirees of the 19th century, to current-day mummy research, including reconstruction of mummies’ facial features in sculptural busts and digitizing mummies’ body cavities using cutting-edge scanning technology from the leading radiology labs of North America.

Wrapped! takes visitors to the awesome cliffs of Akhmim, Egypt and its sprawling cemetery– 300 miles south of Cairo – the year is 1884 and mummies are being pulled from their ancient tombs by the hundreds. Among those buried in the loose limestone of Akhmim was Pahat, who lived a full life as a smaty priest of the temple cult of Min. Pahat was carefully mummified 2,300 years ago with the best funerary methods and craftsmanship of his era. At the turn of the 20th century, Pahat was excavated, removed from his resting place, and eventually sold to Zenas Crane in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for the now-paltry sum of $300. Crane donated Pahat to Berkshire Museum, which the philanthropist founded in 1903, where the prized mummy has remained on display to this day.

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Western Mass Students to Compete in Junior Solar Sprint

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Educational & Fun Competition for Students Promotes Awareness About Transportation, Technology and the Environment

The Junior Solar Sprint happens on June 5th in Pittsfield, MA and is open to teachers, home educators and community groups. A great opportunity for students to learn firsthand about non-polluting transportation.

On Saturday, June 5th, area middle school students will gather at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield, MA to race their model solar-powered cars in the eleventh annual Berkshire Junior Solar Sprint (JSS). Participation is open to teachers, home educators and community groups. More than 80 students from Western Mass are expected to participate in the JSS this year.

The JSS is a fun and educational competition for students in grades 5-8 who work in teams to build model vehicles powered by the sun. In the process they learn firsthand about non-polluting transportation. Now in it’s 11th year, the Berkshire JSS is part of a national program that offers 5th through 8th grade students the opportunity to design, construct and test the performance of a model solar electric vehicle. It inspires teachers, students and their families to learn, teach and raise community awareness about transportation, technology and the environment.

Registration for students begins at 8:30am Judging of entries begins at 9:30am and races begin at 10am. The solar vehicles will be judged for speed, craftsmanship, innovation and technical merit, and the top three winners in each category will be eligible to compete in the regional JSS championship in Springfield, MA on June 13th.

If you are interested in registering a team, or are interested in volunteering for this event, contact Cynthia Grippaldi at 413-445-4556 ext. 25.

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Sheep to Shawl Festival on May Day to Celebrate New England Heritage

Celebration of New England in the Spring

Sheep to Shawl Festival in Wlliamstown this weekend will focus on historic fleece & fiber. Demos of shearing with traditional tools, carding, pinning and weaving. Sheep herding with boarder collies. Old-time toys and games for the kids. And much more! (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation (WRLF) will host its annual Sheep to Shawl Festival at its Sheep Hill headquarters in Williamstown Saturday, May 1st from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

The festival is a celebration of spring and our New England heritage, with time-honored crafts and artisans, farm animals, and a focus on the region’s historic fleece and fiber industry. For the 7th year, sheep return to Sheep Hill, and the legendary Fred DePaul will spin stories while shearing with traditional tools. Denise Leonard and Kristen Whittle will demonstrate sheep herding with border collies. These amazing dogs will delight visitors as they herd not only sheep but Indian Runner Ducks up the steep meadows of Sheep Hill. Area farms will bring llamas, alpacas and other livestock for viewing and petting, and local farm products for sale. Barnwright Shaun Garvey will demonstrate the traditional building techniques he used to restore the barns at Sheep Hill.

The Green Mountain Weavers & Spinners Guild will demonstrate carding, spinning, and weaving throughout the day. Fiber artists and other local artisans will show and sell their wares. Local artists will be painting En Plein Air and demonstrating their skills at capturing the Sheep Hill landscape.

Volunteers are busy installing a wood floor in the newly renovated Horse Barn in time to open the traditional Soup Kitchen. Children’s activities sponsored by the Williamstown House of Local History will include period costumes for children to try on, and old-time toys and games. There will be fiber-arts crafts and other activities for children and enthusiastic adults.

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Call for Children to Participate in the Hilltown Spring Festival Kids-Made Craft Area

Kids-Made Crafts to debut at Hilltown Spring Festival, May 15th, 2010

Kids-Made Crafts area to debut at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 15th.  Do your kids want to join in the fun and real-world experience of selling their crafts and arts?  Join in and fill out an application today! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Kids-Made Crafts area to debut at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 15th. Do your kids want to join in the fun and real-world experience of selling their crafts and arts? Join in and fill out an application today! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The 4th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival is on May 15th at the Cummington Fairgrounds, produced by the Hilltown CDC.  New this year is a Kids-Made Craft area for children up to the age of 13 to sell their hand-made crafts and art.  The Hilltown CDC’s goals are to allow children to participate directly in the Festival, to reward them for their creativity, and to give them some real-world experience showing and selling their work. The Kids-Made Crafts area will be highlighted in a central covered area on the fairground, and all crafts and art must be hand-made predominantly by children.

The Hilltown Spring Festival is a family-friendly event.  It features two music stages (Charles Neville, The Primate Fiasco, Swing Caravan and much more); a Focus on Sustainability, including demonstrations of solar heat, hot water, and electricity, and information about local agriculture and home energy solutions; food from local hilltown eateries, including local brews; displays by adult artists and crafters, and children’s activities all day long, including a kids show with The Primate Fiasco!

This year children will participate directly in the Festival as vendors allowing for hands-on experience in showing and selling their crafts. Participants must be pre-registered and able to bring their own tables and chairs. The fee for child artists and crafters is $5.  Registration forms must be filled out and returned with registration fee to the Hilltown CDC:

Only a certain number of children can be accommodated, so register early. Vendors will not be charged for parking. If there are questions, call Seth Isman at 413-296-4536 x12 or email sethi@hilltowncdc.org.

More information is available at www.hilltowncdc.org.

Museum of Springfield History Presents an Underground Railroad Lecture on Sunday

Underground Railroad Talk
Museum of Springfield History
April 11th @ 2pm

National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, historical site in Florence, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Many families emailed to let me know how much they appreciated the Underground Railroad Episode of the Hilltown Family Variety Show as a supplement to their children’s studies. Another opportunity for older students to learn about the Underground Railroad will be this Sunday, April 11th in Springfield, MA. At 2pm, the new Museum of Springfield History will host a talk titled “The Underground Railroad in Western Massachusetts.” The program will be held in the museum’s SIS Hall and is free with the price of museum admission. Museum passes may be available to check out from your local library.

The talk will be presented by historian Steve Strimer of the David Ruggles Center for Early Florence History and Underground Railroad Studies. The Ruggles Center, named for an early abolitionist, documents the movement and settlement of fugitive slaves in the Connecticut River corridor of Massachusetts. Strimer will discuss what has been preserved and uncovered about the Underground Railroad, particularly in Florence and Springfield.

For older kids studying the California Gold Rush, there will be a talk “Springfield and the California Gold Rush” on April 25th.

The series is co-sponsored by the Pioneer Valley History Network, a coalition of historical museums, libraries, and societies. The Museum of Springfield History is located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in downtown Springfield. Free parking is available in the Edwards Street parking lots. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $9 for seniors and college students, $6.50 for children 3-17, and free for children under three and museum members. Springfield residents are free with proof of address. The fee provides admission to all four Springfield Museums at the Quadrangle. For information, call 413-263-6800 or visit http://www.springfieldmuseums.org.

Live Cam: Molly the Barn Owl

Heroic Girlz Educational Project at Simon’s Rock

Heroic Girlz Educational Project Offers Free Teacher Training Workshop in Great Barrington

The Heroic Girlz Educational Project creators are offering a free Teacher Training Workshop at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, MA, on Saturday April 10th, 2010 from 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Using the Heroic Girlz Curriculum Guide, Cindy L. Parrish, Meg Agnew, and Laura Yurko will facilitate writing, visual arts, movement and theater exercises, providing hands-on training in this unique and creative educational process for teachers, homeschool facilitators, parents, girl scout troupe leaders, after-school program directors, summer program leaders, etc.  Participants will gain a deeper understanding of why it is so important for girls of this age group to express themselves through the arts, relate to female mentors (living and ancestral) and maintain the strength inherent in having a strong voice throughout their adolescent years.


The Heroic Girlz Educational Project started in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains of New York in 2004 as a home school exercise for four 11-year-old girls.  Inspired by the story of Harriet Tubman, the girls began exploring the lives of four heroic American women: Louisa May Alcott, Amelia Bloomer, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Amelia Earhart when these women were 11-years-old.  In this way, the girls could draw a parallel between themselves and these “great” women, imagining their own futures as they began their journey toward womanhood.  Through facilitated exercises in writing (with Cindy L. Parrish), visual arts (with Laura Yurko) and theater (with Meg Agnew), the girls also engaged in self-exploration at this important time in their lives.  Soon, the group assembled their research and discoveries into a play that was performed in over a half dozen venues.  In the summer of 2005, Cindy L. Parrish directed the girls in the short film, Heroic Girlz. The film has a number of awards and was an invited feature at the 2009 International Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations


To discover what they might become, four 11-year-old girls adopt the persona of four famous American women who meet in the afterlife to relive their pasts:


Today, the DVD containing Heroic Girlz and Making History -a documentary on the educational process – and The Heroic Girlz Curriculum Guide are available to all who would like to facilitate girls in a similar exploration.  With generous funding from the Brabson Library and Educational Foundation, the Workshop on April 10th is offered free of charge.  The workshop will culminate in a viewing of this award-winning film as one sample outcome of this educational process.  Participants will be provided with a copy of the Curriculum Guide. To register for the workshop call (518) 729-0200 or e-mail Meg Agnew at: megandmerlin@taconic.net.

Community Education Center Forming in Worthington

RH Conwell Community Education Center
A Homeschooling Co-Op in Worthington

Parents of R.H Conwell Students are invited to learn more about an option to start a Community Education Center in the town of Worthington, MA this fall.  A group of parents and town members will be hosting a meeting to discuss their goal to provide a local, community directed educational experience for Worthington area elementary students (preschool-6th).

  • The meeting will be at the Worthington Town Hall on Saturday, February 27th at 10am.

RH Conwell Community Education Center

Our goal is to provide a local, community directed educational experience for Worthington area elementary students. We will focus on elementary education in the tradition of the school that just closed. To make next year feel as comfortable to parents and students as they feel this year is a primary goal. Community members and parents will be directly involved in the educational process. This could be a transition program to a new public school or a program we wish to continue for the foreseeable future.

We will follow the education laws of Massachusetts by organizing as a homeschooling cooperative. This means that before the school year starts, each parent and child meets with Conwell’s education specialist and develops an education plan. The plan can be a standard grade level plan or individualized for each student. Families send the plans to the child’s local school district which will then certify the child as a homeschooler. School districts can ask for more information, but have very little right to deny the homeschooling plans.

Depending on the number of families involved, there will be at least two paid staff members; one coordinator and one educational specialist who will have a teaching degree. We envision serving children from kindergarten to sixth grade. Volunteers will work under the direction of the educational specialist to allow for small groups and individual attention. We are assuming that the center would be open during the traditional school day. Based on families needs, children could attend part time or full time.

Daily Structure
Mornings will be spent on subjects such as math and language arts, either individually or in small groups. Afternoons will be spent applying skills to in depth projects or field trips. We plan to collaborate with local organizations and individuals to offer a variety of courses. Meals could provide an opportunity to apply math skills to planning and preparation.

This program will have costs that are not yet known. There will be expenses for the use of the school, material costs, salaries, insurance etc. We are planning to raise funds and apply for grants to lower costs. We also will be working with the Lewis’s It Takes a Community Foundation. Volunteer services could be traded for some expenses.

Other Programs
We are hoping to use the school as a hub for other community activities such as before and after school childcare and preschool. This would also allow local children who attend other schools to remain connected with the community. We envision the school as a place where intergenerational groups could collaborate.


  • Leona Arthen – Worthington library director
  • Debbie Carnes – longtime school aide and volunteer, certified guidance councilor
  • Valerie Casterline- lifelong Worthington resident, professional working parent
  • Vanessa Lewis – school volunteer and fundraising coordinator
  • Kathy MacLean- retired fourth grade teacher at RH Conwell
  • Richard Mansfield –former school board member
  • Michele Sawyer- parent and school volunteer
  • Susan Warner- child care provider
  • Judith Williams- retired fourth grade teacher and principle at RH Conwell

Cool Zoo Web Site

Fantastic Math Resource in the NYTimes

Joy Lamberton of Boston, MA writes:

My husband is a PhD candidate @Harvard SEAS and he sent this to me after years of joking that as the kids started to learn math he would teach me as well, starting over with basic arithmetic. This NYTimes contributor beat him to the punch. He is two blog entries in to teaching math. The exercises and resources mentioned would be invaluable to homeschoolers, I think!

I am already learning a lot. For the first time odd number addition equaling perfect squares makes sense!

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count During February Break

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count
February 12-15, 2010

Heading south for some sand and surf during the February school break? Bring along a tally sheet and count the sea gulls, sand pipers and pelicans at a nearby beach or wildlife refuge. Click on the image above for a printable tally sheet. Use your postal code, town or name of National Park to generate a custom tally sheet. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Bird watchers coast to coast are invited to take part in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2010.  Participants in the free event will join tens of thousands of volunteers counting birds in their own backyards, local parks or wildlife refuges.

Each checklist submitted by these “citizen scientists” helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,the National Audubon Society , and Bird Studies Canada learn more about how the birds are doing—and how to protect them. Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent’s largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org. One 2009 participant said, “Thank you for the opportunity to participate in citizen science. I have had my eyes opened to a whole new interest and I love it!”

On the www.birdcount.org website, participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during the count. The site has tips to help identify birds and special materials for educators. Participants may also enter the GBBC photo contest by uploading images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website’s photo gallery. All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and many other great birding products.

Participants submit thousands of digital images for the GBBC photo contest each year. Participants are also invited to upload their bird videos to YouTube tagged “GBBC.” – Businesses, schools, nature clubs, Scout troops, and other community organizations interested in the GBBC can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473 (outside the U.S., call (607) 254-2473), or Audubon at citizenscience@audubon.org or (215) 355-9588, Ext 16.

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HFVS Underground Railroad Episode (Podcast/Radio Show)

Listen to Podcast:

Hilltown Family Variety Show
Underground Railroad Episode

Saturday from 9-10am
Originally airing on January 23rd, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

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Discover the Songs: Lyrics & History

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Armed & Dangerous: Explorations of Human Culture and the Animal Kingdom

Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield Starts 2010 with a Bang:
Armed & Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal opens January 23

Armed & Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal on display at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA from January 23rd - June 6th, 2010

Berkshire Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Armed & Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal, explores the evolution, function, and craft of weaponry and armor throughout human culture and the animal kingdom. This exhilarating exhibition, drawn primarily from the Museum’s permanent collection, runs from January 23 through June 6.

Man and animals have always been Armed & Dangerous. From the heroic warrior of the legendary past to the modern military soldier, humankind has relied on arms and armor to convey dominance, power, and status. Weapons and armor reflect the evolution of technology, class, mythmaking, and personal identity and have enormous implications for our understanding of changes in human culture.

“The sheer diversity of materials and the exquisite craftsmanship of the weapons on view in Armed & Dangerous is testament to how important weapons are to the people who make and use them,” said director of interpretation at the Berkshire Museum, Maria Mingalone. “From a historical perspective, the exhibition spans centuries and continents, showing how arms and armor illustrate the evolution of technology, and mythmaking. Weapons are a history of the human experience and a great example of how diverse cultures cope with the challenges of conflict and survival.”

Mankind has always created and used weapons and armor in order to fight, protect, and intimidate. Many of these armaments have been inspired by the natural world, where fierce fangs, claws, beaks, and horns are displayed not only to injure or kill other animals, but also to avoid battle through demonstrations of dominance. Armed & Dangerous features the arsenal of the natural world alongside man-made weaponry from a global array of cultures and time periods.

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Resources to Explore MLK & the Civil Rights Movement

“I Have A Dream” Speech

Families interested in discovering more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement with their children might enjoy the following resources:

  • FamilyEducation.com has Martin Luther King Jr Day Activities and Resources for Kids
  • Kaboose.com has a great list of Black History Links
  • Rosa Parks: How I Fought for Civil Rights is a lesson on Scholastic.com that describes her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Kodak.com offers a photo display titled Powerful Days in Black & White
  • PBS.com has a companion site to the American Experience program about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Citizen King
  • Lest We Forget: Images From the Civil Rights Movement is a collection of portraits of civil right leaders by 20th century artist Robert Templeton
  • HFVS Peace Episode has a good selection of peace themed songs, appropriate for MLK Day.
  • Please share resources you’ve discovered too and leave us a comment.


    Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine at MHC

    Mount Holyoke College to Host the Exhibit:
    Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine
    January 28 – February 26, 2010

    Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine is a traveling exhibit which focuses on Harry Potter’s magical world and its connections to Renaissance thinkers, lore and practices. Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA will explore this history by looking at primary sources from the Renaissance, performing Renaissance music, lectures and book discussions.

    In 1997, British author J. K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter and a literary phenomenon was born. Millions of readers have followed Harry to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he discovers his heritage, encounters new plants and animals, and perfects his magical abilities. Although a fantasy story, the magic in the Harry Potter books is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology, and natural philosophy.

    Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, the seven-part series examines important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice, and the responsibility that comes with power. This exhibition, using materials from the National Library of Medicine, explores Harry Potter’s world and its roots in Renaissance magic, science, and medicine.

    Mount Holyoke College Williston Library is one of only 12 libraries selected to host Harry Potter’s World by the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The National Library of Medicine partnered with the American Library Association to create a traveling version of the Harry Potter’s World exhibition. – The Williston Library is located at 50 College Street (directions).  Click HERE for hours. For more info, email harrypotter-exhibit@mtholyoke.edu.


    More information about the exhibit, Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine, including educational resources, is available at the National Library of Medicine web site.  There you will find lessons and educational activities to supplement this exhibit, including:

    • Desire for Knowledge and Different Perspectives are guided online activities that navigate parts of Harry Potter’s World with a specific interpretive plan.
    • Boggart and Fear in Harry Potter, a language lesson plan, and Genetic Traits in Harry Potter, a science lesson plan, are two lesson plans prepared for middle- and high-school teachers. Each lesson plan contains background information and resources related to Harry Potter or academic topics, national standards, learning outcomes, step-by-step procedures, and all classroom materials.

    Harry Potter: The Exhibit

    Harry Potter: The Exhibition, created by Warner Brothers and Exhibit group/Giltspur is entirely separate and unrelated to this library exhibition. Harry Potter: The Exhibition is currently on display at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA until February 21, 2010.

    New England History and Chocolate are Celebrated at the Historic Deerfield Museum in February

    Bring the Family to the Historic Deerfield Museum
    7th Annual American Heritage Chocolate Celebration
    February 13th, 2010

    Looking to satisfy both the history buff and the sweet tooth in you? There is no better way than to enjoy a fun-filled day with sweet chocolate aromas, captivating lectures, and most important-chocolate treats! The seventh annual American Heritage Chocolate Celebration at Historic Deerfield on February 13, 2010, is an exploration of everything chocolate including a sumptuous array of gourmet chocolate desserts, foods, and beverages.

    The 2010 Chocolate Celebration will include a range of informed presentations on the history of the favorite food including a special presentation by Curator of Historic Interiors, Amanda Lange. Lange’s talk titled Sweet Concoctions: A History of Chocolate in Early America will feature her research used in the recent chocolate anthology Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage released earlier this year by by Wiley Press.

    In addition, Bob Heiss, food professional and owner/proprietor of Cooks Shop Here in Northampton, MA, will give a special talk and tasting titled Exploring and Tasting a Favorite Treat. And Eric Whitacre, Executive Director of the Confectioners Mill Preservation Society, will speak about his efforts to create a museum devoted to the history of chocolate mills in early America.

    To really have the full chocolate sensory experience, visitors can visit with Susan McLellan Plaisted, Proprietress of Heart to Hearth Cookery, as she roasts cacao beans over the open hearth and grinds them on a stone metate.

    Historic Deerfield guides will also present highlights tours of the Museum’s Attic focusing on collections associated with the preparation and serving of stimulating beverages, such as tea, coffee and chocolate. See master silversmith Steve Smithers as he works to recreate a silver chocolate pot from the Historic Deerfield collection. Taste American Heritage Chocolate, and create your own Valentine using decorative papers.


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    Kids’ Science Challenge

    National Science and Engineering Competition for Third to Sixth Graders

    Created by Jim Metzner and funded by a four-year grant from The National Science Foundation, the Kids’ Science Challenge will continue for the second year to offer third to sixth graders the opportunity to practice real science and work directly with cutting-edge scientists and engineers. Students are asked to propose an original question, problem or experiment that relates to the group of scientists involved with the competition. Winning students in each category will then have the opportunity to meet and work with these scientists, in addition to winning great prizes.

    Participating scientists and challenges in Year 2 of the Kids’ Science Challenge include:

    • Bio-Inspired Designs
      Using nature to give us ideas for new inventions. The winner in this category will work with scientists and engineers at UC Berkeley and UC Merced to create a new product or idea, inspired by the natural world. Birds inspired airplanes; seed burrs were the inspiration for Velcro!
    • Imagining Sports on Mars
      Working with engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA; the budding scientist(s) will come up with a game suitable for playing on the mysterious Red Planet. Low-gravity frisbee, anyone?
    • Detective Science
      Future Columbos will work with scientists from the Forensic Science Department at Syracuse University to create an experiment where they employ the scientific techniques used in the science of detection to solve everyday mysteries. So who really did leave the bathroom light on?

    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 »

    Turn Holiday Travel Time Into Learning Time!

    Seven Car-Time Activities to Do with the Kids While Traveling

    Diane Flynn Keith, author of Carschooling, recently wrote an article, Turn Holiday Travel Time Into Learning Time! In her article she shares fun activities that will not only entertain your young passengers, but will “boost your kids’ brain power” too. In her article she include the classic car game, Alphabet Hunt, along with some simple games that incorporate concepts of speech, geometry, art, zoology and community studies.  Click here to read her article over at RoadTripJournal.com. It’s worth printing out and tucking it in your glove compartment!

    Homeschool 2nd Annual Geography Expo in Stockbridge, MA

    Elaine Cal writes:

    Hello All,

    It’s coming soon… The 2nd Annual Geography Expo !! This FREE event will be held on Wednesday November 18th from 6-8PM in the Gym at the Old Plain School (now the Town Offices) in Stockbridge, MA. This event is sponsored by the Stockbridge Library and the BCHC Berkshire County Homeschool Community. All are welcome!!

    What is a Geography Expo?

    It sort of looks like a science fair for Geography. You will be able to visit many countries, meet exchange students, and be introduced to their customs, food, books and more.

    Exchange students, Homeschool, Public and Private School Students will display information about a country on a poster board and table. Visitors that come to see the Geo Expo are given blank passports. They go around the gym visiting all the different countries represented and get their passport stamped. They can learn the general info about a country and write these facts in their passport. Sometimes, there are delicacies to taste. It’s super fun and a highly engaging way to learn about Geography and meet new friends.

    So, come join the fun as a traveling visitor or choose a country to display. It’s fun to study Geography!! Make a simple display with facts such as the Capital City, Chief Export, Population, how to say hello, etc… You can bring articles from the country, dress up, bring native food, books, games or photos or pictures of the country. Have fun and be creative with your learning and display. (One hint: If you tape your facts and photos to the poster board instead of gluing them, you can remove the info after the Expo and make a report or record of your learning. )

    If you are interested in displaying a country, please call or e-mail Teresa O’Brient at 413-298-0099 berksierra@aol.com She’ll make sure there is a table ready for your display when you arrive that day.

    Here are just a few of the countries already signed up for. If you would like to do a country that is already represented, that’s OK too. All the displays will be so different, and diversity is beautiful!

    • Brazil, Libia, Germany, Holland, Mexico, Spain, USA, Russia, Italy, China

    The number of Exchange Students is growing as well as students signing up for a country. So, contact Teresa soon and tell her which country you have chosen. This is a FREE Event but you’ll see a Donation Jar. All donations will go to cover the costs of the Passports and thank you gifts for the Exchange Students. Absolutely no one turned away for lack of funds. Please join us for a fun night of friendship and learning. Smiles guaranteed!!

    We’re looking forward to seeing you at the Expo.

    Video: The Chemistry of Candles

    Celebrate Dictionary Day!

    Noah Webster’s Birthday!

    On October 16, wordsmiths across the United States will celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Noah Webster, considered by many to be the father of the American dictionary. What a perfect time for kids to celebrate words! If you’d like to recognize Webster’s birthday, the lessons and other resources found at Education World will help you to do that in a special way.

    DIY: 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 »

    Virtual Field Trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

    Live Webcast:  Discover Marine Wildlife with Winter

    Have you meet Winter yet? Winter, an extraordinary and inspiring bottlenose dolphin, was just three months old when she lost her tail after it became caught and mangled in a crab trap.  She now lives under the care of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida.

    On Wednesday, October 7th, 2009, your family and your class are invited on a virtual field trip to the aquarium for a LIVE webcast beginning at 1pm (EST)! This live event will introduce children worldwide to Winter.  During this 45-minute webcast, viewers will learn about marine wildlife as well as invaluable lessons in resilience, compassion, and friendship.

    Over at their website, www.scholastic.com/winterstail, teachers and parents can find age-appropriate resources and curriculum materials for the field trip, as well as books and teaching materials on other remarkable animals around the world who have faced their own challenges.  Following the webcast, Scholastic will be offering a student essay contest to share stories about your favorite animal hero too!

    If you can’t catch the live webcast, the video will be available on-demand following the webcast.

    Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned To Swim Again tale of her heroic journey and is part of the Turtle Pond Book Collection.  This inspiring series of true stories about amazing animals includings the Owen & Mzee series, Looking for Miza and Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated The World.

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