July 20, 2016 at 11:00 am (Hilltown Families, Resources, Science, Web Review)
Tags: Astronomy, NASA, outer space, outerspace
Web-Based Space Explorations Blast Off Through NASA Kids’ Club
Offering a wealth of space-based information presented in a playful way, NASA’s online Kids’ Club presents opportunities for studies of a fascinating yet largely inaccessible realm. Relevant for most ages and easy to use, the Kids’ Club can be a great resource for space enthusiasts!
Space is a fascinating place, and a big part of its appeal is the fact that it’s just out of reach for most human beings. While curious kids aren’t very likely to be able to visit space anytime soon, NASA offers a kid-friendly online space filled with information about the many different missions, projects, and technologies that the organization is responsible for – allowing aspiring astronauts to learn about the ways in which humans research and explore the vast wilderness that is outer space.
The NASA Kids’ Club is an easy to use portal that connects kids to a wealth of information in many forms. The Kids’ Club offers everything from printable games and coloring pages to detailed descriptions of specific aircraft and their uses. Highlights of the website include a section dedicated to NASA’s current and recent missions and a photo gallery filled with images of the many people involved in NASA’s programs at work on a variety of tasks. Smaller sections within the site offer a look at nutrition and menu planning in space, the locations and inhabitants (both human and nonhuman) of NASA center’s across the country, the reasons behind the exploration that NASA guides, and the difference in time and gravity on each of the planets in our solar system.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 13, 2016 at 12:01 pm (Community Based Education, Hilltown Families, Resources, Science)
Tags: 3D Printing, Maker Space, MakerSpace, STEM, Technology
3D Printers as Community-Based Resource
3D printing, a type of industrial robot which can synthesize three dimensional objects for a variety of purposes, is one of the most exciting technological, scientific, and creative innovations of recent years. Local libraries and other learning centers have begun to support an interest in engineering, technology, and creativity by housing 3D printers and providing demonstrations of the technology. 3D printers can be incorporating into makerspaces (read more in our post, Maker Spaces: Community-Based Opportunities to Think, Make, Do, Learn and Share!) or they can stand alone as a resource.
There are several upcoming opportunities for families to learn about and utilize this new technology their your own projects.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm (Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: sensory learning
Sensory Experiences in Summer
Summer, a time of hiking, biking, camping, and swimming, can be a joyful time. For children sensitive to sensory integration, however, it can be an overwhelming season full of stimulation. Children, in general, are highly sensitive. Some seek out stimulation and some limit it. Luckily, here in western MA there are inclusive resources and activities for both sensory-seeking and sensory-limiting children and their families.
Children who love sensory input will most likely have a great time at one of the many Western Massachusetts museums, including the Springfield Museums, Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield and the Holyoke Children’s Museum. Read the rest of this entry »
July 5, 2016 at 8:00 am (Berkshire County, Hampden County, Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: History, Sports, Sports History
Exploring Athletics and Sports History Through Community-Based Resources
Western Massachusetts is known for a great many things, but sports aren’t generally one of them. Nevertheless, the region is filled with opportunities to learn about (and participate in!) sports of all kinds. Western Massachusetts can claim itself as the birthplace of at least two sports played worldwide, is home to a handful of semi-professional teams, and offers opportunities for youth to explore athletics of all kinds. Local families can even find ways to explore sports and sports history through the arts! From spectator opportunities and museum visits to full-on participation, sports-related learning opportunities exist locally all year round.
In terms of sports fame, the area is probably best known as the official birthplace of both volleyball and basketball. Springfield’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a landmark in the city, and honors the city’s claim to fame as home of basketball and its inventor, James Naismith. Created in 1891 in order to offer athletes an exciting and physically challenging indoor sport, basketball is now internationally known and loved. The Basketball Hall of Fame itself includes thousands of square feet of basketball history exhibits, as well as a 300+ member hall of fame commemorating the contributions and achievements of notable players, coaches, and others who’ve been a part of the sport.
A few years after basketball’s invention, volleyball was created in Holyoke – pitched then as a sport offering excitement similar to that of basketball but slightly less physical intensity. The International Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke spotlights the sport’s history and local roots, as well as exceptional players from the nearly century and a quarter that the sport has existed. Visitors can learn about the 125 people from 21 countries whose accomplishments have been significant within volleyball history, and can also view exhibits that offer a glimpse at the evolution and international growth of the sport.
Read the rest of this entry »
June 21, 2016 at 12:01 pm (Community Based Education, Mass Appeal, Nature Based Education, Resources, Suggested Activity)
Tags: 22News, 22News Mass Appeal, Community Based Education, Connecticut River, Deerfield River, Housatonic River, Interpretive Programming, Mass Appeal, nature based education, Nature Centers, River Ecology, River Walks, Westfield River
Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: June Segment
Nature-Based Learning through River Walks & Nature Centers
Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News! Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).
This monthly segment continued on Monday, June 20, 2016. This month Sienna and Lauren talked about intergenerational ways to engage in natural resources to support interests and education, including River Walks and Nature Centers:
Learn more about River Walks and Nature Centers in Western MA:
Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA). Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be July 18th, 2016!
June 15, 2016 at 12:00 pm (Hilltown Families, History, Nature Based Education, Resources)
Tags: Connecticut River, Deerfield River, Housatonic River, River Ecology, River Walks, Westfield River
Urban And Rural River Walks & Trails Highlight Natural and Human History
Housatonic River in Great Barrington, MA.
Western Massachusetts’ landscape is filled with rivers. They run like veins between our ancient hills, and give life to human and non-human communities alike as they flow constantly onward. The warm months of the year are the best time to engage in experiential learning about local rivers, a task made more inviting through a handful of riverwalks and river-following paths found locally. Through explorations of a variety of local rivers, families can explore local ecology, connect with local history, and deepen their sense of place. In particular, comparisons of urban rivers and rural rivers can illuminate the ways in which humans past and present have depended upon our rivers. Read the rest of this entry »
June 14, 2016 at 11:59 am (Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: Flip the Classroom, Storytelling
Great Big Story Shares Highlights of Human Experience
Created specifically to share human interest stories separate from daily current events news, CNN’s Great Big Story (or GBS, for short) is aptly named. The web-based project publishes videos at a rate of 3-5 per day, spotlighting cultures, communities, creatures, and other curiosities from all around the world. In doing so, GBS allows viewers to educate themselves about everything from emergencies in outer space to doctors making home visits to the homeless. While the project’s target audience is young adults, the information presented in GBS’s videos is accessible to teens and tweens, and perhaps even to older children.
While the project’s videos are numerous and their topics varied, each mini-documentary links viewers back to the same big idea: the untold stories of the world. A great many web-based projects aim to do essentially the same thing, but many emphasize the “wow” factor of such stories, and miss the true meaning behind the people, places, and ideas they spotlight. GBS, however, does both: each video features something or someone that is truly amazing, and does justice to the person or place’s story – allowing truth to be shared, and allowing viewers to utilize GBS videos as a resource for learning about the human experience and life on earth. Read the rest of this entry »
January 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm (Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: disabilities, Diversity, inclusion, inclusivity, People with disabilities
Resources for Learning About the Experiences of People With Disabilities Encourage Families to Learn About the Human Experience
Throughout life, the experiences that we have amongst others allow us to learn about the human experience. At any age, we are able to make observations about others’ appearance and actions, and to gain insight (however basic or complex it may be) by processing these observations. Sometimes, our understanding of the life experiences of others is limited, though. By filtering everything we see and hear and contextualizing it within our own perspective on the world, we make meaning of our observations – but often, the things that we learn by watching and interacting with others lack input from the perspective of another. We do our best to understand those around us, but without considering their appearance and actions from another perspective, our understandings are limited.
In order to support children in developing a critical understanding of the experiences of others, families can engage in meaningful learning surrounding the experiences with physical and cognitive disabilities. By utilizing books, videos, podcasts, and both online and community-based educational resources, families with children of any age can begin to examine the experiences and perspectives of those with disabilities.
Spotlighting the abilities and life experiences of children, teens, and adults with diverse abilities, the resources highlighted below offer families support in digging deep into the experiences of people with physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as their family, friends, and fellow community members. While our suggestions for such studies certainly do not cover all of the physical and cognitive disabilities that members of our local community experience, they offer families a place from which to begin examining the experiences of others. Read the rest of this entry »
January 18, 2016 at 9:00 am (Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: cinema, film studies, motion picture, motion picture industry, movies
Studies on Screen: Community-Based Resources for Film Studies
Booked with a full schedule of films for the second half of winter, the big (and small) screens of a handful of western Massachusetts venues are set to feature a host of great films in the coming weeks – from Oscar-nominated recent releases to original works by local youth.
Families can explore the art that is film-making through intergenerational film appreciation groups, kid-centric screenings of beloved classics, and multiple film series events catering to a variety of ages and interests – all community events that both encourage appreciation of the creative process behind the making of films and the use of film to support learning. Read the rest of this entry »
September 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: famous writers, historic homes, Language Arts, literary education, literary history, Literature, writing
Readers Rejoice! Community-Based Educational Resources for Literary Learning Abound
Luckily for literature lovers, western Massachusetts is a treasure trove of opportunities to engage in community-based learning about literature, literary history, and the process of creating writing that is inspired by a local community or the local landscape. Made up of landmarks, historic homes, museums, trails, and real-life human beings, western Massachusetts’ connections to the world of literature are strong.
Home to beautiful hills and winding rivers (with quaint towns nestled amongst them), Massachusetts’ Berkshire region has been a favorite locale for artists and authors alike for centuries. Among the most notable literary greats to call the Berkshires home is Edith Wharton, whose self-designed home The Mount now serves both as a monument to Wharton’s career and as a year-round cultural center. Located in Lenox, The Mount offers opportunities to learn about Wharton’s remarkable literary achievements (40+ books in 40 years and a Pulitzer Prize), experience art and cultural events, and to learn about life in the early 1900’s.
In nearby Pittsfield, Herman Melville’s Arrowhead offers opportunities to learn about the author’s American Renaissance career. Made up of Melville’s historic home, beautiful grounds, and a working farm, Arrowhead offers opportunities to learn not only about Melville’s life and significant works, but the lives of all those living in the Berkshires during the 19th century.
Read the rest of this entry »
September 21, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Franklin County, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: Family Structure, Grandfamilies, grandparents
Grandfamilies Offers Unique Support to Families
A support group for families in which a relative parents another relative’s children, Grandfamilies offers support for adults navigating both the joy and challenges of such a family structure.
Communities are made up of families of all kinds, and the United Arc is offering local families a new resource for support. Located in the Hilltowns and Franklin County, Grandfamilies is a support group for families in which a relative cares for another relative’s children. This type of family structure is not uncommon, and can happen for a multitude of reasons. Grandfamilies offers folks who have such a family structure with a space in which to share the joy and satisfaction of raising children, and also serves as a source of support for the grief, financial strain, loss of independence, and other challenges that can accompany this type of family situation.
Grandfamilies groups provide families with the opportunity to learn about other useful community resources, share stories, and connect with other community members who are also raising a relative’s children. Grandfamilies group meetings are relaxed, and offer a friendly and supportive atmosphere within which participants can engage in essential and meaningful self-care. Read the rest of this entry »
September 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Hilltown Families, History, Resources)
Tags: Americans with Disabilities Act, disabilities, disability history, Disability History Project, disability rights movement, History
Radio Series and Online Museum Provide Disability-Centered Take on History
While learning the history of a place or a people, the most well-rounded understandings of gradual change are developed when history has been considered from multiple perspectives and through multiple lenses. These days, it is no longer uncommon to consider American history from the perspective of women, immigrants, and other groups whose experiences have been defined by historical context, and we teach students to consider the experiences of diverse groups of people – rather than the experience of a single group – in order to think critically about our history.
Thanks to the Disability History Project, a new resource is available for considering history from another perspective: that of people with disabilities. Beyond Affliction, a four-part radio series, serves as an auditory resource for learning about the experiences of people with disabilities since the beginning of the 1800’s. Created for broadcast on National Public Radio, Beyond Affliction features six hours of documentary radio centered around the experiences of people with disabilities and their families during the last two centuries. The project not only teaches about the lives of people with disabilities in times past but allows listeners to learn about the gradual change that has taken place by highlighting the contrast between the experiences of long ago and the experiences of today. Read the rest of this entry »
September 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Art, Community Based Education, Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: Art, Art Appreciation, art education, Community Based Education
Local Resources Support Community-Based Studies of Art
Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton is home of “Art in the Orchard,” an orchard-based gallery of outdoor sculptures and installation art to peruse with family. Bringing “Culture into Horticulutre,” the orchard features the work of 28 artists whose work is brought to life amongst the apple trees and changing landscape as we move from summer to fall.
Art is ever-present in life, and serves as an important means of communication and self-expression. Much of childhood is spent adding art to the world, and there is much to learn from exploring art and engaging in methods of creation!
Resources abound for learning about everything from art history to art materials, and here in western Massachusetts, the bulk of art-related learning resources are community-based.
From websites to studios to community organizations, there are endless ways for families to learn about and engage in the arts… and we have a great list for you! Read the rest of this entry »
August 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm (Community Based Education, Hilltown Families, Resources, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Community Based Education, community based learning, Community Development, Experiential Learning, place-based education, self-directed learning
Hilltown Families: Your Back-to-School Resource, All Year Long!
During the summer months, most children have enjoyed following their interests through outdoor play, reading books they have selected, day-trips with their family, and adventures out in their community. Once late August and early September roll around however, these carefree months of following their own interests and daily rhythms turn towards more organized learning experiences; and for many, the excitement starts to build as families become involved in back-to-school preparations. Maybe this school year will be your child’s first time away from home, or your child is mentally preparing for middle school, or this is their final year in high school… whatever the case, back-to-school can be an exciting time of year for most.
Whether or not your kids are excited about going back to school, or maybe your family homeschools or unschools, that freedom of self-directed learning experienced in the summer months can continue all year round through community engagement outside of the classroom day via community-based education. Read the rest of this entry »
July 1, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Resources, Technology)
Tags: computer tutorials, Make magazine, on-line education, on-line learning, STEM, Summer Camp, virtual learning
Virtual camp brings a world of learning to kids in their own homes!
Held on weekdays from July 6th-August 14th, Maker Camp offers a new theme each week and, in addition to daily project tutorials, each week’s theme includes a virtual field trip or two.
This summer, Google and Make: are offering hands-on kids and teens an alternative to the traditional summer camp. Instead of following the typical camp structure that involves trails in the woods, friendship bracelet crafts, and canoe lessons, Maker Camp is totally web-based, and engages kids in creative and educational DIY activities in their own homes – and best of all, it’s completely free!
Offering six weeks worth of programming, the 2015 Maker Camp is filled with activities and virtual field trips that match the interests and abilities of an incredibly wide range of learners. Held on weekdays from July 6th-August 14th, Maker Camp offers a new theme each week and, in addition to daily project tutorials, each week’s theme includes a virtual field trip or two. Check the Maker Camp schedule for these weekly themes.
Read the rest of this entry »
October 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Resources, Video)
Tags: critical thinking, Film, film documentary, philosophy, youth development
Film Project Poses Intellectual Challenges to Energize the Mind
In order to raise children who will grow up to be critical thinkers, it is essential that we not only present them with intellectual challenges while they’re young, but – as the goal of “What’s the Big Idea?” states – we must also teach them the skills that they will need to tackle complex ideas. By exposing children to philosophical ideas and questions early in life, we create opportunities for them to learn how to think critically about major topics. And if we provide the proper support, we allow them to do this big thinking in a context where they’re supported throughout their learning.
A project of Mt. Holyoke College professor Tom Wartenberg and local filmmaker Julie Akeret, “What’s the Big Idea?” introduces middle school students (12-14yr) to philosophy through film. Pairing commentary with pertinent clips relating to the themes addressed by the project, “What’s the Big Idea?” takes common tween-age dilemmas and presents them to students in a way that not only allows them to learn how to handle such situations, but encourages them to think deeply about the larger ideas that lay behind common life experiences and situations. Clips from iconic movies including The Karate Kid, Mean Girls, Liar Liar, and even High School Musical help to teach students to think critically about peer pressure, bullying, lying, and friendship. The project even offers resources for developing discussions and activities after tackling each theme – resources that can easily be used by educators of all kinds.
Read the rest of this entry »
November 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Hampshire County, Nature Based Education, Resources, Science)
Tags: Botany, lyman conservatory, Plant Studies, Smith College
Calling All Budding Botanists…
Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory Offers Audio Tour for Kids & Adults!
The audio tour can be tailored to visitors’ particular interests, and there are separate tours available for kids and adults. The kids tour contains thirty different recordings spread out through the nine differently themed houses of the conservatory.
With winter approaching, fall is transitioning from a brightly colored celebration of cooler weather to a chilly, shadowy, hunkered-down, hollowed-out version of its former self. While the change in seasons is fascinating to watch, it’s not unreasonable to long for greener surroundings. Luckily, Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory in Northampton has just what you need to enjoy a day full of bright, summer-style plant life!
With ten different indoor exhibits to explore, the learning possibilities offered by the conservatory are endless. Tours are available to large groups of visitors, but families and individuals are welcome to visit during the conservatory’s regular hours to explore the hundreds of different plants housed there.
Despite the lack of human tour guides for smaller groups of visitors, tours are still available! Throughout the conservatory are quick response (QR) codes which, when scanned by a smart phone, generate an audio recording of information about a particular climate or type of plant. Visitors who don’t have smart phones can rent audio tour wands (which serve the same function) for $1 per person… Read the rest of this entry »
April 3, 2013 at 6:00 am (Resources)
Tags: China, East Asian, Educational Resources, Japan, Korea, Taiwan
Online Resources to Support East Asian Studies
Creating lessons and finding materials to support students’ learning can be easy if you’re working on a popular topic, like the Revolutionary War or simple machines. Finding resources for less commonly studied topics can prove much more difficult, though!
Studies of east Asian culture and history can be particularly difficult to teach, as it is a topic not often included in curriculum guides or textbooks, and even if it is mentioned, it is generally only in high school level materials. However, thanks to the Five College Consortium, educators can find a wealth of easily accessible internet-based resources for teaching and learning about all things fascinating in eastern Asia. The Five Colleges’ website offers a categorized list filled with information-rich links – there’s everything from Asian news websites to web-page activities, travel information to online galleries of east Asian art: Online Resources to Support K-14 East Asian Studies.
The resources are broken down by country, topic, and purpose, and can be used by educators working with kids in grades K-12 (or older!), and homeschoolers of all ages. Some of the resources are best for educators to learn from before planning lessons, while others offer student-friendly formats. Integrating some web-based learning into a unit can not only broaden the scope of learning materials, but it can help students develop basic computer skills while working on a structured project.
For more opportunities to support east Asian studies, visit the Smith College Museum of Art, where an exhibit titled Collecting Art of Asia is on display in the galleries through May 26th, 2013.
[Photo credit: (ccl) epSos.de]
January 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Art, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Homeschooling, Interview, Resources, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Asia, Asian, Asian Studies, China, Curriculum, hampshire county, Homeschool, Japan, Pioneer Valley, Smith College, Smith College Museum of Art, teacher resources, UMass, UMass Fine Arts Center, western massachusetts
Asian Studies Supplemented in the Pioneer Valley
Exhibit, Educator Workshop, Guided Tours, Performance Art & Free Family Day
Image credit: Yue Minjun. Chinese, born 1962. The Grassland Series Woodcut 1 (Diving Figure), 2008 Woodcut on medium weight lightly textured cream wove paper. Gift of Pace Editions Incorporated and Ethan Cohen Fine Arts courtesy of Ann and Richard Solomon (Ann Weinbaum, class of 1959) and Ethan Cohen Photograph by Petegorsky/Gipe.
Educational opportunities are numerous over the next few months for those interested in teaching and learning about Asian art! The Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, MA will be opening a new exhibit on Asian art beginning February 1st through May 26th, 2013. Titled, Collecting Art of Asia, the exhibit celebrates the 100th anniversary of the museum’s first acquisition of Asian art and includes work from the museum’s permanent collection, as well as promised gifts to the museum. Work included in the two-floor exhibit comes from China, Japan, Korea, and much of south and southeastern Asia, and highlights significant movements and people in the history of Asian art, as well as significant and historic gifts to the museum’s collection.
Educators can attend a workshop hosted by the museum that will share suggestions for teaching about the interdisciplinary connections found between Asian and Western art objects. Open to K-12 teachers, the workshop will also include an overview of “Collecting Art of Asia,” and resources for teaching shared by Five College Center for East Asian Studies director Anne Prescott. The workshop takes place on February 6th from 10am-3pm ($). Registration required – call 413-585-2781 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
The Smith College Museum of Art welcomes groups of students to visit, and offers guided tours of the museum. Classes, homeschool groups, and other groups of learners from PreK-12th grade can visit the museum to supplement their studies of Asian art, culture, and history. Tours can be designed to fit specific needs, or groups can participate in the general tour designed to accompany the exhibit. Educators can use a visit to the museum to supplement explorations into the history of Asian art, as well as studies of Asian culture and history.
On Saturday, March 2nd from 10am-3pm, Smith College Museum of Art will host a free family day. Billed as “Art of Asia,” families can participate in hands-on projects that were inspired by fishermen, flowers and fireworks, all on view in the Collecting Art of Asia exhibition. Projects are perfect for families with PreK-12th youth and their guardians.
Finally, at the UMass Fine Arts Center in Amherst will host Chinese Theater Works performing Toy Theater Peony Pavilion as part of the Global Arts: Performances for Schools series. The performance, open to grades 3-8, will take place at 10am on March 7th, 2013. The show combines the 16th century Chinese Kun Opera with modern Western styles of puppetry to create a unique and beautiful story, following a young maiden through her dreams.
Studies of Asian art and performance can provide a window through which to examine Asian history and culture, and can help provide students with a critical understanding of the evolution of Asian cultures. A look at Asian traditions can also help older students put relations between the United States and east Asian countries such as China and Japan into cultural context. For more information on either the exhibit or the performance, contact the Smith College museum of Arts at 413-585-2781 or the UMass FAC at 413-545-2511.
January 2, 2013 at 6:00 am (Resources, Suggested Activity)
Tags: central Massachusetts, civic engagement, clean water act, Community Based Education, Curriculum, Environment, environmental activisim, environmental science, History, Marion Stoddart, Massachusetts Clean Water Act, merrimack river, river conservation, study guide, The Work of 1000
The Work of 1,000
Screening at Wistariahurst Museum
Thursday, Jan 10th, 6:30pm
“This film provides unique learning opportunities and will enhance interest in the environmental science and engineering fields and leadership development for all.” — Larisa Schelkin, Executive Director of the DOME Foundation
Rivers are a vital part of our ecosystems, and have played a crucial role in much of industrial history. Rivers have provided a means of transportation and a way of moving goods, have powered mills and helped to provide hydroelectric power, and their watersheds help to nourish farmland that provides nutritive food to our community. Historically, however, our rivers have not been treated with as much respect and reverence as they should have been. They have been re-routed and polluted, and we have built to the very edges of their banks with bridges, factories, and parking lots.
The Trustees of Reservations is providing a valuable way for families and students to learn about the history of the Nashua River, a beautiful, healthy, once-polluted tributary of the Merrimack River. The Trustees will screen, The Work of 1000, at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke at 6:30pm on January 10th, 2013.
The Nashua River was once filled with dyes and other byproducts from the manufacture of fabrics, but today – thanks to enormous community efforts – the river is clean and there are new laws and regulations that require proper treatment of rivers. Environmental advocate, housewife and mother, Marion Stoddart, along with other dedicated Massachusetts citizens, fought to help restore the river during the mid-1960’s, and helped to create the Massachusetts Clean Water Act.
The 30-minute screening of The Work of 1000 can supplement students’ studies of conservation, environmental science, New England history, and more. Pair the screening with a reading of Lynne Cherry’s book, A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History, which tells a story of the natural and human-impacted history of the Nashua River and it’s restoration and renewal. Though it is a picture book, the topic is sophisticated enough that even slightly older students can appreciate and learn from it.
For educational guides to accompany this screening, download this Study Guide (pdf, 2 pages) and Teacher Curriculum Guide Grades 7-9 (pdf, 6 pages). More learning resources, along with information on how to bring a screening of The Work of 1000 to your community, can be found at www.workof1000.org.
Further information on the screening at the Wistariahurst Museum can be found at wistariahurst.org. The screening is free and open to the public. The Wistariahurst Museum is located at 238 Cabot Street in Holyoke, MA.
October 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm (Berkshire County, Reading Lists, Resources)
Tags: Berkshire Athenaeum, StoryWalk, StoryWalks
Berkshire Athenaeum Has Pre-Made StoryWalks for Borrowing!
The Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, MA has over 20 StoryWalks for patrons to borrow for free! StoryWalks are great way to promote literacy in young children while having them engage in outdoor activities.
Reading a book and taking a walk outside share many similarities for children – they are, first of all, things that take place frequently in the life of a young person. Stories and time outdoors are also ways that kids learn about the world around them. Books offer a look into other places, contexts, and cultures, and can teach kids about virtually any subject. Out-of-doors trips are learning experiences, too – kids observe their environment, learn how to interact with it, and make discoveries about the world. So why not combine the two!? A StoryWalk does just that!
What is a StoryWalk?
Originating in Montpelier, VT, the concept takes classic children’s books (think Chicka, Chicka, Boom Boom and Where the Wild Things Are), enlarges them, divides them up into sections, and then posts them throughout an area like a park, downtown district, or a playground for families to read while they explore! StoryWalks are a great way for kids to discover new stories – moving from section to section allows time for kids to process what they’ve read, ask questions, and share their thoughts just as they might in between pages during a normal read, but without the sitting still necessary for read-alouds at home.
Local Resource to Aid in Hosting a StoryWalk
StoryWalks can be used at schools, community centers, and daycares; they add learning experiences to community events and festivals; and promote literacy and literary appreciation! Wish you could offer one to your students, share one with your neighborhood, or add one to an event? The Berkshire Athenaeum has pre-made StoryWalk portfolios for borrowing! There are stories of all types, ranging from Jan Brett classics to books about counting. Each set includes laminated posters, instructions, and other useful resources (including some added by fellow StoryWalk borrowers).
The Berkshire Athenaeum has over 20 StoryWalk portfolios available to lend, including these titles: Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 2012 at 6:00 am (Food, Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: Food Security, Hunger, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
Food Bank of Western MA Offers Food Resources for Families During Summer Months
Working with more than 350 member agencies that make up the emergency food network in our region, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provides food to 15,000 people every week. Thirty-one percent of households who seek emergency food from those agencies have at least one working adult, but still do not earn enough to make ends meet. Nearly half of the families say they must make tough choices between paying for food and paying for utilities, heating fuel, rent, mortgage or medical care, because they don’t have enough money to meet all these basic needs.
Nearly 20 percent of all kids under 18 in Western Massachusetts live in food insecure households, and don’t always have enough to eat. As school lets out for summer, we are reminded that the next three months will be even harder for these kids. Without school meals, grocery budgets are stretched to the brink, and many parents find it difficult to replace the two to even three free meals they receive five days a week during the school year.
Luckily, many of the agencies The Food Bank works worth address this increased need directly by providing summer grocery bag programs and daily meals to help fill in the gaps.
Here are several area resources to help children and their parents during the summer months in the four counties of Western MA:
Read the rest of this entry »
April 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, Resources)
Tags: Berkshires, Community Coalitions, Hilltowns, Pioneer Valley, western massachusetts
Seven Community Coalitions
Supporting and Serving Families in Western MA
Communities that Care Coalition brings together youth, parents, schools, community agencies, and local governments to promote the health and well-being of young people in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. Programs include Healthy Youth Initiative (youth nutrition and physical activity), Bullying Prevention Workshop, education on parent social norms, mini grants to recognize youth for their contributions to the community, and more. For more information, visit communitiesthatcarecoalition.org.
North Quabbin Community Coalition is a community-wide alliance committed to improving the quality of life for all those living and working in the North Quabbin region. Their focus areas are liaison between the rural community and local legislators, task force groups to address local issues (substance abuse, economic development, etc.), and monthly forums to share information among community service providers. For more information, visit nqcc.org.
Northampton Prevention Council. This group’s mission is to prevent youth substance abuse in Northampton. They serve all youth who live in, go to school in, or work in Northampton, with programs such as parent education, compliance checks of liquor retailers, training for those who serve or sell alcohol, and more. For more information, visit northamptonprevents.org.
Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. The mission of the Coalition is to improve the quality of life for people in Northern Berkshire by organizing, supporting, and empowering the community. Programs include substance-free performing arts events for youth, teen writing workshops, youth leadership programs, community forums, and more. For more information, visit nbccoalition.org.
South Berkshire Community Coalition. Their mission is to prevent youth alcohol and drug abuse in South County in a long-term and sustainable manner. Programs include building community dialogue, coordinating prevention activities, conducting trainings, sponsoring workshops, and more. To learn more, visit southberkshirecommunitycoalition.org.
Southern Hilltown Domestic Violence Task Force covers nine rural towns which in Hampshire and Hampden counties, and meets monthly to develop and support local direct service projects and to launch a variety of prevention, outreach, training, and service coordination efforts. The Task Force works with local law enforcement, schools, and businesses on domestic violence prevention and education. For more information, email email@example.com, or visit their Facebook page.
SPIFFY Coalition is made up of over 60 community groups working together to improve the lives of youth in Hampshire County. Programs include parent education, community task forces, educator training, and youth engagement. Check out their awesome project PhotoVoice, which allows youth to express their views on underage drinking while learning photographic skills. For more information, visit spiffycoalition.org.
February 20, 2012 at 7:00 am (John Heffernan, Resources)
Tags: educational web sites
Educational Web Sites for Kids
Today, I’ll point out some great educational web sites for kids. At our home, we attempt to balance educational and “just for fun” web sites with our five year old son. For younger kids, simple things like printing out coloring pages (use Google Images with Safe Search set to Strict) or simply printing out posters of favorite characters or animals are some easy and fun ways to use the Internet. We also look up answers to questions that we can’t answer ourselves at on Factmonster or using Google. We also try to model appropriate use of the Internet. Kids seem to ultimately follow what we do more than the limits we set for them. Read the rest of this entry »
November 25, 2011 at 10:17 am (Commercialization, Hilltown Families, Resources)
Tags: Commercialization, Free Play, Holidays, Non-Commercial, Toys, TRUCE
TRUCE Action Guides: Toys, Media & Children
TRUCE is a national group of educators deeply concerned about the impact of children’s entertainment and toys on their play and behavior. Their goal is to raise public awareness about the negative effects of violent, sexualized, and stereotyped toys and media on children, families, schools, and society.
It’s Black Friday and many parents have holiday gift buying on their minds. The discussion of holiday buying looms large in our community, with folks chatting about buying local, buying handmade, and buying non-commercial.
Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE), a Massachusetts based group of educators concerned about how children’s toys and entertainment are affecting the play and behavior of kids, has a few guides available on media and play that will help aid parents in making informed decisions and choices when it comes to toys that promote creative free play:
Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide
This guide will help parents and educators promote children’s creative and constructive play, and make informed choices about toys, and work with others at home, school, and in the community to support positive play.
In this guide TRUCE highlights that toys have high play value when they…
- Can be used in many ways.
- Allow children to be in charge of the play.
- Appeal to children at more than one age or level of development.
- Are not linked to video games, computers, TV, or movies.
- Can be used with other toys for new and more complex play.
- Will stand the test of time and continue to be part of play as children develop new interests and
- Promote respectful, non-stereotyped, non-violent interactions among children.
- Help children develop skills important for further learning and a sense of mastery.
- Can be used by children to play alone as well as with others. Can be enjoyed by both girls and boys.
TRUCE invites parents to copy and distribute their guides to help spread the word in your community. Download this guide here:
TRUCE: Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide (pdf)
TRUCE: Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide (Spanish pdf)
Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide
Want to provide your little one with experiences that will enhance healthy play and development? This guide will help you understand why quality play is vital for your child’s growth and what you can do to support it.
In this guide TRUCE warns parents to “Beware of BRANDING! Children’s media characters are often used by marketers on toys, clothing, and foods to capture young children’s attention. Why is this a problem? Whenever kids see it, they want it because it’s familiar. These kinds of licensing agreements, which support branding efforts, can lead to unwise buying choices, unhealthy eating habits and nagging.”
Download this guide here:
TRUCE: Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide (Spanish pdf)
TRUCE: Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide (pdf)
To learn more about TRUCE, visit www.truceteachers.org.
November 10, 2011 at 6:30 am (Food, Homeschooling, Resources)
Tags: Homeschool, Hunger, Teaching Resource, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
Youth Against Hunger (YAH!)
Curriculum for Teaching About Hunger
The YAH! curriculum is designed for students grades K-12. Activities help pave the way for service projects and discussion addressing hunger and inequity in the United States.
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provides food and resources for people all over the region, and involvement with the organization is a great service learning opportunity for kids. The Food Bank’s website includes a section for educators on ways to use involvement with the food bank to help kids learn about food insecurity and issues of inequality and socioeconomic status.
On their website is a curriculum, called Youth Against Hunger (YAH!), which can be used in classrooms or families supplementing their children’s education at home to raise awareness and knowledge of how hunger affects their community- it would be particularly effective in conjunction with a visit to the food bank and/or a classroom, family, or neighborhood food drive or fundraiser.
They have also put together a suggested reading list for children to further supplement hunger education.
For more information, visit www.foodbankwma.org.
November 7, 2011 at 5:00 am (Holidays, Resources, Take Action)
Tags: Hilltowns, Holidays, Western Massachuesetts
Turkey dinners, gifts for teens, cords of wood, help with payment of a utility bill are examples of some of the unique offerings that have come out of the community to help out other local residents.
Hilltown Social Services writes:
The Gateway National Honor Society will again be working with Hilltown Social Services to help families with lower incomes by providing holiday gifts for children, newborns up through age twelve, who live in the towns in the Gateway School District. This will be the eighteenth continuous year for this community service project. Local residents, businesses, churches and other organization also donate to this effort.
Wish Lists will be available for families with young children, through age twelve, at Hilltown Social Services, 9 Russell Road located across from the fire station on Route 20 in Huntington through Monday November 21, 2011. Each eligible household and child will be assigned and identified by a number to maintain confidentially. The gifts will be ready for pick up on Thursday, December 15, 2011 from 1 -4pm at Hilltown Social Services.
In past years there has been a variety of other generous gift offers that Hilltown Social Services and the Gateway Family Center have directed to appreciative recipients. Turkey dinners, gifts for teens, cords of wood, help with payment of a utility bill are examples of some of the unique offerings that have come out of the community to help out other local residents. Hilltown Social Services, a program of Hilltown Community Health Centers, Inc., coordinates this project. If you or your organization is interested in contributing please call Diane Meehan or Kim Savery at 413-667-2203.
[Photo credit (ccl) Frank Tellez]
November 2, 2011 at 5:00 am (History, Homeschooling, Pittsfield, Resources)
Tags: Berkshires, Hancock Shaker Village, Homeschool, Local History, Shaker, western massachusetts
Student Tours at Hancock Shaker Village
Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield is a fantastic resource for learning about local history and Shaker culture, and the village even offers educational group tours! Designed specifically to fit within the state’s learning standards, the tours teach kids all about life during the 19th century. Though the tours are designed for classes, homeschool groups, scout troops, and other groups of kids can do the tours, too! During November, 90 minute guided tours of the village are available by appointment. This is a great way to supplement learning about local pioneers! To learn more, visit www.hancockshakervillage.org.
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