Astronomy Resources for Budding Scientists

Astronomy Resources for Budding Scientists!

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

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

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

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Fall Classes, Auditions & Open Houses in Western MA

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 29th & 30th, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for August 29th-September 5th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 20 Community Highlights: Mushroom Walk to Cemetery Walk. Lava Lamps to Installation Art., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

August 29th-September 4th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Agricultural FairsMycologyMedia LiteracyBack-to-SchoolFlora & FaunaEntomologySTEMNative American CultureInstallation Art  ♦ TheaterFilmKayakingImmigrationCemetery WalkUpcyclingAutomotive Engineering

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

20 Community Highlights: Mushroom Walk to Cemetery Walk. Lava Lamps to Installation Art.

Foraging for mushrooms may sound like an interesting pursuit, but it requires training. Many edible mushrooms have near-identical impersonators which are highly toxic. One of the best ways to become a safe mushroom forager is by learning from an expert, ideally out in nature where mushrooms can be observed. Try a guided mushroom walk this weekend in Westhampton to learn about edible mushroom in our region.

Nipmuc to Back-to-School Celebrations. Motorama to Cemetery Walk. Lava Lamps to Installation Art…. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week: Aggie Fair season marches on with the Cummington Fair, which runs August 27-30. This fair began back in 1883, when the Hillside Agricultural Society began to place strong focus on “the attainment and diffusion of scientific and practical knowledge in the cultivation of the soil.” The modern day fair offers many connections to those first events, and also includes components relevant to current times. Saturday’s theme is “Old Fashion Fair Day,” featuring many animal shows, a youth tractor pull, a roast beef dinner, live entertainment, and an evening square dance. 413-634-5091. Cummington Fairgrounds, 97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA. ($; FREE for children under 10)


Agricultural FairsMycologyMedia LiteracyBack-to-SchoolFlora & FaunaEntomologySTEMNative American CultureInstallation Art  ♦ TheaterFilmKayakingImmigrationCemetery WalkUpcyclingAutomotive Engineering


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

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

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

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

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Back-To-School with Community-Based Education

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: August Segment
Community-Based Education, Your Year Round Back-to-School Resource!

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 Thursday, August 19, 2015, for their back-to-school week, this time looking at how community-based education supports learning all year round! Sienna and Ashley talk about community engagement as a way of supporting self-initiated self-directed learning, or even a classroom-based curriculum or subject, including history, math, architecture, science, art, botany and biology.

Looking at your community through the lens of an interest is just one point of entry to community-based education. With back-to-school in the air we wanted to encourage our readers, parents, teachers and administrators to remember Hilltown Families as your community resource for supporting interests and education, both inside the classroom and at home.

Discover information and ideas highlighted here in our post,
Community-Based Education Makes Every Day Back-To-School Day

To stay tapped in to community-based educational opportunities happening in western MA, tune in to Hilltown Families by subscribing to our free weekly eNewsletter and receive an update every Thursday!


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be Thursday, September 24!

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 22nd & 23rd, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for August 22nd-28th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 29 Community Highlights: Tomato Festival to Corn Fest. Poetry Slam to Zine Camp., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

August 22nd-28th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Food FestivalsLiterary ArtsOutdoor AdventuresAgricultural FairsCollaborative ConsumptionPerformance ArtPaleontologyCommunity CelebrationsSocial StudiesLocal HistoryCommunity MealSingingCreative WritingBiologyLEGOsOutdoor Music

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

29 Community Highlights: Tomato Festival to Corn Fest. Poetry Slam to Zine Camp.

Can’t get enough of ripe, summertime tomatoes? Visit Red Fire Farm‘s Tomato Festival this Saturday, August 22 from 8am-5pm, where you can geek out on all things tomato! Learn through the lens of this juicy fruit!

Tomato Festival to Corn Fest. Poetry Slam to Zine Camp. Harvest Supper to Civics… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week: How many different kinds of corn are there? Which varieties are grown in Western Massachusetts? Explore the different textures and flavors of butter & sugar corn, white corn, and candy corn, among others, at Whitney’s Farm Market‘s 6th annual Corn Fest this Sunday, August 23 from 1pm-5pm ! There will be a corn shucking contest, a corn eating contest, races, a petting zoo, and some delicious corn chowder. Visitors are also invited to bring a jar of homemade pickles (with name and phone number on the jar) to enter in the Pickle Patch competition for a chance to be crowned “best pickle in Berkshire County.” 413-442-4749. 1775 South State Road, Cheshire, MA. (FREE)


Food FestivalsLiterary ArtsOutdoor AdventuresAgricultural FairsCollaborative ConsumptionPerformance ArtPaleontologyCommunity CelebrationsSocial StudiesLocal HistoryCommunity MealSingingCreative WritingBiologyLEGOsOutdoor Music


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 15th & 16th, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for Month August 15th-21st, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 27 Community Highlights: Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

August 15th-21st,2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Agricultural FairsWestern MA CultureEarth ScienceLocal HistoryImmigrationClimatologyVisual ArtPaintingLiteracyTeen PartyEntomologyPuppet ShowCommunity ServiceShakespeareOutdoor TheaterCommunity MealWalking GroupsParent SupportWeekday SpotlightDance Studies

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. HFVS Back to School Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  2. 11 Suggestions on How Western MA Families Can Make Wise Back-to-School Purchases
  3. Q&A: Hair Cuts in Western MA
  4. Tips for a New School Year
  5. 6 Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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27 Community Highlights: Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals.

Many children are inclined to collect stones and shells based on their texture, color, beauty, or interesting features. What makes up these rocks, minerals, and shells, and what can we learn about our planet through these natural objects? Attend the Gaylord Memorial Library‘s “Mother Earth” program to learn all about earth science on Saturday, August 15th at 11am! Geared for children ages 2-5. Registration required. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Immigration to Climatology. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week: Aggie Fair season is upon us! Don’t let these weekend events pass you by without exploring one with your family! The Middlefield Fair, which runs August 14-16, features a 4-H club petting zoo, 4×4 truck pulls, a fiddle contest, a roast pork lunch, and horse pulls on the second day. Learn more about agricultural fairs at Hilltown Families’ posts about youth aggie fair participation and the fairs’ multidisciplinary learning opportunities. 413-623-6027. 7 Bell Road, Middlefield, MA. (< $)


Agricultural FairsWestern MA CultureEarth ScienceLocal HistoryImmigrationClimatologyVisual ArtPaintingLiteracyTeen PartyEntomologyPuppet ShowCommunity ServiceShakespeareOutdoor TheaterCommunity MealWalking GroupsParent SupportWeekday SpotlightDance Studies



Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:


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Hunger Action Month Empowers Our Community to Support Food Security

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

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

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

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

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

10 Messy Summer Science Activities for Outside!

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

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 8th & 9th, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Join us this Saturday morning!

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for August 8th-14th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 33 Community Highlights: Blueberries to Beavers. Croquet to Mandolin., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

August 8th-14th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Nature-Based LearningOrnithologyLocal HistoryService-Based LearningMagicSport HistoryMusic StudiesSTEMCommunity CelebrationsAstronomyLocal FoodNature MedicineOutdoor Music & TheaterIndoor Theater

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

33 Community Highlights: Blueberries to Beavers. Croquet to Mandolin.

PYO BLUEBERRIES: Picking summertime berries is a part of many families’ summer traditions; an authentic way for kids to learn where their food comes from! If organic blueberries are next on your list, Summit Farm in the heart of the Hilltowns is the place for you!  Call beforehand to ensure that conditions are good for picking. 413-634-5024. 131 Summit Street, Plainfield, MA. ($)

Blueberries to Beavers. Croquet to Mandolin. Meteorology to Astronomy…. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play! Featured community highlight this week: Flywheel Arts Collective and Hilltown Families are partnering to host a first-ever outdoor summer block party for kids on Saturday, August 8 from 10am-12pm! Bring some friends and get ready to meet plenty of new families, too, as we all gather to dance, eat, play, and enjoy fabulous entertainment by the Robbins-Zust Marionettes. DJ Youthelectronix will provide the music, a mix skillfully selected to be enjoyable to both children and adults. This fundraiser, which will support both organizations, will be run with a “pay what you can” admission. Rain location: Flywheel, 43 Main Street, Easthampton, MA. 413-527-9800. Millside Park, Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA. (DONATION)


Nature-Based LearningOrnithologyLocal HistoryService-Based LearningMagicSport HistoryMusic StudiesSTEMCommunity CelebrationsAstronomyLocal FoodNature MedicineOutdoor Music & TheaterIndoor Theater


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:

Read the rest of this entry »

17 Kitchen Scraps Born Anew for Experiential Learning

Kitchen Scrap Gardening

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

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

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

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Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Learning Experiences at Agricultural Fairs

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: July Segment
Agricultural Fairs Celebrate Local History. Preserve Local Culture

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 Friday, July 31, 2015, this time looking at community-based education through the lens of local culture embedded in yearly agricultural fairs.  Sienna and Seth talk about ways agricultural fairs offer families opportunities to participate in a community integrated tradition while offering a myriad of learning experiences!

Discover information and ideas highlighted here in our post,
History, Culture & Community Can All Be Found at Western MA Agricultural Fairs


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be Thursday, August 20!

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 1st & 2nd, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for August 1st-7th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 27 Community Highlights: Penguins to Cicadas. Lava Lamps to Pteridology., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

August 1st-7th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

OrnithologyNative American CultureCartographyCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryGraphic NovelsService-Based LearningBotanyMusic StudiesLibrary AdventuresSTEMEntomology

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

27 Community Highlights: Penguins to Cicadas. Lava Lamps to Pteridology.

When flowers are in bloom, it can be easy to overlook the other plant life around them. Late summer affords us a wonderful window of opportunity (between two seasonal flower blooms) to focus in on ferns! On Sunday, August 2 from 12pm-2pm there will be a 2-hour hike, sponsored by the Hilltown Land Trust,  leading participants past many different types of ferns. Learn how to identify and differentiate common local fern species. Wear long sleeves and pants, sturdy shoes, and insect repellant, and bring water as well as a magnifying glass and fern guide if you have them. Great community-based educational opportunity for self-directed and life-long learners. Rain cancels. Registration required. 508-997-0496. Taproot Commons Farm, 11 Porter Hill Road, Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Penguins to Cicadas. Lava Lamps to Pteridology. Choral Arts to Comics… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week: Creating a map requires that we take a different look at our surroundings, examine spatial relationships, recognize landforms, and consider scale. Families can try their hand at cartography, or mapmaking, at Chesterwood‘s “Walking the Line” workshop on Saturday, August 1 from 11:30am-1pm. Participants will be invited to create maps of both real and imagined places. 413-298-3579. 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($)


OrnithologyNative American CultureCartographyCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryGraphic NovelsService-Based LearningBotanyMusic StudiesLibrary AdventuresSTEMEntomology


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

Agricultural Fairs Celebrate and Preserve Local Culture

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

Magic Shows: The Psychology Behind Magic Tricks & Illusions

Distraction and Influence: The Psychology of Magic

Have you ever wondered how magic tricks really work? By studying the psychology behind magic, young magicians (and young psychologists) can uncover the “secrets” behind successful magic tricks and learn lots about the human brain at the same time!

Have you ever wondered exactly how it is that magic tricks work? Great magicians manage to perform seemingly impossible feats not through any mysterious form of magic, but through the magic of psychology – the magic of which lies in the ability to subtly influence decisions and attention. Easy to study at home and at community events, magic can be an interesting entry point for studies of psychology and, in addition to gaining a better understanding of the human brain, perhaps families can learn a few tricks for themselves in the process!

Families can learn together about the connection between magic tricks and psychology by exploring research done by researchers at McGill University and the University of British Columbia. Titled ”Psychology of Magic”, the project explores human decision making – specifically, the choosing of cards from a standard deck. Research has shown that, when asked to choose any card from a deck, people choose aces much more frequently than any other card and, in particular, they most prefer the ace of spades.  Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Morning Summer Block Party for Kids!

Block Party for Kids - Flywheel

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

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 25th & 26th, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for July 25th-31th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 31 Community Highlights: Silk Worms to Pottery Tour. Museums to Hiking Trails., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

July 25th-31st, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Pottery-Based LearningCommunity CelebrationsZymologyLocal HistoryCommunity HikeEntomologyOrnithologyMuseum AdventuresOutdoor PerformancesPuppetryWeekday Highlights

RECAP

 

 

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

 

 

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

31 Community Highlights: Silk Worms to Pottery Tour. Museums to Hiking Trails.

Back in the 1700s, were residents of Massachusetts doomed to suffer through hot, humid summers, or did they have ways to escape the heat? What could they do to keep their produce from wilting and rotting in the summer months? Visit Historic Deerfield‘s hourly Hot Weather, Cold Hearth presentations on Saturday, July 25 between 10am-4pm to learn how early New Englanders made the most of their summer months. 413-775-7127. 84B Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA. ($)

Silk Worms to Pottery Tour. Museums to Hiking Trails. Historical Societies to Bug Safaris… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week: This Saturday, July 25 from 10am-9pm, the South Hadley Falls Fest brings people together to enjoy music, art, and each other, and aims to promote cultural and community diversity through the arts. There will be live music throughout the day, and plenty of activities for families and children including ukelele lessons, make-your-own instruments, lawn games, origami, karaoke, and bracelet making! Food and beverage vendors will be on site, and artisans will be selling their wares as well. Rain or shine. 413-535-8861. South Hadley Falls, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)


Pottery-Based LearningCommunity CelebrationsZymologyLocal HistoryCommunity HikeEntomologyOrnithologyMuseum AdventuresOutdoor PerformancesPuppetryWeekday Highlights


Join our stellar team supporters!
Become a sponsor of Learn Local. Play Local. and see your banner here:


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Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 18th & 19th, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for July 18th-24th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 43 Community Highlights: Zookeeping to Coding. Orchestra to Lawn Puppets., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

July 18th-24th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

River-Based LearningNaturalistCulture CelebrationsSTEMCulinary ArtsMuseum AdventuresZookeepingGarden-Based LearningFiber ArtsHistoryCircus ArtsShakespeareAstronomyMusic StudiesPuppetryOutdoor ConcertFamily Weekday Performances

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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43 Community Highlights: Zookeeping to Coding. Orchestra to Lawn Puppets.

A diverse array of native plants surrounds us in Western Massachusetts, yet many of us cannot name, much less identify, most of these species. It’s hard to value something when we don’t even know it exists! On Saturday, July 18 from 9am-12pm, come out to explore the woods at Just Roots‘ Exploring Wild Plants program with naturalist Ted Watt to learn the names, distinctive characteristics, and uses of many of our native plants. Registration required. 413-325-8969. 34 Glenbrook Drive, Greenfield, MA. (< $)

River-Based Learning to Garden-Based Learning. Zookeeping to Coding. Orchestra to Lawn Puppets… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week:

Experience a slice of life from the Civil War era at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. on Saturday, July 18 from 10am-4pm. This immersive experience will include Civil War reenactors, cooking demos, storytelling, singing, crafts, a quilt show, children’s activities, and more! 413-532-1631 x 10. 207 Bryant Road, Cummington, MA. (< $)

Tanglewood‘s Watch and Play program on Sunday, July 19 at 1pm gives children ages 3-10 the opportunity to listen to and interact with a variety of orchestral instruments and musical arrangements. The setting is casual and welcoming, and children are encouraged to converse with musicians to explore their music-related curiosities. Pre-registration required. 413-637-5180. The Shed at Tanglewood, 297 West Street, Lenox, MA. (FREE)


River-Based LearningNaturalistCulture CelebrationsSTEMCulinary ArtsMuseum AdventuresZookeepingGarden-Based LearningFiber ArtsHistoryCircus ArtsShakespeareAstronomyMusic StudiesPuppetryOutdoor ConcertFamily Weekday Performances


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Springfield Museums:


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Community-Based Learning at Native Plant Nursery & Wildlife Sanctuary in Berkshires

Weekend with Wildlife Highlights Symbiosis of Native Species

“The caterpillars are remarkable and seeing them up close gives you a new appreciation of the creatures who often go unnotice,” shared Project Native Intern, Lindsay Buesgens.

Dedicated to growing and teaching about native plants, as well as preserving the species who depend upon them, Project Native in Housatonic, MA, offers extensive opportunities to learn about the plants and creatures who live within the local landscape and the ways in which their existence is interconnected. Maintaining 54 acres filled with over 200 local plant species, a wildlife sanctuary, and a native butterfly house, Project Native’s impact is great.

From July 24-26, 2015, families can join Project Native in celebrating the wonders of the natural world by participating in Weekend With Wildlife, a three-day-long event featuring studies of caterpillars, birds of prey, and the many inhabitants of the lush landscape offered at Project Native’s 54-acre farm in Housatonic. Though the grounds at Project Native are filled with enough life to sustain enough wildlife-centric learning to fill hundreds of weekends, the Weekend With Wildlife will include visits from special guest presenters, within whom will come many fascinating wildlife visitors.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hand Clapping Games: Summer & Schoolyard Creative Free Play that Supports Learning

Hand Clapping Games Spur Learning

In schoolyards all around the world, hand-clapping games have been a staple activity of childhood for generations. Pairing silly songs and rhymes with quick claps, slaps, snaps, and other movements, hand-clapping games can provide endless hours of entertainment and friendship building.

In addition to the recreational benefits of hand-clapping games, studies have shown that hand-clapping games support children in developing many essential skills. Researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev studied children in grades 1-3 and found that children who participated in spontaneous clapping games during their free time had stronger spelling skills than peers who didn’t. Additionally, the same students had neater handwriting and better writing and drawing skills than students who didn’t participate in clapping games. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 11th & 12th, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for July 11th-17th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 19 Community Highlights: Sungazing to Raptors. Messy Science to Historical Swords., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

July 11th-17th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Astronomy Outdoor Adventures/HikingArt StudiesBirds of PreyTheaterCommunity GatheringGarden-Based LearningLawn ConcertsSTEMHistoryEcology

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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