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

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Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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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!

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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


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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!

Read the rest of this entry »

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!

Read the rest of this entry »

19 Community Highlights: Sungazing to Raptors. Messy Science to Historical Swords.

Can you guess the bird of prey? While mice and squirrels have seen these upclose, have you? They belong to the red tailed hawk, and while it is common to catch sight of a red tailed hawk circling overhead, how many raptors has your family seen up close? Visit the Sunderland Public Library on Saturday, July 11 at 1pm to meet 6-7 birds of prey, and if conditions allow, you may get to see them take flight as well! 413-665-2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Sungazing to Raptors. Plant Science to Lawn Concerts. Messy Science to Historical Swords. 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:  Explore the rich river habitat that lines the Housatonic River with a knowledgeable guide from the Housatonic Valley Association on Saturday, July 11 from 10am – 12pm. Look for interesting native plants and animals and enjoy the beauty of a walk through nature! This hike along the Old Mill Trail is not strenuous and is suitable for families with young children. Preregistration required. 413-394-9796. Old Dalton Road (off rt 8), Hinsdale, MA. (FREE)


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


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


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Family Volunteer Day Summer Series Supports Food Security All Summer Long

Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation

During the summer months of June, July and August, food pantries and meal sites across Western Mass. see a 45% increase in visits over the holiday season. (Photo courtesy of Feeding America)

By now, you’ve probably heard the national news about a public school kitchen manager in Colorado who was fired for giving a free lunch to a crying first grader who was hungry. The manager was fired because the child wasn’t officially qualified for the federally-subsidized lunch program. However, what you may not have heard is that thousands of kids in schools across Western Massachusetts are in this same situation. They are relying on cafeteria staff, teachers and even their classmates to feed them because they don’t have enough food at home.

With so many families struggling with free or reduced school meals, image the challenges they face in the summer when those meals disappear. June, July and August are, by far, the busiest months for our member agencies in Western Massachusetts (which includes food pantries, meal sites and shelters). Approximately 44,665 individuals were served at our member agencies during those three months last year. That’s nearly a 45% increase over the winter months of December, January and February.  Read the rest of this entry »

State Forests & Parks: Treasure for all to Enjoy

Massachusetts State Forests & Parks Connect Community to Local Habitat and Natural Resources

In the extreme southwest corner of Massachusetts is a cluster of state parks noted for their spectacular scenery and breathtaking views, including Mount Washington State Forest. Adjacent to the state forest is Bash Bish Falls, one of the state’s most dramatic waterfalls. Cascading water tumbles through a series of gorges, and then plummets some 60 feet into a sparkling pool below. One of the many “so much fun for so little money” locations the DCR manages.

  • “Come out and play!”
  • “Find yourself in a state park.”
  • “It’s your nature.”

These are some of the phrases Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has used over the years to invite visitors to Massachusetts state Forests and Parks.  They are all true. Here’s another one:  “So much fun for so little money!” It’s unofficial, of my own invention, and so true, too.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation – the state forests and parks – kicks its recreation season into high gear in June.  Plan a visit.  Plan lots of visits.  Let’s talk about the “so much fun” part first.  “For so little money” is covered later in this article.

SO MUCH FUN

The first thing to know about your state Forests and Parks is that there are lots of them – approximately 150 sites throughout Massachusetts. They range from small “pocket parks,” such as playgrounds, in eastern Massachusetts, to several thousand acre forests in western Massachusetts. October Mountain in Berkshire County, at over 16,000 acres, is one of the largest.

The point is this:  Each park is special in its own unique way, whether it is a geologic wonder, like Natural Bridge‘s marble formations in North Adams; or the state’s highest peak, Mt. Greylock State Reservation, in Lanesboro; or waterfalls like the 80-foot Bash Bish Falls in Mt. Washington; or even re-claimed forest land, such as Erving State Forest and many of our other state forests. Read the rest of this entry »

Yo-Yo School Can Unlock Secrets of Physics!

Yo-Yo school encourages understanding of physics alongside tremendous manual dexterity

The yo-yo sleeps for now but this simple object, containing two discs, one axle and long string, is an instrument for gravity-defying trickery, which requires some grounding in the principles of physics.

Not many toys can boast over 2,500 years of use worldwide, but the yo-yo has enjoyed consistent use in hundreds of cultures for nearly three millenia. Seemingly moved by magic, the yo-yo is little more than a well-designed tool to demonstrate basic principles of physics. Consisting essentially of a spool and a string, yo-yos (when in the hands of a skilled operator) can spin, jump, hang, and bump in patterns that are so graceful and speedy that they seem almost impossible. And for those of us with few yo-yo skills, they may feel impossible to perform, too!

Luckily, folks who want to learn to better understand the physics and physical movements behind yo-yo tricks have numerous resources available to them – including both weekly classes and a world class championship right in western Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley! Popular education-based store A to Z (located on King Street in Northampton) hosts Yo-Yo School three times a week inside their store, and their teachers are true masters. Amongst the crew of talented yo-yoists are a world champion and a world class competition judge! A visit to A to Z Yo-Yo School ensures expert instruction and access to a wide variety of yo-yo styles and colors – if you don’t have a yo-yo at home, you’ll be able to pick out a favorite before class begins.

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Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for July 4th & 5th, 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 July 4th-10th, 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 24 Community Highlights: Orchestra to Buttons. Acrobatics to Glow-in-the-Dark., 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 4th-10th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Native FaunaNature-Based LearningNative American CultureMusic StudiesLocal HistoryHikingCircus ArtsOutdoor ConcertsAnimalsArt StudiesFire SafetyCartooningSTEMArts & Crafts

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. Hindsight Parenting: The Rise and Fall of The “Cool” Kid
  2. Parenting Green: Make Yourself Re-useful
  3. Five Catalysts to Connect us with Community-Based Learning
  4. HFVS: 4th of July Birthday Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. What to Play? Make Your Own Toys!

 

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 »

24 Community Highlights: Orchestra to Buttons. Acrobatics to Glow-in-the-Dark.

Bald Eagles to Beavers. Orchestra to Buttons. Acrobatics to Glow-in-the-Dark… 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-based educational highlight this week: Tanglewood‘s Watch and Play program on Sunday, July 5 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)


Native FaunaNature-Based LearningNative American CultureMusic StudiesLocal HistoryHikingCircus ArtsOutdoor ConcertsAnimalsArt StudiesFire SafetyCartooningSTEMArts & Crafts


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


Read the rest of this entry »

Pressing Plants and Flowers Supports Summer Learning & Memories

Creative documenting of summer blooms capture memories and learning

Herbariums are collections of preserved plants and are fun ways for families to preserve summer memories while supporting an interest in botany and local habitats.

As the many flowering plants of the summer grow buds, burst into bloom, and fall to the ground to make way for the next wave of plants to come into season, children often collect specimens of their favorite colorful plants in an attempt to preserve them for endless enjoyment and examination. Inevitably, flowers in a vase will wilt, but carefully pressed and preserved plants can maintain a version of favorite plants that can be enjoyed and examined no matter the season. Pressed plants and flowers can be used for a variety of purposes, and lend themselves in particular to art projects and scientific observations. When compiled as a collection, pressed flowers can serve as a family herbarium – serving as documentation of springs and summers past.
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Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Learning on the Watershed

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: June Segment
Habitat to Support Community-Based Education

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

This monthly segment continued on Thursday, June 25, 2015, this month looking at community-based education through the lens of habitat.  Sienna and Ashley talk about community-based events and resources that support an integrative approach to nature-based learning:

Summer months are a great time of year to get outside with your kids and allow nature to become their classroom.  During the warmer months, look through the lens of your local habitat to find ways for your families to engage in your community while supporting interests and education.  What you will find are opportunities and resources that integrate learning cross a variety of interests, including:

  • River ecology to support interests in insects.
  • Wetlands to support learning about the food chain.
  • Bogs for discovering unique native plants.

Points of entry to community engagement that not only support interest and education, but also support the values of many families include:

  • Outdoor adventures supporting intergenerational engagement while learning about the river.
  • Citizen scientist opportunities to engage families in the scientific process while learning about river ecology.
  • Family volunteering that support service-based learning while keeping our rivers clean and protected.

Discover information and ideas highlighted here in our post,
Learning Along the Watershed: Rivers, Wetlands & Bogs.


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, July 25!

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for June 27th & 28th, 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 June 27th-July 3rd, 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: Geocaching to Lavender. Robotics to Victorian Ballroom Dance., 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!

June 27th-July 3rd, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

CanoeingSTEMFood & NutritionBirds of PreyHabitatEntomologyGarden-Based LearningLiving HistoryGuided WalkFamily VolunteeringGeocachingLibrary AdventuresAncestryOutdoor Film

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. Literary Guide for William Steig’s “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble”
  2. The Garden Plot: Tending Gardens & Family Learning Opportunities
  3. HFVS Guest DJ, Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  4. Fibonacci Sequence & Golden Ratio Drive Nature Based Education
  5. Open Sesame: New Picture Books Explore Rich Themes

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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33 Community Highlights: Geocaching to Lavender. Robotics to Victorian Ballroom Dance.

Lavender is known for its wonderful scent, which calms the nerves, and for the delicate flavor it imparts to baked goods like scones and shortbread. Immerse your senses in lavender on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 from 10am – 4pm at Johnson Hill Farm‘s Lavender Festival, where you can enjoy a lavender labyrinth, a dove release, art and crafts by local artisans, workshops, and demonstrations. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Lavender to Robotics. Geocaching to Static Electricity. Victorian Ballroom Dance to Cedar Wetlands…. 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: Geocaching lets you go on real treasure hunts all across the globe. From “geo,” meaning “Earth,” and “cache,”meaning “hidden goods,” geocaching is an activity in which you can follow clues that lead you to concealed treasures. At the end of a geocache you might find a Tupperware container full of glow-in-the-dark plastic lizards (you get to take one!), or a baggie filled with a mishmash of items left by others who found the cache before you (take one and leave something of yours), and — always– a log book in which to enter information about yourself.  Sunday, June 28 at 2pm & 3pm, a Geocache 101 class and potluck supper, hosted by the Becket Athenaeum, highlights Becket’s geocache scene, with activities led by experienced geocachers and a fun supper afterwards to meet others who are interested in this incredibly fun hobby. 413-623-5483. Becket Center Park, Main Street, Becket, MA. (FREE)


CanoeingSTEMFood & NutritionBirds of PreyHabitatEntomologyGarden-Based LearningLiving HistoryGuided WalkFamily VolunteeringGeocachingLibrary AdventuresAncestryOutdoor Film


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


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Summer Reading Programs Focus on Heroes

Discover Literary Heroes this Summer

With the end of the traditional school year comes an overwhelming sense of freedom for children and adults alike. Summer vacation brings what can feel like an endless stretch of days, the hours of which children can only begin to imagine how they’ll fill. Alongside outdoor adventures, creative free play, and some much-needed unstructured down time, families can fill up those long days of summer with great books – endless volumes of which are available in our local libraries.

too darn hot

In Massachusetts – and across the country – public libraries participate in the Collaborative Summer Library Program. Each year brings a new theme to the program, and libraries work to incorporate educational programs, celebrations of learning, and constant reading in order to provide a comprehensive summer reading program that not only encourages families to read together, but allows participants’ reading to be supported by educational activities that relate to the program’s theme. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for June 20th & 21st, 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 June 20th-26th, 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 30 Community Highlights: Otters to Pollinators. Wild Food to Aviation., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA  for a comprehensive list!

June 20th-26th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Nature StudiesNative PollinatorsWild FoodHistoryAviationLibrary AdventuresArt AppreciationSTEMFilm StudiesFlora & FaunaLocal Food Festivals  ♦ Summer SolsticeDancing

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. Worthington Historical Society Educates all Ages About a Community’s Roots
  2. Family Camping Grows Respect for Nature
  3. What to Play? Summer is Time to Absorb the World
  4. Hindsight Parenting: Nothing Beats Planning for the Summer
  5. Literary Guide for Arthur Dorros’ “Abuela”

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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30 Community Highlights: Otters to Pollinators. Wild Food to Aviation.

River otters, muskrats, and beavers live in the habitat along the Connecticut River! On Saturday, June 20 at 10:30am, the Sunderland Public Library invites children up to 8 years old and their caregivers to explore this habitat in depth. Participants will look for evidence of these animals and perhaps see the creatures themselves! 413-665-2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Otters to Pollinators. Strawberries to Wild Food. Solstice to Aviation… 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: Families can spend Friday, June 19 from 12noon-10pm and Saturday, June 20 from 8am-12noon at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Holmes Road, Pittsfield, MA) participating in the 6th Annual Berkshire BioBlitz. The BioBlitz, which takes place over a full 24-hour period, invites the public, biologists, naturalists, and environmentalists to come together with the goal of identifying and cataloging all living species within Canoe Meadows. There will be experts on hand to assist with identification and teach about the different species found in the sanctuary, and there will be walks, talks, demonstrations, and more to engage participants and teach about local ecology and natural history. This is a unique and exciting free citizen science opportunity for the entire family – all ages can help look for plants, animals, and fungi and learn how to identify them. The BioBlitz will get the whole family interested in and excited about science, nature, and conservation. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)


Nature StudiesNative PollinatorsWild FoodHistoryAviationLibrary AdventuresArt AppreciationSTEMFilm StudiesFlora & FaunaLocal Food Festivals  ♦ Summer SolsticeDancing


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


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2015 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western Massachusetts

4th of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western MA for 2015

From the state where the American Revolution began, families can take part in the multitude of Fourth of July celebrations happening in Western MA! Be sure to check out the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events for a comprehensive list of family and community events happening in Western MA.

To follow is a preview of events, parades & fireworks happening to celebrate the 4th of July for 2015. Please take the time to confirm events you wish to attend, including time, place, age appropriateness, location and costs before attending.

Be sure to check out the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events every Thursday for a comprehensive list of family and community events happening in Western MA.  Subscribe to our free eNewsletter and have weekly update sent to your inbox every Thursday! Read the rest of this entry »

11 Highlights for Father’s Day in Western MA

Calling All Sports Fans, History Buffs, Aviators, Foodies & Music Lovers!

On Sunday, dads and grandfathers with younger kids can enjoy a free train ride and round of mini golf at Look Park or take a free trolley ride at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. Other locations honoring dads and granddads on Father’s Day include Historic Deerfield which offers free admission, or a free ride on the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round.

Happy Father’s Day! This Sunday, June 21, 2015, there are lots of opportunities to explore Western MA with the sons, fathers, step-fathers, and grandfathers in your life!

SPORTS FAN

Few events have the old time, hometown feel of a community baseball game! Don’t miss the 2nd annual Ashfield Baseball and Softball Jamboree  and old timers game on Sunday, June 21, 10:30am, which honors the long tradition of playing these sports in Ashfield. Folks can join in the games or enjoy spectating. Games will play throughout the day into the evening. 413-628-4441. The Field, Ashfield, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION)

Other games happening on Father’s Day: Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltowns Celebrate their History & the Season this Weekend

3 Hilltown Celebrations

As part of Ashfield’s 250 celebration, 396 rockets will light up the sky over Ashfield Lake on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 9pm! Preceded by a free potluck community supper at Town Fall and an afterparty at The Lakehouse. Other places to wine and dine include Elmer’s and Country Pie! Ashfield, MA (FREE)

This Father’s Day weekend in the Hilltowns, three communities celebrate the season and their history!

ASHFIELD

Ashfield is celebrating its 250th birthday this weekend! On Saturday, June 20, a fun-filled parade will traverse the streets with unicycles, antique vehicles, costumes, and many, many community organizations taking part, beginning at 10am.. Starts at the intersection of Emmett Rd & 116 in South Ashfield, goes through the center of town, and ends at Belding Park. Make a day of it by visiting the farmers’ market, enjoying food and music on the Common, and participating in a community and history scavenger hunt at 12:30pm. Folks can dance or clap along at a 2pm contra dance or visit the Ashfield Historical Society’s textile window displays. (FREE) Then from 6pm – 9pm is the Party Under the Stars, a great and festive community event where you can mingle with your friends and neighbors! There will be live music, food, and beverages. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-628-4441. Curtis House, 14 South Street. ($)

CHARLEMONT

Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of Charlemont at this daylong event filled with fascinating local stories, songs, food, games, a scavenger hunt and entertainment on Saturday, June 20 from 9:30am – 8:30pm. 413-339-0117. Downtown. (FREE) Then on Sunday morning from 8-10am, there will be a a community pancake breakfast sponsored by the Friends of the Charlemont Fairgrounds. 413-625-2623. Town Fairgrounds ($)

BECKET

The summer solstice (June 21, 2015) marks the start of summer, the day on which the sun looks highest in the sky and the longest stretch of daylight of the year. Mark this special day at the Becket Arts Center‘s Summer Solstice Community Celebration, where visitors will enjoy an opening reception for a new art exhibit, children’s activities, a silent auction, food, and live music from Becket native, Bobby Sweet. 4pm – 9pm. 413-623-6635. 7 Brooker Hill Road (< $)

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