Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for April 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 April 25th-May 1st, 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 45 Community Highlights: Swordsmanship to Sheep Shearing. Sunspots to Dinosaur Valley., 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!

April 25th-May 1st, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

GeologyService-Based LearningVernal PoolsOrnithologyHistoryHilltown HighlightsEco-CelebrationsSheep ShearingPlant StudiesCulinary ArtsPreschool HighlightsMusic StudiesAstronomyLocal HistoryArt HistoryEntomologyParent Workshops

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Support Language Art & Community Engagement Through Poetry
  2. Oak & Acorn: Sustainable and Wild Harvesting
  3. Message of the Spring Peepers
  4. What’s Your Favorite Way to Discover and Explore History with Your Kids?
  5. HFVS Weather Episode with Guest DJ, Alison Faith Levy (Radio Show/Podcast)

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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45 Community Highlights: Swordsmanship to Sheep Shearing. Sunspots to Dinosaur Valley.

See sheep shearing demonstrations at Hancock Shaker Village on April 25 and 26. Visitors can see the Village’s Merino sheep get rid of their winter coats, and there will be hands-on textile demonstrations. 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Historical Swordsmanship to Sheep Shearing. Gospel Choir to Leonardo da Vinci. Sunspots to Dinosaur Valley… 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: Looking for a great way to celebrate Earth month with the whole family? Head to the 6th Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival on Saturday, April 25, 10am-4pm! You can learn more about home energy savings, renewable energy options, Arbor Day, permaculture, and waste footprint reduction. There will also be “How To” workshops on tree care, composting, bee keeping, growing mushrooms, and fermenting vegetables. While you’re learning, enjoy live entertainment throughout the day from local musicians. Or, take a break to pet the animals! The Goat Girls booth will have live goats and there will be draft horses from the Bluestar Equiculture booth. Kids can also have their faces painted, watch live juggling, and participate in tree identification activities. Feel free to bring pellet bags, large Styrofoam, and unwanted linens, rags, and clothes for recycling when you come! Amherst Town Common. Amherst, MA. (Free to attend).

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


GeologyService-Based LearningVernal PoolsOrnithologyHistoryHilltown HighlightsEco-CelebrationsSheep ShearingPlant StudiesCulinary ArtsPreschool HighlightsMusic StudiesAstronomyLocal HistoryArt HistoryEntomologyParent Workshops


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation:

Read the rest of this entry »

New England Culture & Learning Through the Lens of Sheep & Wool

Sheep & Wool: Catalysts for Community-Based Education in Western MA

In the early spring, New England history and culture come alive with the arrival of newborn lambs and the shearing of sheep for the production of wool. The wool industry has strong ties to western Massachusetts, with annual events that celebrate our historical past and other events which showcase modern day shepherds and their flocks.

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Four community events take place this spring that are rich in learning opportunities! Baby animals, history, animal husbandry, and even fiber arts, are all great catalysts for learning through community engagement at these annual events: Read the rest of this entry »

5 Community Walks Lead Towards Seeing a Hidden Landscape in the Hilltowns

Hidden Walls, Hidden Mills: Exploring the Plainfield Landscape

Click to enlargeJoin the Plainfield Historical Society for five free walks and talks exploring and interpreting our forested historical landscape this spring and summer! Starting on Saturday, April 25, 2015, with the Plainfield Aquaduct Company, the first commonly-held utility in Plainfield history.

Sinking deeply into spring mud, as most families living in the Hilltowns are doing, reminds us of the abundance of water that once made Plainfield a center of industrial farming, a boomtown of sorts in which land speculation went hand in hand with great civic efforts to build a community. In five guided talks/walks, learn to see old Plainfield in the landscape, about the mills, springs, and wells, “read” stone foundations and walls like so many tablets, interpret trees and plants to find cellar holes, and enrich your understanding of this beautiful Hilltown.

All tours meet behind the Shaw Memorial Library (Plainfield, MA) at 1pm and are free (donations welcomed). There will first be a “show and tell” of the historical research involved in creating the walk, followed by a walk or hike.  Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry of Science Contest

Chemists Celebrate Earth Day 2015 Illustrated Poem Contest

Combining science with writing and visual creativity is such a refreshing way to approach a complex topic. American Chemical Society is now seizing the day and holding an innovative poetry competition for kids that will drive them to explore different avenues in science.

Calling all young, creative-minded budding scientists! The Connecticut Valley Local Section of the American Chemical Society invites youth ages 5-18 years old to participate in the Chemists Celebrate Earth Day 2015 Illustrated Poem Contest! An annual event combining science with writing and visual artistry, the poetry contest encourages young writers to process their knowledge related to a scientific topic in a very non-traditional way. Unlike most science-based writing, writing created for the Illustrated Poem Contest won’t be centered around the task of explaining a concept or theory. Instead, entries in the contest will combine creative writing skills and scientific understanding to create a piece that is both beautiful and informative. Read the rest of this entry »

Amherst Bee Friendly Week to Begin on National Arbor Day

Amherst Seeks to “Bee” Friendly!

Amherst has declared the week of April 24th – May 1st as “Amherst Bee Friendly Week.” In efforts to meet the certification requirements, community-based programs, workshops and educational opportunities are being offered!

The Town of Amherst is hoping to become the first certified “Bee Friendly” community in Massachusetts! In an effort to assist the declining honey bee population, Shelburne’s Piti Theatre Company, led by Jonathan Mirin and Godeliève Richard, are leading a campaign to raise awareness, educate and create more bee friendly habitat.

“Amherst Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello and Grow Food Amherst embraced the Bee Week idea last year and have incorporated it into their programming in 2015. They are pioneering the Bee Friendly Town model and it’s very exciting,” said Jonathan Mirin. Read the rest of this entry »

Discovering History Through Pottery-Based Learning

Local Pottery Resources Provide History Education

A part of cultures around the world for thousands of years, pottery is fascinating – both as a functional art form and as an entry point for studying history. Utilizing local resources, children’s literature, and online tools, families can explore art, history, culture, and science through pottery-centric studies!

Pottery has been a part of human civilizations around the world ever since the Neolithic era – which was over 10,000 years ago! Much more than just a means of making dishes, pottery serves as a creative outlet for many artists, and the slow development of the art and technology surrounding pottery speaks volumes to the changes that human civilization has undergone, both long ago and more recently. Additionally, while pottery can be found in countless cultures all around the world, techniques, styles, and uses vary between cultures, and close study of various pieces of pottery can speak to the similarities and differences between cultures near and far. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for April 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 April 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 42 Community Highlights: Earth Day to Park Clean-Ups. Revolutionary Muster to Jurassic Roadshow., 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!

April 18th-24th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

DancingService-Based LearningEarth DayMusic StudiesLiteracyVernal PoolsEntomologyColonial HistoryPaleontologyArts & CraftsCulinary ArtsCommunity SingPuppetrySTEMAnimal StudiesTheaterEconomics

RECAP

Family Volunteer Days 

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Mug & Bugs in the Hills
  2. Virtual Tour: How Plastic Bags Get Recycle
  3. Planting Seeds: Music that Celebrates Gardening
  4. Where to Get New/Used Bikes for the Family in Western MA
  5. Q&A: Does Your Family Have a Pediatric Dentist You Love Here in Western MA?

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

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42 Community Highlights: Earth Day to Park Clean-Ups. Revolutionary Muster to Jurassic Roadshow.

Discover the history of Patriot’s Day at Historic Deerfield’s Patriot’s Day Revolutionary Muster and Parade on Saturday, April 18 from 10am-4pm. Visitors can experience what life was like in a small New England town in the 18th Century with activities like crafts, fife and drum music, and a parade and muster. All ages will enjoy this experience, which will make you feel like you’re back in the 1700s. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. ($)

Park Clean-Ups to Earth Day Celebrations. Revolutionary Muster to Jurassic Roadshow. Papercutting to Wildcrafting… 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: Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids! Come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! Takes place at Flywheel in the old town. 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)


DancingService-Based LearningEarth DayMusic StudiesLiteracyVernal PoolsEntomologyColonial HistoryPaleontologyArts & CraftsCulinary ArtsCommunity SingPuppetrySTEMAnimal StudiesTheaterEconomics


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation:

Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective this Saturday!

UMass Amherst Libraries Host Human Library on Earth Day

Check Out a Living Book from the Human Library on Earth Day

Founded in 2001 in Denmark to promote human rights and social cohesion, the human library project seeks to create greater understanding between people and provide a safe space where we can learn more about each other and work through stereotypes and discrimination present in our community in order to ultimately to forge new connections between people.

If you missed the Human Library Project when it took place at Williams College this past February, you have another chance to participate on Earth Day, this time in the Pioneer Valley! The UMass Amherst Libraries invite the public and the campus community to participate in the Human Library on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, from 10am-2pm in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, Learning Commons (Lower Level), at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The event is free and open to the public.

Originating in Denmark, the Human Library is an international phenomenon, having occurred in 65 countries over the past 12 years. This event promotes dialogue and encourages understanding by providing a safe and encouraging environment within which people of different backgrounds can interact and learn from each other.  Read the rest of this entry »

National Volunteer Month & Beyond Boosts Service-Based Learning

Over 16 Volunteer Opportunities to Connect with Your Community & Community Treasures

Participating in community spring clean-ups gives families the opportunity to engage in community service together while promoting civic engagement and strengthening a sense of place in youth participants.

As spring warms the landscape across western Massachusetts, opportunities for outdoor adventures increase exponentially. What might have been a ski or snowshoe trek to search for animal tracks just a month ago would now be a muddy hike to search for vernal pools. However, in order to truly appreciate the wonderful outdoor spaces available to us, it’s important to lend a hand in readying local parks and trails for the season!

During National Volunteer Month, many local parks and trails are in need of some restoration, and there are plenty of upcoming opportunities for families to volunteer their time to prepare such locations for warm weather visitors. In addition to providing a much needed (and much appreciated) service to the community, participating in a spring clean-up effort is a great way to learn the specifics of local outdoor spaces. In helping to ready garden beds for spring, families can learn about how, when, and why certain plant varieties are planted. Similarly, families with older children can learn by helping out with trail maintenance – an activity that will help volunteers to learn about how trails are created and how (and why) they require such maintenance. Read the rest of this entry »

Eyes are the Window Poetry Contest

Amherst Poets Can Have Their Words On Poetry Windows

As Shakespeare wrote, “eyes are the window to the soul.” This visionary truth has inspired the theme for Amherst Together’s “Eyes are the Window” poetry contest. Held in conjunction with the Amherst Public Art Commission and in celebration of National Poetry Month, “Eyes are the Window” asks poets to answer the question, “When you I look into your eyes, what will I see?” Open to poets of all ages living, working or studying in Amherst, the contest’s prompt encourages creative and self-reflective writing.

Winning submissions will be displayed in Amherst’s Poetry Windows in Boltwood Walk. Originally installed in 2002, the poetry windows were the work of artist Ritsuko Taho and displayed poems in green liquid crystal. This past January, the poetry windows underwent a digital makeover and will now display poems on miniature iPads. The top five poems submitted to the contest will be announced in May and displayed in the windows, and another 125 poems will be selected and displayed in rotation through May of 2016.

Poets can submit their work in person in a drop box at the Jones Library or online by April 30th, 2015. All work must be original, and may include no more than 25 words, and poets may submit only one piece of writing to the contest.

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for April 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 April 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 31 Community Highlights: Drumming to Classical Music. Vernal Pools to Science Festival., 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!

April 11th-17th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Bird StudiesLEGOsService-Based LearningFairy TalesLocal HistoryMusic StudiesPreschool HighlightsVernal PoolsSTEMPerformanceLiterary ArtsNature StudiesSustainable AgricultureAstronomyParent WorkshopsSurvival Skills

RECAP

Family Volunteer Days 

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Over 25 Walking Tours Support Community-Based Education in Western MA
  2. Poem-Mobiles: Bizarre Cars & Humorous Rhymes
  3. Capture & Record Your Wildlife Encounters for Fun & for Science
  4. 13 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day in Western MA
  5. Families in Western MA Offer Earth Day Eco-Tips

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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31 Community Highlights: Drumming to Classical Music. Vernal Pools to Science Festival.

Celebrate spring with baby animals at Hancock Shaker Village! The historic village opens for the season with a barn filled with new babies for visitors to welcome to the world. Families can take behind-the-scenes tours of the farm and learn about the village’s history and unique architecture, too!

Drumming to Classical Music. Bagshare to Mitzvah Bags. Vernal Pools to Science Festival… 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: Saturday, April 11 is “The Big Night” at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Families can go on guided tours from 5:30pm-8:30pm of the forest and meet costumed characters from vernal pools, such as spotted salamanders, wood frogs, and fairy shrimp. There will be short, funny skits to teach families about these interesting creatures. Pre-registration is required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)


Bird StudiesLEGOsService-Based LearningFairy TalesLocal HistoryMusic StudiesPreschool HighlightsVernal PoolsSTEMPerformanceLiterary ArtsNature StudiesSustainable AgricultureAstronomyParent WorkshopsSurvival Skills


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation:

Read the rest of this entry »

Build Community & Inspire Change During National Volunteer Month

National Volunteer Month provides opportunities for the entire family to support the community

Families from across Western Massachusetts joined together at a recent Family Volunteer Day held at The Food Bank to sort and pack fresh produce. The food is distributed through The Fook Bank’s ‘Mobile Food Bank’ and ‘Brown Bag: Food for Elders’ programs, to food insecure families throughout the region.

April in National Volunteer Month — a time when we celebrate and honor the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and support their community. The month-long celebration is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. By working together, we can meet our challenges and accomplish all of our goals.

One of the best aspects of volunteering is that there are so many different reasons to get involved. It’s a fun opportunity to meet new people, network and gain new working skills. It’s also a great way to help an organization that aligns with your personal values and beliefs. Most importantly, volunteering is the best way to support your community.

At The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we rely on the continued efforts of our volunteers to help us provide healthy food to the more than 235,000 people in our region struggling with food insecurity. We asked some of our volunteers why they donate their time to us. Here’s what they had to say:  Read the rest of this entry »

Spring on Shaker Farm Comes Alive with Baby Animals

Hancock Shaker Village Celebrates Spring with New Life

Celebrate spring with baby animals at Hancock Shaker Village! The historic village opens for the season with a barn filled with new babies for visitors to welcome to the world. Families can take behind-the-scenes tours of the farm and learn about the village’s history and unique architecture, too!

Spring has come to Hancock Shaker Village in all its glory, bringing with it baby animals of all shapes and sizes! Opening for the season after months of snowy and frigid weather, the historic Shaker village is offering visitors the chance to celebrate the coming of spring by visiting with the farm animals’ new babies – chicks, lambs, piglets, and more!

Hancock Shaker Village’s first day of the season will be Saturday, April 11th, 2015, and families can pat, snuggle, and gaze longingly at the young creatures in the village’s historic 1826 round stone barn. A unique structure, the barn was once home to 52 dairy cows in the village’s heyday and, though it has been restored since, it remains a prominent structure within the village. Families will not only delight in visiting the baby animals, but will marvel at the unique structure’s materials and design both inside and out!

In addition to baby animals and a spring-y landscape, families can enjoy special Behind-the-Scenes farm tours at 11am and 1pm, where interpreters will lead families on an exploration of the village’s Field and Forest Trail to see beehives, composters, orchards, greenhouses, and pasture land. Fun and informative for children of all ages, the tour will give visitors a look at the farm’s inner workings and the cyclical nature of farm life. Exploring the greenhouses provides a glimpse of newly sprouted seedlings, beehives teach about pollination, and composters illustrate the final stop for bits of plants and vegetables.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Draw-Around Unleashes Creative Free-Play!

Interactive Event & Workshops Invites Community to Make its Mark

Draw all over the walls (and the floor and the tables) at the Art Garden’s first annual 12-hour Hilltown Draw Around! Creative types of all ages are invited to participate in art making, community-building, and creative free play all day long!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to draw all over a room? The Art Garden is offering families exactly that opportunity! The first annual Hilltown Draw Around is a 12-hour interactive community art-making extravaganza held in a paper-covered gymnasium. Families can drop by between 12noon and midnight on Saturday, April 11th for a day filled with drawing workshops, community building, creative free play, and endless opportunities to draw anything and everything. And it’s not just for self-proclaimed artists – anyone and everyone is welcome to come and explore the creative materials available and make their own mark on the event.

A variety of volunteer-lead workshops throughout the day offer participants opportunities to learn new drawing-related skills or to participate in special projects – and many workshops use drawing as an entry point for interdisciplinary learning. A mathematical drawing workshop will teach participants about fractals, geometry, and the Golden Ratio, while a synesthesia-based drawing experience will help participants make connections between spoken language, color, and art, as well as teaching about the cognitive phenomenon that is synesthesia. Read the rest of this entry »

Millennium Project in Pioneer Valley Integrates Art with Citizen Scientists

Exhibition to Document Next Millennium of Climate Change in History’s Slowest Photograph

Formed 200 million years ago in the Late Triassic and boasting hundreds of distinct microclimates, the Holyoke Range is a site selected to document the transformation of the environment over the next 1,000 years.
This spring, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will install a camera, designed by experimental philosopher and Amherst College graduate Jonathon Keats, that will take a millennium-long photograph of the evolving landscape. The museum will unveil the photograph in the summer of 3015. Prior to the camera’s installation at the Mead, it will be it will be on display in the exhibition Jonathon Keats: Photographing Deep Time, on view April 15 through May 31, 2015.

What will the landscape of the Pioneer Valley look like a millennium from now? The Mead Art Museum and artist Jonathon Keats are determined to find out. As part of an exhibition of Keats’ work, the museum will install a special camera that will take a 1,000-year-long photograph tracking the changes in the local landscape over the next millennium.

Created using the basic design for a pinhole camera, the Millennium Camera will use oil paint and the light that enters the camera through a tiny hole in order to create an exposure that will reflect changes in Amherst’s landscape over time. Mounted at the top of the Stearns Steeple, the camera will get something a bit like a bird’s eye view of its surroundings. In 3015, the image created by the camera will be unveiled and viewed by a community living in a very different world than today’s.

The exhibit that marks the camera’s start is titled Photographing Deep Time, and will showcase Keats’ other work in deep time photography, including a 100-year photographic survey of the changing cityscape of Berlin. Rather than being focused on the end result of any image, Keats’ deep photography process is focused on connecting photograph viewers with the changes that take place over time that, together, create the final product.

Older students and adults wishing to hear more about the monumental project and Keats’ artistic process can attend an artist conversation at the Mead Art Museum from 2-3pm on Wednesday, April 15th. Photographing Deep Time will be on display at the museum through May 31st, providing families with the opportunity to explore the intersection of art, science, and the future’s history. This Wednesday afternoon event is free and open to the public and is part of the Arts at Amherst Spring Festival.

The Mead will also produce 100 pinhole cameras, each with a 100-year exposure time, for the public to hide somewhere in the Pioneer Valley, invisibly monitoring changes in the surrounding landscape between now and 2115. The cameras will be available at the Mead for $5 each and will come with a registration card for visitors to document their camera’s location. Participating families can join is a art-based citizen scientists! Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for April 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 April 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 19 Community Highlights: Ducklings to Ukuleles. Chemistry to Anatomy., 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!

April 4th-10th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

EasterArt/AnatomySTEMBird StudiesCulinary ArtsCreative-Free PlayTheaterDance StudiesLocal HistoryFarm AnimalsMusicParent WorkshopsMuseum AdventuresNature-Based Learning

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Let’s Play: Creative-Free Play in the Spring
  2. 6 Remedies to the Pre-Dinner Snack Dilemma
  3. A Flock of New Bird Books Take Flight
  4. HFVS Birds of Spring Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. Early Spring Gardening in the Hilltowns

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

19 Community Highlights: Ducklings to Ukuleles. Chemistry to Anatomy.

Celebrate the coming of spring at Winterberry Farm‘s annual Open Farm on Sunday, April 5, 2pm-4:30pm . Come meet animals, including lambs, chicks, and ducklings. A great way for families to spend this early-spring Sunday! Donations accepted for Right Sharing of World Resources. 413-624-3940. 340 Wilson Hill Road. Colrain, MA. (FREE/DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

Anatomy to Chemistry. Ducklings to Woodcocks. Ukulele to Intergenerational Playshop… 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: Do you want to learn how to solve mysteries using science? Attend a free, CSI-themed Chemistry Adventure Day at the Emily Williston Memorial Library on Saturday, April 4 from 10:30am-11:30am! Students from Mt. Holyoke College will lead this event for kids, which uses forensic science to figure out who stole the cookies from the school fundraiser. Kids who love science and mysteries will have a blast at this hands-on program, which will help teach basic chemistry concepts. Call 413-529-1605 or stop by the Youth Department to register. The library is located at 9 Park Street in Easthampton, MA. (FREE)


EasterArt/AnatomySTEMBird StudiesCulinary ArtsCreative-Free PlayTheaterDance StudiesLocal HistoryFarm AnimalsMusicParent WorkshopsMuseum AdventuresNature-Based Learning


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation:

Read the rest of this entry »

Family Friendly Fun at Easthampton BookFest

Community-Based Literacy Opportunities!

Celebrate all things local and book-related at the first annual Easthampton BookFest! Created by Easthampton City Arts+, and supported by countless literary folks from the community, the event is chock-full of book- and story-themed events that encourage learning and creativity. This is an opportunity that is not to be missed!

Residents of western Massachusetts suffer no shortage of independent bookstores, and there are wonderful authors and illustrators residing throughout. Easthampton City Arts+ – along with a great many local business, artists, and authors – celebrates the region’s rich literary culture with the first annual Easthampton BookFest! Held on Saturday, April 11, 2015, at locations all over Easthampton, the event highlights local authors and illustrators, as well as storytellers, bookbinders, translators, zine artists, and book-centric locations throughout the city.

Made up of many different independent workshops, presentations, hands-on activities, celebrations, performances, and other happenings, Easthampton BookFest will take place from 10am-10pm, filling the city with all things literary all day long. Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs

The Art of Eric Carle:
Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs

On View April 7 – August 30, 2015

Amateur entomology takes the spotlight at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art during the next few months, as a new bug-themed exhibit fills the galleries! The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs will be on view from April 7th – August 30th, 2015, and brings with it not only beautiful and delightful images featuring a host of insects, but a swarm of special bug-themed and Eric Carle-centric events as well.

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Sparked by copious amounts of time spent outdoors as a child, Eric Carle’s picture books have often featured lovable insect characters, from fireflies to ladybugs to the iconic starving green caterpillar. The images featured in the exhibit are full of wings, crawly legs, and stingers, but portray the crawliest of earth’s inhabitants beautifully, with respect, reverence, and the light, playful style unique to Carle’s artwork.

In addition to a bug-filled gallery, the Eric Carle Museum will hold special events to accompany the exhibit. Over the next few months, families can take advantage of opportunities to engage in bug-themed hands-on art making in the museum’s studio, and can create their own original bug creations to add to a community art project that will adorn the trees in the museum’s orchard. Additionally, special events featuring bug-themed storytelling and comedy will be held, and the museum’s Children’s Book Festival (held on June 6th) will be bug-themed as well!  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Vernal Pools

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: March Segment
Vernal Pools: Natural Habitats & Local Species as Community Resources

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, Ashley Kohl and Seth Stutman, 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, March 26, 2015, highlighting how local habitats and native species can be used as a catalyst for learning. Through the lens of Vernal Pools and the animals that depend on them for survival, Sienna shares three methods of engagement as a way to support interests and education via Vernal Pools:


Vernal Pools: Methods of Engagement that Support Community-Based Learning

When looking for community-based resources that support learning via the lens of vernal pools, consider nature center, conservation organizations and your local library.

Phenology-based activities coincide with the natural changing of our seasons (our ultimate accessible community-based educational resource) and are great catalysts for learning through community engagement. Maple syrup season, filled with delicious community activities and opportunities, is our most recent seasonal activity here in Western MA.  But can you name other seasonal events coming our way as winter transitions into spring? The one we want to highlight this month is Vernal Pools!

As the seasons transition and habitats and animals respond to the change in weather and climate, Vernal Pools begin to emerge and come to life based on the timing of this change and the relationship plants and animals have with their environment! Taking advantage of these changes and getting out into your community to participate in nature-based learning activities will support the development of skills and integrated learning in a wide variety of subjects.

Methods of engagement as they relate to Vernal Pools can include nature-based learning, service-based learning and citizen scientist, and the embedded learning families can extracted from these engagement opportunities can range from ecology to natural history, entomology to zoology, scientific process to art!

The following methods of engagement and events highlight these community-based resources and the embedded learning you can extract from participation: Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 28th & 29th, 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 March 28th-April 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 28 Community Highlights: Pysanky to Passover. Aerodynamics to Shakespeare., 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!

March 28th-April 3rd, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

GeologyFolk Art/UkrainianPuppets/Marionettes  ♦ Library AdventuresSTEMConservationTheater/MusicalsHistory/ArtifactsAerospace ScienceCommunity Meal/PassoverParenting/HomeworkSleddingFamily MusicPaleontology

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Phenology: Connecting with Nature Science & Local Culture
  2. Children’s Book Highlights the Pioneer Valley
  3. Citizen Scientists Wanted to Map the Stars
  4. Parenting Green: The Gift of Honey
  5. HFVS Occupation Episode with Guest DJ, Brandon Smith (Radio Show/Podcast)

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

28 Community Highlights: Pysanky to Passover. Aerodynamics to Shakespeare.

Saturday, March 28, 12noon-2pm – PYSANKY: Learn about “pysanky,” or Ukrainian Easter eggs, at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library with local art teacher Marion Abrams. Abrams will teach kids and families ages 8 and up about pysanky and thow to paint these beautifully decorated eggs using beeswax and dyes. Please register in advance. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Pysanky to Passover. Fossils to Dinosaurs. Aerodynamics to Shakespeare… 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 join Mass Audubon for a Bluebird Nest Box Building Workshop at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, March 28, from 1:30pm-3pm. Build pre-cut nest boxes to help provide much-needed nesting sites for cavity nesting birds like bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens, chickadees, and others. Participants will also learn how and where to mount the boxes, and will learn about Eastern Bluebird conservation efforts. Call to register. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. ($$)


GeologyFolk Art/UkrainianPuppets/Marionettes  ♦ Library AdventuresSTEMConservationTheater/MusicalsHistory/ArtifactsAerospace ScienceCommunity Meal/PassoverParenting/HomeworkSleddingFamily MusicPaleontology


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Lenox Peeps Show Diorama Contest Presents Creative History Learning Opportunity

Let Your Puns Run Wild!

Peep through a history book or two in order to get ready for what might be the punniest contest of the year – the Lenox Peeps Show Diorama Contest calls for entrants to create dioramas featuring Peeps of any species as miniature mannequins in important moments in history. The most creative of dioramas not only dramatically display a piece of history, but use puns either in their title or within the diorama itself (think Declaration of Indepeepdence or the Leaning Tower of Peepsa). Read the rest of this entry »

Easter Events in Western MA, 2015

Easter Events in Western MA 2015

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Community events that celebrate Easter take place over the next few week.

We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2015.

Mapping Vernal Pool Habitats Hosts Loads of Learning

Mapping Vernal Pools

Families can explore and map local vernal pools all on their own! The process of inspecting, mapping, and tracking present species is quite a project to undertake as a family, but is one that can provide endless opportunities for learning and exploration of the natural world.

Vernal pools are the breeding grounds for some of spring’s most exciting life – literally! Not only are they home to special species like fairy shrimp, who spend their entire lives in vernal pool habitats, but the watery mini-ponds provide a venue for salamander and frog species to lay eggs for late-spring hatching. While some vernal pools in western Massachusetts are well known (Sheburne’s High Ledges are home to a local favorite), there are certainly many, many more vernal pools whose locations have yet to be officially determined.

Families can explore vernal pools in their neighborhoods by using the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program’s GIS Data vernal pool maps, which can be downloaded either as a GIS layer (for tech-y families) or as a datalayer in an online map. While there’s still lots of snow on the ground, the sound of peepers will soon be serenading the hills on spring evenings, and vernal pools will be slowly coming alive with fresh water and lots of fascinating life.

But what about those vernal pools that have yet to be mapped by the state? Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 21st & 22nd, 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 March 21st-27th, 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, 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!

March 21st-27th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Language Play: Learning to Play an Instrument Support Language Skills
  2. Maple Dessert to Follow a Spring Dinner
  3. Let Them Grow: Learning Activities for Mud Season
  4. HFVS Spring Equinox Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. Local Camp Director Gives Pointers on How to Select a Summer Camp

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

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