40 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Caramelization to Lunar New Year. Mardi Gras to Hip Hop.

Have you ever wondered what makes  caramel chewy? Chemistry! This chewy consistency is due to a chemical reaction that occurs when milk is added to hot sugar syrup. Now, can you identify which molecules of milk (protein? fat?) or why sugar and not salt contribute to this chemical reaction? Support an interest in chemistry, pastry arts and food science by learning the basics of caramelization from chef and author Bill Collins in the Learner’s Lab at the Berkshire Museum this weekend. Go curious and ask questions! And then make plans to cook up some chewy caramel covered pastries when you get home… making your kitchen your very own chemistry lab!

Caramelization to Food Swap. Lunar New Year to Theater Shorts. Cougars to Crows. Mardi Gras to Black History Month. Acapella to Hip Hop. .. 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: The town of Greenfield‘s 94th Annual Winter Carnival brings indoor and outdoor fun to locations across town, Friday, February 5 – Sunday, February 7! A tradition for nearly a century, Winter Carnival includes everything from traditional winter activities like the Cardboard Classic sled race and ice carving to a chili cook-off and a road race for the hardiest of runners. The event begins on Friday, February 5th with ice carving downtown, the annual Parade of Lights, and a fireworks display! Ongoing weekend events at Beacon Field include skating, sledding, the creation of a snowman village, a snow sculpture contest, a winter-themed story walk, and marshmallow roasting by the warming fire. 413-772-1553. 20 Sanderson Street, Greenfield, MA. (<$ SUGGESTED DONATION)


Mardi GrasWinter CarnivalIce ArtComputer ScienceHackathonFilmFood ScienceTrackingLocal FoodFood SwapChinese New YearLocal HistoryScience HistoryIce HarvestingSTEMTheaterAnimal StudiesOrnithologyMuseum AdventuresBlack History MonthArt StudiesMusic StudiesParenting WorkshopsParents’ Night Out


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42 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Canines to Insects. Trains to Timber. Russian Folktales to Winter Camping.

Model railroad fans from throughout New England and beyond come together this weekend to share their passion for trains of all sizes at the Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show at the Eastern States Exposition. A great intergenerational hobby, model trains can support a variety of interests, from history to carpentry to economics to set design. Come curious and ask questions! West Springfield, MA. ($-$$)

Canines to Insects. Trains to Timber. Russian Folktales to Winter Camping… 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:  Kicking off winter festival season is The Art Garden’s outdoor Winter Celebration on Saturday, January 30, 4pm-8pm. A celebration of local art and the collective experiences of winter (both literally and metaphorically), this special event includes both indoor and outdoor elements. In the rail yard just outside The Art Garden, families will find creative winter-inspired installations and participatory art pieces, as well as (weather permitting) a fire around which to gather and bask in the contrast between the light of fire and the chill of winter. Indoors, the Winter Celebration brings an opening reception for Winter, a community exhibit centered around its namesake and offering families the opportunity to explore the many different creative representations and interpretations of winter. 413-625-2782. 14 Depot Street, Suite 2, Shelburne Falls, MA.


Museums AdventuresCynologyEntomologyTrainsSocial Emotional LearningCreative-Free PlayColonial HistoryHistorical TradesIce HarvestingStorytellingOutdoor AdventuresIce FishingSports HistoryWorld StudiesDance StudiesWinter CelebrationsMusic StudiesCulture StudiesParenting SkillsWomen’s StudiesTextile ArtsRefugee StudiesPaleontologyInclusion


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45 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Ice Harvesting to Quantum Physics. MakerSpace to Ballet.

Animal Adaptations to Phenology. Shakespeare to Paddington Bear. Classical Piano to Hip Hop.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 weekArtZoo opens at the Berkshire Museum this weekend. Set out on an adventure at this family-friendly exhibition that explores a magnificent menagerie of creatures portrayed in photograph, painting, sculpture, ceramic, video, and more! Grouped by species, as in a real zoo, ArtZoo at the Berkshire Museum features wild animals from every corner of the world. Scientific specimens – a pair of real sea turtles, a life-size ostrich skeleton, and enormous 10-inch eggs – provide an unmatched visual and educational experience. Interactive activities like Animal Yoga, a live monitor lizard, games, and a zoo quest are also included. Visitors of all ages will marvel at the variety of ways artists have chosen to portray animals. Since many of the objects are from the Museum’s permanent collection, ArtZoo provides a fun and unique opportunity to view some of these rarely seen items. The exhibit begins on January 23, 2016 and will be on display through May 1, 2016 at the Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE W/ADMISSION)


Animal StudiesNature StudiesHikingDendrologySnow SportsAdaptive SportsSocial JusticeCanadian StudiesColonial HistoryIce HarvestingLocal HistoryHuman StudiesWorld HistoryBalletMakerSpaceQuantum PhysicsComputer CodingMusic StudiesUpcyclingQuiltingLiteracyPhilosophyCommunity ConnectionsCommunity MealParenting SkillsTheater StudiesOpera


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31 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Ghandi to Martin Luther King. Cultural Traditions to Adaptive Activities.

Decomposition is an essential part of the cycle of matter on Earth. Often viewed as unpleasant or unattractive, it truly deserves positive attention! Artist Jan Ruby-Crystal appreciates the decomposition process, as evidenced in her current exhibition running January 20 through February 27, 2016 in Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Literary Adaptation to Philosophy in Literature. Moose to Bears. Ghandi to Martin Luther King. Coding to Robotics. Baking to Canning. Book Making to Sewing.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 weekMoose, the largest member of the deer family, survive winter by browsing on twigs. It’s a hard existence, and wading through deep snow makes it even more challenging. How do they do it? Dr. John E. McDonald, assistant professor of environmental science at Westfield State University, will discuss the ecology of these unusual-looking animals on a hike at the Hilltown Land Trust‘s Stevens Property, sponsored by the Trustees of Reservations.on Saturday, January 16, 10am-12noon. Wear warm clothes and appropriate footwear for walking in the snow. Alternative date in case of bad weather: 1/26. RSVP required. 413-628-4485, ext.4. Pisgah Road, Huntington, MA. (FREE)

Collaborative ConsumptionFood SwapFilm StudiesAnimal StudiesVisual ArtsBotanyOrnithologyCivil RightsMartin Luther King, Jr. DaySTEMCulinary ArtsNutritionCommunity MealPhilosophyClassic LiteratureCultural TraditionsTu B’ShevatArts & CraftsSkillsharingOutdoor AdventuresAdaptive ActivitiesParenting SkillsADHD


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32 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Owls to Rabbits. O’Keeffe to Guggenheim.

Berkshire Now: Peter Gordon at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, now through Feb 21, 2016

Owls to Rabbits. O’Keeffe to Guggenheim. LEGOs to Yo-Yos. Swimming to Tracking. Cooking to Sewing… 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:  With winter truly upon us here in western Massachusetts, families are gearing up for ski season! Take advantage of the many properties and trail systems catering to crosscountry skiing during the winter months. Families can find lessons, equipment rentals, and opportunities to explore the wintry landscape by tapping into local resources for crosscountry skiing! You can learn more about Nordic skiing at our post, Western MA Cross-Country Ski Resources. Make this the year your family enjoys winter outdoors!


Film StudiesOrnithologyVisual ArtArt StudiesSTEMOutdoor AdventuresNordic SkiingPerforming ArtSwimmingAnimal StudiesCulinary ArtsLanguage StudiesSpanishMindfulnessSewingMusic StudiesUS HistoryWritingParent Workshop


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27 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Ice Skating to Cross-Country Skiing. West African Textiles to Silk History.

Cross-country skiing opportunities in our area abound! Here’s a starter list, but there are many more, including, perhaps, some of the fields near your own home!

Ice Skating to Cross-Country Skiing. American Art to Storytelling Arts. West African Textiles to Silk History… 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:  People have been skating on ice for many hundreds of years, although this “early” skating was pragmatic rather than recreational. “Skate” is derived from the Dutch word “schaats,” which means leg bone, as the first skates were simply lengths of animal bone strapped to the bottom of boots. When wood, and then iron, blades were introduced as a replacement to bone, skaters gained more control and speed, and skating for sport and fun began to rise. Our local skating culture traces its roots to Scottish immigrants, who brought skates with them when they resettled in the U.S.  Whether you like to skate slow or fast, practice turns or hold onto the wall as you go, there’s fun to be had on an ice skating rink for all.


Local FoodIce SkatingNordic SkiingWinter SportsArt StudiesEarly LiteracyStorytelling ArtsTextile ArtsCultural TraditionsSTEAMFamily Films


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26 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Physiology to Physics. Marionettes to Guided Hikes.

Dance Party to Fairy Tales. Marionettes to Guided Hikes. Physiology to Physics. 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:  Are you someone who always picks a horse on the inside of the carousel, or do you ride one on the outside? All merry-go-round horses make one complete circle in the same amount of time, but the interior horses travel a much shorter distance in that time than the outer ones do, resulting in very different linear speeds. And what happens when you choose a stationary horse versus one that gallops up and down? Experience the fun of physics by bringing your kids, or grandkids, for a ride on the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round. Known as “Holyoke’s Happiness Machine,” the antique carousel with brightly painted wooden animals and calliope music is a sensory treat for young and old. It was once part of Mountain Park, an amusement park on the side of Mt. Tom, and was moved to Holyoke Heritage Park when Mountain Park closed in 1987. It will be open during school vacation week, Monday-Wednesday 12pm-4pm and Thursday 10am-4pm. 413-538-9838. 221 Appleton Street, Holyoke, MA. (<$)


Science FictionBird StudiesPuppetsOutdoor AdventuresFirst Day HikesFilm StudiesChoral MusicContemporary ArtPhysicsIce SkatingCarouselMagicMuseum AdventuresPhysiologyArts & CraftsMusic StudiesDance Party


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29 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Christmas Bird Count to Winter Solstice. Ballet to Bucket Drumming.

Since mid-June, our minutes of daily sunlight have been steadily decreasing, leading us towards the winter solstice, the “shortest” day of the year. The winter solstice marks an important seasonal transition, when we begin to add minutes of daylight back into our lives and offers an opportunity to reflect on embracing inevitable changes. Celebrate this year’s solstice with these highlighted Winter Solstice community events.

Christmas Bird Count to Chocolate History. Emily Dickinson to Charles Dickens. Ballet to Bucket Drumming… 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:  Put away your electronic devices and try your skill at some colonial games at Historic Deerfield on Saturday, December 19 & Sunday, December 20 from 10am-4:30pm. Learn to play checkers, fox and geese, merelles, table-top nine pins, Jacob’s ladder, and ball and cup. Engaging in game play stimulates visual and spatial perception (How do these checkers move around the board?), encourages the making and testing of predictions (If I place my playing piece here, will I block her move?), and enables us to see physics and mathematics at work (At what angle should I roll the ball to knock down the most pins?). Special group games and songs at 11am and 2pm. 413-774-5581. Visitor Center at Hall Tavern, Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA. (FREE Members and Deerfield Residents, $ Non-members)


OrnithologyCitizen ScientistEmpathyHoliday FilmsFolk DancingMYO GiftsWinter Farmers’ MarketsFood HistoryGingerbread HousesCreative-Free PlayCritical Thinking SkillsBoard GamesStorytellingBalletMakerspaceSTEMWinter SolsticeMusic MakingCultural StudiesLos Posadas


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32 Community Highlights: Cryptography to Geocaching. Storytelling to Singing.

From the mid-15th century, when it was invented by Johannes Gutenberg, into the 20th century, the letterpress was the primary means of producing printed material. Type was locked into a bed, inked, and pressed against paper. Carl Darrow learned how to print with a letterpress in high school and has been doing it ever since. He will bring one of his small letterpresses from his shop in Conway to Historic Deerfield to demonstrate this traditional art by printing holiday cards this Saturday. Each visitor may take home one card!

Storytelling to Singing. Yuletide to Hanukkah. Cryptography to Geocaching… 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:  Handmade gifts are special for both the crafter and the recipient. The crafter can spend time thinking about who the gift is for and why they would like to give this person a gift in the first place. Taking time to make something by hand shows care and investment in the relationship, and recipients’ hearts are warmed by the thought and effort behind the gift, reminding us all that gift-giving is less about any particular present than it is about letting someone know they are appreciated. People of all ages are invited to the Montague Common Hall‘s Make and Take Craft Day on Saturday, December 12, 9am-2pm, where you can make beeswax candles, jewelry, spin art, magnets, votives, and more. Homemade breakfast and lunch foods will be available for sale as well, and visitors can also enjoy cozying up by the outdoor fire pit. 34 Main Street, Montague, MA. (FREE admission; < $ for each craft session)


StorytellingPoetryLocal FoodUpcyclingMYO GiftsArtisan SkillsLetterpress PrintingCritical Thinking SkillsGeocachingBoard GamesCeltic FolkloreTrackingBird StudiesCivicsGuided HikesDendrologyComputersSTEMFood HistoryEngineeringSingingA CapellaColonial ChristmasHanukkahMusic Studies


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40 Community Highlights: Gingerbread Houses to Latkes. Hanukkah to Holiday Strolls.

Gingerbread houses first appeared in Germany in the early 1800s, perhaps inspired by the edible house in Grimm’s fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.” Even today they are part of our end of the year holiday traditions. Building a gingerbread house is a fantastic way to include creative folks of all ages in creating a delicious, well-engineered work of art, along with skills in architectural design, engineering, communication, and collaboration. Check out the community-based opportunities happening this week!

Gingerbread Houses to Latkes. Kwanzaa to Hanukkah. Holiday Strolls to MYO Gifts… 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:  Celebrate the holidays at Storrowton Village’s Yuletide: Saturday, December 5, 11am-4pm & Sunday, December 6, 11am-4pm! This winter festival brings the community together with traditional Yuletide activities, shopping, and entertainment. There will be traditional music, storytelling, craft demonstrations, ice sculpting, a Sweet Shoppe, kids’ crafts, Santa, and more. 413-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, MA. (FREE)


Family Volunteer DaySTEMHoliday StrollsSpellingMYO GiftsFood TraditionsBook ArtsPastry ArtsArchitectureColonial HistoryCollaborative ConsumptionFood SwapGuided WalksKwanzaaHanukkahChoral Music


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25 Community Highlights: Evergreen Wreaths to Colonial Crafts. Barbershop Music to Roving Scientists.

Does your family get an evergreen tree to put in your home for the holidays? Visiting a local tree farm, selecting a tree with your children, and in some cases, sawing down the tree together,  offer numerous learning opportunities! What are the different kinds of evergreen trees? What types of climates do they grow in. What is the history behind the tradition of erection evergreens in our homes during the holiday season? Why do we decorate them and how have these decorations evolved and changed over the years with the invention of new materials and electricity? What does the seed of an evergreen look like and what sort of animals and insects do they depend upon to reproduce? Discovering the answers to these questions can help curious kids feel connected to not only your holiday tree, but also to the flora and fauna (and history!) of Western MA!

Evergreen Wreaths to Colonial Crafts. Barbershop Music to Roving Scientists. Landscape Architecture to Activism… 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 weekOld Sturbridge Village invites you to return to a simpler time, when Christmas meant carols and community, not catalogs and chaos, at their annual Christmas by Candlelight event. Enjoy sleigh rides, carols, model railroads, holiday magic shows, dances, and story readings. Watch demonstrations of gingerbread baking and cider making, and learn about the history of holiday traditions such as roasted chestnuts, yule logs, mistletoe, and more! Visitors will also have an opportunity to make a Christmas keepsake to take home. This event runs December 4-6, 11-13, and 18-20, and advance ticket purchase is recommended. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA. ($)


Black FridayGiving TuesdayOutdoor AdventuresSocial JusticeClimate MarchPlant StudiesArchitectureMYO GiftsWreathsFilmTextile ArtsSewingColonial HistoryFood HistoryColonial ChristmasParenting/Professional WorkshopsSTEMLEGOsMuseum AdventuresChoral Music


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43 Community Highlights: Classical Guitar to Ragtime. Beaver Moon to Surrealism.

Have you ever prowled for owls? Here’s your chance! Owls are setting up their winter and spring breeding territories and now is a great time to set out at night to find them by their hoots and night calls. On Saturday evening, Nov 21, Dan Ziomek, local birder and naturalist, will lead an Owl Prowl! Learn about the different calls of native owls species and set out to locate them in the autumn night in a variety of habitats!

Classical Guitar to Ragtime. Engineering to Dinosaurs. Beaver Moon to Surrealism… 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: Do you have (or know) a child who loves to tinker and create? Check out the ARPS-Jones Library Makerspace on Saturday, November 21, 2pm-3:30pm, where kids can try out robotics kits, 3D printing, littleBits circuitry components, die-cut shape makers, LEGOs, and an assortment of craft supplies. An adult facilitator will be present to help participants explore new materials, but the session is, by design, very open-ended, and everyone is welcome to pursue her/his own interests and ideas! Intended for ages 8-13. Pre-registration requested. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)


Nature StudiesDance StudiesLocal FoodCreative-Free PlayColonial HistoryMindfulnessParent/Educator WorkshopsLocal HistoryPaleontologyMusic StudiesSTEMNative American StudiesSeed SavingArt StudiesCulinary ArtsRace IssuesTheaterActivismAnimal StudiesFolk DanceThanksgiving DayBlack Friday


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41 Community Highlights: Fossils to Minerals. Bubbles to Yo-Yos

Did you know there are more than 1,000 moose in Massachusetts? Come to the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center on Wednesday, November 18 at 7pm to find out about them at “Moose: Life History, Ecology and Current Research.” For ages 12 and older. 800-859-2960. 99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Fossils to Minerals. Sawmill Hills to Berkshire Cottages. Bubbles to Yo-Yos… 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: The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, November 14 from 9-11am for Thanksgiving in Hatfield while supporting food security in the region! Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) – Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden


Service-Based LearningCollege SamplerGeologyLocal HistoryMedicineSTEMFlora & FaunaArtLiteracyTheaterParenting WorkshopsLEGOsNew England HistoryCommercial-Free HolidaysOpen Studios


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39 Community Highlights: Grebes to Rattlesnakes. Wool to Chrysanthemums.

Fall is a great time to look for migrating waterfowl, including wood ducks, geese, and grebes, and Fitzgerald Lake in Northampton is a prime stopover for many species. On Saturday morning, November 7, join Bob Zimmerman and David Pritchard at 8am on a free waterfowl walk sponsored by the Broad Brook Coalition. Some spotting scopes and binoculars available for use. Species likely to be seen include Canada geese, wood ducks, mallards, and ring-necked ducks. Other possibilities are pied-billed grebes, hooded and common mergansers, ruddy ducks, northern pintails, and even snow geese. 413-268-3668. Meet at the North Farms Road parking lot.

Grebes to Rattlesnakes. Wool to Chrysanthemums. Make Faire to Skillfair… 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:  Maker labs, tinker spaces, and STEAM labs are cropping up all over! These are spaces that allow people to explore their ideas in an open-ended, creative manner using a variety of materials and tools. This weekend, the Mini Maker Faire hosted by Barnes & Noble invites folks to watch demonstrations of 3D printing, robotics, coding, and programming, and to try these technologies out for themselves. If your child ends up having his or her interest piqued by this fun activity, you can seek out some of the other great maker space offerings happening in our local libraries. 413-584-2558. Mountain Farms, 335 Russell Street. Hadley, MA. (FREE)


Bird StudiesNatural HistoryNew England CultureSheep & WoolColonial HistoryMYO Holiday GiftsZentangleOrigamiChrysanthemumsStoryWalkHealth & WellnessParent CafeMeditationMaker FaireIce HockeyService-Based LearningPhysicsSkillshareArt StudiesLocal HistoryFashionVictorian HistoryMilitary HistoryTheaterFood StudiesMusic StudiesSing-AlongUkuleleFlash MobIndian Culture


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24 Community Highlights: Spiders to Comics. Buttons to Symphony.

Do the lilting notes of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s ukulele rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” bring a smile to your face? You, too can strum this lovely song, and many more, with a bit of practice! Teens and adults are invited to participate in a series of free beginner ukulele classes at the Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley on Wednesdays, Nov 4, 11 & Dec 2, from 7-8pm! You need not attend all classes to participate, and ukuleles will be provided if you do not have your own.

Spiders to Comics. Buttons to Symphony. Yiddish Literature to Day of the Dead… 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:  Volunteering together as a family encourages quality time, increases communication, and provides opportunities for family members to be role models. In partnership with Hilltown Families, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts invites families to attend a series of monthly volunteer sessions where they will help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take action to help fight hunger. Join us on Saturday, October 31 from 9am-11:30am. This month’s theme is “Halloween” so let thekids come in costume! Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Learn more about these monthly service-based events at The Food Bank in this Hilltown Family posting. 413-247-9738 x135. 97 N Hatfield Rd, Hatfield, MA. (VOLUNTEERING)


Volunteering Archnology/SpidersMuseum AdventuresSymphony Music StudiesUkuleleHistory Paranormal Buttons Guided HikeCultural StudiesYiddish LiteratureDay of the DeadPhenology Art InstallationParenting SupportMaker LabComics


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34 Community Highlights: PumpkinFest to FarmFeat. Rag Shag Parades to Art History.

Is Western MA home to the rag shag parade? See what our readers had to say in our archived post, Rag Shag Parades – A Western MA Tradition.

Science Quest to Anime. PumpkinFest to FarmFeat. Rag Shag Parades to Art History… 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:  Celebrate Halloween at Red Gate Farm’s Haunted Farm on Saturday, October 24 from 5:30pm-8pm! There will be a not-so-scary haunted animal tour, hayrides, forest elves, pumpkin carving, cider pressing and tasting, games, activities, treats, and more. Come in costume and have a blast at this Halloween party! All are invited, but children ages 2-12 will have a particularly fun time! 413-625-9503. 4 Norman Road. Buckland, MA. ($)


ScienceAnimeService-Based LearningMuseum AdventuresCostume DesignFood HistoryChildren’s Literature National Food DayNature StudiesDendrologyGeologyLocal HistoryCemetery ToursFestivalsHalloween CelebrationsRag Shag ParadesChamber MusicArt HistoryClassical MusicOrchestraParenting WorkshopEconomics


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40 Community Highlights: Archaeology to Fermentation. Homecoming to Harvest Festivals.

Harvest festivals continue this weekend in Hadley, Easthampton, and Westhampton!

Archaeology to Fermentation. Homecoming to Harvest Festivals. Parenting Workshops to Community Meal… 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: Go on an archaeological tour of Deerfield Village and a guided tour of the Old Burying Ground with Claire Carlson, Education Program Coordinator at Historic Deerfield, for Deerfield’s Archaeology Day on Saturday, October 17, 10am-12:30pm. These tours will engage visitors in local history, life in the past, and how the times have changed in New England. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. (FREE)


Western MA CultureHarvest FestivalsFermentationHerbal MedicineArchaeologySTEMNature StudiesGuided HikeStoryWalksFood HistoryHomecoming WeekendBaseball HistoryFamily ConcertsAstronomyGender StudiesArtificial IntelligenceCultural StudiesDog LoversParenting WorkshopsCreative-Free PlayCommunity MealLocal HistoryArt Studies


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26 Community Highlights: Papermaking to Toy History. Fall Festivals to Sheep Shearing.

Explore the gardens of Naumkeag in a whole new way this Halloween season. Meet wacky, magical characters as you tour the gardens with the Royal Frog Ballet on Saturday, October 10 from 11am-3pm at the Haunting Gardens of Naumkeag event. These family-friendly performers blend performance, visual art, music, and movement to create an exciting experience for all ages. Stockbridge, MA. ($)

Pumpkins to Caterpillars. Papermaking to Toy History. Fall Festivals to Sheep Shearing… 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: Boardwalks through nature are a way to explore without damaging the wildlife and also provide accessibility to those who may not be able to traverse a rockier path. The new accessible boardwalk nature trail at the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge in Hadley provides an easy walk with views of fields, forests, wetlands and the Fort River. Come check it out during a guided nature walk on Sunday, October 11 from 10am-12pm. This relaxed guided tour by a Hitchcock Center naturalist will provide an opportunity to catch a glimpse of autumn colors, migrating birds, micro-ecosystems and more. Feel free to bring binoculars and field guides. Registration required/limited space. 413-256-6006. 69 Moodybridge Road, Hadley, MA. (FREE)


Fall FestivalsIce HockeyFiber ArtsLocal HistoryNatural HistoryNature StudiesMuseum AdventuresPapermaking Children’s LiteratureAviationTheaterHalloween HighlightsZoologyEntomologyOrnithologyParent WorkshopsIndigenous Art


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36 Community Highlights: Skillet Tossing to Cider Pressing. Medieval Faire to Food Swapping.

A food swap is a recurring event where members of a community share homemade, homegrown, or foraged foods with each other. Food swaps act as barter markets or gift economies: direct exchanges are made by bartering one’s goods for another’s, and no money is involved. Experience this alternative marketplace at Brookfield Farm in Amherst on Sunday, October 4. 2-4pm. Bring your jam, kimchee, seeds, tinctures, plants, baked goods, anything you’ve got too much of, anything you’re really proud of, and get to swapping! Please RSVP. Rain date October 18. Brookfield Farm, 24 Hulst Rd., Amherst, MA. (FREE, with items to swap)

Skillet Tossing to Cider Pressing. Gender Studies to Poetry Festival. Medieval Faire to Food Swapping…. 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: The Boston and Albany Railroad (The Western Railroad) was built in 1832 and connected Boston, Massachusetts to Albany, New York. The Keystone Arches were constructed in 1840 to carry the Western Railroad through on its run from the Connecticut River to the Hudson River. Friends of Keystone Arches will explain the historical significance of these monumental structures during a hike and discussion on Sunday, October 4 at 9:30am. Wear sturdy boots/footwear, bring drink/snacks. 3.5 hrs. – 5 miles. Registration required. dpiercedlp@aol.com or 413-354-7752. Meet 9:30am at Chester Railway Station, 10 Prospect St., Chester, MA. (FREE)


Fall FestivalsGuided HikesLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesContemporary ArtLocal HistoryGender StudiesHerbalismTheaterAstronomyDance StudiesMuseum AdventuresSTEMOrnithologyFilm StudiesCollaborative ConsumptionParenting Workshops

 


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41 Community Highlights: Lunar Eclipse to Astronautics. Pumpkin Cookery to Apple Harvest.

For the first time in three decade, we will be able to witness a supermoon in combination with a lunar eclipse, resulting in a “blood moon.” Lasting only 72 minutes, the eclipse will begin around 8:11pm (EDT) on Sunday, Sept 27. According to the NASA web site, “a noticeable shadow will begin to fall on the moon at 9:07pm, and the total eclipse will start at 10:11pm.” Check out this video and local events you can engage in with your community, sharing this phenological phenomenon in the night sky which last time took place in the 1980’s!

Lunar Eclipse to Fall Festivals. Apple Harvest to Pumpkin Cookery. Astronautics to Banned Books Week…. 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: Have you ever wished you knew how to identify trees? Which trees are native? Which are evergreen and which are deciduous? How can we tell the history of a particular tree? The Hitchcock Center and arborist Todd Beals invite you to a Waugh Arboretum Tour on the UMass Campus on Sunday, September 27 from 1:30pm-3:30pm. Todd has also worked to develop a user-friendly online map and guide to the wonderful variety of trees on the UMASS Amherst campus, which you can continue to explore on your own. Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather. Registration required. 413-256-6006. 525 South Pleasant St., Amherst, MA. (FREE)


Fall FestivalsGuided Walks/HikesRiver EcologyLocal HistoryLunar AdventuresService-Based LearningMuseum AdventuresFolktalesMusic StudiesFilm StudiesTheater StudiesCulinary ArtsNatural HistoryParent WorkshopsBanned Books WeekDendrologyEntomologyAmphibiansAstronautics


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38 Community Highlights: Honey Festival to Bread Festival. Tagging Butterflies to Interpretive Walks.

Did you know that you can participate in scientific research? Citizen scientists are often employed when lots of data needs to be collected; butterfly counts in particular have long employed community members. This Sunday, The Hitchcock Center in Amherst needs some citizen scientists to help with monarch tagging – this helps researchers learn more about Monarch migration patterns and can aid conservation efforts.

Honey Festival to Bread Festival. Tagging Butterflies to Interpretive Walks. Trucks to Ferns…. 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: The Middle Branch of the Westfield River connects remarkable scenic, geological, historical, recreational and ecological features. The Wild and Scenic Westfield River Committee invites you to Watershed Blitz 2015 on Saturday, September 19 from 9am-2:30pm, an exploration of the Middle Branch alongside specialists who will share their knowledge of all things wet and wild! Choose a group and learn about fish biology, tracking, geology, frogs and newts and more. Each team will walk a mile along a wild and scenic river segment, gathering data and sharing river wisdom. Great opportunity to engage in collaborative consumption of knowledge and learning. Registration recommended/limited space. 413-623-2070. Meet at 9am at the Littleville Fairgrounds, 15 Kinnebrook Rd, Chester, MA. (FREE)


Ecology  ♦ BioblitzFood CelebrationsLearner’s Lab & Maker’s SpaceChildren’s Literature in FilmNature-Based LearningGuided HikesOutdoor AdventuresHistory through ObjectsLocal HistoryAgricultural FairSTEMTrucksRiver AdventureAnimal StudiesDisabilitiesSportsFashion HistorySocial StudiesPuerto RicoAstronomyLocal IndustryFernsButterfliesMusic Studies


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29 Community Highlights: Hats to Hot Peppers. Kinetic Power to Fireworks.

This weekend is the annual Chilifest held in Sunderland! Folks can also learn how to make sriracha and spicy drinks, and families can have a great time navigating a corn maze!

Kinetic Power to History Walk. Naturalization to Fireworks. Hats to Hot Peppers…. 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 year marks the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Why not celebrate with a Mad Hatter tea party at the Wistariahurst Museum on Sunday, September 13 from 2pm-3:30pm? Visitors are invited to wear their favorite hat or to create one when they arrive. This event provides a great opportunity to talk about different styles of hats and headwear worn in different eras and in other countries. There’s also the bit about how Carroll’s Mad Hatter got his name–a perfect way to talk about chemistry! Milliners (hat makers) used to use mercury in the hat-making process. This element can have strong, toxic neurological effects including emotional instability and memory impairment, and this “mercurial disease” was common among 19th century milliners. At Wistariahurst‘s tea party, there will be food, croquet, crafts, and special guests. In case of rain, the event will be held in the Music Room. Reservations recommended. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA. ($)


Agricultural FairsService-Based LearningTransportation HistorySTEMPhysics History WalkNatural HistoryImmigrationCommunity CelebrationsDinosaursArts FestivalFireworksBlock PartyTraditional Artisan SkillsArchitectureSkillshareSustainabilityFood CelebrationFilm StudiesRadio TheaterHikingMusic StudiesHome School DaysParenting WorkshopsReligion Studies


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26 Community Highlights: Corn Mazes to Pickling. Food History to Egypt Art.

This Saturday, learn about traditional vegetable pickling at Taproot Commons in Cummington. Learn to preserve vegetables the way our great-grandmothers did!

Corn Mazes to Pickling. Food History to Egypt Art. Yo-Yos to Skillsharing…. 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:  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. This Sunday, September 6 from 10:30am-6pm is the Northeast Regional Yo-Yo Contest, held at Union Station in Downtown Northampton. See yo-yo champions strut their stuff, and get your kids thinking about physics (and maybe even interested in the art of yo-yoing!). Union Station. Northampton, MA – Read more about the physics of the yo-yo and local resources in our post, Yo-Yo School Can Unlock Secrets of Physics!


Agriculture FairsCorn MazesGuide HikesCemetery TourFilmTheaterSkillsharingFermentationNutritional AnthropologyJewish HistoryArtMuseum AdventuresBusinessTechnology HistoryPhysicsYo-YosSTEMCommunity MealCanoeingParent Workshop


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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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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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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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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:

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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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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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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


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