10 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Pumpkins to Sauerkraut. Social Studies to Literature.

Herbariums to Fermentation. Indian Dance to Jane Austen. Immigration to Botany 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 seasonal highlight this week:

There are so many different uses for pumpkins!  One of America’s oldest native crops, modern day uses include carving as ornaments for Halloween, prepared as pies, and highlighted as the main attraction in agricultural fairs (largest pumpkin contests) and fall festivals (pumpkin roll & pumpkin games).  Needless to say, pumpkins are an integrated part of our fall traditions in Western MA. Find out how pumpkin can support an interest in pastry arts and Colonial History through seasonal pies in our post, How Pumpkin Pies Support Interests & Education.

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11 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Fall Festivals to Community Meals. Textile Arts to Classical Music.

Inspired by the town’s 1915 celebration, “Pageant of Patriotism in honor of Independence Day,” Conway Festival of the Hills took form in 1967 as an annual event, celebrating local talent and culture. Every year, families come to witness a Conway tradition: the skillet toss! Along with the skillet toss there are many activities to behold: a log splitting contest, live music, handmade crafts, parade, pancake breakfast, community dinner, and their most popular event, a book signing with local authors. This year the festival happens on Saturday, Sept 29 & Sunday, Sept 30.

Locavore Dinner to Vegan Picnic. Textile Arts to Classical Music. Garlic to Tofu. 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 seasonal highlight this week:

FALL FESTIVALS
During the autumnal months, communities celebrate the change of season with festivals that bridge agricultural and cultural traditions. These festivities celebrate not only the harvest season but also the cultural traditions that define Western Massachusetts’ unique identity. Fall festivals are a community space that acts as an intergenerational gathering place for folks to come together in the spirit of the season and share in the harvest and local traditions. Engage your community and attend a fall festival this season!  It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, new friends and contribute to the preservation of this region’s unique character, culture, and history. Check out these featured annual fall festivals that happen in Western MA.

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11 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Apples to Woolley Bears. Agriculture to Folklore.

Can Woolley Bears (Pyrrharctia isabella) offer us an indication as to the severity of the coming winter? Common North American folklore says that a wide brown band calls for a mild winter and a narrow one calls for a severe winter. While there is no scientific evidence for this prediction, looking for these little guys and examining them closely with your kids opens up channels for learning while connecting to the seasons.

Honey to Botany. Thin Places to Developmental Psychology. Interpretive Dance to Bioblitz. 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 seasonal highlight this week:

APPLES
Apples, one of the earliest (and most delicious) signs of fall, have been an essential part of New England agriculture for centuries. McIntosh apples are undeniably the most iconic of New England’s apples, and make up over two thirds of the regions apple crop! Macs and countless other delicious and fascinating varieties of apples are grown at orchards across western Massachusetts, and families can enjoy this year’s fantastic apple crop by visiting an orchard to pick or purchase a bushel. Participate in the tradition of apple-picking and support local agriculture! Check out local orchards and farms in Western MA for Pick Your Own Apples, including Park Hill Orchard (Easthampton), Outlook Farm (Westhampton), Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery (Ashfield), Quonquont Farm (Whately), Clarkdale Fruit Farms (Deerfield), and Bashista Orchards (Southampton).

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10 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Peach Tea to Chicken BBQ. Zen Buddhism to Hindu Traditions.

A few annual community harvest meals to check out this weekend include the Plainfield Volunteer Fire Department and Shelburne Falls Eagles annual chicken BBQ’s this Sunday.

Fireside Poets to Local Peaches. Zen kōans to Holy Tulsi. Monarch Butterflies to Beavers. 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 learning highlight this week:

COMMUNITY MEALS
Intergenerational opportunities to gather around the table for a community meal with friends and neighbors are available at nearly every agricultural fair. From blueberry pancake breakfast to BBQ chicken dinner, there’s something for everyone! Visit fair websites to see what’s being served this year and make plans to sit with your neighbors and start up conversations. Let your children learn about local history through stories your elderly neighbors might share, make new friends, and walk away with new community connections. Read more about community harvest meals and festivals in our Late Summer/Early Autumn Season issue of Learning Ahead.

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11 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Service Dogs to Community Meals. Art Studies to Food History.

Summer is camping season! Campgrounds are open, tents are aired out, and the makings for s’mores are ready for starry nights surrounding the campfire telling stories and enjoying each other’s company. The smell of the campfire defines the spirit of summer outdoors in New England. Read more about the season of summer camping and discover local resource in our Summer Season issue of Learning Ahead.

Impressionist Art to Irish Dance. Johnnycakes to Scones. Shelter Animals to Service Dogs. 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 learning highlight this week:

CUMMINGTON FAIR
Agricultural fair season is starting next week, beginning on Thursday, August 23 with the Cummington Fair, a local tradition since 1883 when it began as the Hillside Agricultural Society. At the time, the stated goal of the society was “the attainment and diffusion of scientific and practical knowledge in the cultivation of the soil and the raising of it’s various and useful production as comprehended in The Department Of Agriculture, Horticulture, and Pomology.” Over the last 150 years, the Fair has stayed true to its roots, while adding a wide variety of vendors, music acts, and fun activities for children! The horse and ox pull is a real favorite, and don’t forget to check out the prize-winning livestock. Learn more about how agricultural fairs can support an interest in the humanities by downloading our Seasons issue of Learning Ahead for Sept/Oct for our late summer/early fall learning itinerary. Then head to the Cummington Fair starting on Thursday, August 23 and running through Sunday, August 26.Cummington Fair. 97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA ($)

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10 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Endangered Species to Physics. Traditional Crafts to Technology.

Summer is the season for fishing! With all of its many rivers and lakes, Western MA has an abundance of fishing spots that help people connect to the landscape and the rhythms of the season. Support and integrate your interests by downloading our Seasons issue of Learning Ahead for July/August for our summer learning itinerary, take a look at our Literature Guide for Dr. Seuss’ “McElligot’s Pool,” and learn about the history of Gyotaku, the ancient Japanese art of printing fish.

Basket Making to Catapults. Alchemy to Sports. Nature Hikes to Observation Days. 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 learning highlight this week:

SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: MUSIC STUDIES
Playing music has immense benefits for your brain, in addition to being a calming and enjoyable activity. You can find out about the benefits of playing music and ways to build a practice habit in our post, How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain!

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10 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Jacobite Risings to Princess History. Paprika to Venus Fly Traps.

During July and August, blueberries become ready for picking. There are many farms in Western MA where you can pick your own berries, or farm stands and markets to purchase local berries to enjoy at home. Read more about the season of berries in our Summer Season issue of Learning Ahead.

Vincent van Gogh to Miriam Makeba. Knitting Circles to Shaker History. Spices to Royalty. 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:

BRYANT DAY
Come celebrate Bryant Day with an afternoon of history and literature at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead on Saturday, July 21, 12-4pm! Learn all about 19th-century history with lectures, guided tours of the Homestead, and a special performance of Civil War-era ballroom dancing by the Small Planet Dancers. If you are a dancer or a dancing enthusiast, you won’t want to miss this wonderful opportunity to experience traditional 19th-century dances. There will also be a wide variety of food and craft vendors. For more information and a complete list of activities, please visit Bryant Day. William Cullen Bryant Homestead. 207 Bryant Road, Cummington, MA ($)

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11 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Singularity to Anthropocene. Puppets to Drums…

Owls are featured heavily in mythology and folklore from around the world. Ancient peoples had many, often contradictory, views on these mysterious creatures.

Literature in translation to Rube Goldberg Machines. Singularity to Anthropocene. Puppets to drums. 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 WORLD OF OWLS
In ancient Greece, the owl was sacred to the goddess of wisdom Athene, who favored the bird after it chased away the mischievous crow. Among the ancient Celtic people of the British Isles, the owl was known as “cailleach,” or “old woman.” Associated with the Crone figure from the Celtic Triple Goddess, the owl was seen as a psychopomp, or guide to the land of the dead. In “The World of Owls,” on Monday, July 9, 6:30-7:30pm, learn all about the natural and cultural history of the owl, including some of the ways that this bird has been misunderstood. This presentation is appropriate for children ages 6 and above. Westhampton Public Library. 1 North Road, Westhampton, MA (FREE)

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10 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Moon Phases to Goat Yoga. Bubbles to Fireflies.

This summer, engage and learn with your kids through bubble blowing!

This week, we have two words for you: Goat Yoga. Need we say more? Well, just in case stretching with Capra aegagrus hircus isn’t your thing, you could explore the phases of the moon, learn how to use regular household items to conduct kitchen science experiments, take part in an artistic interpretation of the game “telephone” with James Taylor’s daughter, Sally, learn about fireflies and run through a field reveling in their luminescence, or enjoy early 4th of July fireworks displays.

Whatever your interests, Western MA has learning opportunities for you. Check out our list of Weekly Suggested Events and let Hilltown Families show you what’s out there and how to make the most of it. We’re the place where you and your family’s interests and values intersect with the adundant resources in Western MA. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Pickleball to Rhubarb. Cake History to Garden Tours.

What do Chiffon, Tunnel of Fudge, Sock-it-to-me, Watergate, Jell-O Poke, Hummingbird, Funfetti, Chocolate Lava, Viennetta, Red Velvet, Bacon, and Pops have in common? They are all popular cakes!

Fiddle Music to Senegalese Music. Pickleball to Kusudama. Plastic to Cake 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 highlight this week:

RHUBARB FESTIVAL: This time of year farm stands all over the area are selling rhubarb. A local delicacy, rhubarb has been enjoyed all over the world for thousands of years in both sweet and savory dishes. In China, rhubarb has also been prized for its medicinal properties. For most people, the most common application of rhubarb is paired with strawberries in crumbles or pies. Many 19th century cookbooks even refer to rhubarb as the ‘pie plant.’ Come learn all about things you can do with rhubarb and taste some delicious sweet and savory rhubarb dishes at the 5th Annual Lenox Rhubarb Festival on Saturday, June 9, 10am. Plants and cookbooks will also be available for sale. 18 Main Street, Lenox, MA (<$)

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14 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Woolcraft to Pottery. Falcons to Food Trucks.

Community events to choose from this week will connect those of us who feel at home in a crowd of fellow enthusiasts, as well as those of us who prefer a more intimate gathering, with our local resources and opportunities. Engage with others interested in woolcraft, arts, and pop-up food culture at weekend festivals happening throughout the region. Then feed your quieter side with a poetry reading for life-long learners, an intergenerational wildflower hike through a wildlife sanctuary, or have a once in a lifetime opportunity experiencing a falcon return to your gloved hand after a local ornithology talk.

Whatever your interests, Western MA has learning opportunities for you. Check out our list of Weekly Suggested Events and let Hilltown Families show you what’s out there and how to make the most of it. We’re the place where you and your family’s interests and values intersect with the bountiful resources in Western MA. Read the rest of this entry »

Community-Based Educational Highlights: Rare Books to Grist Mills. Lebanese Mountain Bread to Independent Cinema.

Each year, approximately 2 billion popsicles are sold worldwide. But where did the idea for this tasty treat come from? Find out more in this TED-Ed lesson: How the popsicle was invented by Jessica Oreck.

Rare Books to Grist Mills. Lebanese Mountain Bread to Independent Cinema. These are just a few of the Learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Click on link to view our suggested event or video and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:  Does your child aspire to be a playwright or actor? Thespians ages eight through twelve are invited to two workshops with the Piti Theatre Company for a crash course in contemporary drama. On Saturday, July 15 from 10am-12pm, a playwriting workshop will lay the groundwork for a complete “Play in a Day” production. The following Saturday, July 22, this play will be rehearsed and performed. Both events will take place at the Greenfield Public Library. Experience all of the excitement of playwriting and acting in just two weekends. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)


DramaEntomologyCivil RightsAstronomy ♦ Service LearningLocal HistoryCulinary Arts  ♦ TranscendentalismLinguisticsMusic StudiesBears  ♦ Shakespeare ♦ PlacemakingPotteryFilm Studies ♦ EngineeringMakerspace


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[Photo credit: (cc) Annie]


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Belchertown, Buckland, Chicopee, Colrain, Cummington, Gill, Hadley, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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10 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Solar Science to Paleontology. Arts & Crafts to Creative-Free Play.

As you gaze at the base of a pinecone, did you know that you’re regarding an incredible example of mathematical reasoning? Nature’s patterns, as it happens, are deeply rooted in the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio. It’s the ultimate in a marriage between the aesthetic beauty of nature, and its mathematical base that makes it make sense. To discover what a learning opportunity this is for the family to share, read our post, Nature’s Patterns Reveals Mathematical Reasoning.

Fermentation to Nature-Based Learning. Chemistry to Dinosaurs. Citizen Science to Arts & Crafts. 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:   Wistariahurst, former home of prominent silk manufacturer William Skinner, now serves as a cultural and educational center. Wistariahurst helps to preserve Holyoke history through educational programs, exhibits and special events. This 1874 estate is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors are invited to engage in self-directed tours, Sundays through Tuesdays, including tours of the art gallery. Group tours (5+ people) are available additional hours by appointment. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. (DONATION)


Solar SciencePaleontologyLanguage ArtsLepidopterologyStorytellingCreative-Free PlayMathAmerican Sign LanguageZymologyIndependance Day


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[Photo credit: (cc) Felipe Del Valle]


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Belchertown, Buckland, Chicopee, Colrain, Cummington, Gill, Hadley, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Picasso to Elephants. Intelligent Design to Honeybee Evolution.

“Bees and flowers have an amazingly close relationship. Flowers need bees in order to reproduce, and bees need flowers to feed their colonies. Take away one, and the other would disappear too. It begs the question: When it comes to evolution, which came first, the bees or the flowers?” Find out in this video by It’s Okay to Be Smart.

Physics to Chemistry. Picasso to Elephants. Intelligent Design to Honeybee Evolution. 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: Street festivals encourage people to check out new towns, or new areas of their own towns that they haven’t seen before. Easthampton’s annual Cultural Chaos Saturday, June 10, 12pm-5pm will feature music, puppetry, a farmers’ market, vendors, a petting zoo, and much more. Visit the Cultural Chaos website for a full list of performances and activities for this day-long, family-friendly event! Meet other art lovers and support local art. Various locations. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)


PhilosophyFood StudiesSTEMChemistryIchthyologySkillsharingUpcyclingHistoryOutdoor AdventuresArt StudiesZoologyPollinatorsBeavers YogaService-Based LearningSocial Justice


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33 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Mesic Forest to Anadromous Fish. The Odyssey to Thomas Paine.

When looking to attract wildlife for children to observe, we often choose birds. Bird feeders and houses can be fairly simple to create and, especially in terms of food and birds are a very “if you build it, they will come” type of creature. But what if there was another creature in need of support who could just as easily be housed and fed in your yard via DIY projects? It’s no secret these days that bee populations are quickly declining, and as it turns out, families can take some very simple steps in order to offer bees with lots of appropriate habitats. Read more in our post, Bee Condos: Steps Away from Sweet Educational Opportunities.

Emily Dickinson to The Odyssey. Soil to Etiquette. Bald Eagles to Hummingbirds. 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: Fans of the performing arts do not want to miss the Ashfield Town Spectacle and Culture Fair! Double Edge Theater, along with tons of Ashfield community members, will perform an array of music, dance, and other performing arts on Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4, from 1pm-9pm. There will be art exhibits to peruse as well. The event will feature the Spirit of the Hills Community Choir, Tim Eriksen and the Trio de Pumpkintown, a film by Galen Knowles, Ashfield Tae Kwon Do, Ashfield Community Band, artwork by Robert Markey and Sue McFarland, and more, on June 3 and 4. Visit the Double Edge Theater website or call 413-628-0277 for more information. Various locations. Ashfield, MA. (FREE)


PhilosophyBooks ClubsLiteracyAgricultureService-Based LearningNature-StudiesHabitat9StargazingIchthyologyLimnologyEntomologyTheatreOutdoor AdventuresCanoeingLocal HistoryComputer ProgrammingPlacemakingMusic StudiesOrnithologyArt StudiesDance Studies


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20 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Beavers to Biomimicry. Urban Landscape to Theater.

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. Read more in our post, Sheep & Wool: Catalysts for Community-Based Education in Western MA.

Religion to Woolcraft. Colonial History to Art History. Beavers to Biomimicry. 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: Join the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee on Sunday, May 28, 12pm as they celebrate the 15th annual commemoration of the Sojourner Truth statue. The gathering will honor her legacy and recognize the next generation of young people who follow in her footsteps. This year’s celebration will include an address by Ingrid Askew, theater artist and cultural activist, and a performance by the Amherst Area Gospel Choir. To be recognized at the event are this year’s recipients of the Sojourner Truth Scholarship for Social Justice. The day’s events will start with a walking tour of “Sojourner Truth’s Footsteps in Florence.” After the celebration, the David Ruggles Center, located at 225 Nonotuck Street in Florence, will be hosting a reception and open house. All are welcome to attend. In case of rain, the celebration will be indoors at the Florence Community Center, just across Pine Street fro


Memorial DayPhilosophyFiber ArtsAnimationTheaterOrnithologyLocal HistoryUrban LandscapeEntrepreneurCulinary ArtsBiologyCommunity MealSheepArt HistoryFalconryGuided WalksBusiness


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32 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Bobolinks to Marc Chagall. Free Press to Pseudoscience.

Whether identifying clouds as animals or by their proper scientific names, families can look into the sky for opportunities to engage in meaningful cloud-inspired learning. In addition to creating a deepened sense of place through observations, families can help young scientists learn about climate, weather, and the atmosphere by tracking the things they see in the sky. Read more in our post, Cloud Studies Connect to Citizen Science, Language Learning, and Weather Studies.

Automotive History to Physics. Child Development to Journalism. Pollinators to Bicycles. 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:

Typically, bicycling attire for a modern American involves flexible athletic clothing and sneakers. But at the beginning of cycling history, during the early 19th century, cyclists wore their typical, everyday clothing even when using bicycles for transport. In fact, women’s fashion of the time was a hindrance to their ability to ride, and this was a catalyst for change in women’s style of dress and in the design of the bicycle as manufacturers began marketing towards women. Learn more by reading our post, Exploring the History of Fashion through Bicycling.

You can discover what it was like to bike in traditional attire by participating in Sweet Spoken’s third annual Spring Tweed Ride on Saturday, May 21, 2pm-5pm. All ages are welcome. Northampton, MA. (DONATION)


PhilosophyPlacemakingTransporation ♦ ♦ Plant SalesOrnithologyGuided WalksPoetryFashion HistoryHealth & WellnessLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesCreative-Free PlayEntomologyCultural StudiesLatin AmericaArt StudiesService-Based Learning


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24 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Mother’s Day to Bike Week. Edible Flowers to Switchel.

An important aspect of culinary arts is learning how to pair flavors which complement each other. This is a skill and an art form, similar to an artist’s knowledge of color palettes. You can learn about, and sample, ideal pairings of tea and chocolate at the Sunderland Public Library on Saturday, May 13, 2pm-3:30pm. In this program, attendees will also learn about the history and health benefits of both chocolate and tea! Please register in advance at the library. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland,

Multidisciplinary Learning to Food History. Glassblowing to Neuroscience. Edible Flowers to Earth Science. 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:  Did you know that before inventing the world’s the first successful airplane, Orville and Wilbur Wright owned a bicycle shop? Bike maintenance has the potential to teach kids all kinds of subjects and skills including math, science, reading, writing, problem-solving, and working toward a goal. You can learn about how the Holyoke Urban Bike School supports this type of learning, and join in a leisurely, family-friendly community bike ride in Holyoke on Wednesday, May 17, 5pm-6:30pm! The ride will last about forty-five minutes and afterward, participants are invited to check out the HUBS space and learn about their work. Steady rain cancels the event.Holyoke Urban Bike School. 160 Beech St. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)


PhilosophyService-Based LearningPlant SalesPoetryLocal HistoryNatural HistoryCulinary ArtsArt StudiesMindfulnessLabyrinthsMuseum StudiesBicyclingCollaborative ConsumptionSTEMOrnithologyBird WalksCommunity MealsCivil War


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30 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Service-Based Learning to Placemaking. Pride Parade to Bird Festival.

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary is kicking off a week of intergenerational birding activities, starting on Saturday, May 6 from 9am-2pm with a Bird Festival! Individual adults and families can take guided walks of the grounds and learn about bird banding through demonstrations. “Bird banding” refers to the process of catching birds, marking them with an identifying band, and setting them free again. The data gathered from this process can assist in ornithological and biological research and can be part of tracking reproductive success and population rates. All day during the festival, you can learn how to engage in citizen science and get involved helping Neighborhood Nest Watch to band birds. Visit the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary webpage for a full schedule of activities. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Empiricism to Transcendentalism. Activism to Ornithology. Business History to Yoga.  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:  Open Street events support placemaking as they bring community members together in an unusual way, by closing the streets to vehicular traffic and encouraging people to get out and about on feet! On Sunday, May 7, 11am-3pm during River Roll and Stroll, traffic will be closed down the Route 116 Bridge between Holyoke and South Hadley. There will be live music, art, and food trucks at this family-friendly event. This event marks the official kickoff of Baystate Bike Week. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. Holyoke and South Hadley, MA. (FREE)


PhilosophyScienceParentingTransportation History ♦  BicyclesService-Based LearningArtificial IntelligenceSpring Clean-UpsBird WalksWomen’s HistoryNatured-Based LearningPlacemakingBotanyArt StudiesSocial JusticeLocal HistoryPsychology


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36 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Earth Day to Spring Pollinators. Sustainability to Placemaking. STEM to Ecology.

Difficult problems sometimes lead to creative, inspiring solutions. Nat Turner is using his passion, vision, and innovations to help restore New Orleans Lower 9th Ward post-Hurricane Katrina, transforming Blair Grocery, an abandoned grocery store, into a youth farm-based education center. You can learn about Nat Turner and others working for food security by attending a screening of the 2015 documentary Reversing the Mississippi on Saturday, April 22, 5pm-8pm. This screening at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens will also include servings of jambalaya (regular and vegetarian). Discuss the film with others interested in working towards greater food security. Meet North Star self-directed teens who recently visited New Orleans and work with Mr. Turner at his school, Our School at Blair Grocery. 413-582-0193. 45 Amherst Road. Sunderland, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Earth Day to Food Security. Pollinator Gardens to Indonesian Music. Dilbert to Screen Time. 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:

Young people are often very passionate about political issues and personal interests. Teaching your children about sustainability can spark change on a community level. Families are invited to learn and get involved by attending the Amherst Sustainability Festival on Saturday, April 22, 10am-4pm. There will be stage performances all day. Learn about climate change by talking to advocacy groups and visiting vendors of renewable energy products and sustainable crafts! Visit the Town of Amherst website for a full list of performances, demonstrations, and recycling collections. Town Common. Amherst, MA. (FREE)


PhilosophyChild DevelopmentHorticultureHistory Service-Based LearningGuided HikesOrnithologyCollaborative ConsumptionAgricultureActivismEcologyEntomologyMusic StudiesCultural StudiesIchthyologyPlacemakingSTEMHomeschool


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18 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Reality to Electricity. Rivers to Flutes.

https://hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/cbe-highlights-46/#6

Reality to Electricity. Eclipse to Pastels. Rivers to Flutes. 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 annual Earth Day Festival at UMass Amherst next  Friday, April 21, 8am-4pm, will feature over 30 student, faculty, staff, and community groups, showcasing the work they do to increase sustainability and fight climate change on a community level and beyond. The festival will also include a farmer’s market, performance art, music, tie dye and more! The Earth Day celebration takes place in conjunction with UMass Amherst’s 1st Annual Green Commute Day, encouraging people to bike, walk, carpool or take public transit for the day. Come get inspired about the small changes you can make in your life to have a positive impact. Student Union North Lawn. Amherst, MA. (FREE)


PhilosophyAstronomyPhysicsEcologyArt StudiesService-Based LearningOrnithologyRiversMusic StudiesHistorySustainability


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32 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Pompeii to Blackout Poetry. Kora to Pinwheels.

Community art projects encourage intergenerational learning, self-expression, and creative free play! The 3rd Annual Hilltown Draw-Around invites people of all ages to help create a giant mandala, or add self-portraits to the community gallery. On Saturday, April 8, 12pm-12am, come get inspired by other artistic community members, and participate in workshops! There will be storytelling and live music as well during this 12-hour event. Participants will have 4,000 square feet of drawing space to work with. All proceeds support ARTeens, a pay-what-you-can after-school program of the Shelburne Falls Art Garden. All activities will take place in the Cowell Community Gym. 413-625-2782. 51 Maple Street. Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)

Teen History to Vernal Pools. Stringed Instruments to African Music. Scientific Process to Pinwheels. 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:  Art is inextricably tied to culture; therefore, historic art can teach us a great deal about historic cultures. The Smith College Museum of Art is offering a Free Community Day full of learning about Ancient Rome on Saturday, April 8, 11:30am-3:30pm. Visitors can explore the exhibition, Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii, enjoy a storytime, taste olive oil and explore a sensory recreation of a Roman Garden! Studying the city of Pompeii also ties into learning about geology and archaeology. At the event Smith College geoscientists will explain the science behind volcanic rocks and archaeology students will demonstrate what it’s like to excavate a site like Oplontis. All ages are welcome. Visit the Smith College Museum of Art website for more details. 413-585-2760. 20 Elm Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


PlacemakingAstronomyLiteracyWorld StudiesPhilosophyRomeCommunity ArtTeen ShowcaseHistoryEcologyService-Based LearningMusic StudiesParentingWorld LanguageFiber ArtsOrnithologyGuided HikePhysicsCosmologyPoetryFarming


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31 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Reasoning to Education. Fashion History to Sewing.

Wordplay requires intelligence and creativity. To tell or even merely to understand a pun requires communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain (Scientific American). The 2017 Lenox Peeps Show invites people of all ages to create a diorama combines humor (in the form of puns), literacy, and visual creativity on Wednesday, April 5, 10am-3pm. This year participants will be creating dioramas using peeps to depict their favorite story or book, with extra credit given to those who use puns in their concept or title. All entries must be delivered to Ventfort Hall before 3:00pm on Wednesday, April 5th. Visit the Ventfort Hall website for full details. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Reasoning to Astronomy. Scavengers to Education. Fashion History 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 highlight this week: Vernal pools, by definition a temporary habitat, provide the perfect breeding ground for spotted salamanders, wood frogs, tiny mussels, fairy shrimp, and many other creatures. Families can learn more about vernal pools and their inhabitants through humorous skits at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary’s “Big Night” on Saturday, April 1, 5:30pm-9pm. Guided tours will leave the nature center every 15-minutes to travel a 45-minute forest trail where you will meet costumed characters. There will also be games and presentations. This event is best suited for youth ages 4 through 16 and their caregivers. Call 413-584-3009 to register. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. (<$)


PhilosophyAerospaceAnimal StudiesWhalesWomen’s StudiesCivic EngagementArt StudiesFiber ArtsDance StudiesEcologyVernal PoolsLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesImmigration StudiesHistoryLiterature in TranslationOrnithologyCreative-Free PlayBotanySeed Saving


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33 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Earth Hour to Modern Art. Puppets to Pottery.

The harp is an ancient stringed instrument which dates back as early as 3500 BC. Harps were popular in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance but fell out of popularity with many types of harps no longer being used. The harp has historically been used across many continents and culture and can be an essential element to certain traditional genres of music. On Saturday, March 25, 7:30pm, James Ruff plays the wire harp in his performances of early opera pieces, contemporary works, as well as early Gaelic and Scottish songs. You can hear the harp live and discover its role in Gaelic and Scottish music by attending his performance at the McCulloch Auditorium. Mount Holyoke College. College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Seed Saving to Spanish. Earth Hour to Modern Art. Astronomy to Technology. Nutritional Anthropology to Philosophy. 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: Kuruma Ningyo or “cart puppets” are a style of Japanese puppetry which draws from classical Japanese literature and religious stories. Unlike many forms of puppetry in the United States, Kuruma Ningyo is entertainment for people of all ages, not associated strongly with children. American puppeteer Tom Lee and Japanese Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V will be performing this style of puppetry in their show Shank’s Mare at UMass Amherst on Thursday, March 30, 7:30 pm. This multi-media performance combines live music and video production with traditional Japanese puppetry for a unique, cross-cultural experience. Bowker Auditorium. 100 Holdsworth Way. Amherst, MA. ($; Five college students and 17 and under <$)


BotanyPhotographyDendrologyHistoryWorld LanguageEcologyCitizen ScienceBiologyTheaterCriminal JusticeArt StudiesJapanese StudiesPotteryMusic StudiesPaleontologyMindfulnessService-Based LearningCareer DevelopmentSeed SavingSpanishEarth HourModern Art. AstronomyTechnologyNutritional AnthropologyPhilosophy


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16 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Dance Party to Italian Cuisine. Hubble Telescope to Spring Equinox

Is it true a raw egg can only be balanced on end during the equinox? Where did this theory come from and is it fact or fiction? Find out!

Maker Spaces to Italian Cuisine. Bike Repair to Hubble Telescope. Spring Equinox to Saturday Morning Music Party. 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:  Join us, Hilltown Families, in person for a morning of music, dance, and pancakes on Saturday, March 18, 10am-12pm! This Saturday Morning Music Party, co-hosted with Flywheel Arts Collective, is great for both kids and parents who love to dance. In addition to music and food, there will be a performance by The Fuzznogginz Puppet Party! All events in this Morning Music Party series are a fundraiser for both Flywheel and Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. Flywheel Arts Collective, 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA. ($)


STE(A)M ♦  Music StudiesWomen’s HistoryTheaterCulinary ArtsMechanicsWorld LanguagesPoetryUnderground RailroadRoboticsU.S. HistoryAstronomy  ♦ OperaSeasons


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25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Economics to Biology. Saint Patrick to Mozart.

April and May might be filled with the blossoms of spring, but there is no need for flowers when we have sweet maple syrup to enjoy on our pancakes with family and friends! Read more in the March/April issue of Learning Ahead: March & April Cultural Itinerary for Western MA.

Maple Syrup to Apples. Financial Literacy to Molecular Biology. Saint Patrick to Mozart. Sustainability to Criminal Justice. 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 ground is thawing, the snow is melting, and the sap is running for maple season! Maple sugaring is a centuries-old tradition in New England, and the seasonal industry remains an important part of the foundation upon which local agricultural is built. On Saturday, March 11, 9am-12pm at Chester Hill’s 32nd Annual Maple Fest and Craft Fair, you and your family can witness old time sugaring and enjoy a pancake breakfast with local maple syrup, at the First Congregational Church. Chester, MA. (<$)


 Sugar SeasonPlant StudiesFood HistoryEconomicsAviationWomen’s HistoryPolitical ActivismArt StudiesCulture StudiesLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesNutritionBird StudiesTheaterPolitical Science


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40 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Tulip Mania to Gyoktaku. Purim to Poetry.

“With rapidly rising global temperatures come seasonal changes. As spring comes earlier for some plant species, there are ripple effects throughout the food web. Regina Brinker explains how phenology, or the natural cycles of plants and animals, can be affected by these changes.” – TED-Ed. View full lesson: Phenology and nature’s shifting rhythms – Regina Brinker.

Economics to Engineering. Jazz Music to Japanese Art History. Linguistics to Female Explorers. 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:  Spring comes sooner than you might think, at the Pioneer Valley’s local greenhouses! Spring bulb shows signal the coming end of winter and offer families an opportunity to learn together about habitat, the life cycle of plants, and species identification. A visit to a bulb show can support or inspire a love for flowers and learning about botany, plant and soil science, and possibly even evolutionary biology. You can also discover the beauty of this flower to gain a better understanding in the psychology behind the tulip mania featured in the video above. Charles Darwin, in his study of natural selection, examined the co-evolution of orchids and insect species. Visiting the greenhouse can be an opportunity for you and your children to think about this interrelation of plants and insects. Or you may simply want to see the beautiful sights and smell the fragrant flowers! The Smith College Bulb Show runs from March 4 through March 19. Lyman Conservatory. 16 College Lane. Northampton, MA. (<$)


Plant Studies ♦  PurimIchthyology ♦  STEMMaple HistoryHistory FairArt HistoryWorld Languages  ♦ Theater StudiesMusic HistoryOrnithologySustainabilityAgricultureIce FishingSeed SavingCommunity Meals ♦  PhotographyReligious StudiesGyoktakuHealth & Wellness ♦  Italian CultureHerbalisimWomen’s HistoryNutritionParentingCulture StudiesPoetryCollaborative Consumption


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35 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Tiny Houses to Fermented Foods. Physics to Anthropology.

Local flower societies and college conservatories are community resources that can offer opportunities to learn about habitat, the life cycle of plants, and the structural nuances that differentiate one species from another. Three upcoming annual flower shows featuring orchids, flower bulbs and spring flowers are perfect events to support these interests and to inspire a love for flowers! Read more in our post, Orchids & Tulips: Learning About Botany & Habitat.

Buddhism to World Culture. Citizen Science to Neutrinos. Comics to Anime. Tiny Houses to Fermented Foods. 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:

On Tuesday, February 28, 6:30pm at the Westhampton Public Library, Family Code Night will take the intimidation away from computer coding for kids as well as parents! Children ages five and up, and their caregivers, are invited to learn the basics of computer coding through fun puzzles. No experience is necessary for this introductory STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program. Registration is required. Participants are encouraged to bring one device for every two participants, if possible. Laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets will all work as long as they are able to connect to WiFi. There will be a limited number of laptops available for use. The event will take place at the Hampshire Regional High School library. Questions? Call the library at 413-527-5386 or email westhampton@cwmars.org. 19 Stage Road Westhampton, MA. (FREE)


ReligionBotanyRace IdentityFilm StudiesNature-Based LearningRoboticsNeurodiversityComputer CodingPhysicsAnthropologyArchitectureHistoryRacial JusticeMaple SyrupTheater StudiesMusic StudiesInclusionOrchidsTrackingImmigrationSTEMCulinary Arts


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25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Philosophy to Silent Film. Musical Petting Zoo to Planetariums.

Family game sessions are one way to get both parents and kids to put aside their work, and their screen-based entertainment, to spend time together. Simple games can challenge young kids to think critically, while harder games can challenge older children through friendly competition. Spice up your family game experience by joining other families at the Meekins Library Game Afternoon on Thursday, February 23, 1pm-3pm. All ages are welcome and there will be snacks! Drop in anytime. Ages five and under must be accompanied by an adult. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Gender Studies to Film Studies. Wild Cats to Natural History Museum. Choreography to Classical Music. 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:  When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. At the Berkshire Museum’s Instrument Petting Zoo on Thursday, February 23, 2pm-3pm, participants will be able to see, listen to, and play lots of different instruments! Picking the right instrument is an important factor for sustaining a lifelong hobby of musicianship. Explore risk-free as part of Ten Days of Play 2017. Included with regular museum admission. Check out a museum pass from your library for free admission. To find out which local library has free museum passes for borrowing, check our Educational Support & Local Resources page. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. ($; children under 18 <$; members, ages three and under FREE)


 ArcheryPhilosophyOrnithologyGuided HikeFilm StudiesPaleontologyNature PhotographyArt StudiesIce HarvestingAstronomyPoetryWinter SportsCritical ThinkingDance StudiesZoologyCitizen ScienceAfrican American HistoryMusic StudiesFigure Drawing  ♦ Nature CenterIntergenerationalAviation


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34 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Winter Festivals to Valentine’s Day. Nordic Skiing to Immigration Studies.

Winter Trails is a national annual event that offers families new to snowshoeing and nordic skiing the chance to try out snowshoes and cross-country skis on local trails while showcasing the health benefits of these two outdoor winter activities.  On Saturday, February 11, 10am-3pm Notchview in Windsor will be participating!

Ice to Fungi. Winter Festivals to Puppetry. Valentine’s Day to Nordic Skiing. 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:

Red Gate Farm is teaming up with local libraries to provide programs to get young children interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. On Saturday, February 11, 10:30am-11:30am, participants will be learning the science of seeds! Children up to age seven will be investigating seeds at the Buckland Public Library. Planting seeds at home can help kids become interested in plant and soil science and horticulture by watching their seeds grow into beautiful plants. Teaching kids about horticulture can also help instill important values by teaching them about sources of healthy, local foods. 413-625-9412. 30 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)


STEMBotanyFolk MusicLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesCreative-Free PlayLiteratureArt StudiesNature StudiesOutdoor AdventuresPlacemakingPuppetryTheaterCulture StudiesWomen’s StudiesImmigration StudiesAnthropology MycologyHydrologyPoetryOpera  ♦ Guided Hikes  ♦ ShakespeareFinancial Literacy


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