HFVS You, Me and Our Community Episode with Guest DJ, Lucy Kalantari (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

You, Me and Our Community Episode
with Guest DJ, Lucy Kalantari

Sing and dance to the beauty of community with guest DJ Lucy Kalantari. Featuring songs by Moona Luna, Louis Prima, Alastair Moock, and much more. — www.lucykalantari.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 18th & 19th, 2017
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Alastair Moock – It Takes All Kinds

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Listen to Podcast:


  • Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could – “Just Say Hi” [Just Say Hi]
  • Kevin Kammeraad and Friends – “Game (Boo Lou and Boo Lou)” [Spinach Dip Pancakes]
  • Moona Luna – “Together” [Single]
  • Sugar Free Allstars – “If I Didn’t Have You” [Sugar Free Allstars]
  • The Deedle Deedle Dees + friends – “When We Sing Together” [Single]
  • Red Yarn – “Clap Your Hands Together” [Wake Up & Sing]
  • Louis Prima – “Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)” [Capitol Collectors Series]
  • Mo Phillips – “Talking About Team Work” [Occasional Yogurt]
  • Dan Zanes – “Welcome Table” [The Welcome Table: Songs of Inspiration, Mystery & Good Times]
  • Joanie Leeds – “Love is Love” [Live at KUTX Studio 1A]
  • Alastair Moock – “It Takes All Kinds” [All Kinds of You and Me]
  • Mr. Ray – “The Rainbow World” [No Room For Bullies]
  • Vivi Melody & Family – “We Can Still Be Friends” [More Love]
  • Chibi Kodama – “I’m Always Right” [We’re Not Going Crazy]
  • Karen K & Mista Cookie Jar – “Rainbow” [Single]
  • Louie Armstrong – “What A Wonderful World” [What A Wonderful World]
  • Lucy Kalantari – “Song For My Son” [Big Things]


HFVS Purim Episode with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Radio Show/Podcast)

Purim Episode
with Guest DJ, Mama Doni


Mama Doni celebrates the Jewish holiday of Purim on Hilltown Family Variety Show! Celebrating the universal theme of Purim: standing up to adversity, having a voice, self empowerment,  Mama Doni shares classic songs of strength. This unique Radio Show will give listeners a flavor of Purim —  from the fun and crazy to the true meaning and message of this cool Jewish holiday. Produced by Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 11 & 12, 2017
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: What to wear for the holiday of Purim? Mama Doni and her band have some engaging ideas to sort through the choices in their original song, “Costume Conundrum.” Learn more about the Mama Doni Band online at mamdoni.com.

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  • Bob Marley, Get Up Stand Up, Gold
  • Ballad of Esther & Mordechi, Mindy Kornberg’s Soul Tune Singers, Music From the Mountain
  • Ether Won’t You Marry Me, Fran Avni, Latkes & Hamantashen
  • Costume Conundrum, Mama Doni, Get Cooking! A Jewish American Family Cookbook & Rockin’ Mama Doni Celebration
  • If You Want To Sing Out, Cat Stevens
  • Mi Chamocha, Mama Doni & Eric Lindberg
  • Respect, Aretha Franklin, Greatest Hits
  • You Gotta Be, Des’ree, I Aint Movin
  • I Ate Too Many Hamantashen, Mindy Kornberg’s Soul Tune Singers, Music From the Mountain
  • Kookie Cookie, Mama Doni, Get Cooking! A Jewish American Family Cookbook & Rockin’ Mama Doni Celebration
  • Cowboy Purim, Doug Cotler, It’s So Amazing
  • Hey Man, Mama Doni, I Love Purim
  • Were Not Gonna Take it, Twisted Sister
  • Purim Game, Debbie Friedman, Shanah Tovah A Good Year
  • Break my Stride, Matthew Wilder,
  • I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor, Greatest Hits
  • Purim, Andy Statman, Bella Fleck
  • Purim Bash, Mama Doni, I Love Purim

[Original Airdate: Feb 23rd & 24th, 2013]

Early Spring Food Tradition: Pancakes & Maple Syrup

Living Seasonally & Cooking Seasonally:
Pancakes & Maple Syrup

Did you know that pancakes are over 6,000 years old? Although not in the present form we know today, the predecessors to the modern pancake consisted of ground wheat cooked in a form of a pancake. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans ate a form of pancake sweetened with honey! Later in history, American colonists ate pancakes also known as Johnny Cakes.

Modern day technology and contemporary recipes have added to our cultural repertoire of recipes. Take for instance this demonstration on how to make maple cream:

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Mardi Gras Episode with Guest DJs, Johnette Downing & Scott Billington (Radio Show/Podcast)

Mardi Gras Episode
with Guest DJs, Johnette Downing & Scott Billington


Children’s book author and musician Johnette Downing and Grammy Award winning producer Scott Billington offer a carnival of Louisiana roots music; a showcase of Cajun, New Orleans Rhythm and Blues, Zydeco, Brass Band and Jazz music by Louisiana artists.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 4th & 5th, 2017
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: Reading Rocks! By Johnette Downing Children’s book author and musician Johnette Downing sings “Reading Rocks!” from her Reading Rocks! CD to get children boppin’ into books and rockin’ into reading! – www.johnettedowning.com

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  • Professor Longhair – “Go to the Mardi Gras” (The Complete Ric & Ron Recordings,
  • Vol. 6: Classic New Orleans R&B and More, 1958-1965)
  • The Hawkettes – “Mardi Gras Mambo” (The History of Rhythm & Blues, Volume 3 –
  • The Rock’n’roll Years)
  • Zachary Richard – “File’ Gumbo” (Zack’s Bon Ton)
  • Johnette Downing – “Bon Jour Mes Amis,” (From the Gumbo Pot)
  • Papillion – “Cocodrie” (Cajun for Kids)
  • Johnette Downing – “Why the Possum Has a Large Grin,” (Reading Rocks!)
  • Huey Smith and the Clowns – “Don’t You Just Know It” (Having a Good Time With
  • Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & His Clowns – The Very Best of, Vol. 1)
  • Robert Parker – “Barefootin’” (Introduction to Robert Parker)
  • Fats Domino – “Walkin’ to New Orleans” (The Fats Domino Jukebox: 20 Greatest
  • Hits)
  • Nathan the the Zydeco Cha Chas – “Festival Zydeco” (Creole Crossroads)
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band – “Little Liza Jane” (My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now)
  • Johnette Downing and Jimmy LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band – “Dixieland
  • Jazz” (Dixieland Jazz for Children)
  • Louie Prima – “Banana Split for My Baby,” (Louis Prima Collectors Series)
  • Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World,” (What a Wonderful World)
  • Johnette Downing and Jimmy LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band – “It’s Time for
  • Mardi Gras,” (Dixieland Jazz for Children)

About Johnette Downing

Dubbed the “Musical Ambassador to Children” and the “Pied Piper of Louisiana Music Traditions,” Johnette Downing is a multi-award winning children’s book author and musician performing concerts and author visits for children, and workshops and keynote for educators globally. Dedicated to celebrating childhood, sharing cultures and fostering literacy through her music, books and programs, Johnette has performed in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Central America, North America and the Caribbean, has received twenty-one awards and has received rave reviews in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Disney Family Fun Magazine, Parenting Magazine, Parents Magazine and many more.

Scott Billington

Scott Billington is a musician, writer and Grammy® Award winning record producer. With a discography of over 100 albums of roots-based music, Scott has received the Porretta (Italy) Sweet Soul Music Award, the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award, and the Offbeat (New Orleans) Lifetime Achievement Award. His records have garnered a total of ten Grammy® nominations, along with awards from the French Academie du Jazz, Living Blues magazine and many others. His writing has appeared in the Oxford American, Gambit, the Boston Globe and numerous other publications. Scott’s harmonica playing has been featured on albums by artists as diverse as Appalachian folk singer Hazel Dickens, rockabilly musician Sleepy LaBeef and soul singer Irma Thomas.

[Original air date: Feb 9th & 10th, 2013]

Teen Video Contest Highlights Activist Leaders

Community Involvement for Social Change via Video

Writer Ayesha Siddiqi is quoted as giving this piece of advice: “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” Working to inspire younger generations can ensure that your vision grows, expands, and lives on beyond you. Many young people do have peers as well as older adults in their lives who inspire them to do important deeds such as organize within their communities, fight injustice, and educate others. Identifying leaders can help young people to discover qualities they would like to cultivate for themselves.

Making Democracy Work in My Community is a video contest for Massachusetts teens. The contest asks young people to create a two-minute video about a person who is “making democracy work.” This challenges teens to think about leaders who foster dialogues, organize action, and encourage civic participation from other community members. The contest will amplify young voices as teens have the chance to articulate what they admire about their chosen community leaders. Finally, the contest will have the broader impact of shining a spotlight on politically active people in our neighborhoods, thus encouraging everyone to get more involved in the democratic process.  Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Valentine’s Day Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

Listen to Podcast:

Moon hugs and star kisses! Our friend Charity Kahn from Charity and the JAMband in San Francisco wishes us all a Happy Valentine’s Day in this archived episode of the Hilltown Family Variety Show which originally aired for Valentine’s Day on Valley Free Radio in 2012. – www.jamjamjam.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Feb. 11th & 12th, 2017
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

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Previous Valentine’s Day Podcasts:

Feb 12, 2008 — Valentine’s Day Episode with Guest DJ, Uncle Rock — PlaylistPodcast

[Rebroadcast. Originally aired Feb 2012]

HFVS “Yes I Can!” Little Miss Ann Guest DJ Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

“Yes I Can!”
Little Miss Ann Guest DJ Show

This week, Little Miss Ann, a former Chicago School Teacher, first generation Filipina American, and decade long kids musician, has created a playlist with the theme “Yes I Can!” She chose songs to inspire and empower kids to recognize their strengths, be themselves, and try new things. This special playlist includes artists like Cat Stevens, Charlie Hope, Dean Jones, and Frances England. – www.littlemissann.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Jan 28th & 29th 2017
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
Radio  Facebook Twitter

“Yes I Can!” Little Miss Ann Guest DJ Show

  • Little Miss Ann and Amy D – “Shake and Sing” (Keep On Keepin’ On)
  • The New Seekers – “Free to be You and Me” (Free to be You and Me)
  • Cat Stevens – “Don’t be Shy” (Footsteps in the Dark)
  • Dean Jones – “People Watching” (In My Dreams)
  • Elizabeth Mitchell – “Arm in Arm” (Blue Clouds)
  • Charlie Hope – “I’m Me” (I’m Me! A Collection of Songs for Children)
  • Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – “Back Home” (Make Believers)
  • Little Miss Ann and Amy D – “Keep On” (Keep On Keepin’ On)
  • Suzi Shelton – “Lift Me Up” (No Ordinary Day)
  • Dixie Chicks – “Landslide” (Home)
  • 123 Andres – “Salta, Salta” (Uno, Dos, Tres con Andres!)
  • Ratboy Jr. – “Try” (Hamster Pants)
  • The Okee Dokee Brothers – “Hard Road to Travel” (Saddle Up)
  • Little Miss Ann and Amy D – “Tiptoe Through Tulips” (Keep On Keepin’ On)
  • Vered – “This Little Light” (Hello My Baby)
  • Mr Dave – “Song in All of Us” (Feeling Good)
  • Frances England – “Ballad for a Beatboxer” (Explorer of the World)
  • Little Miss Ann “Stand Up”




African American History in Western Massachusetts

Harriet Tubman & The Underground Railroad

In addition to your literary explorations of African Americans’ creativity and contributions to U.S. literature, explore African American History Month in Western Massachusetts through the different cultural organizations and institutions that educate the public on the history of African Americans in our region.

One of the most significant pieces of New England history is the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes, stops, and places throughout 14 northern states that were established to help escaped slaves to freedom.

Read the rest of this entry »

Local Learning Resources on The Underground Railroad

Sojourner Truth: Connecting Local Places with National History

The David Ruggles Center for Early Florence History & Underground Railroad in Florence, MA, features The Ross Homestead which is on both the National  Register of Historic Places and the National Park Services Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The center offers walking tours of Florence including the African-American history trail, Sojourner Truth’s house, and other abolitionist sites. Additionally, there is a memorial statue of Sojourner Truth in Florence, MA, to honor her life and work. A former slave, abolitionist and social activist, Truth lived in Florence from 1843-1856. The Sojourner Truth Memorial organization offers a free map on their website of a self-guided walking tour of Sojourner’s house and historic sites. Read more in our post, Sojourner Truth Memorial: American and Western MA History. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Jazz for Kids Episode with Guest DJ, David Tobocman (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

Jazz for Kids Episode
with Guest DJ, David Tobocman

David Tobocman guest DJs with a Jazz for Kids show this week that features some of his own swingin’ tunes as well as an in-studio performance of his “Lemonade School” story song.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Jan 21st & 22nd, 2017
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: “Home” by David Tobocman. – www.davidtobocman.com

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  • Duke Ellington – “The Purple Gazelle” [Afro-Bossa]
  • Louis Jordan – “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” [Jivin’ with Jordan]
  • Shorty Rogers and His Giants – “Martians Go Home” [The Swingin’ Mr. Rogers]
  • Nat “King” Cole – “Three Blind Mice” [King Cole for Kids]
  • David Tobocman – “No Time Like the Present” [Lemonade School]
  • Chris McKhool – “Spider-Man” [FiddleFire!]
  • Ella Fitzgerald – “Old MacDonald” [Whisper Not]
  • Count Basie – “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” [The Complete Basie on Decca]
  • Glenn Miller Orchestra – “(I Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo” [The Essential Glenn Miller]
  • STORY BREAK: David Tobocman – “Lemonade School” (live performance)
  • Count Basie – “Oh, Lady Be Good” [Count Basie and the Kansas City 7]
  • Oran Etkin – “High Low” [Wake Up Clarinet]
  • Lori Henriques – “Happy to Be Me” [Outside My Door]
  • Ahmad Jamal Trio – “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” [Live at the Pershing]
  • Coal Train Railroad – “Snuggling Suits Me Just Fine” [Coal Train Railroad]
  • David Tobocman – “Brush Your Teeth” [Very Helpful Songs]
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet – “When You Wish upon a Star” [Dave Digs Disney]

[Rebroadcast. Original air date: Nov 10th & 11th, 2012]

Ice Harvesting: Community Events & Resource

Ice Harvesting: Community Events & Resource

Throughout the winter, check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for community events and demonstrations of ice harvesting. Here are three featured resources in Western MA to add to your itinerary:

Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge.

Fire & Ice Days is an annual celebration with ice harvesting demonstrations showing how 19th century Americans adapted their lifestyles to the cold New England winters.

Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Explorations of Ice Harvesting

Henry David Thoreau & “The Pond in Winter”

Ice harvesting is embedded within the history and cultural traditions of New England. So much so, in fact, that it also influenced the literary reflections of  writers such as Henry David Thoreau who described the harvesting of ice in his chapter, “The Pond in Winter,” from Walden. As you explore ice harvesting through  living history demonstrations and artifacts from the past, read Thoreau’s chapter on  “The Pond in Winter” for historical understanding from a literary perspective.  Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Doo-Wop Episode with Guest DJs, Michael & Tony Napolitano (Radio Show/Podcast) (Rebroadcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Doo-Wop Episode
with Guest DJs, Michael & Tony Napolitano


Preschool of Rock takes you on a magical musical journey from the late 1940’s to present day music.

Michael Napolitano hosts the show with his father, Tony Napolitano. Their musical experiences span 7 decades from Tony’s childhood singing Doo-wop on street corners in Newark NJ to Michael’s youth Rocking drums in the basement! With songs like Preschool of Rock’s Family Song they discuss how the Napolitano Family continues this musical lineage as Michael’s children sing on this track with their parents and grandparents. From Bobby Darin to Led Zeppelin, this show is certain to educate and entertain. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes!!

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Jan 7th & 8th, 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: Michael & Tony Napolitano. – www.preschoolofrock.com

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  • The Young Rascals – “A Beautiful Morning” [The Rascals]
  • Preschool of Rock – “The Family Song” [Everything Makes a Sound]
  • The Ideals – “Do I Have The Right” [Doo-Wop Treasures Volume 5]
  • Glenn Miller Orchestra – “In the Mood” [N/A]
  • Bobbly Darin – “Splish Splash” – [Bobby Darin]
  • The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) – Simon & Garfunkel [The Best of Simon &
  • The Beatles – “Penny Lane” [Magical Mystery Tour]
  • Preschool of Rock – “Cupcake Song” – [Everything Makes a Sound]
  • Chicago – “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” [Chicago Transit Authority]
  • Led Zeppelin – “Rock and Roll” [Led Zeppelin IV]
  • Bob Marley – “Roots, Rock, Reggae” [Rastaman Vibration]
  • Medeski, Martin & Wood – “Let’s Go Everywhere” [Let’s Go Everywhere]
  • Tito Puente – “Ran Kan Kan” [Single]
  • Preschool of Rock – “Safari Song” [Everything Makes a Sound]

[Originally Aired January 26th & 27th, 2013]

The Ripple: The Importance of Ice

HFVS Heart Of Chanukah Show with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Podcast/Radio Show)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

The Heart of Chanukah
Mama Doni Guest DJ Show

The Heart of Chanukah hosted with Mama Doni (Doni Zasloff Thomas) Guest DJ Playlist with special guests Millie, Alexander, and Chris Thomas. – www.MamaDoni.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Dec 17th & 18th 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
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The Heart of Chanukah hosted with Mama Doni (Doni Zasloff Thomas) Guest DJ Playlist with special guests Millie, Alexander, and Chris Thomas

  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • Mama Doni- “Chanukah Fever” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Mama Doni- “The Legend of Sour Creeam Vs Apple Sauce” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Graham Clarke- “Five Little Latkes” [American Blue]
  • Kugelplex- “Still Playing For Latkes” [Ceci N’est Pas Klezmer]
  • Groovebarbers- “I Had A Little Dreidel” [Glory]
  • Mama Doni- “La Vida Dreidel” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Tor Hyams- “This is Chanukah” [This is Chanukah]
  • Mama Doni- “The Funky Gold Menorah” [Chanukah Fever]
  • The Hit Crew- “8 Little Lights of Mine” [Kids Happy Hanukah]
  • Alisa Fineman- “Ocho Kandelikas” [Closing the Distance; Poems, Prayers & Love Songs]
  • STORYTIME: “Too Many Latkes,” written & illustrated by Richard Codor, published by Behrman House Publishers
  • Ruby & Ava Lockner- “Is it Chanukah or Hannukah?” [Just One Angel]
  • Mama Doni- “Land of Sufganiyot” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Billy Sherwood- “Rockin’ Hannukah” [Ulitmate Holiday Party Vol 1]
  • Woodie Guthrie- “Hannukah Dance”
  • Michele Citrin- “Pass The Candle” [Lights, Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Craig Taubman- “Maotzur” [Lights Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Mama Doni- “Eight” [Chanukah Fever]

[Originally aired Dec 17, 2011]


Museum Explorations of Christmas

Museum Explorations of Christmas

Local museums are an experiential way to explore the history of New England holiday traditions and how our present customs were influenced by the cultural practices of the past. Whether you’re interested in learning about food traditions from the past, historic decorations or customary festivities, museum exhibitions and demonstrations provide us with tangible examples in their exploration of history and culture. Specifically, living history museums and events are engaging ways to witness firsthand how holidays were celebrated in early New England. Hands-on activities and demonstrations create unique experiences for visitors to learn about different holiday festivities. It’s also a great opportunity to see how the season was celebrated in a non-commercial way; many decorations and gifts were handmade!

Download our Nov/Dec issue of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts to discover winter holiday traditions being celebrated across the region.  Read the rest of this entry »

Community Celebrations of Hanukkah

Celebrate Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the Jewish holiday known as the Festival of Lights. For eight days, Jewish families light one more candle of the eight that create the menorah each evening. In Western Massachusetts there are many places to explore the traditions of Hanukkah and Jewish culture through community events and local museums. Bring your family to celebrate while participating and learning about customs of the holiday.

Here in this video is a brief history of Hanukkah and the origin of many customs:

Find community events for celebrating and discovering the traditions of Hanukkah for 2016: Read the rest of this entry »

50 Years of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa: Celebrating 50 Years!

In 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga established an African American and Pan-African holiday, Kwanzaa, based on traditional African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Organized around seven principles (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith), Kwanzaa aims to preserve, continually revitalize, and promote African American culture. A week-long celebration observed from December 26 to January 1. During this time, look for annual community-based celebrations in which to participate.

Share this video with your kids, discovering the history and tradition of this celebration:

The Malcolm X Cultural Center at UMass in Amherst hosts an annual Kwanzaa Celebration. Other annual Kwanzaa celebrations take place in Springfield and Pittsfield. Learn more about the symbols, values, and history of Kwanzaa online at www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org.

Download our Nov/Dec issue of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts to discover winter holiday traditions being celebrated across the region.

Three Kings Day Customs: Food, Giving & Celebrating

Three Kings Day Customs: Food, Giving & Celebrating

The intersection of food and culture are great ways to make learning connections! Make Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings Bread) at home and discover this delicious food tradition!

On January 6th in many Hispanic countries, the Day of the Three Kings, or Los Reyes, is celebrated. This day marks the biblical adoration of the magi or the three kings that came to visit the newborn baby Jesus. Each king comes bearing a gift. Traditionally on this day gifts are exchanged and, on the island of Puerto Rico, another sweet and interesting tradition occurs with children writing a letter to los reyes asking for gifts. Then, on the night before the Day of the Three Kings, children gather cut grass and place it in a box underneath their bed. The grass is meant for the kings’ camels to eat. In exchange for the grass, and in gratitude, the kings leave a special little gift for the children!

Learn about the extended holiday season and the traditions and celebrations that accompany Three King’s Day through reading, baking, crafting, and celebrating in our post, Three King’s Day Offers Multi-Cultural LearningRead the rest of this entry »

HFVS Lookin’ Back and Forth with Guest DJ, Danny Weinkauf


Lookin’ Back and Forth
with Guest DJ, Danny Weinkauf

Danny Weinkauf, of They Might Be Giants and Danny Weinkauf and the Red Pants Band, looks back to the past and forward into the future with old favorites and brand new releases from fellow kindie artists. He also shares a couple of requests from his own family members.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
December 10th & 11th, 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: “Look at Those Clouds” – Music by Danny Weinkauf’s album Red Pants Band.

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1. Danny Weinkauf – “Picky Eaters” (Red Pants Band)
2. Fountains of Wayne – “Survival Car” (Fountains of Wayne)
3. Danny Weinkauf – “My Magic Helicopter“ (Red Pants Band)
4. They Might Be Giants. – “Moles, Hounds Bears, Bees, and Hares “ (Why?)
5. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – “Secret Superhero” (Infinity Plus One)
6. Justin Roberts – “Lemonade” (Lemonade)
7. XTC – “Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” (Nonsuch)
8. Danny Weinkauf – “Look at Those Clouds” (Red Pants Band)
9. Francis England – “Explorer of the World” (Explorer of the World)
10. The Okee Dokee Brothers – “Jackalope” (Saddle Up)
11. They Might Be Giants – “Elephants” (Why?)
12. Stacy Peasley – “Rocketship” (RSVP)
13. Jumpin’ Jamie – “Astronauts Love” (Single)
14. Steve songs – “Song without a rhyme” (Orangutan Van)
15. Danny Weinkauf – “I’m a Girl (Step Aside)” (Single)




Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Non-Commercial Gift Giving

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Holiday Segment
Non-Commercial Gift Giving

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

This monthly segment continued on Monday, November 21, 2016. In this segment, Sienna and Lauren talked about non-commercial gift-giving ideas and the value of making your own gifts to give for the holidays.

Click on image to view video.

Download a copy of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA for Nov/Dec. (38 page PDF) for the holiday season.

Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be December 26th, 2016!


Christmas Trees: History & Folklore

History & Folklore of Christmas Trees

What is folklore? Folklore includes the traditions and stories of a culture or community that are passed down for generations.  Typically, folklore is passed on through word of mouth in the form of a narration.  Over time, stories can change, morph, and transform depending on the place, culture, context and the storyteller.  That’s the beauty of a folktale; it has many added layers as the story moves from narrator to narrator, place to place.  Storytelling is an art, both the narration and the listening.

Some of our holiday traditions today are a result of folklore and myth.  For example, the contemporary Christmas tree has an interesting past with a story and history that has been passed down from generation to generation.  From its original form with the ancient Norse pagans to its present day form in the houses of those who celebrate Christmas, the Christmas tree, like many folktales, has changed shape and meaning as it has been adapted to new cultures, people and places.

Excerpt from Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts (Seasons: Nov/Dec), a downloadable bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.



Origins of Christmas Traditions

Origins of Christmas Traditions

Where does the Christmas tree come from? Did you know that the origin of the Christmas tree has roots in ancient Norse paganism from Northern Germany?  Evergreens were seen as magical entities due to their ability to withstand the frigid, cold winter and stay green. During the winter solstice, Norse pagans, who celebrated the Norse god Jul (pronounced Yule) brought entire evergreens into their homes.  These trees were called Yule Trees and were believed to protect the home during the darkest times of the year.

Learn more about the origins of Christmas traditions and symbols…

Bet You Didn’t Know…

HFVS Songs of Gratitude Episode with Guest DJ, Eric Herman


Songs of Gratitude Episode
with Guest DJ, Eric Herman

Eric Herman gets downright happy in this show featuring songs that celebrate feeling good about yourself and about life, and being positive and grateful. Find out more about Eric and his music by visiting www.erichermanmusic.com.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Nov 26th & 27th, 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: “What a Ride” – Cool Tunes for Kids by Eric Herman

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James Brown – “I Got You (I Feel Good)” [James Brown – 16 Original Hits]
Eric Herman – “What a Ride” [What a Ride]
Schneiderman Sisters – “Three Little Birds” [That Baby CD]
Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella – “Hakuna Matata” [The Lion King Soundtrack]
Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry Be Happy” [Simple Pleasures]
David Tobocman – “Hello Goodbye” [Lemonade School]
Randy Kaplan – “My Little Laugh” [The Kids Are All Id]
Eric Ode – “Let a Little Light Shine” [When You Smile]
Eric Herman – “The Best Parts” [Party Animal]
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – “Gotta Be You” [Make Believers]
-Story by Eric Herman-
The SqueeGees – “I Can I Can” [Veggie Soup]
Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could – “The Little Band That Could” [Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could]
Jack Johnson with Ben Harper – “My Own Two Hands” [Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George]
Eric Herman and the Thunder Puppies – “I Wanna Be That Guy” [Bubble Wrap]
Pharrell Williams – “Happy” [Happy]
REM with Kate Pierson – “Shiny Happy People” [Out of Time]


Traditional Crafts & Artisan Skills: Handmade Holiday Gift Idea

Shop Local: Craft Fairs & Open Studios

Take the challenge this year by shopping local and non-commercial during the holiday season. The abundance of craft fairs and open studios happening in the area featuring handmade products by local artists and artisans make it easy to find that special something when looking for a gift of any kind. Handmade wood or glass ornaments, hand-knitted scarves, upcycled accessories, one-of-a kind prints and stationary… our region is filled with a strong creative economy filled with amazing artisans!

While browsing an artisans studio or booth, take the time to stop and talk with them. Be curious and ask them questions. Discover how they learned their craft skill, what the history is behind their craft, how long they have been making their art, and where they find their inspiration. A purchase not only supports the artist and artisan, but your gift now comes with a story to share with the person with you you will give your gift.  Read the rest of this entry »

Language Arts & Creativity: Handmade Holiday Gift Idea

Handmade: Write a Zine or Make a Journal

Zines (short for magazine or fanzine) are self-published books that include different media forms: collage, illustrations, comic strips, and words.  A zine can be a book of poetry or a story, it can be a guide book or a collection of fairy tales – the sky’s the limit!  Zines can also be photocopied and bound so that you can produce multiple copies.  Here’s a short documentary on Zines…

Making a zine is a rewarding, creative process and can certainly be a part of your gift giving plans for the holidays. Need some inspiration for your zine-making adventures? Check out the Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton, MA.  The Flywheel Arts Collective has a community Zine library and cafe with over 3,000 zines, featuring many from Western Massachusetts!  Flywheel is a collective of art and poetry that allows people to share their work with others in their local community.  It’s a great community resource for those looking to feel inspired through grassroots art and literature that aims to inspire, provoke thought and engage the community.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fiber Arts, Math & Mindfulness: Handmade Holiday Gift Idea

Knit Something!

Remember the knitted items you saw during the Agricultural Fairs towards the end of the summer? Get ready for next September’s aggie fairs while working on gifts for others this season! At www.ravelry.com, you to search for free knitting patterns that can help you come up with your next project gift idea.  Perhaps a one-skein hat? A pair of mittens?  Or a hand-knitted cowl?  Knitting is not only a fun activity and great way to hand-make a gift, but it’s also a wonderful way to get together with fellow knitters of all ages and knit together!  Who knows what new stitches you’ll learn and the new friends you’ll meet!  Read the rest of this entry »

Culinary and Pastry Arts: Handmade Holiday Gift Idea

The Gift of Food!

Bûche de Noël from Bread Euphoria in Haydenville, MA. [Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield]

Tis becoming to season to pay special attention to spreading kindness to those around us! Families can spread kindness by sharing homemade foods with neighbors, and can expand this activity to include studies of world cultures by baking foods enjoyed internationally!

We explored food preservation earlier this month – now it’s time to put those skills to use!  Pumpkin or apple butter make great holiday gifts and are something the recipient can enjoy for the entire season! Jams and jellies are also a nice gift idea! Want to help the gift recipient get ready for sugaring season in the late winter?  How about preparing a ready to go pancake mix in a jar? Finally, freshly baked cookies and pies are always a great gift idea. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanksgiving: Through the Lens of Poetry, Art & Literature

Thanksgiving: Through the Lens of Poetry, Art & Literature

As mentioned in the Sept/Oct 2016 edition of Learning Ahead, food connects us. The gathering of community, family, and friends around the table for a shared meal is a meaningful way to spend time together in the spirit of sharing and collaboration through food. The Thanksgiving season is one that inspires us to reflect on the people and places for which we are thankful. It’s an opportunity to express gratitude collectively.

Today, the traditional Thanksgiving meal is a celebration of the harvest season. The dinner table features the autumn bounty produced by local farms. Customary foods often included in Thanksgiving meals include corn, turkey, cranberry sauce, and fall vegetables such as squash and pumpkin pie. In fact, the traditional New England dishes often included at the Thanksgiving table have even inspired poets in their literary musings.  Read the rest of this entry »

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