Food connects us. It’s an integral part of our cultural identity and is often prepared with the idea of sharing, giving, and enjoying together. Nothing indicates the beginning of autumn and the fall harvest in Western Massachusetts like the crisp bite of a local apple picked right off the tree, or the sweet taste of a freshly baked apple pie.
Apple season is a beloved time of year in New England with apple orchards preserving our heritage, regional identity, and local landscape. By visiting pick-your-own apple orchards, we meet the farmers that grow our food, learn firsthand how apples grow, and engage in the seasonality of the land and the sense of belonging it instills within us. Traditional recipes, the scenic orchard landscapes, and the representation of apple-picking in literature and art remind us of how the apple has become a rich part of our cultural heritage. Read the rest of this entry »
One-Room Schoolhouse: Connecting to Place through Literature & History
In the 1800’s, the traditional academic year was quite different in New England. An element of seasonality was incorporated into how the school term was determined. In rural areas, children who helped out on the family farm attended school during the winter and stayed home to assist with the harvest during the summer and fall. In a one-room schoolhouse, grade levels were often mixed and one teacher was responsible for all of the students’ learning. A man or woman, the school teacher assigned tasks to each student depending on the pupil’s age, grade, and level of advancement.
19th century poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, wrote a poem that describes well a typical country schoolhouse in New England. A Quaker, abolitionist, and native of Haverhill, MA, Whittier is part of a group of poets also known as the schoolroom poets. Whittier, William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. were considered the first American poets to bring forth an authentic American voice and rival the British poets. They were referred to as the Schoolroom Poets, Fireside Poets, or Household Poets given their popularity and widely read works. One of Whittier’s poems, “In School-days,” read here in this video by Tom O’Bedlam, describes the memory of an old man as he recalls a fellow student and the life lesson she taught him.
When listening to (or reading) this poem, notice the description of the schoolhouse: the warped floors, the schoolmaster’s worn desk, and the battered seats of the students – all characteristics that point to a typical 19th century schoolhouse in New England. Read the rest of this entry »
In this video by Kylee Reschke, five Fireside Poets from the 19th century are introduced. Discover why they are called the Fireside Poets (also known as the Schoolroom Poets) and why they are relevant today.
Well-known education resource Khan Academy, a free web site offering video-based learning to students, sparked a small revolution in the utilization of video in the classroom. Here, modern learning technology offers a lesson in the history of education… Sal Khan style:
Contemporary conversations about modern day education include” inspiring and forward-looking leaders and thinkers on the topic of learning, including Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, Bill Gates, Rita F. Pierson, Sir Ken Robinson and Geoffrey Canada, among others.” Hear what many of these folks have to share in this this TED Talk special on education:
Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured community highlights this week: You can become a citizen scientist on Wednesday, September 14, 4pm-6pm by helping to tag monarchs before they head south to the overwintering grounds in Mexico. Jennifer Unkles has been tagging monarchs since 1997. She will be teaching participants at the Hitchcock Center about the monarch’s life cycle, their epic annual migration, how the tagging program works, and how to tag any monarchs you’re able to catch and release. Registration is recommended. 413-256-6006. 845 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)
Back to School Episode
with Guest DJ, Joanie Leeds
Joanie Leeds of Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights guest DJs our Back To School Episode. Joanie hand picked all of the school themed songs including a few from her CD, Bandwagon as well as from artists such as: Pop Ups, Dizzy Gillespie, Justin Roberts, Bari Koral, Recess Monkey, Lunch Money, Astrograss, Miss Nina, They Might Be Giants, The Verve Pipe, Chuck Berry, Trout Fishing in America and Rocknoceros. – www.joanieleeds.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am September 3rd & 4th, 2016 Original Broadcast: Aug 31, 2013 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
FEATURED VIDEO: Joanie Leeds & the Nightlights , “Back to School.”
SciShow: Teaching the World of Science Through Video
Spotlighting the most engaging and fascinating of scientific topics with brevity, SciShow brings kid-friendly web-based doses of science to screens everywhere! Offered through SciShow’s Youtube channel are dozens upon dozens of videos teaching about everything from plasma to the influences of science fiction.
Science-curious learners of almost any age can take advantage of the information offered through SciShow’s videos in numerous ways, including gaining exposure to new topics, solidifying understanding of topics already explored, or adding background knowledge to topics explored through experience. Read the rest of this entry »
World Languages Episode with
Guest DJ, Sarah Aroeste
This week on the HFVS, Sarah Aroeste, a children’s singer and songwriter in the rare and eclectic dialect of Spanish called Ladino, will take listeners around the globe to explore some contemporary kids music in lesser-known dialects. From Quechua to Yup’ik to Amharic and more, Aroeste hopes listeners will agree that good music is good music, no matter the language! — www.saraharoeste.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am August 6th & 7th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
AlternateHistoryHub Promotes Consideration of Context in Studies of Human History
Every event in our own lives directly influences the next – and similarly, everything that we do as a country, a culture, and as humans influences all that comes after. Every major historical event – from battles and assassinations to natural disasters and deadly diseases – has shaped the events that follow it, making our timeline of human history not just a series of events, but a gradual and (so far) endless chain reaction of events.
So what if some of the major events that are part of our human timeline had never happened, or had happened differently?
Wildlife Episode with Guest DJs, Casey & Kevin from The Whizpops
Kevin and Casey of The Whizpops have put together a fun educational show about wildlife and imagination seamlessly weaving songs about animals both real and make-believe. Join them on a musical journey through endangered species, mustaches, and even unicorns! — www.thewhizpops.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am July 30th & 31st, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured video: Black Footed Ferret by The Whizpops!
Novelty Music Episode with Guest DJ, Jack Forman from Recess Monkey
Recess Monkey whisks listeners of the Hilltown Family Variety Show off on a trip to the Novelty Shop for a madcap hour of truly strange musical oddities! The band’s bassist frontman Jack Forman guides us through a collection of dust-covered rarities and instant classics, each guaranteed to out-weird the last! — www.recessmonkeytown.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am July 23rd & 24th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured video:Recess Monkey’s “Sweaty Yeti” from Novelties
Family Funk and Half Pint Hip Hop specialist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo takes listeners on a journey through the weird and lovely sonic landscape of family music at its best! This show features the story “Weirdo Calhoun and the Odd Men Out,” fringe science explanations on the fantastic from bio physicist Jeff Firewalker Schmitt, and some very strange sponsors. Appropriate for ages 1 through 1 billion. — secretagent23skidoo.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am July 9th & 10th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured video: Barenaked Ladies – “Pollywog In A Bog” (Extended Version)
History of Folk Music for Families Episode
with Guest DJ, Greg McIlvaine
This week on the HFVS, Greg McIlvaine, singer and guitar player with The Hollow Trees guest DJs this week with History of Folk Music for Families Episode. He plays fun and fascinating family songs ranging from the earliest recorded music up to the present. The songs reflect a short history of family music with an emphasis on the songs and artists that have influenced him the most. – thehollowtrees.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am July 2nd & 3rd, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured video: The Hollow Trees – I Can’t Dance (I’ve Got Ants in My Pants) :
Fun in the Sun Episode with Guest DJ, Jason Didner
Guest DJ Jason Didner invites you for an hour of “fun in the sun” themed music by today’s great children’s musicians and a few well renowned classic rock and reggae acts. You’ll get to know more about the “Jersey Shore Sound” that Jason and band are proud to call an influence. You’ll catch the beach party spirit that’s on full display from Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, an energy that also shows up in tracks by Brady Rymer and Yosi. You’ll enjoy the feel-good sounds of Jimmy Cliff, Suzi Shelton, Miss Nina and more. Whether you’re headed for the beach, the lake or the pool, this episode can be your summer soundtrack! — junglegymjam.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am June 25th & 26th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured video: Princess Katie & Racer Steve “Sand in my Sandwich” [Tiny Cool]
This week on the HFVS, Kb Whirly takes us on a funky musical journey. From dancing like a rooster in the kitchen with Pete Seeger, to celebrating all the critters with Andrew and Polly, KbWhirly will take us on a cruise through folk, blues, funk, pop and hip hop tunes that are sure to get your toes tappin’! – www.kbwhirly.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am June 18th & 19th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured video: Big Bang Boom – “Hippie Mom” [Because I said So!]
You Are What You Eat Episode with Guest DJ, Eric Herman
Family music artist Eric Herman serves up a smorgasbord of fun food songs. From chocolate-covered brussels sprouts to a thousand tiny doughnuts, Eric will musically explore the idea that you are what you eat. – www.erichermanmusic.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am June 11th & 12th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Hilltown Family Variety Show
Music of the World Episode
with Guest DJ, Keith Terry
Keith Terry from Crosspulse Ensemble is our Guest DJ this week! Keith’s program is about World Music AND Music of the World – not only songs from artists around the planet, but sounds of the planet, itself – from the calls made by insects and birds, to atmospheric sounds created by lightening. Plus some found sound — music created by the sounds we don’t always think of as musical, such as fog horns and trains, even bricks. Join Keith in this exploration of some new and unusual ways of creating and listening to music. – www.crosspulse.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am June 4th & 5th, 2016
Original broadcast: 2013 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
FEATURED VIDEO: Keith Terry, organizer of the International Body Music Festival, stopped by The World studios in Boston to demonstrate the amazing music the human body can make.
The immediate and primal power of music to illicit emotional response is hard-wired into us as humans. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we listen to music for many different reasons. Some music makes us feel happy, while some music makes us feel melancholy. Some makes makes us feel like taking a nap, while others make us feel like jumping up and down. Read the rest of this entry »
Latin American Episode with Guest DJ, Sandra Velasquez
Moona Luna’s Sandra Velasquez takes you on a Latin American bus adventure. Based on her own travels by bus through Latin America, she provides you with a soundtrack for a journey that is as rich and diverse as the changing landscape. – www.moonalunamusic.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am May 28th & 29th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Science & Education Episode with Danny Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants
LISTEN TO PODCAST:
Danny Weinkauf guest DJs this week, demonstrating though song examples and commentary his love of science and education, and how it has influenced his favorite songs and personal writing style. − www.dannyweinkauf.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am May 14th & 15, 2016 Original broadcast: May 10th, 2014 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured video: “I am a Paleontologist” from They Might Be Giants album Here Comes Science.
3rd Annual Demo Show at the UMass Amherst Chemistry Department
People often talk about “chemicals” in our food, water, or hygiene products in reference to possibly toxic or carcinogenic ingredients. Some chemicals certainly are dangerous to humans, but EVERYTHING is made up of chemicals! But what is the exact definition of a chemical, anyway? The Merriam-Webster definition of “chemical,” reads: A substance obtained by a chemical process or producing a chemical effect. And chemistry is the study of how chemicals interact and react with one another.
Here Hank Green gives us a “crash course” in chemistry with a series of fast pace, educational videos:
Cooking is often used as an example of an everyday activity which involves chemistry. When you apply heat to a piece of steak in a pan, water content leaves the muscle fibers. This is why the fillet is smaller after it has been cooked. Think about some other interesting reactions which occur in the kitchen. Why does corn pop? Another way to ask this question would be, why don’t other grains pop? Corn contains water, which turns to steam, creating pressure inside the hard outer shell and eventually exploding.
Transit of Mercury Inspires Community-Based Learning
The transit of Mercury is an astronomical phenomenon in which Mercury comes between Earth and the Sun, and can be seen as a tiny black dot moving across the sun. This event was predicted by Johannes Kepler before it was observed visually. That observation was recorded in 1631. Today, we generally hear about astronomical events before they happen, often camping outside at night to see rare occurrences in the sky. How do astronomers predict events like the transit of Mercury with such accuracy? In short, advanced mathematics. Astronomers draw from concepts of Physics, and use Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus to make measurements of distances between objects in the sky, and predictions of when they will appear in various ways from Earth.
You don’t need to know anything about mathematics to appreciate the beauty of the sky, however. For centuries, the night sky remained largely a mystery to humans, and many myths emerged to explain the sun, moon, stars, and planets. Lunar and solar deities emerged in cultures across the world.
Whether you want to learn more about the mathematics of astronomy, write your own mythological explanations, or simply enjoy the beauty of the sky, you can attend various astronomy-themed events at the Springfield Museums this month. On Monday, May 9 from 10am-1pm, museum visitors can witness the first transit of Mercury since 2006. Check the Museums’ Facebook page to make sure the event is happening, as it is weather dependent. On Saturday, May 14 from 12-4pm, visitors can engage in safe sunspot viewing, and see a collection of meteorites. There will be hands-on activities for all ages, information about how craters are formed on the moon, and a space sensory bin for kids.
May 9th and 14th events are free with museum admission. Planetarium shows are $3 for adults, $2 for children ages 3-17, and free for members. 413-263-6800, ext. 318. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA.
Want to learn how to view on your own? Lucie Green describes what will happen when Mercury transits the face of the Sun, and how to observe it safely.
Biology tells us that water is life. Religion tells us that life is sacred. Biology does not want to admit that life is sacred (because that would not be “objective,” but it would not exist without water. Think of any biologist and name one not totally dependent upon water for life. Einstein’s brain was 75% water, and so are ours. Think of how you are reading this now—to some actual extent, water is reading this too. As a hard science, biology is a means for water to get to know itself—for water is life and life/bios is what biology studies.
Hilltown Family Variety Show
Earth Day Episode
with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn
This special Earth Day show by Charity Kahn from Charity and the JAMband highlights songs and concepts that explore compassion, kindness, and our interconnectedness with Earth and all beings. The episode underscores the reminder that our love and intention are powerful forces that can inspire all of us to act in ways that protect and take care of the Earth. In addition to music along these lines, the show also includes a story (theme: interbeing) and a guided meditation (theme: non-harming). Because every day should be Earth Day! — www.jamjamjam.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am April 23rd & 24th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured video: EARTH DAY by Charity and the JAMband
In the 30+ years that I’ve been playing music professionally, I’ve been lucky to have many incredible experiences performing all around the world. There are lots of variables that go into creating a great show: the venue, the crowd, the sound, and of course, the rapport with other musicians. It’s a rare occasion when everything comes together, but when those magical moments happen it’s powerful for everyone fortunate enough to be in the band or in the audience.
Recently, in New York City, I played a concert that immediately found a spot high on the list of my all-time favorite gigs. The sold-out show was at a great theater (Symphony Space) on Broadway and my backing band was a group of phenomenal children. The kids who played with me are the stars of the hit Broadway musical “School of Rock.”
In many ways, working with Brandon, Evie, Dante and Ethan was similar to rehearsing and performing with grown-up pros. I sent them mp3’s and chord charts of the songs before we met, and they showed up prepared having done their homework. We had one short rehearsal and then played the show. Read the rest of this entry »
Like tiny submariners bursting up and out of the bottom of the brook, breaking into wings and soaring for a short time above the world they once knew, the stoneflies are here, molting from crab-shells they lived in. On the back of my neck, computer keyboard, every boulder around me: they multiply, skitter all directions, avoiding the rushing water they recently called home. The frenzy begins. Read the rest of this entry »
Musical Diversity Episode with Guest DJ, Liz DeRoche
Liz DeRoche is our Guest DJ with Musical Diversity Episode. Liz will take listeners on a musical adventure exploring diversity in music. She showcases a wide variety of genres that are as unique and diverse as we are. — thesinginglizard.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am March 26th & 27th, 2016 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Featured Video: “Show Me Your Happy” by The Singing Lizard
We're 10! As we look ahead to the next decade of supporting education through community engagement we need YOUR support! Make a tax-deductible donation to Hilltown Families today! - Hilltown Families is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Welcome to Hilltown Families, an online grassroots communication network for families living throughout the four counties of Western Massachusetts. Hilltown Families believes in creating resilient and sustainable communities by developing and strengthening a sense of place in our children and citizens through community-based education and engagement. We work to accomplish this by highlighting the embedded learning that is found everywhere in our communities, making the information accessible to families, and giving parents/educators access to opportunities that support their children’s interests and education while encouraging community engagement.
Hilltown Families was founded in 2005 by Sienna Wildfield and is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
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