Empowering Our Girls: Keeping our Teenage Daughters Safe

12 Essential Tips to Keep Your Teenage Daughter Safe

We all want to feel confident when our teenage daughters go out at night with their friend, knowing they know how to prevent themselves from being in unsafe situations, and how to defend and advocate for themselves when they needed to.  As a teenager, I experienced sexual assault, and now as a mother of a precious ten year old daughter, I do what it takes to keep her safe, including teaching self defense to girls for the past 30 years. Here I am sharing tips on ways we can keep our daughters safe as they navigates through their teenage years, and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Scientists Opportunity: School of Ants

Western MA Families Can Help Scientists Learn About Diversity of Ants Across the United States While Discovering Local Ecology

Adventurous, bug-loving families can help to contribute to ongoing ant research and identification of species by participating in a project called School of Ants. Families are asked to collect ant samples from at least two locations near their home and mail their specimens to an entomology research center.

Ants are amazing…. and sometimes a nuisance – they’re attracted to food when you snack outside, they crawl on your feet when you sit in the grass, and sometimes they’re so brazen as to venture into our homes, snagging sweet treats from our floors, counters, and cupboards. Nuisance though they can be, ants are also fascinating: they can lift enormous amounts of weight, they create a very intricate social structure, and they can live in the most unlikely of places, like cracks in busy city sidewalks.

Ants are one of the least understood crawly critters found around us. There are numerous species of ants found all over North America (and the world!), yet the habits of many of these species have not been extensively researched. Of particular interest to researchers are invasive species of ants – types that have been brought in from other parts of the world and are adversely affecting other populations that they now share an environment with…

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: August 17th-21st, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 12 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:


North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 15th & 16th, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for Month August 15th-21st, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 27 Community Highlights: Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

August 15th-21st,2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Agricultural FairsWestern MA CultureEarth ScienceLocal HistoryImmigrationClimatologyVisual ArtPaintingLiteracyTeen PartyEntomologyPuppet ShowCommunity ServiceShakespeareOutdoor TheaterCommunity MealWalking GroupsParent SupportWeekday SpotlightDance Studies

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. HFVS Back to School Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  2. 11 Suggestions on How Western MA Families Can Make Wise Back-to-School Purchases
  3. Q&A: Hair Cuts in Western MA
  4. Tips for a New School Year
  5. 6 Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

27 Community Highlights: Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals.

Many children are inclined to collect stones and shells based on their texture, color, beauty, or interesting features. What makes up these rocks, minerals, and shells, and what can we learn about our planet through these natural objects? Attend the Gaylord Memorial Library‘s “Mother Earth” program to learn all about earth science on Saturday, August 15th at 11am! Geared for children ages 2-5. Registration required. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Aggie Fairs to Guided Tours. Immigration to Climatology. Plein Air Painting to Community Meals… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlights this week: Aggie Fair season is upon us! Don’t let these weekend events pass you by without exploring one with your family! The Middlefield Fair, which runs August 14-16, features a 4-H club petting zoo, 4×4 truck pulls, a fiddle contest, a roast pork lunch, and horse pulls on the second day. Learn more about agricultural fairs at Hilltown Families’ posts about youth aggie fair participation and the fairs’ multidisciplinary learning opportunities. 413-623-6027. 7 Bell Road, Middlefield, MA. (< $)


Agricultural FairsWestern MA CultureEarth ScienceLocal HistoryImmigrationClimatologyVisual ArtPaintingLiteracyTeen PartyEntomologyPuppet ShowCommunity ServiceShakespeareOutdoor TheaterCommunity MealWalking GroupsParent SupportWeekday SpotlightDance Studies



Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for Month August 15th-21st, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Hilltown Families is THE best resource for activities for children and families in Western Mass, in my opinion! I have found that you have certain happenings on your page that I had not seen advertised anywhere else! That makes you my ‘go to’ resource! And I really like the areas you cover as well….I can find an activity in Greenfield, Deerfield, Westfield or Springfield…or anywhere on between! You also give very complete information on the events you are suggesting to your audience. What’s not to like? Hilltown Families is THE best!” Christine Bray (Ludlow, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Aug 15

Vortex Dance Fitness Studio in Easthampton is holding an Open House on Aug 15 from 11am-1pm for all to come see the studio and talk about kid classes. Vortex teaches cabaret style dance which is a mix of jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip-hop, in a fun, friendly atmosphere. Classes are designed to teach some technique and get students moving, connecting their physical, mental, and emotional selves for optimum well-being. They use a cooperative not competitive approach and hope to foster new friendships while having a wonderful time getting a great workout! Vortex is located on the 2nd floor of the Eastworks Building in Suite 251 right above Riff’s Restaurant in Easthampton, MA. www.vortexdancestudio.com

Aug 24

On Monday, Aug 24 from 7:30-8:30pm at the Forbes Library (20 West St., Northampton), Writing & Executive Function Coach, Kim Starkman, will offer a free class, “How to Help Your Child Become a Successful, Confident and Independent Learner: Strategies for School, Work, & Life.” Executive Function (EF) is an umbrella term for how we use our brain to organize, prioritize, plan, self-modulate, sustain attention and complete tasks. These are all skills needed to do well in school, on a job, and in life. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of what EF is and how to help their own children overcome challenges and become more successful, confident & independent learners. For more info call 413-587-1011 or email kimstarkman@gmail.com

Aug 22

Pioneer Valley Ballet is hosting an Open House on Saturday, August 22, 10am-noon. Tour PVB’s studio in Easthampton, meet the trainers, and sample a class. At 11:30, children ages 4-6 can participate in a free 30-minute Creative Ballet Class—an excellent introduction to PVB’s training programs that create exceptional young dancers. For more information, call 413-527-6363 or visit us online at www.pioneervalleyballet.org

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12, all day, for a meaningful time volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, Sept 12 , al day, Take Action Against Hunger (National Hunger Action Month). Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Sep 27

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will once again be holding their 5th Annual Will Bike 4 Food charity cycling event on Sunday, September 27th. You have the opportunity to support their community by riding as an individual or forming a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 3.5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of all ages and levels can get involved. This year’s event will include a new location (Hatfield Lions Club Pavilion), new routes, and the biggest after-party yet with food, beverages, games and live music. To register, or to learn more about Will Bike 4 Food, visit their website at www.willbike4food.org.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your summer camp, class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, program, after school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
August 15-21,2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

People-Watching! Supporting Language Arts, Theater & Community Awareness

Late-Summer People-Watching as Inspiration for Young Writers and Thespians

A fun way to learn about a local culture, people-watching can serve as a great tool for young writers and thespians too! The observations made in a particular context can help inspire or contribute to the development or portrayal of a character. Visit some of our suggested people-watching locations!

Inspiration can come in many forms for young writers and creators, and the sparks that ignite the creative process can sometimes come from unexpected places. Often, inspiration can come from experience, allowing works to be created as a result of personal experience, but other times, inspiration needs to come from external sources. A great (and always accessible) source of inspiration is people-watching – an activity that can lead to everything from laughter to critical and reflective observations about human nature.

People-watching is especially useful for young writers and thespians, as close observation of human behavior can help with character development in writing, and can help actors, directors, and costume designers draw from experience when portraying characters from a story. Best when done in a situation in which you are not directly involved, people-watching can allow those to participate to gather useful information about how people move and talk, as well as the choices that they make, the clothes that they wear, and the people who they associate with. People-watching can feel a bit like judging people, but when observations are made through careful, critical thought, they are much more useful than the snap judgments that are sometimes made at first glance, and an excellent way to develop an appreciation and acceptance of the wonderful diversity found in our communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Hunger Action Month Empowers Our Community to Support Food Security

You can take action to support our community during Hunger Action Month

You can ‘Go Orange’ on Thursday, September 3 to help raise awareness of food insecurity. Share your photos on social media, using #HungerAction.

September is Hunger Action Month, a time when the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks unite and ask everyone to take action to fight hunger in their community. It is your opportunity to join a movement that has a real and lasting impact on our effort to feed more people than ever before.

Hunger affects communities all across our region—rural, urban and suburban. In cities and towns across Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, more than 235,000 people struggle with food insecurity. As individuals, charities, businesses and government, we all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need. During Hunger Action Month, you can find a way that’s right for you to make a difference. There are a number of ways to help, including raising awareness of hunger issues, advocating for change, donating food and funds, or volunteering your time and skills. We all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need.

Here are just a few of the opportunities you have to get involved:  Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s “The Outside Inn”

Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s The Outside Inn

Download Literary Guide for George Ella Lyon’s The Outside Inn

Introduced to readers by a beautiful bug-laden cover, title page, and dedication, George Ella Lyon and Vera Rosenberry’s The Outside Inn is quite obviously a book about nature, and just so happens to be our next installation of our 2015 Summer Reading Resource series. The children who grace the cover and the story’s first page (with a dish-filled wagon in tow) show the story’s connection to childhood – clearly ready to engage in some creative free play, the quartet seem right at home in the muddy puddle in which they have settled at the story’s start. Just as the children begin to dig their muddy meals, narration of their invented game begins. Told in rhymes that beautifully capture children’s imagination and the possibilities for nature-based play, The Outside Inn is not only a silly story for children to enjoy, but it serves as a representation of the mind of a young child.  Read the rest of this entry »

Nature Table for August

A Collection of Experiences

Every month, Hilltown Families features a new nature table whose contents inspire learning along a common theme easily spotted in our surroundings that month. A tradition carried out by teachers, environmental educators, and nature-curious families, nature tables bring a little bit of the outdoors inside for inspection, dissection, identification, creative play, art projects, and lots of other educational activities. The idea behind a nature table is to help open up children’s eyes to the unique attributes of each season, and to help them learn how to see these things in nature for themselves. A nature table can include a variety of items, and is often accompanied by a set of books and/or field guides so that children can take part in further learning at their own will.

So many of this summer’s days have been spent in cold waters underneath an umbrella of green and camp kids I have the privilege of spending time with. The young naturalists leading me through the forests that fill the Nonotuck Biome have reveled in the discovery of everything from water snakes to the perfect walking stick, and have walked with wonder through the process of falling in love with their surroundings. The small discoveries are frequent, serving as the pulse that pushes us further into the river-y veins that give life to our landscape.

It is, however, in examining closely not each small moment but the sum total of all of the small moments that we realize what we have truly learned together: that the earth is alive, and intensely so. When we compile the many experiences that we have had within a day, a week, or a season, we are left not with a stream of images but something larger – something encompassing our entire bodies, our entire consciousness.

Experiencing the seamless flow of life from field to forest to flowing waters with all of our senses allows us to connect the millions of moments we have experienced singularly: the texture of paper birch leaves; the sweet smell of a mushroom-covered nurse log; the chill of river waters moving under a thick canopy; the pattern of sunlight on moss; the maddeningly infinite song of water rushing over rock; and the endless other sensory experiences that light up our synapses when we experience our landscape fully.  Read the rest of this entry »

10 Messy Summer Science Activities for Outside!

One of the best ways to engage in hands-on science learning is by simply messing about. When children’s play leads them to make observations about the things around them and the ways in which they interact with each other, they learn powerful lessons that they’ll remember for years to come. Luckily the time of year messy science learning can be done outdoors! Below are ten suggestions for hands-on science activities that families can engage in both to learn about a specific topic and to encourage self-directed “messing about” with safe science materials once formal experimentation has been done.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Landscapes: Development of Self-Regulation

Critical for Learning and Life: Self-Regulation

Education is our greatest potential resource.

Before jumping into action and using our greatest potential resource, we need to rush to reflection in order to ensure that we and our children can “succeed.” We can easily and quickly acquire the academic and scientific “know how,” but it is the traditional wisdom for “knowing how” that can help our children, families, and communities ethically and sustainably cultivate the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that will allow us to “succeed” in transforming the future.

In rushing to reflection, there are just three questions to ask ourselves that can initiate a change of consciousness about what it means to learn, educate, be educated and succeed:

  1. What is the story that our children are hearing about what it means to learn, educate, be educated and succeed?
  2. Who is an essential part of this story?
  3. For what purpose are children learning?

Education must be more than passive acquisition of knowledge and on-demand regurgitation of facts or performance of skills. Education is more than an independent pursuit for individual academic achievement. The deeper value and purpose of education is to nourish life and, as an educational mentor, my role is to help ignite and sustain children’s natural curiosity and thirst for learning and holistic development.

Education is often seen as the path for self-improvement, but what if education was more than an individual enrichment activity? What is possible if children’s learning journey climaxed not when a test was taken and passed, but when their new knowledge, skills, attitudes, and personal niches of brilliance were used to enrich their community? And what if community recognized our children’s developing competencies and readiness to be active members in our community as an integrated part of the educational system? Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: August 10th-14th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 8 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Summer in the City Episode with Guest DJ, Meredith Wright (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Summer in the City  Episode
with Guest DJ, Meredith Wright

This week on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, join Guest DJ Meredith Wright from Sweetbeatz for Summer in the City. She’ll be spinning a soulful mix of songs that will have you boppin’ to the beat of the city streets. Grab your metrocard (you’ll need it for the subway) for a fun adventure to Central Park, a ballgame and everything in between! – www.sweetbeatzbaby.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
August 8th & 9th, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO:  The Subway! Large cast of Muppets sing about riding the subway.  It’s vintage New York City and Sesame Street all in one!


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Stevie Wonder – “Master Blaster” [Stevie Wonder the Definitive Collection]
  • Hot Peas ‘n Butter – “Baila/Dance” [Best of the Band, Ingles y Español]
  • Martha Reeves & The Vandellas- “Dancing In The Street” [20th Century Masters- the Millennium Collection- Motown 1960’s vol.1]
  • Sweetbeatz- “Neighborhood” [Soulful Songs for City Kids]
  • Bari Koral- “Subway” [Rock and Roll Garden]
  • Joanie Leeds- “Sunday in the Park” [City Kid]
  • Heritage O.P. – “Friendship” [Heritage]
  • Sweetbeatz – “Laundry” [Soulful Songs for City Kids]
  • Carly Simon- “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” [Baseball- a Film by Ken Burns]
  • Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton- “Ice Cream” [Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues (Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center)]
  • James Brown – “Get On The Good Foot, pt. 1” [20 All-Time Greatest Hits!]
  • Sweetbeatz- “Hairdos” [Soulful Songs for City Kids]
  • Byron Lee & The Dragonaires – “Give Me Soca” [Soca Greatest Hits]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 8th & 9th, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Join us this Saturday morning!

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for August 8th-14th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 33 Community Highlights: Blueberries to Beavers. Croquet to Mandolin., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

August 8th-14th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Nature-Based LearningOrnithologyLocal HistoryService-Based LearningMagicSport HistoryMusic StudiesSTEMCommunity CelebrationsAstronomyLocal FoodNature MedicineOutdoor Music & TheaterIndoor Theater

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

Read the rest of this entry »

33 Community Highlights: Blueberries to Beavers. Croquet to Mandolin.

PYO BLUEBERRIES: Picking summertime berries is a part of many families’ summer traditions; an authentic way for kids to learn where their food comes from! If organic blueberries are next on your list, Summit Farm in the heart of the Hilltowns is the place for you!  Call beforehand to ensure that conditions are good for picking. 413-634-5024. 131 Summit Street, Plainfield, MA. ($)

Blueberries to Beavers. Croquet to Mandolin. Meteorology to Astronomy…. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play! Featured community highlight this week: Flywheel Arts Collective and Hilltown Families are partnering to host a first-ever outdoor summer block party for kids on Saturday, August 8 from 10am-12pm! Bring some friends and get ready to meet plenty of new families, too, as we all gather to dance, eat, play, and enjoy fabulous entertainment by the Robbins-Zust Marionettes. DJ Youthelectronix will provide the music, a mix skillfully selected to be enjoyable to both children and adults. This fundraiser, which will support both organizations, will be run with a “pay what you can” admission. Rain location: Flywheel, 43 Main Street, Easthampton, MA. 413-527-9800. Millside Park, Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA. (DONATION)


Nature-Based LearningOrnithologyLocal HistoryService-Based LearningMagicSport HistoryMusic StudiesSTEMCommunity CelebrationsAstronomyLocal FoodNature MedicineOutdoor Music & TheaterIndoor Theater


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for August 8th-14th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

HTF Events Banner

“Family life in the Hilltowns is brighter, bolder and culturally enriched by the support of Hilltown Families. It has been the number one constant resource for events, concerts, and community education for our family in our parenting journey. Hilltown Families has widely become essential support for family life in Western Massachusetts, a network that grows happier healthier families through community, connection, and education. Thank you Hilltown Families for all you do!” – Zoe J. (Shelburne Falls, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending. Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Hilltown Families Event

Aug 8

Get your groove on! Hilltown Families & Flywheel are hosting a Saturday Block Party for Kids at Millside Park in Easthampton on August 8! DJ Youthelectronix will DJ a dance party (and if you’ve been to our winter dance parties, you know how much fun these are!), Robbins-Zust Family Marionettes will be performing the classic fairytale “Firebird,” and we’ll have juice boxes galore!!! This summertime family celebration is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to invite your neighbors to join us too! — Rain location: Flywheel.

Bulletin Board

Aug 5-8

Ahoy there maties! The adventure starts with a mysterious map. Could X mark the spot for buried treasure? Add in pirates and a stranger and the plot thickens. Now you’re off to the high seas. Adventure, skullduggery, secrets, promises broken, and even a couple of laughs. Welcome to PaintBox Theatre’s Treasure Island—the adventure of a lifetime! Long John Silver ordered that you to come dressed as a pirate. (They need a crew!) Performances are Wednesday, August 5 – Saturday, August 8, 10:30am and 1:00pm. daily, at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-923-7159. PaintBoxTheatre.com.

Aug 8 & 15

Vortex Dance Fitness Studio in Easthampton is holding an Open House on Aug 8 from 4:30-6pm and Aug 15 from 11am-1pm for all to come see the studio and talk about kid classes. Vortex teaches cabaret style dance which is a mix of jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip-hop, in a fun, friendly atmosphere. Classes are designed to teach some technique and get students moving, connecting their physical, mental, and emotional selves for optimum well-being. They use a cooperative not competitive approach and hope to foster new friendships while having a wonderful time getting a great workout! Vortex is located on the 2nd floor of the Eastworks Building in Suite 251 right above Riff’s Restaurant in Easthampton, MA. www.vortexdancestudio.com.

Sep 27

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will once again be holding their 5th Annual Will Bike 4 Food charity cycling event on Sunday, September 27th. You have the opportunity to support their community by riding as an individual or forming a team. Starting a team (4 or more) with your friends and family is an easy way to help feed our neighbors in need! With multiple courses to choose from—a 3.5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 mile loop—riders of all ages and levels can get involved. This year’s event will include a new location (Hatfield Lions Club Pavilion), new routes, and the biggest after-party yet with food, beverages, games and live music. To register, or to learn more about Will Bike 4 Food, visit their website at www.willbike4food.org.

Sept 12

Join us on Saturday, Sept 12 from 9-11:30am for a meaningful time volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, Sept 12 , 9-11:30am, for Hunger Action Month in Hatfield. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your open house, after school class, community event, school, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, program, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Eventsand in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
August 8th-14th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Morning Summer Block Party for Kids!

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton is holding our first ever outdoor summer block party for kids at Easthampton’s beautiful Millside Park, located just off the Easthampton Bike Trail.* Join families from across the region on Saturday, August 8 from 10am-12noon for a summer celebration that features dancing, a marionette performance and refreshments. This family event is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend.   Read the rest of this entry »

Our Growing Roots: Real Food, Real Connection

Our Growing Roots: A Debut

As I share my first post as a Contributing Writer for Hilltown Families, I am aware of the heart swell of emotion I feel for the opportunity to unite with the larger community. You see, Western Massachusetts is a place I have always called home; a place my husband and I have chosen to give our own children roots. My connection to the area is strong and I am honored to share my thoughts and experiences of food-based connections as it relates to our local habitat and culture.

When I was younger, I did not have the same appreciation for the richness of this region as I do today. What I have come to love most about our little corner of the world are the abundant farm lands, orchards, apiaries, and local merchants that provide our very basic and fundamental life source – food. All of these threads are woven throughout our rural areas, small cities and towns, like a stitch that holds us together. Whether it’s a special holiday, family gatherings, or a barbecue with friends, food plays an important role not only in our survival, but in the way we connect with those around us.  Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for Farley Mowat’s “Owls in the Family”

Literary Guide for Farley Mowat’s Owls in the Family

Download Literary Guide for Farley Mowat’s Owls in the Family

Bird enthusiasts rejoice – the next installation of our 2015 Summer Reading Resource series is Owls in the Family! Inspired by true events in author Farley Mowat’s childhood in northern Canada, Owls in the Family is charming, humorous, and full of adventures involving creatures of all kinds. As the title suggests, two of the story’s main characters are Great Horned Owls who have been adopted by a human family. Set in rural Saskatchewan, the story revolves around the owls, Weeps and Wol, and Billy, their rescuer, and follows the trio through a series of adventures.

Weeps and Wol, both saved from grim fates, are the stars of Billy’s pet collection. The owls share the spotlight with snakes, gophers, and other small creatures common to the plains of western Canada. Each chapter of the book features a different story of adventure involving Billy, his friends, and either Weeps or Wol (or both, often). Readers follow Billy through the training of the owls, a community pet parade, days swimming on the banks of a river, trips to school with owls in tow, and a move to the big city of Toronto, among other things.

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Museum Adventures: Smith College Museum of Art

Surprise your Eyes at the Smith College Museum of Art

Where do you begin your Museum adventure? For many visitors to the Smith College Museum of Art, their first stop is to check out the artist-designed restrooms! Designed by artists Ellen Driscoll and Sandy Skoglund as functional—and permanent—works of art, each is unique and beautiful. A popular spot for selfies, the women’s restroom features works from the Museum’s collection reproduced in a blue underwater world through etched glass panels. In contrast to the cool hues and mermaid paradise of Driscoll’s women’s restroom, across the way Skoglund intended to create a space that would incorporate “patterning and visual sizzle.”  The men’s room is black and white from floor to ceiling, creating the sensory experience of stepping into an optical illusion. For the wall tiles, Skoglund used imagery based on global creation stories with the common theme of liquid origins. From the fixtures to the floors and even the toilet bowls and urinals, visitors are invited to be part of the art themselves through the use of these unforgettable spaces.

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The artist-designed restrooms are located on the lower level of the Museum, which has been a hub of activity this summer.  While the restrooms will remain untouched, extensive renovations to the rest of the floor are underway. When completed in October, the Museum’s gallery updates and improvements will offer new ways to experience and interact with SCMA’s treasured collection of exceptional art.

Don’t miss these highlights on a visit this fall:  Read the rest of this entry »

17 Kitchen Scraps Born Anew for Experiential Learning

Kitchen Scrap Gardening

While almost all food scraps make great compost, certain scraps can make something even more wonderful – more food! Families can engage in hands-on experiential learning by collecting bits of these special foods and creating their own mini-gardens. Young gardeners can learn about how plants grow, and can enjoy delicious homegrown foods with ease!

Compost bins are filled with all kinds of special wonders – worms and bugs, favorite foods in all stages of decomposition, and a host of smells both sweet and savory. Did you know, though, that some of the bits of food that land in your compost bin can live a second life? Many of the food scraps that we discard can be turned into new plants and, eventually, more food! Creating a kitchen scrap garden is incredibly easy and equally as fascinating, and it can lead to fantastic experiential learning on the topic of plant growth and biology.

Plants possessing the ability to regenerate easily fall into a few different categories. Edible bulbs, like scallions and green onions, will happily continue to produce flavorful green shoots so long as their white bulbs are preserved. Biennial green stalk-y plants like celery, bok choy, lettuce, and cabbage can grow anew if the portion of the plant where the leaves and stalks originate from is saved. Plants whose roots we enjoy, however, work a little bit differently. Rather than saving a small, inedible portion of the plant to regenerate more edible stuff with, food scrap gardeners actually use the edible portion of the plant to sprout more. Ginger and potatoes both grow in this way.

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Off the Mat: Growing Pains

On Pain

“Why did you hurt me on purpose, Mama?,” comes the zinger from the back seat. In this month’s “Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting,” Hilltown Families Contributing Writer Ginny Hamilton explores growing pains, painful patterns, and the truth that life hurts sometimes.

My kiddo sits in the grocery cart. He’s really too big, but containing him removes one variable from the shopping experience. Getting him in is akin to a choreographed 50s swing dance move – jump up, arms around my neck, lift hips, shimmy down. We both grunt and groan good-naturedly with the effort, usually prompting my teasing exclamation – Stop growing!!!  And his grinning response, No! I’m supposed to grow! or You’re kidding Mama. You want me to grow.

This is true. And not. But that’s a topic for another day.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Learning Experiences at Agricultural Fairs

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: July Segment
Agricultural Fairs Celebrate Local History. Preserve Local Culture

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 Friday, July 31, 2015, this time looking at community-based education through the lens of local culture embedded in yearly agricultural fairs.  Sienna and Seth talk about ways agricultural fairs offer families opportunities to participate in a community integrated tradition while offering a myriad of learning experiences!

Discover information and ideas highlighted here in our post,
History, Culture & Community Can All Be Found at Western MA Agricultural Fairs


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 Thursday, August 20!

Learning Ahead: August 3rd-7th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 9 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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HFVS Community Service Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Community Service Episode
with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

This week on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, through music and mindfulness, Charity Kahn (of Charity and the JAMband) explores some of the ideas at the heart of community service: helping those less fortunate, practicing kindness, loving ourselves so we have something to give back, practicing gratitude for the role our communities play in our lives, having awareness around what our various communities are and who makes them up, and seeing the reality that we are all part of a global and interdependent ecosystem. So sing along, listen closely, and then go out and help someone today! – www.jamjamjam.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
August 1st & 2nd, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA


Archived Podcasts Radio Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • The Beatles — “With a Little Help From My Friends” [Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band]
  • The Youngbloods — “Get Together” [The Best of the Youngbloods]
  • Malvina Reynolds — “Magic Penny” [Ear to the Ground]
  • Carole King — “You’ve Got a Friend” [Tapestry]
  • The Beatles — “Help!” [Help!]
  • Charity and the JAMband — “Lovingkindness” [Family Values]
  • Coyote Oldman — “Clouds” [Rainbird]
  • Pete Seeger — “To Everyone in All the World” [The Rainbow Quest]
  • Charity and the JAMband — “Green Beans Everywhere” [Family Values]
  • The Pointer Sisters — “Yes We Can, Can” [The Pointer Sisters]
  • Charity and the JAMband — “We Are the Ones” [Family Values]
  • Dr. John — “Helping Hand” [The Very Best of Dr. John]

Original broadcast: September 21 & 22, 2013

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 1st & 2nd, 2015

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for Suggested Events for August 1st-7th, 2015 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our monthly column,  Learn Local. Play Local. for 27 Community Highlights: Penguins to Cicadas. Lava Lamps to Pteridology., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and Summer Bucket List: Reader Recommendations for Western MA!

August 1st-7th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

OrnithologyNative American CultureCartographyCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryGraphic NovelsService-Based LearningBotanyMusic StudiesLibrary AdventuresSTEMEntomology

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Family Volunteer Days

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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27 Community Highlights: Penguins to Cicadas. Lava Lamps to Pteridology.

When flowers are in bloom, it can be easy to overlook the other plant life around them. Late summer affords us a wonderful window of opportunity (between two seasonal flower blooms) to focus in on ferns! On Sunday, August 2 from 12pm-2pm there will be a 2-hour hike, sponsored by the Hilltown Land Trust,  leading participants past many different types of ferns. Learn how to identify and differentiate common local fern species. Wear long sleeves and pants, sturdy shoes, and insect repellant, and bring water as well as a magnifying glass and fern guide if you have them. Great community-based educational opportunity for self-directed and life-long learners. Rain cancels. Registration required. 508-997-0496. Taproot Commons Farm, 11 Porter Hill Road, Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Penguins to Cicadas. Lava Lamps to Pteridology. Choral Arts to Comics… These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlights this week: Creating a map requires that we take a different look at our surroundings, examine spatial relationships, recognize landforms, and consider scale. Families can try their hand at cartography, or mapmaking, at Chesterwood‘s “Walking the Line” workshop on Saturday, August 1 from 11:30am-1pm. Participants will be invited to create maps of both real and imagined places. 413-298-3579. 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($)


OrnithologyNative American CultureCartographyCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryGraphic NovelsService-Based LearningBotanyMusic StudiesLibrary AdventuresSTEMEntomology


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Become a sponsor of Learn Local. Play Local. and see your banner here:


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Suggested Events for August 1st-7th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I am currently single parenting a child with special needs; recently separated & often feeling very isolated. Hilltown Families shares information that brings people together & opens up great discussions on ways to support one another; as well as stimulating entertainment within the community. Thank-you for being there for us!” – Sarah M. (Chicopee, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Bulletin Board

Aug 5-8

Ahoy there maties! The adventure starts with a mysterious map. Could X mark the spot for buried treasure? Add in pirates and a stranger and the plot thickens. Now you’re off to the high seas. Adventure, skullduggery, secrets, promises broken, and even a couple of laughs. Welcome to PaintBox Theatre’s Treasure Island—the adventure of a lifetime! Long John Silver ordered that you to come dressed as a pirate. (They need a crew!) Performances are Wednesday, August 5 – Saturday, August 8, 10:30am and 1:00pm. daily, at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street. Tickets: $10 at the door or at BrownPaperTickets.com. Group discounts: call 413-923-7159. PaintBoxTheatre.com.

Aug 6

Join us on Thursday, Aug 6 from 6-8pm for a meaningful time volunteering with your family and your community! Free and open to everyone!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Thursday, Aug 6 , 6-8pm, Potluck and Volunteer. (Bring your favorite dish to share.) Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Aug 8

Get your groove on! Hilltown Families & Flywheel are hosting a Saturday Block Party for Kids at Millside Park in Easthampton on August 8! DJ Youthelectronix will DJ a dance party (and if you’ve been to our winter dance parties, you know how much fun these are!), Robbins-Zust Family Marionettes will be performing the classic fairytale “Firebird,” and we’ll have juice boxes galore!!! This summertime family celebration is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to invite your neighbors to join us too! — Rain location: Flywheel.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, program, after school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at info@hilltownfamilies.org. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
August 1st-7th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Libraries| Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

History, Culture & Community Can All Be Found at Western MA Agricultural Fairs

Agricultural Fairs Celebrate and Preserve Local Culture

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Agricultural fairs, primarily established by agricultural societies for the purpose of agriculture promotion, science and education, celebrate New England history and local culture in communities all over western Massachusetts throughout late summer and early fall.  These generations-old traditions of agriculture, self-sufficiency, and resiliency in rural communities afford families opportunities to participate in intergenerational community-based traditions while offering a myriad of entertainment and learning experiences through the lens of culture and food.  Read the rest of this entry »

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