The Ripple: Living Patterns of Watersheds

Thinking Like a Watershed

In the same way all the tiny veins at a leaf’s edge connect to the midrib and then the leaf stem and then the branch and tree trunk and roots, so do our upland streams and brooks flow down into our rivers that empty into our oceans.

Make this summer the summer you discover (if you haven’t yet) the Westfield River watershed.

A watershed is—imagine—a giant bathtub, where the high sides of the tub are defined by ridgelines; and when the shower is on (rain), all the water is contained in the tub shape, flows to the bottom (river), and exits through the same drain.

A better way to imagine what a watershed is: it is a leaf-shaped geography. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: June 22nd-26th, 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 »

HFVS All Kinds of Families Episode with Guest DJ, Alastair Moock (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

All Kinds of Families Episode with
Guest DJ, Alastair Moock

Grammy nominee Alastair Moock is guest DJ this week of the Hilltown Family Variety Show with an All Kinds of Families Episode. — www.moockmusic.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
June 20th & 21st, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO:  “It Takes All Kinds,” from Alastair Moock’s new album, All Kinds of You and Me.


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Alastair Moock – It Takes All Kinds [All Kinds of You and Me]
  • Marlo Thomas & Harry Belafonte – Parents are People [Free to Be… You and Me]
  • Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer – Happy Adoption Day [Dancin’ in the Kitchen]
  • Papa Crow – Baby Makes Three [Things That Roar]
  • Alastair Moock – My Life is a Lot Like Yours [All Kinds of You and Me]
  • Frances England – Family Tree [Family Tree]
  • Brady Rymer – The Relatives Came [Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could]
  • Tig Notaro – Family Tree [Good One]
  • Father Goose – Panama [It’s A Bam Bam Diddly!]
  • Quartetto Cetra – Nella Vecchia Fattoria [Putumayo Kids Presents – Animal Playground]
  • Grenadilla – Family Song [Grenadilla]
  • Paul Simon – That was Your Mother [Graceland]
  • Jazzy Ash – Every Family’s Different [Home]
  • Johnny Cash – I Got a Boy Named John [The Johnny Cash Children’s Album]
  • Aaron Nigel Smith & One World Chorus – Grateful [Welcome to the Village]
  • Alastair Moock – Kenya Imagine? [All Kinds of You and Me]
  • Alex Mitnick – Love is All it Takes [Love Songs for My Baby]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for June 20th & 21st, 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 June 20th-26th, 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 30 Community Highlights: Otters to Pollinators. Wild Food to Aviation., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA  for a comprehensive list!

June 20th-26th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Nature StudiesNative PollinatorsWild FoodHistoryAviationLibrary AdventuresArt AppreciationSTEMFilm StudiesFlora & FaunaLocal Food Festivals  ♦ Summer SolsticeDancing

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

  1. Worthington Historical Society Educates all Ages About a Community’s Roots
  2. Family Camping Grows Respect for Nature
  3. What to Play? Summer is Time to Absorb the World
  4. Hindsight Parenting: Nothing Beats Planning for the Summer
  5. Literary Guide for Arthur Dorros’ “Abuela”

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 »

30 Community Highlights: Otters to Pollinators. Wild Food to Aviation.

River otters, muskrats, and beavers live in the habitat along the Connecticut River! On Saturday, June 20 at 10:30am, the Sunderland Public Library invites children up to 8 years old and their caregivers to explore this habitat in depth. Participants will look for evidence of these animals and perhaps see the creatures themselves! 413-665-2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Otters to Pollinators. Strawberries to Wild Food. Solstice to Aviation… 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: Families can spend Friday, June 19 from 12noon-10pm and Saturday, June 20 from 8am-12noon at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Holmes Road, Pittsfield, MA) participating in the 6th Annual Berkshire BioBlitz. The BioBlitz, which takes place over a full 24-hour period, invites the public, biologists, naturalists, and environmentalists to come together with the goal of identifying and cataloging all living species within Canoe Meadows. There will be experts on hand to assist with identification and teach about the different species found in the sanctuary, and there will be walks, talks, demonstrations, and more to engage participants and teach about local ecology and natural history. This is a unique and exciting free citizen science opportunity for the entire family – all ages can help look for plants, animals, and fungi and learn how to identify them. The BioBlitz will get the whole family interested in and excited about science, nature, and conservation. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)


Nature StudiesNative PollinatorsWild FoodHistoryAviationLibrary AdventuresArt AppreciationSTEMFilm StudiesFlora & FaunaLocal Food Festivals  ♦ Summer SolsticeDancing


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Springfield Museums:


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for June 20th-26th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“As someone new to the area, Hilltown Families has been a great source of information for events going on in Western Mass that
my almost 3 year old (and his parents!) will enjoy, as well as stories that are of interest. I appreciate the balance of fun, community-service, and educational events discussed and promoted on the site. It is great to have a one-stop shop for this information!” – Laura D. (Amherst, 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.

Summer Camps in Western MA

60 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Bulletin Board

Jun 20

Relaunch of Heather Has Two Mommies with author Leslea Newman at Odyssey Bookshop on Saturday, June 20 at 11am. FREE. Published originally 25 years ago this beloved story has been found on the shelves of many different families. Once known as the most challenged book in America, Heather Has Two Mommies has been given new life with new updated text, colorful, sweet illustrations but the same heartfelt message that it is love, and love alone, that makes a family. Odyssey Bookshop welcomes Leslea Newman to celebrate the relaunch of this beautiful picture book. Kids encouraged to celebrate their families in drawings at kids craft table! Perfect for all ages. Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., South Hadley. RSVP required. Email RSVP@odysseybks.com

Jun 27

Join us for Franklin Land Trust’s 24th Annual Farm & Garden Tour on Saturday, June 27th from 10am-4pm. This is one day self-guided tour of the secret gardens, working farms and special places in Ashfield & Conway. Some highlights include: an off-the-grid home, bee yard, beautiful rock walls, wattle fence of alder whips, espaliered star magnolia, collection of heirloom roses (dating to the Roman Empire) an edible landscape, permaculture, herbs, habitats for native pollinators; one-of-a-kind barn artistically decorated with glass beads and jewelry, organic fruit farm and a country casual garden with easy care plants. Tickets are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. $15 for a reserved luncheon. www.franklinlandtrust.org or 413-625-9151

Begins Jul 9

Dance this summer at The Center in Amherst! Enroll now for a 6 week session, starting Thursday, July 9th. In this 45 minute class for kids aged 2-6, students will leap, twirl and spin their way into the world of children’s literature. Using picture books, nursery rhymes and songs as inspiration, children will be introduced to the fundamentals of creative movement in a fun, nurturing environment. Whether they’re soaring like the red bird that brown bear saw, leaping and pouncing at the Wild Rumpus, or dancing the alphabet, kids will love this interactive class that honors the reader, and storyteller, in all of us. For more information visit www.thecenterdance.com or email thecenterdanceschool@gmail.com.

Fall Openings

Amherst Montessori School has Fall 2015 openings for pre-school and Kindergarten. Financial aid available! Amherst Montessori School nurtures the child’s spirit, curiosity, confidence, and leadership, building the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. AMS programs feature thoughtfully-prepared classrooms to support the child’s development, and a curriculum that integrates music, art, practical life, outdoor time, PE, Spanish and more. Young Toddler through Sixth Grade. For more information or to schedule a visit, please call 413-253-3101 or email Shelley Poreda, Director, at sporeda@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

Jun 27

Join us on Saturday, June 27 from 10am-12noon for a meaningful morning 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, June 27th, 10am-12noon, Farming with Friends at Mountain View Farm. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

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
June 20th-26th, 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 »

2015 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western Massachusetts

4th of July Celebrations & Fireworks in Western MA for 2015

From the state where the American Revolution began, families can take part in the multitude of Fourth of July celebrations happening in Western MA! Be sure to check out the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events for a comprehensive list of family and community events happening in Western MA.

To follow is a preview of events, parades & fireworks happening to celebrate the 4th of July for 2015. Please take the time to confirm events you wish to attend, including time, place, age appropriateness, location and costs before attending.

Be sure to check out the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events every Thursday for a comprehensive list of family and community events happening in Western MA.  Subscribe to our free eNewsletter and have weekly update sent to your inbox every Thursday! Read the rest of this entry »

11 Highlights for Father’s Day in Western MA

Calling All Sports Fans, History Buffs, Aviators, Foodies & Music Lovers!

On Sunday, dads and grandfathers with younger kids can enjoy a free train ride and round of mini golf at Look Park or take a free trolley ride at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. Other locations honoring dads and granddads on Father’s Day include Historic Deerfield which offers free admission, or a free ride on the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round.

Happy Father’s Day! This Sunday, June 21, 2015, there are lots of opportunities to explore Western MA with the sons, fathers, step-fathers, and grandfathers in your life!

SPORTS FAN

Few events have the old time, hometown feel of a community baseball game! Don’t miss the 2nd annual Ashfield Baseball and Softball Jamboree  and old timers game on Sunday, June 21, 10:30am, which honors the long tradition of playing these sports in Ashfield. Folks can join in the games or enjoy spectating. Games will play throughout the day into the evening. 413-628-4441. The Field, Ashfield, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION)

Other games happening on Father’s Day: Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Getting Creative in the Cleanup

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Combining Play and Cleanup

Many parents know someone who loves to build with those brightly colored, interlocking building blocks. It starts as a toddler with the bigger, chunkier version and continues up into the tween to teen years for some kids with the 2,000+ piece master builder sets that take hours and hours to complete. There can be some tiny and unusual parts. We always seem to have a few extra odds and ends after a big build. Do you have extra people heads or arms or a single square of floor tile?

While in search of a fun way to organize these bits and pieces, we came across an easy project that clearly connects the contents of the containers to the supplies inside. No need to label. Kids can have a creative-free play activity while helping you save the dog or the vacuum from sucking up little bricks and plastic body parts.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltowns Celebrate their History & the Season this Weekend

3 Hilltown Celebrations

As part of Ashfield’s 250 celebration, 396 rockets will light up the sky over Ashfield Lake on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 9pm! Preceded by a free potluck community supper at Town Fall and an afterparty at The Lakehouse. Other places to wine and dine include Elmer’s and Country Pie! Ashfield, MA (FREE)

This Father’s Day weekend in the Hilltowns, three communities celebrate the season and their history!

ASHFIELD

Ashfield is celebrating its 250th birthday this weekend! On Saturday, June 20, a fun-filled parade will traverse the streets with unicycles, antique vehicles, costumes, and many, many community organizations taking part, beginning at 10am.. Starts at the intersection of Emmett Rd & 116 in South Ashfield, goes through the center of town, and ends at Belding Park. Make a day of it by visiting the farmers’ market, enjoying food and music on the Common, and participating in a community and history scavenger hunt at 12:30pm. Folks can dance or clap along at a 2pm contra dance or visit the Ashfield Historical Society’s textile window displays. (FREE) Then from 6pm – 9pm is the Party Under the Stars, a great and festive community event where you can mingle with your friends and neighbors! There will be live music, food, and beverages. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-628-4441. Curtis House, 14 South Street. ($)

CHARLEMONT

Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of Charlemont at this daylong event filled with fascinating local stories, songs, food, games, a scavenger hunt and entertainment on Saturday, June 20 from 9:30am – 8:30pm. 413-339-0117. Downtown. (FREE) Then on Sunday morning from 8-10am, there will be a a community pancake breakfast sponsored by the Friends of the Charlemont Fairgrounds. 413-625-2623. Town Fairgrounds ($)

BECKET

The summer solstice (June 21, 2015) marks the start of summer, the day on which the sun looks highest in the sky and the longest stretch of daylight of the year. Mark this special day at the Becket Arts Center‘s Summer Solstice Community Celebration, where visitors will enjoy an opening reception for a new art exhibit, children’s activities, a silent auction, food, and live music from Becket native, Bobby Sweet. 4pm – 9pm. 413-623-6635. 7 Brooker Hill Road (< $)

Cooling Down with Local Strawberries!

Take advantage of strawberry season!

In June, Western Mass is a blush of strawberries as harvest approaches. Don’t be afraid of buying too much as they can be frozen and used throughout the year.

It’s been really exciting the past few weeks in Western MA. Everything is growing like crazy, farmers’ markets are getting busy and the first of CSA share pick-ups are starting to happen. We are pretty lucky to live in an area where we are surrounded by such rich soil, have access to local farms and live where we can know where our food comes from. Thankfully, a good number of farms in the area also offer subsidized community agricultural shares.

One of my favorite things to see at the farmers’ market, is the abundance and variety of beautiful foods. I also appreciate the hard work that goes behind all that we see and buy at the market. It takes a lot of sweat and dedication to make these things happen.

This week at the market, I was really excited to see that it’s Strawberry season. The sweetness and beautiful rich reds in them, say enough. I usually try to get as many as I can, from either local markets, pick your own farms or from my own garden. If you ever find you have more than you need, just freeze them and use them throughout the year. I still have a few quarts of local berries in my freezer from last summer, that go well in many things. Read the rest of this entry…

Teens 101: Allowing our Children to Choose What’s Best for Them

All the Things We Thought Were Important

To bush or not to brush. To mitten or not to mitten. Is it worth the fight and sometimes unhappy kids? Learning to listen and allow my kids to make their own choices allows them to make choices that are right for them.

When my kids were little, we had some friends who never made their kids brush their hair.  They didn’t have dreadlocks- it wasn’t a cultural or aesthetic choice, it was just a choice not to argue about it.  Combs were offered and suggested, but in the end the family went out and about happily whether or not the children had combed hair or snarls.

At my house the children did not go out happily, nor did they go out with snarls in their hair.  Frequently they went out with eyes red from crying after lots of fussing and fighting about hair brushing.  Their hair got brushed because I am bigger and stronger and insistent and have the car keys.  But it was sometimes awful.

Then we’d be out and see these other kids with their messy hair, and who cared?  I didn’t.  I didn’t judge those kids or that family.  I noticed, in an amused sort of way, and then the very next day I went back to fighting with my own kids about their hair.  A model of another option was right there in my life, but I didn’t consider it.  I wanted calmer, happier interactions with my small children, but not so much that I was willing to be seen in public with them looking unkempt.

Was that for them?  No.  That was for me.  That was all ego.  I couldn’t be the mom with the kids with messy hair, and if that meant some crying and screaming before we went out, so be it.  Somehow I thought it was that important. Read the rest of this entry »

Six Community Organizations that Support Learning on the River

Six Community-Based Resources Support Learning on the River

Our river ecosystems are about more than just water – they about thousands of species of plants and animals, fascinating natural history, and the connections between humans and their surroundings. By utilizing resources made available by a handful of local community-based organizations and events, families can learn about and connect with our local landscape.

The Westfield and Connecticut River are ecosystems made up of beautiful landscapes and filled with fascinating natural history, home to a great many creatures of all shapes and sizes. By utilizing resources offered by community organizations and plugging into local networks, families can access the many community-based learning opportunities that our local habitat affords us. From species identification to Native American culture, the our rivers are filled with opportunities to engage in community-based education… Read the rest of this entry »

Empowering Our Girls: Being a Role Model

19 Ways to be a Healthy Role Model for Your Daughter.

As we know, our children will learn more from what they see us doing, than what we tell them to do. Correct? Sometimes it is hard to sit with that truth. The truth is that we all may have some ways of acting and communicating that may need some revision. We are after all, only human. But do we need to carry on certain less-than-ideal ways of being that have been passed down from generation to generation?

I challenge myself and invite you to join me in being a better role model for our daughters (and sons!). The benefits of doing so will ripple through their lives and the lives of future generations! Here are 19 ways we can consider being a healthy role model for our daughters…

Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Solstice Illuminates Learning for Families

Time & place literally provides for experiential education opportunity on the longest day of the year!

Science, Culture & Community-Based Educational Opportunities! Learn about & celebrate the longest day of the year!

Soon, celebrations will take place all over the northern hemisphere to mark the arrival of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, bringing with it the shortest night of the year while positioning us here in Western MA as close to the sun as it will be for the rest of the year. The simplest way to mark the summer solstice is simply to enjoy the extra daylight while it lasts, but there are a variety of other community-based ways to celebrate how world cultures and ancient civilizations marked the longest day of the year, getting kids engaged and learning about the longest day of the year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: June 15th-19th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 15 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 Songwriting Episode with Guest DJ, Joanie Leeds (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Songwriting Episode with
Guest DJ, Joanie Leeds

As multi-award winning singer/songwriter Joanie Leeds hosts The Hilltown Family Variety Show for the third time, she challenged herself by finding the “Songs That Make You Go Hmmmm, curating The Songwriting Show.”  While writing tunes for her band, Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights, Joanie has always been drawn to “play on word” songs. In her songwriting themed show, Joanie picked tunes that concentrate on “idioms,” “creative word play,” and songs about songwriting hoping listeners will be inspired to create songs of their own. — www.joanieleeds.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
June 13th & 14th, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO:  Filled with animal-isms, ‘Happy As A Clam’ will help you and your kids realize how much we use animal expressions in our daily lives!


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights – “Happy As A Clam” (What A Zoo)
  • Dog on Fleas – “Palindrome” (Buy One Get One Flea)
  • Billy Jonas Band – “What Kind of Bear are You”  (Build it Back Again)
  • Trout Fishing in America – “18 Wheels on the Big Rig” (Family Music Party)
  • The Merry Macs – “Mairzy Doats” (Classic Years of the Merry Macs)
  • Cat Doorman – “So Many Words” (Kick Out the Jammies!)
  • They Might Be Giants – “I C U” (Here Come the ABCs)
  • Randy Kaplan – “Hockey Puck” (Jam on Rye)
  • Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights – “The World is Your Oyster” (Good Egg)
  • Steve Songs – “Song without a Rhyme”  (Orangutan Van)
  • The Bazillions – “Similes and Metaphors”  (Heads or Tales)
  • The Verve Pipe – “You Can Write a Song”  (Are We There Yet)
  • Lori Henriques – “Vocabulary”  (The World is a Curious Place to Live)
  • Key Wilde & Mister Clarke – “Animal Alphabet”  (Pleased to Meet You)
  • Hullabaloo – “Dad upside Down”  (Raise a Ruckus)
  • Miss Nina & The Jumping Jacks– Colors of You (Everyday’s Your Birthday) Releasing Fall 2015
  • Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights – “Hello, Goodbye, Shalom” (Meshugana) Releasing Sept. 4th  2015

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for June 13th & 14th, 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 June 13th-19th, 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 31 Community Highlights: Cultural Chaos to Outdoor Sculptures. Edwardian Fashions to Bookbinding., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA  for a comprehensive list!

June 13th-19th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Garden-Based LearningGuided Walks & ToursBook ArtsCommunity CelebrationsFamily MusicContemporary ArtParent WorkshopCulinary Arts  ♦ Fashion HistoryCommunity SingLocal HistoryLibrary AdventuresCitizen ScientistParents’ Night Out

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE

 

  1. Father’s Day Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)
  2. 12 Tips for Live-Away Dads
  3. Q&A: Local Strawberries
  4. 12 Baseball Books for Kids
  5. Expressing Appreciation to Teachers & Administrators as the School Year Draws to an End

 

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 »

31 Community Highlights: Cultural Chaos to Outdoor Sculptures. Edwardian Fashions to Bookbinding.

On Sunday, June 14 at 1pm, the Julia Poppins School of Cooking is offering a free workshop at Red Fire Farm on “Keeping Your Bounty Fresh.” Learn how to plan meals using fresh farm produce and how to store and use your farm produce. Adults and older students interested in local food and cooking can learn from this engaging and educational workshop! 7 Carver Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)

Old Mines to Historic Neighborhoods. Cultural Chaos to Outdoor Sculptures. Edwardian Fashions to Bookbinding… 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: SculptureNow and The Mount’s new outdoor exhibition opens on June 13, and there will be a free guided tour on Saturday, June 13 from 3pm-7pm. 26x28x50 features 26 sculptures by 28 regional and national artists, displayed over 50 acres on The Mount’s beautiful grounds and gardens. The exhibition features many unique sculptures made from a variety of materials, both natural and human-made. The artist-led guided tour is a wonderful opportunity to stroll the grounds of the property and learn about the large-scale sculptures – what materials were used, how they were made, how they were transported, how long it took to make them, and more. Students interested in sculpture can attend the free tour to see the works and ask questions about them. Call The Mount at 413-551-5100 for more information. The Mount. 413-551-5100. 2 Plunkett Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)


Garden-Based LearningGuided Walks & ToursBook ArtsCommunity CelebrationsFamily MusicContemporary ArtParent WorkshopCulinary Arts  ♦ Fashion HistoryCommunity SingLocal HistoryLibrary AdventuresCitizen ScientistParents’ Night Out


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Springfield Museums:


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for June 13th-19th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“I read the blog posts by insightful parents, the weekly events and highlights. Without Hilltown Families, I would be unaware of almost every wonderful event organized by our community. Hilltown Families brings people out of their houses and out into the world: in doing so, our wider community is strengthened along with our individual families.” – Tricia L. (Northampton, 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.

Summer Camps in Western MA

60 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Bulletin Board

Begins Jul 9

Dance this summer at The Center in Amherst! Enroll now for a 6 week session, starting Thursday, July 9th. In this 45 minute class for kids aged 2-6, students will leap, twirl and spin their way into the world of children’s literature. Using picture books, nursery rhymes and songs as inspiration, children will be introduced to the fundamentals of creative movement in a fun, nurturing environment. Whether they’re soaring like the red bird that brown bear saw, leaping and pouncing at the Wild Rumpus, or dancing the alphabet, kids will love this interactive class that honors the reader, and storyteller, in all of us. For more information visit www.thecenterdance.com or email thecenterdanceschool@gmail.com.

Fall Openings

Amherst Montessori School has Fall 2015 openings for pre-school and Kindergarten. Financial aid available! Amherst Montessori School nurtures the child’s spirit, curiosity, confidence, and leadership, building the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. AMS programs feature thoughtfully-prepared classrooms to support the child’s development, and a curriculum that integrates music, art, practical life, outdoor time, PE, Spanish and more. Young Toddler through Sixth Grade. For more information or to schedule a visit, please call 413-253-3101 or email Shelley Poreda, Director, at sporeda@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

Through Sep 6

This summer, experience Curious George – Let’s Get Curious!, the new blockbuster exhibit at the Springfield Museums! Follow George on his mischievous adventures through his neighborhood, a fully interactive construction site, a farmhouse, and even a rocket ship to the stars! Along the way, kids ages 3 through 7 will learn important math and science lessons to keep the learning going this summer. May 23- September 6 at the Springfield Science Museum. Parking is free. For more information, visit: www.springfieldmuseums.org.

Jun 15- Jul 10

A special invitation to homeschoolers and young campers: Learn and have fun at Farm Camp at The Hartsbrook School! Hands-on activities include: feeding the goats, gathering eggs, wool carding and dying, finger knitting, butter and bread making. Support homeschool lessons in agriculture, crafts and sustainable living. Spaces are still open for “Young Farmers” (ages 5 ½ to 12) Jun 22-26. Spaces are also open for “Sprouts” (ages 4 to 5 ½) for all four weeks of camp, Jun 15-Jul 10. This younger group enjoys similar farm chores and crafts with their own early childhood teacher. Camp meets at The Hartsbrook School, 193 Bay Road, Hadley, MA. $390/week. To register www.hartsbrook.org or call 413-586-1908 x116.

Jun 27

Join us on Saturday, June 27 from 10am-12noon for a meaningful morning 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, June 27th, 10am-12noon, Farming with Friends at Mountain View Farm. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

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
June 13th-19th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Family Volunteer Day Summer Series Supplements Food Deserts in Western MA

Food Deserts in Western MA Leaves Many Families Without Access to Healthy Food

Residents of a Springfield community line-up to receive fresh and non-perishable healthy food from The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Mobile Food Bank. To learn more about Family Volunteer Day, including other dates throughout the summer, check out the post, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!.

The USDA defines a food deserts as a part of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods. They are typically found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. These areas rely heavily on local convenience stores that provide a wealth of processed sugar- and fat-laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic. The USDA has identified several areas right here in Western Massachusetts considered to be food deserts.

As the leader of emergency food assistance in our region, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has been working to reach these communities to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, healthy food. It’s been nearly two years since we launched our pilot program for the Mobile Food Bank — a delivery truck full of fresh and non-perishable groceries from our warehouse in Hatfield, shipped directly to a community site. The program reaches underserved populations throughout our region that don’t have access to fresh, healthy food. These food deserts lack local grocery stores, farmers’ markets and other healthy food providers. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Local History Through Textiles

Common Thread: Exploring Local Industrial History Through the Lens of Silk

Discover Northampton’s silk history via this handpainted silk quilt displayed at the Neilson Library at Smith College in Northampton, MA, one of many community-based resources to support an interest in local history and textiles. For a virtual tour, click on the quilt.

Once upon a time, the Pioneer Valley’s mills bustled with activity, producing all sorts of goods and providing a boost to the local economy. Today, many of these mills are filled with offices, art studios, and spacious high-ceiling apartments.

Despite the creative reuse of such industrial spaces, the area’s ties to industries of the past can easily be explored. In particular, the Pioneer Valley’s connection to the textile industry can be studied through self-guided explorations, museum visits, tree identification and hands-on learning opportunities taking place during the next few months. Read the rest of this entry »

New York Times Summer Reading Contest for Teens Inspires Literacy via Current Affairs

New York Times Summer Reading Contest for Teens

New York Times Summer Reading Contest for Teens helps them become more aware and interested in current world affairs. Following their own interests,  teens are self-direct in their choices of what to read and write about. Every Friday from June 12 – Aug 14, teens can look for the prompt, “What interested you most in The Times this week?” Teens anywhere in the world can post their answers, offering them an international perspective of current affairs through the eyes of their peers.

For many teens, summer can be a whirlwind of activity – between outdoor explorations, visiting friends, working on hobby projects, and maybe some volunteer work or a part-time job, there often isn’t much free time left! However, many schools send students home with a list of books – some required, some suggested – that they are to read and fully digest during their break from classes. Adding some educational material to the summer isn’t a bad thing – though teens can be very busy, it’s also quite healthy for them to stimulate their intellectual curiosity. School lists can include everything from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Barbara Kingsolver, and are compiled with the students’ learning and growth in mind.

The New York Times is, for the sixth summer in a row, offering an additional way for teens to learn and grow through summer reading. However, instead of focusing on major literary works, the program uses the Times’ own content as “required” reading. The New York Times Summer Reading Contest asks teenagers to read at least one interesting news item per week, and to share a brief piece of writing about why the piece sparked their interest. Open to students ages 13-19, the contest allows for one entry per week – meaning that students are welcome to read as many pieces as they want, but that they must choose a single one to write their submission on. After the week has ended, one student opinion will be posted on the New York Times website!

Read the rest of this entry »

Ticket Giveaway: 2015 Green River Festival!

Take the Family to the
GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL
Happening July 10th-13th, 2015
Greenfield, MA

Enter for a chance to win a pair of weekend tickets to the Green River Festival happening July 10th-13th in Greenfield, MA. Kids 10 and under get in free. Win tickets and take the family! Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 6/30/15.

The 29th annual Green River Festival happens again this year on July 10th-13th, 2015… and Hilltown Families has two pairs of weekend tickets to giveaway! With a pair of tickets, and free admittance for children ten and under, two adults can take a gaggle of kids and plan on spending the day at this great western Massachusetts music festival! Tickets do not including parking or food.

Click here to find out how you can enter for a chance to win!

Nature Table for June

The Space Between: Finding Dichotomy to Learn About Nature

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.

We humans do some of our best learning through observation. Even those of us who have yet to develop any consciousness surrounding this aspect of our learning process still depend on the powers of observation in learning about the world. Observation is the means of education for that which we cannot experience; while we will never experience what it’s like to sprout from an acorn and spend a season growing slender and leafy, we can watch the process and reflect on what we’ve seen.

While observation is often looked at as a process of watching, it is actually a process in which watching is very closely intertwined with both reflection and comparison, and this is especially true in learning about our surroundings. We observe the changes taking place around us throughout any given season, and we use our ability to reflect on earlier days in the season and compare these memories with what we’re currently experiencing. It is in this balance of experience and some brain-based form of Venn diagramming that our best understandings are built.

This month, our nature table focuses not on a seasonal theme but the idea of dichotomy – a division that exists between two separate groups of things. Read the rest of this entry »

Nature-Based Education Supported via Berkshire BioBlitz

6th Annual Berkshire BioBlitz

Families are invited to be citizen scientists in the Berkshires, June 19th & 20th at the Berkshire Bioblitz! From their participation in the bioblitz, kids will learn to identify plant and animal species that they see often, and learn about the role that each species plays within the local ecosystem. Participate in a mammal tracking workshop, Owl Prowl and Moth-Light demo. Great for budding naturalists!

In celebration of local biodiversity, Berkshire County’s annual BioBlitz will be held at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary on Holmes Road in Pittsfield starting at 12noon on Friday, June 19, and ending at 12noon on Saturday, June 20. This year’s free event is hosted by Mass Audubon’s Berkshire Sanctuaries at their Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary and co-sponsored by Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Dr. Augie’s Science Education Programs and the Berkshire 4-H. Canoe Meadows is home to a wide variety of plants and trees as well as turtles, ospreys, otters, and owls. Gentle, flat trails wind through the sanctuary’s scenic woods, fields, and wetlands, and along the edge of the Housatonic River.

The BioBlitz is an opportunity for biologists, naturalists and environmentalists to work in collaboration with the general public to gather in a given area and—in a 24-hour period— complete a formal survey of all living species while seeing first-hand the importance of a healthy, active ecosystem in their own community. Approximately 20 specialists will be on hand to explore, identify and educate, including local mushroom specialist John Wheeler of the Berkshire Mycological Society, Scott LaGreca, lichen specialist, Cornell University, and author of Insects of New England and New York, Tom Murray. Read the rest of this entry »

14 Playgrounds Recommendations in Western MA!

Reader Recommended: Playgrounds in Western MA

Where’s your favorite playground in western MA? Hilltown Families long time reader, Amy Meltzer wanted to know so we invited our readers to share their suggestions & lesser known treasures on our Facebook page.  Here’s what they had to share:

We want to hear your recommendations too!  Add them to the comment field below.

For more suggestions, check out our archived post, Where’s an Outdoor Place for PreK Kids to Play on Summer Days?

Learning Landscapes: Catch and Store Energy

Thinking Tools: Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Superheros are an example of how a complex, interdependent idea like “catch and store energy” can be meaningfully integrated into a child’s learning landscape…

How can the energy that is abundant in everyday experiences, curiosity, and natural relationships in your child’s learning landscape be used and valued more efficiently? How can it help them nourish life and care for themselves, others, and the earth? (What about for yourself? How are you catching and storing the energy needed to nourish life of yourself, your family, and community?)

In the very first Learning Landscapes article, I wrote about how I would share more about myself and my personal journey from a more traditional educator to parent-educator who uses experiential education by design. I also want to share details of how my family integrates the values, principles, and framework of a design science called permaculture that is often applied to how we ethically design and live in our physical landscape into our learning landscapes as well.

Instead of thinking exclusively about natural resources, this framework helps us and our children learn how to value and use natural relationships. And, what is energy if not a relationship, the strength and vitality in connection with the people, things, and world around us? Once children start to see how they are connected with, and have a responsibility to, others and the earth they begin to leverage patterns in all areas of learning and life. Learning the skill of catching and storing energy is one way to enrich our natural relationships and nourish life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Reading Quick Picks for Middle Schoolers

A Dozen Quick Picks for Middle Grade Summer Reading

It’s almost officially summer! The perfect time to get away with a great book. Whether relaxing at the beach or the park, chilling in a tent or a hammock, traveling by car or plane, or even standing in line at the amusement park, here are a dozen quick picks for middle graders, all with the common thread of taking place during summer. These books are so good, some of you grown-ups may enjoy reading them as well: Summer Reading List for Middle Schoolers.

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