Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective

Photographs: A Lens for Learning About the Past

Photographs as Primary Source Tools to Support Integrated Learning

Pictures are worth a thousand words, and are essentially invaluable in studies of history! Families can take advantage of a local exhibit and online archives in order to use the power of observation to learn about life in the past, both in western Massachusetts and across the country.

Though a bit cliché, the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is entirely true – especially when it comes to using photographs as an educational tool. The power of observation alone can reveal a lot of information, making historic images an especially useful primary source resource for learning about the way people lived and looked in eras past. Available only since the mid-1800’s, photographs show real humans living within a very real – yet presently physically inaccessible – context, allowing us to visually access the time period in which they lived.

Utilizing online resources, families can support studies of the past by using the power of observation to gather information about life in a particular era or within a particular context. Whether examining photographs of Civil War soldiers in a Union encampment to imagine life as a 19th century soldier or inspecting a landscape photograph of a familiar location for signs of human-driven change over time, families have much to learn from the hundreds of thousands of photographs available online.  Read the rest of this entry »

Nutrition Month Reminds Us What Eating “Well” Truly Means

Nutrition plays active role in supporting the community

Join us to honor National Nutrition Month. The Food Bank and Hilltown Families are holding a very special Family Volunteer Day at our Hatfield facility on Saturday, March 21. In addition to learning about hunger in our region and helping to prepare food for distribution, the event will also focus on healthy eating habits by providing a fun cooking demonstration. Click here to learn more about this event and how your family can participate.

March is National Nutrition Month — a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of making informed choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. It highlights the value of adopting eating and physical activity plans  focused on consuming fewer calories and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

Hunger is not just about lack of food. It’s also about lack of nutritious food. That’s why, at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we are dedicated to providing our neighbors in need with the healthiest foods possible. Every year, our farm in Hadley provides 100,000 pounds of fresh, chemical-free produce for us to distribute to our member agencies (including pantries, meal sites and shelters). We also work closely with many local farmers, who generously donated more than 266,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables in 2014. In the past year, our Mobile Food Bank has provided hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce directly to families in areas when they may not otherwise have access. Read the rest of this entry »

Nature Tables: A Year in Review

Nature Tables: A Year in Review

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.

After a year’s worth of Nature Tables, my own awareness of the local landscape has become heightened greatly. After a full seasonal cycle filled with monthly posts, it is time to reflect on what has come and passed, so as to look forward to another year’s worth of awakening, growth, and rest. Whereas humans mark their starting over point in mid-winter, when January’s snow coats the ground and temperatures remain frigid, nature begins again in spring, when the ground re-emerges from the melting slush and thrusts forward a whole new crop of green and growing life. And so it is that in anticipation of this forthcoming burst of new life that I reflect on a year’s worth of collecting, a year’s worth of paying close attention to the subtle and constant changes taking place all around me… Read the rest of this entry »

Hopkins Memorial Forest’s annual Maplefest in the Berkshires

Hopkins Forest to Host Annual Maplefest

Traditionally, March is the busiest time for syrup producers in New England. As the days begin to warm, sugar-rich sap starts to flow upward from its winter storage in the trees’ roots to the twigs and buds; it is this sap that has been harvested for generations to produce maple products throughout the region. Sugaring has been going on in Hopkins Forest since the mid-80s when Williams College students constructed a sugar house in an existing maple grove.

With the moderating weather, maple sugaring season has arrived just in time for Hopkins Memorial Forest’s annual Maplefest celebration on Saturday, March 14, from 11am-2pm. This annual event, which exalts the time-honored Yankee tradition of producing home grown sweeteners from local maple trees, will enable people to observe and take part in the process of producing maple syrup, from the tree to the bottle.

Participants will be able to visit a working sugar house; to observe the finishing and bottling of the final product; to try their hands at tapping a tree and gathering sap; and to taste homemade syrup on pancakes and “sugar on snow.” In addition, there will be demonstrations of old-time evaporating methods—going back to the pre-colonial era—children’s activities, videos and more.  Read the rest of this entry »

Maple Harvest Day in the Pioneer Valley

The Sweet Taste of Spring Will Bring Communities Out & Together

Celebrate this year’s maple season at Storrowton Village’s annual Maple Harvest Day! Families can learn about maple harvests of the past in the historic village, and celebrate the coming of spring as well!

Today, the beginning of maple sugaring season involves lots of tubing, tanks, and trucks for transport, as well as efficient and well-engineered industrial size evaporators. Despite the modernity of most large-scale syrup-producing operations, some of the vestiges of old time New England sugaring still remain. While it’s rare these days to find a maple harvest being boiled down in a kettle over a camp fire, many small-scale producers still tap trees with individual buckets and collect the sap by hand on a regular basis – just as western Massachusetts’ residents did centuries ago, forming the foundation upon which the industry was built.

Celebrate this year’s maple harvest at Storrowton Village’s annual Maple Harvest Day! The annual celebration of the local maple tradition will be held on Sunday, March 15th from 11am-3pm in the Big E’s historic New England village. Families can explore the village and step back in time to the days when sugaring season was entirely tube-free, and can learn about the early technologies that allowed industrious New Englanders to have a successful harvest year after year. Read the rest of this entry »

EEC Provides Resources for Early Learning

Lesson Plans & On-line Activities Address Critical Learning Period For Children

Families with young children and early childhood educators will discover an abundance of online educational resources at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education’s Resources for Early Learning! Lesson plans and activity suggestions offer support for encouraging young learners to develop essential skills.

During the very earliest days of a child’s life – from birth until they’re five – the learning that takes place will look very different from the learning done throughout the rest of their life. While learning eventually evolves into something that a child can reflect on and communicate about, early childhood learning happens in tiny baby steps (literally) that, after accumulating over time, provide the solid foundation upon which they will build the rest of their lives.

While the basics of educational activities for children may seem simple (read stories, play peek-a-boo, count everything), in order to truly pinpoint a very young child’s developmental needs, attention to detail is necessary. Using the Massachusetts Department of Early Education’s (EEC) online tool Resources for Early Learning, parents and educators can learn about the many different ways to support young children in developing skills in language, numeracy, and movement, while also teaching them how to explore, observe, and become curious about the world around them. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Landscapes: Integrating Permaculture with Community-Based Education

Everyone Should Get Lost in the Forest

How can you leverage everyday experiences, curiosity, and natural relationships in your child’s learning landscape?

Warning: You are moving into another dimension – a dimension of place, a dimension of time, and a dimension of space. You’re moving into a landscape of both science and art, of things and ideas. The story you are about to read is true. You’re now crossing over into the the Learning Landscapes zone…

“Oh no, Mama, we lost the hiking path. I’m too tired to walk alllllll the way back the way we came. How can we get back to our car?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. How can we use what we know about ourselves, hiking and navigation, and what we know about this landscape to get where we want to go?”

Silence… then my son notices the sun setting. Since we parked in the west lot, we should follow the sun. A train whistle cracks the silence. Ah ha! The west lot is near the train station, confirming we need to head that way. But there is no path, so maybe we should head to the edge of the woods. There might be a better way to get back. My two children are using their observational and critical thinking skills to find a solution to this problem.

Now, let me just say that this mother wasn’t lost. Our interests and passions led us to depart from the well-marked walking path to instead forge our own for the day. I stood back while my children’s natural curiosity lead us deeper and deeper into the forest. The journey into the woods started with their questions and natural exploration, so why not let that be our guide to creating our path out?  Read the rest of this entry »

Historical Lecture Series: Immigrant Communities in the Pioneer Valley

Paddy on the Railway: Irish Laborers and the Building of the Great Western Railroad

Were your ancestors immigrants? Are you finding a need to better understand the immigrant experience in Western Massachusetts? Wistariahurst Museum has lined up a series of historical lectures to examine various immigrant communities in the Pioneer valley and to better understand the cultural enrichment these folks brought with them.

As part of Wistariahurst’s Spring Lecture Series, Dennis Picard tells the story of the challenges of building the Western Railroad of Massachusetts linking the Boston & Worcester Railroad to the New York state line on Monday, March 16 at 6 p.m. at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke.

The Western Railroad of Massachusetts was chartered in February of 1833. This transportation construction project was to link the Boston & Worcester Railroad to Springfield, across the Connecticut River and on to the New York state line. This undertaking, which only took five years to reach that goal, required hundreds of skilled and unskilled workers to complete. Though many ethnic groups were represented among the crews the vast majority of the labor was done by those of Irish birth or heritage.

On Monday, March 16 at 6pm, come hear some of the stories of the trails and successes of this unique and very mobile workforce that called our area home for a few months and then was gone.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: March 9th-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 11 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.


Sponsor Learning Ahead


Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS with Guest DJ, Julianna Bright from Cat Doorman (Podcast/Radio Show)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Guest DJ, Julianna Bright from Cat Doorman

Julianna Bright, the Portland based artist and musician and mom with the kids’ music moniker Cat Doorman gathers together a passel of tunes from her family’s record collection, dotting the playlist with a few tunes from her recent release Cat Doorman Songbook. Other songs hop from Andalusia to Paris, from the 1930’s through today with a common thread of playfulness and joy. – www.catdoorman.com

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


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST 

  • Burl Ives – Buckeye Jim, Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck (And Other Children’s Favorites)
  • Ty Segall – Lovely One, Lemons
  • The Dixie Cups – Iko Iko, Iko Iko
  • Cat Doorman – Inspiration, Songbook
  • John Holt – Ali Baba, Best of John Holt
  • Charity Bailey – Hey Betty Martin, Songs to Grow On
  • Mooollar – Toroslar, Andolu Pop
  • The Kinks – Phenomenal Cat, The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • Hélène Baillargeon and Alan Mills – Ah! Mon Beau Château, Chantons en Francais; Vol. 1
  • Django Reinhardt – Nagasaki – Et Le Quintette Du Hot Club De France
  • Cat Doorman – Two Old Shoes – Songbook
  • The New Seekers – Free to Be You and Me, Free to Be You and Me
  • The Zombies – This Will be Our Year, Odyssey and Oracle
  • The Incredible String Band – Log Cabin Home in the Sky, Wee Tam & the Big Huge
  • Lead Belly – Rock Island Line, Songs to Grow On
  • Deerhoof – The Eyebright Bugler, Reveille
  • Wire – Outdoor Miner, Chairs Missing
  • Alan Mills – Animal Alphabet Song, Smithsonian Folkways Children’s Music Collection
  • Cat Doorman – So Many Words, Songbook
  • Small Faces – The Hungry Intruder, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake
  • The Ink Spots – Pork Chops and Gravy, If I Didn’t Care
  • The Staple Singers – Wade in the Water, Freedom Highway
  • Francoise Hardy – Tous Les Garcons Et Les Filles, The Vogue Years

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 7th & 8th, 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 March 7th-13th, 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 weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 39 Community Highlights: Bark to Bulbs. Hairspray to Godspell., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

March 7th-13th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Women’s HistorySTEMAnimal StudiesCollege SamplerPlant StudiesMusic StudiesSpring MusicalsHistoryStorytellingOutdoor AdventuresFilm Studies/Sci FiParent WorkshopsCommunity Meals

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Teach with Movies: Pairing Films with Learning Guides & Lesson Plans
  2. HFVS Pioneers of Sound Episode with Guest DJ, Elska (Radio Show/Podcast)
  3. Let’s Play: Mix and Match Creatures
  4. Oak & Acorn: Maple Glazed Squash Rings
  5. 5 Late Winter Family Gardening Tips

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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39 Community Highlights: Bark to Bulbs. Hairspray to Godspell.

Preschool aged kids and their families can learn all about seeds at the Buckland Public Library on Saturday, March 7, 10am-11am. Hear a story about seeds and then explore many different kinds of seeds by touching, tasting, sorting, and observing. Kids will also help set up a long-term see experiment that will stay at the library for visitors to see. 413-625-9412. 30 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Bark to Bulbs. Hairspray to Godspell. Quilts to Sci Fi Films… These are just a few of the community 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: Students in grades 3-12 who are interested in sustainability can attend Greening Greenfield’s 4th annual Science and Sustainability Expo at Greenfield Community College on Saturday, March 7 from 9am-3:30pm. There will be tons of interesting exhibits and activities for those interested in science – over 40 exhibits, a showcase of projects relating to science and sustainability, chemistry demonstrations by the UMass Chemistry Club, the KidWind wind turbine projects and competition, a tour of GCC’s green energy features, and so much more. This is a super fun (and free!) way for science buffs of all ages to spend a Saturday! Call 413-259-1658 for more information. 1 College Drive. Greenfield, MA (FREE)


Women’s HistorySTEMAnimal StudiesCollege SamplerPlant StudiesMusic StudiesSpring MusicalsHistoryStorytellingOutdoor AdventuresFilm Studies/Sci FiParent WorkshopsCommunity Meals


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 7th-13th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

The Smith College Botanic Garden's annual Spring Bulb Show runs from March 7-22!

“Thank you for keeping the isolation at bay in the Hilltowns! You do so much to support local businesses, families, moms, dads, kids, pets, and the earth. Heartfelt thanks for your efforts!” – Jennifer Drumm Schmitt (Williamsburg, 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’ Events

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids: March 14 & April 18 from 10am-12noon. Come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! Takes place at Flywheel in the old town in Easthampton, MA. Who needs night clubs when you have Saturday Morning Dance Parties with Hilltown Families and Flywheel?! Save on the babysitter and dance the morning away! 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)

Bulletin Board

Mar 7

Shake off the cold at Nonotuck Community School’s 4th annual Winter Family Dance Party! Bring the whole family for a morning of dancing, face painting, and arts & crafts! Come build your own tambourines and shakers and try your luck in the 50-50 raffle. Enjoy delicious pizza by Hillside Pizza! Tickets are just $5 per person and $15 per family! Happening on Saturday, March 7th from 10am-12pm at the Jackson Street School Gym (120 Jackson Street) in Northampton. All proceeds will benefit the Nonotuck Community School. Sponsored by Florence Bank.

Mar 7

Does your child love to learn? Is your child respected, nurtured and inspired? Come warm up at The Hartsbrook School’s open house and experience the warmth of their child-centered approach. Their multi-disciplinary curriculum blends academics, art, music and craftsmanship for a lifetime of creative and critical thinking. Sip hot chocolate, speak with current families, participate in a hand-on activity, see student work and meet early childhood, grades and high school teachers. Join them on Saturday, March 7, from 10am to 12noon at 193 Bay Road in Hadley. All ages welcome! www.hartsbrook.org

Mar 7

Join the Springfield Museums on Saturday, March 7 for their annual Dr. Seuss Birthday celebration! The fun runs from 10am-5pm, and features the annual Seuss Cake Contest plus two performances of the Comedy Magic Show by Ed Popielarczyk plus The Teacher Creatures presenting Animals Around the World. And be on the lookout for the Cat in the Hat himself, who will be prowling the museum grounds! All this plus great hands-on art and science activities throughout the day, all included with Museum admission. For information, visit www.SpringfieldMuseums.org.

Mar 13

Odyssey Bookshop hosts a RED launch: Friday, March 13, 7pm. Bring your tweens & teens and embrace the RED! Hailed from our very own East Longmeadow comes debut author Victoria Aveyard with the most anticipated young adult novel of 2015. A little bit, Hunger Games and a little bit Divergent, Red Queen will not disappoint. Discover the world of revolutionaries, powers and more, this March as you dress your best in RED, gorge on RED velvet cupcakes and drink RED sparkling juice for this epic event. Join the Odyssey Bookshop for an author reading, signing and RED costume competition! Ages 12+ Please RSVP by emailing RSVP@odysseybks.com, Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street, South Hadley. 413-534-7307

Mar 14

Chirping Storytime with Jane Yolen & Heidi Stemple: Saturday, March 14, 3pm. A launch party for the little bird in your life! Soar down to the Odyssey Bookshop for a fun-filled celebration! Storytelling greats, Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple will join for the launch of their much-anticipated picture book You Nest Here With Me. Combining their poetic writing and their love of birding, mother and daughter Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple have written what is sure to become a bedtime classic. Learn how this lovely story came to be with a bird call demonstration, peck at cupcakes, and make a nest of your own at our craft table! Perfect for ages 2+. Please RSVP by emailing RSVP@odysseybks.com, Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St, South Hadley, 413-534-7307

Mar 14

The Celtic Heels Irish Dance Company is excited to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with a performance at the Academy of Music Theatre in downtown Northampton on Saturday, March 14th at 7pm! Their vibrant modern take on the traditional style of step dancing has entertained sold out crowds in the Pioneer Valley and beyond for many years. Joined by local Celtic musical group ‘Four Sisters & the Farmhands’ this is sure to be a show that has something for everyone. Come join in the fun of the jigs and reels this season with your family! Tickets can be purchased via the web at www.AcademyOfMusicTheatre.com or by phone at 413-584-9032 x105. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for students and children.

Begins Mar 20

The Center in Amherst is offering a new class for toddlers! Enroll now for an 8 week spring session, starting Friday, March 20th. In this 45 minute class for kids aged 2-5, 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.

Jun 8 – Aug 17

Our Place Summercamp gets kids off the screen and into the green. For 5 days campers hike, climb, wade and swim “our place”: the 5 ecoregions of the Nonotuck biome. These activities aren’t just “fun”—they’re designed to increase camper’s perceptual abilities, stimulate their critical thinking skills, inspire their creative imaginations, and counteract “nature deficit disorder.” Campers go from site to site—mountains, forests, brooks, industrial brownfields, you name it—on an adventurous, inquiry-based investigation into our living land. Through active physical and mental engagement with “our place,” they gain a deep and lasting appreciation of it—and themselves. Jun 8-Aug 17; Age/Grade Range: 1st-8th grades. 774-526-6507. info@biocitizen.org

Jul 6-10

Journey Camp returns to Cummington for Hilltown families this summer. The supportive staff makes it easy to find new friends while exploring nature, theater, games, music. Inclusiveness and peace building are hallmarks of Journey Camp. Founder and Director, Sarah Pirtle, has numerous awards for her books and music for children. Session One, boys & girls ages 7-12,June 29-July 3, 8:45-4, Woolman Hill, Deerfield. Hilltown Journey Camp, boys & girls, 7-12, July 6-10, 8:45-4, Taproot Common Farm, Cummington. Moonseed Teen Leadership for Girls, 11-18, July 27-July 30, two overnights & campfires, Woolman Hill. Girls Week, 7-13, Aug. 3-7 & Aug. 10-14, 8:45-4, Woolman Hill. www.sarahpirtle.com. Contact: 413-588-6399, marsha.journey@gmail.com.

Now available

Crimson & Clover Farm is happy to announce that 2015 CSA Shares are now available! Located at the Northampton Community Farm, near downtown Florence, Crimson & Clover Farm raises a wide variety of delicious, beautiful, and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables for our 20 week CSA program. As a community based farm, they offer a welcoming environment where their members and their families can come and enjoy this amazing community resource as well as receive nutritious locally grown food. In addition to vegetables, they also offer a variety of locally produced products for sale through their farm store, as well as a bountiful PYO garden. For more info about the CSA and how to become a member of the farm, visit crimsonandcloverfarm.com.

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.

MARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer. On Sunday, March 15th, 2015, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. 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
March 7th-13th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | School Closures | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

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Time to Talk: Mapping Out Childrens’ Behavior

Barriers to Learning: Part 2

Our behaviors are stitched together by a series of reactions…how we respond to things, how we process and then how we move on to another reaction. For children it is important to have some recognition of behavior and how reactions dovetail.

In my last article, I talked about how behaviors interfere with children’s learning and can impact their emotional, vocational, and economic futures. One important factor that positively impacts learning is the ability to think and reason. We can teach self-regulation of emotions. First, the child needs to understand that no one can think when they are emotional. I already explained using a 1-5 rating scale for “How big is my problem?” and “How big is my reaction?” The game “Should I or Shouldn’t I?” gives kids practice using a rating scale. Turning music on, then off for practice calming down was also mentioned in my previous article. Read the rest of this entry »

International Women’s Day Gives Us Pause on the Issue of Human Rights

March 8th Provides Educational Opportunity Along with Celebrating Womanhood

Celebrated as a national holiday in some countries, International Women’s Day sheds light on women’s role in societies around the world – past and present. In addition to the learning opportunities that the event presents, families can attend a celebration in Northampton in order to engage in community-based learning about the importance of women’s voices.

On Sunday, March 8th, communities from all over the world will celebrate International Women’s Day – an event that honors the economic, political, and social achievements past and present, and brings light to the continuing efforts to achieve worldwide gender equality. Recognized as a national holiday in some countries, International Women’s Day presents opportunities not only to celebrate and honor womanhood, but to learn about important women in history and their achievements.

Using online resources, families can explore the meaning of International Women’s Day. Videos showing everything from international political leaders discussing the importance of the holiday to documentary-style looks at women’s lives in many cultures to women’s role in history can help families to learn about the past, present, and future of women’s role in society worldwide. Comparing and contrasting women’s lives in the United States and in other countries can help to provide perspective on the differing role of women in cultures around the world. Additionally, an exploration of the history of International Women’ Day can help families to learn about the history of women’s rights in the United States, and internationally!  Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Enclaves Flourish in Easthampton

Easthampton City Arts Enriches Cultural Life of Western Mass Community

Art Walk EasthamptonWestern Massachusetts’ beauty has allowed the area to become somewhat of a haven for artists. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting to Know Somebody on Fakebook

Building Fictional and Historical Bios- Great Exercise In Banking Knowledge

While Facebook isn’t a great place for children to spend time online, imposter site Fakebook totally is! Instead of being centered around a profile that reflects the user’s true self, Fakebook is meant to be used for creating profiles based upon historical figures or fictional characters – people who either no longer exist, or who have never existed (except within the pages of a book). Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Positivity Downs Winter’s Walls

Cabin Fever Gratitude

It’s 4 degrees outside and snowing. Again. I’m at the kitchen counter with my coffee dregs. 10 feet away, building a marble set, he’s forgotten I’m here. What can I get done without moving? I reach my phone and type email with my thumbs. Usually, I take advantage of voice dictation, but speaking would remind him I’m here. I wonder how many generations will pass before the phrase “all thumbs” is considered an asset. Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Maple Sugar Season

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: February Segment
Maple Sugar Season in New England

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, Ashley Kohl and Seth Stutman, 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 Thursday, February 26, 2015, highlighting community-based resources and events that use the Maple sugar season as a catalyst for learning, celebrating local culture and building community. Sienna shares three community-based resources and two community events, highlighting two types of events:

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: March 2nd-6th, 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.


Sponsor Learning Ahead


Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Sheep Shearing & Maple Syrup Episode (Podcast/Radio Show)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Sheep Shearing & Maple Syrup Episode

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
February 28th & March 1st, 2015
(Original broadcast: Feb 28, 2009)
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Sheep Shearing

Shearing the sheep and skirting the fleece at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. Click on photo to see more images. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfied


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

  • Lunch Money – “Wake Up, World” - Dizzy 
  • Pete Seeger – “Maple Syrup Time” – Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger
  • Kitty Donohoe  – “Maple Syrup” – Bunyan and Banjoes
  • Phil Rosenthal – “Buffalo Gals” – This Land is Your Land
  • Nashville Bluegrass Band & Kid Pan Alley – “Extra Hand” – Kid Pan Alley
  • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
  • Carla Sciaky – “Sheep Shearing” – Spin the Weaver’s Song
  • Justin Roberts – “Field Trip” – Pop Fly
  • The Hipwaders – “Field Trip” – Goodie Bag 
  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • L. Frank Baum – The Story of Baa-Baa Black Sheep
  • Teresa Doyle – “The Shearing” – If Fish Could Sing … and Sheep Could Dance
  • Matt Nathanson – “Starfish and Coffee” – For the Kids Too
  • Moxy Fruvous – “Maple Syrup Time” – If I Had a Song: Songs of Pete Seeger Vol. 2
  • The Hipwaders – “Things You Want” – Goodie Bag

Berkshire Family Fun: March 2015

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
March 2015

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of March. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

“I appreciate the extensive calendar listings and postings on Hilltown Families. They cover a wide geographic area and inspire me to visit new museums and other places and also remind me to return to some old favorites.” – Bridget Spann (Williamstown, MA)


Berkshire Family Fun is supported in part by a grant from the Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for February 28th & March 1st, 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 February 28th-March 6th, 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 weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 27 Community Highlights: Family Concerts to Purim. Pancakes to Seeds., our monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families, and our reader recommended list of 50 Winter Suggestions for families in western MA.

February 28th-March 6th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

STE(A)MSustainabilitySocial JusticeSpring MusicalsCommunity MealNature/Animal StudiesPuppetryLiterature/WritingPurimSocial StudiesHistoryFamily Concerts

RECAP

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

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Parenting Green: It’s Not What We Say, It’s What We Do!
  2. Collaborative Consumption: Learning How to be Resilient Supports Community-Based Education
  3. 6 Ways Community Can Support Family Dinners
  4. HFVS Purim Episode with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. TED-Ed Clubs: Supporting Students & Their Big Ideas!

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Find out how you can be a sponsor too!

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27 Community Highlights: Family Concerts to Purim. Pancakes to Seeds.

Community meals are great intergenerational opportunities to sit down with neighbors of all ages, making connections and nurturing relationships across the generations. Participating in a community pancake breakfast does more than fill your belly… it strengthens the social fabric of community by developing a sense of place in our children! The Easthampton PTO is hosting a Pancake Breakfast at Easthampton High School on Saturday, February 28, 8:30am-10:30am.

Family  Concerts to Purim. Pancake Breakfast to Charles Dickens. Seeds to Origami. These are just a few of the community 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 join the Northampton Parents Center for Family Fun Night on Saturday, February 28, 4pm-7pm! There will be a performance by In the Nick of Time, dessert from Herrell’s, an optional potluck dinner, and playtime. This is a great chance to to get to know other local families! 413-582-2636. 297 Main Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE/DONATIONS ACCEPTED)


STE(A)MSustainabilitySocial JusticeSpring MusicalsCommunity MealNature/Animal StudiesPuppetryLiterature/WritingPurimSocial StudiesHistoryFamily Concerts


Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

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Suggested Events for February 28th-March 6th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“Thanks to Hilltown Families, our source for so many good things – this weekend we’ll be tapping some of our own trees, then using your list of sugar shacks to find one to sample.” – Carrie Cuthbert (Whately, 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

Feb 28

Sunnyside Child Care Presents: “February Fiesta!” Spend the morning singing and dancing with the Valley’s own Grammy-Nominated Mister G! “Kid-friendly, bilingual rockstar…Mister G and his guitar will surely make you feel like bailando!” – The Washington Post. Come dance, decorate a maraca, and eat pizza with your friends! Join Sunnyside on Saturday February 28th from 10:30am-12noon at the Florence Community Center (140 Pine St. Florence MA). Tickets just $5 per person ($20 maximum per family). All proceeds fund the Sunnyside Scholarship Fund. www.sunnysidekids.org

Mar 7

Shake off the cold at Nonotuck Community School’s 4th annual Winter Family Dance Party! Bring the whole family for a morning of dancing, face painting, and arts & crafts! Come build your own tambourines and shakers and try your luck in the 50-50 raffle. Enjoy delicious pizza by Hillside Pizza! Tickets are just $5 per person and $15 per family! Happening on Saturday, March 7th from 10am-12pm at the Jackson Street School Gym (120 Jackson Street) in Northampton. All proceeds will benefit the Nonotuck Community School. Sponsored by Florence Bank.

Mar 14 & Apr 18

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids: March 14 & April 18 from 10am-12noon. Come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! Takes place at Flywheel in the old town in Easthampton, MA. Who needs night clubs when you have Saturday Morning Dance Parties with Hilltown Families and Flywheel?! Save on the babysitter and dance the morning away! 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)

Begins Mar 20

The Center in Amherst is offering a new class for toddlers! Enroll now for an 8 week spring session, starting Friday, March 20th. In this 45 minute class for kids aged 2-5, 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.

Mar 21

March Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, March 21 from 9-11:30am.

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, March 21st, 9-11:30am. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (FREE)

Jun 8 – Aug 17

Our Place Summercamp gets kids off the screen and into the green. For 5 days campers hike, climb, wade and swim “our place”: the 5 ecoregions of the Nonotuck biome. These activities aren’t just “fun”—they’re designed to increase camper’s perceptual abilities, stimulate their critical thinking skills, inspire their creative imaginations, and counteract “nature deficit disorder.” Campers go from site to site—mountains, forests, brooks, industrial brownfields, you name it—on an adventurous, inquiry-based investigation into our living land. Through active physical and mental engagement with “our place,” they gain a deep and lasting appreciation of it—and themselves. Jun 8-Aug 17; Age/Grade Range: 1st-8th grades. 774-526-6507. info@biocitizen.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.

MARKET YOUR SUMMER CAMP: In an effort to connect families with summer camps & programs in the region, Hilltown Families is offering camps and programs a chance to partner with us in their online marketing with a special enhanced publicity offer. On Sunday, March 15th, 2015, Hilltown Families will be featuring camps in the region on Hilltown Families with a special post titled: 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE. Take advantage of our Early Rate by signing your camp/program today!

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
February 28th-March 6th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | School Closures | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

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Maple Days in Western MA

Learning through the Lens of Maple Sugar Season

How sweet the end of winter is here in western Massachusetts – and not just because the snow is beginning to melt! Warmer temperatures signal the start of sap flow in sugar maples, whose frozen and sleepy roots and limbs come alive when the landscape begins to thaw. Maple sugaring is a centuries-old tradition in New England, and the seasonal industry remains an important part of the foundation upon which local agricultural is built. Additionally, maple sugaring brings opportunities for families to engage in intergenerational community-based learning through visits to farms, community meals, living history, and experiential hands-on activities.  Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Setting Up the Toddler Who Wants to Get To Work!

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

The Industrious Toddler

I have found that young toddlers thrive on exploring the world around them. Finding new ways to create and explore can mean the difference between a boring day and a day filled with the emergence of new skills. Lately with the snow over the babes heads, finding new ways to master skills such as cutting, grasping, gluing, sorting and creating has taking up the bulk of our art time.

Toddlers love repetition, as you may have noticed. They love the predictability of repeated motions, motions that will soon be a mastered skill. They thrive in a child-centered environment. A place where all the tools on the table are for them to explore, there is no one telling them “please don’t touch” instead all the supplies are screaming “touch me” and “ figure me out.”

The industrious art projects that can help you through this winter are just as much educational as they are fun. Help your toddler master fine motors skills such as scissors, tweezers, knives, forks, spoons by giving them the opportunity to uses such tools on a toddler friendly forum! Read the rest of this entry »

Amherst Cinema’s Family Film Series- A Blend of Entertainment & Learning

Innovative Cinema Continues  to Give Great Consideration to Clever Programming

Amherst Cinema’s Family Films series showcases a handful of fantastic family movies. Not only are the films entertaining and engaging for viewers of all ages, many of them are historically or artistically significant as well – making the series both fun and educational!

Films for young audiences are far more than a way to keep kiddos quiet and entertained for a few hours. The best of such films include plots that are not only engaging for children, but that can be enjoyed by adults as well. And, in addition to engaging plots, the best of children’s film is artistic and creative to boot!

Families can enjoy some of the best of films for young audiences during Amherst Cinema’s Family Films Series. The series is an ongoing endeavor and features a varied collection of wonderful films that can be enjoyed by folks of all ages. Covering a wide rage of themes and styles of cinematography, the Family Films Series is not only entertaining but educational as well!  Here’s what they have coming up next month: Read the rest of this entry »

Open Sesame: Celebrating Black History with Children’s Picture Books

Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

10 New Books Celebrating Black History

In celebration of Black History, here are 10 new books for children of all ages and the grown-ups who love them. Full of inspiration, incredible acts of heroism and bravery, and striking illustration, these are needed books not just in February, but in every month of the year.

Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs (as told by his niece) presents the principles of nonviolence that “Uncle M.L.” practiced and lived by. Each principle, presented in oversized font and bold, mixed-media illustration – have courage; love your enemies; fight the problem, not the person who caused it; when innocent people are hurt, others are inspired to help; resist violence of any kind; and the universe honors love – is further explained with specific actions and events of Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s life, from peaceful protests to rousing sermons.

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