25 Community Highlights: Chrysanthemums to Cider Donuts. Opera to Big Band Jazz.

Chrysanthemums are in bloom at the Smith College Botanic Gardens in Northampton. Starting Saturday, November 3rd. Bring the family for an impressive botanical display!  Before going, explore the rich history of the chrysanthemum and when you arrive examine the wide array of forms and colors that are cultivated. See if you can get your kids to pick out the different varieties of chrysanthemum displayed at the show. Check the show brochure for a list. Click here for printable coloring sheets of different flowering forms.

Chrysanthemums to Homemade Candles. Doghouses to Cider Donuts. Opera to Big Band Jazz…. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

APPLES

Franklin County celebrates its plentiful apple harvest and the delicious batches of cider that follow at the 18th annual Cider Days all weekend! The event includes fun events and activities county-wide – including an apple pancake breakfast, wagon rides and orchard explorations, cider pressing, lots of tastings (of ciders for big kids and little kids), and chances to learn about apple varieties, heirloom apples, organic orchards, and more! It’s a chance for families to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of our local apple industry..

Families can also learn about the culinary history of apples at Historic Deerfield on Saturday, November 3rd.  Their open hearth cooking program continues, with a focus on apples! Families often had their own small orchards, from which to harvest crops for cider, baking, storage, cooking, etc. Learn about traditional apple dishes and preservation of apples for the winter! There will also be workshops on making apple pomanders.

CULTURAL STUDIES

Native American artist Teri Greeves will be at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday, November 3rd at 10am to lead a hands-on beaded medallion workshop for kids to accompany the museum’s Rethink! Native American Art exhibition. Kids will learn basic beadworking skills, and will also learn about the role of beadwork in traditional Native American art. In Springfield at the Robyn Newhouse Hall, storyteller Eshu Bumpus will be telling stories from around the world on Saturday afternoon. Eshu captures his audience by telling a variety of African, African-American and World folktales leavened with music, humor and mystery.

MAKE YOUR OWN HOLIDAY GIFTS

The Fiber Festival of New England takes place this weekend in West Springfield, featuring fiber arts and crafts, demonstrations and workshops, and a sale of all things fiber! Families can attend one of their workshops held during the Fiber Festival to learn how to make your own holiday gifts.  Workshops including Beginner Rug Hooking, Fancy Felted Soaps and Needle Felted Sheep.

Shop local and handmade this Saturday, Nov. 3rd at the Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair, co-sponsored by Hilltown Families. Happens at the Berkshire Trail Elementary school in Cummington and supports the Cummington Family Center.

In Cummington on Saturday, November 3rd is the 3rd annual Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair at the Berkshire Trail Elementary School. There will be a couple of felting workshops for families to make your own craft to take home or give. Also on Saturday at the Tilton Library in Deerfield and the Lilly Library in Florence, there will be two bookmaking workshops.  Kids and their parents can learn how to make books together in these workshops, and then go home and make their own books as holiday gifts.

Later in the week on Friday, November 9th, kids can learn how to make homemade candles at the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington. Candles make great holiday gifts, and are handy all around the house (especially in the darkest months of the year!).

PLANT STUDIES

Chrysanthemums are in bloom at the Smith College Botanic Gardens in Northampton. Starting Saturday, November 3rd, visit to see a wide array of colors and blooms of all sizes. Kids can learn about the growing and blooming process that the plants go through, and can learn about greenhouse gardening, too.  There will be extended evening hours on Friday, November 9th from 6-8pm.

In Northfield on Saturday, November 3rd, youth ages 12yo+ and their adults can join forester Helen Johnson at Northfield Mountain for a late fall tree ID walk. Characteristics like bark, branching patterns, buds, overall tree shape, and habitat will be used to aid in identification. There will also be discussion about impacts on the forest from insects, diseases, and invasive plants. No previous tree identification skills are required for this field walk.

FAMILY VOLUNTEERING

On Saturday, November 3rd, families can help build doghouses for Kane’s Krusade in Ludlow, an organization that helps dogs in need in the Springfield area. The organization is putting together CARE Kits (Canine Assistance Resources and Education) for families who struggle financially to care for their dogs – providing assistance in the form of insulated dog houses, leashes, collars, treats, etc. helps to keep dogs with their loving families, rather than in shelters.

On Sunday, November 4th, take part in the very first Cider Donut Run to benefit the Amherst Survival Center in Amherst. Families can choose to run a 10k, or to participate in the much less strenuous 2.4 mile run/walk, both of which begin at the Mill River Recreation Area. Enjoy the beautiful fall foliage and the crisp, clear autumn morning air while getting great exercise and helping to support a vital community resource.

STEM

This weekend there are several opportunities for kids to practice their math, science, and engineering skills. The Sunderland Library has a Lego Club on Saturday morning, November 3rd. Children ages 6yo+ and their adults can come and practice their engineering and architectural skills while getting creative and sharing their inventions.  The Jones Library hosts a Chess Club for youth ages 7yo and older with Andy Morris-Friedman in the Amherst Room on Saturday afternoon. And on Sunday, November 4th, an informal Chess Club happens at the Lilly Library in Florence. Participants are encouraged to supplement existing chess boards by bringing their own too.

Later in the week, on Tuesday, November 6th, the Hatfield Library will host a science program for 8-10yo students, and on Wednesday, November 7th, visit the East Longmeadow Library for some afternoon chess!

ANIMAL & NATURE STUDIES

Country Quilt Llama Farm is paying a fur-filled visit to the Lenox Library on Saturday morning, November 3rd! Kids can learn about llama farming and the uses for llama fiber through storytime, large pictures detailing important parts of llama life and llama-raising, and many llama-products to touch and inspect. There will be a llama visiting, too for kids to meet and learn about.

Get your kids to stop and think about what adaptations nocturnal animals have that allow them to navigate the dark landscape so well.  Then bring them to Mass Audubon on Saturday night to learn all about nighttime living on a family night hike. Families with kids ages 5-12yo can explore Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary by dark in Easthampton, and learn to make sparks with rocks, listen for night sounds, and learn to see without a flashlight.

Humans and other animals have very different ways of preparing for the winter. While we turn on the heat, pull out sweaters and wool socks, and freeze our favorite seasonal foods, animals have very different adaptations. Children ages 6-9 (grades 1-4) can visit the Hitchcock Center in Amherst on Tuesday, November 6th for a full day program on how the local landscape and the animals that call the valley home prepare for winter!

The Berkshire Environmental Education Network hosts the annual BEEN Conference for Environmental Educators on Tuesday, November 6th, at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. The conference offers workshops for educators of all types, all of which will be centered around the theme of hands-on, place-based environmental education. Attendees will get to choose from over 20 different workshops – the learning possibilities are endless.

MUSIC STUDIES

Amherst Cinema screens, “The Girls in the Band,” a film that tells the story of women in big band jazz, on Monday evening, November 5th. Female vocalists are fairly common in the jazz world, but female musicians are not – an issue examined by looking at the lives and accomplishments of notable female jazz musicians.

The Westfield State University department of music presents an opera for young audiences on Friday morning, November 9th. This year they present “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck. It tells the Brothers Grimm fairy tale story in song, of the two children lost in the woods, tempted by a house made of candy, who fall into the clutches of a child eating witch. They eventually defeat her plans to eat them and are reunited with their parents. This work is being presented in a piano/voice version on Dever Stage and runs about a half hour. Open to the public.

Matt Cusson, a locally-grown and nationally known singer/songwriter and pianist, is offering a songwriting workshop at The Garage in Pittsfield on Friday afternoon, November 9th! A self-taught musician, Cusson is a winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and has performed with acts such as James Taylor, Cee Lo Green, and Brian McKnight.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and other events & activities happening all next week in our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

22 Community Highlights: Musicals to Mystery. Day of the Dead to Candlelight Tours.

On Halloween, families can join in the celebration of Day of the Dead! The Southwick Library will have sugar skulls available for teens to come decorate with icing, feathers, glitter, etc., and the Meekins Library in Williamsburg invites families to bring in Day of the Dead mementos to add to their community altar and to sample Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread). — Interested in learning more about Day of the Dead  (Diá de los Muertos)? Check out our post, “El Dia de los Muertos (Video & Resources“) to learn about this Mexican celebration. This post is from our archives and includes a short education video, traditional foods, curriculum & activities, history & photos, suggested titles and web reviews. — We also have a terrific DIY tutorial on how to make your own Mexican sugar skulls in our archives.  Learn how to make this traditional Mexican Day of the Dead culinary art in our post, “DIY: Mexican Sugar Skulls.” 

Musicals to Mystery. Day of the Dead to Halloween. Spiders to Candlelight… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

ANIMAL/NATURE STUDIES

Spiders can be a bit creepy – but they’re fascinating, too! Visit Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday morning, Oct. 27th in Easthampton to learn about the many different types of arachnids found all around the world – there will be hands-on activities.  Later in the afternoon families can meet some interesting creatures at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls with Teaching Creatures, a free show-and-tell program that helps kids learn about animals with interesting evolutionary adaptations. The program will focus on the different defense mechanisms that animals have, and how and why they have evolved.

On Sunday morning, Oct. 28th, teens and their parents can explore Bear Swamp with the Hitchcock Center in Amherst! The rocky area includes a pond, which is home to diverse plants and wildlife.

ARCHEOLOGY & ASTRONOMY

Archaeologists must often apply a skill set similar to those used by forensics experts – they look at remnants of lives (caves, basements, stone walls, etc.) and use tiny clues in order to deduce the use of the place, item, etc. On Monday evening, Oct. 29th, older students and their parents can learn how archaeologists have used these skills to determine information about the history of the earliest European settlers in New England at Greenfield High School, where Central Connecticut State professor Ken Feder presents, “Monk’s Caves, Sacrificial Altars, and Wandering Celts.

The Springfield Science Museum will be open for public sky-gazing on Friday evening, Nov. 2nd. Now in it’s 75th year of connecting the public with the night sky, this month’s viewing marks the anniversary of the first public demo of the planetarium with a talk entitled, “The Korkosz Brothers and their Amazing ‘Star-ball.”

THEATER & MUSIC

We’re rich in musical performances this weekend, many of which are performed by local youth:

  • Pinkalicious! The Musical, performed by Ja’Duke Productions in the auditorium at the Eric Carle Museum, happens on Saturday, Oct 27th in Amherst.
  • The Evolution of Rhythms, an original show presented by Youth Alive on Saturday evening, Oct. 27th, takes place on the Barrington Stage Company’s main stage in Pittsfield.
  • Little Shop of Horrors, a musical present by Black Cat Theater, will be at South Hadley High School on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, Oct. 27th & 28th.
  • The Secret Garden, produced by the Monson Arts Council, will be performed on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, Oct 27th & 28th, and Friday evening, Nov. 2nd at Memorial Hall in Monson.
  • Legally Blonde: The Musical will be performed on Saturday evening, Oct. 27th at Westfield State University.
  • Rumors, Neil Simon’s classic farce, is Williston Northampton School’s fall theater production in Easthampton, with their final performance on Saturday evening, Oct. 27th.
  • The Pirates of Penzance! is a musical comedy presented by Bay Path College in Longmeadow on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, Oct. 27th & 28thth, and Friday evening, Nov. 2nd in the Mills Theater.

STEM

Teens can explore science of all kinds at UMass’ ScienceQUEST on Saturday, Oct. 27th  in Amherst – a free event for high school age youth, where students can visit campus, take part in hands-on science activities, and tour the school’s science labs. Students will learn not only about studying college-level sciences, but can choose to take part in workshops on obscure scientific topics like hidden universes and polymers! Students can learn ways to apply their interests to topics in science that they may not have been aware of, and will learn about the practical applications of many unique scientific studies.

DAY OF THE DEAD

White Square Books hosts “Ghost Stories of the Ancient Greeks and Romans” with UMass classic professor, Debbie Felton on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 27th. Felton will lead participants to discover ancient Halloween-type festivals that celebrate the dead in this free event in Easthampton.

On Halloween, families can join in the celebration of Day of the Dead! The Southwick Library will have sugar skulls available for teens to come decorate with icing, feathers, glitter, etc., and the Meekins Library in Williamsburg invites families to bring in Day of the Dead mementos to add to their community altar and to sample Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread).

HISTORY

On Saturday evening, Oct. 27th, tour the spooky Skinner Mansion at the Wistariahurst Museum by candlelight. The tour will be guided by a museum interpreter and families (with older kids) can learn about the history behind this Holyoke museum.  Then on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 28th, and Monday evening, Oct. 29th, tour the Forestdale Cemetery – final resting place of many of the families who played key roles in the development of early Holyoke. Lead by city historian Penni Martorell, the tour will teach visitors about the development of their city and community.

PARENT WORKSHOPS

The Amherst Family Center hosts Dinner On Us on Monday evening, Oct. 29th, a free weekly parent conversation series.  This week’s topic is empowering children to be responsible and respectful – parents can gain new insights and gather useful information, and share their experiences with others.

Gateway Middle School hosts, “Guiding Good Choices,” on Thursday evening, Nov. 1, a free workshop series in Huntington for parents on helping teens to develop strategies for keeping drugs and alcohol out of their lives, encouraging family involvement, and helping youth recognize and utilize their own strengths.

MISC

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield is hosting yet another round of PechaKucha presentations on Tuesday evening, Oct. 30th! The event is a space for community members to present a series of 20 20-second slides (20×20 is another name for the event) on any topic they choose – audience members can leave having learned about anything from candy bar shapes to native plants. Best for older students (mature tweens and teens), the event is a great way to celebrate diversity in knowledge and experience within the community!

The Westhampton Library hosts, “Nothing to Hide: Mental Illness in the Family,” an exhibit featuring photographs and interviews with families whose lives have been affected by mental illness (including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, etc.). The exhibit can help students in learning the side of mental illness not often shared publicly – the side that debunks stereotypes and illustrates strength, courage, integrity, and accomplishment. There will be a free author talk on Friday evening, Nov. 2nd from 7-8pm with Jean Beard, co-author of the exhibit’s namesake book.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 200 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

22 Community Highlights: Mask-Making to Costume Design. Historic Harvest to Historic Trades.

Cemeteries are great places to learn about local history this time of year. On Friday, Oct. 26th at 7:15pm, the Longmeadow Historical Society will host their annual Ghosts on the Graveyard. Reenactors will present a first person story at the graves of various long deceased townspeople by lantern light. Merchants, tavern keepers, Civil War soldiers, grieving widows and mothers, missionaries, and a man who raced homing pigeons. Participants can meet behind First Church on Route 5 in Longmeadow beginning at 6:30pm. The event is not frightening for young children. Participants should dress warmly and bring a flashlight. Refreshments will be served. Free event. Donations welcomed.

Shoe Making to Top-Secret Technology. Mask-Making to Costume Design. Film Studies to Outdoor Adventures…… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

FAMILY VOLUNTEERING

Volunteering with your family in your community is an excellent way to encourage civic engagement while cultivating compassion and gratitude in your children. This weekend there are a least four ways families can volunteer together in tasks that include park clean-ups, gleaning food, and a 5K Run/Walk. On Saturday morning, Oct. 20th in Amherst, families can volunteer to help glean leftover unharvested produce from local farms! All harvested food will be donated to a local food pantry – Not Bread Alone. By participating, kids can learn how to harvest foods, and will be contributing to the survival of their community. Also on Saturday, Oct. 20th, the West Springfield Friends of Parks and Recreation will be working to clean up the Rotary Pavillion at Mittineague Park and welcome volunteers to help maintain the park, a valuable community resource! Helpers of all ages are welcome – there are tasks both big and small.

Then on Sunday morning, Oct. 21st, Stanley Park in Westfield will be hosting the first ever WGBY Community Champions 5k Race/Walk. Participants can choose to do either a race, or to walk the course as a family. The race is a benefit for the station and its valuable programming. In the afternoon on Sunday, Oct. 21st, the Greenfield Energy Park, which serves as concert venue, meeting place, and green space for the community, welcomed families to volunteer in their seasonal clean up of the park before winter comes. There are jobs both big and small for people of all ages, sizes, and abilities.

NATURE & ANIMAL STUDIES

Have you ever seen a Witch’s Hat growing in the ground? They can be found in the woods all over Western MA! Join Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton on Saturday morning, Oct. 20th to learn where to find these interesting plants, then see how many you can spot. Then in the afternoon on Saturday, families can visit the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls to learn all about raptors with representatives from the VT Institute of Natural Science who will share a live raptor with visitors, and discuss where they live, what they eat, and their behavior. This information will be used to help kids grasp the basic concepts of food chains, predator-prey relationships, and the interdependence of nature. Once the sun sets there will be stargazing Saturday night with Arunah Hill at Notchview in Windsor. Families can learn to identify stars and constellations, and locate planets.

Bats rely on their echolocation in order to navigate the air and find food during the nighttime. Developed areas create a lot of white noise – which interferes with the bats’ echolocation. Learn about how the phenomenon is affecting bat populations across the US, and learn about efforts that are being made to help preserve bat populations at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton on Thursday evening, Oct. 25th. Best for older students, this event supports studies of the effects of humans on the environment.

Creatures can be hard to find sometimes, since they’re so well camouflaged! On Friday morning Oct. 26th, the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls host, “Where in the Wild?” – a program where kids will be able to learn about the animals who are the best at hiding, and why!

HISTORY

Old Sturbridge Village’s Fall Harvest Days take place this weekend, Oct. 20th & 21st. Visit the village to celebrate fall – 1800s style! Visitors can help out with the village’s harvest of potatoes, corn, and root veggies; tour orchards, taste numerous varieties of heirloom apples, and watch an ox-powered cider press in operation; and learn skills for preserving the harvest, like bean shelling and corn shucking, learn about root cellar storage, churning butter, and more!

Learn about historic trades at Historic Deerfield on Saturday, Oct. 20th with sewing and shoe-making demonstrations! Linda Oakley will show visitors useful types of stitches and will demonstrate sewing projects that would have been done by early residents of Deerfield, while Peter Oakley will demonstrate shoemaking, creating the style of shoe worn by New England settlers.

Franklin County has produced lots of important inventions and innovations, including the tap-and-die and some of the top-secret technology that helped to win World War II! Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke hosts a lecture Monday evening, Oct. 22nd on inventions and innovations that have come from the area. Albert Shane, curator of the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, will share lots of interesting information about the industrial history of Franklin County. Older students can put studies of American history and engineering into a local context by learning about big local ideas!

On Thursday afternoon, Oct. 25th, tour the Stockbridge Cemetery to see the graves of notable former residents (like Norman Rockwell and the Sedgwick family) at Luminaries: Exploring Stockbridge Cemetery! Participants can learn about the history of many famous and prolific people whose final resting place is the cemetery.

ART, THEATER & FILM STUDIES

With Halloween on everyone’s mind, masks and costumes are a great way to discover art and theater. Learn how to make masks with the Royal Frog Ballet Performance Collective at a Mask-Making Workshop for all ages on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 20th in Montague, and on Wednesday afternoon, Oct 24th, learn how gory costumes are made for stage productions with Williams College’s costume director, Deb Brothers in Williamstown. Then on Thursday, Oct. 25th, the Williams College Museum of Art hosts “Ghouls in the Galleries: Exploring the Monsters of WCMA’s Collection.” Monsters in the museum will be rooted out by Deena Bak (’13) and she will aid participants in understanding what these monsters reveal about the nature of fear from a variety of cultural perspectives. Best for older students interested in art and cultural studies. Also on Thursday, Oct. 25th, the Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema in Pittsfield is screening part 3+4 of, “The Story of Film: An Odyssey.” Great for cinephiles of all ages!

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

With the last of the autumn leaves falling from the trees, this is a great time to get out in nature on a hike with the family (or without), discovering both local and natural history before the snow flies. On Saturday, Oct. 20th, explore the High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary by hiking the Wolf Den Trail in Shelburne, and experience the sanctuary’s 400+ species of hardwood plants, and the many diverse habitats that it encompasses. The same day in Colrain, explore historic Catamount Hill and learn about the fascinating history of the forest and the hill’s “ghost town,” or explore North Adams from a different perspective – the riverbank! The Hoosic River Revival Coalition will offer a guided riverwalk through town, stopping to observe and learn about historic locations, as well as the natural history of the river.

Later in the week on Wednesday, Oct. 24th, what better way to spend a crisp weekday morning than to hike the Hoosac Range after dropping the kids off at school, or with your older homeschool kids! Enjoy beautiful views overlooking North Adams. And on Friday, Oct. 26th, hike under the stars at the Alford Springs Reserve with your teens, BFF and/or sweet honey!

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and nearly 200 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

21 Community Highlights: Orchids to Earthworms. Hilltown History Fair to Jurassic Roadshow.

Learn about some of the coolest trees in Massachusetts! On Saturday, Oct 13th at 2pm in Turners Falls, families with children 8yo+ can collect tree leaves and take photos on using cell phones  of special tree clues for use with the New England Wild Flower Society “Go Botany” website to help identify trees located around the Great Falls Discovery Center. Event is free but preregistration is required by calling 800-859-2960.

Orchids to Earthworms. Hilltown History Fair to Jurassic Roadshow. Latin American to Greek. Teens to Preschoolers…. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

HIKING WITH TEENS

Get outdoors with your teens/tweens this weekend! There are a number of outdoor hikes and even a canoe trip happening this weekend for families with older children.  On Saturday morning, Oct. 13th in Lenox, canoe the Housatonic River with Mass Audubon Berkshire Sanctuaries through the Darey Wildlife Management Area, a spot with calm waters and lots of wildlife. A little later in the morning in Windsor, hike the highland backcountry at Tamarack Hollow and Notchview Reservation, looking for cellar holes and other signs of the abandoned homesteads throughout the reservation while learning about the boreal forest fauna and flora that make this area ecologically unique.  In Lee, families can hike the Basin Pond Trail in the afternoon on Saturday – a trek that will explore a quiet beaver pond and wetland that humans attempted to dam twice (1886 and 1968).

On Sunday morning, Oct. 14th in Great Barrington, hike the Barrett Preserve, part of the Berkshire Natural Resource Council’s preserved land, learning about the history of the preserve. In Windsor, hike through upland meadows to the ruins of a former dairy farm, with great views of Mt. Greylock on Sunday morning. In the afternoon in Easthampton at MASS Audubon at Arcadia, join naturalist educator Aimee Gelinas in learning about native wetland plants and trees with a focus on Wild Rice, a native grain collected as food by native people for centuries.

BOTANY & PLANT STUDIES

The Berkshire Orchid and Tropical Show happens both Saturday & Sunday, Oct 13th & 14th at the Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, featuring numerous varieties of orchids, succulents, bromeliads, bonsai, and other tropical plants – as well as workshops on everything from dish gardens to helping orchids re-bloom! Families can supplement plant studies of all kinds by visiting the show – young students can learn about basic biodiversity, plant cells, and photosynthesis; older students can take a more in-depth look at the biology and evolution behind each species.

In Holyoke on Saturday morning, Oct. 13th, learn about native plants and native seeds with the Trustees of Reservations at the Land of Providence. This workshop will teach participants the importance of native plants and how to identify various species, as well as how to collect seeds and cuttings and care for plants grown in containers.

Families can participate as citizen scientists in Turners Falls on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 13th by helping the Great Falls Discovery Center and the New England Wild Flower Society put together a new “Go Botany” website that will help families identify local trees! Families can collect leaves and snap cell phone pictures of trees and leaves to contribute to the site.

HISTORY

The Hilltowns History Conference and Fair happens all day in Colrain on Saturday, Oct 13th with lots of fun activities and learning opportunities for families, in addition to a number of history workshops taking place throughout the day. There will be representatives from Hilltown historical societies, genealogy, blacksmithing, archeology, lots of local memorabilia and artifacts, and a chance to meet Mary Lyon (Hilltown native and founder of Mt. Holyoke College) herself!

In AmherstUMass hosts a conference on disabilities in history on Saturday, Oct. 13th – the event will focus on the cultural history of people with disabilities in the United States. There will be guest speakers from all over the country, speaking on a wide range of disabilities and historical eras. Older teen students interested in the history of the human rights movement can benefit from attending – people with disabilities are an oft-forgotten group in history.

MUSIC STUDIES

On Thursday evening, Oct. 18th in Amherst,  Beatles scholar Scott Freiman (hosted by Amherst Cinema) hosts, “Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper,” a night of Beatles history! The presentation, which includes music and video, will look at the influence that the album had (and continues to have) on modern music. The talk will deconstruct everything from the album’s cover art to the chords used in the now-classic songs.  A unique event older students can attend to supplement music studies.

PALEONTOLOGY

The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association’s Jurassic Roadshow takes place on the Amherst Common all day on Saturday, Oct 13th.  There will be collections of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils on display, demonstrations, games and activities for children. Bring something you’ve collected from home to be identified too!  There will be live music and activities happening near by at the Beneski Museum of Natural History and the Jones Library. Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association will be there too with their sunscopes!

ANIMAL & NATURE STUDIES

Learn about worms – hands-on! On Saturday morning, Oct 13th kids can handle some squiggly, wiggly earthworms at the Great Falls Discovery Center, and learn all about how worms live, what they eat, the structure of their bodies, and all that they contribute to the local ecosystem. Same morning in Shelburne Falls, children can learn all about animal homes with educator Rachel Roberts at the Arms Library. This special program will teach kids (using hands-on art and science activities) about the many different types of homes that animals live in – and why.

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is offering weekly drop-in autumn nature classes for preschoolers at its Sheep Hill property on Monday afternoons beginning Oct. 15th. The weekly classes will include nature explorations focusing on how nature prepares for winter. Come to all or just a single class.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING & MATH (STEM)

Baystate Medical Center hosts a lab fair on Monday afternoon, Oct. 15th, featuring lots of interesting information and activities relating to histology, cytology, chemistry, and more! Learn about what goes on in the hospital’s lab, and learn about how diseases are identified and treated. Teens can learn to match up chromosomes and identify some bacteria, too! Students interested in entering a health profession will benefit from the information and resources shared.

Open to young women in grades 9-12, Women in Engineering Career Day will take place at  UMass Amherst on Monday, Oct. 19th. Activities include: hands-on engineering and computing activities; demonstrations of state-of-the-art technology, information about career opportunities; lunch chats with college students, professors, and engineers; and optional tours of engineering and computer science labs.

CULTURAL STUDIES: LATIN AMERICAN, ALGONKIAN & GREEK

It’s Family Fiesta Day at the Springfield Museum on Saturday, Oct. 13th- a day to enjoy Latin American culture! There will be live music with Bomba y Plena, food samples of traditional Latin American foods, Guiro demonstration (a Latin-American instrument), Salsa Class, parade of Hispanic Heritage, and much more!

On Wednesday evening, Oct 17th, join the Shelburne Grange for a community potluck and an evening of Native American songs and storytelling. Marge Bruchac, and Abenaki storyteller and historian, will share Algonkian songs and stories. – Beginning next Friday, Oct 19th in East Longmeadow, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Luke hosts Taste of Greece! The event includes performances of traditional dance and a Greek market and last for three days!

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and nearly 200 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

18 Community Highlights: Migrating Hawks to Edible Mushrooms. Ghost Towns to Cemetery Walks.

Harvest Festivals are a great way to learn about local history and food culture. Check our Best Bets this week too for 10 featured festivals happening this weekend.

Migrating Hawks to Edible Mushrooms. Native American Harvest Festival to Jewish Harvest Festival. Ghost Towns to Cemetery Walks…. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

BIRDS

It’s Hawk migration season and bird lovers and families looking for outdoor adventures can join in several hikes in Berkshire County in search for these birds of prey. On Saturday, Oct 6th, hike Spruce Hill with Mass Audubon in North Adams, or Hulburt’s Hill at Bartholomew’s Cobble with the Trustees of Reservations in Sheffield. Both hikes are lead by naturalists to summits for great vantage points for spotting migrating raptors. On Friday, Oct 12th, folks can continue their search for migratory birds at Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield with Mass Audubon as they make their trek from northern habitats to warmer climates.

CULTURAL STUDIES

Both the Springfield Museums and the Berkshire Museum will offer a chance for families to explore Native American Culture on Saturday, Oct. 6th. The Springfield Museums will have a Native American Harvest Festival with live music and drumming throughout the day. There will also be vendors of handmade Native American crafts, artifact identification (BYO artifact!), and traditional games and activities for kids! The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield will host guest artist Jeremy Frey, who will be demonstrating traditional Passamaquoddy basket-weaving techniques. The demonstrations are in conjunction with the museum’s Rethink! American Indian Art exhibit. Families can supplement studies of early New England history and Native American culture by visiting either event.

Then on Wednesday evening, Oct 10th, Westfield State University will offer an “antidote to Columbus Day” – the school will host a free evening of Native American poetry, featuring Native American poets who will read their work and discuss the importance of providing an indigenous perspective to the history of Columbus. Older Students can learn to understand the day of observance in a different light that acknowledges the whole story of the settling of North America.

The Congregation B’Nai Israel of Northampton invites the community to celebrate Sukkot on Sunday, Oct 7th. This free Jewish harvest festival will be jam-packed with fun, interesting, and delicious activities like bread baking in a wood fired oven, cider pressing, wheat threshing, live music, tastings of apples and honey, and more! Families can learn about the Jewish traditions that accompany the festival, its place within Jewish history, and more.

HISTORY

Dost thou desire to take part in medieval combat? Suit up in armor and visit Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum for their annual Medieval Faire on Sunday, Oct 7th in Lenox! There will be armored combat (every hour, on the hour!), equestrian demonstrations, roving troubadours and jesters, displays and demonstrations of medieval arts and crafts, and, for the more serious students of medieval history, lectures on medieval traditions and culture. The event is fun for the whole family – take a step back in time and surround yourself in history! Ventfort Hall’s unique architecture provides the perfect backdrop for the fair, too!

Other celebrations that will highlight local history on Sunday, Oct 7th, include the Hatfield Fall Festival (be sure to check out their new exhibit, Hatfield’s Ghost Town!) and the Wilder Homestead’s Colonial Sampler in Buckland. Both free celebrations offer local food and fiber art demonstrations and hands-on of traditional arts (like weaving, spinning, and shoemaking).

For the adventurous types on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 7th, take a tour of the Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton to learn about the town’s interesting history by discovering whose graves lie in the cemetery, including Jonathan Edwards, an 18th century writer and theologian who preached in Northampton for over 20 years! Or, in Plainfield on Sunday, Oct. 7th is their Historical Society’s final Hidden Walls, Hidden Mills event. The topic is stone walls – titled, “Farming in Stone,” and includes a free indoor talk on the use of walls and who built them (locally), as well as an afternoon exploration of the beautiful woods to take a firsthand look at some remaining stone walls.

Tie history together with Halloween at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 7th with a lecture on the history of witchcraft in 17th century New England. Perfectly timed for Halloween, the talk will address the culture and religious beliefs of early New Englanders and will explore the basis for the widespread belief in witchcraft. Best for older students.

PARENT WORKSHOPS

Child Care of the Berkshires is offering a Family Nutrition class, presented by Nutritionist, Allyse Wiencek on Tuesday evening, Oct 9th in North Adams. Also on Tuesday evening, the Collaborative for Educational Service and the Palmer-Monson Family Network will offer a free 6-week workshop series titled, “The Puzzle of Parenting” in Three Rivers. Then on Wednesday evening, Oct 10th, also in North Adams, Childcare of the Berkshires presents, “Everyday Parenting Solutions,” with Scott Noyes at the Haskins Center. – All three parent workshops are free.

MYCOLOGY & CREATIVE FREE PLAY

Two other free highlights we must note involve mushrooms and cardboard boxes. On Saturday morning, Oct 6th, teens (and tweens) ages 12+ are invited to explore the wild woods of Williamsburg on a hunt for edible wild mushrooms! Lead by Marty Klein, artist/naturalist/forager, the event is for both beginners and experienced foragers. Great for kids interested in learning to identify edible local plants!

Also on Saturday morning, Oct 6th, it’s Cardboard Art Day at Owl and Raven! There will be plenty of cardboard on hand, but bring (if you can!) duct or masking tape, a cutting tool (simple scissors for little ones, boxcutters can be OK for teens/tweens), and lots of enthusiasm and design ideas! Who knows what will be created – you can work on an individual project or collaborate with others to make a masterpiece. It’s a great opportunity for creative free play and, for older students, to experiment with architecture and design.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and well over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

16 Community Highlights: Apples to Alpacas. Quillwork to Dinosaur Tracks.

It’s a great weekend for pressing, baking and eating apples! Check our Best Bets this week for a list of fall festivals too! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield).

Apples to Alpacas. Quillwork to Dinosaur Tracks. Medieval to Colonial…. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

APPLES

When you think of New England in the autumn, fall festivals, foliage and apples come to mind! This weekend families can learn about apple history, join in an apple bake off, participate in an apple fundraiser, or just celebrate the season at an Apple Harvest Festival. On both Saturday & Sunday, Sept 29th & 30th, families can step into the 19th century at Old Sturbridge Village for Apple Days – a weekend full of fall activities like cider pressing and apple picking (and eating!). Families can learn about the many antique apple varieties that are grown in the village’s orchards, and then learn about the process of picking apples, storing them, and using them for foods like sauce, pies, and cider.

Bakers can join in the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market’s Apple Cook Off on Saturday, Sept 29th! The event challenges community members to produce unique and delicious dishes, the main ingredient of which is local apples. There are separate age groups for kids and adults, and prizes will be given to dishes that are most unique, most creative, and most delicious. Also on Saturday is the Apple Harvest Festival on the Amherst Town Common featuring a crafts fair and lots of special children’s activities including hay rides, scarecrow making, pumpkin decorating, and cider making!

On Sunday, Sept 30th, Apple Spree takes place at Look Park in Florence, a fundraiser for the Northampton Survival Center – for each peck of apples purchased by a family, a peck will be donated to the center. There will be live music from Appalachian Still, an apple car race for kids to enter, an apple cooking contest, and, of course, lots of delicious apples to enjoy!

CARTOONING/COMICS

Do your kids love cartoons or comic strips? Syndicated cartoonist Hilary Price (the brains behind “Rhymes With Orange”) will speak at the Leverett Library on Tues. evening, Oct 2nd about how she became a cartoonist and what it’s like to produce a daily comic strip. Great for kids interested in using their artistic talents for humor! On Thursday, Oct 4th, Modern Myths comic book store in Northampton is hosting a series of afternoon comic-making parties for kids – every Thursday afternoon in October! The workshops present an opportunity for kids to learn about the language of comics and to learn how to express themselves through comic drawings and storylines. Both events are free

HISTORY

A couple of community events happen on Saturday, Sept 29th that take a unique look at local history through the lens of the season. Families can visit Historic Deerfield to learn about the history and cultural significance of scarecrows! Once used to guard crops, scarecrows are now a Halloween tradition. Families can even make their own! Or you could also head to Westfield for Colonial Harvest Days! This free event features a Revolutionary War reenactment, carriage and wagon rides, live music, the local celebrity Town Crier contest, a harvest hoedown and fiddle contest (open to the community!), local art and artisan goods, and more! Learn about the history of Westfield’s earliest days and the Revolutionary War.

For older students on Saturday morning, Sept 29th, they learn about how the presidency came about in the United States at the Sixteen Acres Library in Springfield! Baypath College professor Dr. Donald Murphy will present a lecture on the roots of presidency in the Constitution, and then will discuss how the first three people to hold office helped to shape the important position. This free lecture is particularly relevant, considering the upcoming election, and can help to supplement students’ in-depth studies of American history.

On Sunday, Sept 30th, the Whately Historical Society is hosting a free fall festival with a special exhibit, “Whately Schools Yesterday & Today.” Come check out a small town annual harvest/history celebration!

During the weekdays, history can be explore through math, fashion design and culinary arts! On Monday morning, Oct. 1st, Storrowton Village in West Springfield is offering a special program on math designed for students in grades 4-6 (or working on math that correlates to those grades). There will be hands-on activities that incorporate 19th century history with mathematical concepts, problem solving, and vocabulary! In the evening on Monday, the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke hosts historian Ned Lazaro, who will share the story of Violet Angotti, a Northampton dress designer during the early 20th century. The talk will discuss how, despite her profession becoming gradually more and more obsolete, Angotti worked to maintain her craft. Best for older students – pairs well with studies of technological advances and cultural change throughout the 20th century. Then on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 2nd, Ventfort Hall in Lenox hosts, “Food and Feasting in the Middle Ages,” a tea-and-talk featuring tastings of traditional medieval foods and interesting facts about the intersection of food and social class during the middle ages. Best for older students, the event will also cover food-related beliefs and practices popular during the middle ages.

FIBER ARTS, CULTURAL STUDIES & PALEONTOLOGY

On both Saturday & Sunday, Sept 29th & 30th, Sweet Brook Farm in Williamstown celebrates National Alpaca Farm Days. Families can learn about these animals and the gorgeous fiber they provide local farmers. There will be spinning and weaving demonstrations and free hands-on opportunities.

At the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday morning, Sept 29th, the museum hosts a workshop on quillwork as part of the museum’s current Rethink! American Indian Art exhibit. Visitors can try hands-on quillwork themselves, while learning about its place in Native American history and culture.

On Sunday afternoon, Sept 30th, families can visit the Wistariahurst Museum to learn about dinosaur tracks and the 200 million-year-old history of Holyoke! Paleontologist Patrick Getty will teach kids about the dinosaurs who once inhabited the valley, and kids will get to do dino-themed hands-on activities.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 160 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

27 Community Highlights: Geology to Industrial Revolution. Peace Studies to Volunteering.

Are you teaching kids/students about their local environment at home or at school? Check out the Berkshire Museum’s “Living Landscapes: Teaching in Nature” curriculum guide as a resource. The museum will be participating in a Bioblitz on Friday, Sept 21st with a local elementary school, using a community-based education model supported by this curriculum guide of 11 lesson plans designed to offer kids a chance to discover nature while learning math, English language arts, science and the visual arts. Check it out, and then check out the Berkshire Bioblitz happening this weekend in Pittsfield! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

18th Century Neighborhood to 19th Century Sawmill. Geology to Industrial Revolution. Peace Studies to Volunteering… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

ANIMAL STUDIES

There are three events for families that support an interest in animals.  In the early morning on Saturday, Sept 22nd at Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield, learn to spot and identify various species of birds while learning about their habitat.  Later in the morning in Shelburne Falls, the Arms Library will offer a class for kids on animal babies, and in the afternoon, join educator Rachel Roberts at Northfield Mountain to learn about the variety of insects in our natural environment.  All three events are free.

NATURAL HISTORY

On Saturday morning, Sept 22nd in Great Barrington, celebrate the 25th anniversary of the RiverWalk with a walk-about, taking in the natural beauty and history.  In Greenfield at GCC, families with older students can learn about Franklin County geology with a tour that reveals the area’s natural history through geological evidence.  Then on Sunday, Sept 23rd, join educator Dawn Marvin Wood for a program called “Let’s Explore!” at Lake Wyola in Shutebury for a family hike looking for creatures, listening for birds and surveying the flora and fauna.

BERKSHIRE HISTORY

History comes alive in Central and South Berkshire County this weekend with numerous hikes and behind-the-scene tours. On Saturday, Sept 22nd in Pittsfield, families can tour the historic Colonial Theatre and Barrington Stage Company, exploring their architecture and 100 year+ history. Other historical tours happening on Saturday include Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Captain Truman Wheeler Farmstead in Great Barrington, and the Gould Farm in Monterey. Historical walks and hikes happening on Saturday include the historic former trolley line in Great Barrington, 18th century neighborhoods in West Stockbridge and historical burial grounds in Richmond. Then on Sunday, Sept 23rd, historical tours will take place at Cookson State Forest in New Marlborough where families can visit a 19th century sawmill and shingle shop, Hilltop Orchard in Richmond to learn about heirloom apples and how a vineyard is operated, and the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum in Lenox. Hikes taking place on Sunday include trails near the Arrowhead Museum in Pittsfield and an operating quarry in Becket. Some events require registration, and most are free. – Now the tough part… choosing which ones to go to!

FILM STUDIES

There will be a few film screenings students can view to supplement various areas of study this coming week.  The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield offers a film festival on Saturday, Sept 22nd in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibit, featuring films about Native American history, culture and life in New England. Also at the museum, on Monday, Sept 24th, there will be a screening of “Side by Side,” a documentary about the evolution of digital filmmaking and the simultaneous changes seen in traditional film recording.  On Wednesday, Sept 26th Noble and Cooley Center for Historic Preservation in Granville will be screening historic and educational films on industrial manufacturing- a fun way for older students to learn about, or supplement their studies on,  industrial manufacturing and how it ties into the Industrial Revolution.

PEACE STUDIES

Saturday, Sept 22nd marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the historic document that eventually ended slavery.  Celebrate and learn about the history of the proclamation at the Unitarian Society in Northampton – there will be guest speakers, live music, and more.  Families can use the event to supplement their children’s studies of American history, and use what kids learn to start a family dialogue about civil and human rights.

In Berkshire County on Saturday, Sept 22nd, the Center for Peace Through Culture host a free day-long community family event celebrating International Day of Peace.  BYO picnic and blanket to The Guthrie Center in Great Barrington for meditation, peace education and song.  Three class for youth learning peace through the arts include: Peace Readings for Children, Peace through Music and Sound, and Peace through Art.

VOLUNTEERING

There are a few ways families can volunteer to help out our animal friends this coming week. On Saturday, Sept 22nd, teens and their adult companion can help the Zoo in Forest Park (teaming up with Habitat for Humanity) put the finishing touches on new buildings and pens during Habitat Goes to the Zoo in Springfield. Also on Saturday, Sept 22nd is the Berkshire BioBlitz where families can participate as citizen scientists by searching for and identifying as many species as possible at Burbank Park in Pittsfield. In Easthampton on Friday, Sept 28th, kids can volunteer to make a cat toy for the Dakin animal shelter after school at the Emily Williston Memorial Library.

Another volunteer opportunity is with Help Yourself!, a group of volunteers who plant fruit trees and gardens in public and private spaces in Northampton, and inspire similar work in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Ignored and abused places like vacant lots, bike paths, road medians, and lawns of businesses and households are planted with nutritious, and abundant fruit trees, edible vines, shrubs, hedges, flowers, and perennial and annual veggies. Current projects include Ward 3, Pulaski Park, and the Manhan Rail Trail Connector. Visit commongreen.weebly.com to learn about how your family can get involved.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 150 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

22 Community Highlights: Culinary Arts to Science Clubs. Hidden Walls to Tub Parade.

Learn about pollinators on Saturday, Sept 15th at Naumkeag in the Berkshires and at Warm Colors Apiary in the Pioneer Valley. Both events will look at how pollinators, especially bees, benefit our lives and ecosystem. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Tub Parade to Hidden Walls. Forests to Wildflowers. Culinary Arts to Science Clubs. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

LOCAL HISTORY

New England’s largest (and longest running) agricultural fair has begun! The Big E is in full swing in West Springfield, and is filled with fun and educational opportunities for families with kids of all ages. Along with the usual rides and midway games are educational gems like Storrowton Village, where families can learn about 19th century life in New England. Another unique feature is The Avenue of States, giving a glimpse into a featured New England State by highlighting its history, geography, industries, food and agriculture. Featured states for next week are Rhode Island on Tuesday, Sept 18th, Connecticut on Wednesday, Sept 19th and New Hampshire on Friday, Sept 21st.

If you’re interested in experiencing a true old-fashioned country fair, then check out Old Sturbridge Village! There will be demonstrations and family activities taking place all weekend, including farm equipment demos and displays of village-grown heirloom vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Kids can learn about the history of farming and local agriculture!

Three other history highlights include: The Tub Parade in Lenox on Saturday, Sept 15th, an annual reenactment of a tradition that dates back to the late 1800′s; a walking tour of the Dickinson Historic District in Amherst on Sunday, Sept 16th to learn about the rich and interesting history that the area holds; and in Plainfield, also on Sunday, Sept 16th, the season finale of, “Hidden Walls, Hidden Mills,” a local history series featuring outdoor excursions, surveys of historic lots and presentations. Sunday’s event will host a talk and artifact show-and-tell, centered around the history of surveying and its place and significance in local history. All three events are free.

SCIENCE/STEM

On Saturday morning, Sept 15th, kids can learn all about electricity – by experimenting with switches, bulbs, and wires and creating circuits – with educator Rachel Roberts at Northfield Mountain! This class will teach kids about how power is generated, transferred, and stored.

The annual Montague Soap Box Derby takes place on Sunday, Sept 16th. Local kids will compete, racing homemade soap box cars. The race is exciting, and kids can learn about basic principles of physics by attending (not to mention that they’ll likely want to enter next year’s race!).

In Pittsfield on Wednesday afternoon, Sept 19th kids can build a masterpiece during a newly formed LEGO Club at the Berkshire Athenaeum! Kids can experiment with basic principles of physics, design, and architecture while playing with the basic plastic bricks.

The Monson Library has started a science club! Kids ages 7-10 can visit the library on Thursday afternoon, Sept 20th for Fizz, Boom, Splat – they’ll get to do hands-on activities and learn about basic science concepts.

All four events are free!

ENTOMOLOGY

Pollinators play a crucial role in every ecosystem – learn about bees, flies, and wasps, and how they benefit our lives, at Naumkeag in Stockbridge on Saturday morning, Sept 15th. – In Deerfield, Warm Colors Apiary holds their free annual Honey Festival all day on Saturday, Sept 15th, featuring farm tours, honey (and honey products) tastings, talks, and demos. Families can see bees up close and learn about bees’ contributions to agriculture, as well as the fascinating way in which honey is produced.

Help out with an ongoing citizen scientist project at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst on Wednesday afternoon, Sept 19th. Help tag monarch butterflies to track their migration south for the winter! Helping with the project will help scientists to keep track of butterfly populations and migration patterns. A free program.

BOTANY/ TREE TO WILDFLOWERS

Discover local trees! On Saturday morning, Sept 15th, explore the MassAudubon Lynes Sanctuary in Westhampton to learn about forest forage crops (roots, berries, etc.) while also learning about forest growth stages! Best for teens and adults with some background knowledge in the subject. – In the afternoon on Saturday, Sept 15th, the Forbes Library in Northampton hosts herbalist and author Ellen Evert Hopman who will present a free informational slideshow on using local trees for food and/or medicine, including birch, cedar, hawthorn and walnut.

On Sunday afternoon, Sept 16th, learn about asters and goldenrod, the two major plant groups making up much of the summer’s end wildflower bloom, at Stanley Park in Westfield! Though over a dozen species can be found locally, this free plant walk will highlight only a few specific plants and will teach visitors how to identify them, as well as a few other common wildflowers.

NATURAL SCIENCE

On Saturday afternoon, Sept 15th, the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst is celebrating 50 years! The free event features learning opportunities for families, including their first ever Naturalist Roadshow and a traveling Watershed on Wheels exhibit.

All weekend, take a ride on the Quinnetukut II in Northfield, an open-air riverboat, along the Connecticut River! The boat makes a 12-mile loop through French King Gorge to Barton’s Cove, home to nesting bald eagles and a dinosaur track quarry.

CULINARY ARTS

On Tuesday morning, Sept 18th in North Adams, the Haskins Center hosts a free Kids’ Cooking Club, a healthy food and nutrition learning experience for kids and their parents. Tuesday’s class will be about making healthy breakfast smoothies, and kids will learn what foods are good for their bodies in the morning, as well as how to mix them to make a delicious creation!

In the afternoon on Tuesday, Sept 18th, the East Longmeadow Library Children’s Department is hosting a free Sweet Dreams Dessert Challenge. Bring a dessert creation to the library to participate. Youth participants may work as an individual chef or as a team with friends or an adult.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 170 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES/KITS:

18 Community Highlights: Robert Frost to Monarch Butterflies. Guided Tours to Open Houses.

Monarch butterflies take on an epic annual migration – from the northern United States, all the way to Mexico! Learn about the life cycle and migratory flights of this beautiful butterfly this weekend in Franklin County at the Bernardston Unitarian Church.

Robert Frost to Monarch Butterflies. War of 1812 to Urban Townhouses. Guided Tours to Open Houses. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

HISTORY

Take a special back-to-school themed tour of the Stockbridge Cemetery on Saturday, Sept. 8th, now the final resting place of numerous former town residents of special interest. This late afternoon tour will feature visits from ghosts of former schoolteachers and town residents who want to share their stories of learning in Stockbridge. Same evening in the Pioneer Valley, learn about the Grand Trunk Hotel, once an important part of Turners Falls’ life and culture! Join the Great Falls Discovery Center to visit the hotel’s former site, and use your imagination (along with artifacts, photos, and recorded testimony) to piece together an idea of what a stay at the hotel may have been like. – Both tours are free.

Old Sturbridge Village hosts Drummer’s Call on Saturday, Sept. 8th, a celebration of 19th century military music. There will be a parade featuring numerous groups in costume, uniform “fashion shows,” and more. Along with the learning opportunities available during a visit to the village, the event offers families a chance to learn about music history, and the role that music played in the military (especially during the Civil War). Then on Wednesday, Sept 12th, OSV is hosting a special homeschool day, featuring events and activities centered around the War of 1812. The War of 1812 is perhaps one of the most misunderstood conflicts in American history – immerse yourself in 1830’s life to learn about this war in American history.

The Rowe Historical Society presents Robert Frost– for kids on Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th! The event will include a reading of some of Frost’s most kid-friendly work, as well as a talk on his life and poetry. John Dennis Anderson will dress as Frost, and questions will be answered first as Frost may have, then from a historian’s perspective. Prepare for the presentation by reading some of Frost’s poetry at home! Then in the evening of Monday, Sept 10th, the Pelham Historical Society will include a special presentation on the area’s rich agricultural history. Authors Ruth Owen Jones and Sheila Rainford will share slides and material from their book Harvesting History, which covers over 300 years of local agrarian history. The event is great for older students interested in agriculture and/or the development of their community, and can help to supplement studies of American history and culture. – Both events are free.

ARCHITECTURE

There are two guided afternoon tours happening on Saturday, Sept 8th. In Berkshire Cty., take a guided tour of the grounds at Field Farm in Williamstown, a Trustees of Reservations site that is home to two stunning modernist homes, nestled amongst over 300 acres of beautiful Berkshire scenery. Families can learn about the history and design principles behind the homes, and explore the paths and foothills of the property.  And in Hampden Cty., learn about Springfield’s unique historic district at Mattoon Street with the Springfield Preservation Trust Home Tour! The area is home to one of Western Massachusetts’ only distinctly urban rows of conjoined brick townhouses, and tours are being offered of these historic homes! Visitors will learn about the history of the area and its significance within the development of the community, as well as interesting facts about the homes’ unique architecture and why the design is specific to urban environments.

ANIMAL & NATURE ADVENTURES

The Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield is home not only to exotic creatures, but to animals native to New England as well! Visit the zoo on Saturday, Sept 8th for Backyard Friends, a program on animals you’ll find locally and how to help them survive and thrive.  Then on Sunday, Sept 9th, it’s Grandparents Day at the Zoo in Forest Park! Grandparents get a free train ride with a child ticket. – Another zoo adventure awaits at the Southwick Zoo on Sunday, Sept 9th where they will be celebrating Massachusetts Day! Present a state residency card (driver’s license, passport, etc.) to receive buy-one-get-one admission.

Monarch butterflies take on an epic annual migration – from the northern United States, all the way to Mexico! Learn about the life cycle and migratory flights of this beautiful butterfly on Sunday morning, Sept. 9th. There will be hands-on science activities at the Bernardston Unitarian Church, and maybe even a chance to see some live butterflies up close! Over in Amherst in the afternoon on Sunday, participate as citizen scientists helping the staff at the Hitchcock Center tag Monarch butterflies. Then on Monday morning, Sept 10th the canal in Turners Falls is drained once a year to allow for maintenance to the power station and the canal’s walls. Northfield Mountain is offering a unique opportunity to explore the canal bed while it’s dry! Participants, clad in boots and bearing buckets of all sorts, will be able to see species not normally found due to their aquatic habitats (including dragonfly nymphs, lamprey eels, and more). Kids can learn to identify new species! All collected critters will be released afterwards. – Both events are free.

ART ADVENTURES

Celebrate Springfield’s history and culture at the annual Mattoon Street Arts Festival on Saturday, Sept 8th in Springfield! This year marks the 40th year of the festival, making it the longest running arts festival in the valley. There will be local food, artisan vendors, art showcases, and tours of the many historic homes and gardens surrounding the historic Quadrangle neighborhood. The event also features a special children’s carnival.

On Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th, the Museum School at the Springfield Museums’ D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is offering an open house, featuring demonstrations of many of the different skills that students can learn, a chance to meet faculty, and, of course, ample opportunity to learn about the school’s programs for children and parents.

Arts Night Out in Northampton on Friday night, Sept 14th, features the annual Chalk Art Festival.  Community members can view the finished pieces (created in public spaces all across town by artists with varied styles and specialties) while visiting the many other galleries, restaurants, and businesses hosting art shows. Artists will be drawing from 8am-4pm, and families can explore Northampton to view the creation process before seeing the finished product! A free event.

MUSIC

There are a couple of music school open houses happening this weekend.  In Berkshire Cty., the Berkshire Music School in Pittsfield hosts a morning pen house for prospective students and parents on Saturday, Sept 8th. There will be an instrument petting zoo and opportunity to check out youth music classes. And in Hampshire Cty. on Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th,  families are invited to visit the Northampton Community Music Center to learn about the many different programs offered to the community (and to learners of all ages!). Families can take a demo class, visit an instrument petting zoo, explore the center, and get information about fall programs, classes, performances, and more. – Visiting these open house sis a great first step for families interested in bringing music education into their family, or for kids with a keen interest in learning to read music, sing, or play an instrument.

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES:

[Photo credit: (ccl) Sandy Richard]

14 Community Highlights: Corn Mazes to County Fairs. 19th Century Games to Gallery Tours.

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

This is a great time of the year to go on a bug hunt with your kids. Search for these Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars in the leaf folds of sassafras, or the emerald green, gold studded chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly on the stems and leaves of milkweed. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Corn Mazes to County Fairs.  Beavers to Estuaries.  19th Century Games to Gallery Tours. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

LOCAL AGRICULTURE

For Labor Day weekend families can get a strong dose or two of local agriculture. The 145th annual Blandford Fair takes place Friday-Monday, Aug 31-Sept 3, as does the 195th edition of the Three County Fair in Northampton. Visit to learn about animals, local agriculture, local history, and local culture – and see magic shows, live music, and more! And all weekend long families can get lost in a corn maze at Warner Farm  in Sunderland. Mike’s Corn Maze offers a fun and challenging outdoor adventure (of the best kind!) for families of all ages.

HISTORY

Saturday, Sept 1st through Monday, Sept 3rd, families can visit Old Sturbridge Village for Family Fun Days!  This special long weekend program offers families a chance to play numerous games – as they were played in the 19th century!  Families can try a game of French and English, play baseball, watch a fire balloon fight, and do 1800’s crafts.  There will also be chances to see craftsmen at work on various projects, tour the village, and learn about 19th century life.

On Friday evening, Sept 7th, older students interested in local history can participate in a program at the Great Falls Discovery Center to learn about the settling of Turners Falls, the development of industry, and cultural changes within the community.  This talk will focus on the immigration of a specific group, and the changes that occurred during the time when that group came to the area. It’s a free talk and best for teens and older.

ASTRONOMY

Arunah Hill Days take place this weekend in Cummington, bringing with them a host of astronomy activities and outdoor adventures for families!  On Saturday afternoon, Sept 1st, families can visit the nature center for a GPS treasure hunt, nature walks of the grounds, and rocket building and launching!  Evening will bring telescopes, and stargazing!  Master gazers will help families with telescope use and will teach visitors to find and identify stars, constellations, and more.  Activities take place throughout the day.

Then Friday evening, Sept 7th, the Springfield Museums host Stars Over Springfield.  Visit the museum to take a peek at the stars through a rooftop telescope!  In case of clouds or rain, a planetarium show will be presented instead.

NATURE & ANIMAL ADVENTURES

Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls will be exploring habitats of the Connecticut River watershed using their investigation stations over the next few weeks, starting with estuaries on Sunday afternoon, Sept 2nd.  Park interpreters will be on hand to help families with children of all ages understand exhibits and will focus shared information on a particular habitat found in the watershed.  Then on Tuesdays mornings the center hosts an environment-themed program for kids ages 3-6yo called Kidleidescope, and interactive learning opportunity with crafts. All programs are free.

On Wednesday morning, Sept 5th, families with preK kids can take a hike at Mt. Greylock in Lanesborough!  Their “Nice and Easy” family-friendly hike is about two hours long and will cover 1-2 miles of trail. Then in the evening in Lenox, families with slightly older kids can visit Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary’s beaver ponds to learn about beaver habits and local habitats.  The program will also teach visitors information on animals that are attracted to beaver-created ponds, and the changes that beavers have caused to landscapes since their reintroduction to the area over 80 years ago.

ART ADVENTURES

On Wednesday morning, Sept 5th, the Norman Rockwell Museum hosts, “Creating Together: A Parent-Child Experience,” an art workshop featuring a gallery tour and hands-on art making in Stockbridge, and in the afternoon, the Art Garden in Shelburne Falls hosts open studio hours where families can visit to experiment with art materials and try out new forms of expression – or just to work on perfecting skills.

On Friday evening, Sept 7th, Pittsfield host First Friday art walk, which means families will have a chance to explore galleries, shops, and restaurants, all featuring beautiful artwork by a variety of artists, mediums and styles.

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES:

12 Community Highlights: Honey Bees to Katydids. Shady Porches to Tomatoes.

How many different types of tomatoes are there? And how many are being grown locally? Visit Red Fire Farm’s annual tomato festival in Granby on Saturday, Aug. 25th to find out! The event includes an all-afternoon tomato tasting, as well as many other fun activities, performances, etc. centered around local food and a locally-based lifestyle. There will be live music from local artists, goods on sale from local artists and artisans, presentations from notable chefs, workshops on utilizing local foods and resources.

Pollinators to Nocturnal Insects.  Historic Homes to Historical Societies. Tomatoes to Honey. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

INSECT ADVENTURES

Pollinators play an important role in our ecosystem! This Saturday, Aug. 25th, families can learn about pollinators in the Berkshires.  In the morning families can learn about bees, hornets, and wasps at Field Farm with the Trustees of Reservations in Williamstown – scary though their sting may be, the science behind pollinating creatures is fascinating! Then in the afternoon at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield there will be a special program on honey bees! The event is part of the village’s Return and Learn series, and will teach visitors about the role these pollinators play in the ecosystem, and all about beekeeping (and its history at the village). Great information for older students to pair with studies of local agriculture and entomology!

On Tuesday, August 28th, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton hosts an evening of nocturnal summer bugs! There will be an informational slideshow about katydids and grasshoppers, then a trip outside to listen to (and perhaps find!) some of the noisy summer critters. Designed for adults, the program is best for older students interested in wildlife biology and entomology

LOCAL HISTORY

Many artisanal skills, now rare, were once necessary for survival.  On Saturday, Aug. 25th, the Ashley House in Sheffield will host a day where families can learn about the many different skills necessary for running a household. Visitors can try spinning wool, caring for animals, cooking, and more! There will also be demonstrations of all sorts for families to view. Just a further north,  Shady Porches happens in Stockbridge on Saturday too.  Tour the town and learn about the Stockbridge’s history from residents, past and present, found on porches of historic homes. The tour, hosted by the Stockbridge Library, features actors playing Stockbridge residents – doctors, lawyers, bakers, etc., – and offers a fun and exciting take on local history.

On Sunday, Aug. 26th, several historical societies will offer free afternoon learning events. Learn about local history and Native Americans by visiting the Agawam Historical Association’s Firehouse Museum where there will be displays, artifacts, and more from which visitors can learn about the first residents of what is now Agawam.  The Plainfield Historical Society will be offering a guided hike to explore former mill sites along the Mill River! The event begins with a talk on the many former mills and their sites, and is followed by a trek through the woods. Families can learn about the industries that helped to bring people to the area and build community, and learn about how the area has changed! The Buckland Historical Society is open in the afternoon! Families can visit to learn about local history from the many different artifacts, pieces of memorabilia that the museum is home to. Kids can learn about how their community has evolved and learn about how significant national and international events and changes have affected where they live.

On Tuesday evening, Aug. 28th, the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton will host “Civil War Field Artillery: The Guns, The Equipment, and the Men” with award-winning historian, Civil War expert, Norbert Rieke. Mr. Rieke will review the different types of field artillery often displayed at our National Parks, giving older students insight into the history of the Civil War through these historic artifacts for their visits to these national treasuries.

SKILLSHARE

Katywil Farm Community in Colrain is hosting a day long block party on Saturday, Aug. 25th, filled with community skillshares and other fun activities! Families can learn weaving and dying, go on a medicinal herb walk, learn to extract honey and make pickles, and more! Visitors are also welcome to share their own skills.

ARCHITECTURE

Tour The Folly, a post-modernist home on the grounds of Field Farm in Williamstown, also on Saturday, Aug. 25th. The Trustees of Reservations will be offering midday tours of the home, and visitors can learn about its unique architectural style and compare it with the farm’s guest house, designed in the American modern style. Great for older kids interested in architecture, design, and engineering.

Bucket ListFind out about these events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES & CDS:

18 Community Highlights: Solar Energy to Herpetology. Community Dinners to Agricultural Fairs.

Many of the agricultural fairs offer community lunch, dinner and BBQs.  Here families come together at the Cummington Fair to enjoy a fresh bounty of corn together. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Community Dinners to Agricultural Fairs.  Solar Energy in Northfield to Herpetology Stockbridge.  These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles & kits to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

FAMILY/COMMUNITY DINNERS

As harvest time approaches, more and more opportunities arise for families to have dinner together with their community. It’s Elihu Burritt Day in New Marlborough all day on Saturday, Aug 18th, and in the late afternoon families can come together for a Pig Roast, or enjoy a community grilled chicken dinner at the Ashfield Rod and Gun Club’s annual chicken barbecue in Plainfield! The annual Free Harvest Supper takes place on Sunday, Aug. 19th on the Greenfield Town Common, bringing together families and local farms, offering a delicious locally grown community meal. CISA’s Local Hero Restaurant Days happens Tuesday & Wednesday, Aug. 21st & 22nd in the Pioneer Valley. Support local farmers and local businesses by encouraging families to eat at one (or a few!) of the 51 participating Local Hero restaurants. If you’re interested in other community dinner opportunities, many of the agricultural fairs serve community dinners.

AGRICULTURAL FAIRS

Last week the agricultural fairs began with the Middlefield Fair, and they are continuing with the 95th annual Heath Fair starting Friday, Aug. 17th with fireworks and running through the weekend with a community chicken BBQ for lunch on Sunday. The 85th annual Westfield Fair also begins Friday, Aug. 17th, and runs through the weekend as well, serving up both a spaghetti community dinner and chicken BBQ. On Saturday, Aug. 18th, the 72nd annual Berkshire 4-H Youth Fair and Gymkhana happens in Pittsfield for one day, and starting next Thursday, Aug. 23rd, the 144th annual Cummington Fair begins, a 4-day agricultural fair with midway and all the attractions of a hometown country fair, including spaghetti, turkey, and roast beef community dinners.

These fairs are rich in community traditions, and families can learn about local agriculture and meet animals of all kinds. In this small sampling alone families can see demonstrations, learn about domestic animals, submit their jarred jams, bake pies, ride on the midway, play games, enjoy a community BBQ/dinner… and be entertained by great music and family performances!

STEM (SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING & MATH)

Learn how solar power works at Northfield Mountain on Saturday morning, Aug 18th with educator Rachel Roberts in a free solar workshop for kids ages 9+. Participants will do a variety of hands-on science and art projects connecting them with the general concepts of solar power, supporting their learning of power and how energy is generated. There will also be a tour of Northfield Mountain’s solar facility! On both Saturday, Aug. 18th & Sunday, Aug. 19th, the Hampshire County Radio Controllers host their annual Scale Fly-In in Hadley. Families who fly remote control planes can bring their planes to fly, but a plane is not required to attend! Families can learn about radio controlled planes and the basics of piloting one at the event – pairs well with basic physics and aviation studies!

ANIMAL ADVENTURES

Animals we are highlighting this week include birds, amphibians, reptiles & caterpillars. On Sunday, Aug. 19th families can practice their birding skills in the morning at Mt. Tom in Holyoke with a guided walk around the park, and in the afternoon kids can explore Tolland State Forest in East Otis with Teaching Creatures, learning about Herpetology and the roles reptiles and amphibians play within the local ecosystem. Families can continue with their studies of herpetology in Stockbridge on Friday morning, Aug. 24th at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, with a program designed to teach participants about some of the more than thirty types of frogs, snakes, turtles and salamanders that live in the region, with some of the animals on hand for observation! – The youngest of your family can join in a caterpillar-themed storytime, also on Friday morning, Aug. 24th at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls to discover the mysteries of this transformative creature.

LOCAL HISTORY

Discovering local history through the lens of family biographies and experiences is an excellent way for children to understand former times in the region. On Saturday, Aug. 18th families can visit Naumkeag in Stockbridge for an interactive tour, becoming a member of the Choate family who once lived in this historic home, while learning about the building’s history and the stories it holds. Then on Sunday, Aug. 19th, kids can learn how the tram enables families to take vacations at Skinner State Park’s Summit House in Hadley in the early 1900’s. – At the Mission House in Stockbridge on Saturday, Aug. 18th, families can celebrate their own personal history by creating scrapbooks to fill with memories, record oral histories for future generations, and learn methods of recording family history… all while exploring the many families and communities that once lived in the Berkshires.

Another opportunity to explore history in New England is at Old Sturbridge Village’s Textile Weekend on both Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 18th & 19th. There will be special events and presentations throughout the day, all about textile making, sewing and quilting. Visitors can learn about using quilts to piece together parts of history, make their own quilt squares or pockets, learn to card wool, see exhibits of 19th century quilts, and more! If you can’t make it to OSV this weekend, next Friday, Aug. 24th they offer free admission all day!

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES, CD & ACTIVITY KITS:

31 Community Highlights: From Rabbits to Reptiles, Watershed to Caves

Solomon’s Seal (pictured here) is claimed to relieve a range of afflictions, from bruises to acne, menopause to broken bones. On Sunday, Aug. 12th, at Mt. Greylock, go on a medicine plant walk at 10am or 2pm and learn to identify plants with medicinal properties, like Solomon Seal and many others. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Rabbits in Turners Falls. Reptiles in Lenox. Barbados in Springfield. South Africa in Amherst.  These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

HISTORY

Local historical societies are great places to visit with the family to discover local history while giving children a better understanding of where they live.  Featured this weekend are three societies located in the towns of Buckland, Chesterfield and Shelburne Falls. On Sunday, Aug. 12th, all three historical societies will be open. The Buckland Historical Society is having an open house from 2-4pm in a former schoolhouse filled with three floors of locally relevant displays and artifacts. The Chesterfield Historical Society will be hosting an ice cream social at 4pm at the Edwards Memorial Museum, featuring a Victorian Parlor and old organ, as well as period dresses and costumes.  The Shelburne Historical Society will be open on Saturday too.  From 2-4pm stop by this former school building, home to artifacts and memorabilia pertaining to the community’s history.

Another fun way to learn about local history is by acquainting your family with our community ancestors. On both Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 11th & 12th at 1 and 2pm, at the Trustees of Reservation’s Ashley House in Sheffield, families can learn about Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman, a natural healer and midwife, who sued for her freedom in 1781 (free). On Sunday, Aug. 12th at 11am, families can visit Naumkeag in Stockbridge for an interactive tour, designed just for kids.  Discover the Choate family who once lived in this historic home, while learning about the building’s history and the stories it holds (>$).

Look Park in Florence hosts The Battle of the Seven Pines, a weekend of Civil War reenactment, on Aug. 11th & 12th. Highlights include tours of soldiers’ campsites, meeting soldiers and learning about Army life, battle reenactments, and opportunities to learn about Civil War medicine and artillery, and the role that women played in the war ($).

ANIMAL STUDIES

Animals we’re featuring this week include rabbits, reptiles, birds and bats. In addition to specific animals this week, kids can learn about animal adaptations. Much like humans, animals need their senses in order to survive, but they also have unique adaptations. Learn about interesting animal adaptations and how they use them to survive in their environment on Saturday, Aug. 11th from 10am-1pm at the Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield. ($)

On Sunday, Aug. 12th at 10:30am, hone your birding skills at Mt. Tom in Holyoke. Rangers will help visitors learn to search for birds, and visitors will get to try out their new skills around the park (free).  On Tuesday, Aug. 14th at 10:30am, kids can learn all about wild rabbits at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls, and on Thursday, Aug. 16th at 11am, the Boston Museum of Science’s Reptiles! live animal program will be at the Lenox Library (free). At the the Notch Visitors Center in Amherst, kids can learn about bats, and the role that they play in the local ecosystem on Friday, Aug. 17th at 1pm. (Free)

CULTURE

Discover dance, stories and music from Native American, Caribbean, South African, and Arab cultures this week. Experience Native American culture at the Rock, Rattle, and Drum Pow Wow this weekend in Lanesborough ($), or visit the Mission House in Stockbridge on Saturday, Aug. 11th at 1pm for a program on folklore and stories of Native Americans (>$).

Celestial Voices, a choir from Barbados will perform a variety of music, including traditional Caribbean music at St. Peter’s Church in  Springfield on Sunday, Aug. 12th from 4-6pm ($$), and at 7:30pm  Village Harmony’s Teen Ensemble presents a concert of South African song and dance, Italian Renaissance music, and shape-note singing on the green at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst ($).

On Thursday, Aug 16th at 1pm, percussionist Karim Nagi will bring traditional Arab and Muslim instruments and music to the Springfield Museums for a show that features traditional costumes and dances ($).

GEOLOGY

This weekend the Big E is hosting the East Coast Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show in West Springfield ($). Great chance to check out specimens and to ask collectors and experts questions.  If you’d rather get outdoors to learn about geology, take a morning guided hike at Skinner State Park in Hadley on Saturday, Aug. 11th and learn about the geology of the Holyoke Range.  Or in the afternoon in Amherst, take a guided hike from Notch Visitor’s Center to discover the Horse Caves. In the Berkshires, the Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams hosts Marvelous Marble Walks on both Saturdays and Sundays, where visitors can learn about the marble quarry that once operated nearby.

HABITATS & BOTANY

Visit the Great Falls Discovery Center  in Turners Falls on Saturday, Aug. 11th at 10:30am to participate in, “What’s Wrong in the Watershed?”  The fun family scavenger hunt takes participants through the center, exploring each of the watershed habitats to find out what’s wrong (free). In the afternoon explore the waterfalls of Mt. Greylock in Lanesborough on a guided hike from 1-4pm (free). Then on Sunday, Aug. 12th, at Mt. Greylock, go on a medicine plant walk at 10am or 2pm and learn to identify plants with medicinal properties (free). On Tuesday, Aug. 14th in Holyoke, Mt. Tom hosts Trail Kids, a morning program for kids ages 7-9 to learn about the many different plants and animals they find at the park (free).

ASTRONOMY

There are two free opportunities to stargaze on Saturday, Aug 11th.  The Trustees of Reservations and representatives from Arunah Hill Natural Science Center with be stargazing at Notchview in Windsor where kids of all ages can gaze through telescopes and learn to identify planets and stars (Rain date: Aug 12.). Or visit the summit of Mt. Greylock in Lanesborough to stargaze with the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association. There will be a variety of telescopes on hand for families to become acquainted with the cosmos (Rain or clouds cancels.).

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

Keep the math motor going this summer.  Disguised as games and play, chess and LEGOS can help! Last year we wrote about the benefits of chess and how when played from a young age, chess can be beneficial to a child’s learning and development. This week, on Sunday, Aug. 12th from 1-3pm, an informal Chess Club continues at the Lilly Library in Florence, and on Wednesday, Aug. 15th, drop-in chess for all ages and abilities takes place at the Forbes Library in Northampton from 1-3pm. Both opportunities are free and ongoing. Bringing your own chess board is welcomed.

Kids can practice the basic principles of engineering and design by building and experimenting with LEGOS. On Monday, Aug.. 13th at 3:30pm, the Chicopee Library will host a free LEGO time, and on Thursday, Aug. 16th at 10:30am, so will the Storrs Library in Longmeadow.

Another fun STEM opportunities happens at noon on Sunday, Aug. 12th at the Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield where kids can experiment with the chemistry of  different types of goo – learn about what goes into each one, and how the substance changes based on its ingredients. (>$)

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES:

  1. The Civil War for Kids: A History with 21 Activities (For Kids series)
  2. A Free Woman On God’s Earth: The True Story of Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, The Slave Who Won Her Freedom
  3. A+ Books: Amazing Animal Adaptations Series
  4. Smithsonian Handbooks: Reptiles and Amphibians (Smithsonian Handbooks)
  5. Bats (Zoobooks Series)
  6. Native American Stories (Myths and Legends)
  7. The Legend of the African Bao-Bab Tree
  8. Barbados (Cultures of the World, Second)
  9. Roadside Geology of Massachusetts (Roadside Geology Series)
  10. Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water
  11. Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them
  12. Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors: Revised Edition

26 Community Highlights: From Blacksmithing to Civil War Heroines, Knots to Bubbles

Most kids LOVE bubbles, and on Thursday, Aug 9th at 2pm they can have a ton of fun at the Chicopee Public Library who will host “BubbleMania: Science, Art & Comedy” with bubble-ologist, Casey Carle! Casey brings his audience age appropriate science that is both artistic and comical. Through bubbles, participants will learn about physical laws, like molecular bonding and surface tension, while being entertained with humor and amazing skills. — The science of bubbles can also be done at home and in the classroom. Check out BubbleMania’s Study Guide and Step-by-Step Online Video Series to support further learning through the science of bubbles!

August is here and there’s less than one month left of summer before the school year begins again for many.  And while there is a break from the classroom for these couple of months, the learning opportunities never stop!  August is chock-full of educational and fun events for families, ranging from blacksmithing to Civil War heroines, knots to bubbles!

We’re even including a list of book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted this week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

NIGHT SKIES

Once in a blue moon… August will be one of those rare months when a full moon occurs twice in one month, with the second full moon called a Blue Moon.  This is a fun fact to explore with your kids while stirring up their interests in the night skies. There are a few opportunities to supplement those interests this next week too. Tonight on Friday, Aug 3rd from 8-9:30pm families can stargaze the night away at Naumkeag in Stockbridge. Stargazing kits including maps and activities will be available for participants. On Saturday, Aug 4th from 4-5pm, kids can learn about stars and planets at the Mason Library in Great Barrington with an introduction to studies of outer space for younger students. Midweek on Wednesday, Aug 8th at 7:30pm, the Wilbraham Library hosts, “Stories of the Night Sky,” with Kevin Kopchynski followed by an evening of stargazing.  All three events are free.

ANIMAL STUDIES

Birds of prey, beavers and bats are the three animals we’re highlighting this week. On Sunday, Aug 5th from 10am-12noon meet Tom Ricardi’s birds of prey up close at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield ($) and then again on Friday, Aug 10th at 11am at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge. — Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox will host two programs this week, one about beavers, the other about bats. On Wednesday, Aug 8th from 6:30-8pm, join them to search for beavers (and signs of beavers, like lodges, dams, and trees that have been munched on). Kids can learn about the role that beavers play in a changing landscape, as well as the other wildlife that beaver-created ponds can attract. At the end of the week Friday, Aug 10th from 6:30-8pm discover and search for bats with a handy bat detector to listen to their calls. (>$)

LOCAL AND WORLD CULTURE

A fun way for kids to learn about other cultures is through music and food. On Saturday, Aug 4th from 11am-3pm, take a short field trip to the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT for their Green Corn Festival ($).  The festival celebrates the ripening of the season’s first corn, a tradition in many different tribes, and Native American culture.  Also on Saturday at 6:30pm, the Lenox Library hosts Didgeridoo Down Under, featuring a free puppet show and jam workshop with the didgeridoo, an Australian instrument rich in Aboriginal culture.

On Sunday, Aug 5th from 12noon-6pm, Pittsfield’s annual Ethnic Fair takes place with food and music from around the world. Families can learn about the traditions of several world cultures, and older students can use what they learn to think about international influences on American customs and traditions.  In the evening on Sunday, Aug 5th at 6pm, Marafanyi Drum, Dance & Song Performance with Sanga-of-the-Valley happens at Bascom Lodge in Adams, fusing original songs and spoken word with traditional West African rhythm and dance (free).

LOCAL AND NEW ENGLAND HISTORY

The region is always rich in opportunities to explore both local and regional history. This weekend there are several opportunities, including a couple that span both days.  On both Saturday & Sunday, Old Sturbirdge Village hosts Redcoats and Rebels a Civil War reenactment. The event is the largest of its kind in New England, and includes demonstrations of cannon firing and battle techniques, live fife and drum music, and more. Out in Pittsfield, (bb) families can celebrate the tradition of blacksmithing at Hancock Shaker Village for Age of Iron Weekend. The village will be full of activities and demonstrations related to blacksmithing, and families can take part in a scavenger hunt, hear talks on blacksmithing in Shaker history, tour the blacksmithing shop, and much more. ($)

There are a few other history events happen in Berkshire Cty. on Saturday, Aug 4th too. From 11am-2pm, learn about the history of families who lived locally between 1650 and 1950 at the Mission House in Stockbridge. Kids will learn about the importance of preserving family history, and can create their own family trees and scrapbooks to take home ($). At 2pm in North Adams, Western Gateway Heritage State Park will host a program on female soldiers in the Civil War (free), and at 4pm families can tour the Stockbridge Cemetery to learn about the town’s “cottage-era” and the community members who had ties to historic homes in central Berkshire Cty. (>$).

In the Pioneer Valley, on Saturday, Aug 4th from 1-4pm, the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage in Greenfield will be hosting a special open house in celebration of the community’s support. Along with the chance to explore the museum and learn about local history, there will be blacksmithing demonstrations, papermaking, walking tours by the Green River and live music (free).

ART, FILM & THEATER

If you’re looking for art, film & theater opportunities, on Saturday, Aug 4th from 12noon-4pm visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for “World of Adventure,” a special family festival day to celebrate the museum’s newest exhibit, which features illustrations by Howard Pyle ($).  Then later in the week on Friday, Aug 10th from 4-8pm, tour the galleries at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton for Free Second Friday.  There will be a kids activity happening from 4-6pm, along with a guided gallery talk at 6:30pm.

In the realm of theater, on Saturday, Aug 4th at 7:30pm, older kids interested in film studies can see an authentic silent film on the big screen at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls. Pothole Pictures will be screening “Wings,” a 1927 B&W film restored with an orchestral recreation of the original organ accompaniment (>$).  On Tuesday, Aug 7th from 9:30am-4pm, kids can spend the day creating an entire puppet show at the Becket Arts Center (>$), or at 1pm take part in a musical theater improv workshop at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield (free).  Then at the end of the week on Friday, Aug 10th at 4:30pm, children can learn about theater costuming and props at the Williamstown Theater Festival with a behind-the-scenes look at how their costume department functions ($).

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Other cool things happening this week that will get your kids thinking and learning include a spelling bee happening at the Chicopee Library on Wednesday, Aug 8th from 6-7:30pm for word-savvy kiddos in grades 3-6 (free).  On Thursday, Aug 9th at 6pm, families can learn to tie useful knots at the Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield, taught by a former sailor- learn three easy knots that can be used for almost anything (<$). And on Friday, Aug 10th from 10am-6pm, the Big E hosts the East Coast Gem, Mineral,and Fossil Show for the next three days in West Springfield ($).

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUGGESTED SUPPLEMENTAL READING:

  1. Birds of Prey Coloring Book (Dover Nature Coloring Book)
  2. A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations–and How You Can Find Them in the Sky
  3. Amazing Solar System Projects You Can Build Yourself (Build It Yourself series)
  4. Beavers (Kids Can Press Wildlife Series)
  5. The Bat Scientists (Scientists in the Field Series)
  6. American Indian Festivals (True Books: American Indians)
  7. The Healing Sounds of the Didgeridoo: An Invitation to a Personal Spiritual Journey
  8. World Music Drumming: A Cross-Cultural Curriculum
  9. Eyewitness Civil War (DK Eyewitness Books)
  10. The Blacksmith (Colonial People)
  11. Daring Women of the Civil War (Civil War Library)
  12. Pirates, Patriots, and Princesses: The Art of Howard Pyle (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)
  13. Eyewitness: Film
  14. 40 Knots to Know: Hitchs, Loops, Bends and Binding (Quick Starts for Kids!)
  15. Eyewitness: Rocks & Minerals

Newer entries »

%d bloggers like this: