36 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Earth Day to Spring Pollinators. Sustainability to Placemaking. STEM to Ecology.

Difficult problems sometimes lead to creative, inspiring solutions. Nat Turner is using his passion, vision, and innovations to help restore New Orleans Lower 9th Ward post-Hurricane Katrina, transforming Blair Grocery, an abandoned grocery store, into a youth farm-based education center. You can learn about Nat Turner and others working for food security by attending a screening of the 2015 documentary Reversing the Mississippi on Saturday, April 22, 5pm-8pm. This screening at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens will also include servings of jambalaya (regular and vegetarian). Discuss the film with others interested in working towards greater food security. Meet North Star self-directed teens who recently visited New Orleans and work with Mr. Turner at his school, Our School at Blair Grocery. 413-582-0193. 45 Amherst Road. Sunderland, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Earth Day to Food Security. Pollinator Gardens to Indonesian Music. Dilbert to Screen Time. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:

Young people are often very passionate about political issues and personal interests. Teaching your children about sustainability can spark change on a community level. Families are invited to learn and get involved by attending the Amherst Sustainability Festival on Saturday, April 22, 10am-4pm. There will be stage performances all day. Learn about climate change by talking to advocacy groups and visiting vendors of renewable energy products and sustainable crafts! Visit the Town of Amherst website for a full list of performances, demonstrations, and recycling collections. Town Common. Amherst, MA. (FREE)


PhilosophyChild DevelopmentHorticultureHistory Service-Based LearningGuided HikesOrnithologyCollaborative ConsumptionAgricultureActivismEcologyEntomologyMusic StudiesCultural StudiesIchthyologyPlacemakingSTEMHomeschool


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32 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Pompeii to Blackout Poetry. Kora to Pinwheels.

Community art projects encourage intergenerational learning, self-expression, and creative free play! The 3rd Annual Hilltown Draw-Around invites people of all ages to help create a giant mandala, or add self-portraits to the community gallery. On Saturday, April 8, 12pm-12am, come get inspired by other artistic community members, and participate in workshops! There will be storytelling and live music as well during this 12-hour event. Participants will have 4,000 square feet of drawing space to work with. All proceeds support ARTeens, a pay-what-you-can after-school program of the Shelburne Falls Art Garden. All activities will take place in the Cowell Community Gym. 413-625-2782. 51 Maple Street. Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)

Teen History to Vernal Pools. Stringed Instruments to African Music. Scientific Process to Pinwheels. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:  Art is inextricably tied to culture; therefore, historic art can teach us a great deal about historic cultures. The Smith College Museum of Art is offering a Free Community Day full of learning about Ancient Rome on Saturday, April 8, 11:30am-3:30pm. Visitors can explore the exhibition, Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii, enjoy a storytime, taste olive oil and explore a sensory recreation of a Roman Garden! Studying the city of Pompeii also ties into learning about geology and archaeology. At the event Smith College geoscientists will explain the science behind volcanic rocks and archaeology students will demonstrate what it’s like to excavate a site like Oplontis. All ages are welcome. Visit the Smith College Museum of Art website for more details. 413-585-2760. 20 Elm Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


PlacemakingAstronomyLiteracyWorld StudiesPhilosophyRomeCommunity ArtTeen ShowcaseHistoryEcologyService-Based LearningMusic StudiesParentingWorld LanguageFiber ArtsOrnithologyGuided HikePhysicsCosmologyPoetryFarming


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31 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Reasoning to Education. Fashion History to Sewing.

Wordplay requires intelligence and creativity. To tell or even merely to understand a pun requires communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain (Scientific American). The 2017 Lenox Peeps Show invites people of all ages to create a diorama combines humor (in the form of puns), literacy, and visual creativity on Wednesday, April 5, 10am-3pm. This year participants will be creating dioramas using peeps to depict their favorite story or book, with extra credit given to those who use puns in their concept or title. All entries must be delivered to Ventfort Hall before 3:00pm on Wednesday, April 5th. Visit the Ventfort Hall website for full details. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Reasoning to Astronomy. Scavengers to Education. Fashion History to Sewing. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week: Vernal pools, by definition a temporary habitat, provide the perfect breeding ground for spotted salamanders, wood frogs, tiny mussels, fairy shrimp, and many other creatures. Families can learn more about vernal pools and their inhabitants through humorous skits at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary’s “Big Night” on Saturday, April 1, 5:30pm-9pm. Guided tours will leave the nature center every 15-minutes to travel a 45-minute forest trail where you will meet costumed characters. There will also be games and presentations. This event is best suited for youth ages 4 through 16 and their caregivers. Call 413-584-3009 to register. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. (<$)


PhilosophyAerospaceAnimal StudiesWhalesWomen’s StudiesCivic EngagementArt StudiesFiber ArtsDance StudiesEcologyVernal PoolsLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesImmigration StudiesHistoryLiterature in TranslationOrnithologyCreative-Free PlayBotanySeed Saving


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33 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Earth Hour to Modern Art. Puppets to Pottery.

The harp is an ancient stringed instrument which dates back as early as 3500 BC. Harps were popular in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance but fell out of popularity with many types of harps no longer being used. The harp has historically been used across many continents and culture and can be an essential element to certain traditional genres of music. On Saturday, March 25, 7:30pm, James Ruff plays the wire harp in his performances of early opera pieces, contemporary works, as well as early Gaelic and Scottish songs. You can hear the harp live and discover its role in Gaelic and Scottish music by attending his performance at the McCulloch Auditorium. Mount Holyoke College. College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Seed Saving to Spanish. Earth Hour to Modern Art. Astronomy to Technology. Nutritional Anthropology to Philosophy. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week: Kuruma Ningyo or “cart puppets” are a style of Japanese puppetry which draws from classical Japanese literature and religious stories. Unlike many forms of puppetry in the United States, Kuruma Ningyo is entertainment for people of all ages, not associated strongly with children. American puppeteer Tom Lee and Japanese Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V will be performing this style of puppetry in their show Shank’s Mare at UMass Amherst on Thursday, March 30, 7:30 pm. This multi-media performance combines live music and video production with traditional Japanese puppetry for a unique, cross-cultural experience. Bowker Auditorium. 100 Holdsworth Way. Amherst, MA. ($; Five college students and 17 and under <$)


BotanyPhotographyDendrologyHistoryWorld LanguageEcologyCitizen ScienceBiologyTheaterCriminal JusticeArt StudiesJapanese StudiesPotteryMusic StudiesPaleontologyMindfulnessService-Based LearningCareer DevelopmentSeed SavingSpanishEarth HourModern Art. AstronomyTechnologyNutritional AnthropologyPhilosophy


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16 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Dance Party to Italian Cuisine. Hubble Telescope to Spring Equinox

Is it true a raw egg can only be balanced on end during the equinox? Where did this theory come from and is it fact or fiction? Find out!

Maker Spaces to Italian Cuisine. Bike Repair to Hubble Telescope. Spring Equinox to Saturday Morning Music Party. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:  Join us, Hilltown Families, in person for a morning of music, dance, and pancakes on Saturday, March 18, 10am-12pm! This Saturday Morning Music Party, co-hosted with Flywheel Arts Collective, is great for both kids and parents who love to dance. In addition to music and food, there will be a performance by The Fuzznogginz Puppet Party! All events in this Morning Music Party series are a fundraiser for both Flywheel and Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. Flywheel Arts Collective, 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA. ($)


STE(A)M ♦  Music StudiesWomen’s HistoryTheaterCulinary ArtsMechanicsWorld LanguagesPoetryUnderground RailroadRoboticsU.S. HistoryAstronomy  ♦ OperaSeasons


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40 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Tulip Mania to Gyoktaku. Purim to Poetry.

“With rapidly rising global temperatures come seasonal changes. As spring comes earlier for some plant species, there are ripple effects throughout the food web. Regina Brinker explains how phenology, or the natural cycles of plants and animals, can be affected by these changes.” – TED-Ed. View full lesson: Phenology and nature’s shifting rhythms – Regina Brinker.

Economics to Engineering. Jazz Music to Japanese Art History. Linguistics to Female Explorers. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:  Spring comes sooner than you might think, at the Pioneer Valley’s local greenhouses! Spring bulb shows signal the coming end of winter and offer families an opportunity to learn together about habitat, the life cycle of plants, and species identification. A visit to a bulb show can support or inspire a love for flowers and learning about botany, plant and soil science, and possibly even evolutionary biology. You can also discover the beauty of this flower to gain a better understanding in the psychology behind the tulip mania featured in the video above. Charles Darwin, in his study of natural selection, examined the co-evolution of orchids and insect species. Visiting the greenhouse can be an opportunity for you and your children to think about this interrelation of plants and insects. Or you may simply want to see the beautiful sights and smell the fragrant flowers! The Smith College Bulb Show runs from March 4 through March 19. Lyman Conservatory. 16 College Lane. Northampton, MA. (<$)


Plant Studies ♦  PurimIchthyology ♦  STEMMaple HistoryHistory FairArt HistoryWorld Languages  ♦ Theater StudiesMusic HistoryOrnithologySustainabilityAgricultureIce FishingSeed SavingCommunity Meals ♦  PhotographyReligious StudiesGyoktakuHealth & Wellness ♦  Italian CultureHerbalisimWomen’s HistoryNutritionParentingCulture StudiesPoetryCollaborative Consumption


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35 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Tiny Houses to Fermented Foods. Physics to Anthropology.

Local flower societies and college conservatories are community resources that can offer opportunities to learn about habitat, the life cycle of plants, and the structural nuances that differentiate one species from another. Three upcoming annual flower shows featuring orchids, flower bulbs and spring flowers are perfect events to support these interests and to inspire a love for flowers! Read more in our post, Orchids & Tulips: Learning About Botany & Habitat.

Buddhism to World Culture. Citizen Science to Neutrinos. Comics to Anime. Tiny Houses to Fermented Foods. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:

On Tuesday, February 28, 6:30pm at the Westhampton Public Library, Family Code Night will take the intimidation away from computer coding for kids as well as parents! Children ages five and up, and their caregivers, are invited to learn the basics of computer coding through fun puzzles. No experience is necessary for this introductory STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program. Registration is required. Participants are encouraged to bring one device for every two participants, if possible. Laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets will all work as long as they are able to connect to WiFi. There will be a limited number of laptops available for use. The event will take place at the Hampshire Regional High School library. Questions? Call the library at 413-527-5386 or email westhampton@cwmars.org. 19 Stage Road Westhampton, MA. (FREE)


ReligionBotanyRace IdentityFilm StudiesNature-Based LearningRoboticsNeurodiversityComputer CodingPhysicsAnthropologyArchitectureHistoryRacial JusticeMaple SyrupTheater StudiesMusic StudiesInclusionOrchidsTrackingImmigrationSTEMCulinary Arts


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25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Philosophy to Silent Film. Musical Petting Zoo to Planetariums.

Family game sessions are one way to get both parents and kids to put aside their work, and their screen-based entertainment, to spend time together. Simple games can challenge young kids to think critically, while harder games can challenge older children through friendly competition. Spice up your family game experience by joining other families at the Meekins Library Game Afternoon on Thursday, February 23, 1pm-3pm. All ages are welcome and there will be snacks! Drop in anytime. Ages five and under must be accompanied by an adult. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Gender Studies to Film Studies. Wild Cats to Natural History Museum. Choreography to Classical Music. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:  When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. At the Berkshire Museum’s Instrument Petting Zoo on Thursday, February 23, 2pm-3pm, participants will be able to see, listen to, and play lots of different instruments! Picking the right instrument is an important factor for sustaining a lifelong hobby of musicianship. Explore risk-free as part of Ten Days of Play 2017. Included with regular museum admission. Check out a museum pass from your library for free admission. To find out which local library has free museum passes for borrowing, check our Educational Support & Local Resources page. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. ($; children under 18 <$; members, ages three and under FREE)


 ArcheryPhilosophyOrnithologyGuided HikeFilm StudiesPaleontologyNature PhotographyArt StudiesIce HarvestingAstronomyPoetryWinter SportsCritical ThinkingDance StudiesZoologyCitizen ScienceAfrican American HistoryMusic StudiesFigure Drawing  ♦ Nature CenterIntergenerationalAviation


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34 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Winter Festivals to Valentine’s Day. Nordic Skiing to Immigration Studies.

Winter Trails is a national annual event that offers families new to snowshoeing and nordic skiing the chance to try out snowshoes and cross-country skis on local trails while showcasing the health benefits of these two outdoor winter activities.  On Saturday, February 11, 10am-3pm Notchview in Windsor will be participating!

Ice to Fungi. Winter Festivals to Puppetry. Valentine’s Day to Nordic Skiing. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:

Red Gate Farm is teaming up with local libraries to provide programs to get young children interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. On Saturday, February 11, 10:30am-11:30am, participants will be learning the science of seeds! Children up to age seven will be investigating seeds at the Buckland Public Library. Planting seeds at home can help kids become interested in plant and soil science and horticulture by watching their seeds grow into beautiful plants. Teaching kids about horticulture can also help instill important values by teaching them about sources of healthy, local foods. 413-625-9412. 30 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)


STEMBotanyFolk MusicLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesCreative-Free PlayLiteratureArt StudiesNature StudiesOutdoor AdventuresPlacemakingPuppetryTheaterCulture StudiesWomen’s StudiesImmigration StudiesAnthropology MycologyHydrologyPoetryOpera  ♦ Guided Hikes  ♦ ShakespeareFinancial Literacy


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29 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Community Sing to Poetry. Gospel to Japanese Culture.

Valentine’s Day is not just for couples! Parents can use this holiday to engage in intergenerational crafts with their children, and teach them concepts of service and kindness. Come to the Meekins Library on Saturday, February 4, until 1:30pm for a morning of Valentine’s Day activities! People of all ages are invited to craft valentines and decorate cookies. Participants are encouraged to donate some of their valentines to the Williamsburg Senior Center. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Permaculture to Teddy Roosevelt. Anime to Hawaiian Culture. Electoral College to Calligraphy. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:  Saturday, February 4, from 10am-12noon at Flywheel Arts Collective, Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the Saturday Morning Music Party series with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, and diversions for kids! During a free breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and fruit, you can craft handmade Valentines with the Easthampton Parents Center. Then we’ll enjoy special guests, DandyLions Garden, a musical act for kids and inner children alike. We’ll round out the morning with DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon!” This is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. For more information, email info@hilltownfamilies.org.


PermacultureMuseum AdventuresAmerican HistoryFiber ArtsFilm StudiesIntergenerationalLanguage ArtsCreative-Free PlayMusic StudiesCulture StudiesClimate ChangeAnthropometryPolitical ScienceReligion StudiesArt StudiesWinter FestivalsWomen’s HistoryTheater Studies


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27 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Peace Movements to Microbiology. Service-Learning to Ecology.

Winter is a great time to learn new recipes, and cook warm comfort foods for friends and family. Bring your favorite soup to the Buckland Public Library for Winter Soup night on Tuesday, January 24, 5:30pm-7pm! Guests may bring bread, cheese and other tidbits. All are welcome. 413-625-8541. 30 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Celtic Mythology to Microbiology. Sound Waves to Chinese New Year. Peace Movements to Fiber Arts. Tracking to Townshend Acts. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:  Hilltown Families will be hosting a new Service-Learning Micro-Event Series featuring “Acts of Kindness” volunteer stations for families at multiple locations this winter, beginning on Saturday, January 21, 10am – 2pm! This series is modeled after our larger community-service events, with a shift towards smaller micro-volunteer opportunities through the spring at community events, including winter farmers’ markets, in the hopes that these smaller volunteer opportunities will allow us to engage new audiences with service-learning opportunities! The first Service-Learning Micro-Event will take place at the Amherst Winter’s Farmers’ Market in the Amherst Regional Middle School. Families will have an opportunity to stop by a pop-up volunteer station anytime between 10am-2pm to create handmade valentines to be distributed to seniors in the community. 170 Chestnut Street. Amherst, MA. (VOLUNTEER)


KindnessVolunteeringOrnithologyGuided HikesFilm StudiesMuseum AdventuresSTEMMakerspaceCultural StudiesConstitutional LawCivic EngagementHerpetologyTextilesGamesIntergenerationalMeteorologyDance StudiesNew England HistoryPolitical ScienceLiteracyCommunity MealsArt StudiesArchitecture


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22 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Scutes to Scales. Social History to Music Theory.

Playing music is a physical as well as mental process, encouraging careful listening and focus. Reading musical scores requires us to train our brain to recognize patterns and decode information. We can get our children started with exploring sound, building instruments, and creating music at the Clark Art Institute’s Music Day on Sunday, January 15. 1pm-3:30pm. In conjunction with I/O Fest this day of musical exploration will also feature performances brought to you by the Williams College Department of Music. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (Adults $; Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID FREE)

Reptiles to Shays’ Rebellion. Music Theory to Social History. MLK Day of Service to Nature Studies. Photography History to Racial Equality. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlights this week: Have you ever heard the term “scute?” This biological term refers to an external bodily “plate,” such as a turtle’s shell, crocodile skin, and bird feet. Children and their parents are invited to learn about “Scutes and Scales” at this biologically themed nature event at the Hitchcock Center on Saturday, January 14, 10am-11am. This program is part of an ongoing Saturday Science series for children and their parents to explore natural topics through scientific activities. These events will take pace on the second Saturday of the month, through June. Call ahead to reserve your spot. 413-256-6006. 845 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)


ZoologyCivic EngagementTeen AdvisoryRevolutionary WarLocal HistoryMusic StudiesAmerican HistoryCivil RightsService-Based LearningMartin Luther King, Jr.HerpetologyCulture StudiesSkillsharingCommunity MealSocial HistoryPhotographyCulinary ArtsSocial Justice


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25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Meteorology to Mixed Media. Basketball to Tea.

Learn about Jewish culture through the lens of food by screening three short films at the Yiddish Book Center on Sunday, January 8, 2pm. The center will be showing In The Last Blintz, Life and Hummus, and Bagels in the Blood. These films will explore Jewish food culture from New York, to Israel and Palestine, to Montreal. 413-256-4900. 1021 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tea Ceremony to Sports History. Ornithology to Nutritional Anthropology. Aromachology to Dyslexia. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week:  Card games challenge your logical reasoning abilities, sometimes also involving mathematics and various social skills. Playing games in general is a great way to connect with your kids in a low-tech way, without screen technology. Do you or your kids like to collect card games? Kids and parents are invited to Make It Springfield to meet and play collectible card games on Sunday, January 8, 12pm-2pm. Challenge your brain by learning a new game, while meeting new families with shared interests. 168 Worthington Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)


Winter SportsNordic SkiingMindfulnessJapanese CultureLEGOSSTEMArt StudiesBasketballAnimal StudiesCivic EngagementGamesJewish CultureSleep ScienceParent SupportSkillsharingAromatherapyTheater HistoryLearning DifferencesWomen’s History


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19 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Guided Hikes to First Night. Dance Party to Winter Sports.

There are many ways to remain active and engaged with the outdoors during the winter. Nordic skiing, downhill skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing are a sample of activities that allow one to get outside, stay fit, and maintain a healthy lifestyle while exploring the beauty of nature in the winter. Choosing a winter sport is not only spending time outdoors, it’s also participating in the traditions of local culture and history. Download our Jan/Feb edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for places to ski, skate and snowshoe in Western MA.

Gregorian Calendar to Engineering. Telescope to Owls. Snow Sports to Sweetgrass.  These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlight this week: On New Year’s Day, Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids! This year, we are starting off this family series on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, with a First Day Morning Music Party from 10am-12noon in Easthampton, MA. Come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! It takes place at Flywheel in Easthampton’s old Town Hall. This event is a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. So much cheaper than a night out on the town and just as much fun!


Calendar HistoryEcologySTEMPlacemakingLiving HistoryOutdoor AdventuresWinter SportsYo-YoPhysicsAstronomyLiteracyPlant StudiesAfrican American HistoryNew Year CelebrationsGuided Hikes Native American StudiesOrnithologyCollaborative Consumption


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27 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Winter Solstice to Dreidel. Holiday Icons to Dance Studies.

This Sunday, December 18 at the Springfield Museums, connect with your Jewish heritage or learn about traditional Hanukkah celebrations. They will be hosting “Illuminating Gallery Activities” including dreidel games, candle rolling, and more. Participants can craft their own Star of David out of frosted paper. Decorate Suf Ganiyot, a round jelly doughnut often eaten in celebration of Hanukkah. What to make your own Suf Ganiyot (pictured here) at home? Here’s a quick and easy recipe.

Technology to Mills & Canals. Animation to Ballet. Christmas Icons to Astronmy. Dreidel to Suf Ganiyot. Psychology to Neuroscience. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

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

Featured community highlights this weekThe Umass Amherst Sunwheel has attracted tens of thousands of visitors who wish to learn about solar and lunar cycles. Sunwheels, circular stone structures, are designed such that the stones line up with the locations on the horizon of the rising and setting Sun during solstices and equinoxes. On Wednesday, December 21, 7am and 3:30pm, you can witness this event during the Winter Solstice, and also learn about the seasons, the phases of the moon, the story behind the building of the sunwheel, and more. Bring questions and dress appropriately. The gatherings last about one hour and are held in all weather except rain or blizzards. Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (DONATION)


STEM ♦  Local HistoryArt StudiesLocal FoodDance StudiesOrnithology ♦  LiteracyNon-CommercialPlacemakingGingerbreadHoliday LightsWinter SolsticeMYO Gifts ♦  HanukkahAnimationCitizen ScienceAstronomyDreidelBakingHoliday IconsPsychologyNeuroscienceMeditation


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Great Big Story Shares Highlights of Human Experience

Great Big Story Shares Highlights of Human Experience

Created specifically to share human interest stories separate from daily current events news, CNN’s Great Big Story (or GBS, for short) is aptly named. The web-based project publishes videos at a rate of 3-5 per day, spotlighting cultures, communities, creatures, and other curiosities from all around the world. In doing so, GBS allows viewers to educate themselves about everything from emergencies in outer space to doctors making home visits to the homeless. While the project’s target audience is young adults, the information presented in GBS’s videos is accessible to teens and tweens, and perhaps even to older children.

While the project’s videos are numerous and their topics varied, each mini-documentary links viewers back to the same big idea: the untold stories of the world. A great many web-based projects aim to do essentially the same thing, but many emphasize the “wow” factor of such stories, and miss the true meaning behind the people, places, and ideas they spotlight. GBS, however, does both: each video features something or someone that is truly amazing, and does justice to the person or place’s story – allowing truth to be shared, and allowing viewers to utilize GBS videos as a resource for learning about the human experience and life on earth.  Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons Worth Sharing

TED-Ed: Resource for Educators & Learners

In addition to offering thousands of informational and inspirational talks, the organization TED now offers resources specifically for educators and learners. TED-Ed (ed.ted.com), a new platform developed by the organization (whose acronym name stands for technology, entertainment, and design), offers educational videos that differ slightly in structure and purpose from the internationally known TED and TEDx talks.

Written by educators and animated by professional animators, TED-Ed videos provide lessons on a wide variety of topics in every typical school subject. Families can use TED-Ed resources to supplement studies done in school, to help with homework, or to explore new and exciting topics together. Each video is designed to offer specific information that is presented in a way that makes for easy listening, and the narrative is accompanied by visuals that illustrate the main idea and details of each topic.

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Crash Course: 100+ Episodes in 6 Online Courses

Crash Course: 6 Courses. 112 Episodes.

Crash Course… six courses in one channel with 112 episodes! John Green teaches you US History and Hank Green teaches you Chemistry. Check out the playlists for past courses in World History, Biology, Literature, and Ecology too!

Research has shown that students can lose two months (or more!) worth of their learning in mathematics and language arts during the summer if they aren’t exposed to meaningful and enriching learning activities while they’re out of school. Of course, informal learning can take place for students in almost any situation where they have a little bit of freedom. They’ll learn while climbing a tree, they’ll learn while watching cars you pass on the highway during summer travel, and they can even learn while watching food cook on the grill at your 4th of July party. But when (and how) will they get to learn about things that they won’t or can’t experience? Perhaps they’ll read a book about a time in history or a scientific concept that interests them, but the knowledge that they can gain from reading is limited by their reading level and the accessibility of such materials.

This summer, try supplementing your child’s informal summer learning with some educational videos online. YouTube channel Crash Course! offers a plethora of educational videos focused on U.S. & World History, Biology, Ecology, English Literature, and Chemistry.  Created using fun and funky graphics, bright colors, scientific charts, and historical photographs paired with fast-paced, high-energy narration, the videos are dense but exciting. Viewers are exposed to a huge amount of information fairly quickly (hence the name!), and may need to watch the video again in order to fully absorb all of it. However, kids watching the videos just out of curiosity will retain basic information about the War of 1812, stoichiometry, entropy, and the emergence of political parties in the United States…

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MIT Launches Student-Produced STEM Educational Video Initiative

Original Short Videos Aim to Fuel K-12 Students’ Interest in STEM

Well-known education resource Khan Academy, a web site offering video-based learning to students, sparked a small revolution in the utilization of video in the classroom.  Videos, once reserved for rainy days or special activities, can now be an incredibly valuable educational resource.  Students are able to pace their own learning when using videos, as they can stop, repeat, and rewind as many times as they need to in order to understand, without feeling pressured to keep up with other students.

Well… MIT and the Khan Academy have teamed up to offer special videos on topics within STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) created by their students!

MIT, home to 10,000 STEM students, holds a wealth of knowledge, and students have created videos on many unique topics – everything from flying robots to the earth’s rotation.  The project, titled MIT+K12, includes videos for students in any grade.  The videos are available on the project’s website and on YouTube – teachers, parents, and even kids can search the site for videos to help with tricky subjects or to learn about something they’re curious about!

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