Summer Storms: A Reading List

With the heat of August in New England come evening thunderstorms, lighting up the sky, providing a soundtrack, and cooling the earth. This month we are featuring titles exploring summer storms. This booklist includes a variety of titles for weathering storms of all kinds, from thunder and fog to hurricanes and floods. Not only do these storm titles touch upon relevant late-summer themes, but in some cases serve as important reminders of how to take on challenges and meet fears head-on, with the storms serving as metaphors for difficult moments in life. Read the rest of this entry »

16 Books for Summer Reading

20 Children’s Books About Summer Camp

There are so many great books about camp that it’s hard to choose just a few, so here are twenty books that are great for kids who are about to go to summer camp or to bring along to read before bed or on a rainy day. Even if your kids aren’t going to camp, these book featured by Western MA mom, Lisa Woods, are all fantastic summer stories!

Read the rest of this entry »

Conversation Highlights: The Sunday Edition, June 2, 2019

A Book List for Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and in observance of this, we’ve spotlighted books for middle grade and young adult readers that address mental health. This month’s book list is sorted by theme, and includes titles that touch upon depression, trauma, substance use, eating disorders, and other mental health related topics. While the content in these titles is quite heavy, the stories are incredibly informative and explore the true depth of the experiences of people experiencing challenges with their mental health. Created using titles found in the library of our affiliate, Dirigo Learning: Community-Based Education Network™, this book list is not exhaustive, but is filled with titles that are guaranteed to be rich and engaging reads. Read the rest of this entry »

13 Verse Novels for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! In celebration of this national observation month, we’re spotlighting verse novels, stories told entirely through poetry. Verse novels can provide readers with the opportunity to explore the storytelling potential of poetry and can inspire readers to use poetry as a storytelling device.

This month’s list features a collection of titles to use with readers ages 10-13, covering a wide range of topics and themes. Check out the featured titles and download your free guide: Read the rest of this entry »

Literature in Context: A Literary Guide for Maple Syrup Season

In late winter when the days are warm but the nights are still cold, the sap starts to run in sugar maples. Throughout New England, buckets and tubing begin to adorn trees, and the steady plinking of sap dripping into buckets can be heard throughout the sugarbush. This month’s literature guide spotlights titles that can be used to learn about sugaring – both the science behind it and the role that it plays in rural New England culture.

Nonfiction

Fiction

Read the rest of this entry »

4 Reading Lists & Literary Guides for February

February celebrates Black History Month, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, and snow! Here are reading lists and literary guides to connect you to the season with books for all ages.

Celebrating Black History with Children’s Picture Books
In celebration of Black History, here are ten titles which feature stories of bravery, heroism, the pursuit of justice, and so much more… and each one beautifully illustrated!

12 Picture Books to Celebrate Chinese New Year
Explorations of Chinese culture can begin with our rich list of children’s titles by author Demi exploring Chinese art and traditions offering young readers a visual feast! A recurring subject in her extensive body of work is that of ancient China. Many of her books are steeped in Chinese art, history, folklore, and tradition. Here are a dozen titles were written and illustrated by Demi that celebrates Chinese culture. Happy New Year! Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts’ai!

A Literary Guide for Valentine’s Day & Kindness
With Valentine’s Day serving as a catalyst, February is a time for practicing kindness in all its forms. Use titles from our library to learn about the impact that acts of kindness can have on the world, and to gather ideas for practicing kindness in your community.

A Community-Based Education Guide to Bill Easterling’s Prize in the Snow
A short and sweet tale of a very young trapper’s change of heart, Prize in the Snow can catalyze both learning animal tracks and signs, as well as an examination of the ethics of animal trapping and hunting – all within a community-based context!

Literature in Context: A Literary Guide for Valentine’s Day & Kindness


Using Valentine’s Day as a catalyst, this month’s literary book guide explores the theme of kindness. Kindness comes in many forms and can be rewarding in many ways. Most of all, it has an incredibly positive impact on those around you. Exploring titles with a theme of kindness presents opportunities to learn about and discuss ways to show kindness to people, animals, the earth, and ourselves. Check out the titles we’re featuring and download your free guide: Read the rest of this entry »

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide for Service-Learning & Civic Engagement

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide For Service-Learning & Civic Engagement

Download the full PDF literary guide to this month’s book list to learn more about the titles included.

Driven by Martin Luther King Day, this month’s book list celebrates value-based learning in the form of civic engagement and service-based learning. Spotlighting diverse stories of civic engagement, this collection of literature offers resources for learners of all ages. Download the full PDF literary guide to this month’s book list to learn more about the titles included.

Picture Books

Graphic Novel

Chapter Books

Nonfiction

Read the rest of this entry »

From Our Library: A Booklist for Studying Seed Dispersal

From Our Library: A Booklist for Studying Seed Dispersal

Fall isn’t just about leaves falling from trees – it’s about seed dispersal, too! As summer’s lush plants turn to brown, crumble, and collapse, seeds are being dispersed left and right. Studies of seed dispersal can illuminate secrets to plant reproduction, inspire seed collection, and bring learners closer to the landscape that surrounds them. Pair these titles with seed pod collection, plant dissection, and other hands-on seed-centric activities. Download our PDF guide to see descriptions and suggested age ranges for each title!
Read the rest of this entry »

From Our Library: A Book List for Studying Bones

From Our Library: A Book List for Studying Bones

Bones are fascinating to study because they come directly from the insides of creatures – the very parts we never really expect to see! Their shape and structure speaks volumes about the body function and general habits of the creatures whose skeletons they compose. Simple bone studies can be done easily, and the titles included here offer a rich look at the bones of living things of all kinds.

Not meant to be exhaustive, this book list simply includes all of the relevant titles currently found within the library of our community-based education network affiliate, Dirigo Learning. Download the accompanying guide for further detail, including genre, age range, and book style for teach title as well as short descriptions of each text. Read the rest of this entry »

From Our Library: A Book List for Studying Immigration

From Our Library: A Book List for Studying Immigration

Immigration is an incredibly important topic to study, perhaps right now more than ever. The titles included here can be used for learning about the modern immigrant experience in America, the reasons modern immigrants leave their homes, the ways in which we can empathize with modern immigrants, and even the ways in which the United States is responsible for the living conditions immigrants flee. Not meant to be exhaustive, this book list simply includes all of the relevant titles currently found within the library of our community-based education network affiliate, Dirigo Learning. Download the accompanying guide for further detail, including genre, age range, and book style for teach title as well as short descriptions of each text. Read the rest of this entry »

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Julia Alvarez’s Return to Sender

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Julia Alvarez’s Return to Sender

Download the Learning Map, which links this book to local opportunities for community-based learning.

Tyler has grown up in rural Vermont on his family’s dairy farm – like many New England fairy farms, the Paquette family has been farming their land for generations. The farm struggles with the same challenges that every small New England dairy encounters, but the real challenge comes when Tyler’s father is seriously injured in a tractor accident and is unable to work. Without the help of his late grandfather to run the farm, Tyler’s family finds itself in a difficult position: hire migrant workers to keep the farm running, or lose the farm – and their family history with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Molly Bang’s The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Molly Bang’s The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Download the Learning Map, which links this book to local opportunities for community-based learning.

The grey lady is out for a day of errands, stopping by her local farmer’s market for what appears to be the season’s final quart of delicious strawberries. She is quite pleased with her purchase, and nestles it safely inside a reusable mesh shopping bag before beginning her journey home. It’s not too long, however, before readers see that the grey lady’s berries might be in danger. A cloaked blue figure is following her, stopping at nothing to snatch the strawberries that the grey lady covets!

The figure moves carefully, gliding down the sidewalk behind the grey lady – gaining and gaining while waiting for the perfect moment to snatch the berries from her bag. With each step, mushrooms appear from the ground – hinting at the figure’s mysterious origins. With every step, the blue figure draws nearer until an opportunity to snatch appears. The grey lady saves her berries, but must hurry away to thwart the thieving figure’s plan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Rebecca Rupp’s After Eli

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Rebecca Rupp’s After Eli

Download the Learning Map, which links this book to local opportunities for community-based learning.

Daniel Anderson’s older brother Eli was killed while serving in the American military in Iraq, and three years after Eli’s death, Daniel is still working out how to feel and how to move forward after such a monumental event. In order to try to find meaning in death – not only Eli’s, but all deaths – Daniel has created a Book of the Dead. His Book of the Dead is really an old binder, but it’s filled with names of the deceased and their causes of death, all of which Daniel processes to find meaning in both their lives and their deaths – with the hope that he will someday be able to find meaning in Eli’s death and the hole that it has left in his life.

Daniel’s Book of the Dead has been years in the making by the time his story begins, right at the kickoff of what turns out to be one of the most transformative summers of Daniel’s life. Whether its all of his studies of creative causes of death or simply the time that has passed, Daniel finds himself suddenly able to open his eyes and truly see the world around him. He makes friends, begins to see the good in others, and even begins to better understand the impact that his brother’s death has had upon the other members of his family. Luckily, Daniel’s summer of awakening isn’t just a moment, it’s a beginning – and by the story’s end, his momentum is leading him away from his Book of the Dead and towards whatever is next.

Read the rest of this entry »

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Anne Mazer’s, The Salamander Room

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Anne Mazer’s, The Salamander Room

Download the Learning Map, which links this book to local opportunities for community-based learning.

The Salamander Room is told through the imagination of a young boy who desperately longs to bring an amphibian friend home with him. Beginning in the woods, the story starts when a small, orange salamander is discovered underneath leaf litter. The boy, whose imagination drives the story’s development, believes the salamander finds his hand cozy and perhaps even preferable to its natural habitat – and from this assumption ensues an explanation of the many creative measures that could be taken in order to make the salamander feel at home in his bedroom. The boy first imagines that the salamander can live happily right in the drawer of his bedside table, but prompting from an adult allows him to think through all of the salamander’s many needs, and the unintended consequences that meeting these needs might have. For example, insects will need to be introduced into his bedroom so that the salamander has a food source – but what will happen when the insects breed and overpopulate? Well, of course, the roof of his bedroom will be taken off so that birds can fly in to keep the insect population in check!

The Salamander Room bridges the gap between fiction and nonfiction, using imaginative storytelling to teach readers about habitat and the interconnectedness of nature. Resources included in our accompanying guide support the use of the text as a tool for reading and comprehension skills, as well as a catalyst for science-based learning. Get a copy of the book from your local library – salamander season has just begun!

Don’t miss out on the accompanying Critical Thinking Questions & Community-Based Learning Map, created by Robin Huntley, M.Ed., Founder and Director of Dirigo Learning, a Community-Based Education Network™ affiliate for Midcoast and Central Maine. This learning guide is filled with Resources for Self-Directed Learning about Salamanders and Their Habitats, including audio/visual materials on vernal pools, a project that will help your learner link art and science through a “literrarium,” and a web-based guide to help you identify local salamander species. Download the Learning Map here – and get out there to have some salamander fun!


Robin Morgan Huntley, Community-Based Education Correspondent

A native to Maine, Robin joined Hilltown Families in early 2011 as an intern and remained over the years volunteering as a community-based education correspondent until moving back to Maine in 2016. Robin is a graduate of Antioch University with a masters in education. Her interests within the field of education include policy and all types of nontraditional education. For her undergraduate project at Hampshire College, Robin researched the importance of connecting public schools with their surrounding communities, especially in rural areas. Robin currently lives with her husband, cats, and rabbits in Maine and is a 5th grade public school teacher.

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Jessie Haas’ Sugaring

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Jessie Haas’s Sugaring


Download the Learning Map, which links this book to local opportunities for community-based learning.

Summary

Set in the hills of Vermont, Jessie Haas’ Sugaring teaches the traditional process of sugaring through a narrative that brings the intergenerational nature of the work to light. Protagonist Nora helps her grandfather drive a team of horses through the family’s sugarbush, stopping to collect sap at each sugar maple. Next, the two keep a fire burning in an evaporator, boiling off excess water until the sap turns to syrup, running in a sheet off of a metal spoon. The evaporator runs late into the night, turning hundreds of gallons of sap into sweet syrup. While Nora and her grandfather tend the fire and flick cream into the sap bubbles to keep it from boiling over, Nora’s grandmother turns an earlier batch of syrup into sheets of delicious, flaky maple sugar. Nora makes sure to share chunks of the sweet brown treat with the team of horses before they head back out into the sugarbush, ready to repeat the process over again.

Read the rest of this entry »

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Bill Easterling’s Prize in the Snow

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Bill Easterling’s Prize in the Snow

Download the Learning Map for a guided tour of this piece of children’s literature.

A young nature-loving boy admires his older brother for his animal tracking and trapping abilities, and sets out on a quest to become an expert himself. Unlike his brother, the boy is a novice, and goes about trapping with a very rudimentary trap and classic bait. He treks into the snowy woods with a box, a carrot, and a long string which, with the addition of a stick, become a carefully balanced and patiently manned trap for unsuspecting small mammals. The boy waits patiently, all the while looking forward to the respect he imagines receiving from his brother when he has caught his prize. Finally, a creature comes – but as it’s the dead of winter, the rabbit is slow and thin, starving due to lack of food amidst all the snow. Instead of causing excitement and action, the sight of the rabbit makes the boy stop and think. Is it fair to bait and catch a starving animal? Is his role in the landscape really to trap animals purely for sport, or could he perhaps serve some other purpose? This short, sweet story includes plenty of depth and serves as a catalyst for discussion of human interaction with the landscape around us. Read the rest of this entry »

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Cynthia Rylant’s Life

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Cynthia Rylant’s Life

Download the Learning Map, which links this book to local opportunities for community-based learning.

Beautifully detailed and metaphorical illustrations accompany deeply emotional wisdom in this work from an award-winning author and a talented illustrator. Rather than reading as a true story, Life offers up simple yet universally applicable life advice. Centered around the idea of allowing life to happen and adapting to change to survive (and love life!), the book pairs simple suggestions and thought-provoking questions with relatable experiences had by species from all around the world. Even young readers will see the clear link between the words and the natural images they are paired with – a connection that encourages deep thought and reflection. In addition to serving as a lesson for self-love, the book promotes empathy and understanding, allowing it to serve as a catalyst for community-based learning opportunities existing within the practice of kindness. Read the rest of this entry »

Literature Guide for Eve Bunting’s The Wall Sheds Light on Love and Loss at Veterans Day

Literature Guide for Eve Bunting’s The Wall Sheds Light on Love and Loss at Veterans Day

The Wall (Reading Rainbow Books) by Eve Bunting (Author),‎ Ronald Himler (Illustrator)

Narrated through the eyes of a child, The Wall is an emotional and thought-provoking story.  A young boy and his father – pictured in the cover illustration – visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC to find the name of their grandfather and father, respectively.  They’ve traveled a long distance, and the immense significance of their visit to the dark, reflective memorial is evident.

Alongside the pair are many other visitors from all walks of life – students, families, people young and old pass by to, similarly, find a name and pay their respects.  Small tokens of remembrance dot the base of the memorial, flags, photographs, and flowers sending unwritten messages to those remembered.  Together, the boy and his father honor their family member’s life and in doing so, teach readers volumes about the impact that war can have on a generation and a community.
Read the rest of this entry »

Literature Guide for “Shy Mama’s Halloween” (Supports Immigration Studies)


Click on the image for the full, downloadable literature guide in .pdf format.

Shy Mama’s Halloween beautifully illustrates the experience of learning a new and unfamiliar culture. Though the book is set in the past (mid-20th century), the story itself is timeless, capturing the uncertainty, nervousness, and even excitement that accompany new experiences.

In the story, an immigrant family prepares for Halloween – a holiday that they’ve never celebrated before because they’re new to the United States and, in their home country of Russia, Halloween wasn’t part of the culture. While Mama is willing to help her four children prepare their costumes, she’s equally wary of both going door to door in her new neighborhood and a holiday whose theme is centered around sinister characters. It is decided that the children’s father will bring them trick-or-treating, but when he comes home from work sick on the evening of Halloween, it is up to shy Mama to supervise the family’s Halloween outing. Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for September 23rd-29th, 2017

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

Click HERE to discover classes. Click HERE to find out about other community events. Click HERE to leave a comment about upcoming events.

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

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

JOIN OUR TEAM! Hilltown Families is currently recruiting our newest Interpretive Writer and Development & Sales Officer. Click on the banner above to see the full job descriptions, as well as a slew of other available volunteer and intern positions. We look forward to hearing from our community!

Bulletin Board

Sep 23

Get ready for a new Elephant & Piggie adventure! Join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst on Saturday, Sept 23 for Elephant & Piggie Art-ventures with Mo Willems & Tom Warburton! In We Are in an ART-ivity Book!, Mo Willems & Tom Warburton have created the first-ever Elephant & Piggie activity book, full of drawing, coloring, gaming, & other hands-on fun! Meet Mo & Tom. Get books signed. Take your photo with Elephant & Piggie, watch films, & create art in the Art Studio! Book signing from 12:30-2:30pm. Limit 1 book from home/unlimited books from The Carle Bookshop. No personalization nor signing of board books or stuffed animals. Can’t make it to event? Reserve signed books online, call 413-559-6333, or shop@carlemuseum.org.

Sep 23 & 24

The 19th Annual North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival is September 23 & 24 from 10am-5pm in Orange, MA. There’s something for everyone at this fabulous family destination. Over 100 booths are vibrant with local artists, farmers, fabulous food, chef demos and skills for local living. Enjoy amazing music, performance, spoken word and dance on three stages. New! ‘The World We Love,’ a giant handcrafted globe in the kid’s activity tent- add your vision and join the celebratory parade at the end of each festival day. Plus hula-hooping, horse-drawn hayrides, and garlic games all weekend. Only $5.00 adults, Kids 12 & under are free! More for travel/parking info and program visit www.garlicandarts.org; Follow festival updates daily on Facebook.

Sep 25

Monday, September 25, 2017, 10am-3pm: Soar into spring with Homeschool Day at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. Open exclusively for homeschoolers and their families, and featured activities include: hands-on build & fly challenge activities, interactive flight science demonstrations, open cockpit experiences in historic aircraft, aircraft quests, fight simulators, and more! Virtual Flight Center access available for additional $5 per person. Tickets available for purchase on the day of your visit on a first come first served basis. Pre-registration required. Children ages 3 and under admitted free. www.neam.org for an online registration form. Please call 860-623-3305 x313 for questions.

Add your class

Hilltown Families has put together an After-School Classes & Enrichment Programs Directory of classes and programs happening across Western Massachusetts throughout the school year.  Our community is rich in learning opportunities to supplement the interests of children, teens, and life-long learners and our directory makes it easier to find these gems while connecting families with resources that support their interests and education. — Have a class or program you’d like to include in our directory? Click here to find out how to have it added. New and updated opportunities are added throughout the year.

Add your school

Hilltown Families Preschool Directory: Are you looking for a preschool that fits your child’s personality and reflects your family’s values? Check out our growing Preschool Directory, covering all four counties in Western Massachusetts, and find the perfect place for your young one! — Have a school you’d like to include in this list? Click here to find out how to have it added.

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

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


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
September 23rd-29th, 2017

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an EventCultural Itineraries | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Storyhour & Playgroups| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for September 16th-22nd, 2017

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

To find out about more event, be sure to visit our Suggest an Event Bulletin Board to see what our readers have recently shared! Have an event to share? Feel encouraged to self-post community events here at any time!

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

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

Bulletin Board

Learn in Motion gets kids playing and learning through enrichment programming for schools, libraries and museums, educational introductory sports classes, and special events. Programs get children off screens, active, learning and having a ball. They encourage children to socialize and practice important life skills such as sharing, listening, following directions, working as a team, and overcoming obstacles. Through their programming, Learn in Motion also teaches traditional academic content such as letters, numbers, shapes, colors and more. For more information about their schedule, programs and offerings, visit www.learninmotionma.com, email learninmotionma@gmail.com or call 413-244-2073.

Trial Class Sept 20

A delightful music class for children age 0-5 and their grown-ups, created and taught by national recording artist, Katryna Nields. All songs are hand-selected by Katryna and Nerissa Nields. In HooteNanny, participants sing, play, and dance and make wonderful friendships. Come spend playful, enriching, connected time with your child and be part of the wonderful HooteNanny community. Fall session begins September 27/28, 2017. Free trial class on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 10am. For more information go to www.hootenannyfamily.com or write to hootenannymusicclass@gmail.com.

Sep 23 & 24

The 19th Annual North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival is September 23 & 24 from 10am-5pm in Orange MA. There’s something for everyone at this fabulous family destination. Over 100 booths are vibrant with local artists, farmers, fabulous food, chef demos and skills for local living. Enjoy amazing music, performance, spoken word and dance on three stages. New! ‘The World We Love,’ a giant handcrafted globe in the kid’s activity tent- add your vision and join the celebratory parade at the end of each festival day. Plus hula-hooping, horse-drawn hayrides, and garlic games all weekend. Only $5.00 adults, Kids 12 & under are free! More for travel/parking info and program visit www.garlicandarts.org; Follow festival updates daily on Facebook.

Sep 25

Monday, September 25, 2017, 10am-3pm: Soar into spring with Homeschool Day at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. Open exclusively for homeschoolers and their families, and featured activities include: hands-on build & fly challenge activities, interactive flight science demonstrations, open cockpit experiences in historic aircraft, aircraft quests, fight simulators, and more! Virtual Flight Center access available for additional $5 per person. Tickets available for purchase on the day of your visit on a first come first served basis. Pre-registration required. Children ages 3 and under admitted free. www.neam.org for an online registration form. Please call 860-623-3305 x313 for questions.

Add your class

Hilltown Families has put together an After-School Classes & Enrichment Programs Directory of classes and programs happening across Western Massachusetts throughout the school year.  Our community is rich in learning opportunities to supplement the interests of children, teens, and life-long learners and our directory makes it easier to find these gems while connecting families with resources that support their interests and education. — Have a class or program you’d like to include in our directory? Click here to find out how to have it added. New and updated opportunities are added throughout the year.

Add your school

Hilltown Families Preschool Directory: Are you looking for a preschool that fits your child’s personality and reflects your family’s values? Check out our growing Preschool Directory, covering all four counties in Western Massachusetts, and find the perfect place for your young one! — Have a school you’d like to include in this list? Click here to find out how to have it added.

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

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


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
September 16th-22nd, 2017

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an EventCultural Itineraries | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Storyhour & Playgroups| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

Donate Now Read the rest of this entry »

Literature Guide for Eden Ross Lipson and Mordicai Gerstein’s Applesauce Season

Literature Guide for Eden Ross Lipson and Mordicai Gerstein’s Applesauce Season

Download our literary guide for Applesauce Season.

Applesauce Season is the quintessential fall book: a young narrator describes with wonder the coming of apple season and the family food traditions that follow suit, subtly teaching readers all the while about apple varieties and the natural flow of the fruit’s season. Readers follow the narrator from farmers’ market, to kitchen, to table again and again while learning not only the specifics of applesauce, but the many other ways in which apples can be preserved and enjoyed during the fall.

Set in an urban area, the story brings concepts, skills, and traditions generally associated with rural living into a modern city. Rather than being grown and harvested in the narrator’s backyard or community, the apples that narrator so loves are sold at a neighborhood farmers’ market, introducing the idea of food systems to readers.  Read the rest of this entry »

Literature Guide for Debby Dahl Edwardson’s “My Name is Not Easy”

Literature Guide for Debby Dahl Edwardson’s My Name is Not Easy

Download literary guide for Debby Dahl Edwardson’s My Name is Not Easy

Told from multiple perspectives, Debby Dahl Edwardson’s My Name is Not Easy is a narrative of the hard, culture-crippling truths of the boarding schools that native Alaskans attended during the early 1960’s. The characters in Edwardson’s story attend the fictional Sacred Heart School, a Catholic institution whose structure and methodology is fierce, brutal, and deeply rooted in the idea that native students needed to be re-trained in order for their communities to succeed. The characters are fictional, but just like their school, they each present carefully designed portraits of “typical” students at such schools, and their experiences give literary life to the real life experiences of unnamed others.

The students at Sacred Heart have been sent there from villages all over Alaska, and while each one’s story of why they’ve wound up there varies, each native Alaskan student’s story shares the same undercurrent: their presence at the school forces them to let go of their language, their landscape, and their people, and it is assumed by those in charge that this is necessary in order for native Alaskans to survive. On top of the clashes between students from self-identified Eskimo villages and Indian villages are emotional and physical abuse from school staff, forced consumption of radiation-filled iodine for government testing, and the adopting out of students not deemed appropriate for school life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Literature Guide for Dr. Seuss’ “McElligot’s Pool”

Literature Guide for Dr. Seuss’ McElligot’s Pool

McElligot’s Pool is not one of Dr. Seuss’ best-known books, but it is certainly one of his most creative and most beautiful! Blending true Seuss-ian creativity with environmentalist undertones, the story follows a young fisherman through the many different imaginary marine scenarios that could be playing out in the dark water below his fishing pole. McElligot’s Pool is a farm pond scarcely larger than a puddle and filled with human detritus (an alarm clock, a boot, a tea kettle, a tin can, and so on), and while it seems likely that the small, dirty pond holds no fish at all, the narrator’s youthful imagination is not bound by the constraints of environmental reality (nor any other type of reality) and takes readers on a fantastic underwater trip around the world.

Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Guide for Anthony Browne’s “Zoo”

Literary Guide for Anthony Browne’s Zoo

Download literary guide for Anthony Browne’s Zoo.

A family outing to the zoo serves as a catalyst for deep thought in this 25-year-old work of children’s literature. Author and illustrator Anthony Browne, known as one of late 20th century England’s best children’s writers, has transformed a quintessential (and perhaps stereotypical) family adventure into a thought-provoking examination of humans’ regard for the natural world in Zoo. Within the book’s pages, illustrations in which humans seem to be animals and animals seem almost human haunt a text dripping with the narrator’s disdain for the lackluster creatures found within the concrete confines of the zoo.

The story is extraordinarily extraordinary without presenting as such: what was (and still is) a very common family experience reveals itself to be something that is conceptually much greater, and experientially (for the characters) much less. The family of four featured in the cover illustration argue their way through traffic and pay exorbitant prices in order to gain the privilege of interacting with nature, the absence of which is subtly included in the first few pages’ illustrations. Though seemingly excited about their destination, the family engages only passively with their surroundings, failing to get a map and looking at some “boring” animals before searching for their favorites. Creature after creature is met with criticism from the narrator and his kin, while the creatures themselves are depicted as disengaged from reality within their unnatural surroundings. Even the creatures that promised excitement (tigers, for example) leave much to be desired, and by the end of the day, the family favorites are the cafeteria and the gift shop.  Read the rest of this entry »

Literature Guide for Ruther Heller’s “Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones”

Literature Guide for Ruther Heller’s Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones

Download literary guide for Ruther Heller’s Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones.

As a nonfiction text that looks very much like most fiction books, Ruth Heller’s Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones is filled with rich illustrations and vocabulary and draws readers in with its alluring, picture-book-like structure. This fun, upbeat, and informative text pairs the inherent wonder of childhood with a collection of fascinating facts, and despite its appearance, it is a great example of a rich nonfiction text for young readers.

The text within the book is short and simple, and draws meaty sentences out over the course of several pages, thus allowing young readers to digest each piece of information on its own while working to piece together a larger idea. There are few words, but the ones that are there convey important information and essential vocabulary. The rich, detailed illustrations appear to be simply artwork, but provide readers with accurate images of the many species mentioned in the book. Young readers can gain much knowledge (and entertainment!) from an endless close examination of the pictures alone.

The book’s simplistic nature makes it ideal for readers ages 5-8, but it can be read and enjoyed by readers of any age. Using our literary guide, educators of all kinds can use Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones as a tool for helping readers strengthen their observational skills as a tool for comprehension of texts. Critical thinking questions, extension activities, and mini-lesson help readers to build their knowledge base, share their thinking, and stretch their learning to connect to numerous skills and ideas.

Save

Save

Save

Literary Guide for Ann M. Martin’s “Rain Reign”

Literary Guide for Ann M. Martin’s Rain Reign

Download literary guide for Ann M. Martin’s Rain Reign.

Appropriately titled with a homonym pair, Ann M. Martin’s Rain Reign is told through the eyes of a young girl on the Autism spectrum whose two loves in life are homonyms and rules. Rose’s love of these things, unfortunately, often stands in the way of her ability to connect with those around her – including her father, a single parent with little patience for Rose’s needs. Through Rose’s narration, readers learn about the thoughts that drive her mind and the compulsions that fuel the behaviors that those around her cannot seem to understand.

Rose learns how to forge a deep connection when her father brings her home a dog, who she names Rain due to the very special triple homonym nature of the word (it matches both reign and rein). Rose cares for Rain herself, taking her responsibilities as a pet owner very seriously. But when a hurricane hits Rose’s home in upstate New York, Rain is lost in the storm. With homes destroyed, power lines downed, and roads (such as Rose’s) washed out, it’s nearly impossible for Rose to search for Rain. Showing incredible resilience and determination as a result of her intense love, Rose pushes herself to search long and hard for Rain – encountering new opportunities and challenges she couldn’t have imagined.  Read the rest of this entry »

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: