Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Memorial Day as a Catalyst for Learning

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal:
Memorial Day as a Catalyst for Learning

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, community-based education specialist and Hilltown Families’ Founder, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Monday, May 28, 2018, with Sienna and Lauren talking about how the Memorial Day is the perfect time to show appreciation towards those who have served our country through self-initiated activities while learning via community-based resources.

Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).

Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be Monday, June 25th, 2018!

Memorial Day: A Catalyst for Learning, Gratitude, and Kindness

Memorial Day: A Catalyst for Learning,
Gratitude, and Kindness


Red poppies are associated with Memorial Day. Do you know why? Find out in this article, The Significance of Poppies and download this worksheet to supplement learning with young children.

History: What is Memorial Day? According to usmemorialday.org, Memorial Day “started off as a somber day of remembrance; a day when Americans went to cemeteries and placed flags or flowers on the graves of our war dead. It was a day to remember ancestors, family members, and loved ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice… But now, too many people ‘celebrate’ the day without more than casual thought to the purpose and meaning of the day. How do we honor the 1.8 million that gave their lives for America since 1775? How do we thank them for their sacrifice?” Learn more about the traditional observance, history, and origins of Memorial Day at www.usmemorialday.org.

Online Resource: Learning about the individuals who served in wartime can have a significant impact on our sense of appreciation as we remember their acts of service. Introduce yourself to the American Vietnam War Veterans who were born on this day/month and those who died on this day/month. How does learning of their age, race, hometown, religion, marital status, length of service, how and where they perished, and reading comments from friends and family, impact your emotional connection to the people who served our country?

Local Cemeteries/Self-Directed Learning: Another way to learn about veterans who served our country is by visiting historic graveyards. In Agawam at the Massachusetts Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery, nearly 10,000 veterans and their dependents have been interred, hosting annual Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day ceremonies. Filled with stone markers that chronicle a community’s history, local cemeteries can provide visitors with a look deep into the past and even into the lives of those who have served our country. Families wishing to engage in self-guided tours of a historic cemetery can visit Longmeadow’s Olde Burying Yard section of the Longmeadow Cemetery, where a collection of headstones serve as a museum chronicling the town’s history. Some gravestones can be explored via virtual tour, while others must be located in person. Historic Northampton offers virtual tours of the city’s Bridge Street Cemetery, a 300-year-old graveyard that is the final resting place of many notable Northamptonites.

Volunteer Opportunity: Remembering American veteran’s also happens in December with the national program, Wreaths Across America. Look for volunteer opportunities at the Massachusetts Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Agawam, MA during their annual placement of wreaths which happens on the 3rd Saturday of December.

GRATITUDE Read the rest of this entry »

Memorial Day: Learning through the Lens of the Season





Who am I? Where am I? These are the fundamental questions proposed by the humanities. Inquiries related to local history, literature, and education, inspire us to think deeply about the places where we live and how our identity fits into the context of our community and the seasons.

Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts is a new bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

With these downloadable seasonal itineraries, self-directed teens, lifelong learners, and families are encouraged to engage together in cultural opportunities that support similar interests, resulting in a shared history, strengthening a sense of place.

Memorial Day as a Catalyst for Placemaking, Historical Learning, and Acts of Kindness

Memorial Day as a Catalyst for Placemaking, Historical Learning, and Acts of Kindness

For some, Memorial Day is a deeply personal holiday, a day for remembering those who have served the people of our country. Participating in these Memorial Day celebrations and ceremonies can also be a form of placemaking, strengthening ties to community spaces and encouraging social interaction between generations. These events also offer a chance to personally thank local veterans and recognize them for their bravery and service.

Ceremonies to honor veterans on this holiday often take place in outdoor, common spaces such as Main Streets, sidewalks, and town commons.

As friends, neighbors, and community members gather in these areas, opportunities for small acts of kindness arise. For example, families can bring a bouquet of daisies or loaves of fresh baked bread to a Memorial Day parade to share with veterans as small tokens of gratitude.

Memorial day parades thus invite people to engage with their communities in placemaking. Participating in parades by marching alongside an organization or viewing the parade from a common space thus supports individual health and well-being by strengthening a connection to place.

This day of remembrance is also a chance to learn about history from a local perspective. A sample of community events to honor Memorial Day include:  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: Memorial Day

Memorial Day: Gathering Together & Honoring The Past

For some, Memorial Day is a deeply personal holiday, a day for remembering those who have served the people of our country. Participating in these Memorial Day celebrations and ceremonies can also be a form of placemaking, strengthening ties to community spaces and encouraging social interaction between generations. These events also offer a chance to personally thank local veterans and recognize them for their bravery and service.

Memorial Day honors those veterans who died serving our country in the armed forces.  Many of the ceremonies take place in outdoor, common spaces, such as Main Streets, town commons, and downtown sidewalks.  Community members gather together, in the spirit of kindness and compassion, to show gratitude for those who dedicated their lives to serving our democracy.  During these parades and outdoor ceremonies, folks bring bouquets of flowers, fresh baked bread, and other small tokens of kindness to share with veterans still living, in appreciation for their service, and that of their fellow soldiers who lost their lives.

Memorial Day parades are an opportunity for place-making and intergenerational dialogue.  Community members of all ages come out for the day’s ceremony and parade, while many of the activities take place in the gathering spaces of a town. It provides a space for neighbors, families, and friends to spend time together in a communal place.  Many Western Massachusetts’ towns ask their historical societies to organize events around Memorial Day to help us learn about local history and about those who served our country in the distant past. It is a day of remembrance from both a contemporary perspective and a historical perspective.  In the past, the following towns have hosted Memorial Day parades: Amherst, Agawam, Athol, Chicopee, Easthampton, Florence, Great Barrington, Greenfield, Hadley, Holyoke, Housatonic, Plainfield, Pittsfield, Stockbridge, Westfield  and Williamsburg, among other towns in the region.

Each parade and event may include local school marching bands, community picnics, community dinners, bike rides, gun salutes, and guest speakers.  Memorial Day parades connect communities to their local history and past while celebrating, and being grateful for, the chance to spend time together in town. Read the rest of this entry »

Sense of Place: Memorial Day

Think about this:

  • How does Walt Whitman’s poem “Ashes of Soldiers” attempt to honor those fallen soldiers who may no longer be remembered? Why did Whitman write this poem for them?
  • Does your town have a Memorial Day parade? When did it get started? Who started it? Check out your local history society or library for more information!
  • What Memorial Day traditions does your family celebrate?

35 Community Highlights: Rhubarb to Butterflies. Turtles to Trolley.

It’s all turtles, all day long at Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday in Hampden for Turtle Day! Visit to meet a real, live turtle and to learn about the species of turtles native to Massachusetts. Then, visitors will be able to go on a natural history walk of the sanctuary’s grounds to learn about how the landscape was formed and to learn about turtle habitat. Free. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Rhubarb to Butterflies. Bedrock to Marble. Turtles to Trolley… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Community Highlights

There’s fun stuff happening over the next few days!  Down in the Pioneer Valley, families can check out the Amherst Town Fair on the Common all weekend, and take in a concert with Mister G at the Eric Carle Museum on Saturday.  Also in the Valley, Look Park in Florence turns on all their amenities too, including their water park and paddle boats! In the Hilltowns, the Massachusetts Sheep & Woolcraft Fair happens all weekend at the at the Cummington Fairgrounds with loads of hands-on learning opportunities, fiber arts, and animals.  Out in the Berkshires, there’s a Community Bike Ride in Pittsfield, Rhubarb Festival in Lenox and HoorWA’s annual Riverfest in Williamstown.  Then on Monday are Memorial Day Parades in various town across the region! Check out our short list of parade highlights!

HistoryTransportationAnimal StudiesScienceEntomologyGeologyNature StudiesParent Workshops

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Suggested Events 05/29/10-06/04/10

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Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.


With temps soaring past 95-degrees this past week, families cooled off with snow cones from Town Farm at the Tuesday Farmers' Market in Northampton, while others headed to Musante Beach, Ashfield Lake, Splash Park at Look Park or the Westfield River. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. 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.


Friday, May 28th at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield: Freshly smoked pork, spare ribs and kielbasa, potato salad, cole slaw, beans and corn bread -or- double-crusted Spinach Pie with fresh spinach, red onions, garlic, mozzarella and feta cheeses. BYOB 628-4003

Friday, May 28th at Blue House Cafe in Haydenville: Tex-Mex Chalupa – a grilled burrito with organic black beans and brown rice, our homemade vegetarian sloppy joe, salsa, spinach, cheddar cheese and sour cream;  Arugula Pesto Panini (vegan version available); and  Thai Coconut Soup with vegetables and tofu. Gluten-free and vegan dishes too. BYOB. 268-7441

Saturday, May 29th at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville: Veggie Lassagnia, Garlic Bread and side salad. Sandwiches, salads, soups and pizza (including Gluten-Free pizza!). Open mic! Beer & wine available. 268-7757


Saturday, June 5th, 12noon-4pm: Holyoke Youth ExtravaGREENza, Nuestras Raices Farm “La Finca,” 245 High Street, Holyoke. Students from Holyoke Works’ new Green Careers Program share their work on environmental issues: global warming and climate change, recycling, increased bike use in the city, safe chemicals in the workplace and at home, energy audits and weatherization, and school and community gardens. Nuestras Raices’ Food and Fitness Project will kick off the event with a “Raw Feast.” Following lunch there will be interactive learning opportunities by all groups, with music and a green-themed raffle.  For more information, contact Laura Porter at Holyoke Works at 413-532-2683 or email lauraporter@yahoo.com.


On June 4th, Chris Smither will be performing a Friday night fund-raising concert at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls for the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School … and we have a 4-pack of free tickets along with a signed CD to offer one lucky person! Deadline to enter to win is 05/28/10. Find out how to enter to win HERE.


BECOME A SPONSOR: Hilltown Families supports sustainable development of our local economy. Local businesses, individuals, institutions and schools are encouraged to become sponsors and communicate with our large, family-oriented audience. Get the word out about the valuable services you offer while you support Hilltown Families’ work in building community.  Please email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.

Michael Kalagher of Plainfield, MA writes: Richard Shephard from Cummington is using his talents to assist environmental groups in documenting the tragedy on the Gulf Coast. See some of his work at www.rsairphoto.com. There is also an important blog you can link to from his site.

Nan of Ashfield, MA writes: No-Risk Kid Meals at Elmer’s in Ashfield.  Beginning this week, kids aged six and under eat Free between 5 and 6:30 pm (when they are with a regular-paying person over the age of six!)  I saw that on a billboard while I was driving back from New Orleans and thought, “Man, what a good idea!”

Beth Skolnick Bigelow wrote: There is a Native American Indian Pow Wow this weekend (Sat, Sun and Mon) at Indian Plaza, Route 2 in Charlemont, MA. It is a nice family event.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: West County Resilence Conversation is looking for volunteers to help during Riverfest in Shelburne Falls on Saturday, June 12th. Click here for more info.

MUSIC GIVEAWAY: Randy Kaplan has released a new family CD, The Kids Are All Id, and we have a signed copy to giveaway to one luck family!   Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, June 2nd 2010. Click here to enter to win.

GIRLS ART CAMP IN THE HILLTOWNS: ArtStar Girl’s Camp in Williamsburg (June 28th-July 2nd) (July 5th-July 9th) for girl’s between the ages of 8-12 will spend the day (10am-2pm) creating batik, silkscreening and tie dye as well as experiencing hand sewing and book making! Girls will be encouraged to explore their own artist expression in a relaxed lounge like environment at the private home studio of Marie Westburg, artist and Art Therapist. Sessions are limited to eight so sign up now! Cost is $180 per child. See artstarlounge.com for more information, or email artstarmarie@verizon.net.

CHORUS AUDITION: The South Hadley Children’s Chorus will have auditions on Wednesday, June 2nd in 10-minute “slots” between 4-6 pm at the Center Congregational Church. Boys and Girls ages 7-14 from many Pioneer Valley towns, rehearsing Wednesday afternoons in South Hadley, from early September thru mid-May. We sing all sorts of songs—“classical”, folk songs, Broadway and jazz tunes, in English and many other languages. Audition is informal & painless. Tests your ability to read words and “echo” the pitches you hear sung to you. Older, musically-experienced children may be asked to show knowledge of music notation. To schedule an audition time, parents should call or email Director Cathy Melhorn 413-548-1098; cmelhorn@mtholyoke.edu.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in Northampton, MA for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT!  You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets! This month we are pleased to offer a chance for two folks to win a pairs of tickets to see celebrated Nashville singer/songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman as she returns to the area with a powerful new album, Back To Love. Click here to enter to win.

SCIENCE MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Robots + Us at the Connecticut Science Center opens this weekend. This exhibit offers a playful look at how biology and engineering are coming together to close the gap between reality and the robotic dreams of some.  Build your own jitterbug robot, visit Low Life Labs and find out what robot designers are learning from.  Museum is in Hartford, CT and is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm., and it will be open on Memorial Day! www.ctsciencecenter.org

FREE HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENTS:  It may be hard to believe right now, but snow and cold will be coming back! No time like the present to call and schedule your no-cost home energy assessment. Slots fill up quickly, so call today. It is free and there are great incentives to be had! WMECO and other gas and electric utility companies offer this free assessment to residents through Mass Save, the statewide home energy efficiency program. There are no income requirements to participate, and incentives include up to 75% off up to $2000 in insulation upgrades, and an even better deal on air sealing. Call 866-527-7283, or visit http://www.masssave.com for more info.

Liz Friedman writes: Calling Mama Volunteers – Table for MotherWoman’s 5% Day at Whole Foods. We are looking for a couple good mama’s to help us table at Whole Foods in preparation for our big 5% Day at Whole Foods. Are you available for as little as 1 hour on any of the following days: Tuesday, June 1st 2 – 6pm; Saturday, June 5th 11am – 4pm; and Monday, June 7th 10am – 6pm. Contact Liz@motherwoman.org

ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events.


Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Market | Listen Here

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – May 29th

6-10am – FAMILY RADIO Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

8am-6pm – SHEEP & WOOLCRAFT FAIR: All weekend at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

8:30am-12:30pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: First Market of the Season! With Rhubarb Pie playing music. On the town green. Ashfield, MA (MARKET)

9am-3pm – PLANT SALE: At the Amherst Farmers’ Supply, sponsored by the 4-H. Amherst, MA (SALE)

9:30am-4:30pm – NATURE STUDIES: At the Historic Deerfield, families can investigate the diverse ingredients of soil and learn how it formed as part of the museums program, “The Earth Beneath Our Feet.”  Make soil and take home seeds to plant. 775-7214 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA (FREE with Admission)

9:30am-5pm- WOOL DAYS: During Wool Days Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village this weekend, families can meet the new baby animals, watch historical demos, be hands-on, take a boat ride, get crafty and much more. Sturbridge, MA ($)

10am –BIKE RIDE: Pittsfield’s Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a community bike ride, beginning at the Controy Pavilion on Onota Lake at Burbank Park. A fun way to spend an afternoon with friends and family! Younger riders are welcome and encouraged to ride the trail along the lake within Burbank Park. Registration starts at 9am. 448.9678 Pittsfield, MA

10am-6pm – CULTURAL BAZAAR: The Cultural Survival Bazaar happens this weekend on the Amherst Common. Amherst, MA (FREE)

10am-12Noon: CRAFT WORKSHOP: Make Knitting Needles for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

10am-5pm – CRAFT FAIR: Craft Fair in Haydenville: Fine Arts & Crafts in a Country Setting. 3 Grove Street. Haydenville, MA (FREE)

10am-5pm – HISTORIC EXPLORATIONS: Visit the 48-acre Naumkeag Estate in the Berkshires from and view Miss Choate’s tree peonies and tour her 44-room Berkshires Cottage, given intact to The Trustees of Reservations 50 years ago. Children will enjoy the “Kipper” activity pack as they explore the magical Blue Steps, Chinese Garden, Oak Lawn, Peony Terrace, Afternoon Garden and Evergreen Garden. Location: Naumkeag Estate, 5 Prospect Hill Road. 298-3239 Stockbridge, MA ($, KIDS FREE)

11am-12Noon – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Learn to Spin for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

11am-4pm – RIVERFEST: Riverfest at Cole Field, sponsored by the Hoosic River Watershed Association. An annual celebration of the river is fun for the entire family and includes rafting, canoeing, live music and other live performances, riverbank art, pony rides, live birds of prey, live river critters, crafts and activities for kids, good food, and more! 458-2742 www.hoorwa.org Williamstown, MA ($)

12Noon-4pm – MUSUEM ADVENTURES: Chesterwood Opening Day with events for famileis, including art and nature activities, a Lincoln impersonator, live music, and the grand opening of the “Discovery Room” in the Barn Gallery. 298-3579 www.chesterwood.org Stockbridge, MA ($)

12Noon-5pm – ART ADVENTURES: Canal Gallery’s Artists’ Market, between 2 canals next to the Childrens’ Museum. This Artist Market comes alive with music, food, and color. Inspired by markets of a 100 years ago; also those in warmer more colorful places and early Americana circuses & carnivals. 532-4141 Holyoke, MA

12:35pm, 1:45pm & 3pm – THEATER: Paintbox Theater will perform their twist of Cinderella at the Paradise City Arts Festival, at the 3-County Fairgrounds. http://www.paradisecityarts.com Northampton, MA ($)

1pm – FLOWER SHOW: Take the kids to see the stunning beauty of the lovely Iris. The Western New England Iris Society is hosting an Iris Show a the Shelbure Buckland Community Center. Spend the day in Shelburne Falls! Shelburne Falls, MA

1-3pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Kool-Aid Dyeing for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

1-3pm – CHESS: Drop-in Chess at the Forbes Library Mezzanine. Casual meets every Saturday the library is open. All competition levels are welcome. Drop in for part or all of the session. Bring your own set if you have one or use one of the library’s. Northampton, MA (FREE)

1-4pm – TEEN LITERARY EVENT: Jane Austen Tea Party at The Meekins Library. Croquet, Badminton, and Games of Chance. Jane’s favorite foods. Watch the movie “Lost in Austen.” For teens 13+ Williamsburg, MA

2-3pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Felting Treasure Bags for Kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

2-4pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Needle Felting For Young People (Ages 9-14) at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. www.masheepwool.org Cummington, MA (FREE)

4:30-6:30pm – PUPPET PERFORMANCE: Marmalade Productions and the Bumble Bee Players presents The Watershed Waltz at the Ramsdell Library. Celebrate with song, puppet fish, birds, and aquatic creatures. For all ages. 274-3738‎ Housatonic, MA

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