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

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

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

ANIMAL/NATURE STUDIES

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

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

ARCHEOLOGY & ASTRONOMY

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

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

THEATER & MUSIC

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

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

STEM

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

DAY OF THE DEAD

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

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

HISTORY

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

PARENT WORKSHOPS

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

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

MISC

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

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

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

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

DIY: Mexican Sugar Skulls

HOW TO MAKE MEXICAN SUGAR SKULLS
A Culinary Folk Art for Day of the Dead
By Sienna Wildfield

Making Mexican Sugar Skulls-52.JPG

In the studio with Hilltown Families Guest Artist Marie Westburg of ArtStar in Williamsburg, MA making Mexican Sugar Skulls for Day of the Dead.  (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

What better avenue for children to explore and discover different cultures than FOOD?!  Right? … We all eat.  And whether it’s a yearly birthday cake, fish on Friday, pancakes on Sunday, or a couple of loaves of challah on a Friday night, most of us routinely and joyfully participate in different food traditions.  The culinary experience of exploring food customs from around the world can bring families an integrated course of study on cultural traditions and arts.

This time of year in Central and Southern Mexico, in preparation for the Mexican holiday El Diá de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), mounds of Sugar Skulls are sold in open air markets.  The Day of the Dead is on November 2nd and we’ve explored this Mexican holiday in a previous post: El Diá de los Muertos (Video & Resources).  Making Mexican Sugar Skulls with your kids is a creative hands-on project that can aid in the exploration of this traditional Mexican Folk Art while affording an opportunity to discuss and participate in one of the various customs of this Mexican celebration.

Hilltown Families Guest Artist Marie Westburg of ArtStar, an art enrichment studio in Williamsburg, MA, recently invited us over to make this sweet Mexican culinary folk art.  In her cozy studio our kids got together and crafted skulls out of sugar and meringue powder and decorated them with bags of colorful icings, beads and sequins.  It’s a fun project to make with a group of friends, but give yourself enough time.  The skulls take 12-24 hours to harden before they can be decorated. To follow is a DIY for this fun seasonal activity:  Read the rest of this entry »

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