Let Them Grow: Learning Activities for Mud Season

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Mud Season Activities

Mud Season is the time between winter and spring. It is when the snow disappears and the grass has yet to grow. It’s when mud is the primary ground cover. It is still often too cold to take your toddler out for long periods of time, but it is warm enough to get out there for a short spell and get dirty. It is in between snow boots and galoshes; ice and mud puddles. It is the time of year that we start to think about spring but it isn’t spring enough to be able to act like spring yet… or is it? Here are several learning activities you can take advantage of during mud season with your young children that have hints of spring and loads of fun: Learning Activities for Mud Season

Suggested Events 04/09/11-04/15/11

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


While most of Western MA is blessed with four amazing seasons, the Hilltowns are blessed with a fifth: Mud Season! (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.

SPONSORSHIP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Hilltown Families has been serving & supporting our local community for over 5 years! Help us continue to serve our community by supporting the work we do! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!


Hilltown Families Birthday Benefit Bash

On Sunday, Apr 10th, come celebrate five years with Hilltown Families as we enter our sixth! A birthday benefit happens at Bread Euphoria from 4-7pm in Haydenville - a community building event with live music, pizza, cake, cash bar, door prizes, and MC Seth Gregory - all while $upporting the work of Hilltown Families! (Poster design by Tina Cornell)

On Saturday, April 9th from 12noon-4pm – FAMILY PARTY: Go, Kids Art. Go! BIG family party to raise money for children’s arts education. There will be music, dance, face painting, games, and a raffle and bake sale. The party will take place at the Barnes Gallery. 13 Montague Road. 413-548-9070. Leverett, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

In the afternoon on Saturday, April 9th at 4pm – MUSICAL PETTING ZOO: Smith College host their spring orchestra and a musical petting zoo at Sweeney Concert Hall on campus. Petting zoo is at 4pm. Concert at 7pm. The musical part of the program for the Musical Petting Zoo family concert will be nearly the same as the evening’s program but conductor Jonathan Hirsh will interweave a narrative about each instrument, what it is, how it sounds, and how it combines and blends with the other instruments in a composition. Kids will be invited to get up close to touch and listen to the sounds of the various instruments and to talk to the Smith orchestra students. 413-585-2787 Northampton, MA (FREE)

On Sunday, April 10th from 4-7pm – BIRTHDAY BENEFIT BASH: Dinner, dessert & a family concert: Hilltown Families Birthday Benefit Bash at Bread Euphoria! A community party to celebrate Hilltown Families 5 year anniversary. Family concert with Mister G. Pizza and birthday cake from Bread Euphoria. Face painting. Cash bar. Door prizes. Art. T-shirts. Community building! Suggested donation: $10-$25 per person. 206 Main St. (Route 9). Just over/before the Northampton line. Haydenville, MA (FUNDRAISER)


On Saturday, April 16th from 1-3pm – GEOLOGY: Families are invited to take a walk at the Chesterfield Gorge , along the Westfield River, with professor Richard Little. Learn about the geology of the gorge and enjoy the outdoors! Rain date is 4/17. Meet for the walk in the Trustees of Reservations parking lot in Chesterfield. West Chesterfield, MA (FREE)

On Sunday, April 17th from 11am-4pm – EARTH FESTIVAL: Visit the Springfield Science Museum for the Earth Week Festival! Tons of special activities, including demonstrations on how to cast a fishing rod provided by the DFW Angler Education Program. There will also be giveaways and a bluegrass performance. 21 Edwards Street. 800-625-7738. Springfield, MA. (FREE with museum admission)


BENEFIT CONCERT: Don’t miss Tracy Grammer & Jim Henry and The Nields, live in Shelburne Falls for The Academy at Charlemont‘s annual benefit concert! Sunday, April 17, 7 p.m. at Memorial Hall. Also featuring the debut of the astonishing student band Flapjack Overkill. Visit www.charlemont.org, or call the school at 413-339-4912. All proceeds will benefit The Academy’s scholarship fund.

PUPPET FESTIVAL: The Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton presents their 3rd annual Puppet Festival, April 18-21, 2011. The theater comes alive with story during school vacation week as puppets and marionettes take the stage all week (ages 4 and older). April 18th: The Woman Who Outshone the Sun, performed by Behind-the-Mask Puppets. April 19th: Jack and the Beanstalk performed by Spring Valley Puppet Theater. April 20th: Sleeping Beauty, performed by National Marionette Theatre. April 21st: Pinocchio, performed by the National Marionette Theatre. All shows begin at 10am and are 50 minutes long. Tickets are $5 and are available at the Academy Box Office, Tuesday-Friday from 3-6pm or by calling 584-9032 x105 or online at www.academyofmusictheatre.com.

POST C-SECTION WORKSHOP: Post C-Birth Healing 5-Week Workshop at Cradle in Northampton begins on Mon., May 2nd from 6-8pm. This group is for women-post partum, to have a formalized space to process and heal from issues related to C birth experiences. Come share your story. Cost for full workshop: $70. To register, contact Sabrina Herman at Sabrinaherman.awake@gmail.com.

HILLTOWN JOURNEY CAMP: A beloved summer day camp for girls and boys 6-13yo at a beautiful permaculture farm with barn, woods and streams, directed by Sarah Pirtle. Location: Taproot Commons-Warner Farm, near the Cummington Fairgrounds. Dates: M-F, July 25-29. Cost: $245. — About Journey Camp: “A most awesome experience for all three of our kids that captivated the age range of my five through eleven year olds. They came home with new friends and new ways of caring for each other.” The day includes building stick-houses in the woods, creative dramatics, active games, and a close community. For more info. & to reg., email marsha.journey@gmail.com or call 413-539-7857. $50 deposit to PO Box 60226, Florence, MA 01062. www.sarahpirtle.com

Greg Wickles, owner of Clean Air Lawn Care, writes: When you think of summer, does the sound of lawn mowers come to mind? It doesn’t have to be that way. Clean Air Lawn Care is the Valley’s leading full-service sustainable lawn care company. When you sign up for lawn maintenance with Clean Air Lawn Care, you are signing up for the cleanest and healthiest lawn service available. We use clean electric and biodiesel powered equipment that is run on renewable energy. Our equipment is charged during the day by solar panels mounted on our trucks. Because we are electric, our equipment is noticeably quiet. This aspect is great for neighbors, working environments, napping children, and enjoying your day. We are clean, quiet, organic and competitive. 413-210-0811

BIKE DRIVE: Give your old bike a new life! The first area bike drive is coming, and it is an opportunity for you to donate your unwanted bikes to a cause that really wants them: Bikes Not Bombs. Bikes Not Bombs plans on sending 8 containers full of used bikes from around Massachusetts to bike distribution projects in developing countries. All usable bikes 16″ or larger are accepted. A suggested donation of $10 will help defray shipping costs. This drive is being organized by Willa Sippel and her Dad Tom Sippel (413-634-0101). April 9th from 10am to 2pm at JFK Middle School in Northampton, MA.

Erin MckeownRECYCLING OPPORTUNITY: Earth Day is April 22 but it’s never too early to start changing habits and doing something to help the environment. On Saturday, April 9, the Little Red Schoolhouse in Williamstown will host an early Earth Day recycling event where the community is asked to bring cans and bottles with five-cent deposits for recycling as well as gently used children’s clothing and toys and household items (no appliances, please) for an upcoming tag sale to benefit the nonprofit preschool, featuring Earth-friendly crafts for Children. The recycling event runs from 9 a.m. to noon. The school is located at Route 7, Williamstown. For more information go online to lrsh.org.

SCREEN-FREE WEEK: April 18 – 24. Screen-Free Week. An annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life. “We recommend families participate in Screen-Free Week by turning off their TVs, computers and other screens … In addition to the health benefits, many people find that choosing to cut back their screen time offers an opportunity to replace it with family activities such as taking walks, playing games and spending time outside, and this can be rewarding and satisfying.” For more information, visit www.commercialfreechildhood.org

PARENTING UNPLUGGED: The Communities That Care Coalition is recruiting families with teenage children to participate in Parenting Unplugged Week, May 1-7. What would happen if you and your teens decided to turn off the screens at home for a week? No TV, no video games, no Facebook, no YouTube, no online chat, no tweeting, no texting at the dinner table? Want to find out? Volunteer to “unplug” at home for a week. At the end of the week, family members will be asked to share their experiences, and 2-3 families will be profiled. All participating families will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate for a family dinner out at a local restaurant of their choice. For more information, and to apply online go to www.parentapplication.info

Stop by and see the show, currently in Haydenville in the Andrew Quient Corridor Gallery at Bread Euphoria through April, 2011.

WRITING CONTEST: Odyssey Book Shop in South Hadley is holding their 18th annual Children’s Writing Contest! The contest, for kids in grades 1-5, runs through May 3rd and asks children to write their stories based on the prompt, “On a walk one day, you come across an enchanted creature.  Who is this creature?  What adventures might you have together?”  Winners will be awarded prizes at a ceremony on May 15th, and first place winners will be asked to read their stories aloud.  (There will be one first place prize for each grade)  For more information, visit www.odysseybks.com.

SCIENCE QUEST: UMass Amherst hosts Science Quest this Saturday, Apr 10th at 9:30am, an opportunity for 10th and 11th grade students to visit the UMass campus, see presentations by professors, and take part in hands-on science activities.  Though the focus of the say is on science, students will also hear what being a science major is like from a panel of students studying science at the university and learn what UMass admissions looks for in applicants from an admissions representative.  Students must preregister in order to pick the lab tour and demonstrations that they want to attend.  For more information call Michael Westort at 413-577-0164.



Hilltown Family Variety Show This week David Weinstone from Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals Guest DJ’s the HFVS . Tune in on Saturday, April 9th from 9-10am and/or Sunday, April 10th from 7-8am. First person to send us an email with the name of their favorite song from David’s show will win a free copy of his new CD, All I Want.

Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!


    Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Playgroups & Family Centers | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Listen Here

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    Suggested Events 03/14/09-03/20/09

    Mud Season Road Closure

    Mud Season in the hilltown! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)


    If 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 sugar shack are all fired up!  Point out to your kids as you drive by the plumbs of steam rising up as barrels of sap are brought in from the sugar bushes and cooked down into maple syrup.  Several sugar shacks offer a pancake breakfast to go along with their fresh maple syrup.  Check out the post, Maple Sugar Moon, for area sugar shacks that offer breakfast, tours and demos.  This weekend are a few special events that celebrate sugaring season.  See their listings below.

    On St. Patrick’s Day (Tuesday, March 17), Mariana Iranzi will do a free after-school show at Cup & Top Cafe in the center of Florence, MA at 4pm. Join Mariana for a bilingual musical afternoon adventure for the whole family!


    Billy Jonas & Robbert Bobbert

    New Music by Bill Jonas & Robbert Bobbert

    We are pleased to offer four free tickets to see the Pioneer Valley Symphony (PVS) featuring Grammy winning storyteller, Bill Harley and Peter and the Wolf in Greenfield, MA at the Greenfield High School Auditorium on Saturday, March 28th, at 7 pm, courtesy of PVS. Deadline to enter is Wednesday, 03/25/09 @ 7pm (EST).   Click HERE for more details and to enter to win.

    Tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show on Saturdays from 9-10am on Valley Free Radio (VFR), 103.3FM (Northampton, MA), or listen via streaming audio at www.ValleyFreeRadio.org. Every Saturday VFR offers four hours of commercial-free, quality family program from 6-10am, including Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child from 7am-9am.  It’s better than Saturday morning cartoons!

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | School Closings and Delays | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Facebook

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Saturday – 03/14

    Bill Harley

    Click here to enter to win free tickets!

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