Learning Ahead: Spring Landscape & Vernal Pools

Exploring Spring’s Landscape through Vernal Pools & Literature

Similar to fall, the spring season is a time of transition as habitats and animals begin to respond to the change in weather and climate. Phenology-based activities coincide with the natural changing of our seasons (our ultimate accessible community-based educational resource) and are great catalysts for learning through community engagement. Maple syrup season, filled with delicious community activities and opportunities, is our first crop of the year, followed by another  seasonal event as winter transitions into spring…Vernal Pools!
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Listen for Frogs, Become a Citizen Scientist!

Listen for Frogs, Become a Citizen Scientist!

Just in time for the awakening of amphibian species, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary offers a training on the FrogWatch citizen science project! Using this and other resources, families can learn about local species of frogs and salamanders and can engage in important conservation work.

Not long from now, local ponds, wetlands, and vernal pools will be teeming with life. Teetering somewhere between ice-crusted and mucky as of late, these aquatic habitats are home to a variety of fascinating species – including many types of frogs! As the landscape awakens, families can prepare for the appearance of local amphibian species by learning to identify common species, exploring the life cycle of amphibians, and engaging in citizen science opportunities.

Hibernating amphibians rise from their icy winter sleep on the first rainy night when the temperature rises above 40 degrees. Known sometimes as “the big night,” this occasion is cause for celebration – and for science. Families can serve as salamander crossing guards, helping the creatures to reach their breeding pools and taking part in citizen science at the same time.

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Suggested Events for April 25th-May 1st, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“When you travel you think to find out about all the interesting places to visit; sometimes you forget to look around in your own backyard. Hilltown Families is a wonderful resource that reminds me of all the fun things to do right here in the region.” – Heather LaPenn

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families 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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Over 50 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Bulletin Board

Apr 24

Come sing and dance at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art this Friday, April 24th at 11am and 1pm with Mister G in Amherst! Mister G is a 2014 Latin-Grammy nominated artist who was recently named one of the “Best Live Acts for Kids and Families.” Called “irresistible” by People magazine, his original music is a true delight for the whole family, and has won praise from The Boston Globe, LA Times, Chicago SunTimes, and The Washington Post. Join The Carle for an interactive concert experience that’s not to be missed! Advance tickets contact 413-658-1126. For more information, visit www.carlemuseum.org

Apr 28

Parent Workshop on Montessori: What is a Montessori education? What is the Montessori difference? The Montessori School of Northampton is offering a free workshop for parents with Elizabeth Slade, Montessori consultant, trainer and teacher, to answer these questions. The workshop will be held at the Montessori School of Northampton, 51 Bates Street, Northampton, MA, on Tuesday, April 28 from 5:15-7pm. It is open to current and prospective parents and anyone who is curious about the Montessori philosophy, materials and curriculum. Admission is free; participants are asked to register in advance through Brown Paper Tickets at http://bpt.me/1451689 or by calling 413-586-4538 x103. More information can be found at northamptonmontessori.org.

Apr 30

Parent of a 12-18 yr old? Want to win a $100 VISA Gift Card & $100 Big Y Shopping Spree? Take Northampton Prevention Coalition’s Parent Survey by June 1st! Want more? Here are some great upcoming NPC Events for Parents of Teens: Youth Marijuana Use: What’s the Big Deal? A Community Meeting w/ Rick Cresta – LICSW, MSW/MPH, Thursday, April 30th, 7pm, Northampton High School’s Little Theatre at 380 Elm Street in Northampton. Childcare available, call 413-587-1366. Also, How to Help Your Teen Make Healthy Choices: A Taste of Motivational Interviewing w/ John Brelsford, PHD, Saturday, May 16th, 10:30am–2pm, Collaborative for Educational Services at 97 Hawley St, Northampton with lunch provided. Visit NPC at northamptonprevents.org to register!

May 3 – Jun 7

Biocitizen School presents Drawing on Nature: Art in the Woods: a class devoted to nurturing biophilia (love of life) and the skills of transporting nature’s beauty to the sketchbook with pencils, paints & clay—that includes hikes and plein aire activities, tracking and capturing nature’s emergencies through high Spring. Introductory concepts of composition, line, form, value, texture, color and pattern are used to inspire students’ imagination and expression. Students are provided with a notebook and a travel watercolor set that they get to take home. Tuition: $250 for 24 hours instruction & all materials. Dates: Classes are Sundays, 10am–2pm, from May 3-Jun 7. Age range: 9-12. Contact: 413-695-7994. info@biocitizen.org. www.biocitizen.org

May 3

Sunday May 3, 2015 from 11am- 4pm: The Massachusetts Renaissance Center invites you to a day of music, theater, juggling, falconry, dancing and more at the 13th Annual Community Renaissance Festival in Amherst! Fun for all ages! Free admission and Free parking! Phoenix Swords returns with their popular swordsmanship demonstrations that are fun for the whole family! Robie Bones is back to lead music making! Play Renaissance games with Mutton and Mead! See demonstrations by local artisans and try your hand at one of these Renaissance crafts! There will be a Renaissance Poetry Performance Contest with cash prizes to win! For a complete schedule and parking info visit www.umass.edu/renaissance and click the festival link, or call 413-577-3600.

Open House May 9

Ashfield Community Preschool invites families to their annual open house on Saturday, May 9 from 9:30am-Noon. This event is for families with young children ages 15mo-5yo who are looking for quality care & small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield (103 Baptist Corner Rd). Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing a sunflower house & pumpkin patch. Their developmentally appropriate curriculum is inspired by the natural world. In this pastoral setting the preschool offers a 6 week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists. Open House on May 9. Tour their facility & grounds and register for summer & fall sessions. 413-628-3248. New Toddler Program Opening Fall 2015

Preschool Openings

Preschool Openings at the Common School in Amherst. What is the best way to insure a quality education for your child? Invest in it early. The Common School provides the foundation for life-long learning by emphasizing how to learn. Experiential activities, a strong social curriculum, environmental awareness and imagination are hallmarks of our pre-school program- paving the way for strong academic success. Openings for 3 – 5 year olds for fall 2015. Call for a tour 413-256-8989 and visit their website www.commonschool.org

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation is happy to announce that it will provide $4000 per year to qualifying younger students and $5000 to high school students who attend one of the region’s Jewish day schools. Ensuring small classes, excellent teachers and a nurturing environment, Jewish day schools can provide your child with a superb secular and Jewish education. Participating schools include: Heritage Academy, Longmeadow; Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, Longmeadow; Lander-Grinspoon Academy, Northampton; and Hebrew High School of New England, West Hartford. For more information, visit www.hgf.org/TIP

May 9

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, May 9th, 9-11:30am with a community potluck and volunteer day. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

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, program, 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 info@hilltownfamilies.org. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
April 25th-May 1st, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletterFarmers’ Markets | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for April 18th-24th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

We recently attended an event at the Discovery Center in Turners Falls that was all about animals and baby animals. Our daughter had a great time and we enjoyed the museum after the event. I also really enjoy reading about dinner time suggestions from one of your contributors; and look forward to getting out to Shelburne Falls — SO excited to find out about the Art Garden through Hilltown Families. What a stellar idea and liked reading about the mitten project! Thank you for inspiring good family times for our family! – Sarah Czerwonka (Shutesbury, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families 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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Over 50 summer camps & programs, in and around western MA, to choose from!!!

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Hilltown Families Events

Apr 18

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids with the second in our series happening on Saturday, April 18 from 10am-12noon. Mark your calendars and make plans to come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! Takes place at Flywheel in the old town in Easthampton, MA. 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)

Apr 18

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, April 18th, 9-11:30am, celebrating National Volunteer Month. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

Bulletin Board

School Vac

This April vacation, join the Springfield Museums for their amazing Puppet Festival, April 20-24. Performances included the timeless classic Peter & The Wolf by the National Marionette Theater, plus fun on the high seas with Everybody Loves Pirates by Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers, and many more. There’s also live animal demonstrations from Dave’s Soda & Pet City and plenty of hands-on science and art activities, all free with museum admission! For information, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

School Vac

April vacation at The Carle! Join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst for a week of live entertainment and fun-filled activities! On April 19th, Nutshell Playhouse presents the swashbuckling adventure: Pirates! And on April 21st Cactushead Puppets performs Little Red Riding Hood. Then, everyone’s favorite, Mister G returns to play two concerts on April 24th. Plus, discover three galleries of picture book art, including Eric Carle’s new exhibition: Bees, Butterflies and Other Bugs. Get lost in a project in the Art Studio! Enjoy a story time, a film or a scavenger hunt. Picnic in their orchard! For additional information on performances, please contact 413-658-1126 or visit www.carlemuseum.org.

School Vac

New England Air Museum will hold April Vacation Break Programs April 20th- 24th. The Museum’s Flight Sim Spot will be open each of these days between 11am and 4pm. The Flight Sim Spot allows visitors to use state-of-the-art simulators with real cockpit controls. Monday, April 20th– Wednesday, April 22nd- Open Cockpits & Museum Tours; Thursday, April 23rd– Great LEGO Race; Friday, April 24th- Straw Rocket Competition. Activities are included with the price of admission on the day of your visit unless noted. Each day docents will be on hand to provide information and to interact with the visitors. NEAM is located in Windsor Locks, CT. For more info call 860-623-3305 or visit www.neam.org.

School Vac

Vacation Break camps at SHOW are a great place for kids to express themselves creatively and to be a part of a community steeped in circus culture and traditions. Campers 6-12yo have the opportunity to try a variety of circus skills, including aerial and ground work, and then choose their favorite activities to focus on for the final performance. Each week has a different theme for the final circus show and campers are challenged to incorporate the theme into their circus act, making each session and final show unique! Spring Break Camp (Apr 20-24) and 5 Weeks of Summer Camp (Jul 13-Aug 14) available in Easthampton. Mon-Fri, 9-3pm. For more information and registration visit www.showcircusstudio.com, or email/call: info@showcircusstudio.com; 413-527-6901.

School Vac

Vortex Dance Fitness Studio is having a Kids Cabaret Dance Program during school vacation week, running 2-3:30pm on Monday April 20, Wednesday April 22, and Friday April 24, and 9:30-11am on Tuesday April 21 and Thursday April 23. There will be a performance for family and friends from 3:30-4pm on Friday, April 24, the last day. Cabaret Style dance is a mix of jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip-hop which uses props such as hats and canes. Cost: $100/per student. Ages 8-12. Dancing is a fun way to exercise and make new friends. Vortex Dance Fitness Studio is located on the 2nd floor of the Eastworks Building, 116 Pleasant Street, Suite 251, in Easthampton. Sign up today by email: fontaineangela7@gmail.com or through www.vortexdancestudio.com.

Apr 28

Parent Workshop on Montessori: What is a Montessori education? What is the Montessori difference? The Montessori School of Northampton is offering a free workshop for parents with Elizabeth Slade, Montessori consultant, trainer and teacher, to answer these questions. The workshop will be held at the Montessori School of Northampton, 51 Bates Street, Northampton, MA, on Tuesday, April 28 from 5:15-7pm. It is open to current and prospective parents and anyone who is curious about the Montessori philosophy, materials and curriculum. Admission is free; participants are asked to register in advance through Brown Paper Tickets at http://bpt.me/1451689 or by calling 413-586-4538 x103. More information can be found at northamptonmontessori.org.

May 3 – Jun 7

Biocitizen School presents Drawing on Nature: Art in the Woods: a class devoted to nurturing biophilia (love of life) and the skills of transporting nature’s beauty to the sketchbook with pencils, paints & clay—that includes hikes and plein aire activities, tracking and capturing nature’s emergencies through high Spring. Introductory concepts of composition, line, form, value, texture, color and pattern are used to inspire students’ imagination and expression. Students are provided with a notebook and a travel watercolor set that they get to take home. Tuition: $250 for 24 hours instruction & all materials. Dates: Classes are Sundays, 10am–2pm, from May 3-Jun 7. Age range: 9-12. Contact: 413-695-7994. info@biocitizen.org. www.biocitizen.org

Open House: May 9

Ashfield Community Preschool invites families to their annual open house on Saturday, May 9 from 9:30am-Noon. This event is for families with young children ages 15mo-5yo who are looking for quality care & small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield (103 Baptist Corner Rd). Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing a sunflower house & pumpkin patch. Their developmentally appropriate curriculum is inspired by the natural world. In this pastoral setting the preschool offers a 6 week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists. Open House on May 9. Tour their facility & grounds and register for summer & fall sessions. 413-628-3248. New Toddler Program Opening Fall 2015!

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation is happy to announce that it will provide $4000 per year to qualifying younger students and $5000 to high school students who attend one of the region’s Jewish day schools. Ensuring small classes, excellent teachers and a nurturing environment, Jewish day schools can provide your child with a superb secular and Jewish education. Participating schools include: Heritage Academy, Longmeadow; Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, Longmeadow; Lander-Grinspoon Academy, Northampton; and Hebrew High School of New England, West Hartford. For more information, visit www.hgf.org/TIP

Jul 6-10

Journey Camp returns to Cummington for Hilltown families this summer. The supportive staff makes it easy to find new friends while exploring nature, theater, games, music. Inclusiveness and peace building are hallmarks of Journey Camp. Founder and Director, Sarah Pirtle, has numerous awards for her books and music for children. Session One, boys & girls ages 7-12,June 29-July 3, 8:45-4, Woolman Hill, Deerfield. Hilltown Journey Camp, boys & girls, 7-12, July 6-10, 8:45-4, Taproot Common Farm, Cummington. Moonseed Teen Leadership for Girls, 11-18, July 27-July 30, two overnights & campfires, Woolman Hill. Girls Week, 7-13, Aug. 3-7 & Aug. 10-14, 8:45-4, Woolman Hill. www.sarahpirtle.com. Contact: 413-588-6399, marsha.journey@gmail.com.

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, program, 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 info@hilltownfamilies.org. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
April 18th-24th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | School Closures | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for April 11th-17th, 2015

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

“As each weekend approaches, I immediately look to Hilltown Families to see if there are events & happenings that might interest us. We have often found really fun things to do that we may not have heard of otherwise and many times events are free which is an added bonus! I have recommended the Hilltown Families site to countless families that have moved to the area and are looking for fun things to do. Thank you Hilltown Families–you are a fabulous resource!” – Sara Cahillane (Whately, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families 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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

Summer Camps in Western MA

Check out our featured post, 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

Hilltown Families Events

Apr 18

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids with the second in our series happening on Saturday, April 18 from 10am-12noon. Mark your calendars and make plans to ome enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages! Takes place at Flywheel in the old town in Easthampton, MA. 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA (FUNDRAISER)

Apr 18

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Each month, families are invited to attend a monthly volunteer session to help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. This is an opportunity for Hilltown Families participating families to volunteer together with their community, engaged in service-based learning while supporting an important local cause! Family Volunteer Days are held once a month and are open to everyone. Our next Family Volunteer Day takes place on Saturday, April 18th, 9-11:30am, celebrating National Volunteer Month. Families may stay for all or some of the event. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Click here to sign up! Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER) (Sponsored by Hilltown Tree & Garden)

Bulletin Board

Apr 11

Saturday, April 11th, 11am-12:30pm — Girls in Science! The Hilltown Land Trust is bringing local author Jeannine Atkins to Williamsburg to read from and discuss her children’s book Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists. Following the reading, there will be a guided exploratory hike up Petticoat Hill, where kids will have the opportunity to uncover the natural world—perhaps it will be waiting for you under a rock! Signed books will be available for sale. RSVP with Nicole Rhodes at hltlandsteward@ttor.org or 413-628-4485 x4. For more information: www.hilltown-land-trust.org. Location: Meekins Library and Petticoat Hill Reservation, Williamsburg, MA (FREE).

Apr 11

Odyssey Bookshop: Middle Grade Mash-up! Saturday, April 11th at 4pm. Baseball feats to witches treats and twinkie pies to record highs, this middle grade mash-up has something for everyone! Celebrate Odyssey’s first middle grade mash-up! Odyssey brings you four middle grade authors, Howard Bryant from ESPN, Natasha Lowe, Kat Yeh and Molly Burnham. Whether you’re a baseball fan or love a silly story, believe in witches or like to cook we have something for you. See author info and book synopsis at www.odysseybks.com. For ages 7-12. Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. RSVP at rsvp@odysseybks.com

Apr 11 & 12

Do you sleep under a quilt every night? Have you ever thought about who made that quilt? The Hands All Around Quilt Show, April 11 & 12, at the UMass Amherst Campus Center, will surprise and amaze you – modern quilts, pictorial quilts, and yes, great traditional quilts too. Introduce your child to the wonderful world of homemade quilts! Many quilters will be on hand to discuss and explain their wonderful craft. Something for everyone – 300+ quilts, quilting demonstrations, kids activities, a modern quilt exhibit, a mini-quilt sale, and much more. April 11 & 12, UMass Amherst Campus Center, don’t miss this quilt show. www.handsacrossthevalley.org

Apr 14

More than a Story Hour! Parents and caregivers with their children ages 5 and under are welcome to attend a story hour on Tuesday, April 14 at 9am in the library of The Bement School in Deerfield, MA. The story hour features the book Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest. After reading the story, there will be a craft activity and light refreshments. Stay for a performance of Coyote performed by Bement’s kindergarten. The event is free, but please RSVP so the may plan accordingly: 413-774-4209. Directions and more information can be found at Bement.org.

Apr 15

Amherst Montessori School has openings for children ages 15 months through 5 years for Fall 2015! Open House on Wednesday, April 15, 9-10:30 AM. Amherst Montessori School nurtures the child’s spirit, curiosity, confidence, and leadership, building the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. AMS programs feature thoughtfully-prepared classrooms to support the child’s development, and a curriculum that integrates music, art, practical life, outdoor time, PE, Spanish and more. Young Toddler through Sixth Grade. To register for the Open House, call 413-253-3101 or email Laura Miller, Director of Admissions, at lmiller@amherstmontessori.org. www.amherstmontessori.org

School Vac

New England Air Museum will hold April Vacation Break Programs April 20th- 24th. The Museum’s Flight Sim Spot will be open each of these days between 11am and 4pm. The Flight Sim Spot allows visitors to use state-of-the-art simulators with real cockpit controls. Monday, April 20th– Wednesday, April 22nd- Open Cockpits & Museum Tours; Thursday, April 23rd– Great LEGO Race; Friday, April 24th- Straw Rocket Competition. Activities are included with the price of admission on the day of your visit unless noted. Each day docents will be on hand to provide information and to interact with the visitors. NEAM is located in Windsor Locks, CT. For more info call 860-623-3305 or visit www.neam.org.

School Vac

Vortex Dance Fitness Studio is having a Kids Cabaret Dance Program during school vacation week, running 2-3:30pm on Monday April 20, Wednesday April 22, and Friday April 24, and 9:30-11am on Tuesday April 21 and Thursday April 23. There will be a performance for family and friends from 3:30-4pm on Friday, April 24, the last day. Cabaret Style dance is a mix of jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip-hop which uses props such as hats and canes. Cost: $100/per student. Ages 8-12. Dancing is a fun way to exercise and make new friends. Vortex Dance Fitness Studio is located on the 2nd floor of the Eastworks Building, 116 Pleasant Street, Suite 251, in Easthampton. Sign up today by email: fontaineangela7@gmail.com or through www.vortexdancestudio.com.

School Vac

Vacation Break camps at SHOW are a great place for kids to express themselves creatively and to be a part of a community steeped in circus culture and traditions. Campers 6-12yo have the opportunity to try a variety of circus skills, including aerial and ground work, and then choose their favorite activities to focus on for the final performance. Each week has a different theme for the final circus show and campers are challenged to incorporate the theme into their circus act, making each session and final show unique! Spring Break Camp (Apr 20-24) and 5 Weeks of Summer Camp (Jul 13-Aug 14) available in Easthampton. Mon-Fri, 9-3pm. For more information and registration visit www.showcircusstudio.com, or email/call: info@showcircusstudio.com; 413-527-6901.

May 3 – Jun 7

Biocitizen School presents Drawing on Nature: Art in the Woods: a class devoted to nurturing biophilia (love of life) and the skills of transporting nature’s beauty to the sketchbook with pencils, paints & clay—that includes hikes and plein aire activities, tracking and capturing nature’s emergencies through high Spring. Introductory concepts of composition, line, form, value, texture, color and pattern are used to inspire students’ imagination and expression. Students are provided with a notebook and a travel watercolor set that they get to take home. Tuition: $250 for 24 hours instruction & all materials. Dates: Classes are Sundays, 10am–2pm, from May 3-Jun 7. Age range: 9-12. Contact: 413-695-7994. info@biocitizen.org. www.biocitizen.org

Open House: May 9

Ashfield Community Preschool invites families to their annual open house on Saturday, May 9 from 9:30am-Noon. This event is for families with young children ages 15mo-5yo who are looking for quality care & small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield (103 Baptist Corner Rd). Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing a sunflower house & pumpkin patch. Their developmentally appropriate curriculum is inspired by the natural world. In this pastoral setting the preschool offers a 6 week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists. Open House on May 9. Tour their facility & grounds and register for summer & fall sessions. 413-628-3248. New Toddler Program Opening Fall 2015

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation is happy to announce that it will provide $4000 per year to qualifying younger students and $5000 to high school students who attend one of the region’s Jewish day schools. Ensuring small classes, excellent teachers and a nurturing environment, Jewish day schools can provide your child with a superb secular and Jewish education. Participating schools include: Heritage Academy, Longmeadow; Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, Longmeadow; Lander-Grinspoon Academy, Northampton; and Hebrew High School of New England, West Hartford. For more information, visit www.hgf.org/TIP

Jul 6-10

Journey Camp returns to Cummington for Hilltown families this summer. The supportive staff makes it easy to find new friends while exploring nature, theater, games, music. Inclusiveness and peace building are hallmarks of Journey Camp. Founder and Director, Sarah Pirtle, has numerous awards for her books and music for children. Session One, boys & girls ages 7-12,June 29-July 3, 8:45-4, Woolman Hill, Deerfield. Hilltown Journey Camp, boys & girls, 7-12, July 6-10, 8:45-4, Taproot Common Farm, Cummington. Moonseed Teen Leadership for Girls, 11-18, July 27-July 30, two overnights & campfires, Woolman Hill. Girls Week, 7-13, Aug. 3-7 & Aug. 10-14, 8:45-4, Woolman Hill. www.sarahpirtle.com. Contact: 413-588-6399, marsha.journey@gmail.com.

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, program, 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 info@hilltownfamilies.org.mps and Programs in Western MA. Find out more about this targeted marketing opportunity HERE.

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
April 11th-17th, 2015

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | School Closures | Berkshire Family Fun

Donate Now

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Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Vernal Pools

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: March Segment
Vernal Pools: Natural Habitats & Local Species as Community Resources

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, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts, Ashley Kohl and Seth Stutman, 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 Thursday, March 26, 2015, highlighting how local habitats and native species can be used as a catalyst for learning. Through the lens of Vernal Pools and the animals that depend on them for survival, Sienna shares three methods of engagement as a way to support interests and education via Vernal Pools:


Vernal Pools: Methods of Engagement that Support Community-Based Learning

When looking for community-based resources that support learning via the lens of vernal pools, consider nature center, conservation organizations and your local library.

Phenology-based activities coincide with the natural changing of our seasons (our ultimate accessible community-based educational resource) and are great catalysts for learning through community engagement. Maple syrup season, filled with delicious community activities and opportunities, is our most recent seasonal activity here in Western MA.  But can you name other seasonal events coming our way as winter transitions into spring? The one we want to highlight this month is Vernal Pools!

As the seasons transition and habitats and animals respond to the change in weather and climate, Vernal Pools begin to emerge and come to life based on the timing of this change and the relationship plants and animals have with their environment! Taking advantage of these changes and getting out into your community to participate in nature-based learning activities will support the development of skills and integrated learning in a wide variety of subjects.

Methods of engagement as they relate to Vernal Pools can include nature-based learning, service-based learning and citizen scientist, and the embedded learning families can extracted from these engagement opportunities can range from ecology to natural history, entomology to zoology, scientific process to art!

The following methods of engagement and events highlight these community-based resources and the embedded learning you can extract from participation: Read the rest of this entry »

Mapping Vernal Pool Habitats Hosts Loads of Learning

Mapping Vernal Pools

Families can explore and map local vernal pools all on their own! The process of inspecting, mapping, and tracking present species is quite a project to undertake as a family, but is one that can provide endless opportunities for learning and exploration of the natural world.

Vernal pools are the breeding grounds for some of spring’s most exciting life – literally! Not only are they home to special species like fairy shrimp, who spend their entire lives in vernal pool habitats, but the watery mini-ponds provide a venue for salamander and frog species to lay eggs for late-spring hatching. While some vernal pools in western Massachusetts are well known (Sheburne’s High Ledges are home to a local favorite), there are certainly many, many more vernal pools whose locations have yet to be officially determined.

Families can explore vernal pools in their neighborhoods by using the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program’s GIS Data vernal pool maps, which can be downloaded either as a GIS layer (for tech-y families) or as a datalayer in an online map. While there’s still lots of snow on the ground, the sound of peepers will soon be serenading the hills on spring evenings, and vernal pools will be slowly coming alive with fresh water and lots of fascinating life.

But what about those vernal pools that have yet to be mapped by the state? Read the rest of this entry »

Lifecycle Studies: Hatching Frog Eggs

Lifecycle Studies: Hatching Frog Eggs

Here in western Massachusetts, one of Mother Nature’s first ways of letting us know that spring has arrived is the chorus that comes during the evening. Peepers and wood frogs add natural music to the wet, muddy, spring landscape, letting everyone and everything within earshot know that winter is finally over. And soon after the evenings get noisy, amphibians get busy! Not long after emerging, ponds and vernal pools become home to hundreds of eggs.

Springtime outdoor exploration with kids is sure to lead to discoveries of egg masses if you live near still or slow-moving water. There’s a lot to be learned just from examining the egg masses themselves, but there’s even more to be learned by watching the eggs hatch, develop, and grow from a gelatinous cluster into full-sized frogs! Families can schedule regular visits to a pond or vernal pool to watch these future-frogs grow, but it’s much easier to see the small daily changes that occur if the eggs are right inside your home or classroom.

Before bringing home an egg mass, do some research and learn to identify the egg masses you’ve found. Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for April 12th-18th, 2014

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“Hilltown Families is my go-to place to look for upcoming family activities in my community (and the surrounding communities). I truly appreciate this site and all of the work that’s put into it!” – Renee Hill (Easthampton, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families 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… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

SUMMER CAMPS IN WESTERN MA

Summer Camps in  Massachusetts

“Hilltown Families continues to be my go-to place for family events. I really appreciated the organized list of summer camps!”

50 Summer Camps to choose from! Now is the time to start signing up for summer camp! Check out our featured post, 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of 50 summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

BULLETIN BOARD

Apr 13

Take your family on a tour through pre-historic Australia with Erth’s DINOSAUR ZOO Live™ where an eye-popping array of ancient creatures come to life on stage. Meet a menagerie of insects, mammals & dinosaurs in their ancient environment, in this highly imaginative, entertaining & educational live show. Brought to life by skilled performers & puppeteers, you’ll experience the sweetly curious baby Dryosaur, the peaceful hulk Titanosaur, and the teeth-gnashing T-rex. It all happens at the FAC Concert Hall on Sunday, April 13 at 4pm. Free pre-show family fest at 3pm in lobby. Tickets are only $20/adults & $10/kids 17 & under. Family 4-packs are $50. For tickets call 413-545-2511 or 1-800-999-UMAS or online: www.fineartcenter.com. Amherst, MA.

Apr 13, 18, 21-25

Spring into spring at the Springfield Museums! There’s a variety of family-friendly events and activities happening all month long, starting with the annual Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April 13 from 11am-4pm, with music, environmental displays, and live animal demonstrations. There’s more fun on Friday April 18, with appearances by the Easter Bunny and a performance of Spring into Easter by The Wayne Martin’s Puppets at 1pm. Then enjoy a week of hands-on activities and shows by the region’s finest puppet ensembles during their amazing Puppet Festival, April 21-25, featuring tales like Robin Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Beauty and the Beast. For more information, visit www.SpringfieldMuseums.org.

Apr 14-18; 21-25

For some educational, interactive family fun, bring your kids to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT, a ninety minute drive from Boston and only twenty minutes from Hartford. Mon., Apr. 14th- Aero Modeling Workshop; Tues., Apr. 15th- Glider Engineering Design Challenge; Wed., Apr. 16th- Parachute Drop; Thurs., Apr. 17th- Open Cockpit; Fri., Apr. 18th- LEGO Contest & Easter Bunny Visit; Mon., Apr. 21st-Wed., Apr. 23rd- Open Cockpit & Museum Tours; Thurs., Apr. 24th- Zip Line Challenge; Fri., Apr. 25th- Blimp Maze. Also enjoy over 80 aircraft on display, interactive exhibits, guided tours and not to be missed-our newest exhibit “Flight Sim Spot” open daily.

Apr 17-19; 24-26

In a city reminiscent of Batman’s Gotham, water is worth its weight in gold due to a 20-year shortage. The citizens must use toilets run by a corrupt corporation willing to do anything to make a buck. In this desolate world, one young man has decided enough is enough and begins a rebellion to save the oppressed poor. Urinetown: The Musical is an irreverent musical satire- a tale of greed, corruption, revolution, and love. April 17-19 and 24-26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $10 general admission, $7 students/seniors. Tickets are available at: wnsboxoffice.tixato.com/buy/urinetown. The Williston Theatre is located in Scott Hall at 18 Payson Avenue, Easthampton. Parking is available, free of charge, behind the building.

Apr 19

Skip down to the Odyssey Bookshop for a morning of fun with author, Paul Reynolds! Paul and his brother Peter have teamed up to bring us a fantastic new picture book. Going Places is about working together and letting your imagination soar. In celebration of this new book Odyssey is hosting the author and inviting you to use your imagination to make a creation of your own for a storytime and crafting fun on Saturday, April 19th at 11am. This event if free but RSVP encouraged at www.odysseybks.com. Great for ages 3 and up! Odyssey Bookshop, 9 college street, South Hadley, MA, 01075.

Apr 21

The Academy of Music Theatre presents National Marionette Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast on Monday, April 21st at 10am. The classic story of a prince who is changed into a hideous beast by an evil enchantment that can only be broken by true love. When Beauty looks beyond the Beast’s external appearance, she learns to love him for who he truly is on the inside. Using meticulously crafted marionettes and beautifully painted scenery, National Marionette Theatre’s production is classical marionette theater at its finest. Appropriate for family audiences aged 4+. Tickets $7, plus box office fees. For more information and tickets, visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com or call the Box Office at 413-584-9032 ext. 105 Tuesdays-Fridays 3-6pm. Northampton, MA.

Apr 21, 23 & 25

April 21, 23 and 25 from 9am to 11am spring-inspired art projects help kids enliven their creativity at Spring Break Art Detox at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. Discover how exhibiting artists preserve, re-purpose, and recycle materials. On Monday, preserve natural materials in resin; On Wednesday, re-purpose objects into a mobile planter; On Friday, recycle found items into sculpture. Parents can drop off their kids or join in the action. Pre-registration is recommended. Reservations are $7 per day for members and $10 for not-yet members, and can be made at the MASS MoCA box office. Sign up for one, two, or all three days. Registration is also open for summer art camps. Find out more online at kidspace.massmoca.org/art-camps.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your April vacation program, afterschool class, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, wellness program or business 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 enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Easter is around the corner: April 20th. During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Find an egg hunt nearest you, along with spring time craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances and make your family plans to get out into your community and celebrate. Check our list of Easter Events in Western MA.  With nearly 40 opportunities already posted, this growing list is your go-to resource for Easter and spring time celebrations in the region!

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 hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
April 12th-18th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Vernal Pools in Western MA

Vernal Pools: Community Resources & Events Supplement Interests & Education

Studies of vernal pools support learning in many areas of interest, and a close look at amphibian reproduction can help to spark children’s curiosity about other aspects of amphibian life. Find out what’s happening in Western MA this spring!

Along with the greenery of spring comes a reawakening of wildlife, and some of western Massachusetts smallest and most fascinating creatures make their debut as soon as the snow melts! One sure sign of the change of seasons is the sound of peepers – noisy wood frogs who have made their way from their winter residences to the vernal pools that have filled with fish-free water thanks to the melting snow. Vernal pools aren’t just home to wood frogs, though. Their amphibious neighbors include salamanders, fairy shrimp, and tiny mussels, making vernal pools a fascinating (and usually temporary) incubator for many species.

Vernal pools truly come alive at a very specific time during the spring. On the first rainy night when the temperature stays above 40 degrees, frogs and salamanders migrate from their winter homes to their annual breeding grounds, filling the pools with the sounds of mating and an abundance of eggs. While it can be tempting for rainboot-clad kiddos to stomp right on into a big, shallow puddle in the woods, it’s important to know whether or not they’re romping about in a vernal pool. Such pools house the eggs of many species of frogs and salamanders, and humans’ springtime frolicking can easily disturb these eggs and negatively affect populations. However, spending an afternoon exploring along the edges of a vernal pools is nature’s classroom at its best! Families can learn to identify commonly found species, and can watch a vernal pool over the course of the spring, summer, and fall (and maybe even winter) to see how it changes… Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: The Magic of Spring Peepers. The Science of Vernal Pools

How do spring peepers know when to start singing?

Vernal pools contain creatures (amphibians and bugs) that can only breed where there are no hungry fish. Citizen scientists are needed to find and report vernal pools in the Hilltowns. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

How do spring peepers know when to start singing?

They don’t have weather reports, or the ability to see the buds forming on trees, the snow melting, or teens walking around in shorts and T’s when it’s 40 degrees and climbing.

Certainly, there are scientific reasons that explain how peepers know when to announce the return of the sun and the warmth; but there’s a simpler reason that is worth considering and appreciating. The peepers feel the right moment to sing.

Peepers are a special family of frogs, and frogs have a unique physiology—a evapotranspirative skin that makes them especially sensitive to the slightest changes in temperature, humidity, chemistry and other things we don’t have words for including that feeling that we also get when spring arrives. There is, for example, a new kind of sunlight that appears out of the grey, slush and slog of the late winter months that Emily Dickinson noticed, and maybe you and the peepers notice too.

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for April 7th-13th, 2012

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Along with the yellow bloom of Coltsfoot, the white bloom of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is one of the first wildflowers to appear in April. Take your family on nature scavenger hunt along one of our Western MA rivers and streams this weekend and see what you can find. Click on the image to find out about nature scavenger hunts. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest 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.

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 class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Easter Events in Western MA

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Find an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

In Hampshire County on Saturday, April 7th at 10am  – SATURDAY  MORNING MUSIC PARTY:  The Flywheel Arts Collective, an Easthampton-based, volunteer-run music and arts venue, along with the Hilltown Families and No-Nap Happy Hour, invites families with kids of all ages to a free pancake breakfast followed a family dance party by local kids performers R.O.C.K. (Royal Order of Chords and Keys)! 43 Main Street. Easthampton, MA. (<$)

In Berkshire County on Saturday, April 7th from 10am-4pm – ANIMAL ADVENTURE: Today is the first day of Hancock Shaker Village’s annual Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm event! Visitors to the village can meet tons of different baby animals, such as calves, chicks, piglets, lambs, and ducklings. There will also be activities for kids that involve both art and learning about history, such as weaving on a loom and basket making! 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($) 

Giveaway: Crimson & Clover Farm ShareIn Hampden County on Saturday, April 7th from 11am-3pm – YARN BOMBING: Yarn bomb the Storrs Library today! Yarn bombing, a recently growing craze, is when knitters create flat knit pieces and use them to cover things like lamp posts, fences, railings, etc. Today, the Storrs Library invites kids to cover their book carts with their own handmade yarn bombs. Kids can practice their knitting and/or crocheting skills and will get to share their creations with the community! Call to register. 413-565-4182. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

In Franklin County on Saturday, April 7th from 1-4pm – COMMUNITY SERVICE: Help give the Greenfield Energy Park a good spring cleaning. There will be lots to do, including cleaning up debris left by winter storms and gardening in the park’s beds. BYO garden tools and gloves. Families can work together to help prepare the park, a great community resource, for the season! 413-772-1533. Miles Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Spring Vacation Week: April 16th-20th: Many students get the third week of April off from school, and parents will be looking for activities for their children to enjoy during the break. There are many opportunities to be found in the region, with several boutique options to choose from, including nature, art, sports, ballet, history, gymnastics, stewardship, outdoor adventures, among others. Check out our post, 15 Camps for Spring Vacation Week in Western MA for some highlights of events and week long camp opportunities happening during Spring Vacation Week right here in Western MA. Some options are for the entire week, while others allow you to choose your days and have full day or half-day options. Then be sure to check back next week for our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events for events happening during Spring Break!

BULLETIN BOARD

SHOW Circus Studio CIRCUS ARTS CLASSES: A new session of week day kid’s circus classes will begin on April 9 at SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton. Participants will work on trapeze, fabric, juggling, tumbling, human pyramids, tight wire, rolla bolla, globe and more. Circus is a great way to increase self esteem, have fun, get in shape, improve focus and learn new skills.  Classes are available for new and continuing students during after school hours. Students may come 1-3 times per week with a final show for parents and friends. Visit www.showcircusstudio.com/Classes.html for info and to register: Not sure if circus is right for your child? Try free circus classes on April 7 and find out! Class is free but registration is required. More info at www.showcircusstudio.com/Trial.html

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too!

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

JOIN 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 DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Individuals of all genders, sexual orientations, races, religions, abilities, ages, and income levels are encouraged to apply for volunteer positions at Everywoman Center. Educator Advocates work to prevent sexual violence and relationship violence on campus and in the community by facilitating workshops, discussions, and events on sexual assault, consent, and bystander intervention. Counselor Advocates support and advocate for people who have experienced sexual, physical and emotional abuse or violence. Academic credit available to volunteers (optional). Apply Online: www.umass.edu/ewc/work.  For more info: visit www.umass.edu/ewc, or email ewcmail@admin.umass.edu.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
April 6th-13th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes
Weekly eNewsletter | Events for Working Parents | Workshops for Parents

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 31st-April 6th, 2012

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

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Mark your calendars for the Hancock Shaker Village's annual Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm beginning next Saturday, April 7th, 2012. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest 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.

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 class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Venal Pool Events in Western MAAll day on Saturday, March 31st from 10am-4pm – MUSIC/LITERATURE FESTIVAL: The Meltdown, an annual family music and book celebration, takes place today! The event features live music from many great children’s musicians (the Deedle Deedle Dees, Alastair Mok and Friends, The Nields, School for the Dead, etc.), readings and talks with celebrated children’s authors (including Lisa Yee, Jeff Mack, and Eric Wright), crafts for kids, a gymnastics area, storytelling, magic and puppet shows, booths featuring local vendors and family services (including Hilltown Families!), and more. Celebrate great family music and books, and get the family out of the house and on their feet! Takes place at JFK Middle School. 100 Bridge Road. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

In the evening on Saturday, March 31st from 5:30-9pm – SPRING ADVENTURES: There are mysterious creatures and critters in the woods at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Families can take a guided tour (leaving the visitor’s center every 15 minutes) of the woods to characters who live in the vernal pools at the sanctuary. There will be frogs, salamanders, fairy shrimp, and more. Along with the tours will be games, presentations, and real live pond critters for kids to meet. Celebrate spring and the unique habitats created by the change in seasons! 413-584-3009. 127 Coombs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Giveaway: Crimson & Clover Farm Share

Enter to win a Small Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm in Florence, MA for the 2012 season by sharing a family recipe you're looking forward to preparing this spring with fresh local produce, embellished with the story behind this favorite dish!

In northern Berkshire County on Sunday, April 1st from 12noon-4pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: It’s Free Family Day at The Clark!  Enjoy an afternoon of activities, games, gallery talks, and tours all centered around the theme of Copycat: Reproducing Works of Art.  Kids will get to use various materials to create their own reproductions of classic works, can play follow-the-leader games, and explore the galleries.  The event is a great opportunity for kids to learn about creating art and art history.  413-458-2303.  225 South Street.  Williamstown, MA.  (FREE)

And in central Berkshire County on Sunday, April 1st from 1-2pm – ANIMAL ADVENTURES: The Berkshire Museum is incubating eggs from Hancock Shaker Village!  The eggs are set to hatch today, in honor of the museum’s 109th birthday, as well as the beginning of spring.  There will also be a lamb visiting from the village, and kids can meet animal friends and take part in fun animal- and spring-themed activities.  413-443-7171.  39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA.  ($)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Easter Events in Western MA

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Find an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Saturday, April 7th from 1-4pm – COMMUNITY SERVICE: Help give the Greenfield Energy Park a good spring cleaning.  There will be lots to do, including cleaning up debris left by winter storms and gardening in the park’s beds.  BYO garden tools and gloves.  Families can work together to help prepare the park, a great community resource, for the season!  413-772-1533.  Miles Street.  Greenfield, MA.  (FREE)

Sunday, April 8th from 2-4:30pm – ANIMAL ADVENTURES: Winterberry Farm’s Lambs’ Open House takes place today!  Families are invited to the farm to meet the recently born lambs, as well as some fuzzy little chicks!  There will also be adult goats and poultry to visit.  413-548-3940.  21 Teawaddle Hill Road.  Leverett, MA.  (DONATION) 

BULLETIN BOARD

Pioneer Valley BalletBALLET: Pioneer Valley Ballet presents Cinderella based on the classic fairytale of Cinderella and the Prince, the birth and flowering of love, the obstacles in its path and finally the dream fulfilled.  This comic ballet is known for its jubilant music, lush scenery, beautiful dancing and the hilariously wicked stepsisters, more mad than bad in this production.  Come experience a beggar turning into a Fairy Godmother, a pumpkin and mice that turn into a coach and coachmen, a glass slipper that makes dreams come true. You will leave the theater laughing, awe-inspired, and believing in “happily ever after!” Shows: March 31 & April 1 at the Academy of Music in Northampton.  Visit www.pioneervalleyballet.org or the Academy at 413-584-9032 for tickets.

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Swing into spring with the O-Tones at ArtSpark, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School’s annual party & auction at Look Park’s Garden House, Saturday March 31st at 7 p.m. Put the “fun” in fundraiser with live music, dancing, food by Bread Euphoria & a cash bar. The silent auction is the Valley’s most eclectic, with many one-of-a-kind furniture and crafts by local artisans to a Cape Cod getaway and South African Safari. Tickets are $20 apiece, available in advance at local businesses including Bread Euphoria, State Street Fruit Store, Cooper’s Corner & The Creamery, or at the door. More info, please call 413-268-3421.

sarahpirtle.com/JourneyCamp.htmSUMMER CAMP: Journey Camp returns to Cummington for Hilltown families this summer. The unique camp offers a supportive atmosphere where it’s easy to make friends as campers explore nature, dramatics, games, music. Inclusiveness and peace building are hallmarks of Journey Camp. Director Sarah Pirtle, founder of Journey Camp, has won numerous awards for her books & music for children. SESSION ONE, boys & girls ages 7-13, July 2-6, 8:45-4, Woolman Hill, Deerfield. HILLTOWN JOURNEY CAMP, boys & girls ages 7-13, July 16-20, 8:45-4, Taproot Common Farm, Cummington. MOONSEED TEEN LEADERSHIP FOR GIRLS, ages 12-18, July 30-Aug. 2, two overnights & campfires, Woolman Hill. GIRLS WEEKS, ages 7-13, Aug. 6-10 & Aug. 13-17, 8:45-4, Woolman Hill. www.sarahpirtle.com.

"Last year a participant from the Boston area found out about my camp through your website and spent a week out here with her daughter just for my camp!" - Beth Fairservis, Puppets in the Woods Summer Arts Camp

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids?  Check out our post  Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too!

BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT: Empty Arms is a local community of bereaved parents who seek to support families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Four support groups are held each month. The Bereavement group meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month, 7 – 9 PM at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. The Subsequent Choices group meets on the 2nd Monday of each month.  Contact Carol McMurrich for time and location (carolmcmurrich@comcast.net). The Miscarriage group meets on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, 7 – 9 PM at Cooley Dickinson. The Parenting After Loss group meets on the 2nd Sunday of each month in the morning. Contact Erika Parker for time and location (ehenyey@gmail.com). For more information, contact Carol McMurrich, director carolmcmurrich@comcast.net.

EARTH HOUR: Join together with other community members to celebrate togetherness and local resilience, and observe Earth Hour, too!  “Weaving a Web of Resilient Community” takes place at the Cummington Community House (33 Main St.) on Saturday, March 31st.  Beginning at 7pm, the event features activities, performances, and images that highlight the unique culture and values shared locally.  There will be a photography show featuring pictures taken by Hilltown Families’ Sienna Wildfield, a seed swap, potluck snacks (bring something to share!), a concert with Sarah Stockwell-Arthen (whose music channels the theme of the event), and a celebration of Earth Hour, where the lights will be turned out and candles will be lit (BYO!).  Visitors will also have a chance to share information about farms, sustainability projects, or other relevant community ideas, projects, and initiatives with others at the event, and there will be art materials available for kids to experiment with!


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
March 31st-April 6th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes
Weekly eNewsletter | Events for Working Parents | Workshops for Parents

Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Vernal Pools in Western MA

Exploring Vernal Pools in Western MA

Want to get involved in protecting vernal pools in Western MA? The Berkshire Environmental Action Team has put together guidelines and a video on how to go about certifying a vernal pool, which will lead to it's protection. This is a great way for families to participate as citizen scientists and local environmental activists! Click on images to find out more. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Are your kids studying life cycles, ecology or habitats?  Have you thought about taking them to check out a vernal pool in your area?  These ephemeral habitats are wonderful places for exploring and for supplementing an interest in nature science.  Every spring there are often facilitated community events to participate in with your family to explore vernal pools.  Here are upcoming events happening in Western MA:

  • Saturday, March 31st from 5:30-9pm in Easthampton,  mysterious creatures and critters come alive in the woods at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary!  Families can take a guided tour (leaving the visitor’s center every 15 minutes) of the woods to characters who live in the vernal pools at the sanctuary.  There will be frogs, salamanders, fairy shrimp, and more!  Along with the tours will be games, presentations, and real live pond critters for kids to meet.  Celebrate spring and the unique habitats created by the change in seasons!  413-584-3009.  127 Coombs Road. ($)
  • Saturday, April 7th from 1-3pm in Florence, join biologist Brandon Abbott in exploring vernal pools near Fitzgerald Lake!  Sponsored by the Kestrel Trust, the event will allows students an opportunity to learn about the creatures that live in vernal pools and the role that the unique habitat plays in the local ecosystem during the spring.  Registration required.  413-549-1097. (FREE)
  • Saturday, April 28th at 10am in Heath, families can explore the vernal pools at Maitland Memorial Forest this morning with Red Gate Farm!  Kids will learn to spot special pool creatures like fairy shrimp, wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and more!  Dress for wet walking, registration required.  413-625-9151  x108.  Route 8A. ($)
  • Saturday, April 28th from 1-2:15pm in Turners Falls, families can learn all about vernal pools at the Great Falls Discovery Center!  The presentation will include information for kids on what vernal pools are, the species that live in them, and their importance within ecosystems.  There will even be some live specimens of types of amphibians that can be found in vernal pools!  Great opportunity to learn about biology – check out your backyard for vernal pools when you get home!  413-863-3221.  2 Avenue A.   (FREE)
  • Sunday, May 20th at 10am in North Adams, families can learn about and explore vernal pools in the Hoosac Range!  Students will learn how to identify wood frog and salamander eggs, and will learn about the importance of the pools within the local ecosystem.  Sponsored by the Berkshires Natural Resource Council.  Call to register.  413-499-0596.  Route 2.  (FREE)

The Ripple: Message of the Spring Peepers

What the Peepers Are Telling Us

Eggs in a vernal pool near the Westfield River in West Chesterfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Last night, I sped my family home from a week of Spring Break that took us far from the Nonotuck biome. As they slumbered in their car seats, I was feeling anxious—Had the leaf buds burst yet? I couldn’t see; it was too dark.  This fleeting moment of the return of life is one of the sweetest in the circle of seasons, isn’t it? The thought of missing it brought a dull pain to my heart. An imaginary finger wagged in mind: “Was your vacation worth it?” But just as we approached Mt. Tom on Rt 141 in Holyoke, where it ascends and then drops over the old volcanic ridge into the plush yet rusted valley of Easthampton, we heard it..

PEEPERS!!!“my daughter exalted, suddenly awake. The sound of thousands of frogs, louder than the radio and engine drone, almost vibrated our skins. We were so happy! To be home again where the viva-power of our non-human neighbors is so intense, and so inspiring.

I didn’t need to see the treebuds anymore—the frogs told me they hadn’t burst yet.

The vivifying relationship between the peepers and the trees and the rivers is one we sense, and feel, and celebrate. The mere appearance of the tiny frogs in the vernal pools, their cheerful uninhibited en masse braying—all those Romeos impressing their Juliettes—is something real that signals that life, the bios, is so much bigger and more beautiful than we can embrace with our thoughts, our science, our philosophies, our stories, our paintings and our music (That doesn’t mean we can’t try to, though; Vermont-based musician Nico Case talks about how she sings along with the peepers.).

Go ahead—try to catch a spring peeper. Track their sounds to the pool they’re cavorting in and you’ll find that, just at the moment you’re almost close enough to see them, they hush. Get closer and you’ll find, that unless you’re ready to get your feet and hands wet, all you’ll see is dead leaves submerged under water. The peeper family is an ancient one, and it got that way because it knows how to hide from raccoons, birds and humans.

And yet, despite all this, Robert Frost deserves credit for nearly getting his arms around these squirming multitudes. In his poem Hyla Brook, he re-presents the relationship between Hylas (peepers ), trees and rivers that I want you to witness outside today. He describes how, as temperature rises, trees awaken from their winter slumber and suck the water out of the soil. The vernal pools, and forest streams and brooks, start disappearing the moment that leaves start unfolding on branch tips; all that water becomes the green of the trees. This is why white water canoeing is an early spring sport—

The songs of the peepers, then, peal before buds break and flowers appear. For all we know, it’s not only us who listen with joy; the trees might be listening, too.

Find out how families can become citizen scientist for Vernal Polls in Western MA in Hilltown Families’ recent post, Citizen Scientists Wanted for Vernal Pool Habitat.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kurt Heidinger, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Biocitizen, non-profit school of field environmental philosophy, based in the Western MA Hilltown of Westhampton, MA where he lives with his family.  Biocitizen gives participants an opportunity to “think outside” and cultivate a joyous and empowering biocultural awareness of where we live and who we are. Check out Kurt’s monthly column, The Ripple, here on Hilltown Families on the 4th Monday of every month to hear his stories about rivers in our region. Make the world of rivers bigger than the world of pavement inside of you!

Citizen Scientists Wanted for Vernal Pool Habitat

Western MA Youth  Can Help
Deerfield River Watershed Association Protect
Vernal Pools as Citizen Scientists

During springtime, our surroundings burst with new life!  One of the most interesting and least known about natural environments is the vernal pool- pools develop in the early spring while snow melts and the ground becomes softer, and pools of water gather becoming home to a laying ground for frogs and salamanders.

BECOME A CITIZEN SCIENTIST

Vernal pool habitats are often accidentally destroyed or disturbed due to lack of knowledge about their existence.  This spring, older students have the opportunity to be citizen scientists and help report data about vernal pools in their neighborhoods!  Kids ages 10 and up are invited to monitor populations of vernal pool-breeding amphibians.

The project is coordinated by the Deerfield River Watershed Association, and requires that kids take part in two training sessions prior to assessing the pools; and also that kids visit a vernal pool twice during the month of April to check on their frogs and salamanders!  The project allows kids to become involved in the preservation of their local resources, and to learn about a unique habitat.  Taking part in the project can supplement studies of biology, ecology, environmental science, and species evolution (take a look at how species evolved to depend on vernal pools).  For more information, contact Pat Serrentino at 413-772-0520.


Related Posts:

A Day at Mass Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

Searching for Spring

We picked up a map and headed straight to the vernal pool. It’s wet enough right now to be connected to the pond. It is full of amphibians and hatched eggs right now. Frogs big enough to be seen a few yards away are impressive to anyone, especially to small boys. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Spring has taken its sweet time coming our way. I grew up in a city, and now I live in a smaller one with my family. As a child my mother would take us out of New York around the change of seasons. She said she missed the small seasonal transitions you can only notice in the country and the woods: leaf buds unfurling in springtime, and the first tint of color on autumn’s leaves.

It has been damp this spring without much sun in these parts. Our snow covered mountains are gone. Occasionally, the minivan is warm in the morning, but recently we went searching for more encouraging signs of spring at Mass Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. It’s really just a hop down the road from us, but it was our first trip.

There are several different trails to follow at the sanctuary — short ones for small people, or people who have to be at work later that day — and longer ones for weekend mornings and sturdier legs. If you go into the Visitor’s Center you will get some good advice, but first take a nice long look at the white board detailing all the recent animal sitings (which includes deer ticks right now, so long pants tucked into rain boots are a good plan.) We picked up a map and headed straight to the vernal pool. It’s wet enough right now to be connected to the pond. It is full of amphibians and hatched eggs right now. Frogs big enough to be seen a few yards away are impressive to anyone, especially to small boys.

We didn’t have my oldest son Isaac with us on this trip but we are going to go back and try the Quest. It was perhaps a little too challenging for the younger kids on their own to accomplish this wildlife sanctuary treasure hunt, and I truly think they will enjoy it more if they are working together without much help from an adult. Older elementary school kids would be able to do it independently.

As for spring, we did find it: leaves unfurling, shiny green moss, birds squawking, and buds blooming. We feel a little more settled that New England’s snowy winter is behind us. We can crawl out into nature again. I will be celebrating by sending the boys out to play in the neighborhood while I pack away winter boots, hats, gloves and scarves for next year.

If you decide to go in search of spring this weekend, you should know there is a small fee to enter the sanctuary, but it is free to Mass Audubon members. That reminds me to tell you that right now annual family memberships are on sale for $29.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

Vernal Pools: When Will The Spotted Salamander Eggs Hatch?

Sean Chapel writes:

How do we know when a good night will be to see salamanders hatching at a vernal pool?

Sheri Rosenblum of Plainfield, MA replies:

Trying to guess what night spotted salamanders eggs will hatch would be similar to guessing the day of a first snowfall or when that last pile of snow behind the house might melt.  Many factors will influence the timing of this event.

While the date of the spring migration is typically in early April in the Hilltowns, the range is late March to late April, depending on snow melt, temperature and rainfall.  Once the salamanders are safely in their ponds and eggs deposited, hatch will occur within 4 to 8 weeks, a range that is influenced by water temperature, water level and water chemistry and probably many  other factors that we don’t understand.

The whole process of migration to the ponds, mating, egg-laying, egg development and hatching is fascinating to observe.  If you know the location of a vernal pond, daily or even weekly visits that start on a migration night will introduce you to the magnificent and ethereal world of the short-lived vernal pond and its many inhabitants.

After the initial migration at night, make your visits to the pond during daylight hours.  Bring a field guide to amphibians and one for insects. You will see multiple egg masses, larvae developing within the eggs, predation, birth, death and everything in between. Since the egg masses will be of slightly differing ages within the pond, in time you will probably catch some eggs hatching.  If you aren’t sure where to find a vernal pond, get out there during the migration and start following a salamander.

Be careful in the woods, bring a flashlight (with a red filter so the salamanders will be minimally disturbed) and notice how much better adapted they are then us to moving through the forest (and no raincoat required!).  Find a pond close to home so observations can be done on foot or by bicycle.  They are quite common in these parts.

Happy Spring!

Related articles:

HFVS Birds of Spring Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

LISTEN TO PODCAST:

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW
Birds of Spring Episode

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
Tuesday evening @ 7pm

04/08/08 PLAYLIST

New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
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  • Imagination Movers – “Springtime!” [Eight Feet]
  • Peter Himmelman – “My Green Kite” [My Green Kite]
  • The Sippy Cups – “Springtime Fantastic” [Electric Storyland]
  • Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Come On Out” [Special Kind of Day]
  • Elizabeth Mitchell – “Winter’s Come & Gone” [You Are My Little Bird]
  • Dan Zanes – “Hey Little Red Bird” [House Party]
  • Milkshake – “Bluebird” [Bottle of Sunshine]
  • Mr. Ray – “When the Spring Comes” [Family Ride]
  • Ben Rudnick & Friends – “Coming of Spring (Instrumental)” [Grace’s Bell]

This week’s episode is a celebration of SPRING! It finally feels like winter’s death grip has loosened here in the hilltowns, and the birds, buds and flip flops are finally starting to appear. Enjoy!

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • The Week of the Young Child will be celebrated April 13 – 19, 2008. Throughout the week, there will be events and activities in the community that highlight the importance of quality, affordable, and accessible early learning experiences for all children, including events in Easthampton, Northampton and Monson, MA. As part of the National Week of the Young Child, the Easthampton Family Center and the Easthampton Community Partnership for Children is honoring young children and all those who make a difference the lives of children this weekend. Click here for more details.
  • Vernal Pools are coming to life this week! Click here to read more about vernal pools, see a video of a year in the life of a vernal pool, and to discover upcoming events your family may be able to participate in.
  • We’re Moving! HFVS is moving & expanding! On May 3rd, the Hilltown Family Variety Show will moving to Saturday mornings, and expanding to a full hour! Tune in between 9am-10am to 103.3FM (Northampton) to hear great family music and storytelling every Saturday! Our weekly podcast will be following suit, expanding to a full hour. Click here to subscribe to our free podcast.

Salamander Crossing Guards & Vernal Pools

2008 Annual Amphibian Migration
By HF Contributing Writer, Sheri Rosenblum

After a winter of indoor activities, this is a great time of year to get outside and explore the local woods, especially if you are interested in the lives of amphibians. The snow is melting and vernal pools are appearing all over the Hilltowns. Frogs and salamanders are still in the woods, thawing out from their winter spent frozen under the snow. They are waiting for the first warm, rainy night of Spring to tell them it’s time to move to their breeding habitat, the vernal pools. Unfortunately, this first activity of Spring often requires crossing roads where most drivers are completely unaware they even exist. This recipe for disaster results in millions of deaths every year, with so many of them completely preventable. To follow is a look at what vernal pools are and how your family can help participate in protecting the amphibians that migrate from the every year.

WHAT IS A VERNAL POOL

A vernal pool is body of water found in upland hardwood forests in places that were previously glaciated (Ten thousand years ago these Hilltowns were covered up to 2 miles deep in ice!). In summer and fall, vernal pools appear simply as depressions in the forest floor, some as diffrent sized puddle, others as large as a couple of acres. But in the late winter, due to snow melt, spring rains and a high water table beneath them, they fill up like ponds and maintain their water generally into summer. The key feature about their formation is that since they are not associated with any running water system and because they dry out periodically, they cannot support fish. Hence, they have become a safe habitat for a variety of wildlife species that rely on these pools for breeding. Read the rest of this entry »

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