Early Spring Family Activities in the Berkshires

Early April in the Berkshires

Shoes  - Berkshire Family Fun

The snow is melting (finally) and if the predicted Nor’easter bypasses us this week then hopefully it will be smooth sailing through the rest of the spring. Besides the appearance of a little green (or brown as it is in my yard) another sign that spring is here is the abundance of family-friendly activities on the local calendars.


Our family took a trip to Washington, D.C., last May and if you’ve never been, it is definitely worth putting on your bucket list. The five of us squeezed as much into our four-day trip as humanly possible — we have the holes in our shoes to prove it — and the best part of all was that all of the attractions were free. All except one of my kids favorite, of course: The Spy Museum. We don’t have a spy museum in the Berkshires but Sunday, April 3, the Clark Art Institute is featuring a lecture “In Pursuit of the Priceless: Tales from the FBI’s Real Indiana Jones.” I know a lecture may not sound like a family-friendly event, but the description has me intrigued and we may just be wandering to up North Berkshire County this weekend to check it out. The lecture will be given by former FBI special agent and best-selling author Robert K. Wittman, who will share the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities, including the 2,000-year-old golden armor that was looted from the Royal Tomb of the Lord of Sipan in Peru, the rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments and an original copy of the Bill of Rights that was stolen by a Union soldier in 1865. Seems like just the thing my kids might be interested in. The event begins at 3 p.m. and it is free. The Clark is located on South Street in Williamstown. For more information call 413-458-2303 or go online to clarkart.edu.


I don’t know if any of you have heard of StoryWalks, the family-friendly phenomenon that is sweeping the Northeast, but they are taking the Berkshires by storm and I can write from experience, they are so much fun. The StoryWalk Project, began in Montpelier, VT, and were created by Anne Ferguson (visit vtbikeped.org for more information). StoryWalks deconstruct well-known children’s storybooks (in very large sizes) and mount the individual pages along a familiar walking route. Some have hosted StoryWalks on the main streets of their town or village, while others host StoryWalks at a specific location with activities and treats to go along with the theme of the book. On Saturday, April 9, from 10 to 11 a.m. the Family Resource Center will host a Family Fun Time event featuring a StoryWalk with the book “Shoes” by Elizabeth Winthrop at the Haskins Center, Route 8, North Adams. The event is free. For more information call 413-664-4821.


The language of Shakespeare can be daunting, especially for me. Try as I might, it just confuses me, but there are two upcoming events at two opposite ends of the county that aim to make Shakespeare and his text a little less elusive to kids (and their grown-ups). First up, the annual Williamstown Elementary School Shakespeare Festival on April 8. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and run until 8. Highlights of the event include potion-making, fencing and other Shakespeare-themed crafts and games. And get this, the WES fourth-graders will perform “Hamlet.” You go kids! The school is located on Church Street. For more information call 413-458-5707.

The other event will occur on April 9 at Shakespeare & Company on Kemble Street in Lenox. “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World” provides a whirlwind tour through the life, times and works of William Shakespeare led by six actors playing multiple parts. It’s a fast-paced, fun and hilarious presentation introducing kids and adults to Shakespeare through his stories, characters and words — with a bit of sword-fighting and clowning thrown in for good measure. Showtime is at 1 p.m. For more information call 413-637-3353 or visit shakespeare.org online.


In the last couple columns I have recommended a Parents Night Out event to give you an excuse to let loose and escape from parenting, if only for a few hours. This week I am going to recommend a night out of a different kind: two nights of parenting support. On Thursday, April 7, Williams College Professor, New York Times op-ed columnist, and author of the recently published book “Red Flags or Red Herrings?: Predicting Who Your Children will Become,” will speak about what success in child development really means at Berkshire Country Day School, Route 183, in Lenox. The talk begins at 6:30 p.m. and it’s free. To learn more log onto berkshirecountryday.org.

Then on April 8 (that’s a busy night, you have a tough choice to make) the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition will offer its monthly forum on the topic “How to Talk with Teenagers.” The forum will explore the differences in the ways that adults and teenagers perceive intention in emotionally charged conversations, teach tools and tips to help create more productive intergenerational communication, especially when addressing sensitive subjects and more. The forum is from 10 a.m. to noon at the First Baptist Church in North Adams. For more information call 413-663-7588.


I know I already gave a shout out to the New Lebanon (N.Y.) Library in my last column (right over the boarder from Hancock), but if I lived a little closer I just might be tempted to stop by on Friday, April 8, for this month’s Family Movie Night featuring the newest Disney hit Tangled. I haven’t seen it yet, but the DVDs out now so I might just have to splurge. If you live close to New Lebanon you won’t have to. The movie begins at 6:30 p.m. and, yes, it is free. Once again the library is located on Route 20. For more information call 518-794-8844.


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

For more tips on how you can help “Save the Earth” log onto cetonline.org. It is the website for Center for Ecological Technology in Pittsfield. CET is a nonprofit organization that engages in work that demonstrates and promotes practical, affordable solutions to the environmental challenges encountered in our daily activities with a mission is “to research, develop, demonstrate and promote those technologies which have the least disruptive impact on the natural ecology of the Earth.” Their website provides a lot of great information and tips for living a greener lifestyle. Give it a try.


My next column comes out right before April vacation so you can be sure it will be a big one with lots to do. If you have an April vacation week event in the Berkshires submit below and  I’ll try to get as many events and activities in the next column as possible:

Berkshire Events During April School Vacation


Kelly Bevan McIlquham Berkshire Family Fun

Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our bi-monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, sharing update, events and activities for families in the Berkshires.  Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, a chocolate lab, a very fat cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate and the Editor of The Family Beat in the Berkshires. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her non-fiction published by Wee Ones online family magazine. When not writing or editing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. kwm229@msn.com — Check out Berkshire Family Fun the first and third Thursday of each month.

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