23 Highlights to Educate and Entertain Your Family

Here are 23 smart reasons to staycation in Western MA next week:

Kids can explore the Bullitt Reservation on a Snake Search and Frog Find this Saturday in Ashfield. Families will learn how to hunt for snakes, salamanders, frogs, and other small creatures and how to properly handle these critters, so as to ensure that they are properly treated in the future.


The learning continues this summer with a plethora of fun community-based educational opportunities happening across the region! On Saturday, July 14th, it’s Fire and Ice Day at Old Sturbridge Village, affording a chance for families to learn about the history of fire fighting and how homemade old fashioned ice cream is made with historical demonstrations and activities. History lessons continue this Saturday as visitors to Historic Deerfield can learn about the history of food and cooking, and think about how food preparation has changed over time, as part of their open hearth cooking program.  Then on Sunday, July 15th, the Springfield Museums host Indian Day – a celebration of the history of Indian motorcycles, manufactured in Springfield until 1953, playing an important part in the city’s history.


In Ashfield on Saturday, July 14th, families can explore the Bullitt Reservation on a snake search and frog find, where they will learn how to hunt for and properly handle snakes, salamanders, frogs, and other small creatures.  Or they can learn about plants native to the Connecticut River Watershed at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls during a family workshop on trees, flowers, and other plants found locally.  Then on Sunday, July 15th, the Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield celebrates Rainforest Day where kids can meet rainforest animal friends up close, and play fun educational games to learn about the animals and their habitat.

Northfield is one of the most interesting local places to learn about natural history, and on Tuesday, July 17th, the Northfield Library hosts a program on the stories behind the town’s unique landscape, the creation of the Connecticut River, and the natural history of the Pioneer Valley. On Thursday, July 19th, kids can learn about carnivorous plants at the Monson Library during a program on all of the different types of  unusual insect eating plants found all around the world!


In addition to great history and nature science opportunities,the Boston Museum of Science brings engineering and physic lessons to Western MA libraries. On Tuesday, July 17th, also at the Northfield Library, the Museum of Science will lead a hands-on engineering program call World of Bridges, and on Friday, July 20th, kids can explore the science behind rocketry at the MN Spear Library in Shutesbury.


The region also hosts terrific summer entertainment series. Last week we highlighted great lawn concerts families can enjoy in the evening hours throughout the summer.  This week there’s more great music opportunities for families: beloved local children’s musician Mister G performs at Look Park in Florence on Tuesday, July 17th; Buttery Brook Park in South Hadley hosts children’s performer John Porcino on Wednesday, July 18th, as part of their summer performance series; and the Springfield Museums invites families to come learn about the history and evolution of American Roots Music at Made in the Shade, an interactive educational concert designed to teach kids about music history on Thursday, July 19th. We should also mention that the Green River Festival in Greenfield has a family music stage with a terrific line-up happening this Saturday & Sunday, July 14th & 15th.


We wanted to make mention of the theater and puppetry performances happening this week too. In West Springfield the Majestic Theater presents Rumplestiltskin as part of their summer children’s theater series running Monday, July 16th-Wednesday, July 18th.  In Northampton, Paintbox Theater presents The Princess Knight at Smith College’s Mendenhall Center Wednesday, July 18th-Friday, July 20th this next week.


This week in our column, Berkshire Family Fun, we tell you about the various marionette performances happening in Berkshire County, and in the Pioneer Valley, families can find a few more puppetry performances: on Saturday, July 14th, celebrate Bearfest puppet-style with a puppet presentation of Goldilocks and the Three Bear at the Easthampton Congregational Church; Sunday, July 15th, Amherst College hosts the annual KO Festival of Performance featuring the Mettawee River Theater Company performance of Communications from a Cockroach on the lawn at the college’s observatory; and on Wednesday, July 18th, Circus on a String comes to the Springfield Museums where Robert Rogers presents his circus marionettes who perform vignettes carefully choreographed to music.

Find out more about these events and a many, many others (like Red Gate Farm‘s community BBQ in Buckland, and Emily Dickinson Museum‘s 19th-century Children’s Circus in Amherst) in our list of Weekly Suggested Events.

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