30 Community Highlights: Spotted Salamanders to Orchids. Afro-Cuban Dances to Purim Celebrations.

This weekend is the Amherst Orchid Society’s annual orchid show at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton. Kids can view a wide variety of orchids – there will be blossoms of all sizes and colors, and families will be able to learn about the proper care for growing orchids at home, as well as the interesting facts about orchids’ unique cycle of growth, how they are pollinated by insects and their amazing beauty.  After the show, head over to the Lyman Conservatory at Smith College for more orchids, as well as cacti, a chocolate tree and many others.  Can’t make it?  Check out the Kids Corner and take a virtual tour of the Smith College Botanic Garden and make plans to go this spring when the bulb show arrives!

Orchids to Spotted Salamanders. Purim Celebrations to Afro-Cuban Dances. Sign Language to Fabric Collage… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!

And be sure to check our list of supporting materials to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

History | Outdoor Adventures | Plant, Animal & Nature Studies | Fiber Arts | Astronomy | Parent Workshops | Cultural Studies | Museum Adventures | Science, Film & Sign Language


This Saturday, February 23rd & Sunday, February 24th, visit Old Sturbridge Village to celebrate Black History Weekend, the village’s educational celebration of Black History Month. The event will include a performance by historical reenactor Tammy Denease as Elizabeth Keckly, a former slave who bought freedom for herself and her son and went on to be a very successful fashion designer and clothing maker. Along with the usual opportunities to learn about 19th century life in New England, families will learn about the history of race issues and the use of slavery in early America. Perfect for students studying American history!

The Northampton Community Music Center presents the Deedle Deedle Dees in concert at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst this Saturday morning! An educational rock band, the Deedle Deedle Dees sing about science, history, and everything in between, making their fun, catchy songs educational as well as entertaining. Then mark your calendars as Lloyd from Deedle Deedle Dees joins the Hilltown Family Variety Show again as our guest DJ on Saturday, March 30th!

Learn about the changes that Williamstown’s Main Street has undergone throughout its existence on Saturday morning, at the Williamstown Historical Museum. Once mostly a residential neighborhood, downtown Williamstown has become the commercial hub of the town. Kids can learn about how their community has evolved, and will be able to put what they know about American history into a specific, locally-centered context.

On Tuesday afternoon, February 26th, learn about the life and accomplishments of WEB Du Bois at UMass’ 19th annual Du Bois Lecture. Arthur McFarlane II, great-grandson of WEB Du Bois, will speak about his great-grandfather’s accomplishments as a civil rights activist at St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield. Older students studying American history and/or the Civil Rights Movement will learn useful and interesting information about a significant figure from the Civil Rights Movement, and will also learn to put what they’ve learned into a modern background.


Venture outdoors after dark on a moonlight hike at the MassAudubon Graves Farm Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday evening, February 23rd in Haydenville. Bring snowshoes and/or a headlamp if you’d like, and join in exploring the mile-long Graves Brothers trail and Nonnie Day Brook.

Another evening exploration on Saturday happens at Notchview in Windsor for moonlight skiing! Enjoy the beautiful scenery and what’s left of the blizzard snow in the 3,000 acres of terrain that this Trustees of Reservations property offers. There will be cider and popcorn to fill hungry bellies post-ski.

Start your Sunday morning off with a snowshoe trek at the Bullitt Reservation on February 24th in Ashfield! The Trustees of Reservations will lead the adventure through the woods and fields of the beautiful reservation. BYO snowshoes or rent for an extra charge.

Most explorations in Great Barrington involve the charming downtown section, but Berkshire Natural Resources Council is offering the community a chance to explore the Housatonic Flate Reserve on Wednesday morning, February 27th. The 1.5 mile hike will follow flat farm roads through the field and woods of the reserve.


The Amherst Orchid Society’s annual orchid show takes place Saturday, February 23rd & Sunday, February 24th at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton. Kids can view a wide variety of orchids – there will be blossoms of all sizes and colors, and families will be able to learn about the proper care for growing orchids at home, as well as the interesting facts about orchids’ unique cycle of growth, how they are pollinated by insects and their amazing beauty.

The Quabbin Reservoir is home to a wide variety of different types of wildlife! Teens ages 16 and older are invited to participate in an intergenerational workshop, Saturday afternoon, on animal tracking at the reservoir in Belchertown with Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, Northfield Mountain and the Hitchcock Center! Participants will learn what to look for when searching for animal signs, and will learn about looking for other clues to help interpret signs.

Mount Tom State Reservation in Holyoke hosts the free family program, Signs of the Season, on Sunday morning. Use your senses to discover what Mother Nature is up to these days with indoor activities and outdoor exploration.

Older students can learn about spotted salamanders at the Hitchcock Center on Tuesday evening, February 26th, in Amherst. Ted Watt will explain their life cycles and adaptations and review the history of the tunnels they migrate through under Henry Street.

The Springfield Museums’ Museums a la Carte lecture on Thursday afternoon, February 28th, is all about coral reefs! Sometimes called the rainforests of the ocean, reefs are unique environments that are home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. Learn all about their fragile and fascinating existence today!


The Pelham Library is hosting a free parent-child knitting classes with WEBS knitting instructor, Annie Foley on Monday evening, February 25th through March 18th.

Quilt maker Susan Boss, current exhibitor at the Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery, invites youth ages 8yo+ to a free Fabric Collage Workshop at Flywheel in Easthampton on Tuesday afternoon, February 26th. Susan will facilitate a workshop using fabric and fabric bonding techniques. Participants will create a wall hanging using contrast, texture, pattern and color, color, color! All are encouraged to bring scissors and a good imagination. No prior experience or sewing necessary. Materials will be provided.


Stars Over Springfield takes place Friday evening, March 1st at the Springfield Museums’ observatory. As long as weather conditions allow, the telescope will be open for viewing – families can take a peek at the night sky up close. In case of bad weather, a planetarium show will be presented instead. Hosted by the Springfield Stars Club, this event takes place on the first Friday of every month.

Another opportunity to view the night sky on Friday evening is at Williams College’s Milham Planetarium in Williamstown. Students will teach visitors about what they see in the sky every night and the changes that take place as the seasons change.


Toilet training can be difficult – attend a free workshop to learn some tips, tricks, and strategies for successful potty training on Tuesday afternoon, February 26th. “Toileting Tips” is a workshop provided by the Community Network for Children, and will take place at Shutesbury Elementary School. Dinner and childcare provided.

The Family Place in North Adams is offering parents a free workshop on setting and achieving goals – attend to learn some skills and strategies for working towards accomplishments, both personal and for the whole family. Takes place on Wednesday morning, February 27th.

The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a free 4-week workshop series on positive parenting solutions beginning Wednesday evening. Titled, “The Puzzle of Parenting: Positive Solutions for Families,” the series will teach parents ways to strengthen relationships with children, ways to help children manage their emotions, strategies for responding to challenging behavior, and more. Meets at the Plains School in South Hadley. Dinner and childcare provided.


Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Amy Meltzer rejoined us this month with a post in her column, Not Your Grandparents’ Shtetl: Exploring Jewish Culture in Western MA, featuring 15 Purim events happening in Western MA! Check out her post, Purim in Western MA, and learn about the traditions of Purim, where you can go for a community celebration, and even a recipe to bake Hamentashen with your kids!

On Tuesday evening, February 26th, learn Afro-Cuban dances that have roots in the Congo and Nigeria accompanied by live drumming and traditional rhythms at Berkshire South Regional Community Center in Great Barrington with Miguel Periche from Holguin, Cuba.

Have you ever wished that a book would converse with you, instead of just laying there waiting to be read? What if checking out a book meant getting your questions answered rather than searching through pages? Visit Williams College’s Human Library on Friday, March 1st & Saturday, March 2nd in Williamstown. Instead of checking out books, patrons will check out actual people, who have been pre-designated to talk about specific topics – mainly based on unique life experiences. Visitors to the library can check out their human books for 15-20 minutes each, and will be able to gain firsthand information from each interaction.

The 7th grade at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School is hosting a Chinese New Year Festival Fundraiser in their auditorium on Friday evening, March 1st. There will be games, food and entertainment.


Art museums can be a difficult place to visit with young children – there’s a lot of standing involved, and the quiet atmosphere isn’t always great for little ones. However, The Clark in Williamstown is offering parents with small children a special opportunity to take a kid-friendly gallery tour on Friday morning, March 1st! Designed for parents with pre-toddlers (kiddos who can be carried in a backpack or pushed in strollers), the informal gallery talk will teach parents about one of the museum’s current exhibitions.

Meet some of Norman Rockwell’s models on Friday afternoon at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. Learn about what it was like to pose for one of our country’s most famous illustrators.


The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield shares secrets of kitchen science on Saturday morning, February 23rd at Kitchen Ka-Boom! The monthly program focuses on a different fun and safe science activity that can be done using basic, everyday materials found in most kitchens. Participants will learn about basic scientific principles of chemistry, biology, or physics.

The Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton presents Youthfilm 2013, a screening of short films produced by local youth on Saturday at noon. Kids interested in experimenting with film can gain confidence in their abilities by seeing what other young people have produced, and will see the magnitude of what kids can create.

World Eye Bookshop in Florence hosts a special signing and reading event for kids ages 1-4 on Wednesday morning, February 27th. Taught by Kathryn Petrucelli, the event will feature bedtime-themed stories (such as Good Night Moon) and will teach kids some basic sign language related to (and accompanying) the stories they read.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.


[Photo credit: (ccl) Norman Walsh]

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