20 Community Highlights: Woodcocks to Vernal Pools. Radio to Railroad.

Search for courting Woodcocks, an elusive bird that is a sure sign of spring when you discover their entertaining breeding behavior. There are two opportunities to explore: Friday night, April 5th at the Guyette Farm in Plainfield, and Tuesday evening, April 9ths at Northfield Mountain.

Radio to Railroad. Alchemy to Literacy. Polka to Hindustani. Timberdoodle to Madagascar… 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 book titles 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!

HistoryLiteracyMusic Studies Environmental, Animal & Nature StudiesCivicsParent Workshops & Resources

HISTORY: Radio, Native American, Railroad, Chemistry & Biography

Before television, radio provided all sorts of entertainment for people all over the world. On Saturday afternoon, April 6th, learn about the heyday of radio today at the Dickinson Library in Northfield! Mel Simons will present, “The Golden Age of Radio,” a free presentation including historical information, sound bytes, and unusual facts and anecdotes about radio entertainment.

The DCR Quabbin Visitor Center in Belchertown hosts, Around Pottequadic: A Story of the First Peoples of Central MA on Sunday afternoon, April 7th. Join Don Duffy, the author of Around Pottequadic, as he discusses the story of Hendrick Kequoquau and the Native Americans who called the Swift River Valley their own. This free event is appropriate for all ages.

The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke is hosting a series of talks on the history of various forms of transportation in the Pioneer Valley this spring. Monday event, April 8th their talk will focus on the role of the railroad in the development of local industry and travel. Visitors will learn about the numerous rail lines that once brought engine after engine to the valley, and the reemergence of rail transportation in recent years.

Older students interested in the history of early explorations in scientific principles can learn about early chemistry on Monday evening at Williams College in Williamstown. Lawrence Principe, professor of chemistry and the history of science and technology at Johns Hopkins University, will present a free lecture titled, “Alchemy’s Secrets Revealed.” Though alchemy is now viewed as a somewhat ridiculous pursuit, based on its emphasis on magical properties, the practice does have some scientific legitimacy – and it’s fairly fascinating!

The Pelham Library hosts a free talk on author Clarence Hawkes, perhaps the most read author from the Pioneer Valley, on Thursday evening, April 11th. After spending his childhood overcoming blindness and an amputated leg, Hawkes composed over 60 collections of poetry, novels, and essays, and his work has been translated into numerous languages all around the world. Given by Dr. Jim Freeman, a UMass professor, the talk will teach about the reasons behind Hawkes’ disappearance from prominence and his role in Pioneer Valley history.


Deerfield Elementary School will be hosting a Children’s Festival and Literacy Fair on Saturday morning, April 6th in their cafetorium for families with children ages 0-8yo. This free event include early literacy activities and family concert & storytelling with Roger Tincknell.

Family literacy program, Wee Read, takes place at TREEHOUSE in Pittsfield, also on Saturday morning. Parents can help their children with literacy development by engaging in literacy practices during this free event.

Do you ever read a great book and wind up wishing you could share it with everyone in the world? The Springfield Library has an activity just for your family – it won’t let you share the book with the world, but it will help you share it with other library patrons! Family Reads at the East Forest Park Branch in Springfield offers families a chance to formally review their reading choices so that others can find good books. Families can read picture books or chapters of longer stories, then rate what they’ve read using a system of stars. When else can you be a literary critic? Join them on Wednesday afternoon, April 10th for this free event.

MUSIC STUDIES: Classical, Polka & Hindustani

Beethoven’s Wig comes to the Eric Carle Museum on Saturday morning, April 6th in Amherst. Kids will enjoy the zany lyrics lead vocalist Richard Perlmutter puts to classical music, giving them fun exposure to this genre of music that will last a lifetime! It’s the perfect blend of lunacy and learning, high brow and hijinks. The show is part of the Northampton Community Music Center’s Kids Concert Series, which helps to raise money to fund the center’s scholarship programs. The NCMC Youth Orchestra will play alongside the Grammy-nominated Beethoven’s Wig, pairing fun and educational music with the talent of local youth musicians.

Jimmy Sturr, winner of 18 Grammy awards, bring his genre-changing Polka music to The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Sunday afternoon, April 7th. Treat yourself to a Sunday matinee of the best Polka in the country. Sturr, sometimes called the King of Polka, has performed with more mainstream artists like Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson, and brings his Polka orchestra to Sunday’s show. Supplement music studies with this great show!

UMass in Amherst welcomes Mohan Veena and Tabla, a performance by Vishwa Bhatt, one of the best slide guitar players in the world on Friday evening, April 12th. The concert, which will take place at the university’s Fine Arts Center Music Concert Hall, will include lots of traditional Hindustani music from northwestern India. Best for older students or children with audience skills


Spring means new life – animals, insects, and plants all fill the outdoors once the snow melts and the air warms. One of the first sure signs of spring are vernal pools, which can be found all over western Massachusetts. Learn about vernal pools on Saturday afternoon, April 6th at Fitzgerald Lake in Northampton. Sponsored by the Kestrel Trust, this free exploration will be lead by Brandon Abbott, a conservation biologist and teacher. Young scientists will learn about the many different species who depend on vernal pools to survive, as well as the unique type of habitat that the pools provide.

Project Native, a non-profit farm dedicated to environmental education and sustainability, is hosting their annual film festival on Sunday, April 7th at the TriPlex Cinema in Great Barrington. Films will be screened all day long, offering a variety of opportunities for families to learn about a variety of environmental issues, international projects, and more. The morning screening is a kids’ screening, and includes a few short kid-friendly nature films, and films for older students will be shown throughout the rest of the day. Whether you see one film or all of them, the festival is an opportunity to learn about important issues facing communities worldwide.

Looking for sure signs of spring? Visit Northfield Mountain on Tuesday evening, April 9th to learn about the unusual mating rituals of the woodcock. Also known (at sillier times) as the Timberdoodle, the bird performs acrobatics and shares a concert of calls around dusk – this free program will include some learning time inside, as well as an adventure to the out-of-doors to listen and look for the birds.

The Springfield Museums host a weekly lunch talk series called Museums a la Carte – each week brings a unique new topic of study. On Thursday at noon, April 11th, the series will focus on the biodiversity of Madagascar, an island whose plant and animal life has developed in genetic isolation of mainland Africa for thousands of years. Older students can learn about the many species found on the island (and nowhere else in the world!), as well as the traditional culture, history, and current issues in Madagascar.

CIVICS: Town Government

Residents of Lenox are invited to attend “You Make the Difference: Lenox Town Government 101” at the Lenox Library on Thursday evening, April 11th. Participants can learn from this interactive event the workings of town government, find out how to get questions answered, and learn about the volunteer committees and boards that Lenox relies on to keep the town running. This free hands-on evening will include a scavenger hunt between the public and committee members to discover the process of working with and being a part of town government.


In celebration of the 15th anniversary of Gateway Regional’s School-Based Health Center, families are invited to a free health, wellness, and safety fair on Saturday afternoon, April 6th in the school’s cafeteria in Huntington. There will be representatives from numerous community organizations and resources on hand to share information about their services, as well information on keeping kids and families healthy and safe! Families can get up close and personal with emergency response vehicles, including an ambulance and a fire truck. Along with offering information, the event includes tons of fun family activities like yoga, line dancing, story-telling and read alouds, massage therapy, physical therapy, balance screening, and more. For families with older children, there will also be information about drug and tobacco awareness and substance abuse prevention. Fun and educational for all ages!

Making healthy choices for kids can be difficult, and for lots of reasons! Busy families may have a hard time finding time to cook fresh foods, kids with food allergies sometimes face limited options, and clever food marketing and packaging can be incredibly deceptive! Luckily, the Community Network for Children is offering a free workshop for parents on making nutritionally sound food decisions when feeding your family on Monday evening, April 8th. Alicia Walter will facilitate the workshop, and parents will learn about lots of foods that are great for kids. Takes place at Leverett Elementary School.

Money is an important topic in families – parents have to figure out how to manage it (and spread it out to cover lots of things!), and kids have to learn its value and skills for saving it. Community Health Programs in Great Barrington is offering a free workshop on Tuesday evening, April 9th titled, “Moneysense: Family Finance,” where parents will learn about everything from successful budgeting strategies to teaching their kids about savings and wise spending.

Have you ever found yourself chalking up your child’s social challenges to shyness? Learn about ways to encourage friendship building and curiosity for new experiences in children who tend to be quiet and cautious at a free workshop on Wednesday evening, April 10th. Often called “just shy,” such kids have lots of unique and useful personality traits. The workshop, She/He’s Shy, That’s All, takes place at the Palmer-Monson Family Network in Three Rivers, and is hosted by the Collaborative for Educational Services

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) batwrangler]

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