40 Community Highlights: History of Tea to Biology of Frogs. Cultural Festivals to Fundraisers.

The new exhibition, Tea Talk: Ritual and Refinement in Early American Parlors, opens at Historic Deerfield this weekend. Families can learn about the history of the tea trade, historical use of tea in homes, and its role in socializing in early America. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Spaghetti Dinner to Fun Run. Composting to Recycling. Victorian Tea to Potluck Dinner.  Frog Life Cycle to Arabic Cultural Festival…

These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

On the heels of Earth Day as we head towards the end of National Volunteer Week, there are still a plethora of events to participate in that celebrate and support sustainability, along with opportunities to volunteer with your family this weekend. Peruse our list below and make plans to 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!

Community ServiceFundraisersSustainabilityAnimal/Nature StudiesEconomicsCultural StudiesHistory


Spend your weekend giving back! Here is a list of volunteer opportunities you participate in, many with your kids and most on Saturday morning unless otherwise noted:

  • HAMPDEN: Volunteer with your teens with Mass Audubon at Laughing Brook Sanctuary.
  • HINDSDALE: Families can help the Housatonic Valley Association clean up the Old Mill Trail trailhead during their spring work party.
  • NORTHFIELD: Join Northfield Mountain in creating a new natural playscape.
  • NORTHAMPTON: Bring the kids and volunteer together at a Rail Trail Clean Up Day on Sunday.
  • PITTSFIELD: Families with children 10yo and older can volunteer together at the Community Gardens.
  • SHEFFIELD: Help the Trustees of Reservations to maintain Bartholomew’s Cobble for spring workday.
  • SPRINGFIELD: Earth Day Clean-up at the Springfield Museums.
  • WEST SPRINGFIELD: 3rd Annual Clean-up West Springfield Day.
  • WILLIAMSBURG: Volunteer with your teens with Mass Audubon at Graves Farm.
  • WINDSOR: Join Tamarack Hollow in clearing trails and making open space on their 32-acre boreal forest reserve.


Staying in theme with giving back to your community for National Volunteer Week, here are a number of fundraising events your family can support.

Volunteer with your family to help the Berkshire Humane Society raise money for their cat adoption center at their bowl-a-thon, a family-friendly fundrasing event. Get a team of four together and sign up to bowl 3 games. All this fun will take place at Cove Lanes in Great Barrington on Saturday afternoon, April 27th.

Run alongside the daffodils on Sunday morning, April 28th and help to raise money for Hampshire County Big Brothers Big Sisters! The annual Daffodil Fun Run is a 5K run/walk, beginning at Kendrick Park in Amherst. Spend the morning enjoying the spring air as a family and help to support a great cause!

On Monday evening, April 29th, take the family to a community spaghetti dinner! Raising money for Images Cinema, a spaghetti dinner will be served at the First Congregational Church in Williamstown, followed by a screening of a classic spaghetti western (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly starring Clint Eastwood) at Images Cinema!

Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity‘s “Feast for Habitat is serving up local brews and samples from the spring menus of local restaurants alongside an extensive silent auction to benefit the organization on Thursday evening, May 2nd. Make it a date night and put your evening budget towards a good cause while enjoying an evening out. Takes place at Cowls Building Supply in Amherst to celebrate their “construction” themed event.

Outdoor Farmers’ Markets are slowly starting back up! The opening of Tuesday Market in Northampton happens this coming Tuesday, April 30th where you can pick up the ingredients you need to make a dish to bring to the Burgy Farmers’ Market Pot-Luck Dinner Benefit at the Williamsburg Grange two days later on Thursday, May 2nd! How convenient is that?!


Warm welcome to Katelyn Tsukada, Hilltown Families new Sustainability Bulletin Board Manager! A graduate of Environmental Studies from Bucknell University, Katelyn works for Center for EcoTechnology and coaches families/businesses on energy efficiency. Check out our Sustainability Bulletin Board and share your sustainable resources, and help support sustainability here in Western MA!

Get rid of your batteries, washing machines and old electronics at the Hadley Mothers’ Club Recycling Day on Saturday morning, April 27th. The Salvation Army will collect reusable items and clothing donations. Pick up service for larger items available! Happens at the Hopkins Academy in Hadley.

Most kids love worms! Worms can also be a great teacher, showing children how they break down organic material into dirt! Composting with the help of worms is a fun way to compost your kitchen scraps into rich soil for your garden, while getting kids excited about the process. Stop by the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington on Saturday morning with the kids and have them check out a free worm composting bin demo.

There are lots of ways that families can change their habits in order to live more sustainable lifestyle – often it’s just a matter of learning how to do it! The annual Amherst Sustainability Festival takes place all day on Saturday on the Amherst Common, and features booths, displays, and activities from lots of local vendors and organizations – all geared towards teaching visitors about sustainable living and sustainable habits. There will be live music and demonstrations, too! Stop by the Hilltown Families booth while there and learn how to upcycle old tshirts into no-sew bags… a great project we learned from our friends at Knack!

Have plans on gardening this summer with your kids. At noon on Saturday, stop by the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington and learn how to recycle newspaper into biodegradable pots to start your seedlings in. A fun way to recycle newspaper and to get kids excited about growing their own food & flowers. Free.

On Wednesday evening, May 1st, the Sunderland Library hosts compost expert Daniel Dinal for a free slide presentation about composting, the best way to get rid of your leftovers and the easiest way to grow healthy, happy, nutritious vegetables for your family!


How do frogs grow from jelly-like eggs into big, slimy hopping creatures? Learn on Sunday morning, April 28th with educator Rachel Roberts, who will lead an exploration of the life cycle of frogs at the Bernardston Unitarian Meetinghouse! This free event will include storytime and a search for tadpoles. Learning will reinforce participants’ understanding of animal behavior and the cycles of nature around us all year long… and if you’re lucky, there will be live wood frog tadpoles to look at closely!

From Darwin’s finches to the classification as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Galapagos Islands have been a laboratory for compelling scientific study. On Tuesday evening, April 30th, join Northfield Mount Hermon’s Becca Leslie for a free photographic journey through one of the wonders of the natural world for Galapagos Islands –A BioGeography at the Dickinson Library in Northfield. Best for older students.

Introduction to Vernal Pool ecology, species identification and citizen scientist training will be taking place at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg on Thursday evening, May 2nd. Learn what makes these wetlands so amazing and how identify the amphibians and invertebrate animals that use Vernal Pools to breed. This free presentation is best for older students.


Kids can learn the basics about money… The Jones Library in offering a free introduction to money, called “Money Basics for Kids” on Saturday morning, April 27th. This will be presented by two local bank representatives and will cover the basics concepts of having, spending, donating, and investing. Best for kids ages 5-10yo.

Parents can learn about money too! The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a free workshop on financial literacy on Tuesday evening, April 30th in Four Rivers at the Palmer-Monson Family Network: Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck. Parents can learn easy budgeting, how to check a credit report, and strategies for teaching kids about money. All very useful skills to have!


Smith College students host a free Arabic Cultural Festival on Saturday at noon, April 27th on the lawn of Davis Hall in Northampton. There will be henna, calligraphy lessons, poetry, and art from the Irqi Children’s Art Exchange. Learn all about Arabic culture!

Beit Ahavah & Congregation B’nai Israel Community Schools present a community Lag B’Omer Festival on Sunday, April 28th: bonfire, live music by Yiddishkeit Klezmir, musical storytelling by Anna Sobel & Aharaon Skogland, recycled art crafts, archery, games, haircutting booth, chickens, facepainting, “love-shack booth” & more! Takes place at Cong. B’nai Israel in Northampton.

Amherst Cinema, along with Families with Children from China Western Mass, will screen Somewhere Between on Sunday afternoon, a film that looks at adoption of Chinese children and the complex identities that these children (the overwhelming majority of which are girls) develop while growing up in the United States. Suggested for ages 14+.

In celebration of their centennial, the Temple Beth El in Springfield is hosting a special concert that combines traditional Jewish and African-American music on Sunday afternoon, April 28th! Titled, “Soul to Soul: Yiddish and African-American Music Meet in a Celebration of Two Cultures,” the show is performed by Folksbiene, the National Yiddish Theater. Families can learn about music history, and can listen for similarities between the two types of music. Older students can pair knowledge of American history with the things that they learn about Jewish and African-American culture in order to understand the cultures in context.


On Saturday morning, April 27th, plant a tree at the Bushnell-Sage Library in Sheffield and learn about the history of Arbor Day! This free family event is designed to celebrate and commemorate the day, and will teach families about why it exists and why it is important to participate.

Ventfort Hall hosts a Victorian tea and a lecture on local history on Saturday afternoon, April 27th in Lenox! Best for older students, the tea and treats will follow a talk titled, “Driving Miss Biddle: Michael Cole and the Life of a Lenox Chauffer,” which will teach visitors about the employee/employer relationship that the local man had with the wealthy families he worked for in the Berkshires.

Tea has played a very important role throughout history worldwide! Historic Deerfield is hosting a new exhibition titled, Tea Talk: Ritual and Refinement in Early American Parlors, and on Sunday afternoon, April 28th exhibit will open! Attend the reception for a tea tasting, where you’ll be able to learn about the differences in flavor and origin of various teas, as well as a presentation on the exhibition’s significance. Families will learn about the tea trade, the use of tea in homes, and its role in socializing in early America. Great for older students, the event will teach about American history through a lens of food culture.

What was the community like 20, 30, or even 60 years ago? Learn about Huntington’s history from some of the area’s oldest residents on Sunday afternoon at Stanton Hall. They’ll share stories, pictures, and memorabilia from many decades back in the town’s history. The event is sponsored by the historical society, and is part of a series designed to connect the many generations living in town.

The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke is hosting a series of lectures on the effects of the evolution of transportation on the local community, and the marks that changes in transportation have left on our landscape. On Monday evening, April 29th, their talk is titled, “Chariots of Change: The History of the Holyoke Street Railway Company,” and will explore the effect that the railway had on the development of Holyoke during the 19th and 20th centuries.


Are your kids heading to school for the first time in the near future? Berkshire United Way is hosting a School Readiness Fair on Saturday, April 27th at the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough. Families can attend this free event to meet early childhood professionals, learn about local schools, register for early childhood education, and find out what they can be doing at home to support children’s transition into attending school.

The YEAH! Network (Youth Empowerment Adolescent Health Network) hosts, “Let’s Talk About Sex: Continuing the Community Conversation About Preventing Teen Pregnancy” on Monday afternoon, April 29th in Pittsfield. This free event takes places at Taconic High School, and will feature keynote speaker Dr. Sarah Perez McAdoo, co-founder of YEAH!, an organization that utilizes advocacy, research, and community collaborations to educate and empower local youth. Parents can learn about this important cause, and what they can do to help their own children make healthy, informed decisions.

Have you ever found yourself chalking up your child’s social challenges to shyness? On Tuesday evening, April 30th, learn about ways to encourage friendship building and curiosity for new experiences in children who tend to be quiet and cautious. Often called “just shy,” such kids have lots of unique and useful personality traits. She/He’s Shy, That’s All, takes place at the Ware Family Center. Free.

The Valley CDC is offering a free workshop series for first-time homebuyers! Parents can take part in the workshops, will run on Wednesday evenings during May (through the 22nd). Participants will learn about securing great loans, accessing money for down payments and closing costs, and making good decisions when buying property. Takes place at the Bangs Community Center in Amherst.

Join members of the Amherst Early Education Consortium for a free parent workshop titled, “Is This Just a Rough Patch, or Do We Really Need Help?” on Wednesday evening, May 1st in Amherst. The workshop will teach parents about handling difficult family situations, and will offer strategies for knowing how to navigate tough times (and when to bring in outside help!). Takes place at the Cushman-Scott Preschool.

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.


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