30 Community Highlights: Wiggly Worms to Curious Creatures. Marionettes to Shadow Puppets.

Wiggly Worms to Curious Creatures. Local Diarist to Local Industry. Marionettes to Shadow Puppets… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week turns STEM into STEAM! Kids 12 and under can participate in the Sunderland Public Library’s free paper airplane contest on Wednesday evening, July 17th! Make a plane at home and bring it to the library to see how it flies. Airplanes must be true paper airplanes – no cardboard, wood, plastic, wire, tape, clips, staples, etc. If youth participants want to continue to experiment with paper airplane, bring them to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield every Thursday at 1pm as part of their PaperWorks art exhibit to further supplement their interests and learning about basic principles of physics & engineering… and art!

Nature & Animal StudiesHikesArt WalksCulinary HistoryHistoryFilm & Music StudiesFolktales & Puppet ShowsLibrary Adventures


Discover wildflowers, shrubs, and trees and learn about their traditional lore at Northfield Mountain with naturalist Kim Noyes on Saturday morning, July 13th. Noyes will share stories about these plants and how they have been used by Native Americans, colonists, and in the present day. Demon chaser, quaker rouge, and magic water are some of the names that these plants have been given. Learn the origins of the names and the historical uses of the plants while enjoying a fun walk around Northfield Mountain at this free event for kids 10 and up.

Did you know that over 50% of the world’s plant and animal species can be found in rainforests? These ecosystems are important to the earth for their unique characteristics and beneficial to humans for the natural resources they provide. Learn all about these incredible forests at Forest Park Zoo’s Rainforest Day in Springfield on Sunday, July 14th! Play rainforest games and meet animals that live there up close!

Magic Wings in South Deerfield is an excellent retreat on a rainy day, or the perfect supplement to nature studies involving pollinators & butterflies.  Younger kids will enjoy their craft events that happen every Sunday afternoon through the end of August.  Pair it with a trip to see the Springfield Museums’ Amazing Butterflies exhibit and a review of our post Monarch Butterflies: The Life & Science for a well-rounded educational experience for all ages (see video below). You might even be able to check out a free museum pass to both Magic Wings and the Springfield Museums from one of our local libraries for a free visit to both!

Wiggly Worms with Rachel Roberts at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library in Whately happens on Monday evening, July 15th. This free class includes a story time with a featured book, multiple hands-on thematic art and science activity stations, and educational games about earthworms. Participants will look at the anatomy, life cycle, regeneration, and locomotion of earthworms, learning about the biological, chemical and physical benefits of earthworms, including vermiculture (look it up!).

As part of the summer reading program, kids ages 4yo and older can learn about the many different creatures that live underground at the West Springfield Public Library‘s “Curious Creaturesfree event on Tuesday morning, July 18th. Before going, ask you child what creatures they know of that live or burrow underground. How many can they list? Maybe worms, moles, and groundhogs… but what about cidadas, armadillos or pikas? Supplement their visit to the library with this online list of Underground and Burrowing Animal Printouts to get them thinking about all sorts of animals that live, sleep & eat underground!

Next Saturday, July 20th, the Franklin Land Trust is offering a free family workshop, Exploring Stream Ecosystems, at Guyette Farm. Catch and discuss the various aquatic insects found in streams and rivers, and learn how finding them gives clues as to the health of our waterways. Spaces is limited so RSVP soon! Email Josh at jmorse@franklinlandtrust.org or call 413-625-9151.  Happens NEXT Saturday in Plainfield.


High-elevation forests in Massachusetts contain unique plant species, such as balsam fir, red spruce, tamarack, and hobblebush, among others. See these species up close and learn how to identify them with Mass Audubon at Tamarack Hollow in Windsor on Saturday, July 13th. Participants ages 10yo and older will also learn about the edible, medicinal, and craft purposes of species they find on this 2 mile hike.

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is leading an interpretive hike through a northern hardwood forest, also on Saturday. This afternoon hike will be mild to moderate and will take families through a characteristic New England forest where they will learn about the many different plant and animal species and natural landscape, including waterfalls.


The village of Shelburne Falls comes alive on Saturday evening, July 13th! Marked with decorated shoes around town, families can go on a self directed Art Walk in this New England artisans village. There will be open shops, galleries & restaurants. New exhibits, artist receptions, interactive art and demonstrations. Enjoy the Bridge of Flowers and Salmon Falls along the Deerfield River… even a trolley ride at the Trolley Museum and art making at the Art Garden (same building). If you’ve never been to Shelburne Falls, this is a great event to come to to acquaint your families with another one of our amazing small towns here in Western MA!

Third Thursday Turners Falls, T3F, is a monthly arts, culture and downtown business night featuring art exhibits, open studios, musical performances, walking tours, theater, invited artisans and other attractions in the village is happening! Happening on Thursday evening, July 18th, this month’s theme is “Music in the Air” and will feature live music all over town as a nod to the Upper Valley Music Fest and Green River Festival happening this month. Bring the family and stroll around Turners Falls for this new monthly community event.


Is your family interested in learning how early New England settlers stored summer produce and kept cool during the hot summer months? “Hot Weather, Cold Hearth” is the theme for July’s open hearth cooking demonstrations at Historic Deerfield. On Saturday, July 13th, the open hearth cooks will demonstrate how to make cool summer beverages and teach about summer gardens and the best ways to preserve the garden’s bounties.

Looking for a parents’ night out that’s both smart & fun? Do you love food? What about movies? The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington presents food historian Francine Segan, who will present her lecture “Food Talk for Movie Lovers,” to be followed by a screening of Big Night (rated R) on Monday evening, July 15th. This event may also be appropriate for older students interested in food studies, anthropology, and/or film.


Ron Maxwell’s new Civil War era film Copperhead (PG-13) is screening at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington on Saturday evening, July 13th. The film follows an Upstate New York family during the Civil War. Maxwell will be at the screening to answer questions and discuss the film. He has directed two Civil War films before this – Gettysburg (PG) and Gods and Generals (PG-13). Older students can find this screening and follow up discussion with it’s Director a useful supplement to American history studies.

Learn about the history of the machining and metalworking industry in the Pioneer Valley and how it has changed through time at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History at the Springfield Museums on Sunday afternoon, July 14th. From early foundries and gunsmiths to current manufacturing businesses, this mini-tour will cover many of the transformations the industry has gone through.

The Buckland Historical Society is holding two free open houses on Sunday afternoon! The Buckland Historical Society Museum (20 Upper Street), which is in an old school house and now contains artifacts and town records, will be open to visitors. The Wilder Homestead (129 Route 112) will also be open in Buckland. The Homestead has a furnished 1775 saltbox with five fireplaces, a 1779 English barn with an antique loom, and a shoemaker shop. Visitors to the houses can learn about Colonial architecture and the history of Buckland by touring the old houses and examining the documents and collections in the Museums.

Did you know that the Pioneer Valley has a strong presence in the history of the Underground Railroad? At the Edwards Library in Southampton, older students can learn more about this history with Steve Strimer who will give a free talk about the different routes and locales of the URR in the region on Tuesday evening, July 16th. He will also explore the connection between Southampton and Florence. Find out more about this rich history at the David Ruggles Center for Early Florence History & Underground Railroad Studies. Then mark your calendars for a walking tour of the URR happening on Saturday, July 20th at 10am from the Sojourner Truth Statue in Florence.

Presented by author Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, “Writing Her Way to Salvation: the Role of the Pen in the Life of Elizabeth Porter Phelps” follows the life and diaries of a woman of the elite upper class in Hadley from the late-18th to early-19th century. Phelps’ diaries are valuable tools for historians looking to learn about life as a wealthy woman in New England in earlier times. This free talk is part of Historic Deerfield’s summer lecture series and takes place at Deerfield Academy’s Garonzik Auditorium in Deerfield on Thursday evening, July 18th. Older students interested in local history, cultural & women’s studies can supplement their learning by attending this talk and learning more about Elizabeth Porter Phelps and the world she documented.

As part of the Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays Program, Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield will open its doors and welcome families in for free on Friday, July 19th. Situated on a picturesque expanse of farm, field, and woodland, Hancock Shaker Village is an outdoor living history museum and center for the study of principled living in the 21st century. The fully restored Village includes 18 historic buildings, heirloom medicinal and vegetable gardens, 22,000 examples of Shaker furniture, crafts, tools, and clothes that depict daily life at the Shakers’ City of Peace through its 220 years. There are daily tours, craft and cooking demonstrations, lectures and workshops, and a variety of activities for children and families. The Discovery Room offers hands-on opportunities for kids of all ages to try their hand at chair seat weaving, working at a loom, trying on Shaker-style clothing, or milking a life-sized replica of a cow.


The Black Pirate (1926) is a classic, silent adventure film starring Douglas Fairbanks, and the first to be shot in two-tone Technicolor! Alloy Orchestra will be performing a live score to accompany the film at MASS MoCA on Saturday evening, July 13th in North Adams. Older students and adults will enjoy the film as well as the orchestra’s backing. A great opportunity to screen a classic film as it would have originally been experienced with live musical accompaniment.

Explore multi-cultural songs during “Ecology of Sound” with musician Ricardo Frota at the Westhampton Public Library on Monday evening, July 15th. At this free event, Frota will play traditional rhythm instruments made from recycled and found materials, incorporating African, South American, Native American, and Brazilian music into an engaging and educational presentation.


The Robbins-Zust Marionettes will be performing the classic folktale, Little Red Riding Hood on Sunday morning, July 14th at Marketplace Cafe in Pittsfield. They will also be performing Peter and the Wolf, Beauty and the Beast, and Rumplestiltskin at Saint Paul’s Church in Stockbridge later in the week. See their full schedule here.

The Mettawee Theatre Company will perform Taliesin, based on a medieval Welsh tale, on Sunday evening as part of the Ko Festival of Performance at Amherst College. The play features giant figures, masks, and puppets and happens on the Observatory Lawn. Bring the whole family and enjoy this imaginative and exciting performance.

The Majestic Children’s Theater is putting on a production of The Emperor’s New Clothes, Monday-Wednesday this week in West Springfield. Kids will enjoy this classic folktale and maybe even be inspired to start acting themselves!

The No Strings Marionette Company will present The Treasure Hunt on Wednesday morning, July 17th. This free show will be held in Peskeompskut Park or the Carnegie Library, depending upon the weather, in Turners Falls.

Marmalade Productions will be presenting a free shadow puppet workshop at the Worthington Library on Thursday morning, July 18th. Kids will learn how to create their own shadow puppets and make their own fun.

The Berkshire Theatre Group presents Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories on Thursday & Friday in Stockbridge outside on the Neil Ellenoff Stage. Kipling’s stories answer questions like, “how did the leopard get its spots?” with witty and whimsical answers sure to entertain audience members of all ages.


Arr, matey! It’s Pirate Day at the Hatfield Public Library on Tuesday morning, July 16th! Make a peg leg and eyepatch, decorate a treasure chest, and participate in a treasure hunt. The library will provide maps which you will use to explore and search for hidden treasure. This free activity is part of the Dig Into Reading summer reading program.

Learn the art of felt-making at the Southwick Public Library on Tuesday afternoon! Middle and high school youth can come make their own piece of felt and create beads, ropes, and more at this free event.

Kids 12 and under can participate in the Sunderland Public Library’s free paper airplane contest on Wednesday evening, July 17th! Make a plane at home and bring it to the library to see how it flies. Airplanes must be true paper airplanes – no cardboard, wood, plastic, wire, tape, clips, staples, etc. If they want to continue to experiment with paper airplane, bring them to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield every Thursday at 1pm as part of their PaperWorks exhibit to further supplement their interests and expanding their learning about basic principles of physics.

Join the Lenox Library at Lilac Park for Jackson Gillman’s “Riot in the Garden” on Thursday morning, July 18th. Gillman’s free performance is fun-filled and educational, focusing on science. He will use stories, comedy, and music in his performance.

Kids ages 5-10, come to the Jones Library in Amherst for a free summer reading program crafts project on Thursday afternoon! Learn about gardens and create your own garden in a jar. This is a fun activity connected to the summer reading theme of “Dig Into Reading.”

Calling all sports fans! Watch the Red Sox square off with the Yankees live on the big screen at Sunderland Public Library on Friday evening, July 19th! The game will be broadcast outdoors for free in the garden and snacks will be available for purchase.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 150 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) Gianluca Micheletti]

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