20 Community Highlights: West African Drumming to Greek Dancing. Stockbridge Mohicans to Victorian Technology.
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 is chess! Research shows that, when played from a young age, chess can be beneficial to a child’s learning and development. The game requires the use of high-order thinking skills, such as weighing actions and consequences, and helps players practice decision making. The Susan Polgar Foundation offers a page of information on this topic. If your child is interested in learning to play chess or is in need of new people to play with, there are opportunities to do so locally throughout the school year at various libraries. On Friday afternoon, September 6th, youth ages 7 and up can go to the West Springfield Public Library to improve their chess skills by playing against other kids. This is a great way to make new friends while working your way up to becoming a chess master! For an intergenerational chess experience, drop in chess is organized on Saturdays from 1-3pm at the Forbes Library in Northampton. Check with our local library to see if they too offer chess opportunities for youth and adults!
Volunteer with your older teens on Saturday morning, August 31st. In West Springfield the Friends of the Park and Recreation are gathering community volunteers to help paint the backstop at Memorial School Field. Bring a 2 inch paint brush, bug spray, sunscreen, cold drink, and a ladder. About 60% of this project involves climbing a ladder, but they will have work for those who prefer to stay on the ground.
Another volunteer opportunity on Saturday morning is with Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center in Windsor. Tamarack Hollow is a newly-formed non-profit and needs help clearing land and trails so they can build their center in the near future. Join them for a volunteer day with your teen.
West African: Join Marafanyi Drum, Dance, and Song at the Bascom Lodge atop Mt. Greylock for a family drum workshop on Sunday morning, September 1st in Adams. This interactive workshop is for kids and adults of all ages and will teach about West African drumming, music, and dance. Then in the evening, international performers and teaching artists Lara Gonzalez and Yael Shacham make up Marafanyi Drum, Dance, and Song, a group dedicated to performing traditional West African rhythms and dance through original songs and spoken word performances. This free performance will entertain people of all ages and allow them to experience music from other cultures.
Jewish: Also known as the Jewish New Year, or the first day of the traditional Jewish lunar calendar, this year Rosh Hashanah takes place Sept 4th at sundown to Sept 6th. Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy in Longmeadow is holding a special Rosh Hashanah kids program on Thursday & Friday late morning, including a shofar blowing. All are welcome.
Greek: The Glendi Greek Festival begins on Friday evening, September 6th and runs through next weekend in Springfield! The celebration features Greek dance, music, food, pastries, theater, and a tour of the St. George Cathedral. This family-friendly festival celebrates everything about Greek life and culture and a fun way for the community to share Greek culture together.
Be a mad scientist at the Berkshire Museum on Saturday morning, August 31st in Pittsfield! Along with the help of the museum’s very own crazy chemist, kids can learn how to do exciting and surprising (and safe!) experiments with regular household kitchen ingredients. Kitchen Kaboom! is totally kid-safe, but adults must accompany participating scientists.
Research shows that, when played from a young age, chess can be beneficial to a child’s learning and development. The game requires the use of high-order thinking skills, such as weighing actions and consequences, and helps players practice decision making. The Susan Polgar Foundation offers a page of information on this topic. If your child is interested in learning to play chess or is in need of new people to play with, there are opportunities to do so locally throughout the school year at various libraries. On Friday afternoon, September 6th, youth ages 7 and up can go to the West Springfield Public Library to improve their chess skills by playing against other kids. This is a great way to make new friends while working your way up to becoming a chess master!
On Friday evening, September 6th, bring the kids and join the Springfield Museums for “Stars Over Springfield,” an introductory astronomy talk and star viewing at the Science Museum’s observatory. This week, Ed Faits of the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington will present “Comets of the Century That Weren’t and Comets That Snuck Up on Us.” The event is recommended for kids 8 and up, but younger children are welcome. If it is cloudy or rainy, a planetarium show will be presented in place of the live star viewing.
Visit the Ashley House, an 18th-century farmstead that was home to Elizabeth Freeman and the Ashley Family this weekend, August 31st & September 1st, for an afternoon tour. On this guided tour, you will learn about Freeman’s fight for freedom as a slave in Massachusetts and about the Ashley Family’s holdings in the area and the village of Ashley Falls.
What was it like crossing the Connecticut River before the construction of our modern bridges? On Saturday afternoon, learn about the history of local bridges and the difficulties associated with building them while riding around Turners Falls and Montague City on a free leisurely bike tour with the Great Falls Discovery Center. This is a fun and engaging way to learn local history by exploring our towns and villages. Bring a bike and helmet.
Explore the colonial-era Mission House on Sunday in Stockbridge and learn about the Stockbridge Mohicans and missionary John Sergeant. View the Munsee-Mohican exhibit and go on a guided tour. This is a great way to learn some local history while exploring an interesting historic landmark.
Visit the Keep Homestead Museum in Monson on Sunday afternoon and immerse your family in local history from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Museum was home to the Keep Family for over 150 years and features furniture, glass, silver, collections of rocks, minerals, and shells, quilts and needlework done by the women in the family, as well as their extensive button collection. Much of the homestead is in its original state, making it a truly great way to learn about life in the past in western Massachusetts.
Learn about the history of the charcoal industry atop Mt. Greylock in Adams at this special free presentation by Shirley Sutton on Wednesday evening, September 4th. The presentation will go into the history of charcoal, the process of wood distillation, and the effects of charcoal on ecology and industry in the area. Older students will also learn about the uses of charcoal today and how the industry has changed over time.
The Swift River Valley Historical Society presents “The Valley Before the Quabbin,” a lecture by J.R. Greene, who has written 12 books on the Quabbin and the towns that were destroyed in order to create it. This free lecture happens Wednesday evening in New Salem and will focus on the history of the towns and the region before the creation of the Reservoir. Greene is an expert on the subject and the lecture will educate you on this interesting and important piece of the state’s history.
Find out about the fascinating world of steampunk at “Victorian Technology and the Steampunk Vision” on Wednesday evening with authors Jennifer Eifrig and Bruce Hesselbach at the Coolidge Museum in the Forbes Library in Northampton. Eifrig will discuss real Victorian technology, while Hesselbach will discuss how steampunk authors have adapted this technology using their imaginations. They will also discuss the future of steampunk and what other fields can be explored through the genre.
Discover early American furniture at Historic Deerfield at one of their Focus Fridays events. On Friday evening, September 6th, a knowledgeable guide will discuss a piece of furniture in the museum’s collection, explaining its history, meaning, the process of crafting the piece, and more. Through the lens of handcrafted furniture, older students can explore American history in Deerfield.
Three County Fair – Aug 30th-Sept 2nd. The Three County Fair in Northampton is back this year, with tons of fun attractions! There will be rides, games, a demolition derby, a petting zoo, live music, kids activities, jousting, magic, and more.
Blandford Fair – Aug 30th-Sept 2nd. The Blandford Fair features exhibits, an art show and sale, an exhibit by the Blandford Historical Society, a petting zoo, Massachusetts State Police K9 demo, animal displays, live music, “Rosie’s Racing Pigs,” and more!
Franklin County Fair – Sept 5th-8th. The Franklin County Fair in Greenfield celebrates it’s 165th year, featuring live music, rides, games, racing pigs, frisbee dogs, horses, truck pulls, a demolition derby, a firefighter’s parade and muster, agricultural exhibits and competitions, a midway, and so much more! There will be activities and entertainment for the whole family.
Want to incorporate learning into your visits to the agricultural fairs this season? Check out these posts for ideas:
Find out about these events and many 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) Remco Wighman]