28 Community Highlights: Hoosac Tunnel to Comet Ison. Community Meals to Local Gardens.

Hoosac Tunnel to Comet Ison. Plein Air Painting to Piano Music. Community Meals to Local Gardens.

These are just a few of the community 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 about monarch butterflies and their annual migration at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton on Saturday morning. Monarch enthusiast John Bowe will teach about the monarch life cycle and migration route. Those who attend may even get to see monarch caterpillars or butterflies out in the field! Then on Sunday, discover the busy and exciting lives of squirrels and chipmunks at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. There will be crafts, a story, games, and a chance to go outside and see these small mammals prepare for winter. Both events are best for kids ages 4-12.

Local HistoryClimate ChangeLiteracyScienceIndustryAstronomyMusic & ArtGardeningAnimal StudiesCommunity MealsParent Workshop

Local History

The Hoosac Tunnel in northwestern Massachusetts is one of the engineering marvels of the 19th century, and it is still used for rail traffic today. On Sunday afternoon, September 29th, families can learn about the construction and history of this famous tunnel at “Rail Fan II,” a free program for all ages at the Rowe Historical Society’s Kemp-McCarthy Museum that puts a lens on the history of transportation in the region. Highlights of the day include all-new presentations by Hoosac Tunnel experts; displays of rare Hoosac Tunnel memorabilia; an exhibit of classic toy trains and the opportunity to meet with representatives from professional rail organizations.

Climate Change

Pothole Pictures in Shelburne Falls is screening Chasing Ice, a documentary about climate change and Arctic ice melt on Saturday evening, September 29th. The film features beautiful images from around the Arctic that come together to tell the sad tale of the Arctic’s fast-melting glaciers. Older students interested in climate science or filmography/photography would find this interesting.


You and your child can work together to develop pre-reading skills at the Lee Library’s “Every Child Ready to Read” free workshop on Tuesday morning, October 1st. The workshop is for kids birth-age through five years and runs every Tuesday from 10/1 to 10/29 (five meetings). The workshop includes a literacy workshop, storytime, and playgroup. This is a great chance to introduce your young child to the world of reading while engaging with your community.

Jumpstart’s Read for the Record event is coming to the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst on Thursday morning, October 3rd. This is a national event during which people all over the country will read Loren Long’s book Otis in order to promote literacy in young children. This storytime is a fun opportunity for kids to hear many great stories read aloud while supporting a good cause.


Be a mad scientist at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday, September 28th! 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 materials. Kitchen Kaboom! is totally kid-safe, but adults must accompany participating scientists. The later in the afternoon, families can experiment with paper airplanes and learn about basic principles of physics as part of the Museum’s PaperWorks exhibit! Instructions and materials are provided for families to come and build their own. Test the design to learn what factors affect the plane’s ability to fly.


Historic Deerfield’s newest exhibit, “Furniture Masterworks: Tradition and Innovation in Western Massachusetts” opens on Saturday, September 28th! The exhibition brings together roughly 60 pieces of the museum’s collection to help tell the story of furniture-making in New England from the 1680s to the 1830s. This exciting collection will help teach visitors about the history of furniture in New England throughout history. In addition to learning about the history of furniture, families can learn about the history of printed communication. There will be a special demonstration called “Works on Paper” that will focus on the importance of broadsides, pamphlets, books, and newspapers throughout history. Visitors can see a reproduction printing press run and can learn about the art of marbled paper.

Did you know that many of the buildings in Turners Falls were built with clay taken from the banks of the Connecticut River? Learn about local brick manufacturing, industrial history, architecture, and more with the Great Falls Discovery Center at their Watershed History event on Saturday afternoon. Learning about local history can help you better understand your community and how it has changed over time.


Want to learn about astronomy first-hand? Join the Trustees of Reservations and the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center on Saturday, September 28th in Windsor for a free evening of stargazing and searching for moons, planets, galaxies, and more at Notchview!

Are you interested in learning about astronomy but aren’t sure where to begin? Kevin Collins of the Amherst Astronomy Association presents a “Virtual Tour of the New England Sky” at Bascom Lodge atop Mt. Greylock on Wednesday evening, October 2nd in Lanesborough. Collins will discuss the Comet Ison, which is set to pass earth in November, and could rival Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake. He will also tell visitors about some of the local astronomy clubs and how to go about joining them during this free presentation.

Join the Springfield Museums for “Stars Over Springfield” on Friday evening, October 4th, an introductory astronomy talk and star viewing at the Science Museum’s observatory. This week, David Gallup, planetarium director at the Springfield Science Museum and president of the Springfield Naturalists’ Club, will present “Splendors of the Night Sky.” 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.

The Milham Planetarium at Williams College in Williamstown will be open to the public on Friday evening for a free planetarium show this evening. You can learn about the motions of the planets, the phases of the moon, comets, and much more!

Music & Art

Would you like to learn the art of plein air painting? Hilltown Arts Alive is offering a plein air group on Saturday morning, September 28th at the Worthington Historical Society. This will be the first meeting of many, the locations of which will be discussed with the group. Older students and kids with their parents would enjoy this outdoor art experience, which also acts as an opportunity for intergenerational learning. There is no instruction – this is just a chance to get outdoors and paint!

Piano Day at UMass Amherst on Sunday, September 29th is for middle, high school, and college pianists, their parents, and their teachers. There will be a masterclass, performances, discussions, and a recital by alumna Yan Yu. Piano Day is a good way for young pianists to meet other pianists of all ages. Free.


On Saturday morning, September 28th the Trustees of Reservation’s “Fall Food on the Farm” workshop in Holyoke focuses on growing and cooking herbs year-round. You can test and learn about many different herbs and learn how to grow them both indoors and out. You will also get the opportunity to cook sage pesto with roasted winter squash. These workshops are led by Lydia Mills, who, in addition to her work with The Trustees, is a food and nutrition educator and the manager of the Holyoke Farmers’ Market.

UMass Amherst has several exciting gardens on their campus, all of which are open for scheduled tours on Saturday! Visitors can tour the Agricultural Learning Center and Student Farming Enterprise, Franklin Permaculture Gardens, GardenShare, and the Renaissance Garden. This is a great way to see what UMass has to offer and a good way to get inspiration for your own garden!

Animal Studies

Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s “Birding Beyond Your Backyard” events offer aspiring birders the chance to learn more about birds of field, forest, and feeder. On Saturday morning, September 28th, their will be an organized walk in Richmond. This birding walk is geared towards beginners, so don’t worry if you “can’t tell a robin from a crow!” Appropriate for older students interested in birds or nature.

Kids age 5 and up and their families are invited to Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Pittsfield for a free afternoon on Saturday of learning about fish and cold water streams. Participants can catch and release fish and learn about the importance of cold water streams to reptiles, amphibians, fish, and macro-invertebrates.

Helen Ann Sephton of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment presents “Amazing Animal Adaptations” at Shutesbury Town Hall on Wednesday afternoon, October 2nd. You can meet some live and taxidermied animals, and learn about their history, behavior, biology, and adaptations. This is a fun way to learn about interesting animals native to Western Massachusetts! Best for kids in K-3.

Community Meals

Food brings community together, and here in Western MA, community suppers in the autumn are a lovely way to meet your neighbors before the winter comes, and for your children to develop intergenerational relationships with folks in their community.  Here are a few community meals happening this weekend:

  • First Congregational Church of Hatfield is holding their annual chicken barbecue on Saturday evening.
  • Wesley United Methodist Church in Hadley is holding their annual pig roast dinner on Saturday evening.
  • Pelham Historical Society’s Harvest Supper and Howard D. Barnes Memorial Pie Auction is Saturday evening.
  • Florence Congregational Church is holding a free-will meatloaf supper on Saturday evening.
  • Grow Food Northampton’s End-of-Season Community Potluck is on Sunday evening.

Parent Workshop

Do you think your child seems anxious or worried? The Puzzle of Parenting Workshops presents “Little Minds, Big Worries,” a free workshop for parents of young children with anxiety. Parents will learn about the causes of childhood anxiety, why it is on the rise, and what you can do to help your anxious child feel supported. Takes place at Palmer/Monson Family Network on Thursday evening, October 3rd in Three Rivers.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind 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) Anton Bielousov]

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