22 Community Highlights: Chrysanthemums to Bubbles. Opera to Beatles.

Chrysanthemum Show at Smith College begins this weekend. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Buttons to Apparel. Chrysanthemums to Bubbles. Opera to Beatles. Superman to Lydia Maria Child.

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 is the Fall Chrysanthemum Show which opens on Saturday, November 2nd at the Botanic Garden of Smith College in Northampton, and runs daily through November 17th.  The show features many beautiful flowers throughout Lyman Conservatory where cascades of chrysanthemums lined the walls creating an amazing display of “floral pyrotechnics.” Explore the rich history of the chrysanthemum before your visit, then examining the wide array of forms and colors that are cultivated when you arrive. See if you can get your kids to pick out the different varieties of chrysanthemum forms displayed at the show. Check the show brochure for a list. Click here for printable coloring sheets of different flowering forms. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Maize: Mysteries of an Ancient Grain too.

Science ♦ Plant StudiesHistoryStorytellingApparel ♦ Music StudiesOrnithologyHikingBiologySTEM Art HistoryParent Workshops


The Holyke Library hosts “Bubble Trouble,” a free production that takes bubbles to the max with bubble master (& entertainer) Jeff Boyer on Saturday afternoon, November 2nd. Jeff mixes comedy, music and interactive bubble-magic to engage and entertain audiences of all ages. Jeff juggles bubbles, sculpts, and builds with bubbles, makes fog-filled bubbles and more. Kids can think about the chemistry behind bubbles and ponder how Jeff does his magic!

Check out “The Science of Bubbles” on The Spangler Effect for a fun understanding of the chemistry behind making bubbles. Steve investigates the science of bubbles and why they pop, how to make different shapes, and how to put a person inside a bubble!

Plant Studies

How can we identify a tree or a plant without it’s leaves? This time of year some trees are bare while other trees are still holding on to their leaves– and an entire different group of trees still have their green needle like leaves. Would you like to learn how to identify trees and other plants during the fall? Join Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center on Saturday morning, November 2nd for a hike at the Trustees of Reservations’ Petticoat Hill Property in Williamsburg. The hike is moderate to strenuous, 3.5 miles, and will give you the opportunity to learn how to identify trees based on their bark, buds, remaining leaves, and surrounding ecology, giving participant a great appreciation to their surrounding habitat (not to mention fresh air on an invigorating hike!).


Ever wonder who lived in some of the unique homes found in and around the Pioneer Valley? Learning about the people who built historic homes and hearing the stories of the families and individuals who lived there many years ago brings alive local history. On Saturday, November 2nd, Amherst Historical Society’s annual house tour, “An Amherst Harvest,” will give community members an opportunity to visit the homes in person, allowing families to walk into the past and learn about local history through primary source resources. Join the Historical Society for tours of six unique historic homes all over Amherst. This event is great for those interested in local history and New England architecture.

Do you know the origins of “Over the River and Through the Woods?” This Thanksgiving song was written in 1844 by American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Lydia Maria Child, a Massachusetts native. Discover more about her life as an abolitionist at a screening of a new documentary, “Over the River… the Life of Lydia Maria Child, Abolitionist for Freedom,” held in the community room at the Media Education Foundation on Saturday afternoon in Northampton. Child lived in the Pioneer Valley from 1838 to 1841, making her story one of local importance and telling the story of this important person in American history.

The Skinner Servants’ Tour is happening at the Wistariahurst Museum this November, beginning Sunday afternoon, November 3rd. In collaboration with Enchanted Circle Theater, the Servants’ Tour is a performance that allows guests to discover the Skinner Family Home as it was in 1927, and to learn about the disparate lives of the rich and the poor. Best known for their production of silk and their Western MA silk mills, bring the family for an engaging lesson about local history and the private life of the family behind Skinner and Sons Manufacturing in Holyoke.

On Monday evening, November 4th, the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke continues their fall lecture series, “Historical Culinary Incidents: An Exploration of Food and Culture in the Pioneer Valley.” This week, Reba Jean Pichette will discuss Herbals and Medicinals in Early America. Discover the many local and transplanted herbs used by Native Americans and colonists here in Western MA. Enjoy a better understanding of the medical challenges families in the Colonial era faced and the plant origins of medicine.

The area of downtown Amherst that houses businesses like Collective Copies and Hastings is historically known at Merchants Row, the commercial area of Amherst.  But it wasn’t always a commercial area… What gave way to Merchants’ Row? In the 1820s and 30s, three quarters of this area was occupied by dwelling houses built contemporary with the founding of Amherst College. Learn more about the history of this area of Amherst during one of the Amherst Historical Society’s History Bites, a FREE lunchtime history talk series on Friday, November 8th. This week’s talk, “The Development of Merchants Row,” is presented by Ed Wilfert and takes place at Simeon Strong House in Amherst. — Pair this lecture with a visit to see the architectural exhibit at the Jones Library entitled, ““Business, Learning, and Life, West of the Common: A Meditation Upon Merchants Row” by Ed Wilfert, which includes maps, photographs, advertisements, and other graphics used to illustrate the rich history of this area.


The Jones Library in Amherst presents “Family Adventures in Reading,” a storytelling program on Saturday morning, November 2nd. Storytelling has many benefits for young children, like encouraging creative thinking, listening and interpretation skills, and language art development. Storyteller Motoko Dworkin will read stories and lead discussions on topics such as courage, fairness, and dreams. A native of Osaka, Japan, Motoko has appeared on the “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and is a gifted storyteller. For kids 6 and older and their parents.


When families need clothes for school or new boots for another New England winter, there wasn’t the convenience of back-to-school shopping at a nearby mall with a wide variety of styles and fabrics. So what was available? Learn about clothing in the past at Historic Deerfield’sThe Art of Apparel” on Saturday, November 2nd. Linda and Peter Oakley will demonstrate dressmaking and shoemaking throughout the day and teach families about the different types of clothing that existed in the past and how people adapted them for different seasons and occasions. There will also be tours of period fashion at the Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery. Learn about local history through textiles and fashion… and walk away to ponder how our clothes are made and imported today and the impact it has those who manufacture them.

Did you know the largest button collection in the world is housed here in Western MA? It’s really no surprise considering there were a number of button factories in Western MA in the 1800’s. Learn all about buttons at the Keep Homestead Museum with button experts George and Gretchen Gauthier on Sunday afternoon, November 3rd in Monson. They have been collecting for years and know a great deal about many types of buttons from several different eras, giving a unique lens into the history of the USA and Massachusetts.

Music Studies

The Westfield State University Department of Music presents a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” on Saturday & Sunday afternoon, November 2nd & 3rd. This opera, sung in English, will inspire those interested in music, theater, and other performance arts, and is a great way to introduce young students to classical music.

“Deconstructing the Beatles” comes to Amherst Cinema on Tuesday & Wednesday afternoon, November 5th & 6th! On Tuesday, Scott Freiman’s multimedia lecture will take attendees on “A Trip Through Strawberry Fields.” Freiman will speak about the Beatles’ 1967 single, “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane,” and discuss the creation and evolution of these songs and how they helped shape the future of the Beatles and popular music as a whole. The presentation also offers an in-depth look at the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” On Wednesday, Freiman presents another multimedia lecture – “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Deconstructing the Early Beatles.” This program looks at the birth of the Beatles and some of their early recordings and performances. This event would be best for older students interested in music, history, and the Beatles. Older students interested in music history will walk away with a deeper understanding behind the English rock band that is considered to be the most influential band from the rock era!


Wildlife rehabilitator Tom Ricardi will be at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg on Sunday morning, November 3rd, for his free birds of prey show. See raptors upclose, learn about their adaptations and the importance of local habitat preservation for their survival! This exciting live show will be great for the whole family and will give kids a chance to get up close to these incredible birds.


Are you interested in exploring the forest at night? Members of the West Springfield Environmental Committee, Todd Steglinski and Tammy Olszewski, will head a night hike at Bear Hole for ages 10 and up on Saturday evening, November 2nd in West Springfield. Night hikes are a great way to step out of your comfort zone and experience the forest in a whole new way. Bear Hole is very different at night than it is during the day, and this hike will give you the chance to discover the different sights and sounds of the woods at night. You may even get to hear some interesting creatures!

Is it true that the Berkshires were once covered by a kilometer-thick sheet of ice? On Sunday afternoon, November 3rd, a guided hike at Pine Cobble in Williamstown with the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation will interpret the natural history of the preserve to entice participants to a new understanding of their local surroundings. This three-hour, moderately strenuous hike traverses the newest section of the Pine Cobble Trail, as well as some of the lesser-known parts of the property. See the rock ledges, Bear Spring, and two ancient shorelines, while learning about the history and geology of the property!


The UMass Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department presents OEB Science Cafes at Esselon Cafe in Hadley on Monday, November 4th. This month’s free talk is by Dr. Derek Lovley, who will present “Live Wires: Bacterial Batteries,” which focuses on how to turn microorganisms into living fuel cells. Science Cafes are oriented towards adults without a science background, but are interesting to those with science backgrounds as well! Older students interested in science would enjoy the Science Cafes.


Science & Sustainability Expo and KidWind Challenge info session takes place at Greenfield Community College on Thursday, November 7th in Greenfield. Teachers, Parents, and Youth Leaders of Grades 3 -12 Youth, and interested students & adults – come learn about the many ways to get involved in this unique, intergenerational, educational event with competitive and non-competitive opportunities for all.

Art History

Westfield State University presents lecture by Brad Ricca, who will present and read from his book, Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster–the Creators of Superman on Monday evening, November 4th. Ricca will discuss the true story of the creation of the Superman character, the real-life inspiration for Lois Lane, and much more! This free event would be great for comic book lovers and those interested in biography and art history.

Parent Workshops

The Puzzle of Parenting series presents a special presentation by Jeanine Fitzgerald, a behavior specialist, titled “Minimizing Meltdowns: Helping Children Master Strong Emotions,” on Monday evening, November 4th in Belchertown. This free workshop is for parents, grandparents, guardians, and caregivers who are interested in learning more about their child’s behaviors and emotions.

South Berkshire Kids and Molly Bea Ferioli present a free workshop “Nutrition for Kids (and Families)” at the Community Health Programs, Inc. Campus in Great Barrington on Wednesday, November 6th. Ferioli will discuss organic food, vitamins, food labels, healthy recipes, family meals, and more. This workshop is great for parents who are looking for ways to encourage healthy habits for all family members.

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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: