20 Community Highlights: Ichnofossils to Illumination. Shoes to Soap.

Have you ever wondered how communities and homes were illuminated during the dark New England winter months before electricity? “An Evening of Illumination” at Old Sturbridge Village on Saturday evening, November 9th, allows visitors to experience an evening as early New Englanders did – by candlelight, oil lamps, and firelight.

Ichnofossils to Illumination. Linens to OperaShoes to Soap.

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:  The Five College West African Music Ensembles will perform a free concert in South Hadley at Mt. Holyoke McCulloch Auditorium on Friday, November 15th. The Ensembles, along with Ghanaian guest performers, will play music from southern Togo, Ghana, and Benin. There will also be a dance lesson for audience members. The whole family can come to this exciting concert and learn about music and dance in West Africa.

GeologyImmigrationNature ScienceHistoryMYO GiftsCulinary ArtsAgricultureCommunity ServiceCommunity MealsOutdoor AdventuresCultural StudiesParent Workshop


Did you know that Barton Cove was one of the most prolific sites in the 19th-century for finding fossilized dinosaur footprints, better known to geologist as ichnofossils?  Learn about these fossils along with gems and minerals from around the world this Saturday, November 9th, at the  Pioneer Valley Institute’s 17th annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show and Sale at the Greenfield Community College Dining Commons. Over a dozen vendors will have rocks, minerals, gemstones, fossils, jewelry, and fine art for sale. There will be demonstrations and a talk by Dr. Robert Herbert, who will speak about local geology, ichnofossils, and natural history. Admission is free so take the whole family to learn about geology while finding unique gifts for the little geologist in your life for the upcoming holidays.


The Northampton Human Rights Commission invites families with older students to attend a special event spotlighting the stories of refugees and immigrants living in the community on Wednesday evening, November 13th. Becoming a New American: Experiences of Refugees and Immigrants is a panel of refugees and immigrants from a variety of backgrounds, as well as people who help with the resettlement process that newcomers to the community go through. The group’s goal in hosting the event is to help to facilitate a successful resettlement process for new families, but there are many other things that can be learned by attending. Students with some background in American and world history can piece together a better understanding of what it really means to be a refugee by hearing firsthand accounts of the refugee experience. While the information shared will be in a modern context, some of the themes of the refugee experience are timeless and do not depend on context. Students can also learn about the intricacies of the process of gaining citizenship, and the things that new Americans must learn in order to be considered eligible for citizenship. The event will take place at the Forbes Library in Northampton and is free.

Nature Science

Observe wild birds and learn about bird banding at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox on Saturday morning, November 9th. Sanctuary volunteers will demonstrate how to use mist nets and what information can be gathered through bird banding.  See wild birds up close and learn about the process and importance of data collection and how banding birds contributes to a bank of growing information used to preserve habitats vital to species native to the region.


Have you ever wondered how communities and homes were illuminated during the dark New England winter months before electricity?  “An Evening of Illumination” at Old Sturbridge Village on Saturday evening, November 9th, allows visitors to experience an evening as early New Englanders did – by candlelight, oil lamps, and firelight. See the evening lit up just as early 19th-century residents would have experienced. Step back in to history without television or telephones, where the evenings were filled with storytelling, music, singing and games.  This historic tour occurs once a year and gives viewers an evening experience of Old Sturbridge Village while learning about Colonial history.

During those long New England winter evenings, by candlelight while listening to stories or live music, women in the 1800’s might have tended to their needlework, like knitting, mending and embroidery. At Historic Deerfield on Friday, November 15th, take a close look at 19th-century embroidered linens on display while a museum educator interprets the details of the work and their history. Then, as part of their  Art and Craft workshop on Embroidered Linens, adults and older students will get a chance to embroider their own linens for a hands on experience and better understanding of the historical context of embroidered linens from Colonial New England.

MYO Gifts

Handmade gift are meaningful presents not only during the holiday season, but any time of year! Learn to make hats, mittens, and tote bags out of your outgrown or outworn wool sweaters at a Reuse Workshop the Buckland Public Library with Peggy Hart on Saturday morning, November 9th. Some materials will be provided, but if you have a favorite sweater you’d can’t let go of (but can’t wear anymore) bring it and transform it into something useful to keep or to give. This class is best for older students or adults and a skill you can share with others.

How cool would it be to be able to make shoes for your own kids or to give to an expecting mother or baby nephew? Sharon Raymond from Simple Shoemaking Company is leading a shoemaking workshop at the Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair in Cummington on Saturday morning. Raymond will teach participants ages 8yo and older how to make shoes for a small child, leaving with a beautiful and utilitarian gift for the new walker in your life! Give handmade this holiday season!

Who doesn’t need soap?  Handcrafted soaps are useful gifts to give and extra special if you made it yourself! Come to the Haberdashery for a soap making workshop and craft social on Sunday afternoon, November 10th in Northampton. Older students and adults can come and learn all the steps of basic soap making, from extracting lye from wood ash to rendering fat to putting the soap into a mold. This is a social opportunity to learn a new skill and the science behind soap making.

Culinary Arts

Take a look at food as it appears in operas!  The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington presents food historian Francine Segan, who will present her lecture “Opera Lover’s Cookbook” on Saturday evening, November 9th. Segan will discuss the role of food in opera using film stills and snippets that illustrate memorable dining moments in opera. This talk would be best for older students interested in food or music studies.


This Veterans Day weekend on Saturday, November 9th, Historic Deerfield presents “On the Battlefield: Military Attire in 18th Century New England,” a demonstration on the practical and symbolic uses of military attire of the past. Tailor Henry Cooke will tailor a historic uniform and discuss the history of military attire and how it has changed over time. Through the lens of an 18th-Century trade, families will have a unique view of military history unveiled to them.


Did you know that maize is the largest production crop in the world? The Botanic Garden of Smith College’s exhibition “Maize: Mysteries of an Ancient Grain” is all about maize, its history, and its significance. As part of this exhibition, USDA Agricultural Research Service Geneticist Edward S. Buckler will present a lecture on this amazing and versatile crop on Friday evening, November 15th in Northampton. Buckler will discuss the fascinating genetics and evolution of corn, as well as the crop’s importance to food security throughout the world. This lecture would be of interest to older students interested in agriculture, biology, plants, genetics, and other realms of science.

Community Service

Park clean ups are easy ways to volunteer with your family! Spend time outdoors and help your community by assisting with preparing the gardens for winter this Saturday afternoon, November 9th, at Greenfield Energy Park. Kids can rake leaves and sweep walkways and adults can cut back perennials and trip bushes and trees. Come by anytime or stay the whole afternoon. Bring garden gloves, tools, buckets, etc. Cleaning up parks with your kids teaches them the value of taking care of community spaces and gives them ownership of their playgrounds and greenways.

Community Meals

Spaghetti Suppers are more than just serving up noodles with red sauce and raising money for a worthy cause… intergenerational community dinners like a Spaghetti Supper build community! The Friends of the Palmer Monson Family Network are holding their 8th Annual Spaghetti Supper in Palmer to benefit the Family Network on Saturday evening, November 9th. There will be food, raffles, prizes, and kids’ activities. Support a great local resource while interacting with and meeting new community members!

It’s getting colder outside and the nights are longer… what could be better than an Old Fashioned New England Ham and Bean Supper with your friends and neighbors? The North Hadley Congregational Church is hosting an intergenerational community meal on Saturday evening where people of all ages can come together and connect over delicious, hearty food.

Earthdance in Plainfield is holding a community sing and potluck on Sunday evening, November 10th! Penny Schultz, Earthdance co-founder, brings community members together through singing… and no one does it better than Penny, a powerhouse of music and song! This event is open to all ages and is a great way to engage children in music and help them spend time with community members of all ages. A potluck meal with be shared, so bring a healthy dish and list of ingredients.

Outdoor Adventures

Once the sun goes down, get ready to go on a hike! Join Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary for a Family Night Hike in Easthampton on Saturday evening, November 9th. Listen for nighttime sounds, discover the outdoors in the dark, play games, make sparks with rocks, and learn about the many nocturnal animals native to the area. The moon will be waxing and maybe an owl will hoot.  Find out what you can see and hear by the light of a crescent moon.

Cultural Studies

Contemporary Women Filmmakers in the Muslim World” is part of the Jones Library’s Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys programming in Amherst. Anne Ciecko, professor of communications at UMass Amherst, will lead this presentation on Muslim women filmmakers and representations of gender and Muslim identities in their films on Thursday evening, November 14th. Older students interested in Muslim culture, film, and women’s studies will find embedded learning throughout this program.

Japanese rhythm group Yamato performs at the UMass Fine Arts Center in Amherst as part of their 20th anniversary tour on Thursday evening. The group is known for their superb choreography and energetic live performances in which they connect ancient and modern drumming traditions. Family members of all ages will enjoy this lively performance at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall.

The Five College West African Music Ensembles will perform a free concert in South Hadley at Mt. Holyoke McCulloch Auditorium on Friday, November 15th. The Ensembles, along with Ghanaian guest performers, will play music from southern Togo, Ghana, and Benin. There will also be a dance lesson for audience members. The whole family can come to this exciting concert and learn about music and dance in West Africa.

Parent Workshop

Are you concerned that your child or teen may have anxiety? Lynn Lyons, LICSW, presents “Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents” at Mt. Greylock Regional High School’s Meeting Room in Williamstown on Tuesday evening, November 12th. Lyons is the author of Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children and will speak about anxiety in kids and teens, how this affects them and their families, and what parents and family can do to help.

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.

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