27 Community Highlights: Shadow Puppets to Sewing Machines. Fiddle Music to Cheese Caves.

Shadow Puppets to Sewing Machines. Manhattan Project to Fiddle Music. Tracking Fairies to Cheese Caves

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 BagShare Project is holding a free Sewing Machine and Clothing Repair Clinic on Sunday, March 9 in Cummington. Bring your sewing machine in for repair, learn how to fix and oil it yourself, and learn basic clothing repair, like sewing on buttons, shortening pants, and patching jeans. Bring a project you need help with so you can learn how to fix it on your own in the future. This clinic is an excellent example of collaborative consumption and how we can use it to educate as well as support sustainable living.

Puppet ShowsLiteracyWomen’s History MonthOutdoor AdventuresMusic StudiesHistory of Writing/PrintingCollaborative ConsumptionTeen/HistorySTEMSports HistoryTheater/MusicalsParent Workshops

Puppet Shows

Explore fables and nursery rhymes through puppets this Saturday, March 8th in Amherst. In the morning, families are invited to a free family puppet show at the Jones Library where Sparky’s Puppets will perform Aesop’s Fables using puppets, humor, and audience participation.  Then in the early afternoon, Jim Napolitano of Nappy’s Puppets will be at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for a interactive show, “Sing-A-Long and Father Goose’s Tales,” featuring shadow puppet renditions of beloved nursery rhymes and children’s songs.


You and your child can work together to develop pre-reading skills at the Berkshire Athenaeum’s “Every Child Ready to Read” free workshop on Monday morning, March 10 in Pittsfield. The workshop is for preschoolers and their parents/caregivers. It focuses on the five early literacy practices – talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing along with activities. This is a great chance to introduce your young child to the world of reading!

Women’s History Month

International Women’s Day began in the early 1900s as a way to promote equal rights and suffrage for women. Although women’s rights have come a long way since the first International Women’s Day, there is still work to be done. You can help promote equality for all women at  the 2nd Annual Celebration of Speech celebration at the First Churches of Northampton (129 Main Street, Northampton, MA) on Saturday, March 8 from 12noon-8pm. The Celebration of Speech program features performances, contemporary speeches, and historic speeches. This event is a great way to celebrate influential women throughout history and some of the amazing women that live right here in Western Massachusetts today. A full program of this free event can be found on the Women’s Voice Worldwide, Inc. website.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Alice Plouchard Stelzer, author of Female Adventurers: The Women Who Helped Colonize Massachusetts and Connecticut, will be at the Agawam Library on Saturday afternoon, March 8 and the Holyoke Public Library on Wednesday afternoon, March 12. Her book profiles a dozen unsung heroines who represent all of the courageous women who left comfort behind and migrated into the wilderness of New England in the 1630’s. Stelzer hopes to educate people about the country’s “foremothers” and the important roles they played and challenges they encountered while building a civilized foundation for future generations at this free event.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Historic Northampton presents “The Light of the Senses,” a talk by Anne Ciecko of UMass Amherst on Sunday afternoon, March 9. The talk focuses on Mary Hallock-Greenewalt, a pioneer in experimental audiovisual art/visual music, and her mother, who was her inspiration for all her inventions. This fascinating talk also explores the history of women in technology. Older students interested in history, women’s studies, music, or technology will enjoy this talk.

Author Denise Kiernan will be at the Odyssey Bookshop on Tuesday evening, March 11 in South Hadley to discuss her book, The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II. The book tells of the women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who secretly worked on the Manhattan Project and built the world’s first atomic bomb. Older students and adults interested in history, science, and women’s studies will benefit from this free author talk.

Outdoor Adventures

Kids ages 4 and up can come to Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center for “Tracking Fairies (and Other Things)” on Saturday afternoon, March 8. Meet in the Yurt to read Ammi-Joan Paquette’s The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies, and then venture out to the woods to discover places fairies might enjoy! Participants will also learn about animal tracking, build fairy houses, and enjoy a tasty cup of hot cocoa at this free.

Music Studies

Glee Clubs, originally a male musical or choir group that sang short songs by trios or quartets (aka as a “glee”) were popular in the UK from the late 1700s to the mid-1850s.  More modern day Glee Clubs sing much longer songs and can consist of both genders. On Saturday evening, March 8, the Smith College Glee Club’s Spring Oratorio takes place on the campus in Northampton. They, along with the Cornell University Men’s Glee Club and several soloists, will perform Mozart’s Requiem (much longer that the traditional glee!), his final composition. Students with audience skills and an interest in classical music will enjoy this free concert, which features many talented young vocalists.

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, along with spring, what better time of year than the present to celebrate with songs, stories and percussion from the Celtic Isles! Come to the Holyoke Public Library on Wednesday afternoon, March 12, and “Drum Away the Blues” with Craig Harris at a free multicultural, participatory, all-ages celebration. Kids will enjoy this interactive music program and can learn about Celtic cultures.

With an instrument as old as the fiddle (10th-century) it’s no wonder that there are numerous fiddle styles! The Springfield Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “Stories of a Fiddler,” with Sarah Michel, aka Sarah the Fiddler. On Thursday at noon, March 13, Sarah will perform various fiddle styles, from Irish to bluegrass, and will tell of her own experiences in New England Fiddle Contests. Learn about these different styles and music genres at this mid-day community-based educational opportunity in Springfield.

History of Writing/Printing

Long before computers, prior to Sharpies, even before the use of fountain pens, the tools needed to write a note, an invitation, or a bill were distinctive and often elegant. The Write Stuff, an exhibition of Carol and Richard Seltzer’s private collection of pens, ink sets, pounce boxes, and lap desks, is on display at the Stockbridge Library through March 29. The exhibit includes many different examples of historic writing tools, allowing visitors to get an idea of what writing was like in the past. Seeing these antique writing instruments might help viewers understand how some of our current technology came to be, and why the changes and advancements are significant.

Learn about the history of the letterpress at the Wistariahurst Museum on Holyoke on Monday evening, March 10. J. Guy Gaulin presents, “Hitchcock Press and Letterpress Printing” as part of the Museums Made in the Happy Valley series. Gaulin owns Hitchcock Press, and will talk about the company’s fine letterpress printing, the history of letterpress, its decline in the 1950s, and its present day popularity as a craft.

Collaborative Consumption

The BagShare Project is holding a free Sewing Machine and Clothing Repair Clinic on Sunday, March 9 in Cummington. Bring your sewing machine in for repair, learn how to fix and oil it yourself, and learn basic clothing repair, like sewing on buttons, shortening pants, and patching jeans. Bring a project you need help with so you can learn how to fix it on your own in the future. This clinic is an excellent example of collaborative consumption and how we can use it to educate as well as support sustainable living.

Cheese caves and cider cellars exist in the small town of Heath. Take a tour and learn food preservation skills from other families in the region on Saturday, March 8. “The Cellars & Caves Tour of Heath” will allow families to see a variety of cellars, first-hand, while asking questions and learning what has (and what hasn’t ) worked from local residents.  The Heath Agricultural Society will host a potluck lunch following the tour, allowing participants to ask questions of the individual tour hosts while sharing ideas. Sharing knowledge, along with resources, is how collaborative consumption can support the interest and education of our families!


Jewish teens are invited to “Teen Life DIY: Then and Now” at Temple Israel of Greenfield on Sunday afternoon, March 9. What kinds of work would you like to do? How much would you expect to earn in this job? What is a living wage? Ask and answer questions like this and compare your responses with those of Jewish Americans 100 years ago to learn about history and how economics and working conditions have changed over time. The second part of this program features a workshop on a DIY skill like cooking or sewing.


Is your daughter interested in technology or engineering? Did you know that women account for only 13.4% of the engineering workforce? Smith College is holding “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” on Saturday, March 8 from 9am-12noon and 2pm-5pm, to help get girls in grades 6-8 interested in the historically male-dominated fields of science and engineering. This program offers girls a chance to explore the fields of civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering by doing projects related to each, like designing and building a house, designing and modifying a hydraulic arm, and programming LEGO Mindstorm Robots. Participants will work with Smith College engineering students to gain hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This program is free, but registration is required. Please register ASAP, as this program has been very popular in the past.

Is your teen interested in learning more about science, technology, engineering, and math? Students in grades 10-12 are invited to Science Quest at UMass Amherst, where they can take part in hands-on science activities, demos, and lab tours. Topics of these include renewable energy, food science, nanotechnology, wind energy, physics, biology, animal science, and more. UMass undergraduate science students will be present to talk about their experiences as science majors and an admissions representative will be on hand to discuss preparing for college and applying to UMass. This event helps engage high schoolers in many different scientific fields through hands-on learning and participation in a variety of activities. High schoolers who are interested in science will benefit from this free event. Science Quest takes place on Saturday, April 12 from 9:30am to 3:40pm in the UMass Integrated Science Building (661 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA). More information and the registration form can be found on the Science Quest website.

Sports History

Amherst Cinema is screening Rare Films from the Baseball Hall of Fame, including a highlight reel of the 1958 Red Sox, vintage newsreels and commercials, and more. David Filipi of the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH, assembled the film and will give a live introduction at Amherst Cinema on Monday afternoon & evening, March 10. The film is great for baseball fans, movie-lovers, and those who want to learn more about the history of baseball.


The season for spring musicals and high school theater productions is beginning!  Take your younger kids with audience skills to see the “big kids” perform on stage, inspiring the budding thespian and appreciation for theater:

  • Thursday, March 6-Saturday, March 8: Amherst Regional High School presents Shrek: The Musical.
  • Friday, March 7-Sunday, March 9: Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Shelburne Falls presents The Wizard of Oz.
  • Friday, March 7-Sunday, March 9: Turners Falls and Great Falls Middle School in Montague is performing Legally Blonde.
  • Thursday, March 13-Saturday, March 15: Northampton High School Theater presents a production of The Music Man.
  • Friday, March 14-Sunday, March 16:  Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School’s production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice will be performed at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Parent Workshops

The Northampton Public Schools, Northampton/Hadley CFCE, Sunnyside Child Care, Northampton Parents Center, and Northampton Area Pediatrics have come together to offer a series of free Parent Cafés for parents and guardians of children age 8 and under in the Northampton area. Families will eat dinner together, then children are cared for while parents meet for the Café. Here parents can discuss all aspects of parenting and gather support from one another as they face the challenges of raising children. Parent Cafés are great for parents because they provide a supportive and welcoming environment in which to discuss and learn about parenting. Childcare and dinner are provided. The Cafés occur on March 11, 18, and 25 from 5pm-7:30pm at the Bridge Street School (2 Parsons Street, Northampton, MA). It is recommended that you attend all three sessions. For more information or to register, please call 413-587-1471 or email bblack@northampton-k12.us.

Did you know that more than 1 in 3 of our youth has experienced cyberthreats online, and that over 25% of adolescents and teens have repeatedly been bullied via cell phones or the Internet? The Gill-Montague Community School Partnership presents a workshop for parents on “The Dangers of Cyberbullying: Keeping Your Kids Safe in the Digital World.” Massachusetts State Trooper Christopher Ware, member of the Internet Crimes Against Children  Task Force will present this free workshop at the Turners Falls High School/Great Falls Middle School Theater in Turners Falls on Thursday evening, March 13.

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: (cc) Joey Rozier]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Ashfield, Bernardston, Charlemont/Hawley, Chesterfield, Conway, Heath, Leyden, Montague, Montgomery, South Hadley and Shutesbury Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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