34 Community Highlights: A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Casablanca. Service Dogs to Bald Eagles.

Lemons… they can be a catalyst for community service and STEM based learning!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Casablanca. Robots to Rockets. Service Dogs to Bald Eagles… 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: Step back in time at Cummington’s Kingman Tavern, which opens for the season on Saturday afternoon, July 12, and will be open on Saturdays through August 30 with no admission charge. The Tavern is a historic building from the early 1800s that contains 17 rooms, with a replica country store, a barn, a cider mill, and a carriage shed. Families can discover the local history of Cummington and the Hilltowns by exploring the museum and seeing many of its historic artifacts. The general store, in particular, is a great resource for understanding life in the past – it contains many things that would have been sold in a New England general store from 1900-1910!

Film StudiesLocal HistoryEntomologyTheaterArtBird StudiesSTEMSustainabilityWritingAnimal Studies

Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Film Studies

Join Amherst Cinema for Big Screen Classics, where they screen a classic film each Sunday and following Wednesday. This week on Sunday afternoon, July 13, and Wednesday evening, July 16, see Citizen Kane (1941; rated PG), the groundbreaking film by Orson Welles nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories. This is a great way for families to experience classic films on the big screen!

See another classic, Casablanca (1942; rated PG), with Images Cinema on Morgan Lawn for Family Flicks Under the Stars on Sunday evening, July 13 in Williamstown. This classic romantic drama stars Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. This free screening is another great way to experience classic films on the big screen, and this time, outdoors! See the film that inspired common sayings in the American lexicon, including “Play it again, Sam.” and “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

Several Hollywood movies have been filmed in western Massachusetts over the past few years. You can learn about these and other films that have connections to the region at “Ventfort Films: A Berkshire Connection,” taking place at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox this July and August. The series focuses on films that are in some way connected to the Berkshires – for instance, literature by Berkshire authors that has been adapted to film, or movies filmed in the Berkshires. The films will be introduced by someone involved in the production or by a film aficionado. Kick off the series on Thursday evening, July 17 with a screening of the film Cider House Rules (1999; rated PG-13), part of which was filmed right at Ventfort Hall! Tjasa Sprague, who worked on the set of the film, will introduce the film and tell about her experiences working with the crew. Older students interested in film, acting and/or local history will enjoy learning about the connections between major Hollywood films and the Berkshires.

Local History

Step back in time at Cummington’s Kingman Tavern, which opens for the season on Saturday afternoon, July 12, and will be open on Saturdays through August 30 with no admission charge. The Tavern is a historic building from the early 1800s that contains 17 rooms, with a replica country store, a barn, a cider mill, and a carriage shed. Families can discover the local history of Cummington and the Hilltowns by exploring the museum and seeing many of its historic artifacts. The general store, in particular, is a great resource for understanding life in the past – it contains many things that would have been sold in a New England general store from 1900-1910!

How did people cross rivers, such as the Connecticut, before the construction of modern bridges? Bridges have been around for a long time, but large bridges that vehicles can use are a much newer invention. Learn about the history of our local bridges and the difficulties associated with building them while riding around Turners Falls and Montague City on a leisurely bike tour with the Great Falls Discovery Center on Sunday afternoon, July 13 from 2pm-4pm. This free bike tour will get participants engaged in our local industrial history and encourage them to envision life in the past in some of our Connecticut River communities. BYO bike and helmet.

Join the Buckland Historical Society for an open house at Buckland Historical Society Museum and the Wilder Homestead in Buckland on Sunday afternoon, July 13. Here you can see many interesting artifacts and town records, a furnished 1775 saltbox, a 1779 English barn, and a shoemaker shop. Those who are interested in local history and industries will enjoy having the opportunity to explore these great historical Hilltown sites.


Does someone in your family love insects or want to learn more about them? The Trustees of Reservations is hosting two great entomology programs this weekend in the Berkshires! On Saturday morning, July 12, families can search for and learn about insects at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield. Then on Sunday evening, July 13, explore Mountain Meadow Preserve in Williamstown and learn about native butterfly species. In addition to discovering the amazing world of insects, these programs are a great opportunity to explore the ecology of forest, fields, wetlands, and meadows on these properties.

Contribute to Project Native’s Butterfly House by attending a free Summer Butterfly and Bug Safari in Housatonic on Saturday morning, July 12! Walk the grounds looking for butterflies, caterpillars, and eggs to relocate to the Butterfly House. Learn about this order of insects, Lepidoptera, and gain skills in finding and even identifying butterflies and caterpillars and by learning about their host plants.

Celebrate and learn about bees at a Festival of the Bees at the Mason Square Branch Library on Saturday, July 12 in Springfield! There will be activities for all ages and talks by local beekeepers. Piti Theatre Company will also perform To Bee or Not to Bee, a performance about a farmer and his bees for all ages.

The Caterpillar Lab will visit the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday afternoon, July 12 with over 50 different species of native caterpillars and their host plants. Biologist and educator Sam Jaffe will teach you all about the caterpillars and their fascinating adaptations.


Looking for a fun outdoor activity for the whole family this summer? Bring the kids to Shakespeare in the Park for a free production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Springside Park in Pittsfield. The show runs Thursday-Sunday evenings from July 17-July 27 with free, interactive workshops before the Saturday and Sunday shows. The show features a cast of local actors and is a great chance for family members of all ages to experience this classic Shakespeare romantic comedy in a unique outdoor setting. Outdoor Shakespeare plays are not only a fun summer activity, but a great opportunity to introduce students to Shakespeare for the first time. The outdoor setting and lively performance will appeal to younger audience members who might not ordinarily enjoy Shakespeare!

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Saturday Morning Live family workshops are back for a third season! Kids ages 8-14 and their families can attend free, hands-on workshops that explore the artistic and technical aspects of the Festival on Saturday morning, July 12. Get a behind the scenes look at how theater productions come to life on stage!

The Berkshire Theatre Group presents Very Good Eddie as part of their Ellenoff Musical Theatre Series in Pittsfield on Monday afternoon, July 14. This Tony Award-winning Jerome Kern musical was very popular in the early 1900s and tells the story of two mismatched couples. This performance would be best for older students and adults interested in musical theater and takes place at the Colonial Theatre.


Middle school youth can explore the intersection of art and history at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead on Pittsfield with the Berkshire Historical Society on Saturday morning, July 12. Kids can use objects from the Historical Society’s collection to curate an exhibit with the theme of “Art and Industry” that will be on display for one week. Students who are interested in history and art would enjoy this free event, which helps forge connections between the two.

The 4th Annual Hilltown Arts Festival will be held on Saturday, July 12 in Worthington. The Festival includes live music by many local musicians, artisan booths, artist demonstrations, children’s activities, food, a silent auction, and much more. This is a great intergenerational community-oriented activity for the whole family that celebrates the region’s vibrant Hilltown art scene!

Explore Easthampton’s local art scene at this month’s Art Walk on Saturday evening, July 12. This is a fun free evening out that lets you see work by talented local artists and experience some of the great art-related opportunities Easthampton has to offer! There will also be tons of great activities around town, like a DIY bottle cap charm or magnet workshop at Knack.

Bird Studies

Come to Gill and join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center on Saturday morning, July 12 aboard the Quinnetukut II Riverboat for a cruise with author Dianne Benson Davis. Davis has worked to reintroduce eagles to New England by caring for eight baby bald eagles at the Quabbin Reservoir. On this cruise, families with older children can learn about Benson’s experiences with eagles and the Bald Eagle Restoration Project, and maybe even see some eagles along the river!

Hilltown Families is a proud sponsor of Odyssey Bookshop’s Summer Family Entertainment Series which happens ever Saturday in South Hadley this summer at 10:30am on the town common. This Saturday morning, July 12, Tom Ricardi will present a free program about birds of prey, featuring live raptors! If you can’t get enough, Ricardi will be in Northfield at the Dickinson Memorial Library on Friday afternoon, July 18th for another free birds of prey program.


Kids who are interested in computers and technology can come to the Clapp Memorial Library on Saturday afternoon, July 12 in Belchertown to participate in Scratch Day! This free event is an opportunity for kids to learn the programming language Scratch, which was developed by MIT as an easy-to-learn language that everyone can use. This event is recommended for ages 7 and up and space is limited.

On Saturday afternoon July 12, Ramsdell Library in Housatonic presents “Robots on the Run,” a free workshop for kids ages 10 and up presented by the Rhode Island Computer Museum. Kids can learn about basic circuits and how to build a simple robot using programmable electronics, including blinking lights, motors, sounds, and more.

The Hatfield Public Library is offering a STEM program for children ages 5-12 to learn how rockets work and even make their own on Tuesday morning, July 15. This is a free chance to get kids engaged in science, technology, and engineering while having fun being creative. A program for children ages 2-5 will precede this event.

Bring the kids, ages 5 & older to the East Longmeadow Public Library to attend Experimentology! Come see cool experiments that use lemons at this free library event!

Grow Food Amherst will have a special free event for kids each week at the Amherst Wednesday Market in Kendrick Park. This week on Wednesday afternoon, July 16, David Lovler (aka Dr. Worm) will do a geometry program, connecting gardening with math!

Join the Heath Free Public Library at the Heath Fairgrounds’ Blue Exhibit Hall for free fun summer reading-related science experiments on Wednesday evening, July 16! These STEM programs will get kids engaged in both summer reading and science!

Kids can come to the Holyoke Public Library for the Mad Scientist Show on Thursday morning, July 17. Come see amazing science-related magic tricks at this free show.

Mime and storyteller Robert Rivest presents “Fizz, Boom, Read: Science in Motion!” at the East Longmeadow Public Library on Thursday afternoon, July 17. The program is about the science of motion and movement and is open to all ages.


The Hitchcock Center for the Environment is holding “Growing Our Own: Families Working Together for a More Sustainable Life” at Old Field Farm in Leverett on Saturday afternoon, July 12. Tour the farm and learn about how families can better live off the land at this free community event. Old Field Farm is home to three families who are living cooperatively and raising most of their own food through permaculture and organic gardening. On the tour you can learn about life on the farm, see the gardens, hoop houses, and crops, the newly-renovated, energy-efficient 1800s farmhouse, and more.


Kids in grades 5-12 can come to the Sunderland Public Library for a free writing workshop with authors and illustrators. Practice your writing skills and do creative writing exercises. Runs every Tuesday evening through July 29.

Kids ages 7-10 can attend another free writer’s workshop at the Dalton Free Public Library every Wednesday afternoon from July 16 through August 20. Here kids can explore the joy of fiction writing, narratives, poetry, and more. This is a great environment for kids to practice and discuss writing – the workshop is led by Sarah DiFazio, a 2nd-grade teacher and speech and language pathologist.

Animal Studies

Teaching Creatures will be at the Worthington Library for a free live animal presentation on Thursday morning, July 17. Learn about animals’ unique adaptations and how they defend themselves against predators.

Youth who are participating in the summer reading program can learn all about service dogs at the Emily Williston Memorial Library on Thursday afternoon, July 17 in Easthampton. Discover how these dogs are trained, selected, and more at this free educational program.

Visitors to the Springfield Museums can see a live reptile demonstration at the Springfield Science Museum on Friday, July 18! Learn about reptile life cycles, habitats, fun facts, and more at this educational demonstration.

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.

[Photo credit: (cc) Daniella Segura]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: