31 Community Highlights: Lava Lamps to Cannonballs. Tap Dancing to Rotochutes.
Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured learning highlight this week: Do you ever wonder what life was like in New England during the Civil War? On Friday, August 1st, families can experience life in 1860s Stockbridge at the Stockbridge Library’s “Stroll Back in Time: Life Along Main Street 150 Years Ago,” a free event that transforms Stockbridge’s Main Street into a mid-1800s New England village with historically accurate activities like chores, games, and more. Learn about professions of the time by seeing a blacksmith forge horseshoes and meeting a local shopkeeper, hear music from the Civil War era, enjoy historic games, and discover how people lived 150 years ago. This is a unique opportunity to see Stockbridge as it once was and to think about the ways the town has changed since the 1860s.
Astronomy ♦ Music Studies ♦ Nature Adventures ♦ Community Meals ♦ Presidential History ♦ STEM ♦ Animal Studies ♦ Local History ♦ Hikes ♦ Theater ♦ Insects ♦ Crafts
Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
Do you want to learn more about our galaxy and the different parts of space? Join The Trustees of Reservations and the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center for an evening of stargazing at Notchview in Windsor on Saturday, July 26 at dusk. All ages are welcome to come learn about and search the night sky for planets, moons, galaxies, and more. This free astronomy outing is a fun opportunity to spend time outdoors learning with family members. Using the telescopes will help you gain a greater understanding of the night sky and will change the way you look at stars with the naked eye!
Astronomy enthusiast Paul Cardone will teach kids about stars, constellations, and more at the East Longmeadow Public Library on Tuesday afternoon, July 29 during a short youth astronomy program. Learn about the heavens amongst the stacks at this free event, and check out books to take home afterwards that support their interests in astroids, plants, black holes, stars and beyond!
The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke presents the Legacy of Holyoke’s Music, People, and Place Concert on Saturday evening, July 26. The concert is the culmination of research by Jacqueline Cooper, who has collected stories and music anecdotes from residents of Holyoke and neighboring towns. The results of her research will be told in song and stories performed by storytellers and musicians, and will consist of songs from the early 1800s through the 1950s. These songs, which were enjoyed by people who lived and worked in Holyoke during the time, can help illustrate the power of music and how people connect with music and why.
The history of tap dancing is firmly intertwined with the development of 20th century jazz and blues music. Having it’s roots in Irish stepdancing, English Lancashire Clog dancing, and Juba Dance, tap dancing is said to have begun in the mid-1800s during the rise of minstrel shows while blues music originated in the deep south around the end of the 19th century. The two intersected along the way and you can come learn more about this blending at the event,“Blues and Tap: A Cultural Intersection,” taking place at Bascom Lodge in Lanesborough on Wednesday evening, July 30. This free event features blues music and tap dance, performed by Robin O’Herin and Stefanie Weber, blending these two forms of music and dance.
Join the Great Falls Discovery Center for Bike Path Bingo, a free canal-side nature walk for kids on Saturday morning, July 26 in Turners Falls. Kids will learn about the natural world using binoculars, field guides, and a fun game to test their observation skills.
Explore the Chesterfield Gorge and learn about the animals and insects that live in and out of the water with The Trustees of Reservations on Saturday, July 29 in West Chesterfield. Bald Eagles nest nearby and bears, bobcats, moose and porcupine call this area home. Look for animal signs, explore the diversity of mushrooms, discover benthic insects living in the water, and ask questions like “Why do horseflies live along the river?” All ages are welcome and nets will be provided.
The Fourth Annual Northfield Community Picnic takes place at Kiwanis Park in Northfield on Saturday at noon, July 26. This community meal coincides with the Dickinson Memorial Library’s summer reading finale and there will be a performance by Davis Bates. Come enjoy delicious grilled food and time spent with family, friends, and community members at this fun summer picnic.
Join Earthdance and the Julius Ford/Harriet Tubman Healthy Living Community (JF/HTHLC) for a community barbecue in Plainfield on Wednesday afternoon, July 30! This is a great chance to meet the youth and organizers that are involved with JF/HTHLC, which is an organization that works to provide young people of color with tools and space for empowerment. The barbecue also features live music by Tem Blessed and the Blest Energy Band. Come to Earthdance for this fun barbecue and meet some of the great people involved with both Earthdance and JF/HTHLC!
The Roosevelts were one of the most prominent American political families of the 20th Century, with Theodore Roosevelt as the 26th U.S. President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the 32nd U.S. President, and Eleanor Roosevelt as the First Lady. You can learn about the family at a screening of Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History at Amherst Cinema on Monday, July 28 at 7:30pm. The film chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962 and covers not only their political lives, but their personal lives as well. This film is a great way to learn about this important political family and how they impacted the country, from the creation of the National Parks to the New Deal and more. Tickets available in advance.
Is your child interested in science, technology, engineering, and/or math? The Center for Science Outreach at Smith College is offering free, hands-on science and engineering activities for kids in grades 1-6 on Saturday, August 30 from 3pm-5pm in Ford Hall (Green Street) on the Smith College campus in Northampton. Kids can choose from a variety of activities, including engineering balloon-powered cars, investigating plant structures, designing pasta towers, studying rock and mineral properties, exploring electromagnetism, and learning about circuits and conductors. This is a fun opportunity for kids to learn STEM concepts and gain hands-on experience with students training to teach STEM fields in local schools. Space is limited and registration is required by 12noon on August 24. Call 413-585-3932 or see the Smith College Center for Community Collaboration website for more information.
The New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT, is offering fun, educational activities for kids every day this summer! From July 28-July 30, museum visitors can build rotochutes. Build your own and then compete with others to see whose chute takes the longest to reach the ground after being dropped. This is a great way to get involved in a fun and creative engineering project.
Cannonballs are an excellent way to support an interests in math and history! Kids can learn about physics and how sailors in the past sent cannonballs through the air at the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday morning, July 29 during their free program, Under Pressure! Presented by the USS Constitution Museum, this hands on event will be a “blast” for the entire family!
What makes things want to fall down and limits how high you can jump? Curious kids ages 5 and up can attend Experimentology at the East Longmeadow Public Library on Wednesday afternoon, July 30 to learn about the laws of gravity. Come see cool experiments and learn about gravity at this free library event!
When a combination of milk and sugar reach a certain temperature, it become ice cream! What happens to other matter when it reaches very low temperatures? Teens and adults ages 12 and up can attend “Super Cold Science,” presented by a museum educator from the Boston Science Museum at the South Hadley Public Library on Wednesday evening, July 30. See demonstrations and learn what happens when matter changes temperature at this free event.
Next time your kids have a loot of candy from Halloween or a stash of sweets from a birthday party, turn these confections into science experiments! Kids can come to the Forbes Library in Northampton to learn about the science behind certain types of candy experiments. Come see Lifesavers glow and candy hearts dance and learn about chemistry at this free science program on Saturday afternoon, August 1.
What’s the difference between a reptile and an amphibian? How do they survive during the bitter cold winter months and where to they live in the middle of the summer? Families can learn about and search for reptiles and amphibians with The Trustees of Reservations at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield on Saturday morning, July 26. Come with your questions and get ready to learn about the habits and habitats of these cold blooded creature and have fun exploring out in nature.
Meet a live green iguana, albino burmese phython, bearded dragon, and maybe event an American alligator at Mason Library in Great Barrington on Saturday afternoon, July 26. Rhonda’s Reptiles will be offering a free program and invites kids to come visit and bring their curiosity and questions.
The Forest Park Zoo on the Go will be at Forbes Library in Northampton on Tuesday afternoon, July 29. Library youth patrons can learn about the visiting live animals, their special adaptations, the various habitats they live in, how they behave and what they eat in the wild. This free program gives kids the opportunity to see animals up-close while asking questions and making observations.
Creature Teachers is coming to the Westhampton Library on Wednesday morning, July 30. Which of their animal ambassadors will be coming along? This free program will be focusing on animals that dig. Ask your kids who they think that might be and then come find out!
Animals have much to teach us! On Thursday afternoon, July 31, the Leverett Library will host a free program, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Animals. Kids can join Teaching Creatures at the library to get an intimate look at animals that have inspired human innovation and discover ways we strive to learn from our natural world to improve our lives.
Do you ever wonder what life was like in New England during the Civil War? On Friday, August 1st, families can experience life in 1860s Stockbridge at the Stockbridge Library’s “Stroll Back in Time: Life Along Main Street 150 Years Ago,” a free event that transforms Stockbridge’s Main Street into a mid-1800s New England village with historically accurate activities like chores, games, and more. Learn about professions of the time by seeing a blacksmith forge horseshoes and meeting a local shopkeeper, hear music from the Civil War era, enjoy historic games, and discover how people lived 150 years ago. This is a unique opportunity to see Stockbridge as it once was and to think about the ways the town has changed since the 1860s.
Hike Hollow Fields in Richmond with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council on Saturday, July 26. Enjoy the beautiful fields and views of Yokun Ridge and discover how vegetation and other factors affect soil health. Older students interesting in the outdoors and ecology will enjoy this moderate hike.
The Berkshire Natural Resources Council will lead another hike at Stevens Glen in Lenox on Wednesday morning, July 30.
Join the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation at Sheep Hill for an ice cream social and open house on Thursday afternoon, July 31! Activities include crafts, an interpretive hike, and more! Explore Sheep Hill and learn more about WRLF and how they contribute to our community
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.
Pittsfield’s Shakespeare in the Park happens Saturday & Sunday, July 26 & 27. This year, families can come see A Midsummer Night’s Dream for free at Springside Park. The show features a cast of local actors and kids and is a great chance for the whole family to experience this classic Shakespeare romantic comedy in a lovely outdoor setting. There will be free, interactive workshops before the Saturday and Sunday shows.
Find out about more theater opportunities in the Berkshires this summer in our post, The Berkshires are Alive with Live Theater Opportunities this Summer!
Learn about butterflies and dragonflies with Kestrel Land Trust and Bill Benner at a special spot in Whately on Sunday morning, July 27. All ages can learn about these fascinating flying insects on this fun outing.
Every Monday afternoon in July and August, study the caterpillars in the Berkshire Museum‘s “Butterflies” exhibition in Pittsfield and learn about their life stages at a “Caterpillar Chat.” Discover some of their amazing adaptations at this program.
Join RavenWood Freedom Farm and Learning Center, Inc. for a paper and cordage making program in front of the Village Church in Cummington on Sunday afternoon, July 27. Kids and adults can learn how to make paper and cordage from natural and recycled materials and can also learn about their Homeschooling Enrichment Program.
Kids ages 9 and up can make upcycled journals at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library in Whately on Monday evening, July 28. This is a free chance to get creative and learn how to make a one-of-a-kind notebook.
MYO Lava Lamp! Join Odyssey Bookshop for Camp Odyssey in South Hadley on Tuesday afternoon, July 29th! This once-a-week camp features a weekly book and activities to go along with it. Recommended for kids age 7 and up, this week’s book/activity is “Make Your Own Lava Lamp.”
[Photo credit: (cc) Mills Kelly]
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.