31 Community Highlights: Symphony to Silk. Spiders to Ghost Tours.

Symphony to Silk. Spiders to Ghost Tours. Hikes to Parent Workshops… 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: Have some spooky fun this Halloween season at the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever Kids’ Monster’s Ball in Abbey Memorial Chapel (50 College Street, South Hadley, MA) on Saturday, October 25 at 3pm. Kids of all ages can attend the Ball in costume and dance away the afternoon to classic waltzes and polkas by Chopin and Johann Strauss II. There will also be soundtrack music from popular television shows to enjoy and dance to. Students can experience classical music at this event, see and hear a variety of instruments up close, learn to dance with friends and family, and ask the musicians questions about their instruments. The Kids’ Monster’s Ball is a super fun and unique way to introduce kids to symphony music and get them thinking about the amazing world of musical instruments. Tickets (>$) can be purchased in advance.

HalloweenSTEMSymphonyHistoric TradesAnimal StudiesCultural StudiesHaunted HistorySkillshareHikingParent WorkshopsPreschool Activities

Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


Students in grades 10-12 who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math can engage in hands-on science activities, demonstrations, and lab tours at UMass Amherst’s Science Quest event on Saturday, October 25 from 9:30am-3:40pm. in the Integrated Science Building (661 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA). Students can choose from a variety of classes, demos, and tours, including ones on topics like food science, physics, biology, nanotechnology, astronomy, alternative energy, chemistry, and engineering. High school students can become more engaged in the sciences through this free event, which promotes hands-on learning and participation. In addition to these activities, 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. More information and the registration form can be found on the Science Quest website.

Do you ever wonder what happens to your brain when you go to sleep? Why do you sometimes wake up feeling refreshed, and other times can’t seem to stop hitting the snooze button? Learn the answers to these questions and more at this month’s Sci.Tech.Café at the Amherst Brewing Company (10 University Drive) on Monday, October 27 at 6pm. Professor Rebecca Spencer will present, “Why Do We Sleep?”, which is all about the science of sleep, what exactly sleep is, what the brain does in various sleep stages, why we sleep, how sleep can help memory and decision-making, and how to get a better night’s sleep. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about sleep or had the desire to improve your sleep cycle, this talk is for you! Sci.Tech.Café lectures are designed for community members without science backgrounds, but all are welcome.


Have some spooky fun this Halloween season at the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever Kids’ Monster’s Ball in Abbey Memorial Chapel (50 College Street, South Hadley, MA) on Saturday, October 25 at 3pm. Kids of all ages can attend the Ball in costume and dance away the afternoon to classic waltzes and polkas by Chopin and Johann Strauss II. There will also be soundtrack music from popular television shows to enjoy and dance to. Students can experience classical music at this event, see and hear a variety of instruments up close, learn to dance with friends and family, and ask the musicians questions about their instruments. The Kids’ Monster’s Ball is a super fun and unique way to introduce kids to symphony music and get them thinking about the amazing world of musical instruments. Tickets (>$) can be purchased in advance.

The Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorus‘ first concert of the year takes place at the UMass Fine Arts Center Concert Hall on Saturday, October 25, 7:30pm. Hear pieces by Tchaikovsky, Henri Tomasi, and Brahms at this exciting concert that will appeal to music lovers of all ages. Tickets available in advance. 413-773-3664. 151 Presidents Drive. Amherst, MA. ($$)

Historic Trades

Learn how the local textile industry and international trade were connected at the turn of the last century at the Wistariahurst Museum’s “Threads that Bind” lecture series. On Monday, October 27 at 6pm, Matt Coletti will present “Japanese Silk Trade and William Skinner and Sons Manufacturing.” Coletti will discuss important details about the Japanese silk industry and Skinner and Sons Manufacturing, and will share photographs, business ledgers, transaction documents, and factory samples. Learn about important people, places, and events in order to enhance your understanding of the international silk trade and the Skinner’s working relationships. Older students who are interested in local industry, international trade, history, and textiles will enjoy hearing Coletti speak about the Skinner’s silk mills and what their trade relationship with Japan was like. The Wistariahurst Museum is located at 238 Cabot Street in Holyoke, MA. ($)

Learn about the historic trade of architectural woodworking with Ted Ingraham at Historic Deerfield on Saturday, October 25, 10:30am-4pm. Ingraham will demonstrate architectural woodworking techniques. Then on Sunday, October 26, 10:30am-4pm, learn about the historic trade of birch bark basketmaking with Jennifer Lee also at Historic Deerfield. Lee will show how to make baskets with birch bark. Free with museum admission. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. $

Animal Studies

Spiders are fascinating creatures – these arachnids inhabit every continent except Antarctica, contain venom, and weave intricate and beautiful webs. 4-12 year olds can learn about our native spiders with Mass Audubon at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, October 25 from 10am-12noon. Learn about spider survival techniques, patterns, and toxins, and do spider activities, look for spiders outside, and make a spider craft. This program is a fun way for kids to learn about the many different types of spiders that exist and how they live, where, and why. Call 413-584-3009 to register. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA ($)

Kids in grades K-4 can learn about some amazing animals at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment on Wednesday, October 29, 2pm-3pm. See a box turtle crawl, hold land snails, meet Thailand walking sticks, and more. Meeting and learning about these animals will foster curiosity. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Cultural Studies

Discover classical Indian music and its history at Bay Path University’s free event, An Evening of North Indian Music, on Tuesday, October 28 at 8pm at the Blake Student Commons (588 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA). Sitarist Shri Rabindra Narayan Goswami and tablaist Shri Ramchandra “Ramu” Pandit will perform traditional music from North India and discuss its history, form, style, and instruments in a post-concert interview. This performance and accompanying talk can act as an introduction to classical Indian music for older students who are passionate about music and learning about different cultures.

Haunted History

Ghosts & Legends of Upstreet Pittsfield. Based on the longtime local folklore project These Mysterious Hills, this colorful downtown walking tour will explore a lesser known, mysterious, and somewhat darker side of Pittsfield’s historic and cultural center. On Saturday, October 25, 1pm & 3:30pm, Beginning in front of the Pittsfield Common, an early city graveyard, this approximately 1.5 hour walk will delve into ghost stories, legends, lore, and strange-but-true tales attached to many Upstreet locations, including several of the city’s premiere cultural venues. Rated PG-13, may not be suitable for children under age 12. 28 Renne Ave. Pittsfield, MA (>$)

Learn some spooky local history at the first-ever Valley Ghost Tours, which run every night through October 31 at 7:30pm and start behind Thornes Marketplace. Explore the city and learn fascinating ghost stories from the past. The tour is family friendly, but keep in mind the stories can be spooky! Dogs are welcome. Please book tickets in advance. Downtown. Northampton, MA. $$

The Sheffield Historical Society is holding a “Spiritwalk” through Center Cemetery for kids and adults on Saturday, October 25, 2pm-4pm. Learn about local history through this walk, which features costumed actors playing the roles of Sheffield residents of the past. Rain date is 10/26. 413-229-2694. Berkshire School Road. Sheffield, MA. >$

Learn about New England gravestones with the Noble and Cooley Center for Historic Preservation at their “Gravestone CSI: Causes of Death Found on Gravestones” event on Wednesday, October 29, 6:30pm. Betsy and Al McKee will discuss causes of death recorded on gravestones in the Connecticut River Valley in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Recording cause of death on gravestones was (and still is) an unusual practice, and the McKees delve into the world of gravestone carving and present forensic research. Best for older students interested in local history. 413-357-6321. 42 Water Street. Granville, MA.


The Haberdashery’s Skillfair features exciting activities and events for all ages on Saturday, October 25, 12noon-9pm! There will be educational booths and demonstrations, country fair-style contests, music, food, prizes, a harvest exchange, candle dipping, a pie baking contest, face painting, knitting, a mixology contest, and much more. This is a fun chance to learn about what The Haberdashery has to offer and a great opportunity to celebrate and discover local modern makers. 413-527-1638. 52 Union Street. Easthampton, MA.

Grow Food Amherst is hosting a workshop with Patricia Schmidt on Sunday, October 26, 2-4pm . She will discuss fall gardening and how to put your garden to bed. A useful workshop for those interested in gardening! This workshop takes place at All Things Local Cooperative Market. 413-259-3149. 104 North Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. $


Explore Constitution Hill with Berkshire Natural Resources Council and search for birds in the reserve’s hay fields, shrub fields, wetlands, and mature hardwood forest on Saturday, October 25, 8am-10am. 413-499-0596. Bridge Street. Lanesboro, MA.

Join the Hilltown Land Trust for a one-mile hike at the Breckenridge Sanctuary on Saturday, October 25, 9:30am-11:30am. Explore the Sanctuary and search for signs of wildlife and human land use. Students can learn about local history and animals through this short hike. Call to RSVP. 413-628-4485 x4. Old Goshen Road. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Climb to the highest point in Williamsburg with Williamsburg Woodland Trails on Sunday, October 26, 10am. Begin at Henhawk Trailhead then take a moderately strenuous hike to High Ridge. 413-268-9927. Nash Hill Road. Williamsburg, MA.

Explore High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary with Mass Audubon on Sunday, October 26, 10am-1pm See and learn about diverse forest habitats, fields, beaver ponds, and ledge outcrops. This moderate hike would be best for older teens and adults interested in discovering this beautiful sanctuary. Call to register. 413-584-3009. Patten Road. Shelburne, MA. $$

Explore the Hoosac Range on foot with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council on Wednesday, October 29, 10am-3pm. Come check out the fall colors and enjoy 180 degree views of Mount Greylock and North Adams. This hike is moderate and best for teens and adults. 413-499-0596. Route 2. North Adams, MA.

Parent Workshops

Families with children ages 5 and under can join the UMass Office of Family Resources for “Dinner On Us,” a five-week program on Mondays (10/27-11/24) that includes a family dinner (5:30pm-6pm), supervised children’s activities (5:45pm-7:30pm), and a roundtable discussion for parents (6:15pm-7:30pm). The five-week program focuses on positive parenting strategies. Takes place in the Student Union. Pre-registration is required. 413-545-0865. 41 Campus Center Way. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

The Agawam Public Schools are hosting a parent cafe on the topic of how well you know your child on Tuesday, October 28, 9:30am-11am & 6:30pm-8pm. Childcare is available at the morning session only. Morning session takes place at Agawam Congregational Church (745 Main Street) and evening session takes place at Agawam Senior Center (954 Main Street). 413-821-0552. Agawam, MA. (FREE)

The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a Puzzles of Parenting workshop called, “Learn to Play, Play to Learn” for parents and caregivers of children birth to kindergarten age on Tuesday, October 28, 6pm-8pm . Discover fun ways to interact with your children while building a foundation for success in friendships and school. Learn about the importance of play to healthy relationships, language development, social/emotional skills, motor development, and how children learn. Childcare is available at this workshop, which takes place at the William E. Norris School. Pre-registration is required. 413-586-4998 x102. 34 Pomeroy Meadow Road. Southampton, MA. (FREE)

The Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School offers a presentation, “Anxiety in Children” on Wednesday, October 29, 6:30pm. Q&A with Emilie Woodward, HCCPS School Counselor. Open to everyone. 1 Industrial Plwy. Easthampton, MA (FREE)

The Family Resource Center is offering an Ages and Stages event for families with children ages 3 months to 5 years on Thursday, October 30, 10am-11am. Children will play at activity stations with motor skill and movement activities, and parents will fill out a questionnaire to determine where their child are developmentally. Each child will receive a free book and parents will receive a packet on activities to do at home with their children. Takes place at Williamstown Youth Center. Call to register. 413-664-4821. 66 School Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Learn to stretch your dollar and improve your budgeting skills with the Family Resource Center at a workshop on how to make your budget go further on Friday, October 31, 1:30pm-2:30pm . Come share tips with others, swap coupons, and learn how to save money more effectively. Takes place at Haskins Center. Childcare available. Pre-registration is required. 413-664-4821. 210 State Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Preschool Activities

It’s never too early to get your child interested in nature and the outdoors – parents/caregivers of children toddler-aged and younger can join Mass Audubon for their “First Child in the Woods” infant/toddler walk at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, October 25, 10am-11am. Come prepared to have fun outdoors, learn about nature, and meet other kids and caregivers. This is a great way to get your young child introduced to nature! Call to register. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. $

Preschool-aged children can learn do some creative construction with LEGOs and Duplos at the Erving Public Library as part of a series of programs focusing on science, technology, engineering, art, and math on Saturday, October 25, 10am-11am. This is a great chance to introduce young kids to STEAM topics! 413-423-3348. 17 Moore Street. Erving, MA. (FREE)

Kids ages 2-12 can stop by Red Gate Farm for their “Haunted Farm,” a Halloween celebration featuring a not-so-scary haunted hayride, cider pressing, food, and more on Saturday, October 25, 5:30pm-8pm. Come in costume and enjoy this fun Halloween celebration! 413-625-9503. 4 Norman Road. Buckland, MA. >$

The Dalton Youth Center will host a Little Goblins Fun House for a not-so-spooky fun time for kids ages 6 and younger on Sunday, October 26, 3-5pm. Candy and healthy snacks with be distributed. Takes place at the UYC. 413-684-0260. 400 Main St. Dalton, MA. (FREE)

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is offering a preschool nature program, running from October 23 through November 13 from 10am-11am. The classes include stories, crafts, and outdoor play/exploration focused on how nature prepares for winter. This is good way to help your preschooler explore the outdoors and make new friends. A parent or guardian must accompany every two children. You may sign up for one class, or for all. More information can be found on the WRLF website. Pre-registration is required. 413-458-2494. 671 Cold Spring Road. Williamstown, MA. ($$ for full session)

Check out list of Weekly Suggested Events for ongoing opportunities, including playgroups and storyhours, for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday.

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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Hilltown Families is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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