30 Community Highlights: Renaissance Games to Ice Hockey. Food Swap to Clothing Exchange.

Do you want to learn how to play violin or viola? Slapin-Solomon Studios is offering a free Lesson Day on Sunday, November 9, and a free concert on Wednesday evening, November 12, both in South Hadley.

Viola to Veterans. Renaissance Games to Ice Hockey. Food Swap to Clothing Exchange… 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: Are you looking for an opportunity to get those creative juices flowing? Hampshire Youth Connect‘s ART Reach is a free creativity event that takes place on Tuesday, November 11 at 3:30pm in Hampshire College’s Franklin Patterson Hall. All ages can participate in workshops on theater, dance, visual art, and more, all facilitated by Hampshire College students and community members. This event is a great place to establish connections with the Hampshire College community and to explore the connections that exist between artistic expression and community through participation in the workshops. Hampshire College’s address is 893 West Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Music EducationArtSustainabilityRenaissance StudiesService-Based LearningPetrology/GemologyParent WorkshopsUrban Water ManagementPlant Studies Sports/Ice HockeyCultural StudiesAviation/Veterans DayLiteracyCollaborative ConsumptionEducator’s Workshop

Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Music Education

Do you want to learn how to play a musical instrument? The Community Music School of Springfield is offering free trial lessons during the month of November! This is a great chance for kids to try out an instrument to see if they like it, or for those who already play an instrument, this is an opportunity to see what the Community Music School of Springfield has to offer. Kids can choose from 33 instruments and voice and can take their trial lesson any time of day, solo or in a group. Don’t miss this amazing chance to gain hands-on experience learning a musical instrument. Call 413-732-8428 to sign up for your trial lesson. The School is located at 127 State Street in Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Do you want to learn how to play violin or viola? Slapin-Solomon Studios is offering a Free Lesson Day on Sunday, November 9! Kids and adults ages 6 and up are welcome to attend a free half-hour lesson to try their hand at violin or viola. The lessons are open to anyone who is interested and has not taken a class at Slapin-Solomon Studios before. Sign up for your free lesson ASAP on the Slapin-Solomon Studios website. 413-345-5062. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

String and wind instrument players from the Holyoke Civic Symphony will perform a variety of classic favorites at the Wistariahurst Museum on Sunday, November 9, 3pm. This free concert is a great way to introduce kids with audience skills to the orchestra! 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE/DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

What’s the difference between a violin, a viola and a cello? The viola has been around for centuries, but maybe you’ve heard the viola played in contemporary music, including The Beatles’ song, “Eleanor Rigby,” or 10,000 Maniacs’ song, “Jezebel.” Viola player Scott Slapin will perform viola music at the Gaylord Memorial Library on Wednesday, November 12, 6:30pm. He will perform original music as well as music from the last 300 years by Bach, Paganini, and John Duke. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

The Looking Back Project will be presenting “100 Years Ago,” an evening of song, music and readings on Friday, November 14, 7-9pm. Best for older students interested in history through music, WWI songs of Afro-American soldiers, songs that John McCormack sang, Sephardic and Yiddish music, and accordion will be presented. Takes place at The Village Church. 32 Main. Street. Cummington, MA (DONATION)

The Mt. Holyoke College Music Department presents a concert by the Mount Holyoke Orchestra o Friday, November 14, 8pm. They will perform Flights of Fancy. Takes place in McCulloch Auditorium. 413-538-2306. Lower Lake Road. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)


Easthampton’s monthly Art Walk is a monthly event that allows you to see work by talented local artists and experience some of the great art-related opportunities the town has to offer. Each month has a different theme, and this month’s is “Day of the Dead,” and it takes place on Saturday, November 8 from 5pm-8pm in downtown Easthampton. In addition to regular Art Walk activities like art openings, live music, demonstrations, and workshops, there will be a special Day of the Dead event. Participate in this Mexican tradition, which honors souls of the departed and presents them with offerings, food, and flowers. At 6pm, meet at Nashwannuck Pond on the hillside of Brookside Cemetery and join the Day of the Dead procession up Cottage Street to La Casita Azteca, where there will be a performance of “La Bruja,” a traditional dance that evokes the mystery of women as gatekeepers between life and death. Older students interested in learning more about Mexican culture and tradition would enjoy this event. See the Art Walk Easthampton website for more information. Easthampton, MA (FREE)

Discover the many wonderful artists of Colrain at the Crafts of Colrain Studio Tour, taking place the weekend of November 8 and 9. Many different studios will open their doors for visitors to explore and learn about their art and how it is made. Featured studios do woodworking, fiber art, baskets, jewelry, pottery, illustration, metalsmithing, and more. Discover local artists and learn about many different art forms. Find local handmade gifts for the holidays! More information can be found on the Crafts of Colrain website. Colrain, MA.

Are you looking for an opportunity to get those creative juices flowing? Hampshire Youth Connect‘s ART Reach is a free creativity event that takes place on Tuesday, November 11 at 3:30pm in Hampshire College’s Franklin Patterson Hall. All ages can participate in workshops on theater, dance, visual art, and more, all facilitated by Hampshire College students and community members. This event is a great place to establish connections with the Hampshire College community and to explore the connections that exist between artistic expression and community through participation in the workshops. Hampshire College’s address is 893 West Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)


The film, “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” will be screened at the Regal Berkshire Mall 10 on Tuesday, November 11, 7:30pm. This groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary follows an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today (animal agriculture) – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. 413-684-3463. 123 Old State Road, Route 8, Lanesboro, MA ($$)

The transition towns movement is made up of grassroots community initiatives that seek to build resilience to oil, climate destruction, and economic instability. Over the years, especially recently, they have been popping up all over the world, including in and around western Massachusetts. Learn about transition towns in our region at the Pioneer Valley Transition Towns Film Festival at the Greenfield Community College dining commons on Friday, November 14 from 7pm-10pm. See some great local films on the topic of “How Communities are Working toward Sustainable Living.” The films focus on food and farming, health and medicine, education, the economy, transportation, energy, housing, and other topics that relate to sustainability and building resilient communities. Older students interested in living more sustainably would enjoy this film festival, which is free (donations accepted) and open to the public. Call the Pioneer Valley Institute at 413-775-1671 for more information. Greenfield, MA (FREE)

Renaissance Studies

Though much has changed since the Renaissance period, human beings’ love of games remains. Step back in time and have some Renaissance-era fun at Family Renaissance Games Night at the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies on Friday, November 14, 7pm-9pm.  Learn what games were popular during the Renaissance and try your hand at them at this fun family-friendly event, which also features door prizes, refreshments, and more. How do games from several hundred years ago compare to those today? In what ways are they similar? Which are more fun? Kids and adults alike will love getting a chance to play these historically accurate games – they may become some of your new favorites! Call the Renaissance Center at 413-577-3600 for more information. 650 East Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA (FREE)

Service-Based Learning

Teens of the Longmeadow High School Key Club invite students in grades K and up to join them for a special service project for the Storrs Library on Monday, November 10, 2-3:30pm. Activities will include making display items, reading books and playing games – all with the goal of learning to help others. To register call the Discovery Room. 413-565-4182.  693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA (FREE)

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event takes place in two weeks on Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm in Northampton—a one of a kind FREE event for families to volunteer together while educating children about important social issues and the value of community service.  Through service-based learning, together we can generate 600 hours of community service in a single morning that support human services, education and children’s welfare support organizations in our region. With a Community Passport in hand, families can travel to five different stations with hands-on activities for kids of all ages, ranging from creating art for elders to tools that support literacy.  Space is limited, so reserve a spot for your family today!


Discover amazing rocks, gemstones, minerals, fossils, jewelry, and fine art at the 18th Annual Jewelry, Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show and Sale at the Greenfield Community College dining common on Saturday, November 8, 9:30am-4pm. There will be speakers, kids’ activities, and more. This is a great chance to learn about these and do some holiday shopping. 413-775-1671. 1 College Drive. Greenfield, MA.

Parent Workshops

Learn how to encourage and build on your child’s natural curiosity at a “Young Scientists” workshop for parents offered by the Collaborative for Educational Services on Saturday, November 8, 10am-11:30am. Childcare is provided for the first part of the workshop, then there will be fun parent-child activities. Takes place at Belchertown Town Hall. Pre-registration is required. 413-586-4998 x102. 2 Jabish Street. Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk,” a free three week Parent Education Series takes place on Mondays, November 10, 17 and 24, 5:30-7:30pm This practical series for parents will be based on the book of the same title.  Learn simple effective communication techniques that really work: Cope with your child’s negative feelings; Express your anger without being hurtful; Gain your child’s cooperation; Set limits and maintain goodwill; Use alternatives to punishment; Resolve family conflicts peacefully.  On-site child care and transportation available. Sponsored by Family Resource Center. Call to register at 413-664-4821. Haskins Community Center. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

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 young children in the Northampton area on Wednesday, November 12, 5pm-7:15pm. 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. Call or email bblack@northampton-k12.us to register or for more info. 413-587-1471. 2 Parsons Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Family Resource Centers Dollar “Cents”: Learning to Stretch your Dollar. Learn ways to save money for your family on Friday, November 14, 1:30-2:30pm. Presented as collaboration with The Family Resource Center, Berkshire Community Action Council.  Transportation and child care available. 413-664‐4821. Haskins Center. North Adams, MA (FREE)

Urban Water Management

Discover where your wastewater goes on a tour of the Amherst Wastewater Treatment Facility with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. On Saturday, November 8, 10am-11:30am, tour the facility and learn what goes on there and how it all works. Older students interested in learning more about how this municipal infrastructure works and how we rely on microorganisms to manage water that comes from our washing machines, showers and toilets, will benefit from this tour, which is aimed at adults. Space is limited; call to register. 413-256-6006. 525 South Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Learn about and celebrate water at The Art of Clean Water at the Holyoke Public Library on Saturday, November 8, 10am-11:30am. Enchanted Circle Theater, along with several other community organizations, will unveil new artwork on several storm drains downtown at this event. In addition to the unveiling, there will be performances, remarks by local officials, and activities like creating trash art, investigating microscopic critters, exploring the Holyoke water system model, visiting the Watershed on Wheels, learning about rain gardens, and researching the watershed. All ages can learn about the watershed at this community-wide celebration. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Plant Studies

The annual Fall Chrysanthemum Show is on at the Botanic Garden of Smith College. The show runs every day until November 16, 10am-4pm, and features many beautiful flowers throughout Lyman Conservatory. Great opportunity to use the mum to integrated learning in history, math, culture and culinary arts. 413-585-2740. College Lane. Northampton, MA. (DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

Sports/Ice Hockey

Have you ever wanted to try ice hockey? The Amherst Hockey Association is holding a Try Hockey for Free event at the Mullins Community Rink on Saturday, November 8, 1pm-4pm. Kids can spend time on the ice and learn about hockey with the UMass Minutemen hockey team, and parents can meet with coaches and hockey parents. There will also be a used great and equipment sale from 3pm-5pm. This is a great chance for kids to try out this sport! Please register on the AHA website. 200 Commonwealth Avenue. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Cultural Studies

Learn about and celebrate Japanese culture at the Third Annual Japan Culture Night at Longmeadow High School. on Saturday, November 8, 6:30pm-9:30pm This event is a fundraiser for the Takikawa Exchange Program – Takikawa (Hokkaido, Japan) and Longmeadow are “friendship cities” and Takikawa and Springfield are “sister cities.” Each year, Takikawa sends students and a government official to visit, and next summer, a group from Longmeadow and Springfield hopes to visit Takikawa. The Japan Culture Night features student presentations on life and school in Takikawa, a Sakura recital, a karate demonstration, and yosakoi folk dance. This is a great opportunity for all ages to learn about Japanese culture while supporting this exchange program. 95 Grassy Gutter Road. Longmeadow, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

Aviation/Veterans Day

Honor veterans at the New England Air Museum‘s Veterans Day program on Sunday, November 9, 10am-5pm. Meet veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and ask them questions about their service. Museum visitors can also sit in the cockpits of several different combat planes and helicopters, participate in flight simulations, and do other activities. This event gives the public an opportunity to meet and thank veterans for their service and to learn about the aircraft that were used in past wars. Veterans and active service personnel get free admission to the museum all November. 860-623-3305. 36 Perimeter Road. Windsor Locks, CT. ($)


The Lenox Library is holding their 5th Annual Scrabble FUNdraiser – ScrabbleRouser on Sunday, November 9, 2pm-5:30pm. This event is open to ages 12 and up, who will compete on teams in a three-round Scrabble competition to raise money for the library. Not interested in participating? Come to watch this exciting competition! 413-637-0197. 18 Main Street. Lenox, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

The Mary Lyon Foundation’s annual Community Spelling Bee is Thursday, November 13, 6:30pm at Mohawk Trail Regional High School! Adults can form teams of three people per term and compete for trophies, sponsors, and raffle prizes. Proceeds from the Bee go toward education programming in the area. Show off your spelling skills with friends for a good cause! 413-625-2555. 26 Ashfield Road. Shelburne Falls, MA.

Collaborative Consumption

Valley Food Swap: Thanksgiving Edition happens Saturday, November 8th from 3pm-4:30pm in Florence, MA. What’s sweet, healthy, and perfect for the Valley Food Swap? Pumpkin puree! That’s just one recipe you might find at the Thanksgiving edition of the Valley Food Swap. Leave your wallet at home and bring your favorite canning creations, baked goods, seeds, plants, or other edibles to trade with fellow preservers, bakers, gardeners, and DIYers. It’s a great chance to share any surplus you have and barter for something new and delicious to try at home. Kids love to swap, so be sure to bring them along and get them excited about new foods, skillsharing and collaborative consumption. Email valleyfoodswap@gmail.com to RSVP. Lilly Public Library, 19 Meadow Street. Florence, MA (Free to attend, but you do need to RSVP in advance).

Ashfield Needles and Threads is hosting a clothing exchange at the First Congregational Church on Saturday, November 8, 9am-1pm. Drop off clean clothes, bedding, shoes, and towels at St. John’s Church before November 7, then come to the exchange to stock up on new-to-you clothes! Even if you don’t donate items, you are welcome to attend the swap. Clothing swaps promote sustainability and collaborative consumption amongst community members. Ashfield, MA. (FREE)

The Westfield Athenaeum is hosting a Children’s Toy and Book Sale: Thursday, November 13, 9am-8pm; Friday, November 14, 9am-5pm;  Saturday, November 15, 9am-2pm. Proceeds from the sale support the library’s programs and services. Come find new-to-you kids’ toys and books at great prices at this event. Reduce your holiday consumption by buying secondhand while supporting the library. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

Educator’s Workshop

Educators can explore the connections between art, history, and the American experience at “Imagining History: An Evening for Educators with Mort Künstler” at the Norman Rockwell Museum on Friday, November 14, 4:30pm-5:30pm. This workshop takes place in conjunction with the museum’s new exhibition, “Mort Künstler: The Art of Adventure.” Call to RSVP. 413-931-2221. 9 Route 183. Stockbridge, MA. (>$)

[Photo credit: (cc) ccho]

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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