30 Community Highlights: Middle Earth to The Matrix. Biology to Bread Baking.

Pioneer Valley Bread House is holding a bread-baking event that’s open to everyone on Monday, December 8, 4:30pm-6:30pm! Come learn about the art and symbolism of decorating breads and share, learn, and create with community members. Baking bread is a fun and useful skill and this is a perfect event to help you get started! Takes place at Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. 83 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Middle Earth to The Matrix. MYO Christmas Cards to Menorahs. Reindog Parade to Parenting Styles… 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:  Is your child interested in computers and coding? Holyoke Codes is a week-long event held in conjunction with the national Computer Science Education Week. During the week of December 8-13, there will be a series of free workshops offered at the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center (100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA). Kids can participate in the Hour of Code event, where you join millions of people around the world to build your own code. Other programs that the workshops will focus on include Artbotics, which combines art and computer science to create robotics that move and interact; Scratch, which you can use to create interactive stories and animations; and Made with Code, which is a Google coding party for girls ages 12-17 (a great opportunity to get girls involved in the male-dominated field of computer science!). There will also be an opportunity to come share what you have created during the workshops. Kids and teens who are interested in learning computer programming will love getting to try their hand at all these different programs! Please register in advance; a full schedule can be found on the registration page.


Science/BiologyFilm StudiesHoliday HistoryLocal HistorySkillshare/WellnessArchitectureMYO Holiday GiftsLiteracyHoliday StrollsComputer SciencePreSchool HighlightsParenting WorkshopCarolingBread Baking


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

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Science/Biology

Do you want to learn more about the cures for diseases? Did you know that computers play a big part in the discovery of drugs that can cure certain illnesses? Learn about the connections between biology, chemistry, and computer science at this month’s Sci.Tech.Café at the Amherst Brewing Company on Monday, December 8 at 6pm. Professor Woody Sherman will present, “Curing Diseases with Code: Molecular Simulations in Drug Discovery,” and will discuss his research in drug design and biotechnology. Older students interested in biology, chemistry, biotechnology, and diseases can learn from this talk, which is designed for community members without science backgrounds. 10 University Drive, Amherst, MA.

The UMass Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department presents OEB Science Cafes at Esselon Cafe each month. This month’s talk is on Monday, December 8, 6pm, by Dr. Luke Remage-Healey, who will present, “Bird Brain: The Science of Learning Songs.” Science Cafes are oriented towards adults without a science background, but are interesting to those with science backgrounds as well! Older students interested in science would enjoy the Science Cafes. 99 Russell Street. Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Film Studies

When watching movies, do you wonder how filmmakers get those amazing special effects? Discover the behind-the-scenes world of visual effects at the Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema series, “FX in the Berkshires – Middle Earth to the Matrix.” The series kicks off on Thursday, December 11 at 6pm with a screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001; rated PG-13), which features amazing special effects that earned the film an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 2002. The Lord of the Rings films are known for their effects, which bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s books to life with epic battle scenes, beautiful landscapes and architecture, walking trees, and other mythological creatures. Berkshire resident John Nugent, who worked on all three films in The Lord of the Rings trilogy will be at the screening to discuss his work on the films. Teens who are interested in film studies will love getting to learn about the technology and effects behind this epic film. Call 413-443-7171 for more information. The Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South Street in Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Holiday History

Learn about the Christmas traditions of Emily Dickinson’s family at the Emily Dickinson Museum’s Dickensian Christmas with the Dickinsons event on Saturday, December 6, 11am, 1pm, & 2pm. Explore the Homestead and the Evergreens and see traditional decorations, hear seasonal music, and see new objects on exhibit. At the end of the tour, hear Tony Abbott read from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Visitors will also receive a holiday token for attending this special tour. Reservations are recommended. 413-542-8161. 280 Main Street. Amherst, MA. ($$)

Step back in time this holiday season at Storrowton Village’s Yuletide by Lantern Light event on Wednesday, December 10 from 6pm-8pm. The Village will be decorated for the season as it would have been in the 19th Century, and everything will be lit with candles and lanterns, making it feel as if visitors have truly stepped back in time. Go on a self-guided tour of the Village, visit the buildings, and watch demonstrations of 19th-century trades and skills like blacksmithing and fireplace cooking. This is a fun opportunity to discover life in the past in New England – how do the Christmas decorations of the 19th Century compare to those of the 21st? Can you see how they have changed over time? What other traditions are different, or similar? These are some questions to ponder while experiencing a 19th-century winter evening in New England. Call Storrowton at 413-205-5051 for more information. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (>$)

Local History

Join the Mill River Greenway Initiative for a “Riverwalk” in Haydenville and Williamsburg on Saturday, December 6. Walk from Brassworks in Haydenville to Skinnerville in Williamsburg and discover the history of Haydenville, Williamsburg, and the Mill River. This walk would be best for older students interested in local history. Pre-registration required – email info@millrivergreenway.org to register; space is limited. Haydenville, MA.

Celebrate the holidays with Historic Deerfield this December. On Saturday, December 6, 9:30am-4:30pm, see an open hearth cooking demonstration about sugar and spice, make gifts for the holidays, decorate gingerbread cookies, and go on a horse-drawn wagon ride. December 6 is also Heritage Baking Day, where you can learn about baking recipes from the past. Historic Deerfield’s Heritage Holiday activities are a great way to experience what the holiday season was like in the past in New England. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. ($)

Historic Northampton will be holding an open house on Saturday, December 6, 2pm-4pm. Come hear about what’s happening at Historic Northampton and preview two new exhibits – “Tools for Learning: Children’s Toys, Clothing, and Furniture from the Historic Northampton Collection” and “The Florence Brush Factory: Artifacts from the Pro Brush Company Collection, 1854-1945.” Visitors can also view the current exhibition, “Splendor and Sorrow: Glimpses of World War I.” Older students interested in history can learn about Historic Northampton and what it does at this open house. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA.

See the Keep Homestead Museum decorated for the holidays and learn about life in the past, especially during the holiday season. On Sunday, December 7, 1pm-3:30pm, tour the house and see items collected by the Keep family, including furniture, silver and cut glass, rock collections, quilts, a button collection, and more. This is a great chance for families to learn about life in the past in western Massachusetts. 413-267-4137. 35 Ely Road. Monson, MA. (FREE/DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

Skillshare/Wellness

Are you interested in learning about natural remedies for and preventative measures that can be taken against the common cold and other winter illnesses? Families can learn about winter health remedies and how to make them with Brittany Nickerson of Thyme Herbal at Grow Food Amherst‘s Sustainability Sunday workshop at All Things Local Cooperative Market (104 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA) on Sunday, December 7 from 2pm-4pm. Learn about traditional and home remedies that support immune system health, reduce susceptibility to the cold and flu, and improve energy and vitality during the cold winter months. The workshop focuses on delicious, simple, and effective herbs that can be easily prepared. Families can attend this workshop together and leave with herbs and the skills necessary to take their health into their own hands this winter. Call 413-259-3149 for more information. Amherst, MA (>$)

Architecture

Explore some of Stockbridge’s historic homes and properties as part of Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas on this Holiday House Tour on Saturday, December 6, 11am-4pm. The self-guided tour will take you to Undermountain Mansion, Ventfort Hall Mansion, the Ripley House, Elm Court Estate, October Mountain Farm, and Cherry Cottage. Discover local history and learn about the Stockbridge of the past on this tour. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the Chamber of Commerce or on the day of at the Red Lion Inn. Stockbridge, MA. ($$)

New England is home to many unique historic styles of architecture, each with its own defining characteristics. Learn about these styles and which ones can be found in western Massachusetts and why on a free walking tour with the Longmeadow Historical Society on Sunday, December 7 at 1pm. This architectural walking tour will take you up Longmeadow Street, from the First Church of Christ (763 Longmeadow Street) and along the Town Green. On this tour, you can see and learn about the exteriors of several homes – the Old Parsonage (1857), the Old Red House (1734), the Jonathan Hale House (1756), the Stephen Hale House (1831), the Bliss/Keep House (1713), the Downing House (1850s), and the Daniel Colton House (1829). Older students interested in local history and historic homes can learn about architecture on this engaging walking tour. Call the Historical Society at 413-567-3600 for more information.

MYO Holiday Gifts

Make your own holiday cards this season at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art on Saturday, December 6, 10am-11:30am. Ages 3 and up can visit the Art Studio to make six special cards, complete with envelopes. This is a great chance to get creative and give family and friends handmade cards that they will cherish. Space is limited; call to sign up. Cost is per pair/trio. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. ($)

The Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School is hosting a family book and craft fair at their new Pioneer Valley location in Easthampton, MA on Saturday, December 6, 10am-3pm. Kids and their parents can make unique, one-of-a-kind, handmade gifts for the holidays, while spending time with community members, family, and friends. 413-529-7178. 1 Industrial Parkway. Easthampton, MA.

Kids ages 3-5 can do some hands-on crafts at Lander-Grinspoon Academy on Sunday, December 7, 10am-11:30am. Make Hanukkah decorations for your home or to gift to others at this fun event, which allows gets to get creative. 413-586-7550. 257 Prospect Street. Northampton, MA.

Build your own menorah for Hanukkah this year at Home Depot in West Springfield with Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy on Sunday, December 7, 1pm-3pm. This is a great chance for kids to do a hands-on project, and there will also be Home Depot aprons for participants, music, and fresh donuts. Make a menorah to use at your own Hanukkah ceremony or to gift to others at this fun and educational hands-on event. 413-567-8665. 179 Daggett Drive. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Kids can stop by the Forbes Library children’s department to make a cool gift for the holidays on Wednesday, December 10, 3:30pm-4:30pm. Make some unique greeting cards or ornaments that you can gift to others this holiday season. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Literacy

With reluctant readers, theater can help bring Reading Alive! This Saturday, December 6, 10am-12noon, at the Holyoke Public Library, Enchanted Circle Theater will present an interactive literacy workshop for children ages 7-11 and their families. Designed to engage students and family audiences in dramatic readings and expressive arts activities, actors from ECT will make words jump off the page and stories come to life! 413-420-8105. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA (FREE)

Holiday Strolls

Williamstown’s 31st Annual Holiday Walk on Saturday, December 6, 3pm-5:30pm, includes fun activities for the whole family! The Walk kicks off with the Reindog Parade, where Williamstown’s cutest dogs stroll down Spring Street in their holiday best. You can then go see Santa, a holiday bake-off at The Log, do some cookie decorating, see the tree lighting, and more. There will also be live music throughout the day, a toy drive, caroling, and more. A full schedule and list of events can be found here. Spring Street. Williamstown, MA.

The Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas Recreation is Sunday, December 7, 12noon-2pm. Stroll down Main Street and see it as it was when Norman Rockwell painted his famous painting “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.” Antique cars will be parked along the street, and there will be music, carols, Christmas food, Roger the Jester, kids’ activities, and visits with Santa. This holiday event allows you to get an idea of what Stockbridge was like in the past, while celebrating the present-day town and the upcoming holidays. Main Street. Stockbridge, MA. (>$)

The annual It’s a Wonderful Night happens in downtown Turners Falls on Friday, December 12, 5pm-10pm. Join in for a holiday event featuring festive storefront windows, live music, art exhibitions, performances, restaurant specials, opportunities to buy local gifts, and more. Turners Falls, MA.

Computer Science

Is your child interested in computers and coding? Holyoke Codes is a week-long event held in conjunction with the national Computer Science Education Week. During the week of December 8-13, there will be a series of free workshops offered at the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center (100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA). Kids can participate in the Hour of Code event, where you join millions of people around the world to build your own code. Other programs that the workshops will focus on include Artbotics, which combines art and computer science to create robotics that move and interact; Scratch, which you can use to create interactive stories and animations; and Made with Code, which is a Google coding party for girls ages 12-17 (a great opportunity to get girls involved in the male-dominated field of computer science!). There will also be an opportunity to come share what you have created during the workshops. Kids and teens who are interested in learning computer programming will love getting to try their hand at all these different programs! Please register in advance; a full schedule can be found on the registration page.

PreSchool Highlights

Preschool-aged children can learn about math and counting at the Wendell Free Library as part of a series of programs focusing on science, technology, engineering, art, and math on Saturday, December 6, 11am. This is a great chance to introduce young kids to STEAM topics! Call to register. 978-544-3559. 7 Wendell Depot Road. Wendell, MA. (FREE)

Preschoolers can come learn Spanish at the East Longmeadow Public Library on Tuesday, December 9, 9:30am-10:30am. Clifford the Big Red Dog will help ages 3-6 learn some basic Spanish, including the colors. Please sign up. 413-525-5400 x1506. 60 Center Square. East Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Attend a free sample class by Music Together for Valley Families on Wednesday, December 10,  at the Greater Holyoke YMCA. They will offer a sample of their parent/child music and movement program. Call to sign up and to find out time. 413-259-9400. 171 Pine Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Preschool-aged children can learn about water at the Shutesbury Town Hall as part of a series of programs focusing on science, technology, engineering, art, and math on Wednesday, December 10, 1:30pm. This is a great chance to introduce young kids to STEAM topics! Call to register. 413-259-1213. Shutesbury, MA. (FREE)

Parenting Workshop

The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a workshop for parents as part of the Puzzle of Parenting series, “Two Parents, Two Parenting Styles,” on Wednesday, December 10, 6pm-8pm. This workshop is great for parents who sometimes feel at odds with one another or who disagree about things like discipline. Discuss different child rearing approaches and identify positive parenting styles at this workshop. Takes place at Amherst Family Center. Childcare is available and registration is required. 413-586-4998 x102. 1200 North Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Caroling

Enjoy Christmas carols and holiday cheer at Williamsburg’s Caroling on the Green, outside Florence Savings Bank on Saturday, December 6, 3:30pm-5pm. Come for carols, cocoa, and horse-drawn wagon rides. A great way to celebrate the holidays with your community! Main Street. Williamsburg, MA.

Participate in the Caroling Luminaria Walk as part of the Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas festivities on Saturday, December 6, 6pm-7pm. Meet in front of the Red Lion Inn with your flashlight or candle, sing carols, and walk to the First Congregational Church with luminarias. Main Street. Stockbridge, MA.

Bread Baking

Pioneer Valley Bread House is holding a bread-baking event that’s open to everyone on Monday, December 8, 4:30pm-6:30pm! Come learn about the art and symbolism of decorating breads and share, learn, and create with community members. Baking bread is a fun and useful skill and this is a perfect event to help you get started! Takes place at Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. 83 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)


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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