Learning Ahead: January 5th-9th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 13 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.



Berkshire County

Friday, January 9, 2:30pm-3:30pm – ART HISTORY: Learn the stories behind some of Norman Rockwell’s most famous paintings at the Norman Rockwell Museum with Curator of Education Tom Daly. Best for older students interested in art. Free with museum admission. 413-298-4100. 9 Route 183. Stockbridge, MA. ($$)

Friday, January 9, 7pm – NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE: Discover the traditions and stories of the Abenaki at Williams College’s Goodrich Hall. Father and son, Joseph and Jesse Bruchac will present a free program of Abenaki stories, which are for both entertainment and educational purposes. Joseph Bruchac is known for his integration of science and folklore, and for his book, Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children, while Jesse Bruchac works to preserve music, language, and traditional culture. This storytelling event brings together each of their interests to focus on traditional tales of the Adirondacks and the Native peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands. Discover Abenaki traditions and mythology at this storytelling event, which is appropriate for ages 10 and up. 413-597-4277. 863 Main Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Franklin County

Tuesday, January 6, 6-8pm: ANIMAL WELFARE/SERVICE-BASED LEARNING: Do you love animals? Are you 16 or older? You can gain hands-on experience helping animals in need through volunteering with the Dakin Humane Society. Dakin is offering a Volunteer Welcome Session in Leverett. Learn about the many different volunteer opportunities at Dakin and how you can help the Humane Society and its animals. Some volunteer activities include cleaning, training animals, feeding animals, office work, food delivery, and more. Attend this welcome session to learn how you can help. This is a wonderful opportunity for teens who love animals to learn first-hand the benefits of volunteering. Call Dakin at 413-781-4000 x111 for more information. 163 Montague Road. Leverett, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Wednesday, January 7, 10am-12noon: NATURAL HISTORY/HIKING: Get outside during the first full week of the new year on a free, guided hike with the Hilltown Land Trust on Meet at the Bullitt Farmhouse on the Bullitt Reservation, then explore the local geology, flora, and fauna as you hike to Chapel Brook. Learn about the geology of the region and hike to the top of Pony Mountain, where you can see the Highlands and the Berkshire foothills. All ages can participate in this hike, which has a 4-mile and 1-mile option, and offers tons of opportunities to check out interesting winter wildlife and plants, and to ask questions about species identification and geological features that you may come across. Call 413-628-4485 x4 to RSVP. Bullitt Reservation is located on Bullitt Road in Ashfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, January 9, 2pm-4pm – BABYSITTING CLASS: Tweens and teens ages 11 and up can attend a babysitting class at the Dickinson Memorial Library on January 9 and 16. The class covers first aid, child safety, entertaining, and discipline. Call for more info and to register. 413-498-2455. 115 Main Street. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Tuesday, January 6, 6:30pm-7:30pm – SURVIVAL SKILLS: Earthworks Programs’ Frank Grindrod will present a free emergency preparedness talk on January 6 at River Valley Market. This introduction to emergency preparedness will teach you what to do in emergency situations like extreme weather, power outages, being stranded in a car, lost in the wilderness, etc. Pre-registration is required. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, January 7, 7pm – HISTORY/LITERATURE: Older students and adults who are interested in children’s literature and American history can learn about how the two are connected at the Forbes Library. Discover America’s history through children’s literature at “Engaging Young People with History: An Evening with YA and Middle Grade Novelists,” a program that focuses on local authors whose work is set in the American past during different time periods. Learn about early America with Jeannine Atkins, who will read from her book, Becoming Little Women: Louisa May at Fruitlands, and Burleigh Mutén, who will teach about Emily Dickinson’s New England through reading her book, Miss Emily. Ellen Wittlinger will read from her Cold War book, This Means War!, and Jane Yolen will address experimental drugs and medical mistakes from the 1960s with her book, Centaur Rising. This free event is a great opportunity for those interested in children’s literature and history to explore the two topics and their connections more deeply, and to ask questions of the authors and learn more about their writing process, how they researched the time periods in which their books are set, an more. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Beginning, Monday, January 5 – CREATIVE ARTS: The Holyoke Creative Arts Center brings quality instruction in the creative and industrial arts to adults in Holyoke and the surrounding communities. Beginning and experienced students learn side by side with expert instructors in a relaxed and friendly environment. Register today for the Winter II Session which begins Monday, January 5th. Classes include woodcarving, painting, quilting, upholstery, specialty workshops, and more! Join HCAC and contribute to a 90+ year legacy of fostering creativity and community in the Pioneer Valley. For more information and to register for classes, visit www.holyokecac.org or contact HCAC at info@holyokecac.org.

Monday, January 5, 6pm-8pm – THEATER: The Drama Studio is holding an Open House for prospective students on January 5. Come learn about their programs and facilities and participate in a free acting class at this event. Students between ages 9 and 17 can learn about the acting classes offered by the Studio at this event. Call to register. 413-739-1983. 41 Oakland Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, January 6, 4pm-5:30pm – ARTS & CRAFTS/PAPERCRAFT: Tweens and teens can make their own upcycled journals at the Sixteen Acres Branch Library. Make your own one-of-a-kind journal using old book jackets, magazine, cereal boxes, and other materials. Participants will also learn about different types of journals. Registration is suggested. 413-263-6858. 1187 Parker Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, January 6, 6pm-8pm – SOCIAL WORK/CHILDREN’S LITERATURE: The East Longmeadow Public Library and Rick’s Place are offering a workshop for parents and caregivers – “Grief Through Story.” This program will teach parents and caregivers how to use children’s literature to begin conversations with children about grief, death, and dying. Registration is encouraged. 413-525-5400 x1506. 60 Center Square. East Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, January 8, 12:15pm – ART: This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “Stories From the Kitchen Sink,” with visual artist Ricky Bernstein. He will discuss those who have influence his art over the past 40 years. Best for older students interested in art. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

Thursday, January 8, 6-8pm: ANIMAL WELFARE/SERVICE-BASED LEARNING: Do you love animals? Are you 16 or older? You can gain hands-on experience helping animals in need through volunteering with the Dakin Humane Society. Dakin is offering a Volunteer Welcome Session in Springfield . Learn about the many different volunteer opportunities at Dakin and how you can help the Humane Society and its animals. Some volunteer activities include cleaning, training animals, feeding animals, office work, food delivery, and more. Attend this welcome session to learn how you can help. This is a wonderful opportunity for teens who love animals to learn first-hand the benefits of volunteering. Call Dakin at 413-781-4000 x111 for more information. 171 Union Street. Springfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

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