24 Community Highlights: Children’s Opera to A Cappella. Valentines to Tu B’Shevat.

With new snow on the ground, winter is the best time of the year to go in search for animal tracks! There are several opportunities this weekend, most lead by interpretive guides and naturalists to point out signs of animal life and to interpret their findings in the context of your natural surroundings. Terrific community-based educational opportunities that utilizes our natural environment, regional species, weather and local experts. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Snowshoeing to Tracking. Children’s Opera to A Cappella. Valentines to Tu B’Shevat… 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: The Araboolies of Liberty Street is a picture book by Sam Swope, about a street with lots of rules, where everything looks the same and must be a certain way. That is, until an exotic new family moves to the neighborhood, and with the help of the kids of Liberty Street, the neighborhood is changed forever. The Smith College Department of Music and the Smith College Campus School have taken this story and turned it into a children’s opera, with libretto by Constance Congdon and music by Ronald Perera. The opera will be performed on Saturday, January 31 at 4pm in Sweeney Concert Hall on the Smith College campus and the performance is free and open to the public. The one-act children’s opera stars Smith College student actors and features music by the Smith College Campus School chorus. All ages will enjoy seeing this story come to life! 144 Green Street. Northampton, MA


SnowshoeingChildren’s OperaMuseum AdventuresValentinesTrackingTu B’ShevatSingingLocal HistoryUnderground RailroadMusicalsPreschool HighlightsParent Workshop


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

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Snowshoeing

Are you looking for a fun opportunity to get the whole family outside and enjoying winter? This time of year is tough, with the cold weather and short days, but there are lots of great outdoor activities that can help keep the cabin fever at bay. Families (kids ages 6 and up) can join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center for a free Winter Family Sunset-Moonrise Hike/Snowshoe on Saturday, January 31 from 3:30pm-6pm. Spend the afternoon having a blast in the snow, searching for animal tracks and sign; learning about wildlife like porcupines, snowshoe hare, and coyote; and exploring wooded wetlands, rocky outcrops, and frozen streams. Families can also build a fire, enjoy hot cocoa, make snow creatures, play games, and have all sorts of other winter fun. There will also be an opportunity to learn practical skills like bushwhacking, estimating sunset time, and leave-no-trace fire building. Call 800-859-2960 to register and find out the location of this event. The event is free, but there is a cost ($$) for snowshoe rentals.

The Trustees of Reservations’ (TTOR) Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield, MA, was once the country retreat of first U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, William C. Bullitt and his daughter Ann. A property rich in local and natural history, TTOR will be hosting a couple of snowshoe hikes through the historically farmed fields and streamside. With snowshoe rentals available (but limited) join them on a guide Moonlight Snowshoe Hike (>$) with an amazing view of the night sky if it is clear on Saturday, January 31 from 7-9pm. Listen for the hoot of an owl, and look for constellations in the night sky, then warm up with hot cocoa. Later in the week on Wednesday, February 4, at 10am, adults and homeschoolers can attend a guide mid-morning hike (FREE) with a interpreter from the Student Conservation Association. Bring your curiosity and learn about the natural and local history of the Bullitt Reservation. 413-628-4485. Bullitt Road. Ashfield, MA. (>$-FREE)

Join Franklin Land Trust for a full moon snowshoe hike at the Kenneth Dubuque Forest on Saturday, January 31, 6pm-8pm. All experience levels are welcome on this hike, which offers a great chance to explore the woods under the light of the almost-full moon. Bring your own snowshoes or borrow a pair. Register ASAP. 413-625-9151. Western MA. (FREE)

Explore Graves Farm Wildlife Sanctuary on a moonlight hike with the Williamsburg Woodland Trails Committee. The hike will take you along a field and through a forest of pine, oak, and beech trees on Saturday, January 31, 6:30pm. All are welcome on this hike, which is just over one mile. Bring snowshoes, a flashlight or headlamp, and a water bottle. 413-268-7523. Adams Road. Williamsburg, MA.

Children’s Opera

The Araboolies of Liberty Street is a picture book by Sam Swope, about a street with lots of rules, where everything looks the same and must be a certain way. That is, until an exotic new family moves to the neighborhood, and with the help of the kids of Liberty Street, the neighborhood is changed forever. The Smith College Department of Music and the Smith College Campus School have taken this story and turned it into a children’s opera, with libretto by Constance Congdon and music by Ronald Perera. The opera will be performed on Saturday, January 31 at 4pm in Sweeney Concert Hall on the Smith College campus and the performance is free and open to the public. The one-act children’s opera stars Smith College student actors and features music by the Smith College Campus School chorus. All ages will enjoy seeing this story come to life! 144 Green Street. Northampton, MA

MUSEUM ADVENTURES

What does an eagle feed its young? How do mother bats find their babies in a cave? Children ages 3 through 8 and their parents can find out at Animal Secrets, the new exhibit at the Springfield Science Museum. Opening celebration, this Saturday, January 31 from 10am-5pm, with fun activities and live animal programs, including birds of prey presentations at 11am and 1pm. A $5 special exhibit fee allows you to see both Animal Secrets and Above the Fold, the breathtaking new origami exhibit at the D’Amour Museum (fee is in addition to museum admission). 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Looking for a good indoor activity for the family after all this snow? MASS MoCA is holding its annual Free Day on Saturday, January 31 from 11am-7pm! This is a great chance to check out the museum’s exhibitions and activities, and to get a look at the behind-the-scenes work that goes on at MASS MoCA – see art fabricators take a project from concept to completion, and watch the tech crew get ready for a concert light show. There will also be art activities, pop-up music performances, tours, dance performances, and more. There is something for all ages at MASS MoCA, and what better time to check it out than Free Day? Call MASS MoCA at 413-662-2111 for more information. The museum is located at 1040 MASS MoCA Way in North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Spark!Lab, the Berkshire Museum’s newest ongoing, hands-on creative laboratory to engage children in the process of innovation, features a variety of activities that challenge visitors to solve problems through their own resourcefulness using materials and tools provided. Create a soundscape, invent a new kind of moving vehicle, experiment with a vertical wind tunnel, and more! Each activity invites visitors to discover a new way to perform a task, find a solution to a practical problem, or otherwise “think outside the box.” 413-443-7171 x21. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Valentines

Kids ages 3 and up and parents/caregivers (come in pair or trio) can come make some special valentines for family, friends, and classmates at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art on Saturday, January 31, 10am-11:30am. Materials will be provided, so just bring your creativity and have fun creating valentines to gift to others. Great opportunity for families who signed up to participate in the Hilltown Families 7th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap (just sayin’)! Space is limited; registration recommended. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. ($)

Tracking

Explore the outdoors in winter with John Green and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment at the Quabbin Reservoir on Saturday, January 31, 9am-12noon. Older students and adults can come on this walk and search for birds and animal tracks. Call to sign up. 413-256-6006. 525 South Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. ($$)

Kids ages 8 and up and their families can learn about animal tracks and sign with Mass Audubon at Pleasant Valley Wildlife on Saturday, January 31, 10am-12noon. Learn about animals that remain active in the winter and search the sanctuary for their tracks, scat, and other signs. Please pre-register. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. ($)

Families can learn about animal tracking and animals in winter with Mass Audubon at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, January 31, 10am-12noon. Participants can make track books and learn the walking patterns of different animals before heading out to the trails to search for tracks. Families can spend time together learning about animal tracking at this fun program. Registration is required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Explore the winter habitats of The Trustees of Reservations’ Field Farm property with naturalists Pam Weatherbee and Leslie Reed-Evans on Sunday, February 1, 1pm-3pm. Search for animal tracks, winter weeds, and birds at this nature program, which is suitable for all ages. Bring snowshoes if needed. 413-532-1631 x10. 554 Sloan Road. Williamstown, MA. (>$)

Tu B’Shevat

Children ages 3-5 can celebrate Tu B’Shevat – the Jewish New Year of the Trees – with PJ Preschool Pals at Lander Grinspoon Academy on Sunday, February 1, 10am-11:30am. Tu B’shevat is best known as the New Year of the Trees, or the Birthday of the Trees. Why, you might ask, do trees need their own New Year, and why would all trees celebrate one birthday no matter when they were planted? Come with your questions, make a terrarium and hear stories and songs about Tu ‘Bshevat. 413-584-6622. 257 Prospect Street. Northampton, MA.

Singing

Italian for “in the manner of the church/chapel,” the origins of a cappella are rooted in religious music which began to develop in the late 15th century. Four hundred years later, collegiate a cappella got it’s footing with the Whiffenpoofs of Yale University in 1909, the longest continuously-singing group. On Sunday, February 1, 2pm, a gathering of some of the best college a cappella groups will be performing as the Northampton Arts Council presents the annual Silver Chord Bowl, performing at Smith College’s John M. Greene Hall. Come hear what these talented groups have to offer as they carry on the tradition of collegiate a cappella, and learn a few things about this musical genre. 413-587-1269. 70 Elm Street. Northampton, MA. ($$)

The Hampshire Young People’s Chorus will perform two free concerts at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art on Sunday, February 1, 2:30pm & 3:30pm. This award-winning community children’s choir includes nearly 60 singers ages 7-16. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Local History/Underground Railroad

A Notion to Quilt presents a “Remembrance of our Past” program on Sunday, February 1, 2pm. Go back in time with Cousin Mary Leavitt and Elizabeth Field as they reminisce about their families’ abolitionist activities in Charlemont in the 1800s, one of the few towns in the Commonwealth to have had multiple homes a part of the Underground Railroad. Learn about the Basil Dorsey family, freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad, and more. Older students interested in local history will enjoy this presentation. 413-625-9644. 623 Mohawk Trail. Shelburne, MA. (FREE) [Cancelled due to illness]

Musicals

Ja’Duke Productions presents a production of The Wizard of Oz this February at the Shea Theater. Come see this classic show performed by talented local actors. Tickets available in advance. Friday, February 6 & 13 @ 6pm. Saturday, February 7 & 14 @ 6pm; and Sunday, February 8 & 15 @ 2pm. 413-863-0001. 71 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. ($$)

Easthampton High School presents a production of Kiss Me Kate this February. Come enjoy the drama club’s performance of this classic musical. Thursday, February 5th @ 6:30pm; Friday & Saturday, February 6 & 7 @ 7pm; Sunday, February 8 @ 2pm. Tickets are on sale. Call 413-433-6234 to reserve your seats. 70 Williston Avenue. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Preschool Highlights

Escape the cold and go on a super fun picnic at the Westfield Athenaeum! Ages 3-6 can come to the library for songs, stories, and a craft on Saturday, January 31, 11am. Bring a lunch and enjoy this fun indoor picnic! Registration is required. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA.

South Berkshire Kids is offering a Brain Builder Play and Learn Group at the Mason Library every Tuesday at 10:30am-11:30am. Kids ages birth to age 5 can come read, sing, play, and talk, with a focus on STEM concepts and early literacy. 413-528-2403. 231 Main Street. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Preschool-aged children can learn all about “Science in the Kitchen” at the Leverett Library as part of a series of programs focusing on science, technology, engineering, art, and math on Thursday, February 5, 3:15pm-4:15pm. This is a great chance to introduce young kids to STEAM topics! 413-548-9220. 75 Montague Road. Leverett, MA. (FREE)

Preschool-aged kids can learn about animal tracking at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment on Friday, February 6, 9:30am-11:30am. Kids will make track field guides then hit the trails in search of animal tracks and sign. There will also be a snack and winter story. Adults must accompany children. Please pre-register. 413-256-6006. 525 South Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. ($$)

Parent Workshop

The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a “Learn to Play, Play to Learn” workshop at Palmer/Monson Family Network on Thursday, February 5, 6pm-8pm. Parents/caregivers of children birth to kindergarten age can learn fun ways to interact with children while building a foundation for success in friendships and school at this workshop. Learn about the connections between play and healthy relationships, language development, social/emotional skills, motor development, and how well we learn. Childcare is available. Registration is required. 413-586-4998 x102. 4 Springfield Street. Three Rivers, MA. (FREE)


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Colrain, Cummington, Deerfield, Hadley, Longmeadow, Montgomery, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Sunderland, and Westhampton Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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