31 Community Highlights: Winter Carnivals to Ice Festival. Chemistry of Candy to Victorian Valentines.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, visitors to the Berkshire Museum can learn to make their own hand-dipped chocolates at the Learner’s Lab on Saturday, February 7, 10am-11am! Kathy Sinico of Catherine’s Chocolates will teach you how to make several types of chocolate. Free with museum admission. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($)<

Winter Carnivals to Ice Festival. Hand-Dipped Chocolates to Chemistry of Candy. Victorian Valentines to Birds of Prey… 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: Discover the chemistry behind candy at the Springfield Science Museum on Saturday, February 7, 10am-12:30pm! Kids can make fudge, chocolates, and other all natural treats while learning about their physical and chemical properties. This workshop will also help kids improve their math skills through measuring, counting, and modifying ingredients. Purchase tickets in advance. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)


Winter CelebrationsAnimal Studies/TrackingOrnithologyBlack History MonthParent WorkshopsCulinary Arts & ScienceValentinesLocal HistoryIce HarvestingSingingFolk TalesSTEMPreschool Highlights


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

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Winter Celebrations

Winter festival season kicks off with Frozen Over, the town of Greenfield’s 93rd annual winter carnival celebration, held February 6th – 8th. A longtime Franklin County tradition, winter carnival will kick off with ice sculptures dotting the streets of downtown Greenfield, and exciting events follow. Highlights of this year’s winter carnival include fireworks, a community bonfire, the annual 4-mile Sleigh Bell Run, indoor and outdoor ice skating and hockey games, snowshoe demonstrations and adventures, cardboard sled races, a chili cook-off, and the first annual parade of lights!

In Amherst, the annual WinterFest will take place on Saturday, February 7th. Held annually at Cherry Hill Golf Course, WinterFest fills the otherwise quiet snow-covered course with all kinds of excitement. Families can spend the afternoon sledding and cross-country skiing, and can test their snow skills in the Cardboard Classic Box Race. Adding education to excitement, families can also participate in bird watching walks, where common winter birds and their calls and food sources will be highlighted. Chilly families can warm up (and chow down) at the Chili Contest, where delicious creations from locals will be featured. Don’t leave too early, though – the event ends with fireworks, a must-see against a crisp, wintry night sky!

Celebrate winter at a fun party for families at the Hubbard Library on Tuesday, February 10, 6pm. There will be winter games, hot chocolate, and yummy snowball treats. Call to register. 413-583-3408. 24 Center Street. Ludlow, MA.

Northampton’s Annual Ice Art Festival takes place on Friday, February 13, 10am. Take a stroll through town to see the artists making their sculptures, or head into town at night to see the finished pieces. Downtown. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Animal Studies

Kids ages 8 and up can learn about animal tracking with Mass Audubon at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, February 7, 10am-12noon. Search for scat, tracks, and other signs of animals that remain active during the winter. Registration is required. 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Study the winter landscape from the perspective of wildlife with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment and naturalist and tracker Alcott Smith on Saturday, February 7, 9am-12noon & 1pm-4pm. He will teach participants about animal tracking and how to view the forest through the lens of autecology – the branch of ecology that deals with the relationship between an individual and its environment. Learn about predator and prey animals and how they survive winter, initiate reproductive cycles, and more. This program is geared towards adults, but older teens with an interest in animals and tracking would enjoy it as well. Participants must feel comfortable snowshoeing off-trail. Call to register and find out location. 413-256-6006. Western Massachusetts. ($$)

Get some experience learning about animal tracking with the Kestrel Land Trust and John Body at Marble Brook Conservation Area on Sunday, February 8, 10am-12noon. Look for animal tracks and sign and check wildlife cameras for footage of animals. Space is limited; please RSVP. Location given upon registration. 413-549-1097. Western Massachusetts.

Older teens (16+) and adults can learn about wildlife tracking with David Brown at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. on Sunday, February 8, 1pm-4pm. Brown, who is an experienced trackers, will teach participants how to interpret animal tracks and sign. There will be an indoor introduction, then participants will head outside to do some off-trail tracking. Great for older teens and adults hoping to learn more about animal tracking. Snowshoes required if there is snow – rentals available. Call to pre-register. 800-859-2960. 99 Millers Falls Road. Northfield, MA. ($$)

Ornithology

Older students and adults can learn about the natural history of the American crow with Mass Audubon at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday, February 8, 2:30pm-6:30pm. There will be a slideshow about crows and their relatives, then a trip to Springfield or Greenfield to observe the birds migrate in large groups to a nighttime roost. Call to pre-register. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($$)

Holyoke, one of the country’s first planned industrial cities, is home to many interesting birds who thrive in the urban environment on Wednesday, February 11, 7pm-9pm. Mass Audubon presents a talk at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary with urban birding expert Greg Saulmon, who will talk about birding in urban areas and will show photos of wildlife in Holyoke. Registration is required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)

This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “Live Birds of Prey” with wildlife rehabilitator Tom Ricardi on Thursday, February 12, 12:15pm. All ages can learn about the natural history and behaviors of these fascinating birds, as well as conservation efforts to protect them. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Great Backyard Bird Count takes place February 13-16, right in your own backyard! All ages can learn about birds and participate in this cool citizen science project, which creates a real-time snapshot of bird populations all over the world. Learn how to identify local bird species, and then spend at least 15 minutes counting birds on one or more days during the count. This citizen science project is great because it can be done anywhere – you can stay indoors and watch from a window, or get outdoors and go for a walk in a local natural area. Being a part of this project can influence participants of all ages to learn more about birds, their habitats, populations, migration patterns, and more. See the Great Backyard Bird Count website for details.

Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month and learn about the history of African Americans in Ashfield at Ashfield 250‘s event, “Ashfield History Includes Black History,” on Saturday, February 7, 2pm-4pm. Professors Barbara Krauthamer and Deborah Willis will discuss their book, Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery, and there will be a photography exhibit – “African Americans in New England.” Students who interested in learning more about the history of African Americans in New England can learn from this engaging program. Takes place at Ashfield Town Hall. 413-625-9975. 412 Main Street. Ashfield, MA.

Parent Workshops

The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a “Learn to Play, Play to Learn” workshop at Hatfield Elementary School on Wednesday, February 11, 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. 33 Main Street. Hatfield, MA. (FREE)

Child Care of the Berkshires is holding a Parent Café at the Haskins Community Center on Thursday, February 12, 5:30pm-7:30pm! Come enjoy a free catered meal and talk with other parents. There is free childcare and transportation. Please call to RSVP by 2/9. 413-663-7588. 210 State Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Culinary Arts & Science

Discover the chemistry behind candy at the Springfield Science Museum on Saturday, February 7, 10am-12:30pm! Kids can make fudge, chocolates, and other all natural treats while learning about their physical and chemical properties. This workshop will also help kids improve their math skills through measuring, counting, and modifying ingredients. Purchase tickets in advance. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, visitors to the Berkshire Museum can learn to make their own hand-dipped chocolates at the Learner’s Lab on Saturday, February 7, 10am-11am! Kathy Sinico of Catherine’s Chocolates will teach you how to make several types of chocolate. Free with museum admission. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Chandler’s Restaurant offers a Kids Cooking class for families to explore the art of cooking, proper use of kitchen tools, and raw ingredients that go into delicious dishes on Saturday, February 7, 10:30am-12noon! A brief tour of their professional kitchen follows the class. Great way to introduce children to the world of culinary arts! Space is limited, reservations are required 413-665-1277. 25 Greenfield Road. South Deerfield, MA ($$)

Valentines

For the past seven years, Hilltown Families has organized an intergenerational, community-based, handmade Valentine swap. This year, 1,550 handmade valentines are being prepared for swapping through the mail by families, individuals, and even youth groups, just in time for Valentine’s Day. For the month of February, in the Hawks-Hayden Room Gallery at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, over 100 handmade Valentines sent to Hilltown Families by swap participants over the years will be on display in an exhibit, Handmade Valentines: Connecting & Expanding a Community Tradition. New handmade Valentines received this year as part of the swap will be added to the display throughout the month. Add your handmade valentine to the exhibit! Mail to Hilltown Families, P.O. Box 98, West Chesterfield, MA 01084 by Feb 14.

Make some lovely valentines this year at the Wistariahurst Museum at their Victorian Valentines Workshop on Sunday, February 8, 1pm-3pm. With antique Valentines, bygone love poems and enchanting phrases on display to inspire your creativity, you can create your own beautiful and unique greeting for special friends, family and sweethearts. Learn how this English novelty turned Worcester, MA into the City of Valentines, and about Mt. Holyoke Alumae, Esther Howland and her connection to giving greetings on Valentines Day.  Begin your creation with some lovely papers; embellish with bits of ribbon; border with delicate lace; and personalize with found objects. Let your inspiration guide your creation and put onto paper what is in your heart. Voila! A personalized and Victorian inspired greeting made to share.  Cards, glues, historically inspired images and decorative elements are provided. Bring a friend or relative for a fun and festive program. You won’t want to miss it! Space is limited; registration is required. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. ($)

Local History

Learn about life in the Swift River Valley at the Swift River Valley Historical Society‘s exhibit, “What’s in a Name? Villages, Hamlets, and Hollows of the Swift River Valley,” at the Great Falls Discovery Center from February 7 through March 28. The exhibition features historic photographs of families, houses, stores, mills, factories, schools, churches, and landscapes from the Swift River Valley, before it was flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930s. The exhibit also features an interactive area for all ages, inspired by old village schoolhouses. This exhibit, which is open every Friday and Saturday from 10am-4pm, is a wonderful opportunity for students of all ages to learn about the lost towns of the Swift River Valley – Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott – as well as the many neighboring towns that sold land for the project. Learning about the day-to-day lives of the residents of these towns can give western Massachusetts residents today a better idea of how the construction of the Quabbin affected the lives of those living in the Swift River Valley in the early to mid-20th Century. There will be a reception on February 7 from 1pm-3pm. Call the Great Falls Discovery Center at 413-863-3221 for more information. The Center is located at 2 Avenue A in Turners Falls, MA.

Ice Harvesting

The Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation invites everyone with an interest in “living history” to join them at the Noble and Cooley Center for Historic Preservation (NCCHP) Museum for their 7th Annual Ice Harvest on Saturday afternoon, February 7 from 12noon-3pm in Granville, MA! Dennis Picard will organize the harvest and teach about the history of ice harvesting in New England – visitors will even get to try using an ice saw! Ice was once an important “cash crop” in New England, and you can learn about the history and science behind ice harvesting, experience what it was like to live in farm communities and industrial villages once common throughout New England. The NCCHP museum will be open for tours, a video on ice harvesting, and information about drum-making. There will also be rescue horses from Blue Star Farm on site in order to help teach about the many roles of horses in New England’s history, live music, and refreshments at this living history event. 413-357-6321. 42 Water Street. Granville, MA. (FREE)

The Sheffield Historical Society‘s new exhibit is open weekend through February 22 from 10am-3pm “The Winter Harvest: Ice Cutting on Sheffield Lakes and Rivers,” is about Sheffield residents of the past who braved the cold and headed out onto the ice each winter to cut ice blocks. The exhibit features ice cutting tools, photos of the harvest, accounts of those who participated, and information on how the ice was cut, stored, and used. 413-229-2694. 159 Main Street. Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Singing

The Hitchcock Center for the Environment presents “Two Hands Hold the Earth,” a family musical event with Sarah Pirtle on Saturday, February 7, 1:30pm. All ages can come hear songs that express a love for the earth, played on the talking drum, a Native American-inspired flute, and other instruments. There will be sing-along songs so kids can engage with the music and message. Space is limited; call to reserve a spot. 413-256-6006. 525 South Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Earthdance is holding a community sing (5:30pm) and potluck (7pm) on Sunday, February 8, 5:30pm-8pm! Penny Schultz, Earthdance co-founder, brings community members together through song. This event is open to all ages, engaging children in music and singing in an intergenerational environment. 413-634-5678. 252 Prospect Street. Plainfield, MA. (>$/SUGGESTED DONATION)

Folk Tales

Students can attend “The Folktales of Zora Neale Hurston” at the UMass Bowker Auditorium on Tuesday, February 10, 10am. The presentation, which is part of the Literature to Life program, stars actress Cheryl Howard as Zora Neale Hurston. Howard will bring to life the folktales collected by Hurston during her travels. This interactive presentation is geared toward elementary audiences. 413-545-2511. 100 Holdsworth Way. Amherst, MA. ($)

STEM

Preschool-aged children can have fun 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, February 7, 11am-12noon. This is a great chance to introduce young kids to STEAM topics! Call to register. 413-423-3348. 17 Moore Street. Erving, MA. (FREE)

February 7 is Take Your Child to the Library Day! Celebrate with the East Longmeadow Public Library and stop by to do a scavenger hunt and new Think Tank on Saturday, February 7, 1pm-3pm! Kids can engage with their local library and do STEM activities on this fun day! 413-525-5400 x1506. 60 Center Square. East Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Preschool-aged children can learn about squirrels and their adaptations at Shutesbury Town Hall as part of a series of programs focusing on science, technology, engineering, art, and math on Wednesday, February 11, 3pm. This is a great chance to introduce young kids to STEAM topics! Call to register. 413-259-1213. Shutesbury, MA. (FREE)

Preschool Highlights

Kids ages 2-5 and an adult can participate in an Art Lab at the Berkshire Museum on Saturday, February 7, 10:30am. Come build fine motor skills and improve language by using paintbrushes, learning colors and techniques, and more. Space is limited; call to register. Free with museum admission. 413-443-7171 x10. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Kids ages 2 months to 5 years can attend a playgroup at Berkshire South Regional Community Center on Wednesday, February 11, 10:30am-12noon. There will be a bounce castle, obstacles, toys, mats, hula hoops, balls, an outdoor play structure, and more. Kids can have fun playing while parents socialize. Drop-in. 413-528-2810. 15 Crissey Road. Great Barrington, MA. (>$)

Ongoing Weekday Playgroups & Storyhours: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

[Photo credit: (cc) Evan Long]


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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