31 Community Highlights: Drumming to Classical Music. Vernal Pools to Science Festival.

Celebrate spring with baby animals at Hancock Shaker Village! The historic village opens for the season with a barn filled with new babies for visitors to welcome to the world. Families can take behind-the-scenes tours of the farm and learn about the village’s history and unique architecture, too!

Drumming to Classical Music. Bagshare to Mitzvah Bags. Vernal Pools to Science Festival… These are just a few of the community-based 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 community highlight this week: Saturday, April 11 is “The Big Night” at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Families can go on guided tours from 5:30pm-8:30pm of the forest and meet costumed characters from vernal pools, such as spotted salamanders, wood frogs, and fairy shrimp. There will be short, funny skits to teach families about these interesting creatures. Pre-registration is required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Bird StudiesLEGOsService-Based LearningFairy TalesLocal HistoryMusic StudiesPreschool HighlightsVernal PoolsSTEMPerformanceLiterary ArtsNature StudiesSustainable AgricultureAstronomyParent WorkshopsSurvival Skills

Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation:

Bird Studies

Saturday, April 11, 11am-12noon – BIRDS OF PREY: Learn about birds of prey at a presentation by Tom Ricardi at the Westhampton Public Library. All ages will love learning about these fascinating birds and seeing them up close! 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 11, 6:30pm-8pm – WOODCOCKS: Woodcocks return north to forest and farmland in the early spring, where males perform their mating displays at dusk. You can listen and watch for this distinctive and fascinating display at Guyette Farm with Franklin Land Trust on April 11 (originally scheduled for Apr 4). Catching sight of these interesting breeding displays can teach you a lot about woodcocks – how the males attract mates, what their ideal habitat is, which mating displays seem most effective, and how females react to the displays. This program allows people to have the opportunity to enter ideal woodcock habitat in search of these birds, while learning about their behavior and habitat from a Franklin Land Trust expert. Call or email jmorse@franklinlandtrust.org ASAP register. 413-625-9151. Guyette Farm. Plainfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, April 11, 9:30am-11am – BUILD-A-THON: The Lenox Library is holding a LEGO Build-a-thon for ages 5-14. Kids can bring their own LEGOs to the library and create “Things That Go” with them. Participants should be able to explain and demonstrate how their model moves – a great way to engage kids with STEM while they’re having fun building with LEGOs! Registration is required. 413-637-0197. 18 Main Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 11, 11am-12noon – STEAM: 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. This is a great chance to introduce young kids to STEAM topics! Call to register. 413-423-3348. 17 Moore Street. Erving, MA. (FREE)

Service-Based Learning

Saturday, April 11, 9:30am-12:30pm – HISTORY/RESTORATION: The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation and the Williamstown Historical Museum are working together to restore an antique horse-drawn worksled. Older students can assist with the restoration and can learn about the sled and what it was used for in the past. 413-458-2494. 671 Cold Spring Road. Williamstown, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, April 11, 1pm-3:30pm – SEWING/SUSTAINABILITY: The Storrs Library needs helping sewing bags for their bagshare program! The Library’s bagshare program has been around for four years, and in that time they have kept over 6,000 disposable plastic bags out of the environment. Come learn to sew and get creative making fun new bags for the bagshare program. Call to sign up. 413-565-4182. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Sunday, April 12, 10am-11:45am – MITZVAH BAGS: Young kids can get in the giving spirit with Lander-Grinspoon’s PJ Pals at their event, “Small Hands, Big Difference: Children and Tzedakah.” Kids ages 3-5 can come create mitzvah bags and deliver them to the Northampton Survival Center. There will also be songs, stories, a craft, and tumble time. Please bring a nonperishable food item to donate. 413-584-6622. 257 Prospect Street. Northampton, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Fairy Tales

Saturday, April 11, 10am – HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN: Families can spend a Saturday morning at the movies at Amherst Cinema‘s screening of The King And The Mockingbird (1979; not rated). Kids and adults alike will love seeing this Hans Christian Andersen story on the big screen. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (>$)

Saturday, April 11, 1:30pm – CHARLES PERRAULT: The Ware Family Center presents a performance of Sleeping Beauty by the Tanglewood Marionettes. Families will enjoy seeing this fairy tale acted out by beautifully-crafted marionettes. There will also be a craft activity (>$). 413-967-8127. 49 Church Street. Ware, MA. ($)

Local History

Saturday, April 11, 10am – WALKING TOUR: “The Structures of Utopia: Walking Tour of the Northampton Association’s Sites and Documents” begins at the Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue. Learn about Northampton abolitionists and the work done by the Northampton Association on this educational walking tour, which takes you to several historic Northampton Association dwelling houses. Best for students interested in local history. Park Street. Florence, MA.

Music Studies

Sunday, April 12, 3pm – CLASSICAL MUSIC: The South Berkshire Concert Series presents Frederic Chiu performing a solo piano recital at McConnell Theater in the Daniel Arts Center on the Bard College at Simon’s Rock campus. Chiu will perform “Classical Smackdown: Claude Debussy vs. Sergei Prokofiev,” which allows audience members to voice their opinions on which composer would win if they faced off head-to-head. Students with audience skills who are interested in classical music will enjoy this unique performance. 413-644-4400. 84 Alford Road. Great Barrington, MA.

Sunday, April 12, 4pm – CLASSICAL MUSIC: The Smith College Music Department presents, “Concert Conversations,” a presentation about classical music. On April 12, Professor Peter Bloom will present “Schubert’s Death and the Maiden and Crumb’s Black Angels.” Takes place in Earle Recital Hall in Smith College’s Sage Hall. 413-585-3222. Green Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 14, 1:30pm-2:30pm – DRUMMING: Homeschool students who are interested in music can attend a drumming class with Otha Day in Pittsfield. No experience is necessary, and this is a great opportunity for students to learn from a skilled drummer. Email berksierra@aol.com for more information. Pittsfield, MA.

Preschool Highlights

Saturday, April 11, 10am-12noon – WEEK OF THE YOUNG CHILD: Celebrate the Week of the Young Child at Jackson Street School’s cafeteria on April 11! There will be fun brain-building games and art activities for kids and their families, and you can also visit a fire truck, school bus, dump truck, and police car. 413-587-1471. 120 Jackson Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, April 12, 10:30am-12noon – STORYWALK/NATURE STUDIES: Families can attend a StoryWalk at the Leverett Public Library on April 12. Read Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon and learn about nature with Dawn Marvin Ward. Listen for bids, look for animal tracks and sign, and enjoy exploring the outdoors on a spring day. 978-544-5157. 75 Montague Road. Leverett, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 14, 9am-10:30am – STORYTIME: The Bement School will have a special story hour with crafts, snacks, and a performance. Come hear Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest by Gerald McDermott and then see Bement’s kindergarten class perform the book! Takes place in the Bement library. Call to RSVP. 413-774-4209. 94 Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 15, 11:30am-12:15pm – MUSIC/MOVEMENT: Families can attend a Music and Movement class at the Belchertown Family Center this April and May. Come for music, movement, and fun! Drop-in. 413-835-5201. 720 Franklin Street. Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 17, 5:15pm-5:45pm – SHABBAT: Beit Ahavah is hosting a “Tot Shabbat” event for ages 0-6. Families can come for this fun, musical event and enjoy a potluck Shabbat dinner. 413-587-3770. 130 Pine Street. Florence, MA.

Vernal Pools

Saturday, April 11, 10am-12noon – VERNAL POOLS: Come get muddy and learn about vernal pools with The Trustees of Reservations at Bartholomew’s Cobble! April is when vernal pools come alive, and they are home to many unique plants and animals. Discover some of the amphibians that live here, and search for wood frog and salamander egg masses, fairy shrimp, and fingernail clams. This program is for kids and adults. Please pre-register. 413-229-8600. 105 Weatogue Road. Sheffield, MA. ($)

Saturday, April 11, 1pm-3pm – VERNAL POOLS: Join Kestrel Land Trust for their April Outing with educator Brandon Abbott – “Exploring Vernal Pools.” Families can come learn all about vernal pools and can look at fairy shrimp and other unique species up close. This event would be great for families who want to learn about vernal pools and seasonal change in New England. Call ASAP to register; space is limited. Meeting place given upon registration. 413-549-1097. Northampton, MA.

Saturday, April 11, 5:30pm-8:30pm – VERNAL POOLS: April 11 is “The Big Night” at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Families can go on guided tours of the forest and meet costumed characters from vernal pools, such as spotted salamanders, wood frogs, and fairy shrimp. There will be short, funny skits to teach families about these interesting creatures. Pre-registration is required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)


Saturday, April 11, 10am-1pm – SCIENCE FESTIVAL: Frontier Regional CFCE is hosting a Free STEM Science Festival at Sunderland Elementary School on April 11. There will be a bunch of fun, hands-on science activities for kids ages 12 and under, as well as small animals, an ambulance tour, and a lesson on fire safety. 413-665-8928. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 16, 4pm-5pm – STEM PROGRAM: Kids ages 6 and older are invited to come to the Greenfield Public Library for this month’s session of “Fun with Science,” an activity using science in a craft or experiment, with educator Corissa Tripp. This free program is made possible by the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library. This community-based STEM program happens on the third Thursday of each month through June 2015. 413-772-1544 x5. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)


Wednesday, April 15, 10am – CHILDREN’S PERFORMANCE: The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center presents a performance of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites, by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Kids in preschool through grade 3 will enjoy this performance, which brings Carle’s classic stories to life. Call for more information on this and other school-time field trip performances at Mahaiwe. 413-644-9040 x105. 14 Castle Street. Great Barrington, MA. (>$)

Literary Arts

Saturday, April 11, 10am-8pm – BOOKFEST: Easthampton City Arts+ presents BookFest on April 11. There will be a community read, workshops, author readings, performances, events, marketplaces, and more at this event, which highlights the literary culture of the Pioneer Valley. In conjunction with BookFest, Pioneer Valley Zine Fest will take place at Flywheel. These wonderful book-related events take place around Easthampton all day, and there is something for all book lovers to enjoy! Easthampton, MA.

Saturday, April 11, 4pm – MIDDLE GRADE MASH UP: The Odyssey Bookshop’s Middle Grade Mash Up is a super fun event for middle grade readers (ages 7-12) taking place on April 11. Come enjoy and learn about four new middle grade books about baseball, record-breaking, witches, and cooking. Check out the Odyssey Books website for more info on the books. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street. South Hadley, MA.

Nature Studies

Saturday, April 11, 11am-12:30pm – AUTHOR TALK/NATURE STUDIES: Students in elementary and middle school can learn about non-fiction writing, nature, and women in science at the Meekins Library (2 Williams Street, Williamstown, MA) on April 11 from 11am-12:30pm at a program with author Jeannine Atkins. She will read from her book, Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists, which is about female naturalists, including Maria Sibylla Merian, Anna Botsford Comstock, Fran Hamerstrom, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, and Miriam Rothschild. The achievements of women in science are often overshadowed by the work of male scientists, and this book brings some much-deserved attention to these naturalists. Atkins will discuss her writing style and how she uncovers stories about real people for her non-fiction books. Following the talk, the Hilltown Land Trust will lead a hike up Petticoat Hill. This talk is geared towards students in elementary and middle school. 413-628-4485 x2. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Sustainable Agriculture

Sunday, April 12, 2pm-4pm: EXPO: Many people today are overwhelmed by the wide array of food options we now have to make as consumers every time we eat a meal. Local? Organic? Free-range? Gluten free? Non-GMO? Vegetarian? Vegan? It can be hard to understand all of the labels, what sustainable means for you and your family, and how to determine what the right choice for you is. If you want to learn more and engage in welcoming, non-judgmental, community discussions, head to the Sustainable Agriculture Expo! The event is being hosted by the UMass Sustainable Food & Farming students of UMass Amherst, the League of Women Voters, and the Green Sanctuary. The event will feature activities for children, informational tables, samples of locally grown and prepared snacks, and a raffle with goods donated by local farms and vendors. A wide range of topics will be covered at the Expo including soil health, legislation, local food, food justice, and methods for sustainable agriculture. Each topic will have its own table with visual aids, information for you to take with you and discuss or share with friends and family, and students from the Sustainable Food and Farming to discuss the topics more in depth. 203-617-7292. The expo will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, 121 N Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (Free to attend and family friendly).


Saturday, April 11, DUSK – ASTRONOMY: Want to learn about astronomy first-hand? Join the Trustees of Reservations and the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center for an evening of stargazing and searching for moons, planets, galaxies, and more at Notchview! Please call to pre-register. 413-532-1631 x10. Route 9. Windsor, MA. (FREE)

Parent Workshops

Sunday, April 12, 1pm-4pm – PARENT WORKSHOP: Mass Audubon is offering a program for parents and educators on “Teaching Nature to Young Children.” Learn how you can help your children or students (ages 3-10) engage with the natural world and learn some great outdoor activities for doing so. Call to pre-register. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Tuesday, April 14, 7pm – PARENT WORKSHOP: Bay Path University is hosting a workshop for parents of high school juniors, titled “Helping Your Child Find the Right College,” on April 14. Susan Schatz, the founder of Schatz College Consulting, and Stephanie King and Dawn Bryden of Bay Path University will present this free workshop which focuses on identifying how your child learns best and what they are hoping to achieve from their college experience. Time will also be spent discussing financial aid and scholarships and how these factor into choosing a college. Pre-registration is recommended. Takes place in Breck Suite in Wright Hall on the Bay Path campus. 413-565-1066. 588 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Survival Skills

Tuesday, April 14, 3:30pm – SURVIVAL SKILLS: Learn some basic survival skills with naturalist Matt from Animal World Experience at the Westhampton Public Library. Ages 10 and up can learn about shelter construction, water purification, camouflage, building fires, and creating snares. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

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

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