45 Community Highlights: Swordsmanship to Sheep Shearing. Sunspots to Dinosaur Valley.

See sheep shearing demonstrations at Hancock Shaker Village on April 25 and 26. Visitors can see the Village’s Merino sheep get rid of their winter coats, and there will be hands-on textile demonstrations. 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Historical Swordsmanship to Sheep Shearing. Gospel Choir to Leonardo da Vinci. Sunspots to Dinosaur Valley… 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: Looking for a great way to celebrate Earth month with the whole family? Head to the 6th Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival on Saturday, April 25, 10am-4pm! You can learn more about home energy savings, renewable energy options, Arbor Day, permaculture, and waste footprint reduction. There will also be “How To” workshops on tree care, composting, bee keeping, growing mushrooms, and fermenting vegetables. While you’re learning, enjoy live entertainment throughout the day from local musicians. Or, take a break to pet the animals! The Goat Girls booth will have live goats and there will be draft horses from the Bluestar Equiculture booth. Kids can also have their faces painted, watch live juggling, and participate in tree identification activities. Feel free to bring pellet bags, large Styrofoam, and unwanted linens, rags, and clothes for recycling when you come! Amherst Town Common. Amherst, MA. (Free to attend).

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!


GeologyService-Based LearningVernal PoolsOrnithologyHistoryHilltown HighlightsEco-CelebrationsSheep ShearingPlant StudiesCulinary ArtsPreschool HighlightsMusic StudiesAstronomyLocal HistoryArt HistoryEntomologyParent Workshops


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

Geology

Saturday, April 25, 1pm-4pm – DINOSAUR VALLEY: The Pioneer Valley is known for its long and fascinating geologic history. From dinosaur tracks to glacial potholes, the Valley shows evidence of millions of years of climatic and geologic change. Join Richard Little and the Pioneer Valley Institute for “Exploring Dinosaur Valley: Best Place in the World to Study Geology” on April 25 from 1pm-4pm. Professor Little will take you through the Triassic and Jurassic Periods by showing examples of continental drift, dinosaurs, lava flows, and a place where armored mud balls were formed. This free tour takes you along Route 2 to some of the coolest geological sites in Franklin County. Students who want to learn more about the Valley’s distant past can come with questions about geology, dinosaurs, and climate. The tour gives a well-rounded view of what the Valley was like millions of years ago. Meet in Greenfield Community College Rock Park (1 College Drive, Greenfield, MA) and carpool from there. Call PVI at 413-527-8536 for more information. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Service-Based Learning

Saturday, April 25, 9am-12noon – MT. GREYLOCK STATE RESERVATION: As part of Massachusetts DCR’s Park Serve Day, ages 8 and up can volunteer to clean up Mt. Greylock State Reservation. Volunteers will do general cleanup and remove invasive plants. Please register in advance. 413-499-4263. 30 Rockwell Road. Lanesborough, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, April 25, 9am-12noon – MASS AUDUBON: Mass Audubon’s Statewide Volunteer Day is on April 25! This is a great opportunity for families to volunteer together and spend time in nature. See the Mass Audubon website for info on where to volunteer, as well as registration information. Western MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, April 25, 9am-1pm – MASS AUDUBON: Join Mass Audubon in cleaning up Canoe Meadows for Statewide Volunteer Day! Volunteers will work to clear invasive shrubs from the grassland habitat, which is a strenuous task. Following the work day, volunteers can attend a naturalist-led presentation and pizza. Register in advance. 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, April 25, 10am-12noon – NORWOTTUCK RAIL TRAIL: As part of Massachusetts DCR’s Park Serve Day, ages 8 and up can volunteer to spruce up the Norwottuck Rail Trail. Volunteers will plant native species and add mulch. Meet in parking lot behind Mountain Farms Mall. Please register in advance. 413-586-8706. Route 9. Hadley, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, April 25, 10am-1pm – RED GATE FARM: Help Red Gate Farm do some spring cleaning on April 25! Come to the farm to clean barns, load tractors, move fencing, set up tents, care for lambs, and much more. This is a great chance for students to engage in community service and learn about farm work. Complimentary lunch provided. 413-625-9503. 4 Norman Road. Buckland, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, April 25, 10am-3pm – D.A.R. STATE FOREST: As part of Massachusetts DCR’s Park Serve Day, ages 8 and up can volunteer to clean up the D.A.R. State Forest. Volunteers will do general cleanup, build picnic tables, rake, paint, and more. Please register in advance. 413-268-7098. 78 Cape Street. Goshen, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Vernal Pools

Saturday, April 25, 10am-12:30pm – VERNAL POOLS: Learn about vernal pools with The Trustees of Reservations at Mount Warner. Explore the vernal pool, look for salamanders and other creatures, and learn why vernal pools are important. 413-532-1631 x10. Mount Warner Road. North Hadley, MA. (>$)

Thursday, April 30, 5:30pm-7:30pm – SALAMANDERS: Explore Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and search for salamanders on April 30. Ages 5 and up can attend this program to learn about salamanders, where they live, their life cycles, and more. Search for salamanders under logs and stones and have fun counting how many you can find! Register in advance. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. ($)

Ornithology

Saturday, April 25, 7am-10am – BIRD WALK: Explore the Greenfield Community Farm and search for birds on an Early Spring Bird Walk. Learn about migratory birds, bird habitats, nesting cycles, and more at this fun and exciting walk. Bring binoculars if you have them. 413-325-8969. 34 Glenbrook Drive, Apt 1B. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 25, 1pm-3pm – BIRDS OF PREY: Learn about amazing birds of prey with raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi and The Trustees of Reservations at Bullitt Reservation (Bullitt Road, Ashfield, MA) on April 25 from 1pm-3pm. Ricardi will share stories and knowledge about fascinating birds of prey that are native to New England, like hawks, owls, and eagles. Students who want to learn more about these amazing creatures can attend Ricardi’s program to learn about and meet these birds. Once you know what these birds look like and what habitats they live in, you can search the skies looking for them! Birds of prey programs are great for the whole family. Kids ages 12 and under get in free. Cost is $. Call 413-532-1631 x10 for more information. Bullitt Road. Ashfield, MA. ($)

Saturday, April 25, 1:30pm – OWLS: Raptor rehabilitator Julie Ann Collier will present “Eyes on Owls” at the Springfield Armory on April 25. Come see and learn about six different North American owls and how they use their powers of sight, hearing, and flight to survive. 413-271-8551. 1 Armory Square. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

History

Saturday, April 25, 9am-4pm – HISTORY OF SWORDSMANSHIP: The Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies‘ Historical Swordsmanship Symposium takes place April 25. There will be demonstrations as well as opportunities to learn about the history of swordsmanship. Best for older students. Call to register by April 24. 413-577-3600. 650 East Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA.

Hilltown Highlights

Saturday, April 25, 10am – MUSIC: Young children and their families can attend a music program with Lui Collins at the Chesterfield Community Center on April 25. Come have fun with music at this intergenerational program! Chesterfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 25, 11am-2pm – STEAM: Kids ages 5-11 can visit the Meekins Library for a STEAM craft activity – all about birds! Come learn about birds, make nests, enjoy a story, and listen to bird calls. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 1, 6pm – COMMUNITY MEAL: The First Congregational Church of Williamsburg is hosting a community meal to benefit the Cancer Connection. Come at 6pm for a meatloaf dinner, soup, and dessert ($). There will be a choral and acappella concert at 7pm (>$ or included with dinner). 413-268-7557. 4 North Main Street. Williamsburg, MA.

Eco-Celebrations

Saturday, April 25, 10am-1:30pm – EARTH DAY CELEBRATION: Celebrate Earth Day at West Springfield’s Earth Day Celebration on April 25 on the Town Common. There will be representatives from local environmental groups, recycling services, environmentally-friendly vendors, kids’ activities, face painting, a book swap, bike swap, and more. A chance for the whole community to celebrate Earth Day together! Rain location is West Springfield Senior Center (128 Park Street). 413-244-1389. Park Street. West Springfield, MA.

Saturday, April 25, 10am-4pm – SUSTAINABILITY FESTIVAL: Looking for a great way to celebrate Earth month with the whole family? Head to the 6th Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival! You can learn more about home energy savings, renewable energy options, Arbor Day, permaculture, and waste footprint reduction. There will also be “How To” workshops on tree care, composting, bee keeping, growing mushrooms, and fermenting vegetables. While you’re learning, enjoy live entertainment throughout the day from local musicians. Or, take a break to pet the animals! The Goat Girls booth will have live goats and there will be draft horses from the Bluestar Equiculture booth. Kids can also have their faces painted, watch live juggling, and participate in tree identification activities. Feel free to bring pellet bags, large Styrofoam, and unwanted linens, rags, and clothes for recycling when you come! Amherst Town Common. Amherst, MA. (Free to attend).

Sheep & Wool

Saturday, April 25, 10am-4pm; Sunday, April 26, 10am-4pm – SHEEP SHEARING: See sheep shearing demonstrations at Hancock Shaker Village on April 25 and 26. Visitors can see the Village’s Merino sheep get rid of their winter coats, and there will be hands-on textile demonstrations. 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Plant Studies

Saturday, April 25, 10am – INVASIVE SPECIES: Learn about invasive plants at Sheep Hill on April 25 with Williams College Professor Hank Art and Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation Director Leslie Reed-Evans. Participants will learn how to identify and control non-native invasive plants to prevent them from taking over natural areas and threatening native species. Call WRLF for more information. 413-458-2494. 671 Cold Spring Road. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 25, 10am-12noon – SPRING WILDFLOWERS: Learn about spring wildflowers with The Trustees of Reservations at Bartholomew’s Cobble. Families can attend this guided walk to learn how to identify spring ephemerals and protect them. Call to pre-register. 413-229-8600. 105 Weatogue Road. Sheffield, MA. ($)

Sunday, April 26, 10am-2pm – TREE IDENTIFICATION: Learn how to identify trees solely by their bark with the Pioneer Valley Institute at a tree identification workshop at Poet’s Seat. Discover the characteristic bark of trees growing in different habitats and how to tell them apart. Best for older students interested in plants and nature. 413-775-1671. Sanderson Road. Greenfield, MA. (>$)

Culinary Arts

Saturday, April 25, 10:30am – SPRING COOKING: Kids Can Cook! Spring Veggie Dumplings at Berkshire Co-op Market. Learn how to make dumplings using ramps, spring greens, asparagus, and homemade dough. Please sign up at the front desk to attend or call. 413-528-9697. 42 Bridge Street. Great Barrington, MA.

Preschool Highlights

Saturday, April 25, 10am-11am – NATURE STUDIES: It’s never too early to get your child interested in nature and the outdoors – parents/caregivers of children toddler-aged and younger can join Mass Audubon for their “First Child in the Woods” infant/toddler walk at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Come prepared to have fun outdoors, learn about nature, and meet other kids and caregivers. This is a great way to get your young child introduced to nature! Call to register. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Saturday, April 25, 11am – STEM/NATURE STUDIES: The Gaylord Memorial Library is offering a new science, nature, math, and technology series for kids ages 2-5 – “Float Your Boat.” Come learn about reptiles and amphibians on April 25. Registration is required. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 25, 2pm – STORYTIME: Join the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for a special storytime with author Paul Czajak and illustrators The Brothers Hilts. They will read from their new book, Seaver the Weaver, and will do an illustration demonstration. There will also be a book signing. Free with museum admission. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. ($)

Sunday, April 26, 10am-11:30am – PLAYGROUP: The Community Network for Children is hosting Family Play Time at Erving Elementary School! Kids ages 8 and under and their parents/caregivers can attend this fun group for parachutes, Duplos, friends, and playgroup activities. 978-544-5157. 28 Northfield Road. Erving, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 1, 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.

Music Studies

Saturday, April 25, 10:30am-11:30am – INSTRUMENT PETTING ZOO: The Springfield Syphony Orchestra will be at the Storrs Library on April 25 with their musical instrument petting zoo! Kids in kindergarten and up can come learn about the instruments and then get a chance to try them out! This is a great chance to introduce young kids to musical instruments. Call to sign up. 413-565-4182. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 25, 1pm – SING-ALONG: Sarah Mitchel will perform “Combination of Old-Time, Irish, World, and Classical Music: Sing-Along” on the fiddle at the Holyoke Public Library. Students interested in music will like the performance. 413-420-8101. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 25, 7pm – GOSPEL CHOIR: The Williams Gospel Choir will perform in Chapin Hall on April 25. Students interested in music and singing will enjoy this uplifting performance. 413-597-3131. 62 Chapin Hall Drive. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, April 26, 1pm & 4pm – PIANO: The winners of the Young Artist Piano Competition will perform at Westfield State University’s Dever Stage on April 26 at 1pm and 4pm. Come see these talented young pianists perform live! 413-572-5356. 577 Western Avenue. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, April 26, 3pm – GUITAR & FLUTE: The Westfield State University Guitar and Flute Ensemble will perform at the Second Congregational Church. Come see these talented students perform live! 413-572-5356. 487 Western Avenue. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Astronomy

Saturday, April 25, 1pm-4pm – SUN VIEWING: Learn about astronomy at the Springfield Museums’ annual Astronomy Day! Come to the Science Museum for safe sunspot viewing, observatory tours, presentations, planetarium shows (>$), and more. Free with museum admission. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Friday, May 1, 7:30pm – EVENING VIEWING: Join the Springfield Museums for “Stars Over Springfield,” an introductory astronomy talk and star viewing at the Science Museum’s observatory. The event is recommended for kids 8 and up, but younger children are welcome. If it is cloudy or rainy, a planetarium show will be presented in place of the live star viewing. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

Local History

Saturday, April 25, 1pm – PLAINFIELD LANDSCAPE: Discover the hidden history of Plainfield at the Plainfield Historical Society‘s series of programs, “Hidden Walls, Hidden Mills: Exploring the Plainfield Landscape,” beginning on April 25 at 1pm with a tour of the Plainfield Aqueduct Company. Learn about Plainfield’s history and the history of the Aqueduct Company, which was started in 1816 to meet the growing demand for water in Plainfield. The tour and talk will teach older students and adults about Plainfield’s history, the historical landscape, and important industries of the past. The series continues on June 7, July 12, August 16, and October 10. Meet behind Shaw Memorial Library (304/312 Main Street, Plainfield, MA) and call 413-634-2250 for more information. Plainfield, MA.

Saturday, April 25, 2pm – THREE COUNTY FAIR: Did you know that the annual Three County Fair is the oldest continuing agricultural fair in the country? The fair, which began in 1817, is celebrating its 200th anniversary in two years. General Manager Bruce Shallcross will discuss the history of the fair and its upcoming bicentennial at Historic Northampton on April 25 at 2pm. In this free talk, Shallcross will speak about the changes the fair has gone through in the past 198 years, as well as what we can expect for the future. The fair has changed significantly since 1817, and certain activities and events that were once popular aren’t anymore, such as horse racing. Why do you think that is? What do you think is the most popular attraction at the fair today? Older students will love discovering the history of this exciting annual event. Call Historic Northampton at 413-584-6011 for more information. Historic Northampton is located at 46 Bridge Street in Northampton, MA. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, April 26, 2pm-3pm – GRAVESTONE ART: Learn about the history of gravestone art in the Pioneer Valley at the Westhampton Public Library on April 26. Al McKee will present on gravestone carvers and art of the past. Older students interested in local history would enjoy the presentation. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Art History

Saturday, April 25, 7pm – LEONARDO DA VINCI: The Pioneer Valley Muse Group presents “Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ Revealed” at The Hartsbrook School on April 25. Andrew Linnell will present this talk, which is an artistic investigation of da Vinci’s famous painting. Older students interested in art history will enjoy this presentation. 413-992-8585. 193 Bay Road. Hadley, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION $)

Entomology

Sunday, April 26, 1pm – BEES: As part of Amherst Bee Week, UMass Instructor Jarrod Fowler will lead a tour of the UMass Pollinator Garden at the Agricultural Learning Center. Come learn about the importance of pollinators and the work being done at the UMass Pollinator Garden at this engaging tour. 911 North Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA.

Parent Workshops

Tuesday, April 28, 3:30pm-5pm: Parents can attend “Playing, Learning, and Growing,” a four-week workshop series for parents held by the Family Resource Center. Learn about the importance of play, brain building, child development, and STEM in this series. Workshops run April 28, May 5, 12, and 15 at the Haskins Center. 413-664-4821. 210 State Street. North Adams, MA.

Tuesday, April 28, 5:15-7pm: Parent Workshop on Montessori: What is a Montessori education? What is the Montessori difference? The Montessori School of Northampton is offering a free workshop for parents at the school with Elizabeth Slade, Montessori consultant, trainer and teacher, to answer these questions. 413-586-4538 . 51 Bates Street. Northampton, MA (FREE)

Thursday, April 30, 9am-10:30am: The Hampshire Regional CFCE is offering a Parent Cafe on April 30, May 7, and May 14 at Westhampton Elementary School. Parents can attend this free cafe to meet and talk with other parents. Childcare provided. Call to register. 413-570-3061. 37 Kings Highway. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 30, 5:30pm-7pm: The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a First Steps to Reading workshop for parents/caregivers and their children (kindergarten age). Attend this workshop to help your child grow into reading, through talking, playing, sharing books, and singing together. The workshop takes place at the West Street School in Granby and runs on April 30, May 7, 14, and 21. Light supper provided. Call to register. 413-586-4900 x5568. 14 West Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 30, 7pm: Parents can attend a Northampton Prevention Coalition workshop at Northampton High School’s Little Theatre on April 30. “Youth Marijuana Use: What’s the Big Deal?” with Rick Cresta will focus on useful strategies for talking with youth about marijuana use and its consequences, and how to engage in non-judgmental conversations without increasing defensiveness. Call for childcare information. 413-587-1366. 380 Elm Street. Northampton, MA.


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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