33 Community Highlights: Blueberries to Beavers. Croquet to Mandolin.

PYO BLUEBERRIES: Picking summertime berries is a part of many families’ summer traditions; an authentic way for kids to learn where their food comes from! If organic blueberries are next on your list, Summit Farm in the heart of the Hilltowns is the place for you!  Call beforehand to ensure that conditions are good for picking. 413-634-5024. 131 Summit Street, Plainfield, MA. ($)

Blueberries to Beavers. Croquet to Mandolin. Meteorology to Astronomy…. 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: Flywheel Arts Collective and Hilltown Families are partnering to host a first-ever outdoor summer block party for kids on Saturday, August 8 from 10am-12pm! Bring some friends and get ready to meet plenty of new families, too, as we all gather to dance, eat, play, and enjoy fabulous entertainment by the Robbins-Zust Marionettes. DJ Youthelectronix will provide the music, a mix skillfully selected to be enjoyable to both children and adults. This fundraiser, which will support both organizations, will be run with a “pay what you can” admission. Rain location: Flywheel, 43 Main Street, Easthampton, MA. 413-527-9800. Millside Park, Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA. (DONATION)

Nature-Based LearningOrnithologyLocal HistoryService-Based LearningMagicSport HistoryMusic StudiesSTEMCommunity CelebrationsAstronomyLocal FoodNature MedicineOutdoor Music & TheaterIndoor Theater

Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:

Nature-Based Learning

Saturday, August 8. 10am-12pm — NATIVE FAUNA & NATURALIST SKILLS Kids who have fun in nature often report positive feelings about and actions towards the Earth– qualities that are essential to develop as we raise responsible stewards of this planet! On its Family Fun Day, Project Native invites families to come out to the farm for a fun-filled morning of making seed balls, going on bug safaris, exploring nature up close, and more. Rain date: Sunday, August 9. 413-274-3433. 342 North Plain Road, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 8. 10:30am-11:30am — GUIDED WALK Learning to identify plants and animals builds essential thinking skills and a sense of pride in and respect for our natural environment. Explore the canal-side rail trail with a DCR park interpreter from the Great Falls Discovery Center and learn how to use a field guide and binoculars! All ages are welcome and must be accompanied by an adult. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 12. 6:30pm-8:30pm — BEAVERS From afar, a beaver dam looks like a big pile of sticks, but a closer examination reveals careful construction and cool inner architecture! Through the creation of dams, beavers have had profound effects on plant, animal, and microbial communities across the country. Learn more about our country’s largest rodent and their relationship within our ecosystem at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, a Mass Audubon property. Wear long pants, long sleeves, and a hat, and bring binoculars if you have them. Suitable for children 3-12 years old. 413-637-0320. 472 W Mountain Road, Lenox, MA. (< $)

Friday, August 14. 11am —TROPICAL RAINFOREST We may live far from tropical rainforests, but these ecosystems have profound effects on our daily lives and overall health. Many are struggling due to oil extraction and climate change-related effects, and their animal populations are facing challenges, too. Learn about some of the creatures who call tropical rainforests home when Rick Roth, the Creature Teacher, brings his animal friends to the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Meet a coatimundi, peccary, macaw, kinkajou, and others, and find new ways to appreciate Earth’s biodiversity. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($; FREE for children under 12)


Saturday, August 8. 10am — BIRD MIGRATION/FILM STUDIES Amherst Cinema‘s Family Films Series has an animal theme for the month of August! This week’s film is Winged Migration (G, 2001). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary focuses on the migratory patterns of birds across all seven continents… and is stunning in it’s cinematography! Innovative filming techniques enable viewers to feel as though they are flying along with the birds! Learn about birds in flight from a literal birds-eye view! 413-253-2547 x 6. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (< $)

Local History

Saturday, August 8. 10am — GUIDED WALK Families can explore and make local connections to important moments in national history by participating in walking tours of Florence, offered by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee. Held monthly, tours weave stories together with exploration of local landmarks and the history of the Underground Railroad to make for a community-based educational exploration of history. The walks begin at the Sojourner Truth statue and will last about 1.5 hours. Park & Pine Streets, Florence, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 9. 1pm-4pm —SCHOOLHOUSE MUSEUM Historic one room school houses are full of magic. They transport you to another era, and invite you to imagine the scenes that took place within their walls years ago. Thanks to the Huntington Historical Society‘s open house, folks are invited to visit the Norwich Bridge Schoolhouse Museum where they may explore primary source collections of books, documents, maps, artifacts, and clothing from yesteryear. Come curious, ask questions, and get a historical taste of a school day in the Hilltowns. Refreshments will be served as well. 413-667-3453. Corner of Worthington and Littleville Roads, Huntington, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 9. 2pm-4pm — CIGAR FACTORY The Charles Gillet Cigar Factory, built in 1892, is the last surviving building of its kind in the valley. It is one of two museums operated by the Southwick Historical Society, and provides visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about a manufacturing process that was important in our region in another era. The Southwick Historical Society also runs the Joseph Moore House, a structure that was built in 1751 by Joseph Moore, who lost his life in the Revolutionary War. Visit both of these museums at an open house this summer or fall, and savor the interesting artifacts and ephemera they hold while touring with a docent! Open house dates: 7/26, 8/9, 8/23, 9/13, 9/27, 10/11, and 10/25. 413-569-0275. 86 College Highway, Southwick, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 9. 2pm-4pm — BUCKLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY OPEN HOUSE What better way to gain a sense of everyday life in the 18th century than to visit a variety of buildings from that time and examine the many artifacts housed within? The Buckland Historical Society‘s properties- a former school house, a furnished 1775 saltbox house, a 1779 English barn, and a shoemaker’s shop-are open to all during this special open house event. 413-625-9763. 20 Upper Street, Buckland Center, MA, and 129 Route 112, Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Service-Based Learning

Saturday, August 8. (TBA) — RIVER CLEAN-UP The Housatonic River (“beyond the mountain place” in Mohican) is a lovely stretch of water for boating, and used to be a wonderful place to fish, as well as to observe native plants and animals. The river is rebounding from intense pollution, and continues to need human intervention to return to a healthy state. Meet up with members of the Housatonic Valley Association to help clean up the West Branch of the river by gathering trash along its banks and shores. Trash bags, work gloves, and drinking water will be provided, and all volunteers can partake of breakfast treats from Panera and lunch from BlueQ! Wear old shoes or muck boots, and bring a water bottle, sunscreen, and hat. 413-394-9796. West Branch of the Housatonic River, Pittsfield, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, August 8. 2pm-4:30pm — INVASIVE SPECIES/RIVER ECOLOGY Water chestnut is an invasive plant that is choking up local waterways and wreaking havoc on native plants and animals. Join folks from the Connecticut River Watershed Council to get out and remove these plants! There are many plants to pull out, but they come out easily. Many hands make light work! Anyone interested in this type of work is invited to contact the Council for additional dates and locations throughout the summer. Registration requested. 800-859-2960. Barton Cove, Gill, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 14. 10am-12pm — GARDENING/FOOD SECURITY Gardening allows you to connect with the Earth, and gardening with others allows you to build connections with folks in your community, too. Then there’s the satisfaction of helping grow food, and the improved understanding of the origins of our foods! Food for All Amherst offers several fabulous volunteer opportunities throughout the summer in which you and your children can help with planting, seeding, and weeding. Light refreshments provided. Mass Agricultural Learning Center, 911 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)


Wednesday, August 12. 11am — MAGIC SHOW Malik the Magic Guy brings his entertaining performance to the Agawam Cultural Council‘s KidsFest. Rain cancels. Come back this evening for a SummerFest concert featuring country music artists Mickey Guyton and Kelsea Ballerini! Veteran’s Green (corner of School Street & Main Street), Agawam, MA. (FREE)

Sport History

Saturday, August 8. 12pm-4pm — CROQUET When you think of an Olympic sport, perhaps downhill skiing, diving, or gymnastics comes to mind, but croquet? Yes! Croquet was once an Olympic sport, and it was exceptionally fashionable to play the game on private lawns throughout New England. Learn how to play croquet with the help of representatives from the U.S. Croquet Association at the Stockbridge Library‘s “Wicket Good Fun” afternoon. Equipment for children and adults will be provided. Visitors may also tour the Merwin House and learn about the sports they played. Croquet is free for all; those wearing all white get free house tours, too! 860-928-4074. 14 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA

Music Studies

Saturday, August 8. 11am-10pm — JAZZ, GOSPEL, BLUES & FUNK Enjoy time with your community in the midst of excellent music and many local offerings at the second annual Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival. Presented by Blues to Green, this festival runs throughout the day, entertaining guests with live jazz, gospel, blues, funk, and more! Itl will also feature many local food vendors, dance and theatre performances by local artists, arts and crafts created by area artisans, and music workshops. Listen, learn, and link up with folks throughout the community! 413-219-8229. Court Square (Court Street & City Hall Plaza), Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 8. 1pm-7pm — MIXED GENRES Local musicians will perform all afternoon at the first annual Shelburne Falls Music Fest, Flying Feet and Tapping Toes! There will be many types of music, from jazz to country to folk, and local restaurants and shops will have special offers throughout the day. The Bridge of Flowers Road Race takes place on the morning of the festival, making a perfect pairing of events to celebrate and enjoy with your community! 413-625-2526. Stage on Deerfield Avenue, Shelburne Falls, MA. (DONATION)

Sunday, August 9. 2:30pm — MANDOLIN You’ve likely heard a mandolin before, but few have encountered mandolas, mandocellos, and bass mandolins! Experience what an entire orchestra of mandolins sounds like at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum when the Springfield Mandolin Orchestra gives a special Sunday afternoon performance. The repertoire will include renaissance, baroque, and classical works. 413-584-4699. 130 River Drive, Hadley, MA. ($)

Tuesday, August 11. 6:30pm — UKULELE Is there someone in your family who has been wanting to learn the ukulele? Know a little but want a refresher? This instrument’s lilting sounds are hard to resist! Teens and adults are invited to the Storrs Library for a learn-to-play-the-ukulele workshop with Julieann Stepanek. Participants may bring their own ukuleles or borrow one at the session. Registration required. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 8. 11am – 1pm — KITCHEN SCIENCE When you quickly tap oobleck, a mixture of cornstarch and water, your finger strikes the surface and bounces right back up. Must be a solid! Then you tip over your dish of oobleck and it oozes across the kitchen table. Guess it’s a liquid? In fact, oobleck and other such substances are non-Newtonian fluids: a special type of matter that possesses some properties of both solids and liquids. Visit the Zoo in Forest Park today to make and explore a variety of oozy, gooey, wacky substances! 413-733-2251. 302 Sumner Avenue, Springfield, MA. (< $)

Saturday, August 8. 2pm — ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN/LEGOS Are LEGOs just toys, or are they something more? A LEGO Brickumentary, showing at Images Cinema, will wow all LEGO fans as it explores the history and creative uses of these iconic building bricks. Lots of LEGOs will be available to play with 30 minutes before the show, and a Q & A with Steven Miller, Williams College Math Professor and LEGO-building record-holder, will take place after the show. People are also encouraged to bring in gently-used LEGOs for the LEGO drive to benefit North Adams’ UNO Community Center. Donate LEGOs and receive free popcorn! 413-458-1039. 50 Spring Street, Williamstown, MA. (< $)

Monday, August 10. 2pm – 4pm — METEOROLOGY Appropos of the extremely snowy winter we had, the Boston Museum of Science is at the Sunderland Public Library today to host its hands-on workshop, “Blizzards: Outwit the Elements”! Participants will be given blizzard-related design challenges (e.g., save skiers from an avalanche, create a storm shelter) and an array of materials with which to create and test their solutions. Ages 5 and up. Preregistration recommended. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, August 11. 3pm – 4pm — ELECTRICITY/DESIGN Night lights and lanterns can bring peace to a child who does not like the dark, provide a centerpiece around which family and friends can gather, or help light the way on a nighttime backyard adventure! This week at the Odyssey Bookshop‘s Camp Odyssey Craft Camp, kids will create night lights or lanterns to use however they like. Ages 5 and up. Pre-registration required. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (< $)

Community Celebrations

Saturday, August 8. 12pm-5pm — WARE HERITAGE DAY Celebrate baseball and enjoy some old time fun at Ware Heritage Day! Kids can decorate strollers, doll carriages, and bikes for a parade and contest, and there will be plenty of old fashioned games for everyone to play. At 1pm, the baseball game between the Dirigo Ball club (Maine) and the Mudville Ball Club (Holliston, MA) begins, and later in the afternoon there will be a pick-up softball game. Vendor and food booths will be on site, too. 413-283-2418. Memorial Field, Ware, MA. (FREE; parking by DONATION)

Saturday, August 8. 5pm-8pm — ART WALK EASTHAMPTON Traffic calming aims to slow and/or reduce vehicle traffic to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. Speed bumps and narrow lanes are traditional traffic calming strategies, but Art Walk Easthampton has launched an innovative, art-focused approach. One component is “Elevate Art: Quilts on Stilts with a Slow Stitch Sit-Along.” At this event, people on stilts will parade on sidewalks and through crosswalks in downtown Easthampton. Handwork artists will accompany the stilt-walkers, creating art as they go! Witness this art phenomenon, and enjoy the calming pace and sense of intentionality it brings. Another component of the event will be a crosswalk-focused performance by StarHeart, a group focused on MOIOULA (Moments of Intentional or Unintentional Live Art). Hard to picture it? Experience it to find out what it’s all about! At this art walk, folks will also be able to meet artist Amy Johnquest, who will be transforming a city utility box into a work of art, enjoy music by the Well-Tempered Ukes, and much more! 413-529-1425. Downtown Easthampton, MA. (FREE)


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)

Local Food

Sunday, August 9. 8am-5pm — PYO BLUEBERRIES Picking summertime berries is a part of many families’ summer traditions. If organic blueberries are next on your list, Summit Farm is the place for you! Stop in any day of the week through September! Call beforehand to ensure that conditions are good for picking. 413-634-5024. 131 Summit Street, Plainfield, MA. ($)

Natural Medicine

Sunday, August 9. 12pm-3pm — FIRST AID/BOTANY Herbs have been used for centuries to treat wounds and speed healing. The Herbal First Aid class at Just Roots will help participants learn basic first aid skills for use in the home and in nature, including remedies for common injuries and conditions. Registration required. 413-325-8969. 34 Glenbrook Drive, Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Outdoor Music & Theater

Saturday, August 7. 7pm — C. S. LEWIS The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has captured the imagination of countless children and adults. Watch the story come alive with the magic, artistry, and athleticism of trapeze arts in the Hilltown Youth Theatre‘s presentation of this classic C. S. Lewis tale at the Academy at Charlemont. 413-339-4912. 1359 Route 2, Charlemont, MA. (DONATION)

Sunday, August 9, 6pm-8pm – LAWN CONCERT Coop Concerts Summer Concert Series takes place weekly at Greenfield Energy Park. Bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic dinner with family and friends while listening to exciting live music. 50 Miles Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 14. 5pm-8:30pm — SHAKESPEARE Look Park invites everyone to join them for a rousing performance of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Arrive at 5pm with a blanket to find a seat and mingle with the comedy’s characters. The performance starts at 6pm. 413-584-5457. 300 North Main Street, Florence, MA. (< $ per car for parking)

Friday, August 14. 7pm — SHAKESPEARE The Hampshire Shakespeare Company‘s talented young company (comprised of local youth ages 13-18) performs Romeo and Juliet at the Renaissance Center’s lovely outdoor performance space August 14-16. The box office will open at 6pm, and audience members are asked to arrive early to purchase tickets and find seats before 7pm. Chairs are provided and folks are welcome to bring blankets to sit on if they prefer. In the event of rain, performance will be moved indoors. 413-534-3789. 650 East Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. ($)

Indoor Theater

Monday, August 10. 10am/1pm/6:30pm; Tuesday, August 11. 10am & 1pm; Wednesday, August 12. 10am & 1pm — THE VELVETEEN RABBIT Good theatre can transport us to other places and times, and helps us develop new understandings of ourselves and others. Introduce your children to these joys of theatre through one of the Majestic Children’s Theatre performances this summer. This week features an adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit, a magical tale about toys who come to life when the lights are out. Reservations strongly recommended. 413-747-7797. 131 Elm Street, West Springfield, MA. (< $)

Thursday, August 13. 7pm; Friday, August 14. 7pm — MARY POPPINS Mary Poppins is full of magical moments you will remember from when you first saw the story on screen or stage. Share the story and songs of everyone’s favorite nanny with the children in your life at the Berkshire Theatre Group‘s production of Mary Poppins. This tenth annual production of the show will include over 100 talented Berkshire County natives in fabulously choreographed song and dance numbers! Runs August 13 – August 23. This performance is a preview before the opening night on Friday, August 14. 413-997-4444. Colonial Theatre, 111 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. ($-$$)

[Photo credit: (cc) Chuck Grimmett]

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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