Learning Ahead: December 14th-18th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 9 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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Berkshire County

Wednesday, December 16, 10am-4pm
Ventfort Hall, a Gilded-Age “cottage,” will be decorated for the holidays throughout the month of December. Built in 1893 for Sarah Morgan, the sister of J.P. Morgan, this Jacobean Revival-style mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street, Lenox, MA. ($$)

Franklin County

Tuesday, December 15, 6pm-7pm
Free All-Ages Chess Club at the Sunderland Public Library starts from square one, so beginners and more advanced players are all welcome. Club leader Andy Morris-Friedman will guide you as you learn how to play the game, use different techniques and strategies, and use all of your pieces to your best advantage. The club will study famous games and will help you discover new ways to improve your play. Chess is one of the great classic games of the world. It teaches sportsmanship and cooperation, builds confidence, and exercises your brain. Children in third grade or below must be accompanied by an adult. 413-665 2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, December 15m, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Relax and let your right brain take over for a while at “Come Color with Us!” at the Cushman Library. Coloring can be a mindful activity, where you focus on doing one thing and let other responsibilities fall away for a bit. It also brings us back emotionally to our childhood, which was a simpler time. For adults and teens. Coloring pages, with varying detail and subject matter, and colored pencils provided. Come for some or all of the time. 413-648-5402. 28 Church Street, Bernardston, MA. (FREE)

Friday, December 18, 7pm
To “grok” is to understand something intuitively. Artspace presents “Grok This Art,” an exhibition by visual arts students at Greenfield Community College. In case you still have questions, you can join the artists for discussion of the works in the showcase, which runs through December 30. 413-772-6811. 15 Mill Street, Greenfield, MA.

Hampshire County

Monday, December 14, 7pm
Join Nerd Nite NoHo for “Virtual Reality and RPGs — Not Just for Nerds!” at Union Station Banquets. Pat King, owner of Northampton game studio Woodpenny will discuss his partnership with Singer/Songwriter Ben Sollee to create a Virtual Reality animated music video app called The Vanishing Point. Game Designer Hannah Shaffer will talk about roleplaying as an extension of the human need to share stories and its importance to adults. 125 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA. (<$)

Tuesday, December 15, 4-5pm
Come to the Jones Library to assemble color-coded circuit boards and create sophisticated electronics in the littleBits™ Building Club. Ages 8 and up. 413-259-3090. Crafts Room, 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Monday, December 14, 8am-8pm
Do you know a child interested in playing the piccolo, oboe, or clarinet? He or she can try these and more wind instruments for free at the Community Music School during the whole month of December. Music lessons improve academic, physical, and social skills and develop discipline and self-esteem. Call to schedule a free trial lesson. 413-732-8428. 127 State Street, Springfield, MA, (FREE)

Thursday, December 17, 12:15pm-1:15pm
Christians sing about it every year: “O Star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy Perfect Light.” But was the star that led the Three Kings to Bethlehem real? For this month’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, join Richard Sanderson and Jack Megas in the Seymour Planetarium to explore the mystery. Feel free to bring a lunch to enjoy. 413-263-6488. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA. (<$)

Thursday, December 17, 2pm
President Calvin Coolidge began the tradition of the outdoor National Christmas Tree when he lit a balsam fir from Vermont on the White House grounds on Christmas Eve, 1923. Learn more about the Coolidge White House during the holiday season at Cookies with a Curator at Forbes Library. Archivist Julie Bartlett Nelson will lead an informal conversation in the Coolidge Museum. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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