51 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Herpetology to Carpentry. Community-Building to Cultural Studies.

Young science, nature, and art lovers are invited to the Meekins Library in Williamsburg on Saturday, February 27  to learn about the species of plant life which thrive in winter. Learn to identify moss, lichen, and fungi on a free guided winter walk!

Family Concert to Folk Sing-Along. Hula Hoop to Fishing. Bluebirds to Frogs. Shrek the Musical to Macbeth…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 highlights this week: Build a birdhouse! Birdhouses of all shapes make nice decorations, but if you want to attract specific birds, you need to consider what they are looking for in a home! Bluebird houses are relatively simple and easy to make. They are rectangular with a large roof, and involve protective measures for keeping snakes and other creatures out. Bluebirds were once on the verge of extinction, but efforts to protect and support their habitat and nesting preferences have helped the species bounce back. Learn more, and build your own bluebird house at Great Falls discovery center on Saturday, February 27, 10:30am. Registration is required. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Cultural StudiesJapanese FilmMorris DancingBotanyLanguage ArtsGraphic NovelsLitFestTheaterShakespeareAnimal StudiesCarpentryOrnithologyHerpetologyWinter SportsPhysicsSTEMArt StudiesSkillsharingPhotographyFishingMusic StudiesSing-AlongCommunity-BuildingNeurodiversityHistorySwordfightingParenting Support

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Cultural Studies

Saturday, February 27, 10am
Welcome to the Space Show is a family friendly movie, perfect for fans of anime and science fiction. In this film, a group of students go looking for their missing class pet and instead stumble upon a talking, alien dog. Watching this film provides a chance, particularly for fans of science fiction and animation, to compare American and Japanese films. Do both cultures have a similar approach to the making of kids’ movies? What are some universal emotions and experiences that are present in this film? Whether you and your kids are already fans of anime, or you want to explore the genre for the first time, this 2010 movie will give you a taste of modern Japanese cinema. This screening is part of a series of international children’s films playing Saturdays in February and March at Amherst Cinema. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (<$)

Saturday, February 10:30am-12:00pm
At “Our Big World Culture Fest,” your child can participate in hands-on activities to learn about other cultures. Education will take place through games, stories, art and music with other community members. This event can help foster in your children an understanding that in this country and across the world, people live differently, and yet share important similarities. To continue expanding your knowledge and appreciation of other cultures, consider attending some of the events shared in the “Music Studies” listing later in this post. Please call 413-664-4821 with any questions. Haskins Gym. 210 State Street. North Adams, MA (FREE)

Saturday, February 27, 6:30pm talk, 8pm performance
Dancing is one of the most intuitive and natural forms of exercise. Even babies will dance to the beat of songs on the radio. You can dance and learn about Creole culture at the UMass Fine Arts Center during the Creole Carnival. Musicians Emeline Michel and Bushy One String will talk about their music, their culture, and themselves. After the talk you will hear them in action. Emeline Michel’s performance will hopefully inspire her audiences to move, as she is an accomplished dancer as well as vocalist, songwriter and producer. Bushy One String’s music may prove that less is more, as he dazzles audiences on his one string guitar. 151 Presidents Dr. Amherst, MA. ($$. Five college, GCC, 17 and under <$)

Sunday, February 28, 1pm-2pm
Does your child love to play with sticks? Does s/he love to dance and be active? If so, the new Border Morris Team at Whately Elementary School could be a great activity to try! Border Morris dancing is a team dance style that incorporates coordinated movements of sticks into the dance routines. It originated along the Wales-England border and was an especially popular winter pastime. No experience is necessary! This class is intended for girls and boys ages 9-13. Participants should wear sneakers and comfortable clothes. 413-626-0163. 273 Long Plain Road, Whately, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, February 27, 10am-12pm
Want to grow your own vegetables or flowers this Spring? You can start prepping now. Meet local gardeners at the Gaylord Memorial library in South Hadley. The library is planning to open a seed lending library and wants your help, and input. Be a part of this growing community group while ideas are still being planted. The pioneer valley already has a rich seed saving culture. You can learn more about seed saving in this Hilltown Families post about self-sufficiency and nature based education through the act of saving seeds. There will be coffee, tea, and biscuits at this meeting. 413-538-5047. 47 College St, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, February 27, 11:30am-1:30pm
Science, nature, and art lovers are invited to the Meekins library to learn about the species of plant life which thrive in winter. A handout will be distributed to aid participants in learning to identify moss, lichen, and fungi on this winter walk. Susan Cornell will educate participants on the ways in which these plants affect us in our everyday lives. Meet at the Hayden room. Ages five and up and their caregivers. Children must be accompanied by an adult. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE).

Language Arts

Saturday, February 27, 10:30am
From Cat in the Hat to The Lorax to Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss’s books have enchanted generations of young readers. Celebrate the legendary author’s birthday with stories and skits at the Whately library. If you and your children want to learn more, plan a trip to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield. 413-665-2170. S. White Dickinson. Memorial Library, 202 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, March 1, 10am-11am
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), children who are regularly read to at home end up performing better on a number of tasks in school, including counting, writing, and learning the alphabet. Story hours allow parents to take a break and provide children with the chance to hear another reading voice. They are also a way to associate reading with fun, due to the social aspect of these events. Bring your children aged 3 and under to the Greenfield Public Library for a story hour involving rhymes, puppets and animal sounds. This structured activity will be followed by informal visiting time. 413-772-1544. 402 Main St, Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 2, 7pm
Three talented cartoonists will show and read from their works at this celebration of the art of graphic storytelling. Comic books were popularized in the United States during the 1930s. The term “graphic novel” emerged in the 1960s as a way of distinguishing the content of the two genres. But whether you are mainly a fan of picture books, comics, or graphic novels, they all share in common the ability to show and to tell, which draws in avid fans of all ages. At the Coolidge Museum in the Forbes Library older students can come hear readings from James Strum (author of Market Day), Tillie Walden (I Love This Part) and James Lawson (Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous). 413-587-1011. 20 West St, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, March 4, 9am-9pm
Join students and community members at Amherst College for the second day of LitFest. This full day of literature talks will kick off at the Frost Library with a quick yet in-depth discussion of the book business and the publishing industry. At 11:30, Deborah Treisman will discuss modern fiction. Treisman has worked as fiction editor for The New Yorker since 2003. Round out the day with a presentation from author Michael Chabon. This event is unique in that attendees will hear from multiple viewpoints about the craft of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Come to think about books from many angles. Open to the public. Quadrangle Drive, Amherst MA. (FREE)

Theater Arts

Sunday, February 28, 3pm
Take a trip to the London theater without even leaving the state! The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will screen a live performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, featuring Rosalie Craig as Rosalind. Shakespeare-lovers will have a new interpretation to wrestle with, as director Polly Findlay has reimagined costumes, set, and even the characters in her modern retelling. Shakespeare’s cultural commentary and a crossdressing, subversive female character take on new meaning in a modern light. 413-528-0100. 14 Castle St, Great Barrington, MA. ($$)

Friday, March 4, 10am-11:45am
Shakespeare has had one of the longest lasting impacts of any author. His plays from the 16th and 17th century are still performed regularly and are often required reading in high school. Even if his works fell out of popularity he would still have an enduring impact on the English language, since he invented hundreds of words we use every day including “amazement,” “hint,” “mimic,” “lonely,” “generous,” and “secure.” Hear some of Shakespeare’s words in action at the Tina Packer Playhouse performance of Macbeth. A post-show discussion will follow. 413-637-1199 x131. 70 Kemble Street. Lenox, MA. ($)

Thursday, March 3, 6pm (Show Schedule)
Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation Film, this show is a Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure. Featuring all new songs, Shrek The Musical brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage and proves there’s more to the story than meets the ears. Shrek is an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking Donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Throw in a short tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude, and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got yourself a hilariously entertaining show sure to delight audiences of all ages. Ultimately, through adventure and humor, Shrek The Musical teaches us that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. The show is presented by J-ART and performances will be held in the Herbert M. Goldstein Auditorium at the Jewish Community Center (JCC). 413-739-4715. 1160 Dickinson Street,Springfield, MA. ($$)

Friday, March 4, 7:30pm (Show Schedule)
Adapted from the beloved classic children’s tale by Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach follows the story of James, an orphan sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree. It’s there that James discovers a mysterious potion that results in a tremendous peach, launching audiences into a journey of enormous proportions! The show combines hilarious orchestrations and steampunk-style costumes with the magical sweetness of a young boy on a whirlwind adventure to find his chosen family. More than a theatrical performance about love and belonging, this event also offers families fun activities before and after the show. One hour before the performance, children have a chance to weave their own web, color in their favorite characters, and hear an abridged telling of Roald Dahl’s whimsical tale, allowing children an introduction to the story prior to seeing it come to life on stage. Show-related treats will be available and there will be a meet and greet with each character after the show. This is certain to be a fun-filled event for children and adults of all ages! Enter code “FamilyBundle” at checkout to receive discount. Performances will be held in the Mills Theatre at Bay Path University. 413-565-1307. 588 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. ($)

Animal Studies

Saturday, February 27, 10:30am
Build a birdhouse! Birdhouses of all shapes make nice decorations, but if you want to attract specific birds, you need to consider what they are looking for in a home! Bluebird houses are relatively simple and easy to make. They are rectangular with a large roof, and involve protective measures for keeping snakes and other creatures out. Bluebirds were once on the verge of extinction, but efforts to protect and support their habitat and nesting preferences have helped the species bounce back. Learn more, and build your own bluebird house at Great Falls discovery center. Registration is required. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Want to dive deeper? Check out this short video from National Geographic to learn about one man’s efforts to support bluebirds!

Sunday, February 28, 12:30pm-4:30pm
Meet a golden eagle, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, owl and more while learning about birds of prey at a special family event hosted by the JFK Middle School. Did you know that golden eagles are rate in the Northeast, but some do live here? Everyone is also invited to enjoy some time in the pool for fun and much-needed wintertime physical activity. Walk-ins are welcome at this event, but you can also register at the Northampton parks and recreation website. 100 Bridge Rd, Florence, MA. (<$)

Bird cams are a great way to learn more about different species! Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Cam site to peruse many live viewing options including great horned owls, barn owls, and hawks. The great horned owl eggs in Savannah, Georgia have just begun pipping, so it’s an exciting time to tune into that feed in particular!

Friday, March 4, 6pm-9pm
Come to the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary to learn how you and your family members can help amphibians. Experts will teach you how to identify and report the calls of local frogs and toads. Don’t wait until Spring to get outside! Find and explore the wetlands in your community. This program will be taught at a level best suited for adults and self-directed teens, but the talk will cover ways in which you can get your younger community members involved as well. Please register by calling 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Rd, Easthampton, MA. ($$)

Sports & Recreation

Saturday, February 27, 11am-3pm
People of all abilities can enjoy outdoor winter activities at Wendell State Forest. All Out Adventures will provide instruction, adaptive equipment, and assistance for accessible snowshoeing, kicksledding, sit cross-country skiing, sled skating, and snowmobile rides. Discover the thrill of playing in the snow! Pre-registration required. Dependent on snow/ice conditions. 413-584-2052. 392 Montague Road, Wendell, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, February 28, 10am-3pm
Enjoy winter while it lasts! You, your family and friends can start your Sundays off right with fresh air and exercise, followed by hot chocolate and conversation in the visitor’s center. With snowshoes available for rent (on a first come first serve basis) you don’t have to own your own or be experienced at using them. Challenge your body and mind by learning something new at Bartholomew’s Cobble. 105 Weatogue Road, Sheffield, MA. (Trustees Members FREE. Non Members <$)

Tuesday, March 1, 6:30pm registration, 7:30pm start time
In Nordic, or cross-country, skiing, the heel of the boot is not fixed to the ski as it is in alpine skiing, and the skis themselves are longer and narrower than downhill skis. Those interested in racing or watching Nordic ski racing can attend the Nordic Race Series at Notchview Nordic Ski Center. This informal race series is sponsored by the Berkshire Trail Nordic Ski Club. Throughout the season, there will be a mix of both classical and freestyle races, at both 5K and 10K distances. Participants will get a great workout and spectators can learn about Nordic race strategies and skiing techniques. 413-684-0148. Route 9, Windsor, MA. (<$ Members, $ Non-members)


Saturday, February 27, 6pm-9pm
Whether you’re a yo-yo expert or you just want to see how long you can last, you’re invited to enter the sixth annual yo-yo throwdown at Eastworks. People of all ages and ability levels can participate in the one minute freestyle contest! As this previous Hilltown Families post explains, the yo-yo is not only a fun toy, it demonstrates the principles of physics. This event is free for both participants and audience members. Revive a childhood pastime, work on your hand-eye coordination, and have a good time. 413-527-1000. 116 Pleasant St, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Watch a world-class yo-yo expert perform some amazing tricks!

Friday, March 4, 3:30pm
Minecraft, a game of increasing popularity among children, is a little like a digital version of LEGOs. In the game, players have to build any number of objects and architectural pieces out of blocks. When played in moderation, this game can have surprisingly positive effects on kids’ learning and motivation. Teachers have begun using this game to explain physical and mathematical concepts. The game requires complex planning, technological knowledge and even creativity. If you know a child who loves Minecraft, or one who would like to learn how to play, register for “Minecraft Club” at the Meetings take place in the Forbes Library Community Room. 413-587-1011. 20 West St, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, March 4, 5:30pm
Learn about ancient, medieval, renaissance, industrial and modern scientists while supporting the education of elementary school students. Full Circle School is hosting its annual History of Science and Technology Fair. Students in grades one through six will portray beloved scientists, teaching audiences about these scientists’ accomplishments through speeches, song, and dance. Local kids are sure to be inspired by this performance of learning through creative, fun performances. Parents and educators may walk away with their own ideas for learning about science with their kids. Full Circle School. 21 Parmenter Road, Bernardston, MA. (FREE)

Art Studies

Thursday, March 3, 3pm-5pm
The term “thumbnail sketch” simply refers to a small drawing on paper. Artists, especially storyboard artists and graphic designers, use thumbnail sketches for a number of reasons. Thumbnails are usually drawn quickly, without as much care as a large work. Drawing in this way is a little like brainstorming for ideas; it allows artists to explore various directions and creations before committing to a more involved piece. Fourth to eighth grade aspiring artists, and their caregivers, can create a thumbnail sketchbook and explore their own creative brainstorming process. While you’re in The Clark Art Institute, check out the collection and see how your own ideas compare. All children must be accompanied by an adult. 413-458-2303 225 South St, Williamstown, MA. ($. Children under 18 free)

Thursday, March 3, 5pm-7pm
As part of the Amherst Art Walk the Emily Dickinson Museum will be showcasing oil paintings, drawings, and sketches by local artist Nancy Meagher. Nancy Meagher draws inspiration from Emily Dickinson’s poetry when creating her artwork. The art exhibition will open at 5pm, followed by a poetry open mic from 6 to 7 (sign up at 5 to participate). Following the open mic there will be further readings by Lori Desrosiers, editor in chief of the Naugatuck River Review, and Nina Shallman, a student at Amherst College. Expand your knowledge of poetry with these modern readings, and reframe Emily Dickinson’s poetry in the context of the artwork she has inspired. 413-542-8161. 280 Main St, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Friday, March 4, 10:15am-11:15am
Are you a new parent who could use a little cultural exposure and social interaction? Bring your baby to the informal New Parents Gallery Talk at the Clark Art Institute. Best suited for parents with pre-toddlers. Strollers and front-carrying baby carriers allowed. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, February 27, 10:30am-12:30am
More people own cameras now than ever before. Social media paired with the pervasiveness of cameras has changed the way our culture preserves memories and interacts with them. But if you want to take high quality photographs, a camera on your phone will not suffice. Photographer Shawn Davis will be running a workshop at the Monson Free Library. He will teach visitors how to navigate their cameras’ many settings, and move beyond auto mode. Participants will discuss the creative decision making involved in photography, as well as the more objective concepts of exposure, iso, shutter speed, aperture and white balance. With his help, you can capture your memories and beautiful images in a more informed way. The library will be closed for re-carpeting during this time but programming will still occur in the available space. 413-267-3866. 2 High St, Monson, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, February 27, 2pm-4pm
Join us at Berkcirque, the circus school of the berkshires, for a day of skillsharing, exercise, and hands-on crafting. Hoop dance instructor Jess Kitch will co-teach a hoop making lesson and a hoop jam. Hoola hooping is much easier with a high quality hoop, and more fun when you can design the hoop yourself! All ages. 413-429-4215. 115 Gas House Lane. Great Barrington, MA (<$ to $)

Wednesday, March 2, 7pm
The Quabbin river is not only a beautiful place to walk, run, bike, and watch local wildlife. You can fish in the North Quabbin area if you know where to go. Fishing expert Allan Butler is well informed about fresh and saltwater fishing, including ice fishing. He will teach participants techniques for fishing in the North Quabbin. Come to the Clapp Memorial Library to learn how. 413-323-0417. 19 S Main St, Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

Music Studies

Saturday, February 27, 10:30am
Music has strong, undeniable ties to memory which we all experience in our daily lives. Listening to music as a family can help you build happy memories to keep for a lifetime. For the first installment of the Jones Library’s Children’s Music Series, folk/country duo The Nields will perform their cross-generational tunes in the Woodbury Room. Over the twenty-tour years that The Nields have played together, their music has served as a bridge between parents and children. 43 Amity St, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, February 27, 11am
Zach Danzinger is a singer and guitarist who writes songs for children as well as adults. He studied jazz performance at Queens College, and jazz has clearly influenced his original songs. Zach will perform music for listeners of all ages at the Pelham Library. Tea and snacks will be put out at 11am, while the music will start at 12pm. Zach’s performances involve audience participation, so be ready to sing and clap along! 413-253-0657. 2 South Valley Road. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, February 27, 4pm-6pm
Celebrate black history through art, poetry, essays, stories, music and quotes. Poet and artist Bob McNeil draws influence from the Beat poets and Dadaists in his writing. He also draws influence from the Negritude movement, a literary and philosophical movement initiated by francophone African thinkers in the 1930s. McNeil’s original performance will take viewers through the history of music including African Music, Negro Spirituals, the Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, Gospel Music, Boogie Woogie, Rhythm and Blues, Doo-Wop, Rock and Roll, Soul, Funk, Disco and Hip-Hop. Great Falls discovery center. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, February 27, 7pm
In the tradition of Pete Seeger, the Ashfield Congregational Church will be throwing an all ages sing along night featuring local folk singers. Folk music has a rich history of drawing people together for a common cause. The term “folk music” borrows from the word “folklore.” This is not surprising considering that folk lyrics are often narrative. Bring friends and family to Ashfield and be ready to sing along. Wheelchair accessible. 413-625-2355. Ashfield Congregational Church at 429 Main Street. Ashfield, MA. (FREE)

Monday, February 29, 6:30pm
The ukulele is one of the simplest instruments to play, with only three chords needed to play most songs. Join Julie Stepanek for a Ukulele Strum at the M.N. Spear Memorial Library. Bring your uke, or other instrument, or just come to sing along. 413-259-1213. 10 Cooleyville Road, Shutesbury, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, February 27, 7pm-10pm
Looking for a place to spend time with friends and maybe play pool, foosball, video games, ping pong, air hockey, or a little basketball? Kids in grades 6-8 are invited to SNL at the Springfield Jewish Community Center, a safe, chaperoned time for tweens. Snacks available for purchase. 413-739-4715 x322. 1160 Dickinson Street, Springfield, MA. (<$)

Sunday, February 28, 2pm
Before watching the Oscars, celebrate local talent at The Really Big Gong Show. This Academy of Music Theater showcase will feature myriad performers including dancers and musicians, with a range of instruments including guitar and fiddle. The local celebrity judge panel will provide added entertainment as they determine whether the performers will be gonged off the stage! What talents do you have? Would you be brave enough to perform at a gong show? 413-584-9032. 274 Main St, Northampton, MA. (Adults $ Children <$)

Friday, March 4, 5:15pm-6:30pm
Join other families with kids ages 0-6 to welcome the Sabbath at Tot Shabbat, offered by Beit Ahavah Reform Synagogue. The kids enjoy music and activities led by Marlene Rachelle and Rabbi Riqi Kosovske, then share a veggie potluck dinner. Adults socialize and relax. Interfaith and GLBTQ families, nursing moms, babies and siblings of all ages, grandparents and special people, new members, first-timers, and friends all welcome! 413-587-3770. 130 Pine Street, Florence, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, February 27, 4pm-7pm
Two activities which bring families and communities together, eating and listening to music, will be combined at the Northampton Parents Center’s family fun night. Share your favorite dish at the potluck supper, or if you’re aren’t able to make anything, simply dine with your neighbors and listen to “In The Nick of Time.” Nick Deysher’s all ages music makes educational topics fun for kids and adults. He writes songs about dinosaurs, outer space, numbers, animals, seasons, and foreign languages, setting kids’ imaginations in motion while they dance, sing, and learn. With a blend of genres (jazz, pop, reggae, funk) and a variety of lyrical topics, “In The Nick of Time” has something for everyone. In addition to free music and food, this family fun night will feature plenty of time for kids to do what they do best: play. 413-582-2636. 297 Main St, Northampton, MA (FREE)

Sunday, February 28, 4pm-6pm
Diversity in film and other forms of entertainment is paramount to individual self-esteem. When children and adults see positive portrayals of people in movies who look like them, have a similar background, or share personality traits, they see that they are important to the fabric of society. The Sprout Film Festival, hosted by Whole Children will shocase films about individuals with developmental differences. This screening will take place in Converse Hall, at Amherst College. 413-542-2000. 100 Boltwood Ave, Amherst, MA. (DONATION)


Sunday, February 28, 2pm-3pm
Captive taking in the early Americas was one way in which Europeans and Native Americans became aware of each other’s cultures. Prisoners were taken for different reasons and to different ends. In 1704, French and Native allies raided the English settlement of Deerfield, capturing 112 Deerfield residents. Kevin Sweeney, Professor of American Studies and History, Amherst College, will discuss raiding and captive taking along the New England and New York borders between 1688 and 1748 as part of the winter lecture series at Historic Deerfield. Learn about the long term impact of raiding and capturing between British, French, and Native peoples. 413-775-7214. 80 Old Main Street, Deerfield, Massachusetts. (FREE)

Tuesday, March 1, 6pm
Watch a classic family film, The Princess Bride, based on the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman. Kids and adults who love the film should also consider reading the book. You can use this screening as a launching off point to learn about the history of sword fighting! If you attend this film, don’t miss the follow up event on Wednesday, March 2 at 6pm when martial arts expert Jeff Lord will teach audience members the specific names and history of sword fighting moves used in the scene where Inigo Montoya fights the man in black. Both events will take place at the Greenfield Public Library
413-772-1544. 402 Main Street Greenfield, MA> (FREE)


Thursday, March 3, 5:30pm-7pm
Get together with other parents for the “Parent Self Care Club,” and discuss ways to take care of yourself in the midst of stressful responsibilities. This new group will meet every Thursday at the Bridge Family Resource Center. Dinner will be served and childcare is available. Please call ahead to reserve child care. 413-549-0297 x 6512. 100 University Drive Suite A3. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Monday, February 29, 10am-11am
Parents of children with developmental delays and other special needs are invited to gather at The Family Center of the Berkshires. Share anecdotes, resources, and strategies with parents who understand the joys and challenges of raising children with special needs. Special Needs Mass is one example of a web resource connecting families to organizations, recreational services, and even medical facilities specializing in care to children with special needs. This program is focused on parents of children ages birth to eight. Transportation and child care available. Call 413-664-4821 to register for child care or transportation. 210 State Street, North Adams. (FREE)

Monday, February 29, 5:30pm
For individuals with dyslexia, audiobooks are a great alternative or supplement to written texts. Some dyslexic adults and children enjoy graphic novels, while others find the pictures overwhelming. One thing that is certain to help dyslexic children and is identifying their dyslexia and advocating for the assistance they need. Sally Shaywitz’s book, Overcoming Dyslexia, can help parents of dyslexic children improve their reading skills and boost their self-esteem. With an emphasis on success stories, Shaywitz explains why intelligent, even gifted people, read slowly. In this workshop, to take place in the Amherst Regional High School library, parents will discuss this book and the methods they use for helping their children. Please read the book ahead of time. 21 Matoon St, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Monday, February 29, 6:30pm-7:30pm
We all have sounds, sights, or textures that bother us: nails on a chalkboard, the sound of styrofoam squeaking, the texture of certain foods. But some children and adults become overwhelmed by their senses more often and easily than others. It is common for young children to have trouble with textures which adults find pleasurable, like sand between their toes or even just grass. Children need time to become familiar with sensory input. Meet other parents at the UMass Amherst student union for a discussion of sensory processing and the developing brain. This talk will cover the importance of play and ways that parents can handle difficult sensory scenarios with their child. Registration is required via the Office of Family Resources. 413-545-0111. 280 Hicks Way. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 3, 5pm-7pm
The origin of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” is unknown. Some people have claimed it is an African proverb. Several African societies have proverbs which translate to a similar meaning. These proverbs argue that a child does not mature under the influence and care of a single household, and that parenting extends beyond biological caregivers to the entire community. Parents certainly benefit from the help, advice, and compassion of other parents. Meet at the Bridge Street School to discuss the joys and challenges of parenting. Open to parents with young children. Dinner and childcare provided free. Please RSVP and indicate if you need childcare. 413-587-1471. 2 Parsons St. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 3, 5:30pm-8pm
In her workshop, “No Senseless Behavior,” Jeanine Fitzgerald will provide caregivers with a new perspective on challenging behaviors, and provide methods for dealing with these behaviors in children. Her talk will focus on identifying children’s needs, and ways to meet those needs in order to resolve the issues which lead to problematic behaviors. Meet other local parents at the Swift River School and share experiences in a non-judgmental environment. Dinner will be provided, followed by the talk from 6:30pm-8pm. Free child care will also be available. Please call 978-544-5157 to inquire about child care or other questions. 201 Wendell Rd, New Salem, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 3, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Parents of transgender, gender nonconforming, or questioning children, teenagers, or adults are invited to participate in TransformingParents, a support group that meets on the first Thursday of every month (except Labor Day). 413-695-7686. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Blandford, Bernardston, Chesterfield, Erving, Holyoke, Montague, Montgomery, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Warwick and Williamsburg Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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