25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Folklore to farming. Petroglyphs to public works.

Folklore to farming. Petroglyphs to public works. Marionettes to electronica. 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!

red eft

Spring is here, and with it come myriad vernal pools. Explore the rich plant and animal life, like the red eft pictured here, in these ephemeral habitats before they’re gone for the year!

Featured community highlights this week:
What is it like to be an astronaut? What special features are included on flight suits? A visit to the Space Expo at New England Air Museum will help you answer these questions, and give you the opportunity to participate in interactive programs, see a planetarium show, and meet Story Musgrave! Musgrave, native Stockbridge resident, is currently physician and worked for 30 years as a NASA astronaut, flying on six spaceflight missions.He participated in STS-61, a 1993 mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. At this event you will see life-sized droids, examine a Mars spacesuit, build a rocket, touch a space rock and more! All ages welcome. 860-623-3305. 36 Perimeter Rd. Windsor Locks, CT. (Adults $. 4-11<$. Children under 3 FREE)

FarmingLocal FoodNutritionPuppetryCultural StudiesArchaeologyMultimedia ArtImprovisationLocal HabitatsVisual ArtsEarly LiteracyAstronomyBiologyLGBTQIntergenerational

Join our stellar team supporters!
Become a sponsor of Learn Local. Play Local. and see your banner here:


Saturday, April 2, 8:30am-4pm
Growing your own food is one way to learn about plant and soil science while fostering a connection to your environment, improving your health and decreasing your environmental impact. If you have children, you can get your entire family involved! Come to Old Sturbridge Village for a full day of talks and workshops on backyard farming. You will gain historical knowledge of horticulture and agriculture as well as current, practical advice on growing food, identifying wild edible plants, improving soil sustainability, and raising chickens. Register online. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road. Sturbridge, MA. (Members $$ Non members $$$)

Saturday, April 2, 10am-2pm
As the winter growing season winds down and we head into the spring, wonderful vegetable flavors and textures are beginning to appear at local markets. What are garlic scapes and how can you use them in your cooking? Get creative with kohlrabi or rapini! Experiencing new flavors not only encourages healthy eating, it helps keep food interesting for you and your family. You can also explore other wonderful, local delights such as honey, breads, pastries, cheeses, jewelry, and more at the final Amherst Winter Farmers’ Market of the season. SNAP accepted throughout the market. Amherst Regional Middle School, 170 Chestnut Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 2, 10am-4pm
Did you know it takes 52 gallons of water to make one quarter pound hamburger patty? Climate change is often talked about in terms of water and gas consumption, but these issues are not often linked to diet. Beyond sustainability, there are many reasons to decrease your intake of animal products including possibly health benefits, and an interest in the fair treatment of animals. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or neither, you’re invited to Valley VegFest to learn all about veganism. Nine speakers will discuss a wide array of topics related to veganism including nutrition, sprouting, recipes, GMOs, animal treatment, and advocacy. There will also be food vendors and veg-friendly products and services! J.F.K. Middle School. 100 Bridge Rd, Florence, MA. (DONATION)


Saturday, April 2, 10:30am
Watch the Tanglewood Marionettes bring the story of Hansel and Gretel to life through a highly skilled performance, hand crafted puppets and a colorful set in the shape of a storybook. This show hosted by the Jones Library will be accompanied by the Humperdinck Opera. This could be a great introduction to the classical fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. For those who already know the story, Tanglewood Marionettes are sure to provide an interesting new representation of the characters. 413-259-3090. Performance takes place at Grace Episcopal Church. 14 Boltwood Ave. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Would you like to see a bit of this talented group’s work? Check out this excerpt from their performance of The Dragon King:

Saturday, April 2, 11am
Trickster characters are an archetype appearing in folktales of virtually all origins. Tricksters compensate for their lack of power or physical strength through cunning and deceit. Though these characters may engage in ethically dubious behavior, they show a positive example of how adversity can be overcome by intellect. The Grumbling Gryphons will be performing two trickster tales of Native American origin at The Spectrum Playhouse. After this interactive play there will be a chance to meet the actors. 413-394-5023. 20 Franklin St. Lee, MA

Local History

Saturday, April 2, 1pm-2:30pm
What is a petroglyph? The term refers to art made by chipping away at the surface of rock either by incising, picking, carving, or abrading. While scuba diving is mostly associated with marine biology and ecology, scuba diving in rivers can lead to archaeological discoveries, such as speaker Annette Spaulding’s discovery of a Native American petroglyph in the Connecticut River near Brattleboro. Hear more about her underwwater, historical adventures at the Great Falls Discovery Center. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Want to get a sense of a day in the life of an underwater archaeologist? Dive in!

Saturday, April 2, 2pm
Do you love food history? How about local history? What about local food history that is a little quirky? If so, join Christopher Clark, University of Connecticut historian, for his talk on Sylvester Graham. (And did I mention, this is where we get the name “Graham Cracker” from?) Graham was a well-known lecturer and writer on diet, health, and hygiene in the 19th century. An early advocate of vegetarianism, he would be best remembered for crackers and bread made of unbolted flour, commercialization of which at the end of the century would secure him lasting name-recognition. He was generally considered something of a quack by the science and medical profession, but he had a large public following. Sylvester Graham’s former home in Northampton is now the popular breakfast restaurant, Sylvester’s. Meet at the Historic Northampton Museum. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Music Studies

Saturday, April 2, 3pm
Did you know that some colleges, including Berkeley College of Music, now offer a degree in electronic music? Computers and other electronic devices have been utilized by a variety of musical groups and individuals. Some rely entirely on electronics, while others blend new and traditional, electronic and acoustic instruments. The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra will be playing music for orchestra and electronics, while also combining film, dance and interactive video in this multimedia performance. Local artists and Mount Holyoke College students will join together in this exploration of technology through art. For further details, please contact Eileen O’Grady by email at ograd22e@mtholyoke.edu.Chapin Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College Campus. 50 College St, South Hadley, MA. ($$. Students >$)

Sunday, April 3, 3pm-5pm
How many stringed instruments can you name? There are guitars, lutes, ukuleles, mandolins, violins, the list goes on. These instruments vary in all sorts of ways including their pitch, their size, and their tuning. Instruments in the violin family are held along one arm, or placed upright between the legs, as opposed to guitars, ukuleles and mandolins. The group Arcadia Viols play various instruments in the violin family. In this performance at Bard College at Simon’s Rock the group will play music written by 17th century composers and some current composers. The Arcadia Viols are committed to preserving the historical culture of vocal and instrumental music through their performances of 17th century works. 84 Alford Rd, Great Barrington, MA(>$)

Tuesday, April 5, 10am-11am
Greater Springfield Music Together is an organization which seeks to develop musical competence in young children. Their approach focuses on experiencing and enjoying music rather than teaching musical vocabulary or concepts. Their music and movement classes require caregiver participation. Caregivers of children ages 0-6 are invited to the Westfield Athenaeum for a Music Together demonstration. Learn fun songs and movements you can sing and play with your children! 413-568-7833. 6 Elm St, Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 5, 6:30pm
If you are a fan of jazz music, then you are most likely familiar with the concept of improvisation. In jazz, there is typically a set structure for a song, and designated times for various musicians to improvise solos, making them up as they go along. Musicians in other genres improvise as well, sometimes as a means of writing and developing a song, and sometimes during live performances. Gideon Freudmann will be making frequent use of improvisation during his cello performance at the Whately Library when he plays classical, blues, jazz, electronic, funk and folk music. Please. RSVP at 413-665-2170. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Experience some of Freudmann’s beautiful music at this TEDx performance:

Wednesday, April 6, 6:30pm
Are you a beginner mandolin player? Bring your mandolin to the Storrs Library for this three part series of mandolin lessons! For those who don’t know, the mandolin is a string instrument in the lute family. This instrument originated in Italy. In the United States it is often utilized to play folk, Celtic or bluegrass music. One Wednesday a month, April 6, May 4th and June 1st, join other beginners as you grow into more knowledgeable and skilled musicians together. Seth Roberts of The Blueberry Hill Boys will get you started with the basics at this first session. Email questions to: asethroberts@gmail.com. 413- 565-4181. 693 Longmeadow St, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Nature Studies

Saturday, April 2, 5:30-8:30pm
Although vernal pools are by definition a temporary habitat, they provide the perfect breeding ground for spotted salamanders, wood frogs, tiny mussels, fairy shrimp, and many other creatures. Families with children age four to sixteen can learn more about vernal pools and their inhabitants through humorous skits at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Guided tours will leave the nature center every 15 minutes to travel a 45-minute forest trail where you will meet costumed characters. In the event of inclement weather the outdoor portion of this program will be brought indoors. Call 413-584-3009 to register. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. (>$)

Wednesday, April 6, 12:30pm-2pm
Beautiful Basin Pond has twice been dammed by humans, to disastrous failure both times. Currently, beavers maintain a dam on the pond and thus have created a gorgeous wetland habitat. You can explore trails maintained by the Berkshire National Resources Councilon this 2.5 mile long guided group hike. You will see stone walls and a views of the pond on this moderately difficult exploration. Email mleavitt@bnrc.net with any questions. Lee, MA. (FREE)

Visual Arts

Sunday, April 3. 10am-5pm
Every first Sunday of the month, The Clark Art Institute offers free admission! The Clark Art Institute, located in north Berkshire County, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. This Sunday, in addition to free museum admission there will be a free, all ages drawing event. Pick up a sketchbook at the front desk for drawing at the gallery. From 11am-2pm, attend an art talk and apply what you’ve learned from your own experience to the methods, techniques and visions of these great artists. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA (FREE)

Sunday, April 3, 2pm-4pm
Norman Rockwell’s 1943 series of oil paintings, The Four Freedoms, draws upon President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 state of the union address to visually represent freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech, high school artists have reimagined these ideas into their own original artwork, currently on display in the Norman Rockwell Museum. Celebrate these young artists’ work and enjoy a special closing reception for the artists and public. All ages welcome. Free with Museum admission; Museum members free. Free for participating students, teachers, and their families. 413-298-4100. 9 MA-183, Stockbridge, MA (Adult non member $)

Sunday, April 3, 3pm
Rose and the Wish Thing is the story of a young girl in a new town using a newfound friendship and her personal power of imagination to get through a difficult life transition. You and your family are invited to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to meet Caroline Magerl, the author/illustrator of this book. Magerl will read the story aloud and allow participants to try out some of her watercolor techniques with a demonstration. Signed books will also be available for purchase. This event could be a springboard for collaborative, family art and writing projects. 413-559-6300. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. (<$)


Saturday, April 2, 10am-4pm
Come to the Space Expo at New England Air Museum and you can participate in interactive programs, see a planetarium show, and meet Story Musgrave! Musgrave, native Stockbridge resident, is currently physician and worked for 30 years as a NASA astronaut, flying on six spaceflight missions.He participated in STS-61, a 1993 mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. At this event you will see life-sized droids, examine a Mars spacesuit, build a rocket, touch a space rock and more! All ages welcome. 860-623-3305. 36 Perimeter Rd. Windsor Locks, CT. (Adults $. 4-11<$. Children under 3 FREE)

Saturday, April 2, 3pm-5pm
Ice skating shows us physics in action. When a line of skaters joins arms and begins to sweep across the ice in a circle, watch the rotation speed of the person in the center, the middle, and the end of the line. How long does it take each person to make a full circle? How long is each skater’s circular path? With distance and time information, one can begin talking about speed! Viewers may also want to consider what happens during jumps and spins. What does the skater need to do to lift off of the ice for a jump? Why does does the skater pull his/her arms in close when doing a spin? Enjoy watching the laws of physics at work while celebrating the hard work of skaters of all ages as they perform solo, duet, and group routines at Greenfield’s Annual Spring Ice Show. Collins/Moylan Arena. 41 Barr Ave. Greenfield, MA. (< $)

Learn more about the cool physics behind ice skating here:

Sunday, April 3, 1pm-3pm
Are your children interested in how electricity works? Do they like to study bugs in the back yard? Do they like playing with color changing tea cups? Encourage your junior scientists and help foster their interests in biology, engineering, archaeology, technology, electricity and more at the pop up science fair, sponsored by the Spear Public Library! Children ages three and up and their families are invited to this interactive, educational event. 413-259-1204. Shutesbury Town Hall. 1 Cooleyville Road. Shutesbury, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 6, 12pm
If you’re lucky enough to have running water in your home, you turn the faucet on, and water comes out. You push a level and your toilet flushes. But where does the water come from? Where does it go? This is your chance to tour the Amherst wastewater facility and see what goes on there. For one thing, tiny microorganisms in the wastewater are able to feed on biodegradable matter. Learn about the ways in which humans have exploited natural biological processes in order to treat wastewater. Please call the Hitchcock Center for the Environment at 413-256-6006 to register. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Community Connections

Saturday, April 2, 9:15am-5pm
Anyone and everyone who identifies as a member of a LGBTQIA+ community, which includes allies, is welcome to attend the third annual “Live Out Loud” community conference! This full day of workshop and panel discussions will cover topics such as how to create safe spaces for LGBT elders, how to interact with law enforcement as a gender nonconforming person, as well as topics concerning careers and relationships, and much more. The LGBT community has made huge strides but there is still a lot of work to be done towards reaching equality. Meeting and discussing these issues strengthens resolve and can spark new ideas for approaching problems on an individual and political level. Berkshire Community College. 1350 West St. Pittsfield, MA (DONATION)

Monday, April 4, 5:30-6pm
Enjoy a delicious meal with friends, family and neighbors at The Egg and I while supporting the Gaylord Memorial Library in South Hadley. Community meals are wonderful learning environments for children. You can model how to introduce yourself to someone new, and teach children that all people are interesting or can teach us something when we give them a chance to share their stories. Your purchase of spaghetti and meatballs, salad, roll, beverage and ice cream will help purchase resources and provide educational programming for you and your community. 26 Main St, South Hadley, MA. (>$)


Tuesday, April 5, 6:30pm-8pm
Communication is essential for education, workplace readiness and personal relationships. The Special Education Parent Advisory Council invites you to Gateway Regional High School for a discussion on language development through play. Speakers will teach parents games and activities they can play with their families to improve their children’s vocabularies. Improving vocabulary can help with both written and verbal skills, and help your children develop as readers. The group will also highlight strategies for prioritizing family play time even amongst busy schedules. 12 Littleville Road. Huntington, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 8, 10am-11am
Grandparents face their own challenges, separate from parenting. The purpose of this group is to provide grandparents with a space to connect and share their experiences. A lunch will be provided for participants as well as children (in childcare) during the event. Whether you are a new grandparent or have several grandchildren, this is a great way to make new friends, and become familiar with the resources at the Ware Family Center. Get to know other grandparents in your community as this group meets April April 1, 8 and 15. 413-967-8127. 49 Church Street, Ware, MA. (FREE)

[photo by Jason Quinn (own work), via Wikimedia Commons]

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.

Donate Now

Support Hilltown Families, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, with your tax-deductible donation.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: