61 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Foraging to Forensics. Recycling to Raptors.

Trilliums are one of many spring ephemerals you can encounter on a springtime hike! Walk slowly and watch where you put your feet to protect these beautiful species.

Trilliums are one of many spring ephemerals you can encounter on a springtime hike! Walk slowly and watch where you put your feet to protect these beautiful species.

Foraging to forensics. Recycling to raptors. Poetry to postcards. 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: Learn sustainable living skills like beekeeping, gardening, and composting, while enjoying live entertainment at the Seventh Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival on Saturday, April 16, 10am-4pm! Visitors can watch demonstrations on how to build a solar oven, how to make natural body-care products, or talk to local climate advocates about green energy and climate change. Hilltown Families will be represented at the festival, at a pop-up open house. Come to our table to find out about our resources for connecting community members of all ages to educational events, workshops, and volunteer opportunities. There will be live animals, face painting, jugglers and stilt walking on the common to keep you entertained as well as informed. Bring items for the Recycling Drive. For more information, visit the event website. 413-259-3149. Town Common, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Service-based LearningAnimal StudiesOrnithologyPaleontologyJewelry-makingForensicsEngineeringHorticultureSustainabilityU.S. HistoryNative American CultureSouth American StudiesCulinary ArtsPoetryFishingYogaImprovStorytellingPuppetryMagicWorld MusicIntergenerationalParenting

Community Engagement

Saturday, April 16, 8:30am
Celebrate Spring by participating in a volunteer, town cleanup event while observing local habitat. Coffee, donuts, and lunch will be provided for volunteers. Please bring gloves. Participating in a community is one piece of the puzzle for holistic health. Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community, meet people, and boost your self-esteem. Plus you will get exercise and spend time in nature! Larger groups wishing to focus on a particular clean-up site should contact Dori at 733-3843 or Pam Breglio at 731-9249. Participants will meet at Mittineague Park’s Rotary Pavilion. 1695 Westfield Street, West Springfield, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, April 16, 9:30am
This month, The Family Center will be bringing people together for a community pancake breakfast. Please bring a dish to share. There will be time for kids to play together. The goal of this event is to bring everyone together to give the Family Center a final spruce up before switching to the park for the warmer months. The Family Center provides a space for children to get together and engage in art activities, stories, songs, and creative free play. 2 Main St. Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 16, 9:30am-12:30pm
Kestrel Land Trust’s “Stew Crew” work as volunteers monitoring one or more of the Land Trust’s conservation properties. These individuals help ensure that their communities can continue to enjoy preserved natural spaces. Current volunteers are invited to this training session to keep their skills sharp. If you are not already involved but are interested in becoming a volunteer, attend this session to learn conservation skills and find out what being a member of the “Stew Crew” entails. Arrive early for coffee, refreshments, and mingling. Registration is required. For more information and to register please email brittany@kestreltrust.org or call 413-549-1097. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

Animal Studies

Saturday, April 16, 10am-2pm
Observing animal behavior is a fun way to learn about biology and habitat. You’re invited to “adopt” an animal at The Zoo in Forest Park and get one free admission to the Zoo! The Rainbow Rescue group and the Westfield Regional Animal Shelter will introduce you to lots of furry friends who need support. For $25 a year, you can sponsor an animal and help pay for its care (your adopted pal will remain at the zoo under the care of trained professionals.) Learn about the needs of various animals, observe their behaviors and help one in need. 413-733-2251. 293 Sumner Ave, Springfield, MA. ($$)

Saturday, April 16, 10am-4pm
The opening up of Hancock Shaker Village to visitors brings many educational opportunities for children and adults. Starting April 16th and running every day, 10am-4pm, through May 8th, you can meet newborn lambs, piglets, calves, goats, chicks and ducklings in the Round Stone Barn. Learn about the biology of these animals and their significance in the context of farming life. Through the topic of sheep shearing, visitors also find out interesting facts on the anatomy and physiology of sheep and gain insight into Colonial life. In addition to history and biology, many people who visit Shaker Village are interested in the architecture of the Round Stone Barn, built in 1826 as a cow stable. On the weekend of April 30th-May 1st you can view hands-on textile demonstrations. Through the entire run of this season, animal paintings will also be on display. Hancock Shaker Village has something for everyone: art, history, science, and baby animals! 413-443-0188. 843 West Housatonic St. Pittsfield MA. (Children 12 and under FREE. 13-17 <$. Adult $)

Take a short tour of the interior of the beautiful Round Stone Barn!

Saturday, April 16, 8pm-9pm
Courtship displays, in which animals attempt to attract mates through a set of behaviors, can take the form of dances, songs, or displays or strength. These displays are more commonly executed by males, or done mutually, though there are a small number of species whose females execute courtship displays. The courtship display of the American woodcock is executed by males, and it is both a dance and a song, designed to both attract a mate and mark territory. You can witness this display in action at the Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary. Attendees will watch and listen quietly until nightfall. This program is recommended for youth ages ten and up, and adults. Please dress to be outdoors for the entire program. 413-584-3009. 793 Main St., Hampden, MA. (<$)

Listen to the interesting sounds and view the unique mating season movements of these long-beaked birds:

Tuesday, April 19, 11am & 1pm
Often, in Western Massachusetts, you can glance up at the sky and find a red-tailed hawk soaring above. Hawks and other raptors live throughout the Pioneer Valley, but face threats due to human activities. Come to the Springfield Museum to learn more about these amazing animals, and how to help protect them and their habitats, at this presentation by internationally renowned raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi. 413.263.6800. 21 Edwards St. Springfield, MA. (Adults $. Ages 3-17 <$. Children 2 and under FREE)

Wednesday, April 20, 11am & 1pm
Observing animal behavior is a fun way to learn about biology and habitat. Going for a simple nature walk allows you to identify birds and small, native animals. At “The Premium Live Animal Show” at the Springfield Museum, you can see and learn about rare and exotic animals which you won’t see in your backyard or on local trails! Professional zoologists will introduce you to these rare animals and teach you their traits and habits. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards St. Springfield, MA. (Adults $. Ages 3-17 <$. Children 2 and under FREE)

Thursday, April 21, 8am
Having a bird feeder in your backyard can familiarize you with birds like chickadees and blue jays. If you want to witness and identify a wider range of species, however, a beginner’s guided walk can help. Experts from the Berkshire Natural Resource Council can help you spot birds around this Housatonic Flats trail. Wear long pants and shoes; bring water and a snack. Housatonic Flats is on Route 7 in Great Barrington, just north of the WSBS radio tower, right across the street from Chelsea and Company Antiques. Call 413-499-0596 with questions. 434 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 21, 3pm
The word “dinosaur” originates from the Greek words deinos, meaning “terrible,” and “sauros,” meaning “lizard.” Many children, and adults, find these terrible lizards terribly fascinating! This “Digging Dinosaurs” storytime at the Huntington Public Library will feature colorful posters, embedded scientific facts, and sign language along with two original stories. This event is for dinosaur lovers of all ages. 413-667-3506. 7 E Main St, Huntington, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 22, 8am-10am
Celebrate the coming of Spring by welcoming some of nature’s new visitors: migrating birds. On this guided walk at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary participants will look and listen for all kinds of migrating species, especially wood-warblers. No previous knowledge necessary, beginners are welcome. Please bring binoculars. This program is recommended for adults and self-directed teens. 413-637-0320. Holmes Rd, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, April 16, 9:30am-5pm
Sunday, April 17, 10am-4pm
Do you have an interesting rock you want to identify? Bring it to the Western Mass Mineral Show where students from the UMass Amherst geology department can help you identify stones. Learn about mineral identification techniques while checking out mineral art and jewelry. Included in this showing will be precious stones, crystals, birthstones, rough gems, fossils and petrified wood. Scouts in uniform get in free. Children will receive a specimen with admission. Attendees of all ages can learn about geology, archaeology, and jewelry making. Hadley Farms Meeting House. 41 Russell St., (Route 9), Hadley, MA. (<$)

A mineral’s physical properties give us essential clues about its identity. Which five properties are most telling? Watch this clip to learn more!

Monday, April 18, 10am-3pm
Tuesday, April 19-Friday, April 22, 10am-4pm
Throughout April school vacation week, the New England Air Museum is offering special activities for junior scientists interested in learning basic principles of physics and engineering through fun projects! On Thursday, April 21st, explore aircraft, experience flight simulators, and create a LEGO flying machine. On Friday, April 22nd, children will have the chance to build a compressed air launcher. 36 Perimeter Rd. Windsor Locks CT. (Adults $. Children 4-11<$. Members and children under three FREE)

Wednesday, April 20, 10am-11am
Kids who love mystery novels and detective games will enjoy this interactive program at the Bushnell Sage Library. Participants will examine a fake crime scene while learning about real scientific techniques including fingerprint examination, ink separation, and teeth impression match-up. 413-229-7004. 48 Main St. Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 20, 10am-12pm
Do your kids love to play with toy trucks? They can see the real thing in person at the Haskins Center while learning about the science of how automobiles work. Your kids can explore fire trucks, ambulances, school buses, tractors, dump trucks and many more community vehicles. Encourage your children’s interest in engineering and machines. Please donate a baked good for the bake sale fundraiser. 413-664-4821. 210 State St, North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 20, 5:30-7:30pm
Do you like to play video games? You should make your own! Learning how to code teaches attention to detail and logic skills. It can be extremely satisfying when things work as planned, and you learn patience and persistence when they don’t. Computer science experts at Holyoke Codes can get you started creating your first game, or improving one you already have, using Scratch. Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center.100 Bigelow St. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, April 16, 10am
Besides birds and frogs, what other sounds of Spring do you see? The appearance of wildflowers such as bluets, trout lily, trillium and jack in the pulpit signal the start of warmer weather. Celebrate the growth and vibrant life of early Spring with a guided nature walk around Bear Hole Watershed. Participants will meet at the end of Bear Hole Road where there is a parking area. This all ages walk will last about two hours. For more information call 413-788-4125. Rain date is Sunday, April 17th. Bear Hole Road, West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 16, 10am
Gaylord Memorial Librarys “seedy social” will be an open discussion on a wide array of topics including soil testing, indoor and outdoor growing. In addition to swapping gardening tips, attendees will also explore the topic of farming from a historical standpoint as they discuss the history of German prisoners of war who worked on farms. These German POWs were utilized to ease a farm labor shortage. They were also placed on farms for security purposes, in order to separate them from urban areas. Come learn about farming from a new vantage point while also gaining knowledge about plant and social sciences. 413-538-5047. 47 College St, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Monday, April 18, 10am
Thursday, April 21, 12pm-4pm
The “Spring Ephemerals” are here! Throughout school vacation week, children will be able to attend the Wildflower Festival at Bartholomew’s Cobble free of charge. Spring ephemerals are wildflowers, native in the Berkshires, which appear early in Spring and are only around for a small window of time. These plants include native white and red trilliums, spring beauty, bloodroot, toothwort, wild ginger, blue cohosh and violets. For more information about the Spring Wildflower Festival and a full list of activities, visit The Trustees website. Reservations are strongly recommended. 413-298-3239 x3013 . 117 Cooper Hill Rd, Sheffield, MA . (Trustees members <$. Non members $. Children FREE)

Learning about wild edible plants opens up new possibilities for learning and lifestyle. Once you’ve begun recognizing local edible plants, your nature walks will be filled with discovery. This is a fun skill to teach to your family or friends. Once you’ve identified an edible plant such as black locust flowers, cattail buds, or stinging nettles leaves, you can try cleaning and eating them, and possibly even incorporating them into cooking! Learning how to identify edible plants around you will add another layer of fun, understanding, and discovery to your nature walks. Challenge your friends and family to learn too! You can make a game out of who spots edible plants first. This week offers two opportunities to learn about foraging for edible plants.

On Tuesday, April 19, at 6:30pm, visit the Northfield Public Library where local author Russ Cohen will teach you foraging techniques.413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Rd, Whately, MA. (FREE)

On Wednesday, April 20, 6:30pm-8pm, visit the Meekins Library for a talk to get you started identifying wild edible plants. Meekins Library 413-268-7472. Route 9. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)


Saturday, April 16, 10am-4pm
Learn sustainable living skills like beekeeping, gardening, and composting, while enjoying live entertainment at the Seventh Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival! Hilltown Families will be represented at the festival, at a pop-up open house. Come to our table to find out about our resources for connecting community members of all ages to educational events, workshops, and volunteer opportunities. There will be live animals, face painting, jugglers and stilt walking on the common to keep you entertained as well as informed. Bring items for the Recycling Drive. For more information, visit the event website. 413-259-3149. Town Common, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

One of the demonstrations at this event will be about solar ovens. Watch how this man makes his, then compare this style of oven to the one discussed at the festival.

Sunday, April 17, 11am-4pm
Earth Day is a celebration which originated in America and is now celebrated by over 192 countries. Earth Day is a day to consider and spark important discussions on all environmental issues, including overpopulation, pollution, species extinction, and climate change, to name a few. It is also a day to be grateful and reverent for our home: the Earth! At this Springfield Museum Earth Day celebration, exhibitions on the green of the science museum will include educational information for the whole family, games and giveaways. The Connecticut River Watershed Council will be among those providing educational and entertainment on locally focused environmental issues. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards St. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 19, 11am-6pm
Why do people love to clean in Spring? Symbolically, Spring is a time for new beginnings and growth: out with the old, in with the new. The warmer weather makes it pleasant, sometimes, to open up the windows during cleaning. For many people, a fresh start means downsizing and simplifying their lives. If you’re getting rid of your seldom-worn clothing this Spring, don’t just throw it out, find an alternative use for it. In honor of Earth Day 2016, the Epilepsy Foundation of New England is running a textile recycling drive at Whole Foods. Please bring any type of linens in any condition, for example: clothes, outerwear, accessories, uniforms, costumes, fabric, linens, towels, drapes/curtains, tablecloths, comforters, shoes, pocketbooks and accessories.413-586-9932. 327 Russell St,Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 20, 12pm-2pm
Teach your kids about environmentalism through an Earth Day celebration and art activity at Whole Foods. Representatives from the Eric Carle Museum will be there to lead kids in the creation of a Garden Vegetable Collage. This event is a great introduction to conversations with your children about environmentalism and nutrition, plus they will have a great time and you can get some shopping done while you’re there! The event will take place in the cooking classroom. No registration necessary. 413-586-9932. 327 Russell St,Hadley, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, April 16, 10am-11:30am
It is so nice to receive “snail mail” these days! Your children have probably experienced this joy when a birthday card arrived in the mail, but it feels great to send someone a handwritten note as well. Visit the Springfield Armory National Historic Site during April school vacation week, and share the experience through a postcard! Connect with friends and family by sharing what you learn at your visit in a special postcard-writing activity for kids. This is a fun opportunity for your children to learn about crafting a thoughtful message to be sent to a special someone. 413-734-8551. 1 Armory Street #2, Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 16, 10am-4pm
Any plans for Patriot’s Day Weekend? No? Why not travel back in time and rediscover the history behind the Patriot’s Day holiday and the “shot heard ’round the world” at Historic Deerfield? Revolutionary times will come to life through demonstrations of period crafts and activities, fife and drum music, a re-enacted skirmish, and a parade and muster. Historic Deerfield Guides and Open Hearth Cooks will interpret open hearth cooking and powder horn carving in the 1786 Hall Tavern. Horse-drawn wagon rides will transport visitors through the village, and all historic houses will be available for touring. Visitors can make a flag to wave during the afternoon parade, and then take it home as a memento. A “Liberty Quest” will also be available for adventurous visitors. Those who complete the “quest” will receive a prize at the end. This is a great event for adults and kids alike. 413-775-7214. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. (<$)

Sunday, April 17, 10am-4pm
Wednesday, April 20, 10am-11:30am
Friday, April 22, 10am-11:30am
Your child can earn a Junior Ranger badge, patch, and certificate at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site while learning about walnut trees, firearms, and the inventors who worked at the Armory. Participants will have the opportunity to express their thoughts on what they’ve learned through this experience, as they write letters to soldiers. The museum’s Facebook page is an excellent resource for Civil War history, with daily posts about items in the museum’s collection and the war in general. Visit again on Wednesday, April 20, from 10am-11:30am, when you can learn about levers and build a tiny catapult to take home! On Friday, April 22, from 10am-11:30am, you can learn about the roles that spies and secret codes have had in wars since the Revolution. Try to crack an example code, and make a spy cipher to send hidden messages to your friends. 413-734-8551. 1 Armory Street #2, Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Interested in making a different style of catapult to compare with those used in the Civil War? Watch this tutorial on building a da Vinci catapult.

Cultural Studies

Saturday, April 16, 12pm
According to the National Congress of American Indians, there are more than 550 tribes, bands, nations, pueblos, rancherias, communities and Native villages in the United States today. Tribes can differ in many aspects of their culture including language, customs, and dress. There is a lot to learn about Native American culture, and it’s a good idea to start locally, by connecting with Native American communities where you live. You can do just that by attending a Powwow celebration of Native American culture at UMass Amherst. Listen to drummers and storytellers. Curry Hicks Cage. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 16, 2:30pm
The 2013 animated film Boy and the World (PG) involves almost no dialogue, but features stunning visuals and an equally superb soundtrack of Brazilian music. Screening this movie at Images Cinema is a good opportunity to experience a foreign film, from Brazil, without the struggle of reading many subtitles. Instead, viewers can focus on the artwork and music. The lack of dialogue makes this already family-friendly film great for children. You can also discuss with your children the themes of environmentalism which are implicit in the story. Parents and kids who enjoy making art will likely feel inspired by the unique animation style employed by the filmmakers. Boy and the World has won over 40 film festival awards. Images Cinema. 413-458-1039. 50 Spring Street. Williamstown, MA. (>$)

Get a sense of the animation style, music, and themes of Boy and the World in this trailer:

Culinary Arts

Saturday, April 16, 1pm-2pm
Most store-bought snacks, for adults and children, are packed with unnecessary amounts of salt. But kids aren’t always interested in eating raw vegetables, nuts, or other healthy snacks. Come to the Ramsdell branch of the Great Barrington Libraries to learn new recipes for healthy snacks that kids will get excited about eating, such as cinnamon raisin mochi waffle cake! Bring a lunch to enjoy while you listen. 413-274-3738. 1087 Main St, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, April 17, 2:30pm-3:30pm
Cooking is a lifelong skill that everyone needs to survive. Teaching kids at a young age how to cook can make them feel empowered and encourage their natural need to become increasingly independent. This cooking class at the Bushnell Sage Library will teach kids how to make veggie burgers, breakfast, and dessert. This is the final session of a five-week cooking class led by Lia P. Douillet on Sunday afternoons for children between the ages of 10 to 13. Please call 413-229-7004 to register. 48 S Main St, Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 19, 11am
This month’s STEM programming at the Tilton Library will focus on things that grow! There will be hands-on, interactive activities for learning about plants and food chemistry. This event can get your culinary-focused children interested in science, and your scientists interested in food! 413-665-4683. 75 North Main Street. South Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Love food and chemistry? Dive into the world of molecular gastronomy, where chefs create unique foods using unconventional materials and methods.


Saturday, April 16, 2pm
This National Poetry Month, you can develop of love of poetry in your children with this reading of Daniel Finds a Poem by author Micha Archer. The character Daniel develops an interest in poetry through his encounters with various animals at the park. Your children may learn from his example, or otherwise simply enjoy Archer’s storytelling and artwork. Experience storytelling, poetry and art with other families at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. 413-559-6315. 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA. (FREE with museum admission <$)

Wednesday, April 20, 3pm
Most poems are short, making them a great literary art form for reading aloud. Poetry shares a lot of qualities with musical lyrics and lends itself towards performance. Teen poets are invited to the Southwick Public Library to participate in a long tradition of poem sharing at this Teen Poetry Slam! Participants should choose a poem no longer than 3 minutes read aloud and it must contain no inappropriate content. Boost your literary confidence by sharing your work in this positive environment. Refreshments will be served. Call 413-569-1221 ex.3 to sign up. 95 413-569-1221. Feeding Hills Rd, Southwick, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 20, 4pm-5pm
Emily Dickinson’s life in Amherst is an integral part of local history and her legacy continues to inspire a strong literary culture in the town. Celebrate the life of Emily Dickinson, in honor of National Poetry Month, at the Jones Library in Amherst. Two local authors, Jane Yolen and Burleigh Muten, will be reading from their historical books about Emily Dickinson. Honor past and present literary figures of the Pioneer Valley. 413-259-3091. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 21, 11am-4pm
Celebrate National Poetry Month by learning about the life and work of local, historical figure, Emily Dickinson. Today, “Poem in Your Pocket Day,” you can visit the Emily Dickinson Museum, admission is free for anyone who can recite a Dickinson poem from memory at the tour center. Be a part of the ancient history of verse recitation, connect to local history, and pick an excellent poem to carry in your pocket and share with others! This is a great way to meet new people with a shared interest and hear new poems from various authors. 413-542-8161. 280 Main St, Amherst, MA. (Adult $. Youth 6-17 <$. Five college students, children under six, anyone who recites a Dickinson poem, FREE)

Outdoor Adventures

Saturday, April 16, 11am-1pm
Do you know an excellent young angler? Youth 14-years-old and younger can participate in a fishing derby at the West Springfield Upper Reservoir, organized by the West Springfield Parks and Rec Department. All town children and Worthington Rod and Gun club members are eligible to participate. Youth will be able to participate in the following categories: 4 years of age & younger, 5-8 years of age, 9-11 years of age and 12-15 years of age for: the Longest Trout caught by a boy and a girl. Fun competition with friends and neighbors is bound to improve your children’s fishing skills. Parents may assist children in baiting the hook, casting the line, untangling the line and netting the fish.413-263-3284. Upper Reservoir, located at the intersection of Amostown Road, Piper Road and Smyrna Street in West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 19, 2pm-3pm
Mindfulness meditation and yoga practices can help you mentally and physically, increasing levels of relaxation and awareness as well as strength, flexibility, balance, body awareness, and breath control. It’s not just for adults! This youth yoga event is intended for participants ages five and up, at the Whately Public Library. Yoga can help kids where they struggle most: with attention, focus, and emotional regulation. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 21, 10am-1pm
Does your child enjoy climbing? Maybe she should try rock climbing! Your child can try out this sport in a low risk environment with the help of professionals and all necessary supplies provided. A ten dollar donation to benefit the programming at the Easthampton Public Library gives your child unlimited access to rock climbing at the Northampton Athletic Club. Contact the Easthampton Public Library at youthdept@ewmlibrary.org for more information. 306 King St, Northampton, MA. (>$)

Looking for inspiration or new techniques to try out on your next climb? Watch Ashima Shiraishi, an extraordinary young rock climber, and hear her thoughts on the sport:

Friday, April 22, 10am
Even light exercise can help people stay alert. This family event at the New Hingham Elementary school grounds combines literacy with nature exploration and crafts! You will hear the story “Sheep Take A Hike” as you walk around the school grounds. This activity will keep your kids entertained auditorily and kinesthetically. A snack will be provided.413-296-9201.30 Smith Rd, Chesterfield, MA. (FREE)

Performing Arts

Saturday, April 16, 4pm
Have you ever wanted to try improv comedy? Do you have a child who loves the limelight? You and your family can take your turns in the spotlight, or relax and laugh in the audience at the “Happier Valley Family Comedy Show”.The show will utilize audience participation to create scenes, songs and games. If your child does a great job making people laugh, you can take a great deal of pride in this. Humor is a sign of both intelligence and creativity (and requires a degree of fearlessness to try!) Ages 5-12 and their caregivers. 121 Club. 116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA (<$ Kids. $ Adults)

Saturday, April 16, 7pm
Sunday, April 17, 2pm
In Disco Inferno, the classic tale of the soul-selling Faust is set to the greatest disco hits of the 1970’s. Grabbing that jive old story and injecting it with groove, Disco Inferno is chock-full of the songs that defined a generation. Jack is an aspiring musician who wants nothing more than to be famous, so signing away this thing called a soul is a small price to pay. But Jack soon finds all that glitters isn’t gold on the other side, especially if you’re all out of love. Come experience as a talented cast of young actors bring this artful and entertaining masterpiece to life! Veterans, active military, and Scouts in uniform (with accompanying adult) receive free admission with a donation of a non-perishable food item. Performances will be held in the auditorium at South Hadley High School. 413-563-6023. 153 Newton Street, South Hadley, MA. ($$)

Sunday, April 17, 2pm
Humans are a narrative species. We tell stories about our lives so people understand where we come from. We tell stories about our culture, and our family, to build a sense of community. We tell stories about our day-to-day experiences in order to share amusing moments, process information and deal with emotions. Storytellers Matthew Dicks and Tom Lee will showcase their professional storytelling abilities through both traditional folk retelling and contemporary stories. Sit back, enjoy, and gather meaning from their tales. If you’re interested in perfecting your storytelling ability to a professional level, this demonstration will show you a few options for structure and technique.413-551-5111. The Drawing Room at The Mount. Plunkett St Lenox, MA. ($)

Monday, April 18, 11am
This musical and educational performance, “In The Nick of Time,” is free with the price of your admission to the Springfield Museums. 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. The subjects covered in Deysher’s performance should tie in nicely with some of the current Springfield Museum exhibits, including “Wolf to Woof,” an exhibit on the evolutions of dogs. “Wolf to Woof” is currently on display in the Springfield Science Museum. Enjoy a live music performance before or after you peruse the museum. With a blend of genres (jazz, pop, reggae, funk) and a variety of lyrical topics, “In The Nick of Time” has something for everyone. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards St. Springfield, MA. (Adults $. Ages 3-17 <$. Children 2 and under FREE)

Listen to one of Nick’s songs, The Otter Song, to get a taste of his uplifting sound and great lyrics!

Thursday, April 21, 11am
During April school vacation week, you can visit the Springfield Museums and enjoy family-friendly, animal themed programming. For Wednesday’s program, a cast of puppets will act out two classic tales, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Lion and the Mouse. This performance connects nicely with the educational exhibit, “Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs,” on display at the Springfield Science Museum. Check out both and get to know a variety of animals through activities, performance and exhibitions. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards St. Springfield, MA. (Adults $. Ages 3-17 <$. Children 2 and under FREE)

Thursday, April 21, 3:30pm
Friday, April 22, 3:30pm
Have you ever wondered where the phrase “open sesame” originated? The earliest known use of the phrase in writing appears in Antoine Galland’s Thousand and One Nights as, “Sésame, ouvre-toi.” The magical phrase opens a cave of treasure in “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” a folk tale about the perils of greed. The phrase “open sesame” has been perpetuated in American culture and the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves also lives to this day. You and your family can experience this folk tale through the a marionette show at Ventfort Hall. Reservations are recommended. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker St, Lenox, MA. ($. Children 4-12 <$. Children 3 and under FREE)

Friday, April 22, 8:30am
Parents, children, and young adults will all be experiencing and interpreting the classic story of Three Billy Goats Gruff at the Gaylord Memorial Library. Dancers from Mount Holyoke College will present this story in a new light through an original choreographed performance. Three Billy Goats Gruff is a Norwegian fairy tale which has sustained widespread popularity across cultures. 413-538-5047. 47 College St, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 22, 1pm
In addition to learning how to share, children naturally learn how to barter. They swap snacks at lunch, or trade toys for a period of time. Bartering can teach children about value and the social skill of coming to an agreement. This storytelling performance at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art tells the tale of a young sailor who barters for materials to fix his captain’s ship. Author Steve Light will read from his book, and sign copies for interested families. 413-559-6315. 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA. (FREE with museum admission <$)


Magicians often ask audience members to choose a playing card “at random.” Researchers from McGill University, however, have found patterns in these choices. Much like a computer cannot generate a truly random number, humans do not pick cards entirely at random. The researchers found that of their 667 participants, women were more likely to name the King of Hearts, and men the Queen of Hearts when asked to name any card. Understanding the role of human behavior in the phenomenon of magic can make magic shows that much more interesting and entertaining. A good magic show can captivate children’s attention as they watch intently, trying to figure out how the magician made an object appear, disappear, or change. As children try to make sense of the world around them, magic opens up their minds to a world of seemingly impossible possibilities. Read more about magic at our post, Magic Shows: The Psychology Behind Magic Tricks & Illusions, and check out these great magic show experiences that await you this week:

Tuesday, April 19, 2pm & 7pm
Young magician Adam Trent will combine illusions and humor during his show, “The Futurist” at CityStage. Trent has won multiple awards at Pro Magic Challenge and was named one of the 10 most influential youth in the nation by US News & World Report Magazine. 150 Bridge Street. Springfield, MA. (Matinee $, Evening $$)

Tuesday, April 19, 3:30pm
Magic duo and brothers Pete and Chris Paliulis have performed hundreds of family magic shows. Your family can see their captivating performance at Ventfort Hall Mansion. Reservations are recommended. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker St, Lenox, MA. ($. Children 4-12 <$. Children 3 and under FREE)

Thursday, April 21, 6pm
Scott Jameson will be captivating viewers of all ages with his magic and juggling act at the Adams Free Library. In addition to his juggling, Jameson will also spin basketballs, make umbrellas appear out of thin air, and unlock the telekinetic abilities of one lucky audience member. 413-743-8345. 92 Park St, Adams, MA. (FREE)

Music Studies

Sunday, April 17, 3pm
The Mendelssohns were a prominent family in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Moses Mendelssohn was a philosopher who wrote of what he called the “Jewish Enlightenment.” His grandson, Felix Mendelssohn, was a musical prodigy who played piano, composed, and conducted. You can hear Mendelssohn’s compositions brought to life under the direction of cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park, with violinist David Chan, at The Clark Art Institute. 413-458-2303. 225 South St., Williamstown, MA ($$)

Sunday, April 17, 3pm
Learn what the music program at Simon’s Rock has to offer by listening to this concert from the faculty members who comprise The Wilderness Players. You will hear Baroque musical compositions played by a professional quintet: Sharon Powers, flute; Judith Dansker, oboe; John Myers, guitar; Pete Toigo, bass. They will also play South American, Argentinian, Brazilian, European, and American compositions in this family concert at Bard College at Simon’s Rock Kellogg Music Center. 84 Alford Rd, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 19, 11am-12pm
This concert and workshop at the Grace Hall Memorial Library will begin with some history of the ukulele and end with participants strumming along using the chords they’ve learned together. With only four strings, the ukulele is relatively simple and a great introduction to playing string instruments. This event will be part music lesson, part concert, as Dave Yubruh entertains participants with his songs and comedy. 161 Main Rd. Montgomery, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 19, 7:30pm
Lots of interesting instruments, many of which are percussive, originate in Africa. The Shekere, Balafon, and Akuba come from West Africa.The percussive nature of many African instruments lends itself easily to collaborative, improvisational music making. You can explore music from the southern Togo, Ghana and Benin at the 5-College West African Music Ensemble Concert to take place in the McCulloch Auditorium in Pratt Hall at Mount Holyoke College. 50 College St, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Consider the ways in which traditional West African instruments and music intersect with cultural shifts in the Gambia. As one narrator states, “it is through music that you can send a positive message throughout the whole world.”

Wednesday, April 20, 6:30-8pm
Come learn to play this convenient, portable string instrument, in a supportive environment with other beginners. More experienced ukulele players are also welcome, however, to come join in on the fun at the Storrs LibraryPlease bring a ukulele if you own one. Loaner ukuleles will be available on a first-come first-served basis. With only four strings, the ukulele is easier to learn than the guitar and can be a great introduction to learning chord progressions. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow St. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Creative Expression

Monday, April 18 – Friday, April 22, 1pm-4pm
Norman Rockwell Museum is fostering creativity all week-long with their Drop In On Art program, featuring a creative workshop each day. In these sessions, children are invited to invent their own storylines, and to design characters, plots, and settings inspired by art they view throughout the gallery. Caregivers are welcome to join, working collaboratively or side by side with their children. 413-931-2221. 9 Route 183, Stockbridge, MA. (FREE with museum admission and for members)

Tuesday, April 19, 2pm-4pm
Most educators and parents understand that for children, playing is essential to learning as well as emotional well-being. Playing allows children to grow their imaginations, and practice new skills in a safe, fun environment. With so many useful and healthy aspects to play, parents can benefit from participating. Taking time out of a busy day to play with your children not only helps you form happy memories and bond with your kids, it can also increase your well-being and vitality. Jeanne Bassis will be running an intergenerational play shop at the Ramsdell branch of the Great Barrington libraries. These activities will be a mix of imagination, games, creative movement, and relaxation. 413-274-3738. 1087 Main St, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)


Wednesday, April 20, 4pm
Dr. Kelly Lambert, Professor and Chair of Psychology at Randolph Macon College, studied parenting behaviors in rats in order to approach a social question from a scientific standpoint. She asks difficult, complex questions about the roles of mothers and fathers, and what their natural inclinations and abilities may be on a biological level. Hear her discuss her findings as well as her career in general at Bay Path University. This is part of a Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) speaker series. For more information contact acantin@baypath.edu.. 588 Longmeadow St. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 21, 6pm-7:30pm
What do you think are the qualities, actions, and behaviors of a great father? This “Nurturing Fathers” Program at The Family Place will explore the crucial role which fathers play in their children’s lives, and provide support to help dads raise happy, healthy kids. This is a 12-part workshop which will take place at various times over the course of several weeks. Please call 413-663-7588 for more information and to register. 61 Main Street, North Adams, MA. (FREE)

[photo by Rolf Engstrand (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.deductible donation.

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