52 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Mercury’s Transit to Mother’s Day. Fiber Arts to Food Trucks.

Chocolate lovers! Don't miss a chance to learn about this tasty treat, as well as other culinary delights, this week!

Chocolate lovers! Don’t miss a chance to learn about this tasty treat, as well as other culinary delights, this week!

Mercury’s transit to Mother’s Day. Fiber arts to food trucks. Pride to perennials. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week: Ornithology, the study of birds, encompasses many subtopics. People interested in studying birds may want to learn to identify them by sight or sound, analyze their communication through bird songs and behavior, protect endangered species, or become falconers.You can celebrate the spectrum of bird-related topics at the Valley Bird Festival! The festival begins on Saturday, May 7, with a bird walk at 6:30am, followed by family-friendly activities including a falconry demonstration at 8am. The first half of the festival will take place at Fort River Refuge. For more ornithological activities, head over to Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary where the fun continues from 10:30am until 2pm. Play games, visit information tables, and witness live owl demonstrations at 11am and 1pm. For more information, visit the Hitchcock Center for the Environment website. 69 Moody Bridge Road, Hadley, MA, and Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, 127 Combs Road, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

GardeningService-based LearningSkillsharingOrnithology ♦ Computer ScienceAstronomyChemistryEcologyCitizen SciencePerforming ArtsSewingFiber ArtsZoologyCultural StudiesSustainabilityCollaborative ConsumptionVisual ArtsLocal HistoryFolkloreLGBTQCommunity EngagementParenting

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Saturday, May 7, 5am-12pm
Gardening is a fun, hands-on hobby which can brighten up your yard while teaching you about plant and soil science. Gardening requires planning in order for the plants to not be overcrowded or poorly positioned. Involving children in the process can empower them with responsibility while offering multidisciplinary learning. Plant sales provide the chance for community members to share their knowledge and interest in plants as they shop. In addition to starter plants for a garden, you may want to look for cuttings from trees and bushes, wildflowers and grasses, medicinal and culinary herbs, hand-preserved seeds, and plants that aren’t usually grown straight from seeds – like asparagus roots and rhubarb crowns. This plant sale at the Sunderland Corner Store is brought to you by the Sunderland Volunteer Fireman’s Association. 101 North Main Street, Sunderland, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 7, 9am
Want to meet local gardeners, share your talents, learn from others, and help out your local library? The Westhampton Public Library needs volunteers to help with basic gardening chores. Gathering with a group of community members to undertake this type of work is very satisfying and fun. Taking before and after photos can help children appreciate the results of their efforts! Please bring gardening tools if you have them. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 7, 9am-1pm
Support local education by picking up your next set of houseplants, herbs, perennials, trees, birdhouses, compost, and other garden products at the Northampton Education Foundation’s plant sale! There will also be nature books, photographs, cards and clothing for sale and a raffle. To volunteer, donate plants or for general info call 413-537-4437. Northampton, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 7, 9am-1pm
There is a lot more than just plants to be found at the Gardening the Community’s Plant Sale. This gathering of gardeners is a great place to meet people and exchange information on growing your own food, and other homesteading skills. Free workshops will be provided by Springfield Food Policy Council from 10am-12pm. Topics include growing greens, making your own fertilizer, soap, and hand cream, and bicycle repair. Register for workshops on the Springfield Food Policy website. 256 Hancock Street, Springfield, MA. (FREE workshops. MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 7, 2:30pm
Perennial plants are perfect for getting the most out of your gardening efforts. You can create a beautiful, landscaped garden in your yard and with luck and maintenance, the plants will return seasonally. Edible perennials are particularly useful. Naturalist and landscaper John Root will be teaching gardeners how to maintain perennials in this workshop at the West Springfield Public Library. He will teach you about trees, shrubs, vines, canes, and herbaceous plants that yield food items.Perennials will be offered for sale to get you started. 413-736-4561. 200 Park Street, West Springfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, May 7, 6:30am-2pm
Ornithology, the study of birds, encompasses many subtopics. People interested in studying birds may want to learn to identify them by sight or sound, analyze their communication through bird songs and behavior, protect endangered species, or become falconers.You can celebrate the spectrum of bird-related topics at the Valley Bird Festival! The festival begins with a bird walk at 6:30am, followed by family-friendly activities including a falconry demonstration at 8am. The first half of the festival will take place at Fort River Refuge. For more ornithological activities, head over to Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary where the fun continues at 10:30am. Play games, visit information tables, and witness live owl demonstrations at 11am and 1pm.For more information, visit the Hitchcock Center for the Environment website. 69 Moody Bridge Road, Hadley, MA, and Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, 127 Combs Road, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Birds’ colorful plumage is sometimes what draws people into birdwatching. How did feathers evolve? Listen to Carl Zimmer explain in this TEDed talk:

Sunday, May 8, 9am
Bird watching is a fun way to learn about animal behavior, migration patterns, and local habitat. Anyone interested in observing and identifying local birds such as warblers, finches, and swallows, is invited to this beginner bird walk at the Bear Hole Watershed. Dress for the weather, bring binoculars, water, and a snack. This event will cancel in the event of heaven rain. All ages welcome. Please no pets. For more information, call 413-788-4125. Meet at the Four Corners, at the intersection of Prospect Avenue and Morgan Road, West Springfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, May 7, 8:45am- 12pm
Does computer coding strike you as intimidating, difficult, or something best left to professionals? You should try Scratch! Coding utilizes programming “languages” with their own set logic. Anyone who enjoys thinking logically and creatively might enjoy programming. Scratch is a programming language and online community which allows you to create your own games and share them with the world. Scratch is relatively simple and intuitive, but allows users room to grow and learn the basic logic of programming. This workshop will show educators (including formal and informal teachers and homeschooling parents) how to use Scratch to spark an interest in programming in students. Anyone interested in learning Scratch is welcome to attend this workshop at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Monday, May 9, 10am-1pm
The transit of Mercury is an astronomical phenomenon in which Mercury comes between Earth and the Sun, and can be seen as a tiny black dot moving across the sun. How do astronomers predict events like the transit of Mercury with such accuracy? In short, advanced mathematics. Astronomers draw from concepts of Physics, and use Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus to make measurements of distances between objects in the sky, and predictions of when they will appear in various ways from Earth. You can witness the transit of Mercury with your own eyes at the Springfield Museums. Check the Museums’ Facebook page to make sure the event is happening, as it is weather dependent. Free with museum admission. 413-263-6800, ext. 318. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA. ($. Ages 3-17 <$. Under 3 and museum members FREE)

Learn more about the upcoming transit of Mercury from NASA:

Thursday, May 12, 10am-11am
Buoyancy is a basic scientific concept which anyone who has gone for a swim or taken a bath has experienced firsthand. Buoyancy refers to the upward thrust of liquid in response to the immersed object. Children love exploring this concept of physics when they play in bathtubs. Your children can explore buoyancy by building boats at the Erving Public Library. This event is best suited for families with children ages one through four, but all are welcome. This fun lesson will be paired with music, movement, reading and crafts. Call 978-544-5157 to register. 17 Moore Street, Erving, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 13, 3:30pm-4:30pm
Teach your kids about the weather as you create a sun catcher together at the Forbes Library. Bring your sun catchers home and hang them in a window to see how the light affects the sun catcher and the room. Do sun catchers look different during the day and at night? Do they “work” on a cloudy day? Where is the sun on a cloudy  day, anyway? Use this activity to launch into an engaging exploration of astronomy and meteorology with your child! 413- 587-1010. 20 West Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 13, 7pm-9pm
Why does popcorn pop? Corn contains water, which turns to steam, creating pressure inside the hard outer shell and eventually exploding. This is an example of a commonplace chemical reaction. Another common chemical reaction is oxidation. Tarnished silver, rust on a bicycle, and discoloration in some spoiled meats are all results of oxidation. Taking a closer and more analytical look at everyday chemical reactions can be interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the more elaborate and engaging demonstrations which are going to be put on by the UMass Amherst Department of Chemistry. Young scientists, roughly between the ages of five and seventeen, are invited to watch fascinating chemical reactions and engage in some hands-on learning projects. For more information or to RSVP, contact Raina Kittilstved at rkittilstved@chem.umass.edu. Please RSVP by May 11th. This event will take place in the UMass Integrated Sciences Building, Room 135. 661 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Chemical reactions are not only fascinating, they can be quite beautiful. Watch these chemical reactions unfold before your eyes!

Nature Studies

Saturday, May 7, 9:30am-12pm
Are wildflowers popping up in your yard or neighborhood? Do you know what kind of plants they are? You can discover signs of spring on a leisurely walk at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Walk leaders will teach you about the natural history of the land and explain how to identify many plants. Then, participants will gather for tea and do some light research on any plants the group could not identify. Bring a hand lens if you have one. All ages are welcome; this event is best suited for children five and up. 413- 637-0320. 472 W Mountain Road, Lenox, MA. (<$. Children FREE)

Saturday, May 7, 10am-1pm
Do you enjoy the puzzle of identifying species of trees and plants, including wild edible plants? Come to this moderate, three mile hike, organized by Tamarack Hollow, to learn about the species which thrive in high elevation Spruce-Fir forests of the Berkshires. Expand your knowledge of plant life as you discover the defining characteristics of blue bead lily, painted and red trillium, trout lily, wild leeks and more. Directions will be sent upon registration. Email aimee@gaiaroots.com for more information and to register. Berkshire county, (FREE)

Sunday, May 8, 9am-11am
Nature lovers of all ages are invited to Lime Kiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary through the Seasons, Spring edition. Participants will look for newly budding Spring flowers and other plant growth. You will have the chance to explore a variety of natural spaces including farm fields, forests, swamps, and abandoned lime quarries. 413-637-0320. 568 Silver Street, Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 8, 2pm-4pm
Don’t just buy flowers for mom on mother’s day, learn to identify them! On this special mother’s day guided walk around Bartholomew’s Cobble, attendees will get to see and learn about a variety of wildflowers. A naturalist will educate participants about the rare species which thrive at the cobble, and why. 413-298-3239×3013. 117 Cooper Hill Road, Sheffield, MA. (Member <$ Non member $)

Friday, May 13, all day
Imagine going outside and counting all the species of birds, plants, reptiles, amphibians, and insects- all the living things you could find. Alone, this would be a draining exercise. But with lots of help you could identify a lot of local species and learn a great deal about the biodiversity of your region. That’s exactly what will take place at The Hitchcock Center’s 17th Annual 2016 Biothon, a fundraiser for the Center’s environmental education programs. Teams will compete to identify the most species at specific sites sites for any time period (up to 24-hours) on Friday, May 13 – Sunday, May 15 or on Friday, June 3 – Sunday, June 5. Teams will choose their day, time, location, and what species to count. Visit the Hitchcock Center for the Environment website for more information. Locations vary, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

Performing Arts

Saturday, May 7, 11am-12pm
Kids are natural explorers, having new experiences every day. It is no surprise that many children would be enchanted by stories of pirates, exploring unknown lands and miles of sea. Pirates! is an adventure tale full of mysteries and riddles for children and adults to try to solve. With puppets, music, masks and more, actors will bring perform this tale for audience members of all ages at the The Spectrum Playhouse. 413-394-5023. 20 Franklin Street, Lee MA. (DONATION)

Saturday, May 7, 12pm-3pm
Celebrate Spring with all things magical and fantastical at the Meekins Library’s May Faire. At noon the Mill River Madrigal Singers will perform. Ed the Wizard will be around all day performing magic tricks. At 1:30, Pied Potter Hamelin will provide a family-friendly pot throwing demonstration where he will make a dragon! For even more magic, you can attend a fairy house making workshop at 10:15am. See the Meekins Library’s for a detailed list of events. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

Saturday, May 7, 3pm-6pm
Circus acts require the ability to engage a crowd through performance, along with physical strength, balance, and teamwork. Berkcirque provides people of all ages with the opportunity to practice these skills. Come to their Jubilee! Showcase of student work to support them and find out what they’re all about. There will be food, and a raffle with amazing prizes including free classes and workshops. 413-429-4215. 115 Gas House Lane, Great Barrington, MA. (<$)

Saturday, May 7, 7:30pm
With its musical roots in hip-hop and salsa, In The Heights took audiences by storm when it hit Broadway in 2008. This play tells the story of residents in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, as they struggle to make lives for themselves despite poverty, oppression, and gentrification. To help the student cast better understand the origin of this production, Williston theater director Emily Ditkovski took her students to New York City in January to learn about the play’s development first hand, while having lunch with members of the original Broadway cast! The students then toured Washington Heights. Preparing for this play has been a journey of discovery for these students. The performances are the result of extensive study and cultural immersion, giving this show a unique and vibrant authenticity. In The Heights is said to be a beautiful celebration of family, love, and the resilience of the human spirit. Performances will be held at The Williston Northampton Theater. 413-529-3000. 19 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, MA. ($)

Thursday, May 12, 7pm
Friday, May 13, 2pm and 7pm
Starlight’s Youth Theater presents the Tony-Award-winning Broadway musical version of Disney’s Into The Woods right here in our own backyard! This musical brings favorite fairy tale characters such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk to life. These characters set off to make their wishes come true but soon learn to be careful what they wish for as witches, giants and wolves loom. Come watch a talented cast of 70 youths, ages 10-18, from all over the Pioneer Valley. Starlight’s Youth Theatre is dedicated to the development of the child, using theater as a tool to build self-esteem, communication skills, and confidence. Performances will be held at The Academy of Music Theatre. 413-584-9032. 274 Main Street, Northampton, MA. ($$)

Textile Arts

Saturday, May 7, 10am
While hand-sewn clothes have largely been replaced by factory-made ones, the ability to sew remains a useful skill. Learning to sew can present opportunities not only to learn something new, but also exercise creativity. Sewing can lead to community-based learning about local culture and history. Come to the Buckland Public Library for an informal meetup of sewists. Bring a project and supplies. An ironing board will be provided. This is a great opportunity to learn techniques from each other and inspire new projects. 413-625-9412. 30 Upper Street, Buckland, MA. (FREE)

You can find inspiration in the ways artist Samantha Bryan blends her sewing skills with her imagination!

Saturday, May 7, 11am-3pm
The Sheep to Shawl festival provides opportunities for learning about sheep shearing, sheep herding, and fiber art techniques. Viewing sheep shearing demonstrations done with traditional tools gives attendees the chance to learn about New England history. The Green Mountain Weavers & Spinners Guild will demonstrate techniques such as carding, spinning, weaving, and rug-hooking. Children and adults will have the chance to learn some of these techniques through fiber crafts. Local art and food will be available for purchase. The festival will take place at Sheep Hill on Route 7 approximately one mile south of the Williamstown rotary. Look for the sign on the west side of the road. 413-458-2494.Williamstown, MA. (<$)


Saturday, May 7, 10am-4pm
Sunday, May 8, 10am-4pm
Humans give names to the beings and things they care about- their children, their pets, sometimes even important objects like boats. You can participate in a naming contest and meet the baby animals in Zoo in Forest Park? How do baby animals differ? In what ways are they similar? How do they get their needs met? Come to their Baby Days celebration to hear keeper talks and meet and learn about the new animals. 413-733-2251. 293 Sumner Avenue, Springfield, MA (<$)

Saturday, May 7, 7pm; Sunday, May 8, 7pm; Monday, May 9, 1:30pm and 7pm
This screening of family-friendly, short animated films at the Berkshire Museum allows children and adults to learn about art, film, biology, and natural history. Filmmakers and journalists capture science and natural history with paper-puppet animation techniques. This screening is free with regular museum admission. Be sure to check out the ArtZoo exhibit for further learning about animals and art! 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. ($. Under 18 <$. Under 3 FREE)

Friday, May 13, 2pm-3:30pm
It is well-known that bears hibernate in winter. Did you know that in cold regions, some species of frogs do too? This kids’ Friday event at the Northfield Public Library will feature crafts, computer games, coloring, jokes and stories all about frogs! Come by to learn all about these fascinating amphibians. 413-498-2455. 115 Main St, Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction! Learn how wood frogs hibernate by making their own antifreeze, becoming partially frozen, and later “thawing” in the spring!

Tuesday, May 10, 6:30pm
Scientists have theorized that cats essentially domesticated themselves, thousands of years ago after humans domesticated livestock. Cats began to spend their time hunting the rodents that lived near humans, and became less aggressive. Today, pet owners actively take care of their cats by feeding and grooming and providing them with good medical care. You can learn about new research into the feline family and how to be a better pet owner at this workshop at River Valley Co-op. Registration is required by calling 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Culinary Arts

Saturday, May 7, 11am-11pm
In the April 2016 issue of Time magazine, Chef Roy Choi was named one of the top 100 most influential people, in part for bringing food trucks into the mainstream and making high quality food available on his trucks. The mobility of food trucks make it possible to easily provide many different options for attendees of food truck fairs. Pittsfield’s 3rd annual Food Truck Rodeo will feature Lebanese, Latin American, classic American food and more. There will be children’s activities and proceeds will support The Giving Garden. Come to Shire City Sanctuary to take part in the cultural movement of food truck dining. 40 Melville Street, Pittsfield, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 7, 2pm
Chocolate takes a long journey before you buy it wrapped up at a store. Cocoa beans come from tropical areas of the Americas where they are cut from trees with a machete. The beans are removed from their pods and fermented for several days. Further processing, cooking, and added ingredients turn these beans into chocolate as we know it. You and your mother can celebrate Mother’s Day by learning about, and tasting, chocolate! Cookbook author Dede Wilson will teach you how chocolate is made and provide samples. Please register for this event by calling the Sunderland Public Library at 413-665 2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Who grows the cocoa in your chocolate bar?

Sunday, May 8, 2pm
Want to pass on an appreciation of your Jewish heritage to your children through delicious food? Attend this Mother’s Day cooking demonstration and talk at the Yiddish Book Center. Lynn Kirsche Shapiro, author of the cookbook, Food, Family and Tradition: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances will discuss her immigration story and share family recipes. Call 413-256-4900 or visit the Yiddish Book Center website to purchase tickets. 1021 West Street, Amherst, MA. ($)

Tuesday, May 10, 6:30pm
Learning about wild edible plants opens up new possibilities for learning and lifestyle, filling your nature walks with new discoveries and your dinner with fresh ingredients! Plant identification books can get you started, but it’s more fun to learn with friends. Russ Cohen will be taking community members on a foraging walk on the trails around the Northfield Public Library. 413-498-2455. 115 Main St, Northfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, May 7, 9am-12pm
Do you want to help clean up your community and encourage recycling? These are two ways to actively promote sustainability! Participate in Lee’s first annual Greener Gateway Cleanup day! Participants will pick up trash along the Housatonic River, followed by a celebration at the gazebo. This event is part of the National River Cleanup Day. To volunteer or for more information, contact Valerie at valerie4748@gmail.com. Lee, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, May 7, 11am-11pm
Climate change is a global problem, but climate action can be achieved successfully on a local level. Berkshire County boasts a growing climate action network including 350Mass Berkshires and the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). “Living the Change,” the Climate Action and Sustainability Fair at The Shire City Sanctuary, gives community members a chance to learn more about these efforts and become actively involved. Presentations will cover topics such as community-building, sustainable economy, local activism, solar energy, and more. Child care will be available during presentations. There will be movies, dancing, and plenty of activities for children throughout the day. A full schedule can be found on the b>350Mass Berkshires and Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) websites. For more information call 413-329- 3514. 40 Melville Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Talk about sustainability! Learn how the town of Kamikatsu, Japan, has worked towards its goal of producing zero waste:

Saturday, May 7, 3pm-7pm
Want to learn about local climate change initiatives and organizations? The Cleaner, Greener, More Just Earth Care Fair in Leverett will feature climate change organizers from various groups and discuss topics such as stopping the pipeline, maintaining forests, and carbon tax initiatives. Organized by the American Friends Service Committee, this event is rare among sustainability fairs in that it will also explore the intersection of spiritual or religious faith and climate action. Participants are welcome, but not required, to bring potluck items. 413-522-7505. Mt. Toby Friend Meetinghouse. 194 Long Plain Road Leverett, MA. (DONATION)

Wednesday, May 11, 10am-11:30am
Every Wednesday, parents can take their children between the ages of birth to five years to a playgroup at the Erving Elementary School gym. This week there will be a Spring/Summer clothing swap during the play group. Please bring any hand-me-down baby clothes you have. By sharing items within our communities, we keep them out of the waste stream (and save money, too). For more information visit the Community Network for Children website of call 978-544-5157.Erving Elementary School, 28 Northfield Road, Erving, MA. (FREE)

Visual Arts

Saturday, May 7, 2pm
Come to the Odyssey Bookshop for a showcase of youth artwork. Young artists have submitted work which they think exemplifies something important about their community. See your community through the eyes of these talented young artists as their work is revealed. Author and illustrator Anna Alter will also read from her work and draw with participating kids. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 7, 2pm-6pm
Come meet local artists and experience their work at the first Art Walk of the season in Shelburne Falls. You will be able to see, and possibly purchase, folk art, fiber art, ornaments, quilts, watercolor works, photography and paintings in galleries and shops all over town. You can also hear a musical performance by harpist Rosemary Caine from 4-6pm in Salmon Falls Gallery, at 1 Ashfield Street. During the entirety of the Art Walk, you can meet watercolor artist Ardath Garfield and experiment with watercolor painting in The Art Garden, 14 Depot Street. Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 13, 4pm-8pm
Do you like to make abstract art? Activities at the Smith College Museum of Art will encourage abstract art making through experimentation with unusual tools. Participants of all ages will unleash their creativity without paintbrushes. If you prefer making realistic drawings or paintings, this is a great opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new. Hands-on art activities will take place from 4-6pm, followed by a guided gallery talk. 413-585-2760. 20 Elm Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Get excited about abstract art in its myriad forms by watching Optical Poem, a short abstract art film by Oskar Fischinger.


Saturday, May 7, 3pm-5pm
This is local history at its finest! Zenon is an essayist, poet, photographer, common-sense philosopher, father, jack-of-all-trades, and friend. Join the Huntington Historic Committee for an oral review of his life and a reading of a number of excerpts from his book, When the Gypsies Come at Twilight, – as well as slides of period advertisements, his own photos and town photographs relating to his life in town. Books will be available for purchase and signing. For more information contact the Huntington Historical Society at 413-667-3039. Stanton Hall. 24 Russell Road, Huntington, MA.

Sunday, May 8, 11am-4pm
In conjunction with the national celebration, 400 years of Shakespeare, The Emily Dickinson Museum is offering a new tour highlighting the influence Shakespeare had on Dickinson’s life and work. This tour will be offered free on Sundays in May (May 8, May 15, May 22 and May 29). Participants will explore the Dickinson homestead and the grounds as they learn about these two famous poets in a context of local history. Please call 413-542-2947 or e-mail info@emilydickinsonmuseum.org with questions. Reservations are recommended. 280 Main Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, May 10, 9:30am-4pm
The hands-on nature of living history museums can engage kids who are otherwise not interested in learning about history. Through active participation, kids can learn that history is a broad topic which includes the day-to-day lives of historical figures. You and your homeschooled children (between the ages of five and seventeen) can learn about open hearth cooking, gardening, carpentry and paper marbling at Old Sturbridge Village’s May Home School Day. Join other homeschooling parents and children for hands-on historical learning. 508-347-0274. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA. ($ for admission)

Thursday, May 12, 4pm-4:45pm
Do you know an avid reader in 3rd through 5th grade? He or she can join other young bookworms as they discuss I Survived: The Battle of Gettysburg at the Westfield Athenaeum. Children will learn about the Civil War through an engaging first-person narrative of historical fiction. The first ten people to register will receive free copies of the book! Call 413-568-7833 to sign up. 6 Elm Street, Westfield, MA. (FREE)


The word “fairy,” comes from the old French “faerie,” meaning “enchantment.” Fairies, similar in some ways to Germanic elves, appear frequently in English folklore. Wings are rare in the original folklore but fairies in artwork and literature today usually have wings. These tiny, magical creatures continue to capture the imagination of children and adults. Dive into imaginative play at one of these fairy-themed events!

Saturday, May 7, 9am-10:30am or 10:15-11:30
Come to the Meekins and Haydenville Libraries’ May Faire celebration where you can build fairy houses out of natural materials at Bradley Sanctuary. Participants will leave their fairy houses along the trail for others to find. Meanwhile, look for salamanders and wildflowers! If you’d prefer to take your fairy house home with you, you can instead attend a fairy house building workshop in the Hawks~Hayden room at the Meekins Library(2 Williams Street). For more information call 413-268-7472. For the 9am event, meet at Bradley Sanctuary,Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 13, 10am-11am
Families are invited to the Adams Free Library for a Fairy Storytime with fairy-themed art activities. Call The Family Center at 413-664-4821 for more information. 92 Park Street, Adams, MA. (FREE)

(See also the May Faire event for additional fairy-themed fun!)


Saturday, May 7, 12pm-5pm
Northampton held its first liberation pride parade in 1981, a time when there were no legal protections for non-heterosexual employees. Community members marched with paper bags on their heads to draw attention to the fact that they could be fired because of their sexual orientation. Northampton Pride 2016 will kick off at noon with a parade, then convene at the Tri County Fairgrounds at 1:30 for all kinds of entertainment. Food and drink will be available to buy, but admission and parking will be free! Performances will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing by a crew of qualified ASL interpreters. There will be a youth tent featuring hands-on activities for children and adults. For more information, visit the Noho Pride website. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

View excerpts from the 2015 Noho Pride parade!

Saturday, May 7, 1pm-4pm
A study published in the March issue of Pediatrics found that transgender children whose parents support their identities end up no more or less likely to suffer from depression than cis-gender adults. This is strikingly different from average statistics on transgender adults, who report far higher levels of anxiety and depression than cis-gendered people. Parental support makes a big difference! Want to encourage your children to respect and appreciate diversity? The Montessori School of Northampton will be hosting a family-friendly celebration after the Northampton Pride Parade. Bring your kids of all ages to enjoy games, crafts, and access to a playground. 51 Bates Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Community Engagement

Celebrate National Volunteer Month at this Hilltown Families Family Volunteer Day with The Food Bank of Western MA. Volunteering together teaches children positive values, like kindness, empathy and tolerance, and opens up channels of communication between parent and child. Engaging children in community service can increase their participation as future volunteers, helping to create more resilient and sustainable communities. There will be a number of educational and hands-on activities for children and their caregivers at this event. Register online. 97 North Hatfield Road. Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

Wednesday, May 11, 3pm-4pm
Come make your voice heard and share what you would like to find at the Westfield Athenaeum. Library patrons between the ages of 12 and 18 are invited to join the Teen Advisory Board and help brainstorm programming, and suggestions for the collection. If you would like to join, please contact Heather. Joining a Teen Advisory Board is a fun way to make friends while boosting your resume and experience for jobs and college applications. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street, Westfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, May 7, 10:30am-12pm
Toddlers like to ask questions. Why is the sky blue? Why did the glass break? Why does the dog bark? Kids want to know why things are the way they are. This is actually a rather scientific outlook. Embedded in children’s questions and their answers are scientific concepts: physics, biology, environmental science, and more. This workshop will teach you techniques for encouraging your child’s natural inquisitiveness, and experimenting with the world in a scientific way. This workshop is for parents of children ages 0-5. Please register at the Collaborative For Educational Services website, or call the library at 413-467-3220. Please indicate the number of children attending and their ages, and whether or not you need child care. 297 East State Street , Granby, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, May 11, 7pm
The documentary series The Raising of America is meant to increase awareness of the struggles of modern parenting in this country, and to inspire changes in our education system, employment benefits, and culture. The film discusses political issues such as paid parental leave, sick leave, and affordable housing. Screening the film with other parents, educators, and people who care about children, is particularly productive. You can screen this film with community members at the Shutesbury Town Hall, sponsored by the Spear Library. 10 Cooleyville Road, Shutesbury, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 13, 12:30pm-5pm
Parents, educators, and others who regularly interacts with teens, need to know how to identify a mental health crisis and act accordingly. This Youth Mental Health First Aid training will identify common mental health challenges for young people and outlines steps to take in a crisis, or non crisis situation. This course will cover topics such as anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders and eating disorders. 413-582-0471 Ext. 5559. 8 Atwood Drive, Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Photo credit: “Theo Chocolate Factory Tour” by Eli Duke, CC A-SA 2.0

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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