52 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Railroads to Running. Cultural Studies to Coding

Art created by native peoples of the Pacific Northwest offers a vibrant and engaging look into Native cultures, folklore, history, and values. Visit this new exhibit, Finding Raven, at the Berkshire Museum on its opening day, and enjoy special interactive stations to enrich your understanding and appreciation of the techniques, stories, and identities behind the works of art!

Railroads to running. Cultural studies to coding. Gorges to gardening. 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: Storytelling is a highly empathetic process. When you combine the creative empathy involved in storytelling with the therapeutic effects of expressing yourself through pictures, the activity has a profound impact. Comic books and graphic novels do just this; they force artists and writers to think about people’s emotions, and the social impact of characters’ actions on each other. On Saturday, May 21st, 10:30am-1:30pm, The Lee Library is hosting a Comic Jam, a collaborative storytelling adventure for cartoonists of all ages and abilities. This fun-filled event will encourage participants to think critically, empathetically, and creatively. Each artist will contribute to other artists’ comics, resulting in a highly original work which could not be created by a single individual. No prior experience or ability is required. Participants can drop in any time. 413- 243-0385. 100 Main Street, Lee, MA. (FREE)

PlacemakingGamesFitnessEmotional HealthCollaborative ConsumptionNative American StudiesHorticultureFolk DancingIntergenerationalBeekeepingDinosaursPhysicsInventionsCarpentryScrapbookingMusic StudiesGeologyStorytellingImprovPsychologyParenting

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Saturday May 21, 10am
Be a part of local history by attending the 25th annual Chester on Track, celebrating the railway-era history of Chester, brought to you by the Chester Railway Station. There will be civil war re-enactors, and the Chester Historical Society will be open for tours. The musical lineup will include jazz, bluegrass, and a musical comedy performance, “Hear That Whistle Blow.” There will be plenty to keep kids entertained including a bounce house and food. Purchase books, plants, and baked goods to support the Hamilton Library. This is a great chance to learn about, and develop a newfound appreciation for, a wonderful Western Mass town! 413-354-7878. Chester, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 21, 10am-4pm
Sunday, May 22, 12pm-4pm
The annual Long Meddowe Days celebration, to benefit The Longmeadow Historical Society, is an all ages celebration of Longmeadow past and present. The event will feature food, music, entertainment, activities for children, historical tours, a 5K road race/walk and a parade along with artists, crafters and photographers. On walking tours through the town green and cemetery, attendees will learn about the history of their town. For more local history learning, stop by the Storrs House Museum during the event. You are also invited to meet at the St. Mary’s Church parking lot at 9:15 a.m if you would like to march in the parade alongside employees and friends of the Storrs Library. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 21, 10am- 5pm
The mission of The Trustees of Reservations is to protect nature sites and local historical properties for educational use by the public. The Trustees are celebrating their 125th anniversary by inviting you to visit nine of their historic sites for free! In Western Massachusetts, you can see the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, the Ashley House in Sheffield, Naumkeag and The Mission House in Stockbridge, and Field Farm in Williamstown. See the Trustees website for more information. 413-532-1651 x 3110. Massachusetts. (FREE)

Learning opportunities abound at the Trustees’ lands and properties! For starters, take a few minutes to learn about the history and architecture of Naumkeag, a beautiful, historic house made in a classic shingle style.

Saturday, May 21, 10am-4pm
Sunday, May 22, 10am-4pm
Nine Men’s Morris is a strategic board game from the era of the Roman Empire. It is mentioned as early as 8 CE in Ovid’s Ars Amatoria. The game is also mentioned in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Learning historic games is a way to participate in history. Without needing extensive historical knowledge or the skills of a living history actor, you can experience a part of everyday life of another time period. The Great Colonial Encampment at the Farmington River Regional School District will feature games of Nine Men’s Morris as well as a 1770s version of baseball, called Rounders. Attending the festival, you can also see colonial style cooking, weaving, carpentry, and tin work, while discussing these skills with living historical actors. 413-269-4466. 555 N Main Road, Otis, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 21, 2pm
This program at the Jones Library will combine literary learning, history, and a sword demonstration! Fencing coach Jeff Lord will explain the history of sword use in Western Europe, with a special focus on Shakespeare’s time. After the demonstration you will more easily be able to imagine the sword fights in Shakespeare’s plays. There will also be an opportunity to discuss and ask questions. This is one of many events designed to support the exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio at Amherst College. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Health & Wellness

Sunday, May 22, 10am-1:30pm
The second annual Wild Goose Chase and Kids’ Carnival gives people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to participate in 5K runs, fun runs, and walks. Entire families can run together, encouraging each other right up to the finish line. This is a great way for parents to lead by example, exercising with their children and showing them how fun running can be. The kids’ carnival at Look Park will include games, food, wagon rides, live music, a photo booth, and prizes. This event benefits Whole Children.The first 600 registered goose chasers will receive a free water bottle and Bueno Y Sano coupon. All kids’ race participants will receive medals. Register online to participate in the chase! 300 N Main Street, Florence, MA. (<$ – $$)

Sunday, May 22, 10am-4pm
This health festival will provide lectures on many topics, including reiki, tai chi, chiropractic care, herbicides, GMOs, medicinal wild foods, and more. These issues are both personal and, in some cases, tied up with local and national laws (GMO labeling, for example). There will also be crafts, vendors, free samples, nature walks, and a scavenger hunt. The event will take place in the back parking lot of Better Life Whole Foods. 1500 Allen Street, Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 22, 11am
Do you know a kinesthetic learner–someone who learns best through physical activity? This session of outdoor games at Mount Greylock will have participants foraging for food while eluding capture from a predator. “Robin Versus Hawk” is the perfect game for energetic people who want to learn by doing. Gain new understandings of predator/prey relationships while getting a healthy dose of exercise! Meet at the Visitors’ Center, 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA. (FREE)

Learn more about the importance of movement in teaching and learning from this TEDx talk by educator Michael Kuczala.

Sunday, May 21, 2pm-4pm
The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children and Teens will be having a workshop, “Feeling Grief in Our Bodies,” for anyone between the ages of five and eighteen who has experienced the death of someone close at any point in their lives. The workshop will focus on how grief affects the body. Information about acupressure points and deep breathing exercises will also be shared. RSVP to Shelly Bathe Lenn, Coordinator at The Garden. 413-582-5312. The event will take place at Cooley Dickinson VNA and Hospice. 168 Industrial Drive. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Spring cleaning season is in full swing, and many people and organizations are evaluating what they are ready to pass along to a new home. Whether you are looking for clothes for your fast-growing kids, some great reading material, CDs or books on tape for this summer’s travel, or a particular household item, you would do well to check out a local sale! Doing so will keep useful items out of the waste stream and are much more affordable than items you purchase new. Here are a few to check out!

Saturday, May 21, 8am: The Friends of the Clapp Memorial Library annual community tag sale includes clothes, home goods, and books. 413-323-0417. 19 South Main Street, Belchertown, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 21, 9am-3pm: The Forbes Library book sale includes like-new books, cds, dvds as well as deacquisitioned library items, including vinyl. There will also be music and activities to keep families entertained. The A E I O Ukes will play from 11-1, followed by Tai Chi for Children with Linda Peck 1:15-2:15. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street, Northampton, (MARKET/SALE) 

Saturday, May 21, 9am-2pm: The Emily Williston Memorial Library Spring Book Sale includes a variety of books. 413-527-1031. 9 Park Street, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 21, 11am-4pm: The Storrs Library Spring Book Sale includes a variety of books. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 21, 10am-3pm
Take a tour of Seeds of Solidarity Farm (10:00-11:30am) and Little White Goat Dairy Farm (1:00-2:30pm). At Seeds of Solidarity you will learn about low maintenance gardens, solar greenhouses, and energy-efficient buildings. At Little White Goat you will walk the pastures, see the products and learn about the microbiome of the soil. Come for one or both tours, with an optional potluck meal in between. Orange, MA. (FREE)

Native American Studies

Saturday, May 21, 10am-6pm
Nolumbeka is an Abenaki word which means “a stretch of quiet water between two rapids.” The Nolumbeka Project seeks to educate people about the Great Falls (Peskeompskut) Massacre and honor Native culture. This ceremony at Great Falls Discovery Center will commemorate the 240th anniversary of this historic event with elder teachings by Native American grandmothers, as well as talks by guest speakers, and music. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. FREE)

Sunday, May 22, 1pm-2:30pm
Local history is inextricably tied to Native American history. This nature talk, to take place at the top of the Mount Holyoke Range, will teach participants about how the Valley’s early peoples interacted with the land and used its resources. This talk will give attendees some idea of what the landscapes used to look like, and offer an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of land ownership from a cultural standpoint. Meet at Skinner State Park. Register by emailing andrea@kestreltrust.org. 10 Skinner State Park Road. Hadley, MA. (<$)

Sunday, May 21, 2pm
In his new book, Heartbeat, Warble, and the Electric Powwow: American Indian Music, author and musician Craig Harris draws on interviews with musicians, producers, and ethnographers to relay the cultural story of Native American musical traditions. He will be discussing his research and book in an interactive, participatory, multi-media presentation at the Gaylord Memorial Library. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 27, 5:30pm-7:30pm
One of the Berkshire Museum’s new exhibits is Finding Raven: Art and Stories from the Northwest Coast. Featuring Native peoples’ art from the Pacific Northwest, this exhibit includes an amazing array of artwork and objects, both historic and contemporary, by the Haida, Tlingit, Kwak’waka’wakw, Tsimshian, and Coast Salish. Come to the family-friendly opening reception for this exhibit as well as for Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies, and enjoy special interactive stations and refreshments. RSVP requested. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. (Adults $. Children <$)

This exhibit opens with a Circle of Totems. Wonder how an artist goes about creating one, and what the designs within represent? Watch this!


Saturday, May 21, 8:30am-2:30pm
Gardening is a fun, hands-on hobby which can brighten up your yard while teaching you about plant and soil science. Involving children in the process can empower them with responsibility while offering opportunities for multidisciplinary learning. At plant sales, community members can share their knowledge and interest in plants as they shop. The Garden Club of Amherst will hold its annual plant sale under the tent on the Amherst Common, rain or shine. The plant sale supports beautification projects and local conservation. For information about The Garden Club of Amherst, email mmichael@smith.edu. Amherst, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 21, 9am-1pm
Buy your next set of perennials, annuals, and gardening books at this plant sale and benefit the Granby Library! At 9am, naturalist and landscaper John Root will be giving a talk on organic gardening, teaching visitors how to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. This event has everything you need to get started! 413-467-3320. 297 East State Street, Granby, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 21, 1:30pm-3:30pm
This educational walk will teach participants how to identify wild plants and respectfully harvest them in a sustainable way. Holistic health coach and herbalist of Sweet Birch Herbals, Hannah Jacobson-Hardy, will teach attendees about the medicinal qualities of local herbs, and the uses of local plants. She will identify local plants and herbs which you can use to make salads, soups, and skin care products. This event will take place at the Greenfield Recreation and Swim Area. Register at the Northeast Organic Farming Association website. 20 Sanderson Street, Greenfield, MA. ($$)

Tuesday, May 24, 9:30am-11am
Children under five and their caregivers are invited to participate in a garden playgroup sponsored by the Trustees of Reservations. Your kids can learn about locally grown vegetables. By interacting with healthy foods in fun ways they can form positive associations with these foods. Children and their caregivers will gain the knowledge and skills to start their own gardens at home. Babies are also welcome. Groups will take place at Monument Mountain every Tuesday until June 28 2016. Registration is recommended. 413-298-3239. Great Barrington, MA. (<$)

We are fortunate in Western Mass to have access to many green spaces in which to create gardens. However, expanses of fields are not required to create productive veggie gardens! Take a look at this rooftop vegetable garden in Brooklyn!


Sunday, May 22, 3pm-5pm
You and your family members of all ages can learn dance techniques as you move to live music on piano and fiddle. This intergenerational dance party at The Common School will also feature a potluck supper. Please bring something to share. This event is co-sponsored by Country Dance and Song Society. Contact Linda Henry by email at lindapiano@gmail.com with any questions. 521 South Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (DONATION)

Thursday, May 26, 6pm-8pm
Bring a lawn chair, or set up a picnic with friends and family at the season’s first Coop Concert in Greenfield. You can also explore the gardens, and children will be able to play on the brand new train structure in the children’s area. This first concert will feature The Frost Heaves and Hales, Joe Graveline, and Russ Thomas. Energy Park, 50 Miles Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Animal Studies

Saturday, May 21, 10am
Beekeeping is an educational hobby which teaches beekeepers about entomology. Beekeeping can also be a vital part of a sustainable living lifestyle. As a parent-child activity, keeping bees is one way of instilling sustainable values and an appreciation of nature in your children. Come to the Berkshire Museum to attend a Learner’s Lab on beekeeping which is included with regular museum admission. Visitors will learn how to maintain a healthy bee colony, and study bee behavior first-hand. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. (Adults $. Children under 18 <$. Members and children under 3 FREE)

Do you enjoy honey? Watch how it can be harvested from a beekeeper’s hive.

Saturday, May 21, 10am-1pm
Turtles have been on the earth for more than 200 million years, evolving before birds, crocodiles, snakes, and even lizards. Come to Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to hear a talk about turtles, and listen to music by Earthtunes. This musical duo plays educational music for kids and their families, incorporating puppets and a lot of audience involvement. Music will be followed by a nature walk. Kids and adults will learn about nature through spoken word, song, and direct experience. 413- 584-3009. Main Street, Hampden, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, May 24, 6:30pm
Want to learn about the natural wildlife of Western Massachusetts? Join naturalist Sue Morse as she gives a visual presentation on the mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles which share our habitat. Sue Morse is the founder of Keeping Track, an organization which trains biologists and citizen scientists in wildlife monitoring skills. Come to this presentation at Mohawk High School to learn how you can become more involved in sustaining local wildlife. For more information contact the Franklin Land Trust at 413-625-9151. 24 Ashfield Road. Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 27, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Media trends come and go, but there are some topics which fascinate children across generations. One of those topics is dinosaurs. The Berkshire Museum’s exhibit, Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies will be on view until Sunday, August 28, 2016. This exhibit offers a new way of looking at dinosaurs, by studying their eggs and nests, and learn about how dinosaurs cared for their young. Using dinosaurs as an entry-point, you can make science fun and offer your children opportunities for learning about evolutionary biology, ancient history, geology and archaeology. Another new and exciting exhibit is Finding Raven: Art and Stories from the Northwest Coast, featuring the art of Native peoples. You can come to the opening reception of both, enjoy refreshments, and check out fun, interactive stations. RSVP requested. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. (Adults $. Children <$)


Saturday, May 21, 10am
Do you know a young girl or boy who loves Batman, science, or both? Your family can watch the 1966 film, Batman: The Movie, (Not Rated) and learn the science behind the film’s depictions of flight, invisibility, walking through walls, and more. Prior to the film, Mad Science of Western New England will give a fun and informative talk. Amherst Cinema. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Saturday, May 21, 11am-3pm
The inventions covered in this exciting event at the Berkshire Museum required both creative and critical thinking to make. Inventors utilize scientific knowledge like engineering and math, while seeking to meet a human need or technological opportunity. This “Meet The Inventors” program will give people of all ages an opportunity to meet the innovative thinkers behind The Chamberlain Group’s medical models, the Brød & Taylor knife sharpener, and a writers-in-residence program, The Mastheads. Educators from Hancock Shaker Village will provide a historical perspective, discussing Shaker inventions such as the flat broom, seed packets, and a version of the circular saw. Come get inspired to invent, and take a closer look at inventions in the world around you. This event is free with regular museum admission. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. ($. Under 18 <$. Children three and younger, and museum members FREE)

We encounter countless inventions each day and often take their functions for granted. Consider the click pen. Perhaps you even used one today! Do you know the mechanics behind how it works?

Wednesday, May 25, 5:30pm-6:30pm
Scratch is a programming language and online community which allows you to create your own games and share them with the world. Scratch Junior is a simpler version, made specifically to help children learn the fundamental logic of computer programming. Junior programmers between the ages of five and seven are invited, with their caregivers, to this Scratch Junior workshop hosted by b>Holyoke Codes. Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 27, 3:30pm
Minecraft, a game of increasing popularity among children, is like a digital version of LEGOs. In the game, players have to build any number of objects and architectural pieces out of blocks. When played in moderation, this game can have surprisingly positive effects on kids’ learning and motivation. Teachers have begun using this game to explain physical and mathematical concepts. The game requires complex planning, technological knowledge, and even creativity. This kids’ Minecraft Club meeting at the Forbes Library will feature a special challenge! Meetings take place in the Community Room. Registration is required. 413-587-1011. 20 West St, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Arts & Crafts

Saturday, May 21, 10am-12pm
The oldest known work of art made by papercutting is from the 6th century, found in Xinjiang, China. Many different cultures, however, have a tradition of papercutting. You can learn this ancient art, and create a literary-inspired design, at the Jones Library. Adults and young adults, ages fifteen and up, are invited. No experience necessary, and materials will be provided. Please register by calling 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

View the patient process and beautiful products of paper cutting artist Rob Ryan:

Saturday, May 21, 11:30pm-1pm
Birdhouses of all shapes make nice decorations, but if you want to attract specific birds, you need to consider what they are looking for in a home! Bluebird houses are relatively simple and easy to make. They are rectangular with a large roof, and involve protective measures for keeping snakes and other creatures out. A new 4-H club in Granby, for boys and girls between the ages of five and eighteen, will be meeting at the Granby Library twice a month. At this meeting they will build bluebird houses. In the future, the group will go on field trips plan community service activities, attend conferences, exhibit at fairs, and much more. Joining 4-H is a great opportunity for service-based and interest-based learning with a focus on agriculture. 413-467-3320. 297 East State Street, Granby, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, May 26, 3pm-4pm
In an increasingly digital world, people do not always print physical copies of their photographs. Printing them allows you to make scrapbooks, a fun crafting activity which adds a further element of creativity to photography. Bring photographs of your choice to the Westfield Athenaeum to scrapbook with your friends. This event is for patrons between the ages of 12 and 18. Registration is required. Please call 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Music Studies

Saturday, May 21, 10:30am
Springfest 2016 is an opportunity to explore downtown Northampton and listen to a myriad of musical groups, from elementary-school aged cello and violin students, to professional women’s choirs. Students and faculty from the Northampton Community Music Center will showcase their talent and hard work at various locations across downtown. The full schedule can be found on the Northampton Community Music Center website. 413-585-0001. In case of rain, performances will be moved to the Northampton Community Music Center at 139 South Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 22, 4pm
Adult wind ensemble, The Valley Winds, will be performing selections from Bizet’s Carmen at The Academy of Music Theatre in collaboration with ballet and dance by the Ines Arrubla Flamenco Dance Theatre.The Valley Winds’ mission is to create an artistically driven ensemble with an emphasis on community relevance. All are invited to witness this professional dance and music performance. 413-584-9032. 274 Main Street. Northampton, MA. (Adult $$. Student and senior <$. Children under 12 FREE)

Monday, May 23, 10:30am
Playing music has many positive mental and social benefits. Even just listening to music can calm you down, and singing along releases endorphins! Bring your preschool aged children to the Pelham Library’s final “Music for Little Ones” program to enjoy some good family-friendly music and encourage a lifelong love of music in your kids. 413-253-0657. 2 South Valley Road. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

Nature Studies

Saturday, May 21, 11am
Learn about New England’s natural history on this moderate, 1.8 mile hike at Mount Greylock. The hike leader will also show you the thumbprint of a lightning strike, and explain how the Department of Conservation and Recreation gauges the health of our forests. Meet at the Visitors’ Center, 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 21st, 6pm-10pm
The Spring Wildflower Full Moon Arts and Music Fest is an all ages, fundraising celebration of local music and art. Bring your own instruments to participate in a campfire jam, and your hiking clothes for the full moon hike! There will be wildflower craft activities, and opportunities to try edible wildflowers. Event proceeds go to support the Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center. Purchase tickets on their website. The event will take place at the Mount Greylock State Reservation Visitors’ Center. 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesboro, MA. (DONATION)

Sunday, May 22, 10am-3pm
Gorges and canyons form when rock is eroded by rivers. Nature lovers can explore gorges to learn about biological life in the river, as well as the geology of the rock. Professor Emeritus Richard Little and naturalist Nancy Goodman will lead participants on this nature hike around the Chesterfield Gorge, featuring 70-foot-high walls carved by the Westfield River. You will witness stunning views of the river as well as the surrounding forest, which contains hemlock, ash, and oak, and is home to bears, bobcats, and turkeys. Please register on the Greenfield Community College website. Bring water and lunch. 413-775-1661. Chesterfield, MA. (<$)

The Chesterfield Gorge is one of Massachusetts’ natural treasures. If you’ve yet to experience it, start with this introduction, then get there in person for the true experience.

Sunday, May 22, 2pm-4pm
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary will be celebrating forty years of environmental education at this free, all ages event. Educators at Arcadia Nature Preschool understand the importance of nature-based education and time spent outdoors. You can meet past teachers and graduates while enjoying a slice of birthday cake! Raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi will give a birds of prey demonstration and there will be nature games and birdwatching. Preschoolers in attendance can learn about seed starting. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, May 24, 3:15pm-4:30pm
Spending time in nature is a safe way to engage children’s instinctual curiosity and desire to explore. Youth ages five and up are invited, with their caregivers, to a nature scavenger hunt at the Meekins Library. Help your kids find items outside on the library grounds and use them to make a craft! 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Participatory Art

Saturday, May 21, 10:30am-1:30pm
Storytelling is a highly empathetic process. When you combine the creative empathy involved in storytelling with the therapeutic effects of expressing yourself through pictures, the activity has a profound impact. Comic books and graphic novels do just this; they force artists and writers to think about people’s emotions, and the social impact of character’s actions on each other. The Lee Library is hosting a Comic Jam, a collaborative storytelling adventure for cartoonists of all ages and abilities. This event will encourage participants to think critically, empathetically, and creatively. Each artist will contribute to other artists’ comics, resulting in a highly original work which could not be created by a single individual. No prior experience or ability is required. Participants can drop in any time. 413- 243-0385. 100 Main Street, Lee, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 21, 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. Laughter releases endorphins, relaxes the body, and even boosts the immune system! The target audience for this show is ages five through twelve, and their caregivers, but all ages are welcome! 413-527-1000. 121 Club. 116 Pleasant Street. Easthampton, MA (<$ Kids. $ Adults)

Saturday, May 21, 7pm
Great magicians manage to perform seemingly impossible feats not through any mysterious form of magic, but through the magic of psychology – the magic of which lies in the ability to subtly influence decisions and attention. This performance, “It’s A Magical Life” featuring Jonas Cain, will involve magic, music, and poetry. Kids can become fully enthralled by the illusions while parents puzzle over how they’re achieved. Palmer Historical Society. 413-289-9295. 2072 Main Street, Three Rivers, MA. ($. PHS members <$)

Optical illusions are one part of psychology-based magic. Here are ten you can learn and try!


Sunday, May 22, 2pm-5pm
This workshop at the Northampton Survival Center will teach parents motivational interview techniques, a strategy for helping teens make healthy decisions. The goal of motivational interviewing is to clarify goals and resolve ambivalence. Some elements the group will discuss include how to establish rapport with your child and listen reflectively, forming open-ended questions for motivational change, and developing an action plan. Space is limited to fifteen people. Register through Eventbrite. 413-586-6564. 265 Prospect Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 22, 4pm-5:30pm
Early childhood is a time of frequent transitions, from home to day care and day care to preschool. Kids meet new teachers, new friends, and have to become familiar with a completely unfamiliar environment. This parenting workshop, “Parenting Preschoolers with Confidence and Clarity,” will outline common behavioral problems for preschoolers, including aggression, noncooperation, tantrums, shyness, feeding issues and peer relationships. Parents will discuss effective strategies for tackling these issues at Northampton Area Pediatrics. Register by calling 413-517-2226. 193 Locust Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Monday, May 23, 10am-11am
Special needs children can be misunderstood by uninformed peers. Parents of special needs children may have a similar feeling, that people around them don’t quite know what they’re going through. The Family Center in North Adams is providing a chance for parents of children with special needs or delays to share their experiences with an understanding audience. Meet local parents with children ages birth to eight years in a casual environment. Snacks will be provided. Transportation and child care are available. Call 413-664-4821 to register. 210 State Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, May 24, 6:30pm
When humans and other organisms sleep there is a decrease in body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and energy use. REM sleep is the sleep stage in which most vivid dreaming occurs, and the length of REM sleep increases over the course of a night’s sleep. This means that if you do not sleep for very long, you will not spend much time in REM, and you will lose the opportunity for dreaming and the release of serotonin. Getting a good night of sleep boosts memory and problem solving the following day. Dr. Wendy Chabot, MD, FAAP, will be discussing the benefits of healthy sleep for kids and teens. Poor sleep in teens can contribute to anxiety, depression, learning challenges, and other issues. Find out more by attending this talk at the Smith Academy Library. 33 School Street. Hatfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, May 26, 10:30am-11:30am
This event at the Williamstown Youth Center allows children to play freely with a variety of toys, while parents learn about their child’s development and schedule follow-up meetings with qualified staff. Parents will be asked to fill out an “Ages and Stages” questionnaire. Learn more about the growing and learning your child does every day. This program is for families with children ages 3 months to 5 years. Call 413-664-4821 to register. 66 School Street. Williamstown, MA (FREE)

Saturday, May 21, 10:30am
Playing allows children to imitate what they learn from adults and experiment with the world in a way that feels safe and enjoyable. This is how children learn everything from social skills to physics. This workshop at the Granby Library will teach parents of children from birth to five years about the benefits of frequent play. This workshop will include information, activities, and a free book! Please register by calling 413-467-3320. Indicate if you will need child care. 297 East State Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)


[Photo credit: “Tlingit Totem” by John Henderson, CC BY 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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