44 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Stamps to Hip Hop. Jam to Bike Safety.

Bicycling is a great sport and hobby, and a wonderful way to explore your neighborhood or other local areas on a bike trail adventure! Make sure the bike riders in your family know how to be safe riders. Participating in a bike rodeo is one great way to gain confidence and important skills.

Stamps to hip hop. Jam to bike safety. Tinkering to fencing. 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: Do you love to express yourself through motion, or to watch others tell a story without saying a word? Perhaps there is a dance style you’ve always wanted to try but have never had the chance? Dance is a physical and mental workout involving spatial relationship skills, coordination, and memory. Plus, it is an interesting way to communicate and a fun way to exercise! At Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, which begins on Saturday, June 11, at noon, you can try modern dance, Zumba, and hip hop. You can also watch performances by EarthDance, Berkshire Pulse, Olga Dunn Dance Company and Albany Berkshire Ballet. This all-ages community festival will also involve historic tours, storytimes, scavenger hunts and more. Visit the Jacob’s Pillow website for more information and a schedule of events. 413-243-9919. 358 George Carter Road. Becket, MA. (FREE)

Architecture ♦ Ancient History ♦ Numismatics ♦ Civil Rights ♦ Sustainability ♦ Makerspace ♦ Agriculture ♦ Father’s Day ♦ Horticulture ♦ Music Studies ♦ Dance Studies ♦ Cultural Studies ♦ Placemaking ♦ Artisan Skills ♦ Sports ♦ Strategy ♦ Art Studies ♦ Reading ♦ Parenting

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Saturday, June 11, 10am
LIFE Magazine, Yankee Magazine and Washington D.C.’s Governing Magazine have all published articles about the Town Hall of Pelham Massachusetts. What makes this town hall unique and important? Find out at this guided tour of the town hall, church and museum of Pelham, hosted by the Pelham Historical Society. Special attention will be given to features of these buildings which can be traced back as far as 1743. For more information please call 413- 256-8256. Meet at the town hall complex. 1 Cooleyville Road. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 11, 10am-2:45pm
The Battle of Kadesh, which took place around 1274 BC, is the earliest battle in recorded history about which we known specific battle tactics and formations. This detailed history of the battle makes reenactments possible. The Mason Library will be hosting this historical reenactment, in miniature! Come witness the battle between the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli and the Egyptian Empire under Ramses II played out with miniature figures. 413-528-2403. 231 Main Street. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 11, 10:30-11:30am
Stamps and coins are historical artifacts. Stamps reveal cultural trends and values through the images they depict. Stamp and coin collectors are invited to the Granby Library for a discussion with Jack Marcy, an avid stamp and coin collector. All ages are welcome. If there is enough interest, this could become an ongoing meet-up. 413-467-3320. 297 East State Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)

We use coins all the time, but don’t often think about their origins. How are coins made in the U.S.?

Saturday, June 11, 4pm
The history of civil rights movements is inextricably tied to a history of law. Legal changes take many forms, with many participants. This cemetery walk hosted by the Stockbridge Library will tell the stories of lawyers, judges, and slaves who fought an unfair legal system. Learn about the civil rights movement, law, and local history. For more information call 413-298-5501. The walk gathers at the cemetery gate on Main Street (Route 102). Stockbridge, MA. (DONATION)

Monday, June 13-Friday, June 17, 9:30am-5pm
“Freedom Week” at Old Sturbridge Village offers historical programs to celebrate Juneteenth. This holiday commemorates the ending of slavery in the United states and the day on which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. Daily performances will highlight the experience of American slaves, particularly local figures. Storyteller Tammy Denease Richardson will portray Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman, a woman who lived in the Berkshires and became the first black enslaved person to gain her freedom in a court of law based on the principle of general equality. Denease will also play Belinda Royall, a woman who was sold into slavery to the Royall Family and later taken to Medford, Massachusetts. Belinda petitioned the government for reparations. Andre Keitt will perform Keys to the Keepers, a presentation about the ways in which slaves preserved their African culture through storytelling and other means. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road. Sturbridge, MA. (Adults $$. 17 and under $. 2 and under FREE)


Saturday, June 11, 10am-2pm
Hydroelectricity is a form of electricity powered by the gravitational force of flowing water. At the time of its inception and for many years after, the Turners Falls hydroelectric concrete dam known as Cabot Station was the largest hydroelectric facility east of Niagara Falls. Visitors ages ten and up are invited to tour this working power station! Tours begin at 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, noon and 12:30. Please register online. Close-toed shoes (no sandals) and long pants are required. The tour includes several flights of stairs. 15 Cabot Street. Turners Falls. (FREE)

Hydropower has a long history and a promising future. Learn more about how we capture the kinetic energy of water and transform it into electric power!

Saturday, June 11, 10:30am
Makerspaces and clubs fill the need for a place in which people can combine art and science, learning to think, make, do, learn, and share with others. The Westhampton Public Library’s Maker Club invites young tinkerers to spend some weekend time imagining and inventing with others. Stop in to see what materials and equipment are available for your use! 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Just what is a makerspace? Actually, makerspaces can look many different ways!

Saturday, June 11, 10:30-12:30
Lots of children are fascinated by cars, trucks, trains, and even the wheels on their bicycles. Parents should feel good about encouraging this early interest in engineering while kids learn who in our community use these types of vehicles and for what purposes.This “Touch A Truck” event at the Sunderland Public Library will give kids a chance to see a fire truck, police car, and an ambulance from Sunderland’s emergency departments. There will also be police and firemen there to discuss their jobs and answer questions. Introduce your kids to engineering principles as well as the heroic sacrifices some people make for their communities. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, June 15, 3:30pm-4:30pm
LEGOs are a fantastic learning tool. Without realizing it, kids playing with LEGOs learn about physical and geometric concepts. At the same time they’re having fun, engaging their imaginations and feeling the satisfaction of a hands-on, creative outlet. Children ages two and up, and their caregivers, are invited to build something creative out of LEGO and Duplo blocks at the Westfield Athenaeum. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, June 16, 3pm4-pm
Minecraft is sort of like a digital form of LEGOs, and in that sense it can encourage creativity and engineering skills. The Forbes Library Minecraft Club invites children and young adults of all ages to engage mostly in free play, with some group activities or challenges. Registration is required and limited to 10 PC participants and 10 tablets participants. If you have the pocket edition, please bring your device to play on. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Father’s Day is coming up! Help your children reflect on and celebrate the positive male role models in their lives at these events:

Saturday, June 11, 10:30-11:30am
This special storytime at the Monson Free Library will feature stories which celebrate the important male figures in our lives. Bring your dad or uncle to enjoy stories and donuts! 413-267-3866. 2 High Street. Monson, MA. (FREE)

Friday, June 17, 11am-12pm
Children can celebrate their dads and other father figures by making a cool craft and a card that will touch their hearts. Join us as we share a story or two about fathers, get crafty, and share snack. This Cushman Library event will be our last Preschool Story Time for this year. 413-648-5402. 28 Church Street. Bernardston, MA. (FREE)

While Father’s Day is still a few days away, you can get into the spirit of the special day by listening to the HFVS Father’s Day podcast from 2007, which features lots of fun tunes for your little ones!


Saturday, June 11, 10am-3pm
If you love to garden, you may feel inspired by other gardeners’ landscape styles, flower arrangements, or even garden paintings. You can take a tour of just that on the 23rd annual Northampton Garden tour. This fundraiser supports programming at the Forbes Library. This year’s eight gardens, along a scenic eighteen mile route, are accessible by car and also by bike for those comfortable with varied terrain. Tickets come with driving directions to this self-guided tour. Volunteer garden guides will be on hand at each location to answer questions. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. ($)

Saturday, June 11, 1pm-4pm
What is your favorite New England tree? It’s a tough question to answer if you aren’t familiar with different tree species and how to identify them. This workshop hosted by the Berkshire South Regional Community Center will teach participants about tree identification while they enjoy a three mile hike. For registration, questions, and directions, call 413-528-2810 ext. 10. Meet at the gazebo/trail head at the Berkshire South Regional Community Center. 15 Crissey Road. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Music Studies

Saturday, June 11, 11am-3pm
Learning to play a musical instrument helps with many other subject areas unrelated to music itself. These include language development and spatial reasoning skills. Music of all genres consists of patterns and rules which challenge the brain. Come cheer on young musicians of Springfield’s Community Music School by attending their All Youth Music Festival at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site. Performing groups include Bucket Drumming students from the Springfield Public Library Rock the Stacks program, Sonido Musica Middle School Partnerships, Springfield Strings programs in elementary schools, and CMSS’ Prelude Preschool of the Arts! One Armory Square. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, June 17, 11am-12pm
On June 10th and June 16th, story hour at the Sunderland Public Library will feature music on the ukulele! This small instrument is just the right size for a child’s body, and its nylon strings are gentle on tender fingers. Enjoying ukulele music and seeing the instrument played up close can inspire interest in learning how to play this (or another) instrument! The lilting sounds are good for everyone’s spirit, too. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Friday, June 17, 7:30pm
Django Reinhardt is famous for being the forefather of gypsy jazz, and is regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time. Django in June brings together students of this genre from all over North America and beyond, to perform at the Academy of Music Theatre. Anyone who likes jazz style guitar, or wants to branch out in their knowledge of musical genres, should attend this performance on June 17th or 18th. 413-584-9032. 274 Main Street. Northampton, MA. ($$)

Performing Arts

Saturday, June 11, 11am
Children’s love of stories and jokes is a testament to the fundamental importance of these forms of expression. Taking your children to theatrical performances can open up their minds to the possibilities of storytelling and other art forms. This Nutshell Playhouse performance combines comedy and storytelling with the use of music and puppets.
Catch some laughs with your family members and make a lasting memory together as you enjoy this performance at the Berkshire Arts And Technology Charter School. 413-212-1416. 1 Commercial Street. Adams, M. (FREE)

Saturday, June 11, 12pm
Have you ever wanted to take a dance class? Dance is a physical and mental workout involving spatial relationship skills, coordination, and memory. Plus, it’s a fun way to exercise! At Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival you can try modern dance, Zumba, and hip hop. You can also watch performances by EarthDance, Berkshire Pulse, Olga Dunn Dance Company and Albany Berkshire Ballet. This all ages community festival will also involve historic tours, storytimes, scavenger hunts and more. Visit the Jacob’s Pillow website for more information and a schedule of events. 413-243-9919. 358 George Carter Road. Becket, MA. (FREE)

Find inspiration in this overview of the 2015 Jacob’s Pillow Festival!

Saturday, June 11, 4pm-7pm
One of the exciting things about improvised theater is that it opens up the possibility for greater audience involvement. TheatreTruck‘s Commedia Grab Bag act lets audiences choose scenes to be performed in a choose-your-own-adventure format. They will be bringing their pop up performance to Easthampton’s Cultural Chaos street festival. You can locate the performance near Cottage and Pine Streets, midway between The Circus Performers and the Center Stage. Shows will take place at 4, 5, and 6pm. Easthampton, MA. (DONATION)

Sunday, June 12, 11am
Actors who utilize puppets engage children’s minds, imaginations, and humor through the creative use of their puppet characters. Puppets open up a world of possibility through talking animals or completely imagined creatures. Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, is a Jewish holiday marking the time of wheat harvest and the day God gave the Torah to the people of Israel. Customary observances include Torah study, reading of liturgical poems, and decorating the home. You can celebrate this holiday by attending a puppet performance by Talking Hands Theater at Sugarloaf Mountain. Mountain Road. Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, June 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. 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, June 11, 12pm-7pm
Street festivals encourage people to check out new towns, or new areas of their own towns that they haven’t seen before. This year, Easthampton’s Cultural Chaos street festival is “carnival” themed. Try new food, hear a new local band, and get to know your neighbors! You will be able to meet community organizations which serve Easthampton. Street performers will dazzle you as you walk around town. Makers will be selling their homemade items. At 1pm, Natasha Lowe will sign copies of The Power of Poppy Pendle and The Courage of Cat Campbell at White Square Books. Check the Cultural Chaos website for a full schedule of performances and activities. Easthampton, MA. (FREE ADMISSION/MARKET/SALE)

Enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the 2014 Cultural Chaos festival:

Sunday, June 12, 10am-8pm
Celebrate small town life at the Hilltown Hoedown! There will be amusement rides and games for all ages, a truck parade, tractor pull, crafters, pony rides, and a petting zoo. Children and adults can learn about animals and farming while having a great time listening to live, local country music. The Cummington Fairgrounds. 97 Fairgrounds Rd, Cummington, MA. (<$)

Monday, June 13, 5:30pm
For centuries, people have gathered together to break bread. Enjoy a community meal by joining the Family Center’s annual picnic, which will feature live music performed by Bernice Lewis, Friends and Ukuleles. Bring a picnic to enjoy with your family and others. Cups, napkins, plates, drinks, watermelon, and cookies will be provided. No registration is required. 413-664-4821. 210 State Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Friday, June 17, 5pm-7pm
Events taking place in public parks encourage a sense of community and connection to place. Help instill these values in your children by taking them to Greenfield Recreation’s Hillside Block Party. Families will gather in Hillside Park for music, games, and food. 413-772-1553. 42 Grove Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Grab a blanket, invite a neighbor, and head out for an outdoor concert to enjoy the company of your community members and these lovely summer evenings.

Wednesday, June 15, 7pm: Bring a picnic or chairs to the Forbes Library lawn to hear music from motown and swing band, The O Tones. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, June 16, 6pm-8pm: This Co Op Concert in Greenfield features Charlie Conant, The Frost Heaves and Hales, and Small Change. Energy Park. 50 Miles Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, June 16, 6:30pm-8pm: The Amherst Community Band will play both popular and classic songs at Sweetser Park  Rain location is the First Congregational Church. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Friday, June 17, 6pm: Hear live bluegrass music at the Sunderland Public Library‘s outdoor concert. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Culinary Arts

Saturday, June 11, 10am-2pm
Farmers’ markets offer a consistent, simple way for local farmers and food producers to connect with the community. These markets provide locally grown items, teaching buyers about their habit through seasonal variation in what is available. A visit to your local farmer’s market gives you and your children an opportunity to select new ingredients to inspire creative cooking! This market also doubles as a makers’ market, showcasing locally made arts and crafts. See what you can find, every Saturday from 10am-2pm through September 24th. For more information, visit the Easthampton Farmers’ and Makers’ Market website. 50 Payson Avenue. Easthampton, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, June 11, 1:30-3:30pm
Most people don’t have time to make every single meal, sauce, dip, and dressing from scratch. It is a worthwhile project to try, however. Taking a product you normally buy at the grocery store and making it yourself can teach you about the ingredients and usually will yield a healthier and tastier product. What better recipe to experiment with in this season than strawberry jam? In this workshop at the Bushnell-Sage Library you can learn how to make your own strawberry jam, a great way to use the quarts of strawberries you and your family pick together. 413-229-7004. 48 S Main Street. Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Sports & Recreation

Saturday, June 11, 1pm-2pm
Learning how to ride a bike is a rite of passage for a young child, and often it is a memory of working together with a parent or loved one. After achieving balance on the bike, there is still much more to learn about cycling. You may want to take long bike rides with your family, on or off of bike paths. This Bike Rodeo will teach participants how to safely navigate the streets on a bike. This is your chance to practice these skills on a safe, interactive course. This event will also include a helmet safety check and other precautions. A limited number of free bike helmets will be available. This program is best suited for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. From 1:00-2:00pm there will be a course for those in grades K-4 and less Experienced Riders, followed by a course for those in grades 4-8 and more experienced riders from 2-3pm. Greenfield Middle School. 413-772-1553. 141 Davis Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Bicycles haven’t always looked like the ones we ride these days. Watch how bicycles have evolved over the years:

Monday, June 13, 4:30pm-7:30pm
Fencing is a fun and challenging sport which can also spark interest in historical learning about swords and swordsmanship. This West Springfield Parks and Recreation Fencing Open House will feature a youth fencing demonstration at 4:30pm, followed by a teen and adult fencing demonstration at 6pm. Come to either or both demonstrations to learn about this ancient sport. Fencing is one of five sports which have been featured in every single Olympics (along with running, cycling, swimming, and gymnastics). Wear athletic shoes if you want to participate in a brief lesson! This event takes place in the UNICO building. 413-263-3284. 1 Unico Way. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

These Olympians will teach you a bit about the basics of this interesting sport:

Thursday, June 16, 6:30pm-8pm
Family game nights are a good alternative to passive activities because they get everyone involved and can even encourage collaboration as well as friendly competition. Spice up your family game night by joining other families at the Tilton Library. This event is best suited for ages eight and up. Bubba Sadowsky from Greenfield Games will share some of his favorite games and there will be refreshments. 413-665-4683. 75 N Main Street. South Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Art Studies

The Tiny Book Show, a traveling library of handmade miniature books by amateur and professional artists from around the world, will be visiting Western MA this week! Take a close look at these books, miniature works of art, which stand at three inches or smaller. Tiny books are beautiful decorations and gifts. Seeing them may inspire you to make your own, filling them with any kind of drawings and words.

Sunday, June 12, 2pm-4pm: The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls for a tiny book making workshop! Learn how to make your own tiny book! 413-625-2782. 14 Depot Street. Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)

Monday, June 13, 1pm-5pm: Greenfield Public Library. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, June 14, 3pm-7pm: Greenfield Community College. The Tiny Book Show will be shown in combination with GCC’s Exhibition of Mail Art. 413-775-1801. 1 College Drive.Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

There are several ways to make your own tiny book. Here’s one to try:

Sunday, June 12, 3:30pm-7pm
In addition to showcasing professional works of art, SculptureNow offers workshops to students in the public schools of the Berkshires, encouraging them to learn from what they see and create their own sculpted works. The Mount will be showcasing this year’s SculptureNow exhibition. All are welcome. A 5:00 pm reception will follow. 413-551-5100. 2 Plunkett Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)


Monday, June 13, all day
The West Springfield Public Library has planned a summer full of kids’ programs to encourage learning about STEM subjects, developing a love of reading, and trying new arts and crafts activities. But you must register today! Visit the West Springfield Public Library website for a full list of summer reading, arts and crafts, and scientific learning programs. These include a dreamcatcher making workshop for ages six and up, preschool storytimes, playwriting for ages nine and up, and more to take place in June and July. 413-736-4561. 200 Park Street. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, June 14, 2pm-4pm
Do you know a book lover who also loves dogs? How about a dog lover who struggles with reading? Children are invited to come to the Lee Library to meet their next reading buddy, a friendly dog! Learning to read aloud can be nerve-wracking. Before reading to classmates or teachers your child can practice reading to a furry, non-judgmental, non-threatening friend. Reading is a fundamental skill necessary for learning across myriad subjects and professions. A love for reading will also bring a great deal of joy to your child’s life. Toby will be joined by two other reading dogs from Tufts Paws for People, Rhino the boxer and Samantha a black lab, for one-on-one reading sessions. Registration is highly recommended. 413-243-0385. 100 Main Street. Lee, MA. (FREE)

Why read to dogs? Meet the kids and dogs who participate in one such program.

Thursday, June 16, 12pm-2pm
The Monson Free Library’s summer reading kickoff party will celebrate much more than just books. Held at Veteran’s Field, this event will feature games, water balloon races, and snacks. Don’t forget to sign up for the summer reading program and keep learning year-round. All ages are welcome. 413-267-3866. State Street. Monson, MA. (FREE)


Sunday, June 12, 4pm-5:30pm
Anyone who has had a poor night of sleep knows how important rest is for brain function. Sleep helps us regulate emotions, make decisions, solve problems and make memories. Sleep is particularly important for children, whose brains are developing rapidly. In this Northampton Area Pediatrics workshop, Beth Grams Haxby, Ed.M, will relay strategies for overcoming various sleep issues which are common among families. Learn how you and your family can improve your days, by addressing your nighttime routine. Please register by calling 413-517-2226. 193 Locust Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, June 15, 9:30am-11am
What makes parenting so challenging? For one thing, people are complicated! Understanding the emotions of children, whether those children are babies or teenagers, requires empathy and emotional intelligence. Every human being is unique, and a parenting strategy which works on one child could backfire on another. That’s why it’s a good thing to have the support and understanding of other parents, as well as tons of behavioral strategies to try. This four-part “Positive Solutions” workshop at the Northampton Parents Center will explore techniques for helping children handle their emotions, follow directions, and communicate effectively. Sessions will take place on June 8, 15, 22 ,and 29. Childcare will be available during the workshop. To register or ask questions, please call 413-587-1471 or email bblack@northampton-k12.us. 297 Main Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


[Photo credit: “SLO Bike Rodeo 2011” by Bike SLO CountyCC 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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