30 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Pollinators to Performance Art. River Studies to Boat Racing.

Lavender is a plant which can teach us about local culture, farming, aromatherapy, and culinary arts. The Lavender Festival at Johnson Hill Farm will provide lots of ways for people of all ages to learn about lavender farming and production.

Pollinators to Performance Art. River Studies to Boat Racing. Yoga to Coding. 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: Families are invited to celebrate the Connecticut River and the ways in which it has impacted settlement patterns, economy, culture, and ecology. The Connecticut River Watershed Council’s River Celebration will involve river activities, food, and a presentation from naturalist speaker Laurie Sanders. On Saturday, June 25, from 9am-3pm you will have chances to tour the river, listen to live music, and celebrate nature with friends. Registration is required through the Watershed Council’s website. Brunelle’s Marina. 1 Alvord Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE).

EntomologyHistoryPerformance ArtPlacemakingLabyrinthFitnessQuidditchLiteracyWomen’s StudiesPlant and Soil ScienceCreative Free PlaySTEMAstronomy

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Saturday, June 25, 2pm
You can enrich your local habitat by encouraging the natural, symbiotic relationship between pollinators and plants. This Backyard Pollinators program at Springfield Armory National Historic Site will teach participants about types of perennial plants which attract different kinds of pollinators through color and scent. Through intentional gardening you can help make a difference in declining honeybee populations. 413-734-8551. One Armory Square. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 25, 2pm-5pm
You’ve heard of dragonflies, but can you distinguish them from damselflies? These ancient insects are larger than dragonflies and have elaborate mating rituals. You’re invited to observe and learn about both dragonflies and damselflies on this canoe adventure at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. There will be an indoor presentation followed by canoeing. Wear water shoes. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Sunday, June 26, 6pm
Want to learn how to start your own beehive collection and find out some of the uses and nutritional properties of raw honey? Come to this beekeeping talk and demonstration with Beekeepers from the Northern Berkshire Beekeeping Association and Honey Pot Apiary. The talk will take place in the lobby of Bascom Lodge. All are welcome. 413-743-1591. Summit Avenue. Adams, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, June 25, 12pm
Filled with stone markers that chronicle a community’s history, local cemeteries can provide visitors with a look deep into the past. Everything from the names of buried people to the style of the stone can tell visitors something about the time period to which that a headstone dates back. Naturalist Laurie Sanders will lead participants on this walking tour of the Bridge Street cemetery and discuss the natural history of the site. Meet at Historic Northampton. Registration is required. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (DONATION)

Thursday, June 30, 12:15pm-1pm
Museums are often spaces to learn about history. This program at the Springfield Museums will provide insight into the history of history museums themselves. Artist, educator and author John N. Whitenight will explain that in the 19th century, an obsession with the natural world developed. Naturalists and collectors began to preserve pieces of nature under glass, and some personal collections eventually evolved into natural history museums as we know them today. Attendees are invited to bring a lunch to enjoy during the program. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (<$)

Friday, July 1, 6pm
This coming fall, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the Eastern States Exposition, the site of The Big E. The Eastern States Exposition has hosted presentations of livestock as well as commercial, industrial and artistic products, throughout the past century. The Storrowton Village Museum on the site of ESE has been an integral part of that history since its origins in 1926. The “Imagination and Determination” tour will tell the history of Storrowton Village Museum through the perspectives of living history actors. It all began will Helen Osborne Storrow, who was charged with creating the “Home Department” exhibition on the grounds. Attend this program to learn how the rest of the story unfolded! 13-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (<$)


Saturday, June 25, 11am and Thursday, June 30, 9:30am
Puppets open up a world of possibilities through talking animals or completely imagined creatures. This performance, “Bugaboo Revue” by Talking Hands Theater, will introduce kids to the fascinating world of entomology through songs about bugs, and how they help gardens thrive. Wheeler Memorial Library. 413-367-9134. 49 East Main Street. Orange, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 25, 4pm-6pm
During Circus Sketch Lab’s community events, Show Circus students performed their act as artists gathered inspiration from their movements, recreating the performance in sketches on the page. The fruits of this artistic collaboration will be on display at this Circus Sketch Lab Exhibit and Adult Student Recital. Doors open at 4pm. Come see the performers who inspired the artwork, and the artwork itself. 413-230-0771. SHOW Circus Studio. Paragon Arts and Industry Building. 150 Pleasant Street, Suite 313. Easthampton MA. (DONATION for recital. Exhibit is FREE)


Thursday, June 30, 6pm-9pm
Art walks are a great way to meet local artists and see trends unfold in contemporary art. DownStreet Art in North Adams works to facilitate dialog between the local community and the arts, with the goal of creating social and economic capital as a result. These art walks include monthly gallery openings, street performances, and public art works, the last Thursday of each month starting on June 30th. Main Street and downtown North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 25, 9am-4pm
Amherst’s “Crafts on the Common” event will support community artists and musicians, while encouraging literacy and placemaking. Peruse their children’s book sale and help your children pick out books to read this summer. This event will help support the work of the Center for Human Development Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Amherst, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, June 25, 9am-3pm
Want to learn about how the Connecticut River has shaped local settlement patterns, economy, culture, and ecology? The Connecticut River Watershed Council’s River Celebration will teach attendees all this and more. This day on the river will involve river activities, food, and a presentation from naturalist speaker Laurie Sanders. Take a tour of the river, listen to live music, and celebrate nature with friends. Registration is required through the Watershed Council’s website. Brunelle’s Marina. 1 Alvord Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE).

Saturday, June 25, 10am-4pm; Sunday, June 26, 10am-4pm
Labyrinths are patterned walking paths, often taking the overall form of a circle, which can be used to facilitate meditation, spiritual practice, or simply a relaxing walk. Labyrinths are sometimes made out of natural materials outdoors, like the one at Johnson Hill Farm. You can walk the labyrinth at their annual Lavender Festival, in addition to buying goods from local crafters, visiting the antique cemetery, and much more. 51 Hog Hollow Road. Buckland, MA. (FREE. MARKET/SALE)

Fresh, local lavender can be a great ingredient for making everything from drinks to desserts. Attending the Lavender Festival could be a launching off point for learning about culinary arts.


Saturday, June 25, 9am
The practice of racing dragon boats, which are traditionally wooden boats powered by rowing, originated in China more than 2500 years ago. The Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club will be hosting a dragon boat racing festival which will also include music, food, and activities for kids.Come witness an old tradition of boat racing and learn about the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club. North Riverfront Park. 413-736-1322. 121 West Street. Springfield MA. (FREE admission. MARKET/SALE)

In addition to boat racing, traditional dragon boat festivals also involve eating Zongzi, a traditional Chinese food made by wrapping bamboo, reed, or other types of leaves around rice and fillings.

Monday, June 27, 6pm-8pm
Quidditch is a game which was invented by author J.K. Rowling, in the Harry Potter series. In the books, players use magic to ride broomsticks while trying to score or block goals. The game has been adapted for non-magical players as well! Quidditch is a great game for drawing together an interest in both reading and sports. Players ages seven and up are invited to the Greenfield Public Library to play Quidditch on Monday nights, rain or shine. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, June 28, 2:30pm
The relaxing and pain relieving potential of yoga practice attracts many busy adults, including parents. Kids, however, can also benefit immensely from yoga. Yoga can help kids focus, a skill which is useful both at home and at school. Kat and Ellen will run this Yoga for Kids session in the Community Room of the Forbes Library. This event is recommended for ages four to ten. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, June 25, 9am-5:30pm
Sign up for the Jones Library’s adult, young adult, or children’s summer reading programs any time during their hours of operation. The sooner you sign up, the closer you’ll be to potentially earning prizes! Participants will receive a reading log and those who read or listen to enough books, and write reviews, will win a prize. This program will provide suggestions of books to assist you in choosing what to read. You will also have the opportunity to make recommendations for others and continue the cycle of learning and reading in your community. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 25, 1pm-4pm
Lots of people like to read in the summer time, searching for the perfect “beach read” to compliment relaxing days outdoors. The Forbes Library kicks off their summer reading program with lots of physical, outdoor activities. Intergenerational programs include “Poetry in Motion” at 1:30pm, and Bike Lab with Pedal People from 2-4pm. Check the Forbes Library website for a full list of family-friendly activities to get people excited about reading and using the library this summer. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Sunday, June 26, 3pm-4pm
Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman made history for both women and people of color as the first American woman of color to hold a pilot’s license. As a young girl she excelled in mathematics, went on to attend the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (now called Langston University), and eventually become a stunt flier. Bessie Coleman will be brought to life through a performance by Tammy Denease at Wistariahurst. All ages are welcome at this family-friendly performance. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, June 29, 5pm
Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was born into the tightly controlled society of Old New York at a time when women were discouraged from achieving anything beyond a proper marriage. Wharton broke through these strictures, writing over 40 books in 40 years, including authoritative works on architecture, gardens, interior design, and travel. Wharton was the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In addition to books she also wrote poetry and short stories. This program, “Wharton on Wednesdays” at The Mount, will focus on Wharton’s short stories. Professional actors will read from some of the author’s best satirical short works. 413-551-5111. 2 Plunkett Street. Lenox, MA. (Members FREE. Non members <$)


Saturday, June 25, 10:30am-11:30am
For young kids, learning about their habitat, including species of bees and flowers, opens up a world of backyard education through exploration. After learning about the relationship between pollinators and flowers, kids will look at nature differently. This storytelling program at the Great Falls Discovery Center will educate kids about pollinators through storytelling, interactive games, and crafts. This program is for ages three to six and their caregivers. Siblings and friends are welcome. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 25, 10:30am
Learning about wild edible plants teaches people about local habitat, enriches their time spent in nature and can even spice up their cooking! John Root will lead participants on this edible wild plants walk at Crabapple Farm. All ages are welcome. Perennials will also be offered for sale, for participants who want to grow their own edible plants to keep up the learning in their own backyards and garden spaces. 100 Bryant Street. Chesterfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, June 26, 1pm
The lure of free food is often enough to get people interested in learning about wild edible plants. It’s important to be warned, however, about possible mis-identification of species. This edible plant walk will cover possible mis-identification and also point out a wide assortment of free fruits and vegetables. Find the Northampton/Amherst Herbal Group group on Meetup.com to learn more. Meet at the baseball Field on Stanley Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 25, 1pm
Gardening can be an educational experience as well as a healthy hobby which gets people outside, interacting with nature. Growing edible plants can also influence the meals we cook, giving gardeners a reason to branch out and try new recipes. This workshop at the Porter Memorial Library will give participants the introductory knowledge they need to establish and maintain perennial plants including trees, shrubs, vines, canes, and edible herbaceous plants which yield crops with minimal maintenance. All ages are welcome. 413-848-2853. 87 Main Street. Blandford, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, June 29, 6pm-8:30pm
Invasive species grow and spread across habitats at an extremely fast rate and pose a threat to other species. Help save the biodiversity of the Connecticut River by volunteering to hand pull water chestnut with staff from Northfield Mountain and the Connecticut River Watershed Council. This educational volunteer opportunity will also involve paddling on the river. Meet at the Barton Cove Canoe and Kayak Rental Area. Register by calling 1-800-859-2960. Gill, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Why do some species grow and spread to a harmful extent?

There are other ways to help your local habitat besides eradicating invasive species. For more volunteer opportunities, consider these 6 Ways to Mix Service-Based Learning with Nature Studies.


Saturday, June 25, 5pm-9pm
Pop-up playground adventures encourage not only creative free play but collaborating among young people. Provided with huge cardboard boxes, tubes, fabric, string, bales of hay, and other items, children will design their own playground and direct their play within it. This event encourages children to get outside and shows them that their creativity can be implemented to turn an ordinary stretch of grass into a playground! This pop up playground will take place during the Family Fourth Celebration at Look Park. For more information, visit The Play Workshop website. 413-588-2208. 300 North Main Street. Florence, MA. (FREE)

For more ideas on how to use everyday objects for creative play, check out the suggestions in, “Let’s Play: Miniature Playhouses & Creative Free Play”. Making tiny playhouses is a fun activity in and of itself, and can branch into other creative games.


Saturday, June 25, 11am-1pm
Have a bicycle issue you don’t know how to repair? Bring your bike to thie Pop Up Bike Shop at The Odyssey Bookshop. Bike repair experts from Speed and Sprocket will have tools and work stands to make adjustments and perform minor repairs on bicycles. They will also give demonstrations for attendees to learn how to fix flat tires. Cycling journals and publications will be available for perusal and purchase. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE. MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, June 25, 10am-12pm
3D printing is one of the most exciting technological, scientific, and creative innovations of recent years. 3D printers are a type of industrial robot which can synthesize three dimensional objects for a variety of purposes. The possibilities are endless! This makerspace workshop at the Greenfield Public Library will feature demonstrrations on how to use a 3D Printer and a CNC Router. Space is limited and registration is required. Ages 8-12. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, June 28, 6pm
Most skills are less intimidating with practice, especially in a supportive environment. Coding is a highly useful skill for numerous careers. It can also be a pathway towards creative innovation, even when only used as a hobby. This is the first of an ongoing coding class on Tuesdays at the East Longmeadow Public Library. Recent East Longmeadow High School graduate Alex Atwater will be teaching teens and tweens how to code. Come to this first meeting. Registration is required. 413-525-5432. 60 Center Square. East Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

If you or your child is interested in coding, they can also try these resources: Three Programs Kids Can Use to Learn How to Create Video Games.

In the following video, Bill Gates explains “if statements” and how they are not only used in computer programming, but in the logic of language and everyday life.

Tuesday, June 28, 8pm and Thursday, June 30, 8pm
An interest in studying astronomy can develop from an interest in mathematical calculation, or a simple appreciation for the beauty of the sky. Observing the stars can be an act of scientific or spiritual curiosity, or both. Once again, the Old Hopkins Observatory at Williams College is opening for the summer and offering free shows for the public. The Hopkins Observatory, built in 1836-38 by the first professor of astronomy at Williams College, Albert Hopkins, is the oldest extant observatory in the United States. Shows will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 8 p.m.: June 28, 30; July 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28; and August 2 and 4. Reservations are recommended. Call 597-2188. 829 Main Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

In addition to the observatory at Williams College, there are plenty more Western MA Planetariums and Online Resources for Space Studies.

Tuesday, June 28, 3pm
Providing kids the opportunity to observe live animals is a way to instill in them an interest in biology, ecology, habitat, and other scientific topics. Trying to figure out what animals are thinking or feeling based on their actions can also help people of all ages be more empathetic and observant. This live animal program at the Whately Library will involve a hedgehog, word turtle, rabbits, and a hog-moved snake and focus on the topic of animal defenses in the wild. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. (FREE)

[Photo Credit: (cc) Elaine]

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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