37 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Entomology to Puppetry. Geology to Jazz Studies.

People of all ages can learn about dragonflies and butterflies at Lime Kiln Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday, August 7, 9am-11am. Bring your favorite field guide and binoculars. Wear sturdy shoes and bring insect repellent. Call 413-637-0320 to register. Silver Street. Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Entomology to Puppetry. Geology to Jazz Studies. Literature to Panoramic Drawing. 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:  You can learn about New England history and local Native American culture at the Pocumtuck Homelands Festival! This all ages event, on Saturday, August 6, 11am-7pm, will include live music, drumming, dancing, storytelling, and native crafts. Spiritual teachings by Native American elders will offer further insight into a fascinating culture. This event is part of the Nolumbeka Project. Unity Park Waterfront. First Street. Turners Falls. (FREE)

Zoology ♦ Entomology ♦ Geology  ♦ Cultural Studies ♦ Music Studies ♦ Jazz Studies ♦ Art Studies ♦ Panoramic Drawing ♦ Architecture ♦ History ♦ Storytelling ♦ Literacy ♦ Puppetry ♦ Agriculture ♦ Outdoor Adventures ♦ Wild Plant Walk 

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Wednesday, August 10, 12pm-1pm
Animals are fascinating in part because of the similarities and differences they share with humans. All animals (including humans) interact with the world around them in an attempt to survive, but because of the vast biological differences among species, this interaction can look very different. You and your family are invited to Stanley Park for a demonstration of reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and invertebrates and an animal craft! 413-568-9312. 400 Western Avenue. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 10, 2pm-3:20pm
Alaska is home to brown bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears. In part because of their tendency to feed in large groups, brown bears engage in complex social behaviors. You can follow the behaviors of an Alaskan bear family by viewing the 2014 Disneynature film, Bears (rated G) at Springfield Museums. This program is free with museum admission. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($. Ages 3-17 <$. Children under two FREE)

Wednesday, August 10, 6:30pm-8pm
Beavers have a remarkable impact on their habitat, as other animals are attracted to the ponds beavers create. Beavers help keep drinking water safe and increase biodiversity. Come to Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to learn more about their habits and the history of beavers in North America. Beavers have spent 7 million years in this region, and many reintroduction efforts have taken place to improve declining beaver populations.This event is suitable for children three to twelve years old and their caregivers. Dress for the outdoors. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. (<$)

Thursday, August 11, 1:10-2:30pm
Snails are characterized by their slow movement, which makes them easy to observe. Once you learn a little bit about these creatures’ biology and habitat, your own backyard nature explorations can be a site for scientific learning. Helen Ann Sephton from the Hitchcock Center will be bringing snails, turtles, and other animals to the Dickinson Memorial Library for a live local animal presentation. Meet some critters and learn about local characteristics of local species. 413-498-2455. 115 Main Street. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 12, 11am-12:30am
Raptor rehabilitation is a veterinary field focused on nursing sick birds of prey with the hope of returning them to the wild. Tom Ricardi is a licensed raptor rehabilitator and wildlife biologist. His presentations teach people of all ages about the natural history of raptors, their unique behaviors, and interactions between rehabilitator and bird. You can witness his presentation at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road. Stockbridge, MA. ($. Children under 12 and members FREE)

Directly engaging with animals provide direct ways of learning about biology, habitat, ecology, and other scientific disciplines. For more ways of engaging with animals, check out our post, Community Resources Support Interests in Animals, Insects, Fish and More!

Sunday, August 7, 9am-11am
Lime Kiln Wildlife Sanctuary contains a variety of habitats including fields, forests, swamps, and abandoned lime quarries. These habitats make Lime Kiln a great place to learn about varieties of local plant and animal species. This event will focus on butterflies and dragonflies and is open to all ages. Bring your favorite field guide and binoculars. Wear sturdy shoes and bring insect repellent. Call 413-637-0320 to register. Silver Street. Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Butterflies see the world and experience time very differently from the way humans do. Find out more in the following BBC Earth video:

Want to learn more about entomology? Read our post, Entomology: Lessons from the Garden.


Saturday, August 6, 10:30am-12:30pm
Rock collectors between the ages of eight and twelve are invited to the Granby Library to learn more about rocks and minerals! Jack Marcy, president of the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club, will teach kids how to identify rocks. You’re welcome to bring your collection and receive help identifying specific pieces. You may attend one, two, or all three sessions. Registration is required and space is limited. 413-467-3320. 297 East State Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)

Weathering and erosion are key concepts of geology and Earth Science. Find our more in the following video:

For junior geologists and their parents, there are several local resources for learning through geology. Read all about it in our post, 4 Outdoor Adventures for Exploring Geology and Local History.


Saturday, August 6, 11am-7pm
Learn about New England history and local Native American culture at the Pockumtuck Homelands Festival! This all ages event will include live music, drumming, dancing, storytelling, and native crafts. Spiritual teachings by Native American elders will offer further insight into a fascinating culture. This event is part of the Nolumbeka Project. Unity Park Waterfront. First Street. Turners Falls. (FREE)

Friday, August 12, 10am
Celebrate Jewish culture at a “Shabbat Shabloom” gathering! Fridays until late August, at Abundance Farm, families will gather for music. Felicia Sloin and Amy Meltzer lead a musical performance especially for young children, encouraging participation and movement. Families are invited to tour the farm, sample what is in season, and take home flowers. 253 Prospect Street. Northampton, MA. (DONATION)


Saturday, August 6, 10:30am
Singing releases endorphins, a hormone which causes feelings of pleasure, as well as oxytocin, which relieves anxiety. That’s something to sing about! Dorothy Cresswell, director of the “Happy Valley Children’s Chorus,” will be performing at the Odyssey Bookshop as part of their Summer Entertainment Series. Sing and dance along. All ages welcome. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

How do humans hit specific notes with their voices anyway? The following video explains the science behind singing, as well as practical techniques for improving your singing.

Saturday, August 6, 11am-10pm
The jazz genre spans over one hundred years and remains popular today. Jazz is an important part of music history, African American history, and the history of this country. The Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival celebrates the long, enduring saga of jazz music with a day of performances by artists such as the Terri Lynne Carrington Group, Eric Krasno Band, and Taj Mahal. For a full schedule of performances, visit the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival website. Springfield’s Court Square. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 6, 1pm-2pm
If you are interested in becoming involved in music, you can attend a series of workshops as part of the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival. On Saturday, August 6, the day of the festival, Terri Lyne Carrington with discuss the music business and important skills for a career in music. This workshop will offer a constructive learning environment, advice and perspectives from professional musicians, and access to contacts in the music profession. For more information, visit the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival website. Springfield’s Court Square. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Playing music has immense benefits for your brain, in addition to being a calming and enjoyable activity. You can find out about the benefits of playing music and ways to build a practice habit in our post, How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain!


Saturday, August 6, 10am-3pm
Panoramic drawings are wide-angle images that span 180 degrees, close to the full range of human sight. In this one day workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Artist and educator John Roman will teach you how to create your own panoramic drawings and discuss the history of panoramic images. This workshop is for teens and adults. 413-298-4100. 9 MA-183. Stockbridge, MA. ($$

Wednesday, August 10, 9am-3pm
Photographs capture not only moments in time, but the perspective of the photographer. Your children can unleash their creativity and self-expression through photography at this day long photography workshop. Nationally recognized nature photographer and digital artist Sandee Harraden will provide tips for capturing scenes, no matter what camera your child is using. Participants should bring a camera or cell phone, and a lunch. Snacks and drinks will be provided. This program is open to youth ages 9 to 13. Call 413-998-3018 to register. Check the Southwick Historical Society website for more information. 86 College Highway. Southwick, MA. ($)

Wednesday, August 10, 3:45pm-5pm
Messy art isn’t just for kids! You can help your kids imagine, build, and create at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. This is a great opportunity for you to collaborate with your children while meeting other kids and parents. Attend one, or all three remaining sessions on Wednesday afternoons: August 10, 17 and 24. There will be an optional free play area for siblings under four years old. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. ($)

Friday, August 12, 4pm-8pm
Art making, whether it take the form of drawing, painting, sculpting, collage, or some other medium, can be a great hobby for parents and children to share. Teach your children your artistic techniques and let them teach your with their uniquely creative minds! The Smith College Museum of Art invites people of all ages to the museum to explore the Ancient World gallery and create a custom olympic medal. At 6pm, enjoy a guided tour of the museum. 413-585-2760. 20 Elm Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 12, 5:30pm
Andrew Novis is a mostly self-taught artist, dedicated to the pursuit of art for art’s sake. Andrew has said, “I was diagnosed with ASD/Aspergers Syndrome in the fall of 2012. Being an ‘Aspie’ artist, I tend to create and conceive my imagery through the left brain, focusing on detail, order, separation and purity of color (very little mixing), and clearly defined lines. This reflects my general need for simplicity, clarity and structure in real life.” You can view his canvas and furniture paintings at the Good Purpose Gallery, August 12 through September 21. 413-394-5045. 40 Main Street. Lee, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 6, 10am-5pm; Sunday, August 7, 10am-5pm
The Woodworking and Age of Iron weekend at Hancock Shaker Village provides opportunities to learn about woodworking, sculpture, and history through demonstrations and talks. Demonstrations are included in museum admission and no registration is required. This event is occuring in conjunction with the exhibition, Living on Earth: The Work of Robert Hite, on view at the Hancock Shaker Village and the Berkshire Museum through October 20th. During Woodworking Weekend you can meet Robert Hite and watch him create his whimsical architectural sculptures. 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic Street. Pittsfield MA. ($. Ages 13-17 <$. 12 and under and members FREE)

Sunday, August 7, 2pm
Do you ever wonder what daily life was like 100 or 200 years ago? Historic house museums offer visitors the chance to walk through a historic, architectural structure and see it furnished with vintage items. These tours offer a highly personal approach to historical learning. The Edwards Museum house was built in 1820, and was donated as an educational resource in 1950. Come to an ice cream social at the museum and see the antique furniture, vintage gowns, old organ and more! 3 North Road. Chesterfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 12, 5pm-8pm
The Norwood Engineering building on North Maple Street in Florence is a cultural and historic landmark which played an important economic role for the community since it was built in 1870. This Historic Northampton exhibition, “A Visual History in Florence,” will feature photographs from Paul Griffin and Peter Norman, as well as reprints of historic images and documents from Historic Northampton, Forbes Library and private collections. The exhibition will run from the opening reception on August 12, through September 4, 2016. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 6, 1pm
Did you know that paupers were “auctioned off” at town meetings in New England from the 1600s through the Civil War? If you want to find out more about the history of paupers in New England, you can take an informal tour of cellar hole remains of Shutesbury’s poor farm. Pauper farms were an alternative to auctioning paupers off at town meetings. For more information contact, 413-323-7377 or visit the PHS website . Meet at the Pelham Town Hall Complex for carpooling to the site. Amherst Road. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

To learn more about the value of exploring historic structures, read our post, Exploring Ruins Reveals Local History and Culture.

Saturday, August 6, 4pm
The Red Lion Inn is a historic fixture of Stockbridge. Over the course of it’s history it was owned and operated by women three different times. The Inn was almost closed twice and risked destruction due to fire once. This cemetery walk, presented by the Stockbridge Library, Museum and Archives, will offer new insight into the history of the Red Lion Inn which remains an important business in Stockbridge. 413-298-5501. The walk gathers at the cemetery gate on Main Street. Stockbridge, MA. (DONATION)

Saturday, August 6, 4pm
Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke Seminary, was born in 1797 in Buckland, Massachusetts. Her life’s work has profoundly impacted local education. You’re invited to celebrate her legacy at the historic site where she taught a winter school for girls. The program will feature a talk, “A Fire In Her Bones: Finding Your Calling,” presented by Mount Holyoke College alumna Susan Daniels. Your attendance will support the Mary Lyon Foundation, an orgnization committed to continuing Lyon’s legacy of education. Tickets are limited. For tickets call 413-625-2555. 8 Old Upper Street. Buckland, MA. ($$ – $$$)

Learn more about Mary Lyon’s commitment to education, and discover some of the archival resources about Mary Lyon’s house which Mount Holyoke College has preserved:

Tuesday, August 9, 4pm
The gilded age in America took place from the 1870s to about 1900. During this period, an influx of European immigrants were flooding into the United States. This tea and talk presentation at Ventfort Hall will discuss the lives of two prominent figures, Thomas Edison and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Renowned architectural historian and writer Francis Morrone will discuss the lasting impact of these two innovators. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. ($$)


Tuesday, August 9, 11:30am-1pm
Do you or your kids enjoy captivating a room through storytelling? Whether you like hearing stories or telling them, you’re invited to a storytelling workshop at the Springfield Museums. Workshop leader Dr. Gail Herman will give tips for telling an effective story, and you may have the chance to tell a story of your own. Storytelling preference will be given to those who attend the workshop. This program is free with museum admission. All ages welcome. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($. Ages 3-17 <$. Children under two FREE)

Thursday, August 11, 11am-12pm
Camping and outdoor adventures are a time to make memories, learn through the natural world, and swap stories. Storyteller and games leader Todd Goodwin will tell stories and sing songs about his camping experiences, at the Springfield Museums. All ages are welcome to attend this participatory performance. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($. Ages 3-17 <$. Children under two FREE)


Monday, August 8, 6:30pm
Local authors can provide young and aspiring writers with advice and inspiration. Local author Dan Hayden will be at the Storrs Library, reading from his 2015 book, The Game Wardens. Hayden is also a Fish and Wildlife Officer and Marine Patrol Boat Captain. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, August 9, 2pm-3pm
The Lee Library summer reading finale party is the perfect time to discuss what you’ve read during the last few months. Discussing your favorite authors and genres can introduce friends to new books and help you work through what you’ve read and how you feel about it. This celebration will include reading certificates, prizes, ice cream sundaes, and a performance by Bowie The Clown. 413-243-0385. 100 Main Street. Lee, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 10, 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 <$)

Wednesday, August 10, 6:30pm
Local author talks give audiences the chance to ask specific questions about the writing process. Melissa Volker will be at the Storrs Library discussing her novel, Delilah of Sunhats and Swans. This is the story of a mysterious, eighteen-year-old girl who arrives in a small New England town and transforms the lives of everyone she meets. Find out more at the book talk! 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

For even more literary learning, read our post: 10 Resources for Literary Learning in Western MA and follow our periodic literary guides.


Wednesday, August 10, 11am-12pm
Puppetry performances appeal to children’s love of stories, and their desire to animate objects, bringing the world around them to life. You and your family can enjoy a performance by Anna Sobel of Talking Hands Theater with your lunch at River Valley Co Op. Her performance, Cats & Dogs: Sing-Along Songs & Stories will also appeal to animal lovers. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 12, 11am-11:40am
The performing group Tanglewood Marionettes tour nationally with their hand-crafted marionettes and colorful sets. They will be performing their show, An Arabian Adventure, for audiences at the Springfield Museums. Older children in particular will enjoy this tale of adventure about a Persian prince who must escape his wrongful imprisonment. This program is free with museum admission. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($. Ages 3-17 <$. Children under two FREE)

If your kids love these puppet shows, they may want to create puppets of their own. Puppets can be very open ended and offer children of all ages the opportunity to re-create favorite stories and often inspire new tales. Read more in our post, Let’s Play: Puppets and Creative Free Play.


Friday, August 12, 4pm
Old time county fairs are a part of history, often dating back centuries. These fairs are a celebration of local businesses, community, and agriculture. The The Middlefield Fair will kick off on August 12th. Explore the exhibits, the 4-H Club Petting Zoo, and the museum. Events include Bingo, a truck pull, and a children’s bike giveaway. Check the fair website for a full schedule and more information. 7 Bell Road. Middlefield, MA. (<$. Children under 12 FREE)

Friday, August 12, 7am-7pm
The Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Summer Conference will connect attendees with place and community by connecting local farmers. Workshops, taking place August 12-August 14th, will cover topics ranging from horse care, beekeeping, fermentation, the relationship between plants and soil, farming as a business venture, urban agriculture, hoop houses, and much more. NOFA also offers a teen conference, for learners between the ages of 13 and 17. Hands-on activities will teach kids farming, horticulture, culinary arts, and sustainability practices. Visit the NOFA website for more information and to register. University of Massachusetts. Amherst, MA.($$ – $$$)


Saturday, August 6, 9am-12pm
Wild plant walks take place all summer long through various organizations, teaching people how to identify local, wild plants. This plant walk at Just Roots/Greenfield Community Farm will encourage questioning and creative thinking. Ted Watts will guide this all ages walk. Register online. 413-325-8969. 34 Glenbrook Drive. Greenfield, MA. (DONATION)

Monday, August 8, 10:30am-11:30am
Do your kids love exploring the backyard? You can help them explore beyond their close surroundings and encourage an interest in nature studies. Young naturalists ages 8-11 are invited to become Junior Rangers at the Great Falls Discovery Center. This four-part nature education workshop, running through August 15th, will teach children about their local habitat. Kids will become experts on the Connecticut River Watershed, and have the chance to earn a Junior Ranger Patch from Mass Parks. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

[Photo Credit: (cc) Lesley Wilson]

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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