30 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Chinese New Year to National Hearth Month. Culture Studies to Anatomy.
Creative-free play to living history. Pilobolus to Shakespeare. Comics to pastels. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week. Peruse our list and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured seasonal highlight this week:
Valentine’s Day is next week, so think about this… How has the Valentine card industry changed over the years? In addition to participating in the Hilltown Families annual Handmade Valentine Swap, what are other non-commercial ways you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with friends and neighbors? How can the giving of a handmade valentine be an expression of kindness? When was the last time you sat down to write a letter on paper? Where did that paper come from? How did the manufacturing of that paper impact the community and environment from which it originated? Did you know… The American valentine industry was started during the mid-19th century by Esther Howland, an Mt. Holyoke graduate, and Worcester native? Through her father’s paper company, she sold her first valentines in 1848 and within a few years was able to begin her own business, the New England Valentine Company. ♦ Download our Jan/Feb edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts that support learning through the lens of Valentine’s Day.
Learning Catalysts: NATIONAL OBSERVATIONS
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL EVENTS: What do National Heart Month and Valentine’s Day have in common? They both happen every February! This weekend and next week, these two annual observations bridge learning with local events. Learn about the science of the heart, the chemistry of glassblowing, and art history through the lens of love.
SELF-INITIATED ACTIVITY: This Valentine’s Day spread friendship and kindness throughout your community by making handmade Valentine cards with your family to swap with friends and neighbors! Making Valentine cards together is a family project which allows the opportunity to be creative together, an activity that supports to creative-free play and non-commercialization, while also offering an intergenerational hands-on learning opportunity in fields like physics, chemistry, geometry, and cultural studies! Read more in our post, Put Some STE(A)M into Your Valentines!
Interest-Based Learning: STEM
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL EVENTS: Learning about the principles of science, technology, engineering, and math in ways they are relevant to your interests and based in your community have the most sticking power! This weekend and next week several community-based educatinal events will support an interest in STEM, including meteorology, architecture, geometry, chemistry, and technology.
CITIZEN SCIENCE: What shapes do you see in the clouds? Rabbits, eggs, vines, airplanes, shoes? No matter what you see in the sky, NASA wants to hear about it! The organization’s S’COOL program uses data provided by citizen scientists, as well as official weather reports, to track cloud cover across the country. By collecting data on the type of clouds, the height they are at, the thickness of the cover, and related weather conditions, NASA is able to work to create a more comprehensive understanding of the earth as a system. Scientists use submitted data to track patterns in weather and atmospheric conditions, which then contributes to their knowledge of the atmosphere as a whole. Citizens can provide their observations on the project’s website, scool.larc.nasa.gov/rover.html, while supporting an interest in meteorology and the scientific process.
SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: Experience is always the best teacher – and this is especially true for children! However, when kids are eager to learn about a topic, the lessons available might leave some space for supplementation. After you’ve explored your local habitat, got curious about native species, messed about with materials, and exercised all five of your senses together, it might be time to turn to books to add specific language and detail to the understanding of scientific topics for children. Whatever topic kids are learning about, there is age- and reading level-appropriate materials available. Find out more in our post, 100+ Science Books to Support STEM Learning at Home & in the Classroom.
Interest: CULINARY ARTS
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL EVENTS: February 28 is National Chili Day, another national observation day that can bridge learning with local events, in this case, community chili cook-offs. • Interested in West and Central Africa cuisine? There will be a talk at UMass by an author/African American culinary historian, followed by a reception that features recipes from his book! • Want a hands-on lesson? The Amherst Survival Center will be hosting a Valentine’s Day Cooking Class. • And if vegetarian cuisine is your comfort food, you gotta check out this monthly cookbook club!
SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: “In this episode of ‘Kids Try Food,’ the kids try 100 years of expensive foods. Let’s see how kids eat and react to raw oysters, frog legs provençale, shrimp cocktail, lobster thermidor, beef wellington with Madeira truffle sauce, truffled tagliatelle with truffle butter and shaved truffles, caviar and egg, seared foie gras with cherry gastrique, Barclay prime wagyu cheesesteak with yellow label Veuve Clicquot, Manila Social Club 24K golden Cristal Ube donut.”
COMMUNITY-MEALS: Dining together with your neighbors connects us to one another and to the places we share together. This weekend, the Middlefield Fair Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast brings neighbors together for a community meal that raises funds for an annual event that promotes our local heritage. And next week, the Interfaith Council of Franklin County’s monthly gathering theme “Who is Our Neighbor?” will have a community potluck following by a program that will focus on our non-human neighbors.
INTERGENERATIONAL ENGAGEMENT: In addition to the community meals mentioned above, other opportunities for intergenerational engagement this week/end include our annual Saturday Morning Music Party at Flywheel, a Family Valentine’s Party at Look Park, and a concert by Mister G at Holyoke High School!
TEENS: And if your teens are looking for something special just for them, the Forbes Library is hosting a teen arts program, East Longmeadow Public Library has a monthly creative writing workshop, and the Pittsfield library is holding a candy-making workshop, just for teens!
Season: CHINESE NEW YEAR
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL EVENT: Celebrate Chinese New Year on Saturday, February 9, 1-4pm at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Meet illustrator Grace Lin, whose original artworks for Bringing in the New Year tell the tale of a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Enjoy a talk with the artist, make your own lantern, and explore the exhibition Cultural Traditions with curator Barbara Rundback. Check out a museum pass at your local library and attend for free. Norman Rockwell Museum. Glendale Rd, Route 183, Stockbridge, MA.
COMMUNITY-BASED RESOURCES: Explorations of Chinese culture can begin with our rich list of children’s titles by author Demi. Exploring Chinese art and traditions through picture books gives young readers a visual feast for learning about the Chinese aesthetic. In addition to literary and visual art, music for the lunar new year can add aural elements to the ushering in of the New Year. Additionally, the Springfield Museums’ online collection of Asian Art speaks to the culture’s roots year-round. Other community-based educational events that are just a day trip away include the annual Lion Dance Parade in Boston and Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival in Manhattan! Read more in our post, Lunar New Year Brings Opportunities for Cultural Studies.
Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Agawam, Gill, Shelburne, Buckland, Hadley, Tolland, New Salem, and Westhampton Cultural Councils, local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
[Photo credit: (cc) Marco Verch]