Learn Local. Play Local.: Hamantaschen to Butter. Neon to Book History.

Community-Based Education Highlights
for Western Massachusetts

Maple DaysHamantaschenButterCommunity MealSheep ShearingBotany LessonsNative SpeciesBeaversFishOwlsTulipsForestStory HourFolktalesFolk DanceCeltic DanceSt. Patrick’s DayPurimAstronomySpring EquinoxIntergenerationalTeenParenting WorkshopFatherhoodRescue DogsBird HousesFairy HousesPotteryPrintmakingHistory of BooksSewingNeonWildlife PhotographyTheater StudiesHigh School MusicalsPeace ActivismDemocracy

These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week, March 16-22, 2019. Scroll down, peruse our list, and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!


SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: The first day of Spring is next week, a time filled with sightings of all kinds of exciting natural wonders. The season’s outdoor appeal makes it a perfect time of year not only for enjoying our natural surroundings, but for learning about conservation and species preservation, too! In particular, springtime is the season for bird sightings as Western Massachusetts becomes filled with a variety of migrating bird species in the early spring months. Species to look for in the spring include Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Whip-Poor-Wills, American Kestrels, Indigo Buntings, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, Carolina Wrens, American Goldfinches, Great Blue Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds, and many others! Knowing the names of the birds we share our home with and being able to identify them by their songs and behavior helps us connect to the seasons and strengthens our sense of place.  Read more in our post, Sense of Place: A Birds Eye View.


CBEdu EVENT: Wednesday, March 20, 6:45am & 6pm — View the sunrise and sunset associated with the spring equinox among the standing stones of the UMass Amherst Sunwheel during an hour-long gathering with UMass Amherst astronomer Stephen Schneider. The astronomical cause of the Sun’s changing position will be discussed and the seasonal positions of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, will be explained. Astronomy-based Q&A follows. If the skies are clear, telescopes will be set up to observe the crescent moon as well as Venus and Mercury after sunset. A solar telescope will also be set up to observe the Sun before sunset safely. UMass Sunwheel. Amherst, MA.

SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: Is it true a raw egg can only be balanced on end during the equinox? Where did this theory come from and is it fact or fiction? Find out!

SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: “Why do some regions experience full-time heat while others are reckoning with frigid temperatures and snow? And why are the seasons reversed in the two hemispheres? Rebecca Kaplan explains how the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and the Earth’s tilt on its axis affect the amount of sunlight each region receives.” – TED-Ed

After viewing the video, check out the lesson plan: Reasons for the seasons – Rebecca Kaplan


CBEdu EVENT: Tuesday, March 19, 3:30pm – Learn to make butter, then taste test on different types of bread. Bread & Butter “Shake it, shake it, shake it!” That’s what you’ll be singing as a jar is passed around to make fresh, homemade butter! Why does butter form? Come curious and hungry! The program is part of the monthly series with the farm to school program of the Chicopee Public Schools, Food by ChicopeeFRESH. Chicopee Public Library. 413-594-1800. 449 Front St., Chicopee, MA.

SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: Can’t get the kids to the event above? Try it at home! “Learn how to make Homemade Butter in a Mason Jar in this fun pioneer activity for kids and adults alike! It’s easy to churn your own butter and make your own buttermilk!”


SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: “This video will give you a brief insight as to how neon signs are actually made from the Discovery Channel’s ‘How Its Made’.”

CBEdu EVENT: Monday, March 18, 3-4pm – Teen Arts Program: Make a Neon Sign. Dubbed “liquid fire” when they were first popularized, neon signs have an interesting history and lasting relevance. What will you spell out in lights? Snacks and materials always provided. This event is for teens only. Forbes Library. 413-587-1011. 20 West St, Northampton, MA.

Interest: BOOKS

SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: “What makes a book a book? Is it just anything that stores and communicates information? Or does it have to do with paper, binding, font, ink, its weight in your hands, the smell of the pages? To answer these questions, Julie Dreyfuss goes back to the start of the book as we know it to show how these elements came together to make something more than the sum of their parts.” – TED-Ed

After viewing the video, check out the full lesson, The evolution of the book – Julie Dreyfuss.

CBEdu EVENT: Wednesday, March 20, 6:30pm – The History of the Book: The Early Years. Join Professor Debbie Felton of UMass, Amherst’s Dept of Classics for a look into the earliest beginnings of the book. Discover the earliest writings known in various ancient civilizations around the world, the development of literature and books in Greece, and how the book was further developed in ancient Rome. Sunderland Public Library. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA.

Learning Catalyst: HOLIDAY

CBEdu EVENT: Wednesday, March 20, 5:30-9:45pm – All are welcome at Congregation B’nai Israel of Northampton for Purim. Come dressed up to celebrate with a puppet show for the kids at 5:30pm, followed by Megillah Reading at 6:30pm, and dance party plus hamantaschen at 8pm. Congregation B’nai Israel of Northampton. 413-584-3593. 253 Prospect St, Northampton, MA.

CBEdu EVENT: Thursday, March 21, 5:30-8pm – Purim Palooza w/ Lazer Lloyd at Mill 180 Park. Both Adults and kids will experience the true spirit and joy of Purim like never before! Music at 5:30pm. Inspiring and fun Megillah reading at 4:45pm before the show! Come in costume and enjoy sushi dinner, hamantaschen, and more. Hosted by Chabad-Lubavitch of Northampton. Mill 180 Park.180 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA.

SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: Where does the tradition to eat hamantaschen on Purim come from?

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Agawam, Gill, Shelburne, Buckland, Hadley, New Salem, Westhampton, Southampton, and Tolland Cultural Councils, local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


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