100+ Suggested Learning Ideas, Events & Resources for July 18-24, 2020

Awarded the “Essential Agent of Change Award” by the MDPH’s Massachusetts Essentials for Childhood, Hilltown Families is recognized as a leading family strengthening initiative in the region, promoting “positive parenting through bthe social norm of community social connectedness.” Serving Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families continues to support the development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, farms, individuals, schools, and non-profit organizations are invited to collaborate with Hilltown Families in their community outreach. With 10,000 opt-in subscribers and over 2.7 million visits to our web site alone, Hilltown Families can deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out about our affordable advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by contacting us at info@hilltownfamilies.org… and scroll down to discover learning ideas and community-based educational opportunities to explore at home and outdoors this weekend and next week.

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New England “OPEN” Air Museum reopens indoor & outdoor exhibit spaces! The New England Air Museum is the largest aviation museum in New England with 3 large hangars, outdoor exhibits, and 100+ aircraft ranging from early airships & flying machines to supersonic jets & helicopters. Open every day from 10am-3pm with public programs and activities ongoing in socially distanced style. With 90,000 square feet of aircraft hangars and wide-open hangar doors, there is no better place to go for safe, socially distanced fun. The outdoor space will remain open with 10 aircraft, and visitors can see another 50 aircraft indoors, plus dozens of engines and exhibits on various aspects of aviation history. The entire museum has been cleaned and sanitized with daily cleaning protocols to ensure the health & safety of all. Admission: $16/adults; $10/children 4-14yo; Free for ages 3 & under and Veteran. Located at 36 Perimeter Road in Windsor Locks, CT.


Online Program Jul 27-Aug 14

Berkshire Music School – Rock On(line) & OnStage LIVE! Online/Pittsfield, MA. BMS brings its most popular summer camps online! For youth 11-15, OnStage LIVE helps young singers free their voice through sessions focused on choosing repertoire, building stage presence, and working with a pre-recorded track. It’s the perfect opportunity for singers to prepare for auditions & theatrical performances. (July 27-31). Geared towards high school and college-age musicians, Rock On(line): Solid Gold Solos gives students the chance to tackle that solo they’ve always dreamed of playing with masterclasses, group instrument lessons, and workshops in songwriting and theory/composition. The program culminates in an online performance opportunity. (Session 1: Aug. 3-7 & Session 2: Aug. 10-14.) Private lessons are also available. Dates: Jul 27-Aug 14; Age Range of Participants: 11-21yo. Contact: 413-442-1411. smoderski@berkshiremusicschool.orgwww.BerkshireMusicSchool.org

Online Program Jul 27-Aug 14


Barrington Stage Co. KidsAct! and TeensAct!: The Show Must Go On(line). Online/Pittsfield, MA. Barrington Stage Co. will be holding 2 weeks of virtual camps in August, customized for campers who want to build their acting skills and be engaged creatively. Campers will film themselves under the guidance of experienced teaching artists and create a virtual show together. Teaching artists will teach virtual classes, offer private coaching, and help campers with independent, project-oriented learning. Counselors will be available to answer questions outside of class, provide one-on-one coaching, and help with project completion. Students must have access to Zoom, a Google account, a device with an internet connection, and a camera. KidsAct! for 7–11yo. TeensAct! For 12-15yo. SESSION 1: Aug 10-14. SESSION 2: Aug 17-21. 10am–noon. Cost: $195. Dates: Aug 10-21; Age Range of Participants: 7-15yo. Contact: 413-997-6117. education@barringtonstageco.org. barringtonstageco.org

Deadline to register: August 7th
Add virtual or in-person classes, private lessons, tutoring services, and online educational opportunities to Hilltown Families’ annual Class Directory! The deadline to register for our Class Directory debut is August 7th. Reserve your spot now and benefit from free updates to your listing throughout the year. Advertise in the region’s go-to, online resource for community-based educational opportunities in Western Massachusetts, reaching thousands of students throughout the region.
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ADVERTISE HERE: Partner with Hilltown Families in your online advertising! Delivering your message each week to over 25,000 subscribers, web visitors, and social media followers, Hilltown Families can deliver your message to thousands of readers in Western MA who are committed to their community and willing to support one another in times of need. In-person and virtual event organizers, local and online businesses, virtual and local service providers, non-profit organizations, and individuals are encouraged to reach out to find out about our affordable advertising options and marketing packages. To find out how we can partner together in your online marketing and outreach, contact Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org.

July 18-24, 2020

Saturday, July 18Sunday, July 19
Monday, July 20Tuesday, July 21Wednesday, July 22
Thursday, July 23Friday, July 24

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Online and in-person events and resources shared below are done so as a courtesy and not as an endorsement. While we do our best to share accurate and up-to-date information, please take the time to confirm information, age appropriateness, registration requirements, safety protocols, and associated costs.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Suggested Events

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


It’s blueberry season, a time of year when those dusty blue globes with their star pattern bottoms become abundantly available in pint-sized containers at farmers’ markets and co-op flash sales. You can also pick-your-own at blueberry farms during peak season! PYO berries allow us to engage our senses while gathering fruit, connecting us to the weather patterns, the summer soundscape, and the taste of a ripe berry freshly picked. These native blue gems have much to teach too. Today we are looking through the lens of food with a focus on the blueberry, learning about horticulture, ethnobotany, nutrition, pastry arts, and geometry.

FOOD STUDIES/BLUEBERRIES: Blueberries are native to North America with the earliest know account of blueberry consumption references the Algonquins. The Northeast Native American tribes integrated the blueberry many aspects of their lives, referred to as “star berries,” a gift from the Great Spirit. The history of contemporary agriculture practices that tamed this wild native berry can support an interest in many different areas, including ethnobotany, horticulture, literature, cultural studies, and much more. Start here with this video, “Blueberry. How Does It Grow?” from True Food TV.

PASTRY ARTS/BLUEBERRIES: According to Smithsonian Libraries, “A simple dish favored by Native Americans was called sautauthig, dried blueberries and dried, cracked corn mixed with water. Of the many foods proposed to have been served at the early thanksgiving feasts in New England, this pudding is one of the likely ones, according to historians … the colonists added milk, butter and sugar, when available, to the mush.” Contemporary recipes using blueberries are mostly in the form of sweet desserts. In this video, watch the self-directed learning process of an online baker as she shares her discovery of the art of geometric pies, a delicious way to integrate pastry arts with geometry during the season of blueberries!

NUTRITION/BLUEBERRIES: Containing an important phytochemical, anthocyanins, blueberries are touted as a “heart-healthy” food. Learn more about the healthy constituents of blueberries and a few recipes for preparing this superfood.


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Suggested Events

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


One of the best ways to engage in hands-on science learning is by simply messing about. When children’s play leads them to make observations about the things around them and how they interact with each other, they learn powerful lessons that they’ll remember for years to come. Luckily this time of year, messy science learning can be done outdoors! Today’s self-directed learning module includes four hands-on science activities families can do together with safe science materials to learn about chemistry, physics, soil science, and more!

CHEMISTRY/FASHION: Natural Tie-Dye ♦ Show off some unique DIY fashion after testing out the colors made by familiar everyday edibles! There are a great many fruits, vegetables, herbs, and plants that can be used to make fabric dye, and they don’t always produce the colors you’d expect. Experiment with natural homemade dyes on a piece of scrap fabric, then put the dyes to less experimental use by dying your clothes, too! (If there’s any dye leftover, try filtering it with your homemade water filter!)

SOIL SCIENCE/CULTURAL STUDIES: Mud Bricks ♦ Gather dirt, sand, and other natural materials and get ready to make a mess! This experiment is best when done in a somewhat organized fashion, so that brick recipes can be compared for effectiveness once they’ve dried, but it’s still a ton of muddy fun. Young scientists engaging in brick-making will learn about soil science and further explore brick science by learning about different types of bricks found in different parts of the world.

PHYSICS/CATAPULT: Catapult Physics ♦ Using a homemade catapult crafted with whatever materials are available, families can experiment with physics by catapulting anything from potatoes to water balloons! Be sure to use your catapult in a large, open space where people or pets won’t accidentally interfere with your object’s trajectory.

CHEMISTRY/KITCHEN SCIENCE: Plastic Bag Explosion ♦ The classic baking soda and vinegar science project takes an explosive twist in this experiment! Families can learn about gas expansion by watching a sandwich bag explode when baking soda and vinegar meet. Carbon dioxide, released during the reaction between the two ingredients, will eventually fill the bag to its breaking point.


Start planning now!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Suggested Events:

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


Learning about myths has many benefits. They allow us to compare and contrast various world cultures, teaching us about archetypes found throughout ancient times. Exploring mythology can support lessons in history, sociology, psychology, literature, art, and the study of language. For today’s self-directed learning module, mythology leads the way, from world mythology to the hero’s journey, myths can help us think deeply about modern and ancient cultures.

WORLD MYTHOLOGY: CrashCourse has a World Mythology course of more than 40 episodes, a great place to start your studies of mythology. “This course is based on introductory college-level curriculum spanning mythologies around the globe. By the end of this course, you will be able to: Define myth and decide what elements distinguish it from other narrative forms; Connect myths around the world and identify how different cultures sought answers to similar big questions; Use myths to understand past civilizations, like by recognizing their core values; and Identify how the staying power of myths influence our beliefs and cultures today, like in our language.”

MYTHOLOGY/HERO’S JOURNEY: “What trials unite not only Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins but many of literature’s most interesting heroes? And what do ordinary people have in common with these literary heroes? In this TED-Ed video, Matthew Winkler takes us step-by-step through the crucial events that make or break a hero.”





Schools are accepting applications for 2020/2021 school year!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Suggested Events:

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


Did you know that there are over 11,000 moth species in the United States alone? More than just an evening version of butterflies, moths provide necessary biodiversity to ecosystems worldwide! National Moth Week is this week, and we’re using this observation week as a catalyst for learning about entomology, citizen science, animal husbandry, textiles, and American folklore.

NATIONAL MOTH WEEK/CITIZEN SCIENCE: “National Moth Week (NMW) celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. “Moth-ers’ of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods. NMW is being held worldwide during the last full week of July. NMW offers everyone, everywhere, a unique opportunity to become a Citizen Scientist and contribute scientific data about moths. Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories, NMW participants can help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe… Observing moths is very easy; you don’t even have to look for them actively. Using two simple methods to attract moths, all you have to do is wait for them to come to you.” Learn how to attract and document moths during National Moth Week!

ENTOMOLOGY/LEPIDOPTEROLOGY: SciShow Kids asks, “Do you have a favorite insect? We really like butterflies! But there’s another awesome insect with really big wings and long antenna that you might see flapping around: moths! Moths and butterflies can look really similar, but we’ve got some tips to help you tell them apart!” Discover these tips in their episode, “Butterfly or Moth?” Grab the kids and join them to learn about the differences between the two. Tips include the differences between a cocoon and a chrysalis, straight and feathered antennae, how they hold their wings, and what time of the day they are active. After learning, play their guessing game, “Moth or Butterfly?”

ENTOMOLOGY/TRANSVERSE ORIENTATION: “The story of the lamp and the moth is one of fatal attraction. The theory is that these primarily nocturnal insects have evolved to travel by the moon and stars’ light. This way of travel is called transverse orientation. An easy way to think about transverse orientation is to imagine a sailor traveling in the North Star direction. In theory, moths similarly follow the light source at a precise position and a precise angle to their bodies. This is how moths would navigate for millions of years … by the light of the moon. What moth evolution couldn’t account for was the proliferation of constant electric light in our modern world. ” Learn more in this National Geographic video, “Why Moths Are Obsessed with Lamps.”

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY/TEXTILES: When you think of animal husbandry, which insects do you think of? Honeybees? Caterpillars? The Silkworm Moth is a commercially bred caterpillar of the domesticated silkworm moth (Bombyx mori), the source of silk! For thousands of years, humans have bred silkworms for their silk, which has a significant history in Western MA and worldwide. Learn more about the process from snacking caterpillars to silk threads.

AMERICAN FOLKLORE/SOCIOLOGY: Let’s take the theme of moth and explore modern American folklore… In the late ’60s, Mothman became a part of West Virginia folklore, celebrated today with an annual festival and even a dedicated museum. In this video, “you’ll learn how the town was forever changed by the myth of the Mothman. Newspapers gave the winged, red-eyed creature its name after it was spotted on November 15, 1966—an incident followed by almost a hundred other eyewitness accounts. Exactly 13 months later, the paranormal activity culminated in a very real tragedy… see how Mothman became a global phenomenon outside of West Virginia by the famous book The Mothman Prophecies and its later film adaptation.” Explore more about the myth and human psychology in this video about either something paranormal or a misidentified bird.


Plan ahead for Fall 2020!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Suggested Events:

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


During the summer months, grasshoppers are an iconic insect that fills our memories of warm moments in the sun. In Massachusetts, over 20 species of grasshoppers and crickets have been identified. Learning about these insects and scouting for them outdoors brings us into nature to discover the necessary habitat for native species. Take your observations and curiosity to learn more. If you have questions, do a quick internet search to find the answers. And follow our self-directed learning module for today, which supports interests in entomology, psychology, storytelling, and nutritional anthropology through the lens of the grasshopper.

ENTOMOLOGY/ORTHOPTEROLOGY: The study of grasshoppers, crickets, and locust is called orthopterology. “What is a locust, and what makes it different from a grasshopper? That’s a simple question — but it doesn’t have a simple answer. Triggered by factors such as weather and agricultural practices, the once-solitary insects become social creatures, seemingly in the blink of an eye.” Learn more about this behavior and places swarms take place in this video, “Locusts and Grasshoppers: Things to Know.”

PSYCHOLOGY/GRASSHOPPERS: Using the docile grasshopper as a catalyst, let’s take a peek at human psychology while learning how scientists uncovered the mystery behind plagues of swarming locusts.

NUTRITIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY/EDIBLE INSECTS: “The world’s population is projected to reach 11 billion by the end of the century. Feeding that many people will be a challenge, and it is further complicated by the impact of climate change on agriculture. That is why some people advocate an unusual way to boost the food supply and feed people sustainably: by eating less meat, and more insects.” If you can stomach learning more, check out this video by The Economist. Looking for edible insects in Western Massachusetts? Check out Tran’s World Food Market in Hadley, MA.

GRASSHOPPER/FABLES: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity. “The Grasshopper and the Ant” is one of Aesop’s Fables, which tells the story of a hungry grasshopper begging for food from an ant when winter arrives, but is refused. Here is a telling of this fable from the 1930’s which pairs animation with symphony music. This short-film is an art-integrated way to learn about morals and values as part of a grasshopper learning module.


Start planning now!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Suggested Events:

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” July is National Ice Cream Month … a great excuse to indulge in this creamy confection. With today’s self-directed learning module, begin by making your own ice cream at home in less than 30 minutes and then let your curiosity lead the way. How was ice cream made before refrigeration? How does salt help with the process of making ice cream? What is the history and origins of ice cream flavors? How did we arrive at a national observation day? Who invented the ice cream cone? Here are a few videos to support your interests as you explore and search for the answers to all things ice cream!




Start planning for Fall 2020!

Friday, July 24, 202

Suggested Events:

Want to have your online or in person event, class, or workshop featured with Hilltown Families? Inquire at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


Sandy shores are relaxing destinations many families either head towards or dream about during the summer months. Shoreline spaces not only support recreation, but they are also crucial to the livelihood of many! Today we explore traditions in catching fish, foraging seaweed, aquaculture, and earthscape art! Let these points of entry inspired by summer vacations ignite your curiosity to learn about other cultures and the various forms of art.


Hilltown Families’ list of Suggested Events is supported in part by grants from the Amherst, Bernardston, Buckland, Chester, Gill, Goshen, Hadley, Heath, Hinsdale-Peru, Holyoke, Montgomery, Mt. Washington, New Salem, Northern Berkshire, Pelham, Plainfield, Rowe, Shelburne, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Washington, Westhampton, and Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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