Weekly Suggested Events for October 2-8, 2021

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Learning through the lens of the seasons! October is rich in learning opportunities and family fun throughout Western MA.

Are you looking for things to do in western Massachusetts? Seeking place-based learning ideas? Are you a self-directed, life-long, and/or experiential learner? Are you curious or wanting to support the interests of your family? Our weekly Suggested Events list includes suggested learning ideas, resources, and fun events for all ages, each week!

Scroll down to discover featured events, learning opportunities, and educational videos to support learning from home. And be sure to subscribe to our free weekly eNewsletter so you never miss out!


MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Amelia Park Children’s Museum. 413-572-4014. 29 S Broad St, Westfield, MA.

AGRICULTURE: Apex Orchards. 413-625-2744. 225 Peckville Rd. Shelburne, MA.

HERBALISM: Blazing Star Herbal School. Conway, MA.

LIVING HISTORY: Historic Deerfield. 413-774-5581. 84 Old Main St, Deerfield, MA.

HIKING: Mt. Tom State Reservation Stone House Visitor Center. 413-527-4805. 125 Reservation Rd, Holyoke, MA.

FEATURED HIGH SCHOOL: Buxton School in Williamstown, MA

Buxton School is a small, progressive, and diverse boarding and day college preparatory school nestled in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. Since 1928, their faculty and staff have delighted in welcoming students in grades 9-12 to their egalitarian community to inspire and nurture their academic, artistic, and social growth. Buxton is an all-gender college preparatory school in Williamstown, MA, and is hosting an Admissions Open House on Monday, October 11 at 10am for prospective families to learn more. RSVP: admissions@buxtonschool.org or call 413-458-3919. For more information about Buxton School, visit them online at buxtonschool.org.

For homeschoolers and schoolers with five museums to mine for information and activities, the Springfield Museums does what few others can—combine art, history, science, and Dr. Seuss into fun-filled, engaging experiences that reinforce critical thinking and observation skills through inquiry-based learning. The Springfield Museums offer a broad range of educational programs for all ages and interest levels, and they are happy to custom-build an experience for your small group. For more information: fieldtrips@springfieldmuseums.org; 413-263-6800 x322; springfieldmuseums.org/groups/school.

The Academy of Music Theatre
Florence & Holyoke, MA

Register now! Youth Fall Classes at the Academy of Music Theatre are open for enrollment. Come sing and dance in musical theater classes for ages 6-8, 9-11, and 13-18.

Classes will be held at Pine Box Studios in Florence and at El Mercado in Holyoke on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings starting October 19th.

For more information, visit www.aomtheatre.com.

Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Greenfield, MA

Founded in 1869, Stoneleigh-Burnham School (SBS), an independent boarding & day school for girls in grades 7-12, has been a part of the Pioneer Valley for more than 150 years. SBS attracts dynamic students from more than 12 states and over 12 countries and is known for its powerful academics, debate & public speaking, performing & visual arts, and equestrian programs. SBS was the first girls’ school in New England to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and is the only secondary school in the U.S. to offer the British Horse Society Certification program. SBS’s boarding tuition is now 10% less than the national average while their day tuition is 17% less than the national average. For more information: 413-774-2711; sbschool.org.

Community Music School of Springfield
Springfield, MA

Community Music School of Springfield offers safe, weekly, in-person music classes for your youngest musician! Babies & toddlers and their parents/caregivers will love Little Notes, a class designed for bonding, brain development, fun, and musical connection with others. For your preschool, pre-k, or kindergarten music lover, CMSS offers beginner classes in guitar, piano, Suzuki violin, and bucket drumming. No instruments or experience is required as your child is introduced to the instrument while collaborating and having fun with the others in their small group. Each class is taught by expert musicians committed to helping your little one develop a lifelong love for music and creativity. Enrolling is easy, and payment plans are available.

Berkshire Music School
Pittsfield, MA

Virtual, In-Person/Outdoors, In-Person/Indoors, Private Tutoring or Coaching

Berkshire Music School is enrolling for the fall 2021 semester! Take a private lesson or Community Group Class in-person at BMS’s historic campus or online. Private lessons are offered in any orchestral or band instrument as well as voice & theory. Lessons may be arranged for 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes each week to meet the needs of the individual student and may begin at any point during the year. Online lessons are conducted via Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype, and students should have access to a computer or iPad with internet connection. BMS’s fun Community Group Classes are offered on a pay-what-you-can basis, with suggested tuition listed for each course. For more information: cpearson@berkshiremusicschool.org; 413-442-1411; www.berkshiremusicschool.org

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List of Weekly Suggested Events


LITERACY/FUNDRAISER. 9am. Book Sale at the Tilton Library. 413-665-4683. 75 North Main Street. South Deerfield, MA. 

EARTH LIVING SKILLS. All Weekend. The 4th Annual Groundnut Gathering. Colrain, MA. 

ANIMAL STUDIES/CANINE. 9am. Dog Day at the Springfield Museums. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA. 

ECOLOGY/WILDFLOWERS. 9am. Goldenrod and Asters Field Study with the Berkshire Botanical Garden. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, MA. 


ART STUDIES/CYANOTYPE. 10am. Botanical Cyanotype Workshop at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, MA. 

ECOLOGY/NATURAL HISTORY. 10am. The Wonders and History of Bear Hole with Mass Audubon Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary at Mass Audubon Bear Hole Sanctuary, West Springfield, MA. 

ECOLOGY/DENDROLOGY. 10am. Trees through the Seasons with Mass Audubon Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary at Mass Audubon’s Graves Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Williamsburg, MA. 

NATURE STUDIES. 10am. Saturday Guided Walks at Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary. 413-267-9654. 30 Peck Rd, Wales, MA. 

INTERGENERATIONAL/GAMES. 10am. Community Board Game Day at the West Springfield Public Library. 413-736-4561. 200 Park St, West Springfield, MA. 

LOCAL FAUNA. 10am. Mammals at Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area. 61 N Farms Rd, Northampton, MA. 

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT. 10am. Jungle Jim Balloon Magic Show at the Storrs Library. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. 

LITERATURE. 10am. Local Author Showcase at the Franklin County’s YMCA. 413-773-3646. 451 Main St, Greenfield, MA. 

MUSIC STUDIES/DRUMMING. 10:30am. Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest at the Windsor Town Park with Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center. 1515 Savoy Hollow Rd, Windsor, MA. 

ANIMAL STUDIES/ECOLOGY. 10:30am. Learn about native species, specifically mammals that live around Bray Lake. Mt. Tom State Reservation Stone House Visitor Center. 413-527-4805. 125 Reservation Rd, Holyoke, MA. 

STEM. 11am. Kitchen Ka-Boom at the Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South St, Pittsfield, MA. 

PHYSICS. 11am. Great Holyoke Brick Race in Holyoke, MA. 

MUSIC STUDIES/JAZZ. 11am. Jazz Concert at Milne Public Library. 413-458-5369. 1095 Main Street. Williamstown, MA. 

NEW ENGLAND HERITAGE. 11am. Corn Maze at The Apple Place. 413-348-9628. 540 Somers Rd. Rt. 83, East Longmeadow, MA. 

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT. 11am. Family Concert at the Whately Library. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. 

ARCHITECTURE. 11am. Tour of the Longmeadow Green with the Storrs Library. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. 

FASHION HISTORY. 12pm. Hat Decorating Workshop at the Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. 

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT. 12pm. Fall Weekend Fun at Yankee Candle. 877-636-7707. 25 Greenfield Rd, South Deerfield, MA. 

BIKE SAFETY. 1pm. Bike Rodeo with the Easthampton Planning Department at Millside Park. 413-529-1400. 2 Ferry St., Easthampton, MA. 

MUSIC STUDIES/HORN INSTRUMENTS. 1:30pm. Expandable Brass Band Presented by Northampton Jazz Festival at Pulaski Park in Northampton, MA. LOCAL HISTORY. 2pm. Moving Lenox, presented by the Lenox Library (Virtual) 

NATURAL HISTORY/DENDROLOGY. 3:30pm. History and Preservation of the American Elm in New England  at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, MA. 

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT. 4pm. Berkshire Blues & Brews FestBerkshire Theatre Group. 413-997-4444. 111 South St, Pittsfield, MA. 

MUSIC STUDIES/SALSA. 5pm. Salsa Train Orchestra at River Valley Co-op. 228 Northampton St, Easthampton, MA.

Self-Directed Learning: Bluejays & Crows

Bluejays and American crows fill the early soundscape with their jeers and caws, warning one another of migrating broad-winged hawks overheard. The grey squirrel’s kuks & quaas can be heard from the branch-highway of oak, aspen, and maple trees they scurry upon as these deciduous trees slowly begin to drop their leaves. These are some of the sounds and movements of late summer and early autumn. Paying attention to our soundscape changes as we move through the seasons anchors us in the present moment and allows for investigation and appreciation. Take the time to stop and observe, seeing what thoughts and curiosities arise when you pay attention to your soundscape. Why are bluejays so quiet in the summer but not in the fall? How does the fall hawk migration influence their behavior? Can you tell the difference between a male and a female bluejay? How about crows? Do you know how long they live? Let these questions lead your learning this week, following your interests and connecting with the seasonal changes and behaviors of native species.

Self-Directed Learning: Honey Harvest

Come early autumn, most local honey has been harvested. You can find sweet amber bottles (sometimes with a slice of honeycomb) at co-ops, farmers’ markets, and roadside farm stands. Follow interests in world culture, culinary arts, confectionery art, conservation, geometry, and entomology through the lens of honey! Let the end of the honey harvest lead your learning for this week.


Ongoing Events 

PLAYGROUPS. Family Centers & Playgroups in Hilltowns & Pioneer Valley 

PLAYGROUPSSouth Berkshire County. 

PLAYGROUPSFamily Center & Playgroups in north Berkshire County. 

PLAYGROUP. 10am. Pick-up playgroup at Stanley Park’s sandbox area. Make not only sandcastles but also new friends at this weekly self-directed playgroup. Stanley Park. 413-568-9312. 400 Western Ave, Westfield, MA.  

PreK PLAYGROUP. 10am. Join the Easthampton Family Center at Nonotuck Park. 1 Daley Field Rd, Easthampton, MA. 

HIKING. Sunrise-Sunset. Chapel Brook, a property of The Trustees of Reservations, showcases the region’s rugged beauty, blending steep and deep forests, sensational summit views, and streams that surge and trickle with the seasons. At the heart of the reservation lies 1,420-foot Pony Mountain, whose nearly vertical 100-foot rock face enthralls skilled rock climbers. Down below, Chapel Brook—a tributary of the South River— meanders through a dense hardwood forest before cascading over three bedrock ledges. In times of high water, Chapel Falls are in full roar. Come summer, however, the pools offer a cool, welcome dip. Williamsburg Road, Ashfield, MA. 

GEOLOGY. 10am & 2pm.  Natural Bridge State Park. 413-663-6392. McAuley Road, North Adams, MA. 

HOMESCHOOL SOCIAL. 11am. Pick-up playgroup and social hour for homeschool families. Dufrenes Park. Taylor St, Granby, MA.

LIBRARY ADVENTURES. 3:30pm. Tunes and Tales at the Southwick Public Library. 413-569-1221. 95 Feeding Hills Road. Southwick, MA. 

LANGUAGE ARTS/POETRY. 7pm. Poets and Writers Café with The LAVA Center. (Virtual)

Self-Directed Learning: Apple Season

Apples, one of the earliest (and most delicious) signs of fall, have been an essential part of New England agriculture for centuries. McIntosh apples are undeniably the most iconic of New England’s apples and makeup over two-thirds of the region’s apple crop! Macs and countless other delicious and fascinating varieties of apples are grown at orchards across western Massachusetts. Families can enjoy this year’s apple crop by visiting an orchard to pick or purchase a bushel. Participate in the tradition of apple-picking and support local agriculture! Check with these local apple orchards for picking conditions and opportunities this year: Park Hill Orchard (Easthampton), Outlook Farm (Westhampton), Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery (Ashfield), Quonquont Farm (Whately), Clarkdale Fruit Farms (Deerfield), and Bashista Orchards (Southampton). Before heading out, learn about the history of the apple pie, and then while visiting these properties, take a picnic lunch and read Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking” and William Cullen Bryant’s “The Planting of an Apple-Tree.”

Self-Directed Learning: Hawk Migration Season

Autumn is the season of Hawk migration. But Hawks aren’t the only bird of prey you can spot migrating this month. According to Mass Audubon, “Most numerous is the broad-winged hawk, which at times can be seen in flocks, or kettles, of hundreds, occasionally thousands of birds, “boiling” high into the sky. The next most commonly seen early fall migrants are the feisty sharp-shinned hawk, American kestrel, osprey, northern harrier (marsh hawk), and turkey vulture.” This seasonal phenomenon can be a catalyst for learning about ornithology and meteorology. Knowing the differences between different raptors and how weather patterns impact migration conditions support interests and education and can also help us connect to seasonal changes through native species and local habitats. Learn more about hawk migration, what to listen for, and other raptors of the world to compare and contrast with these videos.


Ongoing Events 

PLAYGROUPS. Family Centers & Playgroups in Hilltowns & Pioneer Valley 

PLAYGROUPSSouth Berkshire County. 

PLAYGROUPSFamily Center & Playgroups in north Berkshire County. 

PreK PLAYGROUPS. Family Centers & Playgroups in Western MA 

LOCAL HISTORY/HIKING. Sunrise-Sunset. From its iconic red barn to an elegant allée of maples, the historic home of William Cullen Bryant is a testament to the celebrated poet’s ideal of living mindfully on the land. When visiting, Wander the Rivulet Trail, where an old-growth forest of hemlock and a magnificent cherry tree hugs the Rivulet, a trickling stream immortalized by Bryant’s 1923 poem of the same name. Or walk the Pine Loop, which features enormous pines that reach heights of 150 feet, among the tallest in the Northeast. The house’s interior will not be open for tours this summer; however, the property is open for outdoor activities. William Cullen Bryant Homestead. 413- 634-2244. 207 Bryant Road, Cummington, MA. 

STEM. 10:15am. WeeMuse STEMat the Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South St, Pittsfield, MA. 

MUSIC STUDIES. 11am. Music Class with Tom Knight at the South Hadley Family Center. 413-283-7594. 7 Woodbridge St, South Hadley, MA. 

MUSIC STUDIES. 1pm. Families in Harmony with Renee Coro at the Hubbard Memorial Library. 413-583-3408. 24 Center St, Ludlow, MA. 

HOMESCHOOL SOCIAL. 2pm. Pick-up playgroup and social hour for homeschool families. Groff Park. 83 Mill Ln, Amherst, MA.

LITERACY. 3:30pm Guided After-School StoryWalk Event at The Boulders, Pittsfield, MA. 

GEOGRAPHY. 4pm. World Traveler’s Club at the Mason Public Library. 413-528-2403. 231 Main St, Great Barrington, MA. 

PARANORMAL. 6:30pm. Spirits of the World with the East Longmeadow Public Library. (Virtual) 

LOCAL HISTORY. 7pm. New England Cemeteries with the Southwick Public Library (Virtual) 

Self-Directed Learning: Autumn Foliage

Autumn in Western Mass is when nature literally takes center stage; a destination visitors outside the area flock to because of the gorgeous dynamism of the season. The trees and their changing foliage are excellent connectors for kids (in a sense, they connect to themselves!) to the outdoors and their sense of place. In this change lies fantastic community-based educational opportunities tied to art and science. Read our post, Autumn Leaf Collecting Supports Art & Science, to see how you can get your kid hooked on fall by collecting, creating, and learning in their backyards, local parks, and nature conservation areas! Also, check out these videos to support learning about botanychemistrydendrology, and ecology through the lens of fall foliage!


Ongoing Events 

PLAYGROUPS. Family Centers & Playgroups in Hilltowns & Pioneer Valley 

PLAYGROUPSSouth Berkshire County. 

PLAYGROUPSFamily Center & Playgroups in north Berkshire County. 

PreK PLAYGROUP. 10am.  Pick-up playgroup at the Dow Pavillion playground. Great for kids ages 2-5 to meet up with other families and to make new friends. Look Memorial Park. 413-584-5457. 300 N Main St, Florence, MA. 

NATURAL HISTORY/HIKING. Sunrise-Sunset. Bear Swamp was truly rough terrain for early settlers: steep, wooded hillsides and exposed bedrock descending to boggy wetlands and swamp. Nonetheless, early settlers cleared all of the land for forest products, pasture, and even hay fields. But contemporary explorers will find a landscape of rugged beauty, with fields reclaimed by the forest and the dark lowlands illuminated by colorful wildflowers in bloom. Follow three miles of trails—some steep in places—to different parts of the reservation. The aptly named Fern Glade Trail passes through carpets of ferns and wildflowers. Take the Beaver Brook Trail to where an aging stone dam supports a beaver dam. The trail to Apple Valley Overlook ends with a grand vista of apple orchards in the near distance and, on the northern horizon, the Green Mountains of Vermont. Bear Swamp. Hawley Road, Ashfield, MA. 

ARTS & CRAFTS. 11am & 2pm. Crafts at Amelia Park Children’s Museum. 413-572-4014. 29 S Broad St, Westfield, MA. 

NATURAL HISTORY/ART. 12pm. Interpreting Natural History through Art at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Rd, Easthampton, MA. 

ECOLOGY/WETLANDS. 4pm. Early Evening Paddle at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Rd, Easthampton, MA. 

THEATER. 7pm. KAMLOOPA: An Indigenous Matriarch Story with WAM Theatre at Shakespeare & Company. 413-637-1199. 70 Kemble St., Lenox, MA.

Self-Directed Learning: Seed Saving

Once you’ve reaped the delicious benefits of a summer’s harvest, look to your dinner plate to find a purpose for what you’ve grown. Seed saving is a way to practice self-sufficiency and resilience and also helps to preserve plant varieties for years to come. In addition to the cultural and agricultural value of holding onto these plants (and their seeds), practicing seed saving at home is a great way to engage in hands-on science learning, supporting interests in botanygardeningliteracy, and food security. Read more in our post, Seed Capital Provides Return for Nature-Based Education.


Ongoing Events 

PLAYGROUPS. Family Centers & Playgroups in Hilltowns & Pioneer Valley 

PLAYGROUPSSouth Berkshire County. 

PLAYGROUPSFamily Center & Playgroups in north Berkshire County. 

PreK PLAYGROUP. 10am Pick-up playgroup at the Dow Pavillion playground. Great for kids ages 2-5 to meet up with other families and to make new friends. Look Memorial Park. 413-584-5457. 300 N Main St, Florence, MA. 

GEOLOGY. 10am & 2pm. Natural Bridge State Park. 413-663-6392. McAuley Road, North Adams, MA. 

LOCAL HISTORY/GARDEN DESIGN. Thursday-Monday 10am-3pm. Naumkeag is a public garden and historic home in the heart of the Berkshires. This 48-acre architectural masterpiece is, at its heart, a family home. In 1884, Joseph Choate, a prominent New York attorney and U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, and his wife, Caroline, hired the famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White to design a summer retreat. When you visit this National Historic Landmark, explore the superlative gardens created by Mabel Choate and noted landscape architect Fletcher Steele. Take in the Blue Steps, a series of deep blue fountain pools, flanked by four flights of stairs and a grove of white birches. Elsewhere walk through the stunning beautiful Afternoon Garden, Tree Peony Terrace, Rose Garden, Evergreen Garden, and Chinese Garden, each of which evinces beauty while revealing the playful, inventive spirit of collaboration between Ms. Choate and Mr. Steele, which played out over the span of 30 years. Naumkeag. 413-298-3239. 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA. 

HOMESCHOOL SOCIAL. 12:15pm. Pick-up playgroup and social hour for homeschool families. Stanley Park. 413-568-9312. 400 Western Ave, Westfield, MA. 

Self-Directed Learning: Caterpillars

Tomato hornwormTent CaterpillarMonarch CaterpillarYellow Woolly Bears. These are New England caterpillars’ names, many of us know, which is limited when considering that there are 20,000 different species of known caterpillars around the world! In the late summer and early autumn, searching for caterpillars in veggie gardens, meadows, and trees’ leaves before turning autumnal colors can be a catalyst for learning about botany, entomology, and ecology. Getting curious and asking “why-what-how-who” questions is an excellent place to start! Why is this caterpillar on this plant? How did it get there? What is its defense mechanism? Who is it protecting itself from? How does the caterpillar turn into a butterfly? Is it a butterfly, or is it a moth? When will it metamorphoseSketch or photograph your discoveries. Search for answers online or ask a local naturalist. Understanding the nature and behavior of native species helps strengthen a sense of place by reading our landscape through flora and fauna surrounding us and how everything fits into seasonal patterns.

Weekly eNewsletter

Online and in-person events and resources shared above 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.

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Hilltown Families’ list of Suggested Events is supported in part by grants from the Agawam, Amherst, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont/Hawley, Chester, Chesterfield, Chicopee, Colrain, Dalton, Deerfield, Easthampton, Gill, Goshen, Greenfield, Hadley, Hatfield, Heath, Hinsdale/Peru, Holyoke, Huntington, Leyden, Montgomery, Mt. Washington, New Salem, Northern Berkshire, Northfield, Palmer, Pelham, Plainfield, Rowe, Shelburne, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Southampton, Springfield, Tolland, Tyringham, Westhampton, Windsor, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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