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!
Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity Hosts 2021 Gingerbread Build at Home! Register a team by 12noon on Wednesday, December 1, and pick up your gingerbread kit on Saturday, December 4. Contestants will have six days to construct their dream confectionery dwellings and submit three photos to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, December 9 at midnight. Log in Saturday, December 11 at 3pm for a live virtual award ceremony. A minimum donation of $100 is required per team; additional fundraising is encouraged! For more information and to register, go to www.pvhabitat.org/events/gingerbread-build. Questions? Contact Amy Landry at email@example.com. Thank you for supporting the building of real houses for real families in western Massachusetts.
In June of 2021, the Center School moved to a beautiful brand new building, situated on 30 acres of land to explore. Admissions season is underway, and the school is booking more tours than ever. Valley families are drawn to the Center School’s approach– weaving justice, joy, collaboration, innovation, and love into a unique educational experience. If you’re looking for a school where kids are immersed in 21st Century curriculum and in the timeless world of nature and play that is so essential to childhood, visit www.centerschool.net to learn more and to book an in-person tour today! Please email Lauren Obregón, Director of Admissions and Outreach, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
FEATURED IN-PERSON EVENT South Hadley, MA
Join the Odyssey Bookshop for a live, in-person event on Saturday, November 20, 2021, at 1pm with Kristen Nordstrom, author of STEM picture book Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature. She will be in conversation with Dr. Al Crosby and Dr. Duncan Irschick from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, two of the ten real-life inventors featured in the book. The event is free and open to the public and will take place in the community meeting room at South Hadley Public Library.Register by clicking here.
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: email@example.com; 413-442-1411; www.berkshiremusicschool.org
The Berkshires’ Academy for Advanced Musical Studies (BAAMS), is an innovative nonprofit music-education organization offering online, after-school lessons for students ages 12-18, taught by a world-class faculty of musician-composers, recording artists, performers, and educators. BAAMS’s unique learning system encourages students of any level of experience to learn to compose music and improvise. Their students will express their own life experiences and individual perspectives through their instrument(s). Students are taught trumpet/brass instruments, drums, piano/keyboards, saxophone/woodwinds, guitar, and electric bass (a brief, private audition takes place before admission). Join BAAMS today! For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org; 718-483-5911; www.berkshiresacademyams.org
Four Winds School in Gill, MA, is now accepting applications from 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students for the current school year and Fall 2022. The Four Winds curriculum provides a balance between focused training in basic academic skills and the freedom for students to explore their interests. Teacher and student work together to design an individualized academic program based on these evaluations and the student’s learning style. Visit Four Winds School at fourwindsschool.info to learn more.
Celebrate the whole child! The Giving Tree preschool program is thoughtfully designed to support young children’s social-emotional growth, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills. Students enjoy ample outdoor exploration and playtime each day in their rambling and rugged Outdoor Classroom. Only 15 minutes from downtown Greenfield, set among the woods and pastures of Gill. Giving Tree is committed to fostering active, hands-on early learning experiences that are playful and purposeful, laying the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. Licensed by EEC and accredited by NAEYC & HighScope. Sliding scale tuition.
Nonotuck Community School is accepting applications for 2022-23. Nonotuck has served the greater Northampton area for 40+ years. Their school includes five classrooms, art studio, large & sunny indoor play space, and two large & natural outdoor play spaces, including climbing equipment & garden areas. Their curriculum is play-based & inspired by progressive early childhood education theory. Children have ample time for free-play, exercise, & outdoor time. Teachers create small group activities that emphasize arts, science & creativity. They have daily large-group circle time for stories, discussion & music. Nonotuck is a parent cooperative, licensed child care center. Teachers meet & surpass state requirements for early childhood educators.
See Your Ad 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 each week, Hilltown Families can bring your message to thousands of families in Western Massachusetts. Serving the region since 2005, Hilltown Families is an award-winning, online communication network, recognized as a leading family strengthening initiative in the region, promoting “positive parenting through the social norm of community social connectedness.” A trusted partner in your online marketing! To find out how we can partner together in your online marketing and outreach, contact us for info on our affordable options and packages: email@example.com. Have an event, resource, or opportunity you’re ready to promote? Click HERE to submit your information.
OUTDOOR ADVENTURES/ HABITAT. 10:30am-12:30pm. Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest will host a walk with Bob Leverett for ages 8+. Mohawk Trail State Forest. 413-426-7890. 175 Cold River Road/Route 2. Charlemont, MA.
The customs and holidays of traditional communities worldwide were designed to strengthen the connection between humanity and the natural world. For example, wassailing refers to the ancient tradition of visiting apple orchards in the West Country of England to bless and honor the apple trees. The word “wassail” itself is derived from the ancient Anglo-Saxon greeting “wæs þu hæl” or “be in good health.” People would greet the trees, give them offerings of bread and cider, and sing songs to them. A famous example of a wassailing song is as follows: “Here’s to thee, old apple tree, / Whence thou mayst bud / And whence thou mayst blow! / And whence thou mayst bear apples enow! / Hats full! Caps full! / Bushel—bushel—sacks full, / And my pockets full too! Huzza!” In this custom, it is important to recognize that traditional communities felt obligated to give something back to the natural world. Its gifts were not merely resources that we are entitled to exploit or exhaust as we choose. Let’s give thanks and celebrate the season by learning through the lens of apple cider!
Self-Directed Learning: Native American Heritage Month
“November is National American Indian Heritage Month, a time to pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.” Visit nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov to discover many events, resources, and opportunities for learning and participating during National American Indian Heritage Month, including educator guides, audio/video, and a calendar of events.
New England was the center of the American textile industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. We can still see the impact of this industry on the land, in the stone walls in the middle of the forests that were once cleared for merino sheep to graze, in the old mill buildings that we can find in nearly every town in the region. What could be a better place to celebrate wool and fiber arts than locally here in Western MA? With the colder months upon us, warm wool is essential in New England, and fiber art activities like knitting and weaving often occur during these darker times. Through the lens of wool, let’s learn about local history, the science of wool, shearing, weaving, manufacturing, and fiber arts.
The story creates the world. Storytelling is one of the oldest human activities. Given that many oral storytelling traditions rely heavily on gestures and cave paintings, it is possible that storytelling even predates language itself. For the indigenous Australians, storytelling is understood as a devotional ritual and a way of engaging with the landscape. As British author Bruce Chatwin wrote in his 1987 book Songlines, “the labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia […] are known to Europeans as ‘Dreaming-tracks’ or ‘Songlines’; to the Aboriginals as the ‘Footprints of the Ancestors’ or the ‘Way of the Lore’. Aboriginal Creation myths tell of the legendary totemic being who wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path – birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes – and so singing the world into existence.” Thus, telling the songs and stories, which identify and affirm the land and the spirits, is meant to keep the world together. In the present, we may ask ourselves what kind of world our stories create. Get curious with your family and share stories this holiday season and beyond!
Games are universal. Every human community in history has had some game played by children and adults. When you think about it, it’s no surprise that in addition to fun, games teach us a lot about positive social interactions. Games teach problem-solving, dramatically increase communication skills, foster cooperation, and reduce stress. Establishing a family game night can also be a great way to build new family traditions while supporting learning at home.
Learn at home by getting curious about everyday items! What is the history of knives and forks? Who invented them, and how did they impact society and influence modern-day behavior? Check outThe History of Spoons, Forks, and Knives to discover the history of cutlery, and get curious about the origins of your utensils!
Humans have been eating pies for thousands of years. Pie recipes have been recovered from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Some of these early pies were simply designed as portable containers for meat or dairy, but many were surprisingly similar to the pies we would recognize today. Learning about the history of food extends our connection to the culinary and pastry arts. It also opens up pathways for discovering new interests… like botany. Take the Apple Pie into consideration and think about the different apples that we could select for dessert. Not all apples are made the same. Why? What’s different? Why are some better for pies and others are better for eating out of hand? Learn about the varieties of apples and which ones would be better for your pie… and why! Also, sweet potatoes and pie pumpkins make delicious pies for the holidays!
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.
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.