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!
Openings in middle and high school for 2022-23! Beautiful outdoor classrooms, deep academic inquiry, music, and art in everyday learning, active land stewardship, and a culture of compassion: that is the Hartsbrook School. During this time of uncertainty, Hartsbrook has provided students with a grounding and nurturing foundation every day. Discover how meaningful a school experience can be and enjoy a vibrant, active parent community. PreK thru high school. Call 413-586-1908 x116 to begin your exploration and imagine the potential for your child. 193 Bay Road, Hadley, www.hartsbrook.org
The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School (PVPA) in South Hadley, MA, is accepting applications for the 2022/2023 school year for students entering grades 7-11. As a Public Charter school with 400 students from 60+ communities, PVPA offers a free, college-preparatory education with the arts at the heart of all they do. Students are encouraged to think critically and work collaboratively in a supportive learning environment with small class sizes. Arts concentrations include Music, Dance, Theater, and Visual Arts. Enrollment to PVPA is open to all MA residents on a space-available basis. Tuition-free, no audition required. Application Deadline: Feb 1, 2022. Enrollment Lottery: Feb 14, 2022. Apply now at www.pvpa.org/admissions. For more info, call 413-552-1580 x134 or email email@example.com.
Amherst Montessori School believes your child is inherently intelligent and that hands-on learning is critical to their developing brains. In mixed-age classrooms, your child is empowered to explore, discover, and learn through all five senses. In a beautiful new building designed uniquely for children, classrooms are filled with sunlight, natural materials, and views outside to playgrounds. Trained Montessori teachers nurture each child’s innate curiosity and independence. For more information: 413-253-3101; firstname.lastname@example.org; amherstmontessori.org.
Prelude Preschool of the Arts is now enrolling for summer and fall 2022! Full-day & half-day programming options feature specialized classes taught by expert musicians & artists in the areas of early childhood music, dance, yoga, Suzuki violin, bucket drumming, and visual art. Prelude Preschool’s arts-centered curriculum fosters creativity and a lifelong love for learning while supporting students’ social-emotional development. Flexible before & aftercare is available to meet your scheduling needs, and regularly scheduled family nights facilitate connection & collaboration among students, their families, and their teachers. To learn more or schedule your tour: email@example.com; 413-750-9560; communitymusicschool.com/prelude
Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, MA, is accepting applications for Fall 2022. Prospective families can attend a Virtual Open House on Sat., January 15 at 10am, Wed., January 26 at 7pm, or Sat., February 12 at 10am. Four Rivers is a small Expeditionary Learning school for grades 7-12, dedicated to educating young people for lives of learning and service. Four Rivers offers a rigorous college preparatory program aligned with the MA curriculum frameworks and emphasizes character development for moral and social responsibility. Students connect learning to the real world, work hard, and develop the independence and thinking skills needed in college and beyond.For more info & Zoom link, visit FourRiversCharter.org.
The Experimentory is a fantastic opportunity for students currently in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade to sample Deerfield Academy. The Experimentory is an innovative program that allows students to delve into project-based creative learning and focus on collaboration, communication, fostering creativity, building character, and developing how we look at the world.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Have an event, resource, or opportunity you’re ready to promote? Click HERE to submit your information.
Self-Directed Learning: Mapping Skills/Local History
While old maps are interesting on their own, they provide an excellent entry point for local history studies. The Massachusetts State Department of Education includes local history in its frameworks for third-grade social studies. Still, local history is a topic anyone can learn about at varying depths by self-directed learners of all ages. Read more in our post, “Maps of Massachusetts: Supporting Social Studies & Local History.”
There is much which is imperceptible to the human eye, either because it moves too fast, too slow, too small, or is all-encompassing. This unseen world can be unveiled to us through the use of film and microscopes. The use of tools to help us see a world that exists right in front of us is a fascinating experience. What else might we not be able to see or detect yet someday be able to with the invention of new tools and resources? How does perceiving an “unseen world” contribute to our perspectives on life, and how might it impact our way of being in the world? Today’s self-directed learning module takes this concept and unfolds it by illustrating what we do have access to seeing using cameras, film, and electron microscopes, leaving us to ponder what we might be missing, which is literally in front of our eyes!
Animated short films can spark the imagination and open up channels of learning. In today’s self-directed learning module, we’re featuring three short animated films to support learning and curiosity about the relationship between flowers and humans, the resiliency of nature and an optimistic outlook on mortality, and an animated representation of a well-known piece of classical music.
This month, whether you’re admiring summer cloud formations, taking in the horizon of our local mountain ranges, or just admiring the ferns and wildflowers during an afternoon hike, a silent changing pattern may be present, which you might not be aware. Change is a constant, and as each month fades into the next, previous patterns blend into newer ones. We’re familiar with a variety of designs found in our backyards, such as the heart-shaped leaves of clover and the spiral of a snail’s shell. Still, other patterns involving multidimensional interconnectedness are more challenging to recognize. These patterns, known as fractals, are described as expanding or evolving symmetry. They repeat themselves in a specific way, which can be noticed on a macro and a micro-level. For today’s self-directed learning module, let’s learn about the discovery and geometry of fractals, where they appear in nature and contemplate how we may be a smaller and larger piece of this universal pattern.
GEOCACHING. 1-2:30pm. Looking for a fun way to engage your tech-savvy kids with the natural world? Try geocaching (JEE-oh-cash-ing)! This outdoor activity combines hiking with a tech-aided treasure hunt. Join Kathy Gwozdz of Berkshire Geobash to learn the basics, then head out on the trail to test out new skills. Can you find the hidden treasure? Beginners are welcome! No experience or digital device is necessary. Download the free geocaching.com app and bring your digital device to participate fully. FREE. For all ages. An adult must accompany children under 18. Dress appropriately for winter weather; hiking poles and traction devices for boots (or snowshoes) are recommended. Trails may be snow-covered, icy, or muddy. Bring drinking water and a snack. Meet at Visitor Center. Inclement weather cancels. 413-499-4262. Mount Greylock State Reservation, 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA.
When a human leaves earth and travels to space, they return with the universal reward of a new perspective. These videos highlight astronauts’ renewed viewpoints, echoing an embodied awareness through their experiences in outer space that we are all connected. In today’s self-directed learning module, listen deeply to the wisdom of these astronauts, discussing with your family, and share your thoughts on human connection during a time of social isolation.
There are lots of concepts that children learn that involve chain reactions. The interrelatedness of nature is entirely dependent on an intricately woven set of relationships. When one thing changes – the availability of a resource or the population of an animal, perhaps – everything else is affected. Human populations experience a similar phenomenon – such relationships are all around us! However, the abstract nature of interrelated relationships can be challenging for kids to grasp. Explaining complex concepts using metaphor or visual representations can be helpful, but what about something that kids can touch and see themselves? Something that perfectly illustrates the idea of interrelatedness and chain reactions but happens much more quickly than chain reactions do in nature or within human society? Read more in our post, Science & Fun of Chain Reactions.
Not only is winter the ideal season for tracking because of the blank canvas that snow provides, but the cold temperatures also help to open up access to habitats that trackers cannot explore during the rest of the year. In particular, winter is an excellent time to learn about beaver habitat! Read more in our post, Nature Guide for January: Beaver Habitats.
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, Buckland, Chicopee, Colrain, Goshen, Granby, Greenfield, Hadley, Heath, Huntington, Orange, Palmer, Shelburne, South Hadley, Tyringham, Windsor, and Worthington. Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.