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!
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.
Hartsbrook Farm Camp. Hadley, MA. Spend the summer safely and joyfully outside! For almost two decades, children have loved Farm Camp: the animals, the crafts, and the feeling of being part of something meaningful. Children feel grounded and inspired while exploring the natural world. In these times, children need nature more than ever. This summer, Hartsbrook Farm Camp invites your child to tend the goats, feed the chickens, work with wool, play under the trees and enjoy unhurried time outside in 55 acres of fields, farm, and forest. The caring camp staff makes all children feel welcome. This year, spend some time on the farm! (For everyone’s safety, COVID protocols will be in place.) Dates: June 27 – July 29, 2022; Age Range: 4-15yo. Contact: 413-586-1908; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.hartsbrook.org.
On Sunday, February 20, 2022, come to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT, to meet John Collins, the Paper Airplane Guy! Collins holds a Guinness World Record in paper airplane distance and will be teaching visitors of all ages how to build their very own amazing paper airplanes, including the record-breaking “Suzanne” design! Collins will hold performances at 11am and 1pm and will be available for demos and hands-on instruction throughout the day. This event is included with the price of admission. For more information, visit neam.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.
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
The mission of New Hingham’s PreK program is to develop successful learners through positive relationships with students, high-quality instruction in a student-centered, integrated learning environment, and strong partnerships with families. In its picturesque rural setting, New Hingham is proud to offer a tuition-free program with highly-qualified and experienced teachers, full-time or part-time availability, small class sizes, special education services, play-based experiences, developmentally appropriate materials, and additional classes in art, physical education, and technology. Interested families can submit an application on the school website. All applications will be reviewed in March, and decisions will be mailed in April.
Looking for a fun-filled summer job? The New England Air Museum is hiring a Summer Camp Nurse for their new camp, New England Aviation Academy, a day camp for children 9 -12 in Windsor Locks, CT. Must be a registered, licensed nurse in the state of Connecticut, with current CPR and First Aid Certifications. Experience working with children and youth required; this is an ideal position for a school nurse! This is a seasonal, temporary position and pays $30 per hour. Hours are 8am-4pm from June 27 – August 19, 2022. Interested applicants can find a full job description here. Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
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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.
In honor of National Puzzle Day, let’s look through the lens of this relaxing and sometimes challenging pastime as a way of supporting interests and values. Socially, puzzles are a great intergenerational activity to do with the entire family and friends on lazy summer days and cold winter nights. But did you know that puzzles also support cognitive function? Up to 8 different cognitive functions are simultaneously activated when doing a puzzle. Getting curious about what happens in the brain when engaging with puzzles can support learning about neuroscience. Historically, affluent families used puzzles to teach children geography, while contemporary puzzles support multidisciplinary learning, including visual art, biology, anatomy & physiology, and even manufacturing. All of this and more is our self-directed learning suggestions for National Puzzle Day!
In the 19th century New England, the winter season was a time for gathering and socializing with family, friends, and neighbors. As the fields lay dormant in anticipation of the agricultural season, rural New Englanders used the cold season as a time for meeting friends, having conversations, and visiting with one another. Before the telephone or telegraph, visiting a friend’s home was a way to share news, gossip, and stories. With the invention of social media, automobiles, and blended fabrics, how do communities gather in the winter months, celebrating local culture and strengthening their sense of place? Find out in our post, Winter Festivals: Living Seasonally through History, Culture & Art.
Ice harvesting is an industry of the past whose roots lie only in cold climates – like western Massachusetts! Done both as a necessity in early New England and as a profitable industry more recently, ice harvesting plays an important role in local history, literature, and New England culture. In the days of western Massachusetts past, when refrigerators weren’t standard kitchen equipment, ice was quite a luxury during the summer. Early New Englanders would have to harvest and strategically store ice from local lakes and ponds to have ice after the spring thaw began. Kept in the proper conditions, the harvested ice would last much longer than the cold weather did. Learn more about this first (historically) harvest of the year and the forgotten history of ice!
Let the Lunar New Year be your lens for learning about music and food traditions that are part of the celebrations surrounding the Lunar New Year! The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, meaning that the date indicates both the current moon phase and the time of the solar year. Because of this, the Lunar New Year (also referred to as the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival) takes place on a different date on our calendars each year and is always held between 30-45 days after January 1st New Year’s celebration. There are many traditions found in the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Learning about the food and practices, plus taking day trips to regional cultural celebrations, can support interests while making community connections.
The midpoint of winter in the United States is marked by Groundhog Day, a day with rich European history, “clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening in specific dates,” writes Bill Anderson in his book Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992. Anderson also writes, “The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe. For centuries, the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people.” Even then, Groundhogs Day marked a milestone in the winter, and the weather on that day was significant. Let this annual observation day support your learning not only in religious studies but also in animal studies and community traditions!
February is National Bird-Feeding Month, a month dedicated to bird feeding and watching. This national observation month gives us an opportunity to support community- and place-based learning about native species and our local environment. In February, families are encouraged to learn together about winter bird-feeding, identifying visitors to their feeders, and the importance of habitat conservation. Read more in our post, February is National Bird-Feeding Month.
Self-Directed Learning: African American History/Poetry
February is National African American History Month in the United States. It is a time to honor African Americans’ work, achievements, and contributions. Literature, art, and community-based resources share stories and help us remember the struggle for civil rights and the importance of equality, civic action, social justice, history, and solidarity. Looking through the lens of poetry, Langston Hughes and Audre Lorde are two African American poets who illustrate the power of voice and words.
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, Northern Berkshire, Orange, Palmer, Shelburne, South Hadley, Tyringham, Windsor, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.