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 KO FESTIVALpresents a special Pre-Valentine’s Day treat! – Piti Theatre’s “CANARY IN A GOLD MINE” February 11-13, 2022. Fri & Sat @ 8pm; Sun @ 3pm. ONLINE ONLY. Locked down during COVID, Piti’s Jonathan Mirin turns the camera on his obsessions with environmental health, fatherhood, and marriage. Using his formidable skills as a performer, he transforms what could have been an earnest public health lecture on electro-hypersensitivity (a.k.a. “microwave sickness”) into a fun and compelling dive into the opposing forces of corporate profit vs. public safety. The result: a comedic 21st-century love letter & eco-justice adventure that’s “just like theatre…but flatter!” G-Rated, but recommended for age 12+. Sliding scale tix atkofest.com.
Learn at Morse Hill is an outdoor elementary homeschool program on 85 acres in Shutesbury, MA. As this fully outdoor program plans for its third year of creating hands-on learning experiences under the beautiful hemlocks of Morse Hill, tours of the campus are now available and filling up quickly! Families may choose a full-time academic year program or select up to three homeschool days per week. Students enjoy a cozy yurt for warming in the colder months and build resiliency through Morse Hill adventure experiences, including canoeing, hiking, climbing, and a ropes course. To learn more, visit www.learnatmorsehill.com or reach out to Jess Evans, Leadership Team and Enrollment Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.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.
Deerfield Academy Summer Arts Camp (DASAC) is an alternative education community focusing on experimental and traditional arts in a day camp setting for campers ages 11 through 16. DASAC creates space and agency for campers to be their most authentic selves. DASAC is designed to welcome children from the communities that surround Deerfield. Because of this design, they seek camper families rooted in the nearby communities.
A kind of magic happens when teen writers gather together in a learning community. Juniper Young Writers Online provides such an opportunity in their one- and two-week creative writing programs. Participants engage in morning Craft Sessions, afternoon Writing Labs and early-evening open mics and Writer’s Life talks. The online curriculum is synchronous, dynamic, and participatory. Applications are required for the lab and intensive sessions. Scholarships are available; deadline to apply is March 15. Self-guided Writing Packages will be available for teens who want to engage with the content at their own pace. Enrollment for packages opens May 2022; no application necessary. Community, Wild Invention and the Writer’s Life await!
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; email@example.com; amherstmontessori.org.
The Common School, located in Amherst, serving children ages 3-12, is currently accepting applications for Fall 2022. The Common School provides strong student/teacher ratios, a diverse and inclusive community, opportunities for experiential learning, a stellar social and emotional curriculum, a rich social and environmental justice program, and significant time spent outdoors amongst 140 acres of conservation land and Bramble Hill farm. To schedule an in-person tour, call 413-256-8989 and visit the website at www.commonschool.org.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Have an event, resource, or opportunity you’re ready to promote? Click HERE to submit your information.
Valentine’s Day is often observed through sugary sweetness, including the giving of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, the iconic Sweethearts, and chocolate-covered strawberries! Let the tradition of giving and receiving confections be a lens for learning about manufacturing, pastry arts, and food history.
On a Sunday in late January or early February every year, 100 million viewers tune in to watch the Super Bowl on television! With Super Bowl parties happening across the country, this annual event can encourage the curiosity of several interests. The study of American Football can support learning in sports history, manufacturing, geometry, science, physics, girls sports, culinary arts, and even pop culture. On game day, get curious about the shape of the football and how it’s manufactured. Ask how science and math contribute to the outcome of a game and seek answers. Why don’t women play in the Super Bowl? How are food, dance, and music a part of the American tradition? What is the difference between soccer and football? Seek answers and tackle your interests on game day!
Learning when seasonal phenomena occur in nature helps strengthen a sense of place. Like maple trees, crows are a common part of our landscape here in New England. Between the time maple trees lose their leaves in the fall and when the flow of their sap begins and ends in the spring, American Crows and Fish Crows often gather in flocks, swelling up to 10,000 birds large to roost for the night. With crows, observing and asking questions about their staging and roosting behavior in the early evenings can help young naturalists connect with the season. Do they roost in large flocks to stay warm? For protection? To support a complex social hierarchy? Why do they roost in the winter and not in the summer? What does this have to do with maple trees and winter in New England? Getting curious and learning about crows in the winter can support interest in biology, ornithology, animal behavior, and the importance of conservation. Check with your local nature center or conservation organization to see if they will be hosting events this winter on the topic of crows!
Experience is always the best teacher – and this is especially true for children! However, when kids are eager to learn about a topic, the lessons available might leave some space for supplementation. After you’ve explored your local habitat, got curious about native species, messed about with materials, and exercised all five of your senses together, it might be time to turn to books to add specific language and detail to the understanding of scientific topics for children. Age- and reading-level-appropriate materials are available for whatever topic kids are learning about. Please find out more in our post, 100+ Science Books to Support STEM Learning at Home & in the Classroom.
Native species are nature-based resources accessible to everyone, especially birds! Because they are so accessible, of all native animal species active during the winter, they are perhaps the most easily spotted in the snowy landscape of New England. Our fine feathered friends flock to feeders, leave tracks in fresh snow, and flit around in trees and bushes of backyards everywhere. And they are super delightful for supporting nature-based learning! Let your interests in ornithology, local habitat, conservation, and citizen science take flight this year by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count! Read more in our post, Great Backyard Bird Count Supports Nature-Based Learning. And be sure to pick up a copy of What It’s Like to Be a Bird by David Sibley to support your learning at home.
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, Becket, Bernardston, Buckland, Chicopee, Colrain, Cummington, Easthampton, Goshen, Granby, Greenfield, Hadley, Hatfield, Heath, Huntington, Montgomery, Northern Berkshire, Orange, Palmer, Rowe, Shelburne, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Tolland, Tyringham, Windsor, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.