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!
Hilltown CDC (HCDC) seeks to improve the quality of life for Hilltown residents by addressing economic, housing, education, social, & community needs while preserving the rural character of the area. Thanks to a generous grant from the MGCC, the HCDC offers FREE, confidential business assistance to Hilltown residents! If you’re thinking of starting or growing your business, HCDC can help. They have experts in various areas who can help entrepreneurs get on their feet, including website help, social media marketing, business tax & accounting, legal assistance, & more. Sign up for free virtual classes: hilltowndirectory.com/events. For more info, contact HCDC Economic Development Director Michele Kenney: MicheleK@Hilltowncdc.org; 413-354-1055
Roots Vacation Camps provide a safe, fun place for kids to go when schools are closed and all summer long! Roots Vacation Camps include full access to the amenities of all facilities on the Roots Campus. Summer activities include swim lessons, gymnastics, soccer & other turf sports, water activities, dance, plus so much more like S.T.E.A.M. activities, games, crafts, and countless outdoor activities.
“Girls Week: Friendship Camp” takes place June 27-July 1, 2022, from 9am-4pm for ages 6-10 ($300-350, sliding scale) at Woolman Hill in Deerfield, MA. This week is a time of shared fun, kindness, and supportive new friendships among all ages. Each day participants will build stick houses on the Pocumtuck Ridge, play games, sing, hear stories, and learn how to talk things out. A choice of workshops will include art, dance, hikes, writing, and story-building. Journey Camp also seeks girls ages 12-16 who can support friendships among younger girls to apply to be a Counselor in Training ($150-175, sliding scale). Staff and CIT’s will help participants feel included and have a strong sense of belonging and social safety. Contact for more info.
Play outside this summer! Designed for young music lovers ages 5-9, Adventures in Music gives your budding musician a solid foundation in making music in a fun, engaging atmosphere. Participants will enjoy group classes in introduction to music, chorus, creative movement, and puppetry on the tented lawn of Berkshire Music School’s historic campus, as well as small group workshops in piano, drama, visual arts, and more! Monday-Friday 10am-4pm. Mini Session: June 27-July 1, Session 1: July 11-22, Session 2: July 25-August 5.
Miss Leticia Music Summer Camp and Songwriting Camp offers three levels of instruction for three weeks in July, with a beginning group (guitar, ukulele, bass, drums), intermediate, and advanced Rock Band. Week 1: Beginner group, Interm & Adv Rock band- Radio Hits July 11-15, 9-3pm; Week 2: Beginner group, Interm & Adv Rock Band- Rock Week, July 18-22, 9-3pm; Week 3 Songwriting/Recording Camp: July 25-29 Mon – Thurs 9-4pm, Friday 9-6pm.
Spend the summer with Amherst Recreation! At Amherst Recreation Summer Programs,children will have the opportunity to participate in sports clinics, arts, science, crafts, games, nature activities, swimming lessons, and more. Their caring and experienced staff will make this a summer to remember. Learn more and browse all of their exciting programs on the Amherst Recreation website.
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
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.
The Academy at Charlemont is a community-oriented independent day school for grades 6-12. For 40 years, Academy students have become engaged learners and articulate leaders through small classes, rigorous coursework, diverse electives in the arts and beyond, inclusive athletics, personalized advising, and student leadership. Learn more about The Academy at a Virtual Info Session on Tues, March 29 (7-8pm), and join them for a personalized visit day. Generous financial aid and daily round-trip bus service from Amherst, Northampton, and the Hilltowns are available. Rolling admission for select grade levels is now open. Ready to learn more about The Academy family for your family? Find details and Info Session registration at www.charlemont.org.
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.
Spring has arrived, a time filled with sightings of all kinds of exciting natural wonders. The season’s outdoor appeal makes it a perfect time of year for enjoying our natural surroundings and learning about conservation and species preservation, too! In particular, springtime is the season for bird sightings as Western Massachusetts becomes filled with various migrating bird species in the early spring months. In the spring, species to look for include Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Whip-Poor-Wills, American Kestrels, Indigo Buntings, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, Carolina. Wrens, American Goldfinches, Great Blue Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds, and many others! Knowing the names of the birds we share our home with and identifying them by their songs and behavior helps us connect to the seasons and strengthens our sense of place. Read more in our post, Sense of Place: A Birds Eye View.
Throughout the year, those interested in the art and technique of film-making can support their interests through intergenerational community-based educational resources and events, including libraries, online resources, local non-profit organizations, independent cinemas, and annual events catering to a variety of ages and interests. Read more in our post, “Studies on Screen: Community-Based Resources for Film Studies.” All community-based educational opportunities encourage appreciation of the creative process behind making films and the use of film to support learning. Another annual opportunity includes the Oscars! Many nominated films can be used for various learning opportunities, including media and film literacy.
Like autumn, spring is a time of transition as habitats and animals begin to respond to the change in weather and climate. Phenology-based activities coincide with the natural changing of our seasons (our ultimate accessible community-based educational resource) and are great catalysts for learning through community engagement. Maple syrup season, filled with delicious community activities and opportunities, is our first crop of the year, followed by another seasonal event as winter transitions into spring. Vernal Pools! Studies of vernal pools support learning in many areas of interest, and a close look at amphibian reproduction can help spark children’s curiosity about other aspects of amphibian life. Read more in our post, Learning Ahead: Spring Landscape & Vernal Pools.
Veganism, a diet or lifestyle that does not use animal byproducts, is growing in popularity. When the term ‘veganism’ was coined by English animal rights advocate Donald Watson in 1944, it was motivated by the principle that “man should live without exploiting animals.” However, the concept of abstaining from all animal products goes back thousands of years. The ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras, for instance, even went so far as to avoid wool. Veganism is also an essential part of our local history! The Fruitlands commune in Harvard, Massachusetts, founded by the father of Louisa May Alcott, was partly inspired by a commitment to veganism. Learn more about the health, environmental, economic, and humane benefits of a diet free of animal byproducts. What’s the best way to start? In the kitchen, preparing delicious plant-based meals with your family! Start with a visit to a Saturday farmers’ market and a stop at your local food co-op, scouting for ingredients while discovering new-to-you plant-based ingredients in the stalls and bulk bins, and on the shelves.
One of the best “classrooms” is right in your own home … your kitchen! Planning and preparing meals with your family can support an interest in culinary and pastry arts while exposing kids to a wide variety of embedded learning opportunities. Classic subjects like math, chemistry, and humanities are readily supported in the kitchen, along with general technical skills and valuable life skills. Any pastry chef will tell you about the importance of kitchen math for making great pastries, including an understanding of fractions and measurement units and the practice of addition, subtractions, and division. Chemistry lessons are supported when young chefs learn the science behind the use of baking soda and baking powder and what happens on a molecular level to a protein molecule when heated. Nutrition can be outlined by understanding which foods have carbohydrates, proteins, and/or fats. Sharing the story behind your grandmother’s delicious cookie recipe or researching the history of pancakes online supports lessons in the humanities. Knives skills, operating ovens, and handling food help a young chef gain technical expertise in the kitchen. And life skills to carry on into adulthood can be explored, like how to plan, organize, and purchase ingredients. A kitchen is a mini-lab and learning space. It is a place to expand and support interests, connect with family, and appreciate where your food comes from and how home cooks prepare it. There are plenty of recipes to be found online, in books, or handed down from family members from which you can select. Just follow your child’s tastes and food preferences and let it lead the way towards learning in the kitchen! If a question is asked (i.e., “Why does bread turn brown in the toaster?” “Why do cookies spread?” ““What is a carbohydrate?” “Can we make s’mores indoors?“)
Self-Directed Learning: Community Supported Agriculture
Did you know that the first Community Supported Agriculture garden was founded in Great Barrington, MA, in 1986? The movement was started by Swiss biodynamic farmer Jan Vander Tuin, who came to the United States in the 1980s and assisted in creating the Great Barrington garden. The goal of the CSA movement is to create direct relationships between farmers and consumers. This relationship can help develop fair trade policies and livable wages for farmers. Additionally, CSA farms often employ organic and biodynamic approaches to agriculture, which promote ecologically sustainable farming. Now is a great time to sign up for a CSA near you, supporting local farmers and connecting to where you live through locally grown food. Check out CISA’s list of CSA’s in western Massachusetts and their great DIY resources, including recipes & cooking tips and food preservation & gardening resources. Visit these farms online and consider becoming a member this year! Being a member of a CSA connects you with the local harvest and your local neighbors via the folks who grow your food! Plus, CSA’s are loaded with embedded learning opportunities!
With kids in the house, the annual custom of April Fool’s Day is often observed. While the practice of pranks and hoaxes on April Fool’s Day can be controversial, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about the possible origins of this day, along with comparable prank days in other countries. You can research a quick study of wide-reaching pranks and hoaxes, from spaghetti trees to flying penguins. Locally, discover pranks parents in western MA have played on unexpecting children and get curious about the history of this annual custom.
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, Hinsdale/Peru, Huntington, Leyden, Montgomery, Mount Washington, Northern Berkshire, Orange, Otis, Palmer, Pelham, 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.