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!
Autism Connections’ 31st Annual Autism Conference (virtual) on April 28 includes speakers, exhibitors, and breakout sessions on various topics of interest to people with autism, parents, caregivers, education agency, and education professionals. The two keynote speakers are Alix Generous, an #ActuallyAutistic advocate for advancing mental health reform and institutional treatment of autistic people, and Jed Baker, Ph.D., director of the Social Skills Training Project, an organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems. Registration for parents/caregivers/people with autism is $50, and for agency professionals and educators, $100. Registrants will have access to the entire recorded conference until 7/29/22.
The Institute for the Musical Art’s (IMA) residential music programs give girls access to top-notch facilities & instruments, veteran professional musicians & teachers, and musical exploration & collaboration. Explore Rock ‘n Roll (June 29-July3) offers girls 9-12 opportunities to explore instruments, to begin writing songs, and to participate in a concert. Teen Performance Program (Jul 8-17) offers girls 13-19 an opportunity to speak their truth through the medium of rock ‘n roll, gain confidence in performance abilities, improve musicianship, and develop collaborative leadership skills. Studio Recording, Engineering & Production (Aug 4-14) offers a hands-on studio recording seminar for women 16-22 who are ready to record their work and/or interested in engineering and producing. Dates: June 29-August 14, 2022; Age Range: Girls/young women 9-22yrs. Contact: 413-268-3074; email@example.com; www.ima.org.
Living Rivers School students assist world-renowned river fish expert Dr. Boyd Kynard as he completes his second year of small fish habitat- and sea lamprey- data collection. He concludes three studies to determine the extent & quality of the Connecticut River fish habitat between the Holyoke & Turners Falls dams. Living Rivers School students are credited by name for their service in reports Dr. Kynard publishes in juried academic journals. They are invited to share their experience & findings with their schools & communities. This is a rare opportunity for students to get real conservation biology research experience & nurtured as future environmental leaders. Living Rivers School is Biocitizen’s best program—a life-changer & career-inspirer! Dates: August 2-13, 2022; Age Range: 10-16yo Contact: 413-320-0522 ♦ firstname.lastname@example.org ♦ ma.biocitizen.org
All aboard for the Easter Eggspress at the Connecticut Trolley Museum: April 9-10 & 15-16 from 10am-4pm. A great opportunity to visit the Easter bunny while learning about transportation & local history! Take a trolley ride operated by period-dressed motormen sharing historical information about the trolley cars & museum. The Easter Bunny will be roaming the grounds posing for pictures. Children will receive a surprise-filled Easter egg when they complete a Scavenger Hunt, make a Bunny Ear Craft, and visit the Fire Truck Museum. Earn up to 3 filled eggs! Cost: $13/Adults; $11/Kids ages 2-12. The Connecticut Trolley Museum is located in East Windsor, CT. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit www.ct-trolley.org.
The Bement School offers summer programs for children from 4 to 15 years old. Children have the opportunity to enjoy the fun of a traditional day camp and help create their own schedule by choosing from our wide range of unique activities. Digging into Nature at Pine Hill provides outdoor education for ages 6-9. The Junior Camp provides a safe, nurturing camp experience for our youngest campers. The Adventure Day Camp offers activity choices that include sports, nature, arts and crafts, and swimming. The Counselor-in-Training program gives young teenagers experience working with children and developing valuable job skills while still enjoying the fun of summer camp. Summer Program dates are listed on our website. Sign up now as sessions are filling fast! Dates: Summer 2022. Age Range: 4-15yo. Contact: 413-774-7061; email@example.com; www.bement.org
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. Dates: June 27-July 1, 2022. Age Range: 6-16yo. Contact: 774-280-2490; firstname.lastname@example.org; sarahpirtle.com/journey-camp.htm
Do you have a junior archeologist? A junior curator? A chef? This summer at the Berkshire Museum, they offer classes to ages Pre-K to Grade 8 for all areas of interest! Each program is a weeklong experience catered to specific age groups. Campers will be led through their program by the museum’s expert educators and be immersed in the world of their choosing. The museum’s Junior Curator camp for Grades 6-8 will work hands-on with its Collections Department, exploring their collection and what it takes to create an exhibit. Or maybe your 1st or 2nd grader would enjoy their Kitchen Ka-Boom class, where campers will explore kid-safe chemistry and get messy! Want to learn more? Check out their website for a complete list of camps! Dates: June 27-August 26, 2022; Age Range: PreK-14yo; Contact: 413-443-7171 x360; email@example.com; berkshiremuseum.org/programs/camp
Camp Common Ground (CCG) is an intergenerational family camp designed to provide families with a healthy and happy bonding experience while weaving in elements of nature education, arts, wellness, sports, and fun! CCG is dedicated to celebrating all families and cultivating a sense of community among campers. CCG’s 700-acre site in Starksboro, Vermont, provides campers with hiking trails, streams, ponds, and a low carbon footprint main campus to explore. Sliding scale fees include lodging in a tent, cabin, or lodge; all meals (local, organic, and vegetarian) and all activities. There is something for everyone’s taste – whether you want to ‘rough it’ or are more into ‘glamping’ – CCG has you covered! Dates: July 23-August 12, 2022. Age Range: 0-99yo. Contact: 802-453-2592; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.cgcvt.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
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Partner with Hilltown Families in your online advertising! Delivering your message each week to over 35,000 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.
Pottery has been a part of human civilizations since the Neolithic era over 10,000 years ago! Much more than just a means of making dishes, pottery serves as a creative outlet for many artists. The slow development of the art and technology surrounding pottery speaks volumes about human civilization’s changes. Additionally, while pottery can be found in countless cultures worldwide, techniques, styles, and uses vary between cultures, and close study of various pieces of pottery can speak to the similarities and differences between cultures near and far. Exploring pottery through children’s literature provides a means for exploring culture and history. Rins Swentzell’sChildren of Clay: A Family of Pueblo Potters spotlights a Tewa Indian family in New Mexico, who tell the story of their family’s and community’s history through a series of clay objects – allowing readers to learn about Tewa history and culture. Laban Carrick Hill’sDave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave tells the true story of an enslaved man living in South Carolina during the early 1800s. Readers learn about 19th-century pottery techniques while also learning about the experience of slavery. – Get curious about pottery. Compare and contrast historical and contemporary uses, methods, and mediums. Read more in our post, Discovering History Through Pottery-Based Learning.
Local libraries! An essential third space that supports community-based education through collaborative consumption, libraries offer much more than just books and A/V materials. Free community classes, PreK story hours & playgroups, spaces for gatherings, lending libraries of things, galleries, tech support, research assistance, and the list goes on! We’re a BIG fan here at Hilltown Families! Get familiar with your local libraries during National Library Week (April 3 – 9, 2022). Begin by learning about the history of the library and the amazing services and collections libraries can offer, then stop into your local library and get curious about the resources and learning opportunities just waiting to be discovered! Do you love your local libraries too? Please show them your support! Ask your local librarian how you can support these local treasures through direct action (i.e., volunteering, letters to your legislator, etc.).
April is National Kite Month! Kites lend themselves to lessons in geometry, physics, measurement, design, history, culture, literature, and more – and such lessons can be exciting and informative for kids of all ages. The best way to learn is by building and flying your very own kite! Kite Plan Base offers a database of over 1,500 kite plans. Their designs often require a basic understanding of geometry, measurement, and perhaps some physics to understand how the kite will fly. Carrying out one of their plans is an excellent way for older students to practice these concepts and expand their understanding. Families can also make a simple construction paper kite using sticks found outside. Other DIY ideas include: taking leftover wax or tissue paper to create a colorful flying kites; stapling together printer paper for a binoculars-shaped flying object; or turning paper shopping bags into uniquely decorated kites. These projects present an opportunity to practice cooperating, reading and following directions, motor-related skills like tracing and cutting, and using measurement tools, and allow plenty of space for kiddos to exercise their imagination and creativity! Read more in our post, April is National Kite Month.
River otters! March and April is breeding season for North American river otters, a species native to western MA. Forty years ago, the North American river otter was considered extinct due to the loss of natural habitat. Due to conservation efforts, their populations have returned to the region in recent years! Learning through the lens of this native species can support learning about animal behavior and physiology, as well as ecology and conservation. Read more about the North American river otter in our post, The Ripple: River Otters in Western MA.
NUTRITION. 7pm. Eat This, Not That! With Jill Patterson, RDN – Join the Greenfield Public Library for a virtual wellness education program presented by Jill Patterson, RDN.: “Eat This, Not That!”Good nutrition can positively influence our immune system, health, well-being, productivity, performance, energy, mood, weight management, and prevent certain chronic diseases. Join Jill Patterson for this fun and interactive nutrition program, and learn how making simple tweaks in our foods lead to big results. Register for the Zoom link at email@example.com.
Sheep-shearing is a great place to begin the conversation with your children about sheep’s influences on our culture here in New England. Seeing sheep being shorn with traditional tools while listening to tales being spun by the shearer can give kids a unique insight into our regional history and this historical trade. Asking questions about how wool is processed after a sheep has been shorn and how modern-day processing techniques might compare to the methods used in the Colonial era can support interests and lead to a lot of learning! Some use traditional tools, and others use modern electric tools for comparison. Check out sheep shearing at community events and local farms, including Wool Days at Old Sturbridge Village and the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Read more in our Learning Ahead: Season of Sheep Shearing.
How does food bring your family together? Food interweaves into your family, and one thing is sure, food has a way of bringing families together both in the kitchen and around the table. Maybe you enjoy cooking with your kids, sharing family meals, shopping for locally grown and produced foods, or exchanging stories at the kitchen table. Fresh maple syrup is a welcomed addition to the breakfast table with a warm stack of pancakes during sugar season. Did you know thatpancakes are over 6,000 years old? Although not in the present form we know today, the predecessors to the modern pancake consisted of ground wheat cooked in the form of a pancake. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans ate a type of pancake sweetened with honey! Later in history, American colonists ate pancakes, also known asJohnny Cakes. Modern-day technology and contemporary recipes have added to our cultural repertoire of recipes. For recipes submitted by families in Western Massachusetts, check out our post, “Seasons at Our Table: Maple Sugar.”
Spring is an excellent time to pay attention to the seasonal changes that only happen this time of year. It’s a great opportunity to get curious about phenology! What is phenology? One online definition states, “Phenology is the study of periodic events in biological life cycles and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors.” Families can help with studies of phenology! The National Phenology Network has developed Nature’s Notebook, a citizen science program that aims to get people outdoors to observe nature. Nature’s Notebook has an app and a website where citizen scientists can record observations to help scientists better understand how climate change is affecting plants in New England. The National Phenology Network needs volunteers to take part in many of Nature’s Notebook projects, of which there are several throughout the country. Independent, citizen science like Nature’s Notebook is a great way to connect with nature, learn about phenology, practice gathering data, and learn the basics of experimental design while contributing to a scientific study.
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.