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!
In Bloom in Western Mass, Saturday, May 14, 2022, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, is a full day conference for educators and parents of preschool–third grade students. The workshop sessions provide best practices in nature-based early childhood education, cover relevant topics, and take you outside to experience firsthand learning. The morning keynote speaker, Ayana Verdi, founder, and director of Verdi EcoSchool, Melbourne, Florida, will address Cultivating Connection: Using the Community-as-Campus to Build Immersive Learning Experiences for Young Children. The afternoon plenary features Anne Stires of Alna, Maine. Anne will speak on Re-imagining and Co-Creating Change: How a professional learning community (PLC) for Maine administrators is implementing nature-based change in PreK–8 schools. Presented by Antioch University New England in Keene, NH. View the Conference Program to see the workshop descriptions. Contact: Peg Smeltz, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hilltown Community Development Corporation (Hilltown CDC) offers free, confidential business assistance to Hilltown residents. If you are thinking of starting or growing your business, the Hilltown CDC can help! And thanks to a generous grant from the MGCC, all of their business assistance is FREE. They have experts in a wide range of areas that can help Hilltown entrepreneurs get on their feet, including website help, social media marketing, business tax and accounting, legal assistance, and more. For more information, email Hilltown CDC Economic Development Director Michele Kenney at MicheleK@Hilltowncdc.org, or call 413-354-1055. Sign up for their free virtual classes at hilltowndirectory.com/events
The Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth (SPIFFY) is based out of the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) in Northampton, MA. SPIFFY is a youth substance misuse prevention coalition serving all of Hampshire County. SPIFFY wants to hear firsthand from parents of middle and high school students about what they’re noticing regarding teen substance use and mental health. Parent input will be used to inform SPIFFY’s prevention efforts in the months and years to come, so please join them for a conversation – they would love to hear from you! To sign up, visit http://form.jotform.com/SPIFFY_Research/Screener. For questions, email study coordinator Caroline Johnson, Ph.D., at CAjohnson@collaborative.org
The Recovery Theatre in Charlemont, MA, is a performing and circus arts experience for young people overcoming trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression, and other behavioral health challenges. This pre-workshop 5-day intensive is for any teen living with circumstances that present barriers to becoming their fullest selves. Their innovative strength-based, holistic model—they integrate therapeutic horseback riding, circus silks, trapeze, ziplines, white water rafting, aerial park, and the gorgeous natural landscape of West County—takes into account adolescents developing endocrine and nervous systems, incorporates families, social supports and emphasizes peer interactions. Join the summer spectacle! (See Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Programs). Visit their website to learn how they opened safely in 2020-21 Dates: July 5-10, 2022; Age Range: 12-18yo & 19-24yo. Contact: 413-625-2100 ♦ email@example.com ♦ hilltownyouth.org
Yellow Stonehouse Farm, Hampden County’s only certified organic vegetable farm, is offering Summer 2022 crop-shares to Westfield and Hilltown residents. There are different types of shares designed for all households, including Pick-Your-Own veggies, flowers, and herbs at no extra charge. Each share includes recipes, nutritional info, and weekly herbs. Visit on Open Farm Day on April 30, 10am-4pm.How to enroll? Complete a membership form available at yellowstonehousefarmcsa.com. Payments by check, EBT, Credit/Debit, and SNAP-HIP are accepted. Call for help with your membership form and payment arrangements at 413-562-2164 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Springtime events at River Valley Co-op! From May 6-9, 2022, the co-op will have select full cases of popular items available for up to 40% OFF! Household items, pantry staples, meat and seafood, and more. Plus, there will be hundreds of individual items on sale throughout the store! Then from May 9-15, 2022, the co-op will have their annual spring plant sale featuring veggie, herb, and flower starts from local farms available for just 2/$7 (4-packs & 4-inch pots). Both events will be happening simultaneously at each co-op location and held outside in their parking lot. Locations include: 30 N King St, Northampton, MA; and 228 Northampton St, Easthampton, MA. Everyone is welcome!
Amherst, MA ♦ Explore your own creativity and the natural world around you! Amherst Montessori’s well-beloved LEGO camp enters its 14th year this June, where young friends dive into the world of LEGO, crafting and engaging in STEM-based creation. In July and August, Homestead Camp offers participants opportunities to dig deep into the outdoors: planning and building garden and chicken infrastructure, learning about and practicing wilderness survival skills, crafting forts and treehouses, utilizing both foraged and cultivated plant life in cooking and herbalism, and much free outdoor play. Spend the Summer learning skills and having fun while doing it! Registration is per week, days are 8:30am-4pm, Monday-Friday. Dates: June 13-August 5, 2022. Age Range: 6-11yo. Contact: 413-253-3101; email@example.com; amherstmontessori.org
Find your fun at Franklin County’s Y summer camps! Camp Apex campers experience outdoor activities and discover new hobbies while surrounded by nature and friends. Kids will gain new interests and develop strong values. From archery to arts & crafts, swimming to gaga ball, campers will leave with full hearts and friends that last. Sports Camp is for kids who love to be active where they will develop strength, endurance, and self-confidence through sports that promote sportsmanship, teamwork, and healthy habits. Gymnastics Camp is for kids of all levels looking to develop or learn gymnastics skills. Trying all their equipment, your camper will enjoy the thrills as they flip, tumble, balance, and swing in their Gymnastics Center. Dates: June 20-August 19, 2022. Age Range: 5-14yo. Contact: 413-773-3646; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.your-y.org.
Learn tunes from Scotland, Ireland, Quebec, and the Appalachian mountains during this fun-filled week. Have you ever performed for goats and chickens? Or used a handmade “crankie,” a moving picture box with musical accompaniment? Lots of fun and laughter while students collaborate on new songs and even have “concerts” for the farm animals! Playing level: beginning intermediate to intermediate.
In search of a fun and creative in-person outlet for your young people this summer? Join Barrington Stage Company for KidsAct! & TeensAct! Look no further than Barrington Stage Company’s renowned KidsAct! & TeensAct! camps. These exciting camps focus on building acting and communication skills through fun theatre games and building performance skills through ensemble-based work, improvisation, and individualized coaching. Students will create an original musical with their peers to be performed on the final day of the program and experience master classes from professional theatre and performing artists. Spots will fill quickly, so sign up early. KidsAct! (7–11yo): June 27–July 9, August 1–12; TeensAct! (12–15yo): July 11–29. Dates: June 27-August 12, 2022. Age Range: 7-15yo. Contact: 413-997-6117; email@example.com; barringtonstageco.org
Jump into summer fun with Northampton Parks & Recreation! Safety Village, ages 4-6, is a must to learn safety skills & awareness in a fun setting with visits from fire, police, bike safety, plus more. Starts July 5, runs in 2-week sessions, & ends with a graduation! Kidzone, gr. 1-4, & Camp Hamp, gr. 5-6, are held at Look Park. Camp will offer games, swimming, art projects, special events, field trips, & more! Teen Expeditions, gr. 7-10, is an adventure-based field trip camp filled with daily trips that include hiking, biking, & exciting destination trips! These three camps will run for 7 one week sessions. This is affordable fun that offers something for everyone. All camps are licensed by the Board of Health. Check other programs too. Dates: June 28-August 12, 2022. Age Range: 4-15yo. Contact: 413-587-1040; firstname.lastname@example.org; northamptonma.gov/902/Summer-Day-Camps
Camp MacDuffie is an exciting summer day camp for rising 1st–8th graders. Participants spend the morning engaged in a program area of their choosing, enjoy lunch by Sage Dining Services (included), and then stay active with a variety of afternoon outdoor/indoor activities and field trips throughout the week. Their program leaders are passionate and experienced, and they all look forward to creating a fun and supportive environment for your child to thrive this summer. So come along and join Camp MacDuffie this summer!
Learn to take care of & exercise a world-class athlete – the Alaskan Husky Sled Dog. Choose a dog for the week. Learn to feed, pet, play, clean-up after & train a sled dog. Ride a racing rig, scooter, bike, hike, jog & swim – some of the warm weather activities dogs & campers love to do together. All have fun bonding, playing & mushing with the team! “My daughter loved the week-long camp, really bonded with her dog and plans to return next year. Hilltown Sleddogs is one of Pioneer Valleys’ unique treasures!”(JG) “The hands-on connection with dogs is amazing. At the end of the week, my boys don’t want to come home.” (EM) *New Bonfire/BBQ eve last night Week 4 & Gals Only Week 5, all ages! Successful COVID Safety Protocol continues for 2022. Dates: July 5-August 26, 2022. Age Range: 8-16yo. Contact: 413-296-0187; email@example.com; www.hilltownsleddogs.com/camps.
Kamp for Kids brings together children with and without disabilities in a unique integrated model that promotes understanding and growth. As a fully inclusive summer camp, its mission is to serve a population of both children with disabilities and their typically developing peers. This summer’s Kamp experience will be offered both in-person and virtually and includes art, health, nature, and other inclusive, fun activities. Please note they are operating at a limited capacity this summer. Please call for more information. Dates: July-August, 2022. Age Range: 3-22yo. Contact: 413-562-5678 ♦ Anne.Benoit@bhninc.org ♦ www.bhninc.org
The Bement School, founded in 1925 and located in Deerfield, MA, is a co-educational day and boarding school serving 200 students from kindergarten through grade 9. Applications for certain grades for Fall 2022 are being accepted. They are offering both in-person tours and interviews, as well as online opportunities to connect and learn more about Bement. Contact the admission office at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about the application process.
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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: email@example.com. Have an event, resource, or opportunity you’re ready to promote? Click HERE to submit your information.
Born on April 26, 1564, William Shakespeare‘s lasting popularity over hundreds of years may stem from his command of the English language and the universal themes explored in his plays and poetry. Shakespeare used a great deal of creativity with words. He combined short, familiar words into compound words and sometimes changed verbs into nouns and vice versa. This is how he invented hundreds of words still used every day. Shakespeare’s plays allow us to explore relatable ideas by reading, performing, and witnessing performances of his words. Plays are meant to be performed, and Shakespeare’s plays undergo countless renditions, iterations, and adaptations on stage and on film. Families can celebrate Shakespeare’s lasting impact by screening the 2011 film Gnomeo and Juliet. (Rated G), the 2010 adaptation of The Tempest (Rated PG-13), and the 2012 film Much Ado About Nothing (Rated PG-13).
More and more, communities are working together to create opportunities for pooling knowledge, sharing skills, and increasing each others’ access to valuable resources. A few examples in Western MA have included repair cafes, time trading, swaps, skill-sharing, and lending initiatives. In creating systems and channels to access shared information and materials, communities are building resilient foundations upon which to grow and learn. Commonly known as collaborative consumption, such shared economy practices work to shift emphasis from ownership of goods and knowledge to access to them, a shift that would decrease the number of resources each individual would need to participate in a sustainable way of life. During the spring, when families are looking towards their backyard gardens and plots, gardening tools are on everyone’s mind. Maybe your 20-year-old wheelbarrow now has a broken handle, or you need a spade but have an extra shovel and unused saw. Whatever the case may be, now is an excellent time to tap into a preexisting tool lending library in your neighborhood (i.e., Northfield Tool Lending Library). If one does not exist, consider spearheading the creation of a small-scale tool-sharing initiative with friends and families. By starting with folks closest to you and expanding out with a few interested neighbors, families may quickly discover that they need fewer tools on hand and are also seeding and growing meaningful community connections! Get inspired by seeing what other communities have created in this TED Talk, and read more aboutHow to Start a Neighborhood Tool Share.
You don’t have to be a beekeeper to attract pollinators to your backyard or garden. With strategic gardening, you can help reverse the decline in honeybee and native pollinator populations. Certain plants will naturally attract beneficial insects, which will beautify your garden in a mutually beneficial relationship with the plants.Northeast Organic Farming Association of Massachusetts (NOFA MASS) is a great local resource to support the interest of home gardeners. They serve homesteaders growing food for themselves, chefs planting herb gardens on restaurant rooftops, suburban parents picking tomatoes with their kids in the backyard, and urban foodies creating flower boxes on their windowsills. Visit NOFA MASS online to discover organic gardening workshops statewide and workshops designed to help support organic gardening practices. In addition to supporting a community-based educational resource like NOFA MASS, you can also support your learning at home! Not only can an organic home garden provide food, but it can also be a learning lab, supporting interest in ecology, botany, and entomology. This spring, let your garden guide your learning! See if you can spot pollinators in your garden while observing their pollination techniques.
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.
Unbeknownst to most of us, the bogs of the Berkshires are the perfect habitat for a very precious and endangered species, the Bog Turtle! One of ten species of turtles found in Massachusetts, we can find the ideal habitat for this rare tiny turtle in the naturally alkaline wet patches of field and meadow across the westernmost portion of our region. Families can learn more about the Bog Turtle and other species of Testudines by engaging in community-based opportunities for hands-on learning about habitat conservation and species preservation. Learn how to help protect local turtle species, which is especially important in the spring as females travel across roads to lay their eggs.
In the second half of the 19th century, Paris was undeniably the center of the art world. Artists worldwide traveled to Paris to experience the dynamic and creative energy in the academies, museums, and salons. The Impressionists were notable for many women artists who joined the movement, among other reasons. The three so-called ‘grande dames’ of Impressionism were Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, and Marie Bracquemond. After Morisot married Edouard Manet’s brother, she and the artist became very close friends. Manet was a significant influence on Morisot’s work, and she often posed for him, perhaps most famously in his striking 1872 piece “Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets.” Despite the enormous impact of Morisot and the other women of Impressionism, their work continues to be overlooked. Get curious about art history through the lens of female Impressionists, and then head to your local art gallery and museums to pursue primary source examples of historical and contemporary women artists.
While it is certain that Irish dance traditions date back thousands of years, there is very little recorded information about those traditions until the 17th-century because historians did not write down most ancient cultural practices around the world. When the Normans invaded Ireland, they brought with them the courtly ’round dances’ common in Europe during the Medieval period. In the 1600s, we begin to see references to Irish folk dances, known as ‘rinkafadda,’ which were often performed in fields and involved lines or rows of men and women facing each other. By the 1760s, the Irish added hornpipes and fiddles to Irish dancing traditions, and the custom of traveling dance masters began and would last until well into the 19th century. Do you want to see examples of not only Irish dance but also other traditional folk dances from around the world? – April 29, 2022, is International Dance Day. Let’s use this observation day as a catalyst for learning! Check out these folk dances from around the world.
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.