Weekly Suggested Events for December 17-23, 2022
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!
Scroll down to discover featured events, learning opportunities, and educational videos to support learning from home. And be sure to subscribe to our free weekly eNewsletter so you never miss out!
SUGGESTED EVENTS: DECEMBER 17-23, 2022
SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING IDEAS
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
Featured Events, Resources, & Opportunities
The Amherst Business Improvement District is proud to present the first annual Downtown Sip ‘n Shop Stroll on Thursday, December 15 from 5-9pm, sponsored by People Bank! Head downtown to enjoy! Fabulous downtown retail with little “sips” along the way. Five amazing dinner options for a full 3-course meal for $35 with incredible options for smaller bites at our many global dining options throughout our downtown. FREE carriage rides will be happening through town to bring visitors to shops, restaurants, and bars, courtesy of Muddy Brook Farm. A beautifully curated Maker’s market will be happening, too, featuring artisans, crafters, and makers with bar service in the Drake: Live Performance and Music Venue, and more!
The Eric Carle Museum in Amherst has something for everyone this December! Join author Tiffany Jewell on Saturday, December 17 at 1pm for The Antiracist Kid: A Book Talk. Kids ages 8 to 12 are invited to join a group conversation about racism and injustice and what to do when they encounter it at home, at school, or in the media. Also, on December 17 at 3pm, join the Happier Family Comedy Show in a performance full of high energy and family-friendly funnies. For more information, www.carlemuseum.org.
Registration is open for spring semester classes at Holyoke Community College. More than 80 degree and certificate options are available. There is extensive academic and student support, flexible on-campus and online schedules, laptops for loan and WiFi hotspots to borrow, a student food pantry, a student emergency fund, and a drop-in child watch. Adult-focused programs include Pathways, New Directions for Adult Learners, Veterans Services, and college credit for work/life experience. Classes begin January 17. Flexible. Affordable. Holyoke Community College. Email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
The Connecticut Trolley Museum’s Annual Winterfest & the Tunnel of Lights begins Nov 25 and will be held from 5-9pm on Fri-Sun nights through Dec 23. Additionally, the Museum will be open from Dec 26-30. Halls are decked both inside & outside. Trolley cars transport guests down a tunnel of lights as they sing traditional Christmas Carols with their trolley car operators. For an open-air view of the “Tunnel of Lights,” enjoy a sleigh car lit up with holiday lights. The Visitor Center is decorated as a Winter Wonderland with model train layouts & lights galore. Admission: $15-$20. Ticket sales must be made in advance: www.ct-trolley.org. Other events include Picture with Santa on 11/25 & Storytime Trolley with Santa & his Elf on 12/3 & 12/10.
Hancock Holiday Nights
Hancock Shaker Village
Hancock Holiday Nights are back with more nights, lights, and wonder. Stroll outdoors across the farm at Hancock Shaker Village to view artist Joe Wheaton’s stunning video projections on several historic buildings, including the iconic Round Stone Barn and Brick Dwelling in Pittsfield, MA. Enter the kitchen of the Brick Dwelling and the Round Stone Barn to see stabled farm animals reminiscent of the first Nativity. Shop for holiday gifts, make simple crafts, and gather for festive spirits by the fire. See the season, and Hancock Shaker Village, in a whole new light. Takes place on select evenings throughout December from 5-8pm. Member discounts and free for children five and under. For info and to buy tickets, visit their website.
Christmas by Candlelight
Old Sturbridge Village
Experience old cherished traditions and create new ones as you celebrate the season during Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village! Explore the beautifully decorated Village, watch a nightly lighting ceremony, stroll through the Christmas Tree Trail and Christmas Wish Bridge, watch demonstrations of classic Christmas projects, visit with Santa, taste samples of sweet treats, enjoy live music and storytelling, and so much more. Visit osv.org to learn more and purchase your tickets in advance.
The Pioneer Valley Symphony celebrates its annual Holiday Pops family concert tradition on Saturday, December 17, at 4pm at Greenfield High School Auditorium. 150 musicians ages 8-80+ share the stage and lead the audience in fun singalongs of favorite holiday songs, plus a medley of hits from Disney’s Frozen. Kid-friendly activities and concessions will be available at intermission, and audience members are encouraged to wear holiday attire and Frozen costumes! Face masks are required in the auditorium and are optional in the concession area. Tickets: pvsoc.org or 413-773-3664. $25 adult/$20 senior/$5 kids. Free family passes at most local libraries. Free tickets at the box office for EBT and WIC cardholders.
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley, MA, is committed to supporting the Artist in every student! Students from over 50 towns in Grades 7-12 thrive in an arts-centered, creative, challenging learning environment. No tuition or audition is required. They are now accepting applications for grades 7-11 for the 2023/24 school year at www.pvpa.org/admissions. Application deadline: February 10, 2023. Lottery: February 17, 2023. Limited seats available for the 2nd semester of the 2022/23 school year. Applications will be accepted for Grades 7, 10 & 11 until January 2, 2023. Lottery: January 6, 2023. Students will start by January 31, 2023. Questions? Email email@example.com for more info.
FEATURED COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Holyoke Community College
Students interested in saving time and money can earn three college credits in just 11 days during the Holyoke Community College Wintersession. Wintersession is the perfect opportunity to complete college prerequisites and lighten spring course loads for students who want to earn college credit during the January break. Registration is due by Dec. 28, 2022, for classes that begin on Dec. 29. Holyoke Community College credits are affordable, and you can take your credits with you. (Many of their classes easily transfer to other institutions. Check-in with your receiving college or university for details.) hcc.edu/wintersession
FEATURED MUSIC SCHOOL
Berkshire Music School
Give the gift of music this holiday season with a private lesson package from the Berkshire Music School! The Holiday Private Lesson Package includes four 30-minute lessons, free instrument rental, waived membership fee, and a BMS tote bag, all for $154! Your loved ones can enjoy private lessons in-person at Berkshire Music School’s historic campus in Pittsfield or online from the comfort of their home. Berkshire Music School lessons are offered in all band and orchestra instruments, including voice and theory, for students of all levels and ages. For more information on how to register, visit the Berkshire Music School website: www.berkshiremusicschool.org.
Questions? Call 413-442-1411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
FEATURED MUSIC SCHOOL
Community Music School of Springfield
Make music with the Community Music School of Springfield! CMSS offers high-quality music instruction for students of all ages and levels with flexible scheduling and a choice of online or in-person learning. Whether you’re just starting or are a seasoned musician, CMSS takes the time to match you with a teacher who will connect with you while helping you accomplish your personal musical goals. Offering instruction in over 30 instruments and voice, their registration team can help you decide whether to rent or purchase your instrument. Getting started is easy – your future music lesson is a click or a phone call away! More info: www.communitymusicschool.com
See Your Ad Here
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.
List of Weekly Suggested Events
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2022
Self-Directed Learning: Winter Farmers’ Markets
Winter farmers’ markets provide a fresh and colorful oasis during the winter months, reminding us that farm-fresh foods of all kinds are still available despite the blustery, snow-drift-covered fields that surround us. Connecting to the local food chain year-round is healthy for your body, your family, and your community, and it can be educational as well! Exposing children to the vast array of foods available from winter farmers’ markets can help them recognize that there are many different methods for growing and producing food while connecting them to where their food comes from.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2022
Self-Directed Learning: Citrus Season
Supermarkets and food co-ops are living laboratories for learning! These community-based educational resources are accessible to everyone and have something new to discover every week as we move through harvest seasons and holidays rich in food traditions. Citrus is abundant in the winter, and a delicious opportunity to learn about the many citrus varieties. Pick up a variety of oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes at your local market this winter, and get curious! Culinary arts, literature, agriculture, nutrition, arts & crafts, and even STEM are interests citrus can support.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2022
Self-Directed Learning: Christmas Icons
Many contemporary Christmas icons have commercial roots. From Coca-Cola’s Santa Claus to Aebersold & Bell’s Elf on a Shelf. This holiday season, examine the history behind the commercialization of Christmas and then compare and contrast with icons and traditions based on different cultures and values. Begin with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, first appearing in a booklet published by the department store chain Montgomery Ward, compared with reindeer’s traditional heritage.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2022
Self-Directed Learning: Botany/Mistletoe
Mistletoe, often associated with Christmas and holiday traditions, can be a lens for learning mythology, history, botany, and ecology. Get curious about this parasitic plant and discover its origins in magic, fertility, and love.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2022
Self-Directed Learning: Winter Solstice
The winter solstice is a celebration for many because it marks the turning point towards longer days. Like the new calendar year, this astrological event can also be a time of reflecting on the past and thinking about the future. Observances, celebrations, and rituals surrounding the winter solstice differ in many cultures and can be an excellent lens for learning about food traditions, cultural heritage, and seasonal changes in habitats. The winter solstice can also be a reflective time for reconnecting with nature and the community. As we begin to stay indoors more and spend time with families and friends, the winter season is an opportunity to disconnect from technology and reconnect through storytelling with neighbors and family.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2022
Self-Directed Learning: Geography/Polar Regions
If the North Pole is an ocean (Arctic Ocean) surrounded by land and the South Pole is a continent (Antarctica) surrounded by ocean, how could Santa call the North Pole home? Who else calls the North Pole home? Polar bears or penguins? With nearly 100% of Antarctica covered by ice a mile thick, why is it considered a desert? Is it colder at the North Pole or the South Pole? Why? ‘Tis the season we celebrate the folklore of the most famous resident of the North Pole, Santa Claus. Christmas is an excellent opportunity to get curious about the North and South Poles. Learn about geography, geology, meteorology, climate change, zoology, and much more through the lens of Earth’s polar regions.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2022
Self-Directed Learning: Dance Studies/Ballet
How did the tradition of annual performances of The Nutcracker come to be? Learn about its rich history, supporting an interest in dance, classical music, and holiday traditions! Then take a behind-the-scenes look with a contemporary ballerina, New York City Ballet principal dancer Maria Kowroski, as she prepares for the leading role in The Nutcracker.
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, Chester, 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, Westhampton, Windsor, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.