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Rocknoceros joins us as our Guest DJ with a Songs About America Episode. The musical trio explore their record collections to find tunes that celebrate, illustrate, and even criticize the Land of the Free. Starting with the Chuck Berry-inspired rock ‘n roll of the 1950s, the selections quickly span the decades that followed and the various styles that continue to thrive today. Join in the fun as the band members discuss the people and places that help make American music what it is, with a few asides about lemonade stands and Irving Berlin.

While visitors to Eastern Massachusetts can walk the Freedom Trail, learn about the Boston Tea Party, or tour the home of Paul Revere, folks in Western Massachusetts can explore the history of the American Revolution by witnessing historical reenactments of major battles, visit memorials to the cause’s courageous soldiers, and commemorate the war for American Independence through community celebrations such as fireworks, parades, annual events, and local resources.

While visitors to Eastern Massachusetts can walk the Freedom Trail, learn about the Boston Tea Party, or tour the home of Paul Revere, folks in Western Massachusetts can explore the history of the American Revolution by witnessing historical reenactments of major battles, visit memorials to the cause’s courageous soldiers, and commemorate the war for American Independence through community celebrations such as fireworks, parades, annual events, and local resources.

From the birth of George Washington to the four freedoms outlined by FDR, upcoming opportunities for community-based learning offer Presidents’ Day-inspired ways to explore democracy, freedom, and American history.

This week on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, David Grover is our Guest DJ with a History through Stories & Songs Episode. David puts together an eclectic mix of favorite folk songwriters and singers that highlights the history of our country. (Original broadcast: May 25th & 26th, 2013.)

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Use music as a lens for learning about history – Lloyd Miller (of The Deedle Deedle Dees fame) has just released a new Civil War-themed album filled with traditional and original music. Using a curriculum created by Miller, as well as a wealth of other resources, families can use music as an entry point for learning about an important time period in American history.

The Pioneer Valley has a long and rich history, and clues to life in the past are everywhere – as long as we know where to look! Using online resources from the Memorial Hall Museum and the Museum of our Industrial Heritage, families can take a virtual tour of the once-bustling neighborhood of Cheapside port – now just a street in southeastern Greenfield.

A day punctuated by fireworks, 4th of July is a day of historical reflection where families gather together in patriotic unity. In Western MA, there are so many events being held that get to the essence of what the holiday meant in a historical sense, and where it has brought us today as a nation.

When holidays like this come along, it offers a valuable historical education opportunity for the entire family to experience. Check out what’s happening in your community…

Springfield Museums explore Modern American Masterworks from O’Keefe to Rockwell and how artists in the 20th century depicted the emergence of individuality in America along with the challenge to existing social patterns in a new exhibit, “American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell.”

Use the exhibit as a opportunity to examine the work of many great artists, but also to explore ideas and images that represents periods in time and culture. When visiting this exhibit with your family, see if you can identify symbols of American tradition that are present in the works in this exhibition. Then stop and think what symbols might you use to express changes you’ve seen in your lifetime.

Tune into the Hilltown Family Variety Show and experience history through song with our Guest DJ, award-winning musician, David Grover. Grover’s folk-music choices will take you through the ages as you make stops to experience this country’s historic milestone events in the hour long, commercial-free family radio show/podcast.

In the early 20th century, the village of Deerfield supported a thriving Arts & Crafts community of metalsmiths, potters, furniture makers, photographers, embroiderers, and basket makers. A new exhibit at Historic Deerfield features objects from Historic Deerfield’s collections that celebrate the Arts & Crafts Movement. Use this community based educational opportunity to support interests in local history, women’s studies, consumerisim, and craftsmanship.

This month in “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews,” Cheli shares five new kids’ books that bring history alive in honor of Black History Month. Courageous individuals, unsung heroes, and influential (but little-known) events, reach through pages of text, photos, art, and poetry, and connect young readers to the struggles and achievements of the civil rights movement… she also shares a special pick just for grown-ups too!

What’s on your child’s holiday wish list? Some of the top commercial toys for 2013 include LEGO, Barbie, PlayStation and My Little Pony… but do your kids know the history behind these covet toys, or the history of toys before the commercialization of all things play? Take this opportunity to explore American history through the lens of toys and help your kids gain perspective on the toys they have on their wish list this year…

The story of the Jewish community in the Pioneer Valley is detailed in a new exhibit at the Springfield Museums titled “One Hundred Years of Jewish Life in the Valley: From Shtetl to Suburb,” opening today! Through a combination of artifacts, photos, film, and personal histories, the exhibit documents the growth of the Jewish community in both size and influence from the early 20th century to the present day…

Hilltown Family Variety Show History Through Stories & Songs Episode Guest DJ, David Grover Listen to Podcast: David Grover is our Guest DJ with a History through Stories & Songs Episode. David puts together an eclectic mix of favorite folk songwriters and singers that highlights the history of our country. – http://www.davidgrover.com Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am May 25th & 26th, 2013 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free… Read More

In honor of Black History Month I want to share an extraordinary book about an extraordinary human being: Carver, a life in poems (Front Street, 2001) is an intimate portrait of the botanist, inventor, scientist, artist, musician, and teacher, known as George Washington Carver. Written by acclaimed poet, Marilyn Nelson, the book takes us through Carver’s life in a series of narrative poems told from the voices of the people who knew… Read More

Underground Railroad Quiz Listen to the HFVS Podcast Before Taking Lloyd Miller from the Deedle Deedle Dees writes: Our friends at the Hilltown Family Variety Show (HFVS) put together a special program all about the Underground Railroad. Our songs “Underground Railroad” and “Henry Box Brown” are on it. So are great versions of traditional songs by Taj Mahal and Bill Harley, a story read by Morgan Freeman and much more. Listen to… Read More

Local Government in Rural Communities Talk at the Meekins Library Williamsburg ♦ April 15th @ 2pm Small, rural towns are much different in structure than urban and suburban areas are.  Instead of electing officials to make decisions, many small towns have an annual town meeting where community members can contribute their thoughts on issues being voted on.  This unique structure of government allows rural communities the opportunity to practice democracy on a… Read More

Discovering New England History with The Freedom Trail Foundation Daily Video Series Are your kids interested in Colonial History? Boston’s Freedom Trail Foundation offers a daily dose of history on their YouTube channel!  Every day, the group debuts a new clip (generally 30-40 seconds) offering information about an event that took place on that day in early American history!  Centered around the Revolutionary War, the clips feature historical re-enactors dressed in period… Read More

Springfield Museums to Join Public Reading of Frederick Douglass Speech Wednesday, June 30th at Noon The Springfield Museums are participating in a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s fiery 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro.” The shared reading will take place at noon on June 30th in Court Square in Springfield and will be followed by a discussion at First Church. On July 5, 1852, Douglass, a… Read More

Underground Railroad Talk Museum of Springfield History April 11th @ 2pm Many families emailed to let me know how much they appreciated the Underground Railroad Episode of the Hilltown Family Variety Show as a supplement to their children’s studies. Another opportunity for older students to learn about the Underground Railroad will be this Sunday, April 11th in Springfield, MA. At 2pm, the new Museum of Springfield History will host a talk titled… Read More

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