Hilltown Families


The day upon which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation is celebrated today as Juneteenth. Find out about community-based learning events, resources and self-initiated opportunities to learn about history, reflect on freedom & celebrate an important anniversary!

Looking at your community through the lens of an interest is just one point of entry to community-based education. With back-to-school in the air we wanted to encourage our readers, parents, teachers and administrators to remember Hilltown Families as your community resource for supporting interests and education, both inside the classroom and at home.

Share your love for the Connecticut River at The River’s Song, an exciting event in Turners Falls that blends art, science, and local history to offer community-based learning opportunities centered around the theme of our life-giving and landscape-sustaining river.

Tying local history with important national and international events, the Springfield Armory provides visitors with a glimpse into the history of military arms manufacturing and the history of the industrial revolution. In addition to opportunities to learn about history from exhibits, families can learn to be Junior Rangers or participate in special hands-on programs held during school vacation week!

Western Mass is home to an incredible array of community-based resources that offer a diversity of embedded learning opportunities. From historical societies to libraries, trails to art galleries, there are numerous opportunities to connect with your community and embrace your sense of place. Read on to see what treasures rest on your doorstep.

A wonderfully innovative project, run by Professor Thomas E. Wartenberg’s “Philosophy for Children” class in Mount Holyoke College, gets the documentary treatment on WGBY Channel. The project is built on sparking intellectual organizing, critical thinking and the development of core philosophies in kids. It’s a wonderfully enriching aspect of community-based learning. The project actually gets put into practice! Read on to learn more, and to check out the broadcast schedule.

This summer, libraries across the state are offering an innovative summer reading program to young readers. Titled “Fizz, Boom, Read!,” the program supports the development of reading and literacy skills, while also allowing participants to explore the intersection of science and the humanities. By combining science with reading, libraries are encouraging children to explore the world of non-fiction writing- opening up endless possibilities for learning and satisfying science-based curiosity. Read on to see what resources are available to you and your children as you support their interests by engaging in your community this summer…

Two remarkable photo exhibits start next week, capturing everyday life and scenes in the respective regions of the photographers: Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, and Northampton, MA. There’s nothing more captivating than a photographer pressing a scene’s pause button and capturing timeless essence for us to enjoy and reflect upon.

Exhibits such as these provide an inspiring community-based educational opportunity for children to learn so much from. Challenge them to photograph a scene on a regular basis and for them to evaluate the power of documentation and storytelling. A great place to start is by attending the exhibits of the two multi-talented photographers living in our own region here in western Massachusetts.

By staying connected to your community through Hilltown Families, you can see that we have identified some incredible community resources throughout western Massachusetts. Using various catalysts to inspire you, Hilltown Families can help you connect your entire family to community-based learning. Read on and start to think about ways you can inspire learning using the broad range of educational assets right outside your front (or back) door!

Camping is the great American tradition where families bond, away from the distractions of daily technologies; and where they can drink in nature, unleashing the explorer within. Camping breeds a love for nature and bolsters an environmental consciousness and is fundamentally a great community-based learning experience for kids.

Every late June, a collective effort to get everyone camping outdoors (even in their backyard) is being promoted by National Wildlife Federation in order to raise funds for conservation. You can go camping anytime of course, so read on learn about the Great American Backyard Campout!

Juneteenth marks an important milestone in our history. Families are invited to events to celebrate the abolition of slavery and to connect to their community via freedom stories recorded by those who experienced this firsthand. It’s a great opportunity for families to educate their children on an immense time in U.S. history and to do so in the context of their own community. It also affords some dialog on how freedom manifests itself in daily aspects of our lives. Read our post on Juneteenth and see what events are near you.

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