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Of all of the subjects that are taught in elementary school, math can be the hardest one to explore creatively at home; however, Halloween presents an opportunity for some fun informal at-home math studies, including basic logic, data collection, and statistical analysis…

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News! Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. This month Sienna and Seth talked about ways to engage in our community in the late fall. Reviewing the newest edition of Learning Ahead, Seth and Sienna talk about learning through the lens of the food, habitat and culture found in the Nov/Dec issue of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA:

Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts is a bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

With these downloadable seasonal itineraries, self-directed teens, lifelong learners, and families are encouraged to engage together in cultural opportunities that support similar interests, resulting in a shared history, strengthening sense of place.

Looking through a seasonal lens, our Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for November and December includes…

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Foliage, Pumpkins & Hauntings Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!). This monthly segment continued on… Read More

Featured here are contemporary conversations about modern day education, including the voices of “inspiring and forward-looking leaders and thinkers on the topic of learning, including Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, Bill Gates, Rita F. Pierson, Sir Ken Robinson and Geoffrey Canada, among others.” Hear what many of these folks have to share in this this TED Talk special on education…

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News! Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Monday, August 29, 2016. This month Sienna and Lauren talked about agricultural fairs, fall festivals, one room schoolhouses and apples featured in the debut of “Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA.”

Who am I? Where am I? These are the fundamental questions proposed by the humanities. Inquiries related to local history, literature, and education, inspire us to think deeply about the places where we live and how our identity fits into the context of our community and the seasons.

Funded in part by Mass Humanities, Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts is a NEW bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

By emphasizing place-based exploration through humanities inquiry, these cultural itineraries connect residents of all ages to their place, helping to shape a more comprehensive understanding of our cultural identity, heritage, and history. This contributes to establishing meaningful relationships between young people and elders, and more active citizens.

With these FREE downloadable seasonal itineraries, self-directed teens, lifelong learners, and families are encouraged to engage together in cultural opportunities that support similar interests, resulting in a shared history and a strengthened sense of place. Click through to download a free 38-page PDF!

Introducing the concept of homeschooling to young audiences, Jonathan Bean’s loosely autobiographical book takes a close look at a day in the life of a busy and constantly learning homeschooling family. The concise text and dense illustrations offer up a fascinating tale of nontraditional education, and paired with our literary guide, the book offers itself as a portal into the examination of nontraditional education and personal learning style.

Serving as the sequel to 2011’s Race to Nowhere, director Vicki Abeles’ Beyond Measure offers a heartening look at the possibilities for meaningful change within the American education system. Pairing real-life examples with hard data, the film makes a powerful argument in support of a less standardized means of educating. Families can attend an upcoming screening at Bay Path University!

This month, Hilltown Families will be entering our 10th year! We will also be participating in our 1st ever Annual Appeal through Valley Gives this Wednesday, December 10th! Your tax deductible donation to Hilltown Families during Valley Gives will help us continue to support community building and community learning initiatives throughout western MA! Supporting Education through Community Engagement For nearly a decade, Hilltown Families has been working towards creating resilient and sustainable… Read More

The Lost Art of Cursive… new exhibit debuts at Hatfield Fall Festival this weekend. Visit the exhibit and learn interesting historical facts and the art of cursive writing, and check out these articles on the links between handwriting and education…

S.D. Nelson’s “Buffalo Bird Girl” tells the story of a young Hidatsa girl, following her through a year’s worth of seasonal change and detailing the activities that take place in her life based upon the changes taking place in the natural world. Helping readers learn about Native American culture, the story presents families with information that challenges them to compare their own lives to those of members of the Hidatsa tribe – and accompanying hands-on activities offer experiential learning centered around local Native American culture.

Running all summer, our highly popular and comprehensive series of literary guides are written by graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England. They are designed to enrich the reading experience of your child. Each week a new book is featured.

This week’s book is for 5th graders and for kids at middle school level, and it’s a literary treat of intrigue and mystery! “When You Reach Me,” by Rebecca Stead is one giant enigma built upon clever riddles, as it covers two children interacting with Manhattan. The literary guide hones in on maximizing the developmental skills of detail tracking, note-taking, supporting inferences with evidence, and building a system of connections as the story progresses.

The literary guides have proven to be popular this summer. Read on to see how you can further develop your child’s reading experience with these wonderful guides!

Running all summer, our highly popular and comprehensive series of literary guides are written by graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England. They are designed to enrich the reading experience of your child. Each week a new book is featured.

This week we have a peach of a read called “Alec’s Primer,” by Mildred Pitts Walter. It’s a true story of freedom that spends time just up the road in Grafton, Vermont. It’s an inspiring narrative of perseverance and the spirit of self-education. The literary guide will direct you to enable your elementary school age children to explore themes of freedom, slavery and the Civil War. In addition to supporting place-based studies of the Civil War and the abolition movement, a reading of the book can spark discussion on topics such as what it means to be free, the ethics of restricting access to knowledge, courage, determination, and strength.

Our summer series of literary guides written by graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England are designed to maximize your child’s reading experience, and mobilize critical thinking.

This week’s guide looks at local author Mordicai Gerstein and her book “The Mountains of Tibet.” The subject covers critical thinking with regard to topics such as religion and reincarnation. Children will consider different cultures and their belief systems, and critically analyse similarities and differences they may notice, in relation to themselves. Needless to say this is a stimulating exercise for kids- especially for third graders and older.

Our series of literary guides written by graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England are designed to maximize your child’s reading experience. A quality outlook to your child’s reading releases so much in terms of a child’s reading and sophisticated interpretation of themes.

This week Jeanne Birdsall’s “The Penderwicks” is set in the Berkshires and covers the adventures of four daughters and their eccentric dad while on a quirky vacation. The text drives critical thinking and theme connection and is suitable for those kids ages 10-11. The guide provides direction on how to maximize this wonderful reading experience! Download it now for free!

Our summer series of literary guides written by graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England are designed to maximize your child’s reading experience, and mobilize critical thinking.

This week’s guide helps us navigate William Steig’s “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” under the banner of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ The illustrations offer first and second graders challenges to find clues linking to the overall narrative, and a wealth of new words to discover. They’ll also be inspired to construct that verbally watertight wish (we’ve all done it!) and to imagine where it could take them. Literally an inspiring read that will enrich your child’s literary development.

Our summer series of literary guides written by graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England are designed to maximize your child’s reading experience, and mobilize critical thinking.

This week’s lit guide to Arthur Dorros’ story, “Abuela,” inspires young readers to connect to Hispanic culture, learn Spanish phrases and also to recognize illustrative patterns. The great concept of ‘journey’ is also open to exploration.

Read on and see how “Abuela” can lead your child’s literary development!

Our series of literary guides written by graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England are designed to maximize your child’s reading experience. A quality outlook to your child’s reading unlocks so much in terms of a child’s learning and ability to build theme connections. This week’s guide covers a topic a bit light on the cover, a firefighting cat, but has a lot of relatable themes.

“The Fire Cat” by Esther Averill is designed for 2nd grade students and while a bit unrealistic in terms of the subject matter (a cat who works in a fire station,) it contains many relatable themes such as how to come to term with what skills you have, and how to fit into society. Big questions right there! The writing style lends itself to greater phonetic development.

Read on and see how Pickles the cat can lead your child’s literary development!

Every time a child picks up a book, they gain so much in terms of literary enrichment through development of vocabulary and critical thinking, and much more. Our series of literary guides written by graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England are designed to maximize your child’s reading experience. This week’s guide covers a topic familiar to so many people from so many perspectives: the relationships between siblings when growing up.

“My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother” by Patricia Polacco outlines the dynamic between a younger sister and older brother in a family still steeped in Ukrainian culture, from their immigrant background. It looks at sibling relationships and explores the concept of family through a different lens. It’s an enriching summer read that will help your children draw upon their own observations and experiences and match them up with the themes in the book. The educational guide gives pointers on setting the scene for a reading connection between you and your child.

Summer is the perfect reading season, and we’re making literary guides available for you to encourage your child to expand and deepen their reading experience. Each guide contains a featured book with guidelines in how to stimulate critical thinking.

This week’s book is Elly Mackay’s “If You Hold a Seed” covers the author’s experience with pregnancy and her core desire for growth. Pre-discussion with your child can help sharpen their experience before they start to read and connect to the themes of growth.

Maximizing a literary engagement experience is a crucial tool in a child’s development. Like the featured book, you can really explore the theme of growth through these guides.

Using resources offered by Teach with Movies, families can utilize the educational potential found in hundreds of movies for kids of all ages. Offering support specifically designed for parents, teachers and homeschooling families, Teach with Movies’ site is filled with movie guides that include ideas for lessons, conversation starters, follow-up activities, and more – all designed to encourage and support students’ learning…

Looking for ways to enhance your family reading time? Hilltown Families has a wealth of resources for supporting families with kids of all ages in expanding the stories that they read together into deeper learning experiences. Check out these literary guides…

Have you heard of TED-Ed yet? TED-Ed’s commitment to creating lessons worth sharing is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas through collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. Lessons featured on TED-Ed are written by educators and animated by professional animators. These videos provide lessons on a wide variety of topics in every typical school subject. Families can use TED-Ed resources to supplement studies done in school, to help with homework, or to explore new and exciting topics together…

Our Summer Reading Resource series is coming to a close with our seventh and final installment, Astrid Lindgren’s “Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter.” The accompanying literature guide is written for 4th grade students with lessons and exercises in finding context clues and understanding characters. The guide also includes a rich list of questions to ponder for each chapter in the story…

“Make Way for Ducklings,” written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey, is our featured title this week in our Summer Reading Resource series. This downloadable literature guide, written for use with 1st & 2nd grade students, includes outlines for activities that call for readers to create their own list of rhyming family names, write a new adventure for the Mallard family, and gain practice reading aloud. The guide also includes suggestions for post-reading discussions about the historical context of the story, the book’s illustrations, protecting animals, and the relationship that animals have with humans when they live so close to each other…

This week as part of our Literature Guide Series, “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” is featured. The literature guide accompanying the story includes lesson plans for helping children use the book as a platform for expanding their understanding of descriptive language and developing their skills in summarizing a text. The guide also includes questions for pre-reading discussion, and a list of possible topics to discuss after reading to help children understand the story and learn from it…

Our Summer Reading Resource Literary Guide series continues this week with Kate Banks’ book, “Max’s Words,” illustrated by Boris Kulikov. The literature guide provided for “Max’s Words” is written for six- and seven-year-old first graders, but the activities – which focus mainly on defining words and creating connections to text – could easily be used with students of any elementary age. There are mini-lesson outlines for activities that can be done to encourage young students to make text-to-text and text-to-self connections during and after reading, an exercise that helps students to make what they have read meaningful and to extract themes from a text…

Our Summer Reading Resource Literary Guide series continues this week with Roald Dahl classic, “Danny the Champion of the World.” The literature guide is written with 4th grade students in mind, but the story can be easily read and appreciated by younger students who have begun reading chapter books… a fun book for bedtime read-aloud time or to absorb aurally on CD during summer travel!

Our Summer Reading Resource literary guide series continues this week with Western Massachusetts author Mo Willems’ “City Dog, Country Frog.” This downloadable literary guide pairs Willems’ book with suggestions for ways to help children expand their thinking, create connections to the text, and allow their literacy skills to grow. Download the guide while finding out about other opportunities in Western MA to supplement studies via Mo Willems’ “City Dog, Country Frog.”

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