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Mark your calendar on May 31st for a unique community-based educational opportunity that connects to the past via historical homes in Western Mass. Read on and map out a family visit to get a snapshot of family life from another era. Some of the homes host many wonderful trails to be enjoyed and explored while discovering it’s history and contributions to local culture.

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.

The far-reaching impact of the Civil War meant that families lived very challenging lives, whether or not they were fighting on the front lines. On Thursday, May 20, Storrowton Village in West Springfield, MA, will offer families a unique experiential educational program into this period with an interactive tour, “Storrowton and the Civil War.” By visiting Storrowton Village for this special event, students will be provided with information essential to understanding the Civil War (and war in general) as a major event, the effects of which are incredibly far-reaching.

Blending topics like geology and natural biodiversity with the study of local agriculture, industry, and culture, the Pioneer Valley Institute offers intriguing programs that allow community members to explore their surroundings while also learning about their natural and cultural significance. Check out these two great events that are hosting this weekend in Franklin County.

New Civil War exhibit opens at Hatfield Historical Museum this weekend! See primary source artifacts while learning how the Civil War effected families in western Massachusetts…

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.

Wistariahurst Museum is launching a new historical and cultural project entitled, Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950. With funding support from the Holyoke Cultural Council and the Country Dance and Song Society, Jacqueline Cooper is collaborating with the museum as the Project Director and is working to develop sketches of Holyoke’s past to form a collective of local music culture from 1800-1950. Cooper and Wistariahurst are seeking to… Read More

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 is “spirit of place?” Can you identify it in your backyard? How about in historic landscapes? UMass Amherst Libraries is hosting the traveling exhibition, “A Genius For Place,” this spring, featuring photographs of North American landscape designs from the “Country Place Era.” Take in the exhibit, learn about the history of the estates featured, and ask yourself questions about the spirit of these places, your place, and how it may influence landscape architecture to amplify natural elements.

Made in the Happy Valley A Historical Lecture Series at Wistariahurst Museum Holyoke, MA The Pioneer Valley is home to an abundance of artists, writers, craftsmen, artisans, and tradesmen of all types – a fact that has long been true about the area. Ever since the first European settlers made their home in the Valley hundreds of years ago, the presence of a wide variety of craftsmen and artisans within the community… Read More

Esther Howland, a Mt. Holyoke graduate and Worcester native, began designing fancy valentine cards in 1848, Learn about the local roots of the Valentine this weekend while making your own valentines and viewing displays of antique valentines at these Western MA events…

A three-day weekend in on its way, and next Monday, January 20th, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Instead of spending your extra day off sleeping in and lazing around the house, highlight the historical significance of the holiday for your family and find a way to make it meaningful. Families can find special events and service opportunities taking place across western Massachusetts, each of which presents students with the chance to learn experientially about the history of oppression in our country, community activism, and the importance of kindness and a commitment to serve others…

Vacant paper mills line the narrow strip of land between Water Street and the Connecticut River in Holyoke, MA. Near the end of the 19th Century, Holyoke, with more than 25 paper mills, was the world’s largest paper manufacturer. Today these mills of The Paper City are skeletal reminders of a former age— some victims of fire, some demolished, a couple converted to other uses. “Echoes of Industry: The Death and Rebirth of Holyoke’s Mills,” a new photo/video exhibit at Wistarihurst Museum, explore this past and a new form of industry that is currently being shaped…

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…

Remember the days when music was only available on vinyl. Nowadays, used record stores are a vanishing subculture and understanding why they are disappearing can offer a unique opportunity for older students to learn about culture, economics and history. Check out this screening of “I Need That Record! The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store” at Historic Northampton for a tour-de-force tale of greed, media consolidation, homogenized radio, big box stores, downloading, and technological shifts in the music industry told through candid interviews, crestfallen record store owners, startling statistics, and eye-popping animation…

Take a journey through history, from sea to shining sea, through the art of Wendell Minor, our nation’s premier historical picture book illustrator at the exhibit, “Wendell Minor’s America,” at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. Opens this Saturday, Nov 9th…

Archaeology Days in Deerfield, part of Massachusetts Archaeology Month, will be held Saturday, October 19 in Old Deerfield Village. Families with children of all ages can learn about the role that archaeology has played in explorations of local history at this free event, which features special exhibits, tours, lectures, and hands-on activities…

Wistariahurst Museum is exhibiting a new display of artifacts from the Museum’s collection commemorating the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Holyoke’s participation in the Civil War entitled, “Holyoke Remembers the Civil War.” To learn more about this rich time period and connect with local history, bring your family to check out the exhibit, through October 31, 2013.

New exhibit at the Hatfield Historical Museum illustrates early medical practices in western Massachusetts. Fun way to learn about local history while discovering the history of medicine… from house calls to hoaxes!

Explore the science of maize, one of the most significant crops to humankind for thousands of years, and why it continues to surprise us today at the Smith College Botanical Garden’s fall exhibit, “Maize: Mysteries of an Ancient Grain…”

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…

There are many different entry points for thematically investigating history: fashion, architecture, industry, literature, and even food! This autumn, the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke will host a lecture series that examines local history through the role of food in the Pioneer Valley…

The sights, sounds, and spirit of the Revolutionary War will come alive at Old Sturbridge Village this weekend with 1,000 historic reenactors gather for the 10th anniversary of the Village’s Redcoats & Rebels event. Now the largest military reenactment in New England, the two-day event features realistic mock battles and skirmishes between the Colonial and British troops and their allies. Supplement your child’s interest before going with our suggested titles, and screen a short video of what to expect when your family arrives…

“Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980,” opening at Williams College Museum of Art on July 20, chronicles the vital legacy of the African American arts community in Los Angeles during this twenty year time period. The exhibit illustrates not only a major shift in American art but in American public thought – perfect for students of American history, civil rights movement, pop culture, and, of course, art…

Civil War Sesquicentennial This year is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and although not much of the action took place in Western Massachusetts, there are plenty of online resources to help you learn about the war and commemorate its 150th anniversary. The first of these is a Civil War EarthCam.  The Battle of Gettysburg took place from July 1-3, 1863, and EarthCam has a live webcam of a reenactment of… Read More

Crash Course: 6 Courses. 112 Episodes. Research has shown that students can lose two months (or more!) worth of their learning in mathematics and language arts during the summer if they aren’t exposed to meaningful and enriching learning activities while they’re out of school. Of course, informal learning can take place for students in almost any situation where they have a little bit of freedom. They’ll learn while climbing a tree, they’ll… Read More

Kemp-McCarthy Museum: Historic Museum in the Hilltown Highlandss A typical weeknight in a modern day Hilltown household might include driving to sports practice, using the internet to complete homework assignments, cooking dinner together on an electric stove in a well-lit kitchen, and searching for constellations in the night sky using a cell phone app.  Nothing unusual – just some typical childhood activities and family downtime in a modern day society… Rewind a… Read More

Bike Tours of Holyoke Mills & Canals and Mansions: June 1st & 8th The Wistariahurst Museum is holding two bicycle tours around the city of Holyoke, one exploring the city’s mills and canals, and the other exploring the mansions of the Fairfield Avenue Historic District.  Teens and their parents can spend quality time together while learning local history and developing a greater sense of place by becoming better acquainted with the history… Read More

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

Storrowton Village Host Interactive Tour: Civil War West Springfield, May 28th Storrowton Village will present an interactive, educational tour titled Storrowton and the Civil War, Tuesday, May 28, from 6-7pm, offering an inside look at how folks in the Northeast coped with the Civil War and the absence of our men who were called to duty or joined the patriotic fervor. Participants will meet “townspeople” and hear their personal stories and points… Read More

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