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Phenology – the study of seasonal change in plants and animals – helps to illuminate the slow and subtle daily changes undergone in the living things around us. By combining leaf peeping with an awareness of phenology, families can learn about the science behind the colorful fall landscape.

Kurt takes us on an adventure to Rock Dam in Turners Falls, connecting us to our landscape and broadening our awareness of place… this month in “The Ripple: Stories About Western MA Rivers.”

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 Thursday, August 19, 2015, for their back-to-school week, this time looking at how community-based education supports learning all year round! Sienna and Ashley talk about community engagement as a way of supporting self-initiated self-directed learning, or even a classroom-based curriculum or subject, including history, math, architecture, science, art, botany and biology.

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 Friday, July 31, 2015, this time looking at community-based education through the lens of culture found in yearly agricultural fairs. Sienna and Seth talk about ways agricultural fairs offer families opportunities to participate in a community integrated tradition while offering a myriad of learning experiences!

This month on Mass Appeal, Sienna and Ashley talk about community-based events and resources that support an integrative approach to nature-based learning. The summer months are a great time of year to get outside with your kids and allow nature to become their classroom. In this video clip, Sienna talks about looking through the lens of your local habitat to find ways for your families to engage in your community while supporting interests and education. Look for opportunities and resources that integrate learning cross a variety of interests!

This month on Mass Appeal, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal host, Ashley Kohl, to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!) through garden-based activities.

Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal host, Ashley Kohl, to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!). This month the lens is focused on our cultural heritage and learning connections with sheep and wool.

Maple sugar season! Sienna Wildfield, Founder, HilltownFamilies.org joined Mass Appeal this past week, highlighting community-based resources and events that use the Maple sugar season as a catalyst for learning, celebrating local culture and building community.

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, will join Mass Appeal hosts, Ashley Kohl and Seth Stutman, to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

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.

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

Quite often, the information available to us about communities in faraway places is created to be used for tourism, and doesn’t necessarily paint an accurate picture of local culture. Our recent “On the Road” episode of the Hilltown Family Variety Show with Guest DJ, Steve Weeks, features interviews with folks from communities across the United States (and one in Canada!) sharing their own authentic reasons for why they love the places in which they live – providing families with genuine, affection-filled descriptions about each of the featured locations!

While exploring outdoors, the development of sense of place and lots of skills for learning can be supported through a game of nature-themed bingo or an outdoor scavenger hunt. Perusing the local landscape in search of specific species, animal signs, and other natural details will inspire curiosity in children. Tailoring games and hunts to meet children’s learning needs (from sensory experiences to microscopic observations) and individual interests (like a fascination with insects or evergreens) can help them to dig deeper into their interests in a way that is age- and developmentally-appropriate – not to mention educationally valuable.

“Midnight to Midnight” is a community photography blitz aimed to capture contemporary images of Northampton. This collaborative activity is a great educational opportunity for parents, families, and educators because it presents contemporary daily life and daily tasks as being significant (both now and to future generations), and can imbue participants with a sense of appreciation for, and pride of, the place the live, work and travel to.

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.

What place are you from? What defines a place? What is the history and nature of the places you most love and most dislike? What can you do to make the places you live, work and play better? Attend 2013 TEDxShelburneFalls conference, themed A Sense of Place, on Saturday October 12, 2013 to talk about and hear how your neighbors are answering these questions…

Some trends are great to follow—like the seasons! Seasonal food is fresh and fantastic, and when you work with nature it can be surprisingly easy to grow and prepare. This fall, The Trustees of Reservations are hosting a series of workshops focused on the foods of the season at Land of Providence on Main Street in Holyoke, MA..

Science in the Parks in Pittsfield A Remedy to Summer Slide Public parks are accessible green spaces families can visit in the summer months to both observe and explore nature. Whether they be well-manicured or allowed to grow wild and free, our local parks offer a lot to learn and explore in terms of ecology, natural & local history, and creative free play. Science educator Lisa Provencher is holding a Science in… Read More

Nature-based learning through naturalist activities in the winter offer experiential learning that is place-based within the seasons.

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