Hilltown Families


The Story Pirates take stories written by real kids and turn them into sketch comedy, songs, books, and a podcast. In today’s show, hosted by Lee from the Story Pirates, they play some of their songs based on kids’ stories, plus the songs that inspired them!

The theme of HFVS this weeke is “ harmony.” Our guest DJ, Renee Stahl of Renee & Friends, has been singing harmony as long as she can remember. It’s something that comes naturally to her. However, this has been a blessing and a curse, as she hears harmony in everything, from the starting of her computer to the telephone ringing. The basic definition is “ when two things come together and create a pleasant effect,” Harmony is something you need more than one person to do (unless you’re recording). She loves collaborating and singing with others and hopes listeners enjoy this episode and find someone in which to harmonize.

Animal Fun! Join Flor Bromley as she takes you on a journey through all of the different kinds of animals. We will learn about animals and dance to songs about farm animals, pet animals, jungle animals… all sorts of animals!

Join us this week at the Hilltown Family Variety Show where guest DJ Flor Bromley, a children’s singer-songwriter, storyteller and puppeteer, will take you on an adventure through the art of storytelling. We will be listening to songs with stories, stories with a song and a live storytelling of “The Lion and the Mouse” by Flor herself. From Laurie Berkner to Pink Martini, Dragons to Bears, and a special appearance by Archie the puppet, you will enjoy all the characters we have compiled for you in this hour of fun and storytelling!

The winter solstice is an introspective celebration for reconnecting with nature and community. As we begin to stay indoors more and spend time with families and friends, the winter season is an opportunity to disconnect from technology and reconnect with neighbors and family. Storytelling fosters this connection through intergenerational dialogue and shared experiences.

Annual community celebrations for the Winter Solstice spotlight storytelling as part of their event, giving guests the opportunity to both listen and tell. Get your stories ready for these annual solstice community events!

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…

Children are naturally drawn to explore and understand Nature in their place and time. The reading of, playing with and making of maps and paths helps children develop a connection with and love for Earth. Through active, playful love children are naturally drawn to know more about and take actions to care for Earth.

“Sensing Place: Reflecting on Stone Hill,” the current exhibit at The Clark Museum in Williamstown, immerses visitors in the rich natural and cultural history of Stone Hill from its geological formation to the present. It examines the broader concepts of place through objects linked to Stone Hill, as interpreted by those familiar with the richness of this special place. Celebrating The Clark’s current exhibit, a community story slam will coincide this month and the community is invited to sharing place-related stories.

”Stone age painting” is an opportunity for all, regardless of age, to use and value local resources, celebrate creativity, inquisitiveness and innovation as well as strengthen community throughout the summer and beyond as part of the Summer Creativity Challenge.

From studies of history and culture to cutting edge science, Great Big Story’s videos get to the roots of the modern human experience. Publishing new videos daily, the news-like resource offers rich video-based stories to explore about life all around the globe.

There is a common fear that learning through fantasy leads to misunderstandings and misconceptions. It turns out this may also be, according to research, contradictory to the nature of child development. Integrating and valuing fantasy into the learning landscape cultivates a mindset of not either or, but both and more.

Centered around the exploration of artists’ books, The Clark Art Institute’s Word Up Family Day invites families to explore creative storytelling in its many forms. Through collaborative activities, book-making, and a special gallery exhibit, this event illuminates storytelling in its many forms.

What a great time of year to tell stories! Share family stories. What was this time of year like when you were little? What holidays did you celebrate? What special activities did you do? Boost family memories by telling stories about a special day spent together. Create new mysteries and adventures. What if Jack Frost did paint the windows with snowflakes? What does he look like? How does he get around the earth? Spark ideas to get your little ones telling stories and playing fantasy games. Storytelling improves vocabulary, writing and spelling. It’s fun. Stories can lead to hours of pretend play with parents, siblings, friends and visiting cousins using dress up, toy people, construction toys and tiny animals. Stories encourage children to create images in their minds bringing the story to life. Make illustrations! All ages can create stories with spoken words, drawings or detailed written tales.

Serving as a continuation of innate childhood creativity, comics and role-playing games offer maturing tweens and teens the opportunity to exercise imagination and creativity within complex structures. Comics challenge readers’ ability to combine textual and visual elements for understanding, while role-playing games challenge players by containing creative story-telling to a pre-existing structure. Families can utilize a handful of community resources to pursue these interests!

Winter’s cold months lend themselves to lots of indoor time, but youngsters still need an outlet for their energy and creative imaginations! This winter, engage cooped up kiddos in storytelling – a process that not only offers an outlet for active imaginations to run wild, but presents opportunities to learn together about spelling, grammar, punctuation, and parts of speech, skills that are all essential to translating oral tales to written ones.

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.

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

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

Stories are an important part of early literacy! In “What to Play? Play Ideas for Family & Community,” HTF Contributing Writer, Carrie St. John shares her strategy of using simple table games to inspire storytelling…

Beneski Museum to MASS MoCA. Storytelling to Marionettes. Hansel & Gretel to Stone Soup. Classical Music to Chemistry… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out… Read More

QUESTION & ANSWER Garrison Keillor, the legendary author, storyteller, humorist, and creator of the weekly radio show A Prairie Home Companion, is making a stop in Northampton tonight.  Keillor said he plans to retire in “the spring of 2013,” in an interview with AARP, so this maybe his final visit to Western MA.  In light of his visit to the Happy Valley, we asked our readers to share a brief anecdote of… Read More

BILL HARLEY Sunday, January 23rd @ 1:30pm At Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton, MA Hilltown Families and Spare the Rock present… Grammy award winning storyteller Bill Harley will be singing songs and telling stories at  Flywheel Arts Collective in the Easthampton Old Town Hall on Sunday, January 23rd at 1:30pm as part of the on-going No Nap Happy Hour Series.  Families are invited to come sit and listen to Bill’s funny and… Read More