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February celebrates Black History Month, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, and Snow! Here are reading lists and literary guides to connect you to the season with books for all ages.

Winter in western Massachusetts need not be a cold and isolating experience! If you’re in the western part of the Commonwealth there is much to outdoor adventures to do once the snow flies! Nature provides the most obvious of backdrops for all kinds of activities but there are other ‘hidden’ nuggets to enjoy in the area. Read on to find out where and words of wisdom our readers have to offer…

Four new picture books capture a bit of that snowflake magic – the quiet, the impermanence, the beauty, the thrill. This month in “Open Sesame: Kit Lit Musings & Reviews,” Cheli shares her review…

IceWatch: Citizen Scientist Project Exams Ecosystems via Ice This winter, families can contribute to climate studies by participating in IceWatch, a citizen science initiative that works to collect information about the ice-in and ice-out times of various bodies of water across the continent. By regularly observing a lake, pond, river, or bay, families can help to inform scientists about the length of the cold season which, when compared to data from past… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Winter Otters It’s the end of winter (almost), when months of frigid winds have whipped the bare hills and leafless trees into a freeze-dried state. The best loggers cut trees for firewood now, just before the March thaws, because the ground is frozen and the green wood is at its driest, all the sap stored underground (Think maple syrup!). How wonderful and wise and tough are the trees, an example for us… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

It’s a great day to get out into the snow! Here are several ways for creative play in the snow, in addition to the traditional snowy day activities like sledding, building a snow person and snowball fights in “What to Play? Play ideas for Family & Community.”

Winter Bucket List Reader Recommendations for Western MA Western Massachusetts is rich in opportunities to get out and about with the family… any time of the year!  Winter offers outdoor activities like snowshoeing, sledding, skiing and ice skating.  And local businesses and attractions welcome you indoors to warm up with comforts, culture and entertainment.  Whether you’re visiting the area, or are fortunate enough to live here year round, winter in Western MA… Read More

Survive & Thrive the Winter in Western MA! Now that we finally have some snow, winter play can begin!  Wondering where to get outside for a little winter fun? Or where to go inside for a winter birthday party or ice skating? There’s no better source of information on how to survive and thrive during winter in Western MA than Hilltown Families’ readers! Over the years Western MA families have shared their… Read More

5th Annual Winter Fare in Greenfield Kicks off on Saturday, Feb 4th for a Weeklong Celebration Greenfield’s annual Winter Fare will take place on Saturday, February 4th! Along with the farmers’ market, workshops, and barter market that Winter Fare offers, there will be several events happening across Franklin County to celebrate local food, too! Greenfield’s first Winter Fare took place five years ago, spearheaded by Juanita Nelson, and was designed as a… Read More

Question and Answer Anyone else fight with their kids to keep their jackets/gloves/hats on when it’s cold outside?!… Anyone winning those fights?! Nancy Cavillones writes: I decided a long time ago that if its so cold they would freeze without the gear, then we have no business being outside in the first place. So, I don’t even fight that battle… so not worth it! They can learn the hard way what happens… Read More

Northampton Winter Fare: Eat Locally Year Round It is possible for families to eat locally year-round, and there is a lot of amazing local food to be had even in the depths of winter. On January 15th, 2011 from 10am-2pm, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) is bringing Winter Fare, a vibrant, diverse farmers’ market and community event to Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton. Bring your shopping bags and… Read More

DCR Sponsors First Day Hikes The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will sponsor free “First Day” family hikes in 14 state parks across the Commonwealth on New Year’s Day, as a way to connect children and parents with the great outdoors even – or maybe especially – in winter. Several will be here in Western MA. First Day hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in… Read More

Eco-Friendly Holiday’s (Web Reviews) Hanukkah: Let There Be (Renewable) Light: A New Look at Hanukkah This site considers “the connection between Hanukkah [Festival of Lights], energy use, and the environment,” and provides “holiday tips and resources for families, schools, and congregations to infuse Hanukkah celebrations with additional meaning,” and “tips for what you can do save energy in your congregation/school and at home.” Includes a “CFL installation ceremony,” an essay about the… Read More

Listen to Podcast: HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW Mid-Winter 2009 Episode WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA Saturday mornings from 9-10am 02/07/09 PLAYLIST New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts ♦ Subscribe to Podcast Radio ♦ Facebook ♦ Twitter The Nields – “Aikendrum” [All Together Singing in the Kitchen] The Nields – “Percy on Pluto” [Rock All Day] Lunch Money – “It Only Takes One Night to Make a Balloon Your Friend”… Read More

Anderson also writes, “The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

Cold-Weather Checklist Keep kids warm when the temperature drops. When the weather outside is frightful but your child thinks going out is delightful, it’s important to follow a few simple guidelines and know what too much cold looks like and what to do about it. Then you can let him go in the snow, worry-free.  Review Toby Leah Bochan guidelines for keeping kids warm. In addition to bundling up our own kids… Read More

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