Whoopee! School is out and those endless days of summer stretch in front of eager children. But it wont be long before parents hear that plaintive wail, Im bored.
What to do?
Jump into the car and explore some of the cultural and historic treasures found in the Southern Berkshires. Three come instantly to mind: The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA.; the Berkshire Carousel project in Dalton, MA and the Berkshire Scenic Railroad in Lenox, MA.
The Berkshire Museum
Spark!Lab is a hands-on laboratory, features activities that challenge children to solve problems using materials and tools provided. The Parent/Child STEM Session explores Science, Technology, Engineering and Math concepts with children ages 2-4.
The Aquarium. On Saturdays at 12:30PM children can help prepare feasts for turtles, fish, chameleon and even the blue-tongue skink in
WeeMuse Adventures in the aquarium and museum galleries and scheduled for Fridays, featuring songs, stories, scavenger hunts and play time for tots 18 months to 3 years.
The WeeMuse Art Lab will introduce children to making frozen paint, puffy paint or sidewalk chalk.
WeeMuse Science Night, free on July 10, will provide the opportunity to make giant bubbles, experience a mega baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano, experiment with glow-in-the-dark slime, and more.
Kitchen Ka-Boom! is offered July-September when children can join in wacky science experiments using items found in almost any kitchen.
Shadow Puppets in the Gallery will be offered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays July and August in the Immortal Present: Art and East Asia galleries. A short story unfolds on the screen; then children make a puppet to take home.
Caravan Puppets: Tales from the East, is set for July 11 and will perform four classic stories from Asia. Children will build a small puppet to take home.
Deanna Cook presents a cooking class Saturday, July 18, based on her new childrens cookbook Cooking Class. Each family receives its own copy to take home.
The Berkshire Childrens Theater presents Alice in Wonderland on August 20 and 21.
For information on all these programs and possible fees, visit berkshiremuseum.org.
Berkshire Carousel Workshop
Not far from the Berkshire Museum, at 1440 East Street in Pittsfield, is the Berkshire Carousel workshop where volunteers continue their labors to reconstruct the popular carousel that entranced children on the shores of Lake Pontoosuc in the 1950s.
Work on the carousel has been ongoing for a decade and organizers hope to have it running by the end of 2016.
The merry-go-round features 33 hand-carved and painted wooden horses, 14 rounding boards, 2 chariots and a donkey. Volunteers have carved all of the animals, often basing them on real animals that lived in the Berkshires.
For instance, 'Joy,' a golden retriever posed and Brewster is based on a horse who helped teach countless Berkshire County children to ride over more than three decades.
The carousel makers welcome visitors to the Dalton address on Saturdays to see the horses under construction or to take part in workshops.
Chalk Talks. 5-8-year-old children learn the history of the carousel, create a color palette for a horse and draw a pony. 9-15-year-olds can take painting lessons in different media.
For more information visit <a href="http://www.berkshirecarousel.com"target="_new">berkshirecarousel.com
Berkshire Scenic Railroad
The Berkshire Scenic Railroad offers a perfect outlet for those who like trains. The museum, located in the 1903 railroad station on Willow Creek Road in Lenox, is open 9AM-4PM Saturdays, providing visitors with a chance to ride the Yard Jitney - a shuttle train to the rail yard. Lenox Station features historical and technical exhibits and an O-gauge model train display.
Admission to the Yard Jitney/Yard Tour is $5. For an additional $5, visitors can experience a cab ride with an engineer.
Traditional train rides are anticipated to return to the Berkshires in late July after a four-mile section of track between North Adams and Adams is restored. The BSRM's Hoosac Valley Service will offer round-trip excursions on a 1955 Budd Rail Diesel Car. Tickets will be sold out of a passenger car renovated to serve as the North Adams Welcome Coach.
For the latest information, expected train schedule and directions visit the <a href="http://hoosacvalleytrainride.com"target="_new">Hoosac Valley Service