MetroFamily Magazine Sept Oct 2022

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Pumpkin patches, outdoor adventure and fall break travel ideas SEPT/OCT 2022 Embracing Neurodiversity Supports and inclusion for neurodivergent thinkers A Park for Everyone Get the scoop on Scissortail Park’s new additions G UIDE FallFun

Each Primrose school is a privately owned and operated franchise.Primrose Schools and Balanced Learning are registered trademarks of Primrose School Franchising SPE, LLC. ©2022 Primrose School Franchising SPE, LLC. All rights reserved. Primrose School of Southwest Oklahoma City 1520 SW 119TH | Oklahoma City, OK 73170 405.793.6000 | Primrose School of Edmond 15000 North Western Ave. | Edmond, OK 73013 405.285.6787 | To enroll your child or join our team, contact us today. A place of love, laughter and learning. At Primrose®, our top priority is creating a positive and safe environment for every child, teacher and staff member. Our classrooms combine smaller student-teacher ratios with our Balanced Learning® approach to help every child flourish through purposeful play and nurturing guidance.

4 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 OKLAHOMA STATECHESTER’SFAIRPARTYBARN PUMPKINVILLE AT MYRIAD GARDENS On the Cover FALL FUN GUIDE pages 22, 30 & 58 A PARK FOR EVERYONE page 16 NEURODIVERSITYEMBRACING page 46 Features 10 CARING FOR CAREGIVERS Ronald McDonald House Charities® impacts local families in monumental ways 12 PRIMITIVE PARENTING TIPS What ancient cultures can tell us about raising happy, healthy humans 22 FALL FUN GUIDE Autumn adventures from our advertising partners 46 EMBRACING NEURODIVERSITY Classroom supports and inclusion for neurodivergent students 52 MONEY MATTERS Teaching kids financial literacy 56 GENDERUNDERSTANDINGDIVERSITY Conversation starters for kids and families Departments 14 FAMILY MENTAL WELLNESS Alcohol, marijuana and vaping: what your kids need to know 16 LOCAL FAMILY FUN Get the scoop on Scissortail Park’s new additions 20 REAL DADS OF THE METRO Educator and community advocate D’Andre Foster prioritizes intentional parenting 30 CALENDAR OF EVENTS Festivals, fairs and trick-or-treat hot spots 58 EXPLORING OKLAHOMA WITH CHILDREN Experience autumn outdoors in Tahlequah and Muskogee 62 LAST LOOK 5 treasured fall family traditions30 TINKERFEST AT SCIENCE MUSEUM OKLAHOMA GUIDEFUNFALL

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 5 MetroFamily Magazine is published bimonthly. Copyright 2022 by MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Articles and advertisements in MetroFamily do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. We do not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by MetroFamily does not constitute an endorsement of the products, services, or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service which is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce & Edmond Chamber of Commerce Proud member of

Kids! Publisher Sarah Taylor Managing Editor Erin Page Assistant Editor Lindsay Cuomo Contributing Writers Toni Allen, April Deocariza, David Dinsmore, Lance Evans, Dr. Ronneal Mathews, Pam McKeown, Debbie Murnan Contributing Photographer Bridget Pipkin Art Director Stacy Noakes Senior Project Manager Kirsten Holder Director of Events Casey Shupe Editorial Assistant Emiley Bainbridge Account Executive Dana Price Contact us Mailing address: 6608 N. Western Ave., #458 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 Phone: www.metrofamilymagazine.comtips@metrofamilymagazine.com405-601-2081


I wish your family a happy season of cooler temps, vibrant fall foliage, autumn adventures as detailed in these pages — and an affirming community to come alongside and support you in your parenting journey.

With gratitude, Erin ManagingPage Editor

Special thanks to clothing sponsor Sundara

ON THE COVER Sufyan is the winner of our 2022 Cover Kids Search in the 6-7 age category! He is in the second grade at Western Gateway School and he wants to be an astronaut and deliver babies when he grows up. He’s exceptional at running track, has competed at the state level and is one of the fastest kids in his age group in Oklahoma. Sufyan also enjoys playing t-ball and basketball as well as swimming and participating in gymnastics. He’s learning Arabic and Spanish and loves all things about dinosaurs and space. Sufyan is the son of Jihan and Masood and little brother of twins Ahmad and Ma’isah. The family’s favorite place to visit in OKC is Scissortail Park, which was, fittingly, the site of Sufyan’s photoshoot.

it’s fall, y’all!

Three colicky babies over five years taught me many humbling lessons about myself as a mom and a person — not the least of which is that to be the the kind of parent I aspire to, I have to rely on the experts and community around me. When I do, my kids are better for it. As my babies have grown, the parenting lessons I seek have become less about sleep and potty training and more about raising empathetic, inclusive humans who are informed and empowered to make good choices. If, like me, you’re a parent who needs tips on teaching your kids financial literacy, explaining the dangers of alcohol, vaping and marijuana or understanding gender diversity, you’ll find expert advice on these subjects and more in this issue.

In the midst of reveling in my favorite season, I have a confession to make: before I had kids, I was one of those know-it-alls who felt entirely confident in my future mothering abilities. There’s no more perfect parent than one who doesn’t yet have kids — amiright?!?

Plus, if you parent a neurodivergent thinker, learn more about supportive classroom environments and accommodations to help them excel. (And if you parent of a typically developing child, learn how to understand and include people who are neurodiverse in your corner of the world.)

2021 20212021 2021


6 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 Picture your child on MetroFamily’s cover! Enter our Cover Kids search by Sept. 30 We are looking for local kids ages 2 to 12 with big smiles and bright personalities to feature on a MetroFamily cover in 2023! Entering is easy: upload a photo of your child, answer a few “about me” questions and submit a $10 fee per entry, which provides your whole family access to a virtual swag bag with prizes, activities and coupons, valued at $150. Readers will vote on their favorite Cover Kids submissions in early October, and the top five finalists from each age category will be interviewed virtually by a panel of local judges. We can’t wait to meet your Cover Kid hopefuls! Enter today at


Prizes include a family stay at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, a family membership to Myriad Botanical Gardens and vehicle passes and pavilion rental from Arcadia Lake. Find out more and enter at KIDS SPONSOREDGENEROUSLYISBY

Whether cute, creepy or comical, want to see your kids’ Halloween costumes! Starting Oct. 1, snap a pic of your child (or entire family!) and upload it to our Halloween Photo Contest by Oct. 31 at midnight. Then vote on your favorites Nov. 1 through 4. OFF THE PAGES COVER

Who? 3- to 12-year-old children Where? The University of Oklahoma Is compensation provided? Yes Who do I contact? Dr. Katerina Ntourou (405) 271-4214 ext 46069 IRB14017: Attentional bias to threat, social anxiety, and childhood stuttering. / The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. Scan here for more information METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 7 OFF THE PAGES Join us for STEAM family fun on Nov. 5! Geek out at our annual Geekapalooza event, a STEAM Festival for Kids! Hosted by MetroFamily and Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma, Geekapalooza encourages kids to learn about science, technology, engineering, art and math through a variety of hands-on activities. Join us Saturday, Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Girl Scout’s STEAMfocused Camp Trivera in northeast OKC for a day of kid-friendly activities on subjects like robotics, coding and geosciences taught by market leaders and local experts. Plus, enjoy live music, arts presentations, food trucks, prizes, giveaways and our popular “Geek” costume contest.

Girl Scouts can earn badges for their participation in Geekapalooza. Sponsor: Boeing, Com munity Partner: Continental Resourc es and Supporting Partners: OERB, Clevyr, Google and MidFirst Bank. get tickets at

Thanks to Presenting

Learn more and


8 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 Oh, Baby! The team at MetroFamily got to “meet” more than 100 of the cutest babies in OKC through our 2022 Cutest Baby Photo Contest! Every single one captured our hearts, and it was next to impossible to select 10 winners. Over the next several issues, we’ll be introducing two winners at a time in the magazine. You can find a full list of winners at cutest-baby-contest . Thanks so much to everyone who submitted photos, and thanks to prize sponsors Green Bambino and lactation consultant Becky Drevets. Enter your baby in our next contest in January 2023! Lola 22 months Lola loves Baby Shark, No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, eating goldfish, being with mama and playing outside.


10 months George loves sauerkraut, venison, playing with all his toys and snuggling his dog.


METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 9 SPONSORED BY Ingredients • Whole wheat tortillas • Peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice) • Fruit (apples, strawberries, bananas, blueberries and/or raisins) Directions 1. Place a tortilla on a plate. 2. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on the tortilla. 3. Cut up the fruit(s) of your choice and place on the tortilla. 4. Be creative and add nuts, coconut or other healthy options. 5. For even more fun, create a design with the fruit or make faces like I did! �� Make Maddux’s Tasty Tortilla Spins BY ERIN PAGE

Maddux is an 8-year-old third grader at Fairview Elementary School in Moore. He plays basketball and soccer, enjoys playing board and card games and, of course, loves to cook, with his specialties being cherry bars, guacamole and smoothies. His mom, Missy, has encouraged each of her four kids to cook with her since they were little. Missy’s advice to other parents who want to get their kids involved in cooking: “Try to make it fun. Step back from the busyness and rush to get dinner on the table and enjoy the time together.”

Maddux’s Tortilla Spins are perfect for a quick breakfast or creative after-school snack, with the added benefit of practicing social-emotional skills as kids create a face out of fruit to mirror what they or someone else is feeling. The Franklin family has been practicing identifying and naming emotions with a set of “feelings flashcards” (pictured), which Maddux drew inspiration from for his recipe. Both the cards and the tortilla spins have helped the Franklin kids feel more confident discussing their own emotions and recognizing each others’ feelings, too.

Congratulations to Maddux Franklin, the winner of our 2022 Healthy Kids Cooking Contest, sponsored by Shape Your Future Oklahoma! For the contest, entrants had to create and submit a recipe using fruit, vegetables or whole grains.


Find more kid-friendly recipes

Maddux says cooking encourages him to try new foods, problem solve when something doesn’t work the first time and use his creativity.




Caring Caregiversfor


With their extended families in Georgia and South Carolina and their home two hours away, the Blythes checked in to the local Ronald McDonald House® to be near Lillia as she underwent a variety of procedures and treatments for her underdeveloped respiratory system.


The newly expanded 40-bedroom Ronald McDonald House in Oklahoma City – whose first house opened in 1984 at another location offering 10 bedrooms – attaches directly to OU Children’s Hospital via a skybridge. This proximity allowed the Blythes to arrive at the NICU in the middle of one particularly crucial night five minutes after a nurse called to alert them of Lillia’s distress.

Caring for caregivers: that’s been the mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities® for nearly 50 years as it has provided accommodations free of charge where families can stay together while caring for their critically ill or injured children.

“It’s been so great being so close to her and not having to worry about being two hours away,” said Kaleigh. “It takes the stress [out] of having to travel back and forth.”

The Blythes – both senior airmen in the U.S. Air Force – came to OU Children’s Hospital from Altus in December 2021 after complications led to the premature birth of their daughter, Lillia.




“Families are stronger together,” said Susan Adams, president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Oklahoma City. “We are a place for families to be together.”

Since its first house in Philadelphia in 1974, the organization has established more than 375 locations near top children’s hospitals around the world, welcoming parents who travel considerable distances to receive the best care, including Kaleigh and Najiyen Blythe.


Given the number of families the organization serves every year and its association with 90 percent of the world’s top children’s hospitals, Ronald McDonald House Charities has utilized family-centered care research that analyzes how critical hospitalizations of children impact families long after they return home. Stability from accommodations like Ronald McDonald Houses can help reduce some of the negative outcomes from those experiences.

The amenities offered at houses go beyond a place to rest and recharge, said Adams. The local Ronald McDonald House also enlists the help of guest chefs to provide at least one meal a day for families and they furnish some staples for families to prepare other meals in the kitchen facilities. Some volunteers also offer their services in providing haircuts and other personal care needs for those staying at the house, and musicians and artists have offered their talents at events hosted at the house for guests.

“We’ve been fortunate to have this as part of our experience and to give me peace of mind when I’m at work,” said Najiyen. “She’s able to go to lunch or talk with people that understand what’s going on, so she has that connection.”


Ronald McDonald Houses balance the need for families’ privacy and support, according to Adams. While families receive their own personal bedroom and bathroom, they can also access common living, dining, kitchen and laundry areas where they can meet with other families caring for their own sick children.

“We help families that are not able to take their child home perhaps even more than the families that are able,” said Adams. “We do not provide clinical care, but our team walks by their side with each day no matter what it brings. They gain support from our team. They gain support from other families in the house. As I hear from families … we have given them the ability to be by their child’s side to continue to make memories until the day they are not able to take their child home.”

“You have everything you need so you can focus on taking care of your child,” said KeepingAdams. families together became a greater challenge during the period of distancing and separation stemming from responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, which included not allowing siblings to stay with their families until recently.

Despite its global reach, the organization understands the importance of its role in local communities. As such, Adams said all money raised locally stays within the local Ronald McDonald House Charities programs.

After Najiyen began returning to duty in Altus during the week, he was grateful Kaleigh not only had a safe place to stay near Lillia but also other parents in the house around her, so she was not alone between the NICU and their accommodations.

Ronald McDonald House Charities also cares for those who live in the same general area as the hospital through the Ronald McDonald Family Room®, which offers services like showers, laundry, computer access and snacks without families having to make the round-trip journey home.

Donations can also take the form of toys provided for siblings to play with while staying at the house or food items for the pantries provided for families’ use, said Adams.

While all involved in this work hope for the best outcomes, Adams said the realities guest families face can come with loss and grief. But sometimes the families’ experiences in a Ronald McDonald House can help provide an added layer of support during their darkest time.

For more information and ways to get involved with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oklahoma City, visit or call 405-424-6873.

You have everything you need so you can focus on taking care of your child.

Ronald McDonald House Charities funds its services with help from individual and organizational donors who support its mission to keep families together. For instance, local McDonald’s restaurants provide a penny in donations for every pound of fries sold, and some feature boxes near the registers for patrons to make cash Davedonations.andStacy Lopez have not only donated personally to the organization for years, but they also have helped plan and coordinate events like Walk for Kids and the annual Red Shoe Rendezvous – which will take place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2022, at the Omni Hotel, 100 Oklahoma City Blvd. – because of the impact they have seen in the lives of guest families they have met.

Susan Adams, president & CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Oklahoma City

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oklahoma City adapted to the changing guidelines to ensure they continued helping families. Despite suspending admission of new families into the local house on March 21, 2020, the organization continued providing accommodations to the families already staying there, said Adams. They supplemented their facilities with hotel rooms for new families for a time, and they still provided meals every day for parents with the help of hospital vouchers, packaged meals and community partnerships. As protocols started to ease, Ronald McDonald House began welcoming parents back, and the house and family room returned to normal operations in mid-April 2022. During this time, the local Ronald McDonald House completed its planned expansion to 40 bedrooms, and Adams said she is looking forward to using this new space to help even more families by providing a projected 8,067 accommodated nights in 2022 and about 12,400 nights in 2023.

“To see all the work done through the charity and to see the space it provides for families to help give them hope, that to me is the most rewarding part of being involved,” said Dave Lopez, who has attended events at the local, national and international levels. “It’s a great place for hope.”



How did you initially get interested in how other cultures parented their children, and what did you observe that resonated with you?

My husband and I were really struggling with our 2-year-old daughter, Rosy. It just always seemed like there were tantrums, big feelings and conflict between us that regardless of what parenting trick we tried, the situation didn’t improve. At that time, NPR sent me down to this little tiny village in the Yucatan, a little Mayan village, to do a different story, but the parents there completely changed everything I thought I knew about parenting. My way of parenting was like this white knuckle ride on category five rapids — drama, screaming, tears galore. And the Mayan parents, especially the moms I was visiting with, they were on this calm, gentle river through a beautiful mountain valley. There was no yelling, no nagging, no bickering. And no resistance from the children. And yet the parenting was really effective. Kids were respectful of their parents. They were generous with each other. And they were super helpful.


What ancient cultures can tell us about children



What if you were able to easily incorporate parenting techniques that resulted in happy, cooperative, empathetic children — without yelling, nagging, bribing and rewarding? If you’re parenting kids of any age, this may sound impossible! However, maybe we need a new perspective and different tools for our parenting toolkit that have actually been honed and practiced successfully for thousands of years. That’s the basic premise behind the New York Times bestselling book Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans by NPR journalist Dr. Michaeleen Doucleff. The ideas and practices in her book are easy to implement and are designed to create much calmer households. We interviewed Doucleff to get to the heart of why ancient parenting practices can often work more effectively than our Western, modern ways of parenting.

As I started studying and traveling more, I realized that the approach in the Yucatan isn’t unique at all. It’s actually really common around the world. And if you look throughout human history, even in parts of Western culture today, this is the way parents have traditionally interacted with and raised children. We’ve kind of gone off path the last hundred years or so and forgotten this way of interacting with children.


I left there with an incredible amount of hope. Like I can’t even get my 2-year-old not to hit me, but I observed a Mayan mom who has five kids and she has them doing chores without even being told. It was the first inkling in my mind that maybe I’m not a bad parent, maybe my culture hasn’t taught me how to be a good parent.








Editor’s note: Dr. Michaeleen Doucleff is currently a correspondent for NPR’s Science Desk. In 2015, she was part of the team that earned a George Foster Peabody award for its coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Prior to joining NPR, Doucleff was an editor at the journal Cell , where she wrote about the science behind pop culture. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alpine, Texas. This is a condensed and edited version of a MetroFamily interview with Doucleff. To hear the full interview, become a Modern Art of Parenting member for $19/month or $199/year with a 30-day money back guarantee. Enjoy access to 20 presentations by parenting experts like Doucleff, plus additional perks. Learn more at

We’ve kind of come to think that children need special activities — especially evenings and weekends. What that has done has separated the child world from the adult world. This has had huge effects on children. One morning, one evening, one weekend, don’t plan anything for the child; just go about your life, making breakfast, doing chores, running errands, and have the child be with you. And then give the child one or two very simple things to do with you. ‘Hey, come stir this pancake batter.’ Or, ‘Come turn on the water hose.’ Include them in your life; it will strengthen your relationship with them. It’ll teach them to cooperate with you and how to be in the adult world. If they misbehave, you can say, ‘Look, you’re in the world right now. This is a privilege. You need to be quieter.’ Including her in my regular life has made a massive difference in our relationship.

Another important technique I learned was how to tell stories rather than use logic when trying to get your young child to do something. Sometimes these stories seemed rather scary, and that worried me at first, but then I realized the point isn’t to frighten the child but rather communicate what is important and serious. All the stories are told with a wink of the eye, and you can tailor it so the story doesn’t scare the child but rather teaches them. Plus, kids love to be a little frightened. Just think about how much Disney movies use scary stories.

In the book, I go over about 25 different things that parents around the world are doing. But I really want to concentrate on two major things. One is how parents interact and communicate with their children in ways that minimize conflict and maximize cooperation. And the other thing that surprised me was how much autonomy other cultures give their children.

I know there are so many more tips in your book but do you have one more idea you think is key that really helped you and Rosy?

about autonomy, I realized that in comparison to the parents I was observing in the Yucatan, Tanzania and the Arctic, I was talking nonstop with Rosy. In fact, I recorded myself and it turns out I was giving verbal commands or cues at the rate of about 100 per hour! This might have been praise statements or ‘do this/ don’t do this’ words. On average, a Tanzanian parent might give three an hour compared to my 100. Words are stimulating and often they just stir up conflict with kids. I’ve learned that it’s good to be more silent with Rosy, to let her step back and watch. Then she can learn by doing, but I’m there if she needs help. Our lives are so much more calm because of it.

What was amazing — and the reason why I really wrote this book and ended up traveling with Rosy when she was 3 back to the Yucatan, up to the Arctic and over into Tanzania — was every time I tried something that I learned or observed about using this approach, it worked really well. When you start using this approach, it’s like magic. The kids just kind of jump on board and start interacting with you in a way that’s less resistant with less conflict, and all of that anger, all those tantrums, start to melt away. What techniques have you incorporated from these cultures that work best with your daughter?

For little kids, these stories turn a stressful or conflictual moment into a fun one. For instance, when Rosy would keep the refrigerator door open, I used to try logic and talk about how she was wasting energy and the food was going to spoil. Obviously, that wasn’t understandable to her, but when I said there was a monster in there and if he warmed up, he’d get really big and come and get her, she immediately slammed the door and asked me to tell her more about this monster. It is an amazing tool and we use it for all sorts of conflict situations, like coming up with stories about bedtime and putting on shoes to go outside. Rosy loves all these stories and asks for Whenmore.talking

In communicating with kids, there are a couple things to pay special attention to. For one, parents in these other cultures don’t argue with kids. I’ve stopped arguing with Rosy, and it has made all the difference. When an argument begins, I place my hand on Rosy’s shoulder gently and say, ‘I’m not going to argue with you.’ And then I walk away.

Preschool (2-4 years old)

To get started talking with kids about the realities of substance use, use these tips from The Partnership to End Addiction:


• When giving your preschooler a vitamin, explain, “You need to take vitamins every day so you can grow up big and strong, but you should only take what I, or a doctor, give you.”

• Talk to your kids about substance-related messages they see on TV or in movies or overhear at school. Ask your kids how they feel about these substances — you’ll learn a great deal about what they’re thinking. Talk with Kids About Substance Use

Substance prevalence among Oklahoma kids


The 2019-2020 Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment showed that of those responding to the survey, 60 percent of seniors, 47.4 percent of 10th graders, 33.3 percent of eighth graders and 20 percent of sixth graders had used alcohol. Surprisingly, a third of Oklahoma students, including nearly 37 percent of sixth graders, said they got alcohol from home with their parents’ permission. It’s worth noting: giving alcohol to minors is illegal and providing a location for underage drinking violates Oklahoma’s social host law. Underage alcohol use can lead to impaired brain development and alcohol dependency in adulthood. Youth who begin drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). For decades in Oklahoma, alcohol has been among the top three drugs of abuse for adults seeking addiction treatment services, reports the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS). The other top drugs of abuse are marijuana and methamphetamine. In addition to impairing brain development at a critical time, for Oklahoma kids who are experimenting with alcohol and marijuana, the substances can contribute to the onset of certain mental health Prevention,disorders. of course, is always the best medicine. ODMHSAS actively works with Oklahoma communities, school systems, Regional Prevention Networks, healthcare entities, state agencies, businesses and civic organizations to prevent or reduce youth substance abuse. But parents — and teachers — are the ones on the front lines, and conversations with kids from the trusted adults in their lives about the dangers of substance use are critical in imparting knowledge and preventing abuse. When parents and teachers work together as a team to discuss learning difficulties, peer problems, academic achievements and friendships, the effect is even more powerful in identifying and preventing issues that can lead to abuse.


While drugs like fentanyl grab headlines for their deadly potency, the reality is the three drugs most likely to be abused by kids in Oklahoma have remained consistent for many years. Alcohol is first on the list, followed by marijuana and tobacco. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 80 percent of teens say their parents are their biggest influence on their decision to drink. While it’s not always easy, talking with your kids about substance use could prevent them from facing serious consequences and, possibly, even save their lives.

• Explain the importance of eating healthy foods, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep. Discuss how good you feel when you take care of yourself — how these habits help you run, jump and play.

Early Elementary (5-8 years old)

DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH & SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES USED ALCOHOL • 60% of high school seniors • 47.4% of high school sophomores • 33.3% of eighth graders • 20% of sixth graders TRIED MARIJUANA • 39.3% of high school seniors • 27.2% of high school sophomores • 13.4% of eighth graders • 4% of sixth graders SMOKED A CIGARETTE AT LEAST ONCE • 28% of high school seniors • 20% of high school sophomores • 13.7% of eighth graders • 7% of sixth graders 2019-2020 Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment Oklahoma kids who have …

These mind-altering chemicals have been around for centuries, are widely used and are easily available to youth. On a broader scale, alcohol and marijuana are far more deadly than other drugs because of their contribution to youth car crashes, accidents and other unintentional deaths.

Most 9-year-old kids like to play outside, make slime and try new games. But 9 is also the average age kids begin to think about alcohol. It’s at this age that kids’ impression of alcohol starts to shift from negative to positive, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, making it a critical time to begin conversations about substance use.

• It’s never too early to start talking about substance abuse. The foundation for healthy habits is created during the preschool years.

• Encourage healthy risk-taking. Teenagers take risks to find out who they are. By guiding your teen toward healthy challenges, you can help them satisfy a desire for excitement, avoid negative consequences and bolster their confidence.

• Preteens give their friends’ opinions a great deal of power and are starting to question their parents’ views and rules, all of which is normal.

• Keep communication open with your child as they leave home. They need to know they can turn to you for help should problems arise.

• Listen instead of lecturing and use open-ended questions to get the conversation started. Make it clear that you disapprove of all alcohol, vaping, nicotine and drug use.

Young Adults (19-25 years old)

Preteen (9-12 years old)

Vaping has become more common among kids this age (more than one in four Oklahoma teens report vaping), but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Instead of reducing stress and anxiety, self-medicating through vaping worsens mental health and has long-term effects on brain development.

• Tell them if they’re ever offered pills or other substances, they can always use you as an excuse to get out of a bad situation. Encourage them to say, “My parents would ground me forever if I did that” or “My parents can always tell if I’m lying.”

• This is the age it’s especially crucial to make yourself available to talk and listen.

• Stay alert to possible mental health issues. A strong link exists between mental and physical health issues (including stress and anxiety) and substance use. If your child is in college, make sure you both know what campus mental health resources are available.

• Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.

Teenagers (13-18 years old)

• Teens are incredibly knowledgeable about addictive substances and need information based on reality.

• Show interest in and discuss your child’s daily ups and downs. You’ll earn their trust and learn how to talk to each other.

Find more resources for talking with your child about substance use at at

• Remind them you don’t allow any substance use because it’s detrimental to their health and their brains. Let them know you will enforce the rules.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 15 October 23–30 (Closed on Halloween) 5:30–8:30p (Times may change) | $5 Per Adult | $12 Per Child Starting October 1st all tickets will be for sale ONLINE ONLY at VolunteersSTORYBOOKFORESTOK.COM&AdditionalInfopleasecall216–7471SponsoredbyArcadiaLakeandEdmondElectric ARCADIA STORYBOOKLAKEFOREST • Keep your discussions about substances focused on the present — long-term consequences are too distant to have meaning to most children of this age. • Discuss the differences between the medicinal uses and illegal uses of drugs and how taking prescription medicine the wrong way can be dangerous.

16 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 EXPANSION OF SCISSORTAIL PARK Brings More Fun to Downtown OKC Since its opening in 2019, Scissortail Park has become a prime destination for families and visitors in Oklahoma City. This urban oasis, centrally located within walking distance to the Myriad Botanical Gardens, Paycom Center, Omni Hotel and OKC Convention Center, offers a space for both fun and relaxation for all ages. BY APRIL DEOCARIZA Families can now enjoy pickup games and nature play in the newly-opened lower park LOCAL FAMILY FUN THE NEW LOWER SECTION OF SCISSORTAIL PARK IS CONNECTED TO THE ORIGINAL 36 ACRES VIA THE SKYDANCE BRIDGE. PHOTO BY STEVE JOHNSON.

The park’s original 36 acres includes ornamental gardens and woodlands, a small lake, children’s playground with unique structures, splash pad, seasonal roller rink, dog park, picnic grove, restaurant, performance stage and great lawn, all connected by meandering paths that encourage visitors to enjoy the tranquil setting.

3 Locations to Serve You! Edmond • OKC • Yukon Call (405) 840-1686 to schedule an evaluation! Play • Learn • Thrive METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 17

“I love all the different path configurations; even if you think you’ve seen the whole park, there’s always a new way to go, especially when I’m running or with the kids,” says Jeanne King, a local mother of three. “We can always find a quiet corner no matter how crowded the rest of the park is. For such a big, open park, there are so many peaceful little spots.”

Over the past three years, the Scissortail Park Foundation has received extensive positive feedback from families on the plethora of activities the park provides.

MetroFamily hosted over 2,000 people for its Kids Fest in June at the park.

Families can meet for a play date, host a birthday party or simply pack a picnic and enjoy views of the downtown skyline from the great lawn. The park has also brought people together from all corners of the city, and beyond, for community events hosted by local groups or the park itself, including the Night Markets promoting local artisans, OKC PrideFest and Festival de Vida y Muerte, or Day of the Dead Celebration.

Park guests have also enjoyed concerts, including LeAnn Rimes in May 2022, art workshops and health and wellness activities, such as walking clubs and Zumba. In addition to the food trucks that frequent the park, other dining options have also recently opened, like SPARK, featuring burgers and shakes, and The Perch lakeside café.

In addition to serving as a hub of fun for local families, Scissortail Park also serves as a respite and introduction to Oklahoma City for visitors.

People have also made the weekly farmer’s market part of their Saturday routine. There is something for everyone.”

It’s no wonder the park was named a 2022 MetroFamily Family Favorites winner in several categories, including Free/ Low-Cost Attraction, Park, Place to Take Out-of-Town Visitors and Place for a Family Picnic, as well as a finalist for Outdoor Fun/ Amusement Venue and Splash Pads!

“Families love the playground, especially the water features during summer,” said Maureen Heffernan, CEO of Scissortail Park Foundation and Myriad Gardens Foundation. “They love our roller rink that we have in the pavilion and being able to rent boats.

“We love that it’s family friendly and open, encouraging an active lifestyle,” said Trousset. “There is easy access to parking. I love that it is expanding, offering us more beauty for walking and running.”

Local teacher and mother of four Sarah Trousset says Scissortail Park is reminiscent of the parks her family visited in Europe, where they lived for four and a half years.

Now families will get to enjoy even more fun when the new southernmost section of Scissortail Park opens to the public on Sept. 23. The lower half of the park will be connected to the north end via the Skydance Bridge, and this addition will nearly double the size of Scissortail Park to 70 acres.

Julia Redfield, a mom of three from Nebraska, visited Scissortail Park during a spring break road trip to Louisiana.

“It’s a place where kids can use their imaginations and engage with stumps and logs or boulders as well as other climbing features,” described Heffernan.

“It was great to be somewhere our whole family could enjoy!”


“Now you have this beautiful connection from the Myriad Botanical Gardens (located just north of Scissortail Park) right down to the river trails that you can walk or bike to,” added Heffernan.

“We loved the feel of the city around us, the imaginative playgrounds that captured the kids’ attention and the wide open spaces,” said Redfield.

A lit promenade and series of walking trails will extend south to the Oklahoma River Trails, where families can continue walks or bike rides along the Oklahoma River. The area will also feature a wide variety of horticultural plantings representing the prairies of the region with native grasses and wildflowers as well as hundreds of new trees. At the very end of the lower park, a large hill will beckon visitors to soak in 360-degree views of the city.

Construction on the 30-acre lower park began in November 2020, and the total project budget for Scissortail Park is $132 million. The completion of Scissortail Park with the addition of the lower section was among the projects funded by MAPS 3, a $777 million capital improvement program to enhance the quality of life in Oklahoma City.

The new section of the park features two basketball courts, a soccer field, futsal court and four pickleball courts, as well as a sports pavilion and small performance area. Families will also enjoy the new nature playground.



Scissortail Park Foundation, along with the City of Oklahoma City, MAPS and their partners, will host a ticketed first-look gala celebrating the opening of the new lower section on Sept. 15.

The full schedule of events is available at scissortailpark. org and on social media @scissortailpark.

A weekend-long celebration, dubbed “Scissortail Park Takes Flight,” will take place Sept. 23 through 25, and weekend events will be free and open to the public.

Activities will include guided tours, musical performances, health and wellness activities and a concert, among other special programming. Many of the activities will be offered in both English and Spanish. Families can also try out the new sports courts and a special expo will be hosted by professional athletes.

Make plans to attend the

“This has been a tremendous investment in downtown OKC,” said Heffernan. “How did we ever live without Scissortail Park?!”

Enter your kids (ages 2-12) by Sept. 30 and receive a set of discounts to local attractions valued at over $150! Could your child be our next cover kid? T H A N K Y O U T O O U R S P O N S O R S METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 19 A NEW SPORTS PAVILION, SMALL PERFORMANCE AREA AND HUNDREDS OF NEW TREES GRACE THE LOWER SECTION OF SCISSORTAIL PARK. PHOTO COURTESY OF MAPS 3 OFFICE.

The Homeroom Teacher BY LANCE EVANS. PHOTOS BY BILLY GREEN. “It was fine!” It’s the dreaded response every parent hates to hear in the school pickup line. This quick, blunt response can almost always illicit feelings of failure as a parent when trying to engage with your child about their school day. We often expect to be so much more than parents. In these moments we hope to be therapists offering cathartic advice to our kids. We want to be heroes. We want to hear about the school bullies and convince our inner saviors not to confront them on the playground. We want to be a resource, but that all stops with that definitive, conversation-ending “fine.”

“I challenged myself to be more present in the moment,” said ForD’Andre.D’Andre, being present means taking well-intentioned efforts to actively engage with Gabrielle, his 9-year-old daughter, and Demias, his 3-year-old son. With his wife’s help, D’Andre developed a list of ice-breaker questions to get Gabrielle talking about her school day. What started as a clever way to gain insight into the hilarious confessions of an elementary school student actually helped D’Andre further his relationship with his daughter. This isn’t surprising because it’s reflective of who D’Andre is: a titan in Northeast Oklahoma City whose community starts at home.

“I credit my parents for that,” said D’Andre. “I connected to and credited my mom’s experience. She was orphaned at the age of 14. The Eastside has always felt like home. The Eastside has always felt like love for us.”

Freshman year D’Andre grew up in Northeast Oklahoma City in the prestigious Wildewood addition. His love for his community runs deep.

The love D’Andre holds for his parents is palpable and has clearly ignited action in his own household dynamic. He gleefully acknowledges his father as one of his greatest inspirations.

After attending Classen School of Advanced Studies for middle school, D’Andre followed in his parents’ footsteps and attended Frederick Douglass High School in Northeast OKC. He says that decision was his own.

“A lot of people would assume that my parents made me go to Douglass,” said D’Andre. “It was my desire and my dream. I wanted to go to Douglass and now my daughter wants to go.”


“One of the things that I take from my father is soft skills in parenting,” said D’Andre. “He was hard on us, but he was nurturing.”

Thirty-six-year-old D’Andre Foster was sick of hearing the response “fine.” A few months ago, he challenged himself to show up more for his kids.



D’Andre Foster

Graduate course

Early registration

D’Andre attended Southwestern College in Kansas and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. During his sophomore year at Southwestern, his eye caught a glimpse of Krystle – soon-to-be Mrs. Foster. Their romance started off bumpy with a first date story for the books.

“I had a ‘93 Buick Century and she had a newer Toyota Camry, but we decided to drive my car,” said D’Andre. “We go to the movies and McDonald’s after. We get back in the car and my car won’t go in reverse. She hopped out in her stiletto heels and started pushing the car. I knew that I had to take her seriously and do everything I could to hold on to her.”


After five years of dating, D’Andre and Krystle tied the knot in 2009. They’ve been piecing together their happy-ever-after since. The Fosters welcomed daughter, Gabrielle, in 2013 and son, Demias, in 2019.

A few weeks before his conversation with MetroFamily, D’Andre talked with his wife about the parenting goals he hopes to achieve. For D’Andre, this means a concentrated effort to put his cell phone down and enjoy all of life’s small, fleeting moments. He doesn’t want to miss a thing.

“I wanted to be less focused on responding to messages and emails, including social media,” said D’Andre. “My daughter is 9 now, and she’s at an age where she is going through some changes and transitions. I want to be present to hear what needs to be heard and connect when I need to connect. I try to be intentional about D’Andrecommunication.”hascome full circle with a return to Douglass High School as an AP history teacher and coordinator for the Academy of Law and Public Safety. This fall will be his fifth year teaching at his alma mater. He says he’s back for the long haul.

“My first-day teaching, a student said ‘How long are you gon’ be here?’” recalled D’Andre. “I am here until they fire me!” At Douglass, D’Andre teaches beyond the classroom by advocating for his students and offering a listening ear for problems they are experiencing in and out of class.

Editor’s note: This article is the fourth in a year-long series celebrating local dads. Author Lance Evans and husband Chris are fathers of Chrystian and were voted MetroFamily’s 2021 Cool Pops.

“If I’m not teaching at Douglass, I don’t really feel like I will be called to teach,” said D’Andre. “Them knowing that I am rooted in the Eastside goes a long way for my students.”

Sept. 1907, the Oklahoma State Fair has been a fall tradition of amusement a

15-25 3001 General Pershing Blvd, OKC 405-948-6797, Since

discount day, like admissionThursdayThriftywhenis$5. Ongoing Events

FOTO ARTS PHOTOGRAPHY OKC Parks and Sept.FallRecreationFilmSeries9-Oct.14 OKC Families are invited to bring blankets and/or lawn chairs and enjoy family-friendly movies and pre-movie activities at OKC parks across the metro. The series includes six movie nights and will feature: Sonic the Hedgehog, Encanto, The Nightmare Before Christmas, School of Rock, Spiderman: No Way Home and The Princess and the Frog. Find park locations and event updates at 22 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 G UIDE FallFun SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION FALL FUN GUIDE The air is getting crisp, the leaves are starting to change color ... and is that pumpkin spice we smell?!? Autumn adventures: we are ready for you! From pumpkin patches and farm fun to trick-or-treat events and fall festivals, plan your family’s perfect season with our advertisers in this guide. Check out all our fall guides online at

Oklahoma State Fair

and entertainment with concerts, shows, exciting rides, tasty food, lively competitions and more. Save money on admission by advancedpurchasingtickets or visit on

Rustic Roots Pumpkin Patch 24-Nov. 6 105340 Greer Rd, Lamont 580-716-3608,


Rustic Roots Pumpkin Patch features pumpkins and fall décor as well as a 10acre corn maze, a 5-acre sunflower maze, a petting zoo, corn cannon, giant slide fort, tractor tire playground, hayrides, yard games, jump pad, barrel train and concessions.

On Oct. 15, families can enjoy a special fall festival with live music, food trucks, vendors and all of the farm activities. Pumpkin patch admission is $12 for ages 2-64 and $5 for ages 65+. TuesdayThursday, 3-6pm; Friday & Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 1-6pm.

CharactersTrick-or-treating&mascotsPhotoopsSpookytunes&more Free family-friendly Halloween event for kids in costume 14 and under METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 23

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Pumpkinville at Myriad Gardens Oct. 7-23 301 W Reno Ave, OKC 405-445-7080, Pumpkinville, a treasured fall tradition, celebrates everything fall. This year’s theme is Witches and Wizards. Families can engage with festive displays in the Children’s Garden and play hand-crafted games, participate in themed activities and enjoy unlimited rides on Mo’s Carousel. Pumpkinville is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $9. Members and kids ages 2 & under get in free.

Wings Fall Festival & Pumpkin Patch Sept. 30-Oct. 23 13700 N Eastern Ave, Edmond 405-242-4646, Wings’ four-weekend pumpkin patch welcomes families to enjoy hayrides, inflatables, games, a petting zoo and more, plus shop for pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Each Saturday will also feature additional special activities such as Thunder Day and toucha-truck. The play patch is open Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, 1-6 p.m. Play patch admission is $7 for ages 3 & up. Families can purchase a 4-pack of play patch wristbands for $25. Mention the ad in MetroFamily to save $1! Proceeds benefit the programs at Wings that enhance the lives of adults with developmental disabilities.

For more information about our classes, camps, programs and Arcadia Lake, visit us at


The Oklahoma City Zoo is celebrating its 39th year of Haunt the Zoo! Along the trail, candy will be distributed at 13 candy locations and families can discover 20 themed booths, perfect for unique photo opportunities. Haunt the Zoo is held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; zoo admission and official Haunt the Zoo bags are required to participate. Families can also bundle experiences such as Haunt the Zoo and BRICKLIVE.

Welcome fall with the whole family at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame’s Fall Y’all celebration. Enjoy games, art activities, crafts and story time, plus a special movie night on Saturday. Activities vary each day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Museum admission is free throughout the day.

Arcadia Lake’s Storybook Forest Oct. 23-30 7200 E 15th St, Edmond 405-216-7471,

The trail is open nightly from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Fall Y’all at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Oct. 13-15 1400 Classen Dr, OKC 405-235-4458,

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / 2022 25 Haunt the Zoo Saturdays & Sundays, Oct. 8-30 2000 Remington Pl, OKC 405-424-3344,

Join us for adventuresamazingthisfallandwinter!

Fairytales come to life on a fun, not-scary trail filled with life-size scenes from classic storybooks at Spring Creek Park. Additional activities include story time, carnival games, hay rides and a campfire for roasting hot dogs and s’mores (available for purchase at concessions). Tickets are $12 per child and $5 per adult and must be purchased in advance.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Down AllIn-personFestivalSyndrome&5k5k|Virtual5k|1-MileFunRunRegistration:$45proceedsstayinOklahomaandbenefittheDownSyndromeAssociationofCentralOklahomawww.dsfestivaland5k.comRunforawareness.Runforacceptance.runforinclusion.runwithapurpose!Saturday,September24th,2022attheMyriadBotanicalGardens CAMPS/CLINICS • BIRTHDAY PARTIES • FACILITY RENTAL FOR PRIVATE EVENTS SKATEBOARDS, ROLLER SKATES & INLINE SKATES ARE WELCOME 200 NW 142 ND ST, STE 106, EDMOND, OK 73013 VISIT DAILYSHREDDOKC.COM FOR HOURS, PRICING AND SPECIAL EVENTS. PH. 940-368-4768 PRO SHOP • EQUIPMENT RENTALS • LESSONS: GROUP & PRIVATE 26 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 FALL FUN GUIDE

Tinkerfest at Science Museum Oklahoma Sept. 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 2020 Remington Pl, OKC, Tinkerfest is a FREE celebration of curiosity and creativity. Families can get hands-on with a variety of activities from using raw materials and tools to launching rockets and exploring art, plus numerous crafting and building options. Enchanted Tea Party at Will Rogers Gardens Oct. 2, 2-4 p.m. 3400 NW 36th St, OKC 405-297-2211, Join OKC Parks and Recreation for a spot of tea during a brand-new, interactive garden tea party at the Ed Lycan Conservatory, the crown jewel of the gardens. There will be sing-a-longs and photo opportunities with princesses! Pre-registration is required and will close on Sept. 30 at noon. Tickets are $25 per parent/child couple and $10 for each additional child.


and family


Yukon’s Chisholm Trail Festival Oct. 15, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mollie Spencer Farm, 1001 Garth Brooks Blvd, 405-350-8937,Yukon Celebrate the famous Chisholm Trail at the annual Chisholm Trail Festival, history fun collide. Watch living history enactors, Civil War demonstrations, gunfights, live entertainment and more. Kids can enjoy crafts, pony rides, a Kids Korral and a petting zoo. Admission and parking are free.

Family Discovery Series concerts are geared to excite and engage children of all ages. This October, the Philharmonia Fantastique explores the making of the orchestra with a short film, and OKC Phil will perform the soundtrack live. Preconcert fun includes an instrument playground, crafts, dance and games. Single concert tickets are $9 and a three-concert subscription is $24.

Take Over The

Fall At The Cowboy

Haunt the Harn at Harn Homestead Oct. 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 1721 N Lincoln Blvd, OKC 405-235-7058,

Kids Cowboy First Saturday of every month 10:00 a.m. – Noon Perked-Up Playdate September 20 10:00 a.m. – Noon Weather Camp October 5 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Cherokee CelebrationCultural October 7 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Fall Break Activities October 10 – 14 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Steampunk Festival October 29 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 27

For more information and registration, visit

Get your tickets early for this popular outdoor trick-or-treating event. Oldfashioned games and crafts add to the fun. Friendly costumes are encouraged. Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door. Find more details on Harn Homestead’s social media. 405-842-5387,



Enter your kids (ages 2-12) by Sept. 30 and receive a set of discounts to local attractions valued at over $150! Could your child be next cover kid? YOU

Yukon’s Pumpkin Harvest Craft Festival Nov. 5, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jackie Cooper Gym, 1024 E Main St, Yukon 405-350-8920,

Fun and fantasy abound at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, especially during the Steampunk Festival, the museum’s fall celebration. Create your own Steampunk accessories and explore a Designa-Robot maker space, while supplies last. Then, try your hand at fast-draw target practice, look out for a penny-farthing and learn a dance or two. Activities are free with museum admission. In addition, families can enjoy special activities at the museum during Fall Break: drop in Oct. 10-14 to create your own masterpieces from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.


Yukon’s Jackie Cooper Gym comes alive with fall festivities, featuring more than 40 booths from across Oklahoma selling candles, repurposed wood art, handmade soaps, home décor and more, plus a bake sale with proceeds benefiting Friends of the Park and the Pumpkin Patch Café. Admission to the craft festival is free.

Enchanted Treat Trail at Scissortail Park Oct. 29, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 655 S Robinson Ave, OKC 405-445-6277, Explore Scissortail Park at your leisure on an Enchanted Treat Trail that follows the tale of Hansel and Gretel. Magical activities will happen throughout the park. Admission is $10 for the first child and $5 for each additional child. Kids ages 2 & under are free.


Steampunk Festival at The Cowboy

Oct. 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St, OKC 405-478-2250,


FREE See You Saturdays at Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features complimentary admission, crafts, themed activities and more. During the first hour, guests can take part in a sensory-friendly experience. 9am-2pm.


Sept. 3 Kids Take Over the Cowboy at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features crafts, themed activities and story time. Activities are free with admission for children while supplies last. 10am-noon. Also held: Oct. 1.

FREE Harrah Day at Harrah Heritage Park (1374 N Church Ave, Harrah) features a parade, live music, corn hole tournament, car show, vendor booths, food trucks, activities for kids, fireworks show and more. Free to attend; participation prices vary. 9:30am-10pm; fireworks, 9:30pm.

FREE Martin Park is for the Birds at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a festival-style program about birdwatching. See a birds of prey presentation, go on a guided hike around the park, meet members of conservation organizations in the state and learn ways to help birds in your own yard. All ages welcome. 11am-1pm.

Also held: Oct. 8.

Through Sept. 30 Cover Kids Search (virtual) features a photo contest for kids ages 2-12. Parents can submit photos and readers can vote for their favorites online. $10 per entry. com/coverkidssearchmetrofamilymagazine.


Sept. 8-10

Top Events in September & October

Sept. 9 FREE Busker Street Fair at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features music, art and live theatrical performances. “Busking” is playing music in the street or another public place for voluntary donations. All ages welcome. 6-9pm. Sept. 9-10 FREE Western Days Festival at Mustang Town Center & Wild Horse Park (1201 N Mustang Rd, Mustang) features a fun run, parade, best-dressed cowboy & cowgirl contest, art show, gunfighters, live music and more. Free to attend; participation prices vary based on activity. Friday, 6-10pm; Saturday, 6:30am-10pm. Sept. 9-Oct. 14 FREE Fall Film Series at OKC Parks (various locations) features a series of family-friendly outdoor movies including Sonic the Hedgehog, Encanto and The Princess and the Frog. Movies begin at sunset; pre-movie activities begin at 7:15pm.

McClain County Free Fair at the McClain County Expo Center (2101 Hardcastle Blvd, Purcell) features livestock competitions, food contests, a stick horse rodeo, kiddie tractor pull, corn hole tournament and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule. Sept. 8-11 Cleveland County Free Fair at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds (615 E Robinson Ave, Norman) features a midway with carnival rides and games, live entertainment, livestock exhibits, petting zoo, wiener dog races, baby crawl races, car & motorcycle show and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule.

Sept. 10 Piedmont Founders Day in Olde Town (Piedmont & Jackson, Piedmont) features a vintage, boutique & craft sale, parade, 5k, inflatables, train rides, pony rides, a petting zoo and more. Free to attend. 7am-4pm.

Sept. 6-11 Hairspray at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features a musical production with hit songs such as Welcome to the 60s, Good Morning Baltimore and You Can’t Stop the Beat. Best suited for 8 & up. $30 & up. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 1:30 & 7pm.

Sept. 22-24 Banjo Fest at the American Banjo Mu seum (9 E Sheridan Ave) features a pizza party sing-a-long, live music and more. $25 & up. See website for schedule.

India Food & Arts Festival at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features food, clothing, jewelry and cultural stalls from different regions of India, plus Bollywood-style dances, a fashion show, live music and traditional art workshops. Free to attend. 3-9pm.

Sept. 18 Mesta Festa at Perle Mesta Park (1900 N Shartel Ave) features a beer garden, outdoor kids’ zone with fun activities for the whole family, arts & crafts, live music, sand volleyball, local artists, pop-up shopping booths and food trucks. Benefits the Mesta Park Neighborhood Association. Free to attend; beer garden wristbands, $25. Noon-6pm.

Sept. 15-25 Oklahoma State Fair at State Fair Park (3001 General Pershing Blvd) features concerts, food & shopping vendors, shows, exhibits, games, carnival rides and more. Adults, $15; kids (6-11), $8; kids (5 & under), free. Buildings, 10am-9pm; midway, 1pm weekdays & 11am on weekends.

Sept. 23-25 FREE Scissortail Park Takes Flight Grand Opening Weekend at Scissortail Park South (403 SW 10th St) features guided tours, children’s programming, music and dance, health and wellness activities, as well as a concert by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. See website for schedule.

FREE Tinkerfest at Science Museum Oklahoma (2020 Remington Pl) features a celebration of curiosity and creativity. Enjoy FREE hands-on activities hosted by SMO staff and community partners. Museum admission and all activities, free to the public. 9am-2pm.

Little Red Heart 5k and Walk at Stars and Stripes Park (3701 S Lake Hefner Dr) features a 5k, plus balloon art, face painting, photo opportunities and more. Benefits the LifeShare Foundation. $35-$50. 9:30am.

Sept. 24-25 Alpaca Farm Days at Magnolia Blossom Ranch (2901 NW 16th St, Newcastle) features alpacas, activities for kids, live demonstrations and farm tours. Tickets must be purchased in advance. $8; kids (under 2), free. Saturday, 11am-2pm & 4-7pm; Sunday, 2-5pm.


Sept. 17 Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day at participating museums (various locations) features free general admission for two people. Metro museums include Oklahoma History Center and Overholser Mansion.

FREE Rockin’ Regional Concert in the Park at Joe B Barnes Regional Park (8700 E Reno Ave, Midwest City) features live music by Hunter Thomas and Black Water Bridge, food trucks and more. 6-10pm.

Sept. 24 Down Syndrome Festival and 5k at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features an awareness walk, 1-mile fun run and 5k, plus raffles, moon bounces, face painters, carnival games, music and more. 5k, $40; walk & festival, free to attend. 8am.

Sept. 16 The Adventures of Tortoise and Hare: The Next Gen at The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts (705 W University Ave, Stillwater) features the classic fable of the slow and steady tortoise and the nimble but overconfident hare brought to life by dancers and glow-in-the-dark puppets. Best suited for ages 5 & up. $20. 6:30pm.

FREE Children’s Fishing Derby at Ten Acre Lake (15600 NE 10th St, Choctaw) features an age-divided fishing derby for kids ages 3-16. Bait is provided and food trucks will be on site for refreshments. Registration, 7am; fishing, 8am. St. Jude Walk/Run Oklahoma City at Wheeler Ferris Wheel (1701 S Western Ave) features a family-friendly walk/ run to raise money for the children of St. Jude during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Volunteer opportunities available. Free to attend; fundraising encouraged. 8-10am. Pioneer Library System Touch-aTruck at Cleveland County Fairgrounds (615 E Robinson St, Norman) features popular vehicles including fire trucks, police cars and the PLC Maker Mobile. Drivers and experts will be on hand to answer questions. Benefits the PLS Cleveland County locations. Free to attend; donations accepted. Quiet hour: 9-10am; engines on: 10am-noon. plsfdn. org/help-support-touch-a-truck

Sept. 11 Shop Latino OKC Pop-Up Market at City Hall Park (200 N Walker Ave) features shopping, food and more. 4-8pm.

Sept. 16 Friday Night Bites at Moore’s Central Park (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features a food truck festival with live music, inflatables and lawn games. Free to attend. 6-9pm.

FREE OKC Ballet Under the Stars at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features selections from some of classical ballet’s most beloved dances, plus new contemporary choreography in a fast-paced, eclectic performance. All ages welcome.

Vietnamese Lunar Moon Festival at World Fresh Int’l Market (10700 S Penn Ave) features lion dances and other traditional dance performances, food trucks, shopping and children’s games. Free to attend.

FREE Fall Y’all at Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features games, art activities, crafts and story time, plus a movie night on Saturday. 10am-2pm. Oct. 14 Late Night at the Museum: Cowboy Clue at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St). Play the popular board game Clue in real life in Prosperity Junction. Following the game, there will be cupcakes to decorate and a showing of Scooby Doo: Shaggy’s Showdown. Best suited for ages 4 & up; children must be accompanied by an adult. Preregister. $30-$35. 6-11pm.

Oklahoma Regatta Festival at RIVERSPORT Adventures (725 S Lincoln Blvd) features a three-day celebration of rowing, kayaking, dragon boating, whitewater rafting and family fun. Free to attend; parking, $10. See website for schedule. Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Oct. 13-15

Oct. 1 FREE OU Westheimer Aviation Festival at Max Westheimer Airport (1700 Lexington Ave, Norman) features aircraft displays, a children’s area with community guests, STEM activities and tours of the control tower. 9am2pm.

Oct. 2 Enchanted Garden Tea Party at Will Rogers Gardens (3400 NW 36th St) features an interactive tea party with photo opportunities and singa-longs with real princesses. Light refreshments will be served. Best suited for ages 3-12. Preregister. $25 per parent/ child couple; $10 for each additional child. 2-4pm.

Just Between Friends Consignment Sale at Cleveland County Fairgrounds (615 E Robinson St, Norman) features new & gently-used children’s clothes, toys, furniture and accessories. Admission is charged on select days. See website for admission and sale hours. Sept. 25 Thunder Run at Paycom Center (100 W Reno Ave) features a 5k and family fun run through downtown. Benefits the Thunder Cares Foundation. $35 & up. 9am. Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Sept. 24-Oct. 1


FREE Creepin it Reel Movies in the Park at Joe B Barnes Regional Park (8700 E Reno Ave, Midwest City) features an outdoor screening of Hocus Pocus and Beetlejuice. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and snacks to enjoy

FREE Plaza District Festival & Plaza Walls Mural Expo in the Plaza District (1700 block of NW 16th St) features live music, food trucks, visual art exhibitions, children’s activities and more to celebrate the spirit and diversity of the neighborhood. 10am-11pm.

Greek Festival at St George Greek Orthodox Church (2101 NW 145th St) features authentic Greek food, such as gyros and baklava and live entertainment including dancing and music. There will also be a caricaturist, face painter and balloon creations. $16, meal included. Friday & Saturday, 10am-10pm; Sunday, 11am-3pm.

Oklahoma Czech Festival at Yukon Czech Hall (205 N Czech Hall Rd, Yukon) features traditional foods, a parade, live music, carnival rides, a petting zoo and more. Free to attend. 10am-5pm.

Fall Break Drop-in Activities at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features make-and-take activities such as foam cowboy hats and beaded pumpkins while supplies last. Free with admission. 10am-2pm.

Oct. 10-14

Oct. 1 FREE Fiestas de las Americas in the Calle Dos Cinco in Historic Capitol Hill (3019 SW 25th St) features a celebration of Oklahoma’s rich multicultural heritage with the Parade of the Americas, family activities and live entertainment. 32 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM

Oct. 7 FREE Cherokee Cultural Celebration at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a variety of activities related to 19th century Cherokee culture and lifestyle including Native games, pottery demonstrations and storytelling. For kids in grades K-8. Preregister. 10am2pm.

Oct. 6 FREE VIBES Artwalk in downtown Edmond (Broadway, 2nd to Edwards St, Edmond) features a variety of creative talent hosted by participating businesses. 5-9pm.

or-treating, photo ops, a pumpkin craft, hay maze and more. Zoo admission is required. Treat bags, $7; $6 for members. Saturday & Sunday, 9am-4pm.

Oct. 25 FREE Homeschool Fire Prevention Show with the Mustang Fire Dept at Mustang Town Center (1201 N Mustang Rd, Mustang) features a 45-minute show with songs, puppets, skits and visual aids to help communicate fire and life safety tips to children. All ages welcome. 9am.

Tenttober Family Camping Weekend at Mitch Park (2733 Marilyn Williams Dr, Edmond) features an overnight camping experience with campfires, s’mores, fishing, kayaking, demonstrations and more. Includes a campsite for a 4-6 person tent as well as dinner and breakfast. $85 per family of up to six. Oct. 16 Philharmonia Fantastique Family Discovery Series Concert at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) (1721 N Lincoln Blvd) features an outdoor trick-or-treating event with old-fashioned games and crafts. Friendly costumes are encouraged. Kids (3 & up), $7 in advance, $10 at the door. 6:30-8:30pm. Oct. 22 FREE Automobile Alley’s Art of Beer at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) features local Auto Alley breweries, art programming with Oklahoma Contemporary, music and lawn games. This event is family friendly. Noon-6pm. Oct. 24 FREE Brick-or-Treat in Bricktown (Reno Ave & Mickey Mantle Dr) features spooky tunes, roaming characters, photo ops and trick-or-treating at participating businesses. Best suited for ages 14 & under. 4-7pm. Yukon’s Mummy & Son Masquerade at Jackie Cooper Gym (1024 E Main St, Yukon) features costume contests, music, dancing, games and more. For ages 4-12. Preregister. $4 in advance, $5 day of. 6-8pm.

FREE Folklife Festival at Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr) features cultural practitioners, diverse communities and heritage professionals that spark curiosity and catalyze intercultural exchange with participatory experiences. 10am-3pm.

FREE Red Earth FallFest at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a parade, children’s activities, an arts & crafts market, a youth Powwow and more. See website for schedule. Oct. 15-16



FREE Ghost Stories in the Park at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a marshmallow roast and some scary stories. Halloween costumes welcome. 6:30-8pm. Oct. 30 FREE Fall Festival at Nichols Hills United Methodist Church (1212 Bedford Dr, Nichols Hills) features a chili cookoff, hayrides, games, s’mores and more. 5-7pm.

Oct. 29 Enchanted Treat Trail at Scissortail Park (655 S Robinson Ave) features a themed trail that follows the tale of Hansel and Gretel, plus magical activities throughout the park. $10 for first child; $5 for each additional child; kids (2 & under), free. 9am-6pm.

FREE National Weather Festival at the National Weather Center (120 David L Boren Blvd, Norman) features kids’ activities, food trucks, giveaways, local news personalities and weather balloon launches. 10am-2pm. facebook. com/NationalWeatherFestival Steampunk Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St). Create your own Steampunk accessories and explore a Design-a-Robot maker space, while supplies last. Then, try your hand at fast-draw target practice, look out for a penny-farthing and learn a dance or two. Activities are free with museum admission. 10am-4pm.

2022 33

Oct. 28-30 FREE Arcadia Route 66 Neonfest at the Arcadia Homestead (13100 E Old Hwy 66, Arcadia) features neon displays, neon campfires, a film festival and more. See website for

Sept. 10 FREE Fly-in and Community Day at the El Reno Airport (6600 Mustang Field Rd, El Reno) features an air show, helicopter rides, inflatables, food trucks, car show and more. 10am4pm.

Sept. 17 FREE Cherokee Strip Celebration in downtown Perry (Main St, Perry) features a 5k, parade, live entertainment, food, exhibitors and more, all celebrating the founding of Perry and the 1893 Landrun. Free to attend. 9am-3:30pm.

Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Rock Island Arts Festival at Rock Island Depot (100 Chickasha Ave, Chickasha) features fine art displays, crafter booths, live music and entertainment as well as a children’s creation station, bounce houses, a giant sand pile and more. Free to attend. Friday, 11am9pm; Saturday, 10am-8pm; Sunday, noon-4pm. Oct. 1 Meeker Pumpkin Festival in downtown Meeker (Hwy 62, Meeker) features live entertainment, a parade, gunfighter shows, car show, corn hole tournament, a kids’ zone and more. Free to attend. 10am-8pm. Oct. 14-16 Robbers Cave Fall Festival at Robbers Cave State Park (4575 NW 1024th Ave, Wilburton) features arts & crafts, a classic car show, food, carnival rides, entertainment and more. Free to attend. Friday & Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, 9am-4pm.

Oct. 15 Chisholm Trail Festival at Mollie Spencer Farm (1001 Garth Brooks Blvd, Yukon) features living history re-enactors, live entertainment, contests, Civil War demonstrations, gunfights, vendors, craft booths, the kids’ activities, pony rides, a petting zoo and the Wild West Pumpkin Patch. Free to attend. 9:30am-5pm.


Oct. 22 Sorghum Festival at Seminole Nation Museum & downtown Wewoka (524 S Wewoka Ave, Wewoka) features a celebration of the age-old art of sorghum making with historic re-enactors, Native American foods, children’s crafts, live entertainment, a parade, car show and pioneer and Native American living demonstrations. Free to attend. See website for schedule.

Sept. 23-25 FREE International Festival at Elmer Thomas Park (3rd & NW Ferris Ave, Lawton) features food, children’s games & activities, demonstration artists, retailers, concerts and multicultural experiences. Free to attend. See website for

Fall Festivals Worth the Drive

Oct. 15 Fall Festival at Rustic Roots (105340 Greer Rd, Lamont) features live music, food trucks and more, in addition to the pumpkin patch and farm activities. Families can enjoy hayrides, a petting zoo, 10-acre corn maze, barrel train rides and a giant slide fort. $10. 10am-8pm.


Sept. 22-24 Pioneer Day Festival at Skiatook Central Park (Hwy 20 & S Locust St, Skiatook) features a parade, carnival rides, arts & craft vendors, food trucks, fishing derby, car show and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule.

Sept. 29-Oct. 9 Tulsa State Fair at Expo Square (414 E 21st St, Tulsa) features carnival rides, attractions, concerts, creative arts, food, livestock competitions and more. Adults, $15; military & seniors & kids (5-12), $10; kids (under 5), free. See website for schedule. Sept. 30-Oct. 1 Chalk it Up: An Art Festival in downtown Broken Arrow (1st & Main St, 21101 E 101st St, Broken Arrow) features a chalk art competition, live music, street performers, a rose show and a rose-themed art exhibit at the Broken Arrow Museum. Free to attend. Friday, 5-9pm; Saturday, 9am-6pm.

Sept. 8-10 McClain County Free Fair at the McClain County Expo Center (2101 Hardcastle Blvd, Purcell) features livestock competitions, stick horse rodeo, kiddie tractor pull, an ice cream social and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule.

A ARTISTSFORPLACEYOUNG FALL ART CAMPS OCT. 10-14|Classes|Camps | Performances 11 NW 11th St., Oklahoma City Rainbow Light Studio | Ages 5-6 Monster Makers | Ages 5-6 3-D Character Creations | Ages 7-9 Contemporary Clay Kids | Ages 7-9 Your Tiny Gallery | Ages 10-12

Sept. 17-Oct. 30 Sunshine Shelly’s Pumpkin Patch (7110 N Harrison, Shawnee) features u-pickem pumpkins and ornamental gourds for sale, a corn maze, hayrides, kiddie train, corn cannon, petting zoo, yard games, fire pits, picnic areas and more. Adults, $7; seniors (65 & up) & kids (2-12), $5; kids (1 & under), free. Some activities require an additional fee. No admission required to pick pumpkins.

Sept. 21-Nov. 13

Sept. 30-Oct. 23 Wings Fall Festival & Pumpkin Patch (13700 N Eastern, Edmond) features a petting zoo, yard games, hayrides, food trucks, a maze, inflatables, photo ops and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, plus fall décor. $7; family 4-pack, $25; kids (2 & under), free. Mention the ad in MetroFamily Magazine to save $1. Friday & Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 1-6pm. Oct. 1-30 Pumpkin Patch at Walnut Woods (5217 W Simmons Rd, Edmond) features pumpkins, slides, a maze, hayrides, horse rides, petting zoo, yard games and more. $8; seniors (65 & up) & kids (2 & under), free. Saturday & Sunday, 10am-5pm. Open for fall break! Oct. 7-23 Pumpkinville at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a minivillage made out of pumpkins, gourds, haystacks, cornstalks and mums with hand-crafted games, activities, entertainment and unlimited rides on Mo’s Carousel. $8; members & kids (2 & under), free. 10am-5pm. Find additional seasonal events at

Metro Pumpkin Patches

Parkhurst Pumpkin Patch (720 Henney Rd, Arcadia) features pony rides, mazes, hayrides, petting zoos, games, concerts, live music and more. $13; kids (12 & under), $10. Wednesday-Friday, 1pmdark; Saturday, 10am-dark; Sunday, noon-dark.

Sept. 24-Oct. 30

Tuesday-Thursday, 4-9pm; Friday, 4-10pm; Saturday, 10am-10pm; Sunday, 1-6pm.




Pumpkin Patch at Cross Timbers Christmas Tree Farm (2161 Harrison Ave, Harrah) features pumpkins, fall décor, photo opportunities, haystack slide, farm animals and a barrel train. Prices vary. Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, crosstimberschristmastrees.com1-6pm. Sept. 24-Oct. 31 Chester’s Pumpkin Patch at Chester’s Party Barn & Farm (5201 Cimarron Rd, Piedmont) features a petting zoo, giant slide, pony rides, hayrides, a mystery maze, barnyard games, pumpkin chunkin’ and more, plus live entertainment on the weekends. Ages 2-10, $12 + tax; ages 11–64, $6 + tax. Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-6pm; Sunday, 1-6pm. Sept. 24-Nov. 12

The Pumpkin Patch at Katiebug’s (7 NW 9th St) features a variety of pumpkins, fresh local flowers and fall treats. Prices vary. Wednesday-Saturday, noon-6pm.

Oct. 23-30 Storybook Forest at Arcadia Lake Spring Creek Park (7200 E 15th St, Edmond) features a fun, not-scary trail filled with roaming characters and lots of treats. Additional activities include games, hayrides, campfire, concessions and story time. All tickets must be purchased in advance. $12 per child, $5 per adult. 5:30-8:30pm.

Sept. 17 FREE Family Nature Hike at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a gentle morning wildlife hike. Park staff answer questions about wildlife and nature. Preregister. All ages welcome. 9-10am. Also held: Oct. 15.

Sept. 9-11 ANiME Oklahoma at Reed Conference Center (5750 Will Rogers Rd, Midwest City) features a Japanese pop culture convention with popular voice actors, vendors and more. Prices vary. See website for schedule.

Oct. 7 Flashback Friday at Centre Theatre (110 S Bickford Ave, El Reno) features a screening of Hocus Pocus (rated PG), costume contest and one free popcorn per ticket. Concession proceeds benefit the El Reno Community Theatre. $5. 7pm.

Teen Events Top Toddler Events

Sept. 20 Perked Up Playdate at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features play time, a craft activity and refreshments while supplies last. Free with admission. 10amnoon.


Sept. 14 Youth Pride Nights at Factory Obscura (25 NW 9th St) features an inclusive night to explore Factory Obscura with special guests and community partners. Admission to the event is FREE, but space is limited. 7-8:30pm.

HauntHarnthe Presents THE Thursday, October 20th 6:30-8:30 p.m. Follow for more info! Save the Dates!Save the Dates! September 30th-October 23rd Play Patch Admission $7 Weekends Only Friday & Saturday 10-6 | Sunday 1-6 Scan QR CodeDetails!for Play Patch Includes: Petting zoo, Corn maze, Inflatables, Yard games, Photo ops & more! 38 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022

Oct. 23 Whose Live Anyway? at OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center (7777 S May Ave) features 90 minutes of hilarious improvised comedy and song all based on audience suggestions with current cast members of the Emmy-nominated TV show. $52-$62.

Through Oct. 13 Art After 5 at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) features extended museum hours and beer and wine served on the newly renovated Roof Terrace. $10; free admission for members. Thursdays, 5-9pm.


Sept. 23 A New World: Final Fantasy Celebration at OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center (7777 S May Ave) features a chamber ensemble performing exclusive arrangements from the Final Fantasy series. $45. 8pm.

Sept. 15 Funny Women of a Certain Age at the Hudiburg Chevrolet Center (6000 S Prosper Blvd, Midwest City) features Caroline Rhea, creator Carole

Sept. 30 Viva Las Sisu Casino Night at 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City (900 W Main St) features a themed dinner and casino tables. All proceeds benefit Sisu Youth Services, a low-barrier, identity-affirming shelter in Oklahoma City serving unhoused, transitionage youth. Prices vary.


Oct. 8 Foodie Fest at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features the culinary talents of culinarians of color throughout Oklahoma City. The event will showcase Black, Indigenous, Latino and Asian restaurants and chefs. $20$45. 11-4pm.

Montgomery, Missy Hall and Thea Vidale. $30 & up. 7:30pm.


Find more at! MetroFamily's annual Kids Fest, held on June 18 at Scissortail Park, provided fun, learning and community connections to thousands of local families. Thank you to our sponsors and vendors for making the event possible! Mark your calendars for our next Kids Fest event on June 3, 2023! Presenting Sponsor Community Sponsors Engagement Sponsors Supporting Sponsors: Extreme Animals • Inflatable Adventures • My Princess and Character Parties 40 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 41 Thankyou! Kids Fest 2023 will be held June 3! SPECIAL KIDS FEST SECTION

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Wright’s strategies along the way truly know no bounds. When one of her students had a disability that sometimes kept him from participating in activities because he couldn’t stand or walk for long periods of time, she built a special seat to accommodate him and keep him engaged. In addition to meeting her students’ individual needs, Wright facilitates regular conversations among her 3- to 5-year-old students about the value of differences and importance of inclusion. She encourages curiosity, questions and discussion.


“One of our biggest goals is to be a more inclusive district,” said Erin Trussell, director of specially designed instruction for Oklahoma City Public Schools. “It comes down to exposure and training. We’re really pushing to get as many kids as possible into general ed and finding what supports we can give [neurodiverse students] in a regular classroom so they can participate as much as possible.”

Leesa Lacey, MAMFT, LPC and CEO of Integrated Brain Health in Oklahoma City, says it’s imperative to teach all kids, starting at a young age, how their brains work and to emphasize that it’s OK to be

Neurodiversity encompasses atypical ways in which brains can function, including learning difficulties like dyslexia and developmental diagnoses like autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.

kids in her school have the opportunity to bond with her students with special needs, and vice versa. Those relationships beyond her classroom, both with students and general education teachers, are instrumental as she seeks to ensure as many of her students as possible are able to both transition to general education classrooms and be understood and celebrated for who they are.

Also of utmost importance to Wright is that typically-developing


“Ifdifferent.every child is taught how they are wired, then we take away [the idea] that they are a bad kid or something is wrong with them … it takes away the stigma,” said Lacey.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six kids between ages 3 and 17 are considered neurodiverse.

NeurodiversityEmbracing THE CLASSROOM

What is neurodiversity?

“If a child is spinning and another child thinks that looks strange, I might ask, ‘Have you ever tried spinning to see if it’s fun?’” said Wright, who teaches at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Oklahoma City Public Schools. “I let the kids ask questions and I’m honest about explanations. I welcome that in class. Let’s take the weird out of it. It’s neat how quickly the empathy and compassion come from kids if we allow it to happen.”

PreK special education teacher Amber Wright-Eck has students who jump, spin or stand beside their desks during a lesson, students who are nonverbal and students with a variety of diagnoses that classify them as neurodiverse. Her goal with each of her students is to develop a trusting relationship and then determine how to help them reach their version of success.


“Information is a game changer,” said Lacey. “Their brain may be over activated here and under activated here. Their behavior is sending a message about something. They need help to understand how their brain functions and to be able to work on the Aissues.”previous client was getting in trouble at school for fighting, which he would instigate when other students made fun of his clumsiness. He tested for dyspraxia, a condition affecting physical coordination, and that diagnosis helped him move from feeling anxious and angry to understanding that his condition was caused by a difference in his Whetherbrain.achild has ADHD versus sensory processing disorder, they are good at math but struggle in English, they are shy versus outgoing or they have difficulty with memory or executive functioning, families gain understanding of diagnoses and behaviors as a function of that child’s unique brain structure and then get the specific accommodations or help needed to allow that child to excel.

When feasible, Wright encourages students in her class to help explain their accommodations to their peers, like how carrying a comfort item helps them feel safe or moving their body during a lesson helps them focus. This basic level of understanding helps her students normalize that all brains and bodies function differently, and that’s OK.

Integrated Brain Health Occupational Therapy Applied Behavior Analysis, ABA Individual and Family Therapy

Once a child and his or her family understands their unique needs, the next hurdle is often working with the child’s school and teacher. That process also requires a new way of thinking, which can be challenging for all involved, says Lacey.

3838 NW 36th St, STE 200, OKC 73112 @integratedbrainhealth

Lacey has found when kids and their parents understand the “why” behind their behaviors, they’re more accepting of themselves and others.

At Trinity School at Edgemere in Oklahoma City, more than half the student population has diagnoses of ADHD, generally in tandem with other diverse diagnoses, according to Traci Epperson, head of academic support and counseling. The school focuses on educating students with learning differences in a supportive environment, where conversations about accommodations and differences are “Wecommon.need to be having more of these conversations in the world,” said Epperson. “Everybody needs support somewhere. I think people get caught up in the assumption that kids do stuff because they are lazy or defiant. We have found that when you take the cognitive load off kids who are struggling by offering accommodations, modifying assignments when necessary or providing extra support, they do better.”

Lacey and her multidisciplinary team work with a variety of clients, from elementary through high school, assessing brain health, providing diagnostic assessments through a matrix she developed and implementing evidence-based treatment plans. The team at Integrated Brain Health provides ABA treatment, counseling, occupational therapy and interventional services under one roof, eliminating the need for clients who need comprehensive services to shuffle to multiple providers, potentially without a wholistic treatment plan guiding all parties.

“We expect in schools for all children to do the same exact thing all day, every day, expecting everyone to learn the same way, and that is unreasonable at best,” said Lacey.

Teaching kids about their brains

The IBH Di erence! At IBH, we start with the "why?"

We have highly trained multi-disciplinary intake and assessment clinicians that look across multiple areas of developmental, emotional, and neurological functioning to determine best treatment options.


Lacey also looks at the relationship between nutrition, screen time and behaviors and explains to families how these factors impact neurodivergent kids.

Much like Wright does in her special education classroom, a study in Autism reported in 2020 that when classes and schools are taught facts about neurodiversity, students are significantly less likely to bully other kids for being different and are much more likely to be kind and inclusive toward those children.

. Using evidence-based diagnostic and assessment tools, we gather meaningful information about all areas of development, we will help determine the "why" behind the behaviors.

“Parents’ expectations are based on society’s model, and we have to change that. The model is wrong.”

Often behind behavioral and emotional issues are undiagnosed learning disabilities, developmental, and neurological conditions

Call us at (405) 702-9032 or visit our website at We accept most major insurances!

The book Child Decoded: Unlocking Complex Issues in Your Child’s Learning, Behavior or Attention by Marijke Jones, Dr. Robin E. McEvoy and Kim Gangwish is another resource that shares the full picture of what a neurodiverse child experiences, including overlapping neurodiversities, and breaks down areas of struggle, rather than categorizing by diagnoses, to help parents understand how to address challenges. Both the book Smart but Scattered by Dr. Peg Dawson and Dr. Richard Guare and website smartbutscatteredkids. com provide information and strategies that can help improve executive functioning.

Classroom supports for neurodiverse kids

“We offer a lot of flexibility in how students present materials back to us,” said Epperson. “One accommodation is to allow verbal response instead of written. We diversify and differentiate in the classroom.”

“We don’t have tremendous behavior problems,” said Epperson. “I credit that with kids feeling safe and understood.”

“Every time we do a research paper, we teach the steps to take,” said Epperson. “It takes at least three times for most people to retain that … for some kids it will take 10 times and a little hand-holding.”

In math classes, tangibles and visual aids accompany curriculum presentation, as do formula lists and final product examples.

Trinity helps students improve executive function by explicitly teaching the steps to planning for, researching and organizing materials to write those research papers.

When a child who is neurodiverse has had an official evaluation or diagnosis by their school district or private practice, those processes are often accompanied by suggested accommodations for the classroom, advises Epperson. She also recommends the sites, where parents can find a list of suggested accommodations based on specific diagnoses, and, which offers trainings and online information about the process of an IEP, special education law and how to advocate for a child with special needs.

While visible physical disabilities are often more understood — like the fact that a child without use of their legs needs a wheelchair — neurodiverse thinkers aren’t always accommodated on the same level. If a child needs an accommodation to be successful, even if that looks like jumping or running during a lesson or carrying a specific toy or fidget throughout the day, Wright says teachers and students can adapt more easily than they might think.

Trinity also focuses on “hidden” or “invisible” curriculum. For example, when students are helping with a school event and need to make phone calls, they’re taught the proper way to answer the phone and make a call. When needed, they’re provided a script and someone to sit with them while they make the first few calls.

With all teachers have on their plates, Trussell says they need to be provided additional training and clear expectations to help neurodiverse students, especially considering the majority of general education teachers have only had one course in special education. But, like so many of us, teachers often need to understand the “why” behind a child’s behavior and how the accommodations benefit the student.

Finding the accommodationsright for neurodiverse students


“Continue to ask where to find support for your child,” said Epperson.

Students also receive social coaching if they have difficulty with a peer or need help relating to another student. Teachers work with students to understand why name calling or making a negative comment about how someone reads or presents to the class is hurtful. Teachers also regularly pause lessons to address inclusivity and converse with students about the range of accommodations or supports others might need.

“Chunking” assignments means teachers break down a larger assignment into steps and check in with students at multiple points across the process.

Whether in an environment like Trinity, designed for neurodiverse students, or a general education environment, Wright advises parents to find or create community with other parents and families of neurodiverse kids, both to dispel the sense of loneliness and to share ideas on coping strategies or accommodations.

Epperson says it’s these types of life and executive functioning skills that are important for all students to be taught — but for those who are neurodiverse, it may take more repetition or support.

“We are a fully-inclusive classroom with lots of different supports, and those accommodations don’t shut down the classroom,” said Wright. “Yes, we need expectations, but if a child needs to carry a [toy] car down the hallway [as a comfort item], I don’t need to shut down class for that. And the kids learn [that child] carries a car when we walk, and they let it go.”

A support team working together for the child’s best interest, with consistent communication between parents, teachers and therapists, is key. Therapists or professionals like Lacey can often provide helpful recommendations to both parents and teachers in terms of needed accommodations, and all parties can share successful strategies to be replicated throughout the child’s environments.

When it comes to writing a paper, some students can research and write without much support while others have a hard time focusing their search for information and need help refining and narrowing their research. Other students need additional support in the form of printed articles provided for them to use in writing their paper while some need a scribe to help them research, identify main points and put those thoughts together into a meaningful paper. All these options, and anything in between, are available for students.

“They may be afraid they will do something wrong — they know there are laws involved — [so they may think], ‘if I can’t do it right, I can’t do it at all,’” said Trussell. “They have a thousand things going on, [so they need to hear], ‘this is what this kid needs and this is why he needs Thanksit.’” in part to manageable class sizes and low student-to-teacher ratios, teachers at Trinity can meet students where they are and offer a variety of accommodations.

Trussell shares that her typically-developing son has benefited greatly from his friendships with students who have special needs. As a young child he often visited his mom’s special education PreK classroom, and that normalization and celebration of others’ differences from a young age has translated into his becoming a devoted volunteer with the Special Olympics.

“It’s frustrating that they don’t always fit very well in ways society expects but there are great success stories, too,” said Epperson. “It’s surprising to me how well many of our students make things work when they find something they are really committed to.”

Helping typically-developing kids understand neurodiversity

A future focused on inclusion

Trinity recently partnered with MetroTech so students could take concurrent classes. Teachers weren’t sure how students would fare in this type of learning environment without the same IEP mandates required in secondary schools but were determined to give students the opportunity.

“Instead of saying ‘that parent isn’t doing a good job,’ say, ‘Look how upset they are. Maybe they can’t find the right words or the lights are too bright,’” said Wright. “Change the narrative — as adults, we have that power.”

“Talking about your struggles in front of children helps them understand that when they encounter problems, they, too, can overcome them,” said Epperson.

Epperson also advises parents normalize that everyone struggles with something. For example, she’s shared with her kids that she’s not very organized and doesn’t like when she forgets to do something, so she works on keeping her calendar updated.

Epperson feels hopeful that recognition, acceptance and understanding of divergent thinkers is growing.

Epperson encourages parents to expose kids to people who are different than they are. Whether through watching movies, reading books or simply talking about learning differences, when children understand the reasons behind others’ behaviors, they’re more likely to be Wrightaccepting.addsnot to shut kids down if they are curious or want to ask questions about someone who appears different than them. Instead of telling a child not to stare, encourage conversation with the parent or individual themselves if they are amenable or simply have a direct conversation with the curious child. More communication, not less, is vital. She gives the relatable example of what to do when witnessing a child having a meltdown in public.

Mollie Spencer Farm Sat., October 15 | Yukon, OK | 9:30 am - 5 pm Where History & Family Fun Collide! Visit the Wild West Pumpkin Patch METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022 49

Response accommodations: Giving responses in a form that’s easier for them (spoken versus written) Dictating answers to a scribe Using a calculator or table of math facts Using a spellchecker Setting and timing accommodations: Sitting where they learn best in the classroom Taking a test in a small group setting Using sensory tools Having extra time to complete a task, project or test Taking frequent breaks been amazingly successful and students have thrived,” said Epperson. “When [students] have had support all the way along [at Trinity] their ability to adapt to a more typical environment carries over because they are sufficiently motivated and able to advocate for themselves. I think it’s good evidence that neurodiverse students are capable of things people may not expect, and in giving students’ supports [in school], that allows the kid to figure out ways to get those needs met later on. Our students are able to find success in a wide range of environments, from life skills training to university

strives to be even more inclusive of neurodiverse students, Trussell bemoans that still today in public schools around the nation and world, students with special needs are kept isolated in selfcontained classrooms.

teachers like Wright are not only serving neurodivergent students directly but also are helping prepare general education students and teachers alike to make space for them both in school settings and in the community at large.




Presentation accommodations: Listening to audio recordings instead of reading text Working with text in a larger print size Hearing instructions spoken aloud Getting a written list of instructions


“Everyone has limits, but children are capable of more than we often give them credit for,” said Epperson. “We have to help them find the place where they will excel.”

“Then what happens when they graduate and go into a public setting?” asks Trussell. “We as educators need to get them ready for that by keeping them in classrooms where they are exposed to typically-developing peers and vice versa. We are moving in the right

What do accommodations look like for neurodiverse students?

Each child is different and requires individualized accommodations based on their unique needs. Examples of common accommodations from include:

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Conversation starters for families


The Oklahoma Council on Economic Education (OCEE) provides teachers with personal financial literacy training and economics resources to support Oklahoma’s Passport to Financial Literacy. Schools in Oklahoma present 14 core standards to students in grades 7 through 12, all of which are required for graduation, including topics like earning an income, savings and investments, insurance, buying a home and retirement. (Find a full list of standards on page 55.)

Cashless transactions, cryptocurrencies and Venmo transfers are the realities for children born in the digital age. But when it comes to teaching kids about money, those new methodologies of payment don’t change the reality that financial stability matters. Healthy money relationships begin with piggy banks, good habits and open discussions about earning, saving and growing money.

During early childhood, the period between birth and 8 years of age, kids begin to recognize that they need money to buy things. Parents can discuss where money comes from, how to save resources and how to keep money safe.

For kids in grades K through 8: Address economics and financial literacy through needs and wants.

Kids in kindergarten through 8th grade are naturally inquisitive, and parents can use that trait to their advantage to reinforce financial responsibility at home.


Middle school parents can incorporate finances into their child’s daily activities. Challenge their decision-making process and discuss needs versus wants. Ask budgeting questions and use gaming currency like Robux and Minecoins as examples to engage. Parents can also help middle schoolers develop interpersonal skills that attract success, such as self-confidence, communication, empathy and other life skills that lead to more informed choices.

Demonstrate the simplicity of the conversation: “Don’t eat all the cookies now because we want to save some for tomorrow,” recommends OCEE Executive Director Amy Lee.

While parents will see these standards integrated into their kids’ courses in grades 7 through 12, home is where money literacy is modeled and taught. Local experts provided the following tips and conversation starters to help parents talk about money at every age and stage.


Financial Literacy Conversations for Families

“As kids get closer to graduating, they start to ask, ‘Well, how do I do that?’” explains Brenda Beymer-Chapman, J.D., director of social studies education for the Oklahoma State Department of Education A(OSDE).recent Survey of the States study by the Council for Economic Education found that high school students who were required to receive personal finance instruction were more likely to make smarter decisions about paying for college, more likely to choose less expensive financing options and less likely to carry credit card balances.

Tell them — and then show them — how to be fiscally responsible.

Parents can create healthy money habits and demonstrate money as a tool through dialogue. Seek conversations that encourage kids to give thought to the benefits and costs of their choices: Can I buy whatever I want with my debit card? How should I D.I.S.S. (donate, invest, spend or save) my money?

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Certified financial planner Cory Moore suggests a spotlight on investments to teach lessons on consumerism and ownership. Ask: How much did your Nikes cost? $100 or more? Then explain that to own a share of Nike stock is about $100, too. Moore uses this demonstration, Buy a Pair, Buy a Share™, to teach students that owning is almost always cheaper than consuming.

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According to MidFirst Bank, it is easy for a child to see a parent spend, harder to see a parent save and nearly impossible to see what a parent didn’t spend. Model that process for your high schooler. As one of their earliest role models, Beymer-Chapman recommends parents support classroom learning about finances by showing children the family budget, where you bank, the types of accounts held and where you invest.

Incorporate tangible tools like Greenlight, a debit card for kids and teens that rewards good money habits, to increase their comfort with cashless transactions. Ask which medium they prefer using and discuss what that means.

For high school students:

Ten years ago, cash was the common form of payment. Now, Lee says, it is rare.

A free, no overdraft account that helps your teen stay in check.

“There has been a tremendous change in how we look at finances and manage them — even [from] 10 years ago,” recounts Lee. “This poses extra challenges teaching in the classroom and at home.”


Nearly 60 percent of parents have come across useful parenting information on social media, according to the Pew Research Center, including a mix of interactive games, videos and other multimedia that will open the door for conversation and skills-building about finances.

During gaming, pay attention to how your child approaches decisionmaking and which decisions seem easier for them than others.

Student Debit

The digital dollar

Core standards taught to 7th through 12th grade students through

The digital age has presented new challenges, but the changing realm of financial literacy is one where parents can contribute to the solution. Instead of focusing on the concept “Do as I say and not as I do,” parents can seek opportunities to foster healthy money habits with kids and influence them through better money moves. Oklahoma’s Financial

Literacy program: 1. Earning an income 2. State and federal taxes 3. Banking and financial services 4. Managing a bank account 5. Savings and investing 6. Retirement 7. Understanding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), loans and borrowing money, including predatory lending and payday loans

Unfortunately, according to OCEE, Oklahoma students ages 15 to 18 average 57 percent on a financial literacy test designed to measure their ability to earn, save and grow their money. Young people ages 18 to 21 say debt is their biggest financial concern. • (405) 326-1533 LifeKidsEventsFamiliesCouplesSeniors 54 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2022

Both Beymer-Chapman and Lee played an integral role in strengthening the Passport to Financial Literacy Act. Oklahoma is one of several states requiring basic competency of 14 financial literacy standards as part of high school graduation requirements, so we should be one of the strongest in the nation.

The challenge administrators face is a strain on resources in our schools. The courses are either being absorbed into existing government, history and economics classes or they are delivered via online programs. The biggest gaps are consistency in how the subject is being taught, according to Lee. Parents can engage in this process by asking school administrators how personal finance is being taught in your child’s school.

Passport to

A parent struggling to understand what hurts or helps a credit score will struggle to teach their kids. Local banks and credit unions offer online financial literacy tools for adults that can aid in this process.

Oklahoma’s commitment

A potentially uncomfortable topic for parents is credit, including everything tied to a credit score, such as interest rates and rent history.

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What is the difference between gender identity and sexuality?

Gender identity is about how a person feels about themselves and sexuality is about how a person feels about others. A person’s gender identity has nothing to do with to whom they are sexually attracted. What are pronouns? The pronouns people use reflect a person’s gender identity. The most commonly known pronouns are she/her/hers and he/him/his. There are also a range of other pronouns a person may prefer. For example, a person who does not identify as male or female (non-binary, gender-fluid, gender-queer, etc.) might prefer other pronouns such as they/ them. There are also other pronouns such as ze, zir. It is not important to know all of the pronouns — what is important is to:

• If you are not in a position to ask, use the person’s name instead of pronouns.

• If you make a mistake, apologize briefly, correct the mistake and move on.

• Ask for and use a person’s preferred pronouns.

The world is changing so fast that it can be difficult to keep up with all the new knowledge and language, especially when it comes to our understanding around gender diversity. Add in the fact that our kids may have lots of questions and our anxiety level goes up exponentially! The good news for us as parents is there are a lot of resources for families to learn to navigate this topic. Get started on the learning journey with the following common questions parents might have about gender diversity and tips on how to navigate these conversations with kids. Let’s go!


Talk About...


What is gender identity?

When a person is born, they are assigned a gender based on their biology. This means they are assigned male or female based on their external genitalia. People may also be born intersex, which means a person is born with some combination of both male and female genitalia. It is important to note that even when a person is born intersex, doctors choose whether to assign the person as either female or male. As people grow, they may identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, which is called being cisgender. Or a person who is assigned female may feel they are male and a person born male may feel female, which is called transgender. In addition, a person may not feel they are male or female, which is called being non-binary, gender queer or gender fluid

Gender Diversity Talking to Kids aboutLet’s

What is sexuality?

Sexuality refers to whom a person is attracted. A person who identifies as male may be attracted to people who identify as female, which is called heterosexual. A person who is attracted to someone who is assigned the same gender they were assigned at birth is considered homosexual. These are the most commonly known sexualities, but people may also be attracted to males and females (bisexual), any gender ( pansexual) or may not experience sexual attraction to any gender (asexual).

1. Videos about gender identity from Amaze: and caregivers at

The most important thing you can do as a parent of a transgender or non-binary child is believe them and accept them for who they are. Studies show that children who are allowed to express themselves as the gender they identify with are less likely to be depressed and less likely to attempt suicide. If you tell your child they are not who they tell you they are, you are telling them that you don’t trust them and are not willing to affirm their feelings. This refusal is more about how we feel and our own discomfort. To avoid reacting to your child out of fear and confusion, seek the support of a counselor and other parents of gender non-conforming children. This will go a long way toward supporting your child’s mental and emotional health.

What do I do if my child doesn’t want to play with toys or wear clothes that are common for their assigned gender? Certain toys, clothes and even colors have been commonly associated with certain genders. It is important to remember that this is created by our society and culture but has nothing to do with a person’s gender identity and sexuality. Pink is not a “girl color;” trucks and cars are not “boy toys.”

Kids choose their favorite toys, clothes and colors based on what looks fun or attractive to them. If your son picks up a doll to play with, don’t make a big deal out of it. Let him play freely and, most importantly, let him just be a kid. If your daughter would rather play with toy cars and wear “boy clothes,” let her! At young ages, kids just want to have FUN! They are not thinking about sexuality or gender identity. By making a big deal out of these choices, we are placing the burden of our baggage on them. What do I do if my child tells me they are transgender or non-binary?

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How do I teach my child to accept people regardless of their gender identity?

Now that you are equipped with foundational language, let’s consider how to have conversations about gender diversity with kids.

1. Sex Positive Talks to Have with Kids: A Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy, Informed, and Empowered Young People by Melissa Pintor Carnagay, LBSW

As with most things, the best thing we can do for our kids is set the example. Accept the people in your life who are gender non-conforming without shaming or passing judgment. When you are watching movies or TV shows with gender diverse casts, use affirming and positive language and encourage your child’s curiosity. Treat people with dignity and respect. Demonstrate this to your children and they will follow suit.

Resources Books:

2. How to They/Them by Stuart Getty 3. I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jenni Videos:

abundance of valuable Native American history to incorporate into your trip. Even after living in Tahlequah for four years during graduate school, I always enjoy revisiting this area’s restaurants and museums with my kids, all while discovering new places along the way. Check out our family’s guide to visiting Tahlequah and Muskogee, including our favorite places to eat, learn and play.

Charming GreeninDestinationsFallOklahoma’sCountry ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY DEBBIE MURNAN

With fall break on the horizon, your family may be ready to push pause on work and school to hit the road to explore our great state. Autumn comes alive in northeast Oklahoma, where vibrant fall colors sprinkle the lush, forested hills along the banks of the Illinois River.



The small towns of Tahlequah and Muskogee lay at the heart of Oklahoma’s Green Country, offering equal parts charm, history and outdoor adventure. Tahlequah is also the capital of the Cherokee Nation, the largest tribal nation in the United States, so there is an

Several river outfitters, such as Riverbend Floats, can help you plan a family excursion on the water. Choose from 2-, 4- or 8-hour trips, during which outfitters transport rafters to a designated drop-off point before you casually float your way back to camp, where your car awaits. Kayaks and canoes can make the trip a bit faster, while rafts are ideal for larger families looking to relax and stop to explore various swimming holes and beaches. Weekend reservations are usually required and the minimum age to ride the rafts is 3 to 4 years old. The river is also an excellent fishing destination year-round for bass, walleye and trout. On land, one of the most popular trails in Tahlequah is the 4-mile roundtrip Sparrow Hawk Trail, leading hikers to sweeping views that overlook the rocky bluffs bordering the river below. Just 30 minutes outside of Tahlequah lies the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve, the largest protected conservation area within the Ozarks. Three self-guided trails in the preserve, including the 1.5-mile Pine Ridge Trail, offer excellent opportunities to wander along spring-fed creeks and watch for wildlife. Elk were reintroduced on the preserve in 2005 and are usually more active in the autumn months, making them easier to spot.


Just a 2-and-half-hour trek from the OKC metro, Tahlequah offers a wide range of lodging options to meet the needs of any family. In addition to hotels, homes and cabins are available to rent via Airbnb, including Purdy Cabin Guest Retreat, a riverside home with a multi-level deck for prime wildlife viewing, an outdoor fire pit and proximity to downtown shops and restaurants. If you’d prefer to stay closer to the Illinois River, several of the river outfitters, like War Eagle Resort, offer cabins and lodges to make you feel right at home.


The Cherokee Nation welcomes visitors from all over the globe to learn and experience the Tribal Nation’s culture. Three museums are located in Tahlequah’s walkable town square to jumpstart your historical tour. The Cherokee National History Museum is located in the iconic Cherokee National Capitol, built in 1869, and was recently restored to showcase tribal art and artifacts. Families can enjoy hands-on exhibits to learn about the Trail of Tears, as well as the revitalization of the Cherokee Nation after the U.S. Civil War. Take a short walk over to the neighboring Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum to learn more about the judicial system and the evolution of Cherokee journalism. This building housed the original printing press of Oklahoma’s first newspaper, the Cherokee Advocate. Complete your town square tour at the Cherokee National Prison Museum where visitors can learn about law and order in Indian Territory, walk through ironclad cells of this former prison and hear the stories of some famous outlaws who spent time there.


Museums & Historical Sites


Recreation Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the gorgeous waterways and trails that run through the surrounding foothills of the Ozark Mountains. One of the biggest draws to the area is the scenic, 60-mile Illinois River, which has a gentle but moderate flow and includes some class II rapids.



Tahlequah boasts an eclectic mix of local eateries providing incredible dining experiences. Start your morning at Lift Coffee Bar for a delightful selection of crafted coffee drinks to pair with a custom waffle sandwich or avocado toast. For lunch or dinner, visit one of the city’s most revered restaurants, Sam & Ella’s Chicken Palace. Don’t let the name fool you! Their dining room may be covered with a plethora of chicken décor, but they serve up some of the best hand-tossed pizzas in the state. One of Oklahoma’s own superstars, Carrie Underwood, even worked here while in school at Northeastern State University.

Kroner & Baer is a trendy brewpub downtown offering an assortment of craft beers to enjoy around one of many fire pits while the kids check out an assortment of yard games like bocci ball and Jenga. Grab some appetizers along with a burger or sandwich from their on-site kitchen for a relaxing patio dinner. Wrap up a busy day of travel with some of the most innovative desserts at The Rollie Pollie, where they roll their ice cream into beautiful, tasty creations!

Muskogee Historical Museums & Attractions

Visit the Muskogee War Memorial Park , home of the USS Batfish, a WWII submarine that sank several enemy vessels while in combat. Take a walk through the inside to see the torpedo room and crew cabins or explore the tanks and cannons around the park.

Muskogee proudly celebrates Oklahoma’s musical heritage, so make your way through the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame to learn about the more than 130 inductees, like Woody Guthrie and Reba McEntire, who have greatly influenced the music industry. You can even view some of their donated memorabilia, preserved to honor these Oklahoma icons.

Where to Eat in Tahlequah

If your family is craving Mexican fare, don’t miss the classic Tex-Mex dishes from El Zarape, served in a vibrant atmosphere.

Honor Heights Park is a popular destination all year, especially in April when their 40 acres of gorgeous azaleas are in full bloom, but it’s also home to the Five Civilized Tribes Museum. The museum offers a valuable opportunity to see preserved artifacts and documents of the Five Tribes, as well as a beautiful array of Native art. Afterward, the park is a picturesque place to wander the trails and arboretum or enjoy a picnic lunch. If you happen to plan your trip in October, the Castle of Muskogee is an absolute must-visit to kick off the Halloween season! Their Halloween Festival includes haunted hayrides, illusion mazes and a creepy walk through the woods. Visit their website to determine “scare ratings” on all activities before deciding what’s best for your family. Throughout the castle’s village, there are plenty of shops, as well as food and drink vendors to keep your crew fueled for an evening of fun.



While staying in Tahlequah, make your way just half an hour away to Muskogee. What started as a railroad town with some of the Wild West’s first trading posts, Muskogee has become a thriving city, rich with historical sites and whimsical attractions.

One of the most adored restaurants in Muskogee is Harmony House, located in a 100-year-old Victorian home, which has been serving up delicious lunches and desserts for 30 years. They routinely offer burgers, salads and sandwiches, as well as a rotating daily special, but they also make homemade cinnamon rolls and baked goods fresh every morning.

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If your family needs a little pick-me-up, head over to The Break , a modern bistro and wine bar with some of the nicest staff around, for craft made Topeca coffee drinks and cocktails. They also offer pastries and quiche for a morning bite or choose from an array of sandwiches and shareable charcuterie plates later in the day. Before your vacation ends, consider stopping in the Amish Country Store to select authentic Amish goods, like cheese, jams, pastries and mouthwatering fudge, all handmade by Oklahoma’s own Amish Sometimescommunities.the smallest cities can bring the biggest adventures, and there is no shortage of fun to be had in Tahlequah and Muskogee. The tranquil surroundings of these charming towns will help your family reconnect and recharge when the crisp, cool days of fall return this year.






Searching for the perfect opportunities to create memories with your family this season? Five local parents share their favorite autumn traditions: “The Hayes family gears up for fall in full force each year. Whether it’s visiting our favorite animals during Haunt the Zoo, participating in Pumpkinville activities at the Myriad Gardens or taking a hayride through the countless pumpkin patches, there’s so much fun to be had. Visiting the Wichita Mountains to feast our eyes on the stunning fall foliage remains one of our most treasured family traditions!”

“Our family loves adventure and we travel across the country often. However, some of the most beautiful places to visit are right here in our state! To experience the best fall foliage, we highly recommend a road trip to Broken Bow by way of the Talimena National Scenic Byway.”

“My favorite thing about fall is how beautiful change can be. From the cooler air to the warm, cozy atmosphere we create in our home, I look forward to it all. We love baking our favorite fall fantasticmovies.ourandbuttergooeydessert,pumpkinbars,watchingfavoritefallIt’saseason.”

“My daughter and I watch Hocus Pocus year round so this fall, Sept. 30, we will be dressing up and watching the long-awaited sequel. We really enjoyed Haunt the Zoo last year and are making plans to go again this year.  Zoo animals + trick-or-treating? Perfect combo!”  Victoria Still, @victoriastillokc BY HOLDERKIRSTEN PROVIDED.PHOTOS

“Our family really enjoys Oklahoma City in the fall! We always make sure to go to Haunt the Zoo. The kids love trick or treating while seeing the animals. We also love going to the Wings pumpkin patch, which is a great experience while also supporting the special community.”needs Neely Gay, @mrsneelygay


Jennifer Kubes, The Neon Atlas, @jenkubes


Heath Hayes, @holthayes

Sasha @nyemadyeHughes,

Unwrap the joy of the season at Gaylord Texan with endless hours of holiday entertainment and activities for the whole family to enjoy together. NOV. 11 - JAN. 1

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