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I recently taught a camp called “Farm To Table Camp” for school age children where we created family recipes. We worked in groups of five taking turns playing the different roles in a kitchen. We had a Head chef, a Sous Chef, and a Chef de Partie. All these roles included, chopping, grating, sautéing, measuring, making sauces, reading recipes aloud, stirring, and assembly. We then had a whole set of tasks that included cleaning countertops, washing dishes, and sweeping the floor. It was really awesome seeing young people all getting the chance to do every single job in the kitchen. They did not leave it sparkling, they ran the water longer then I would have liked, the floors still had food after the sweeping and the counter tops typically needed one more wipe before they were through but the point is, they did all of it. At the end of camp, with a little guidance I could see them all cooking dinner by themselves for their families and cleaning up afterward!

After leading this camp, I re...

“A Monarch Waystation is an intentionally-managed garden that provides food and habitat for the struggling Monarch butterfly population. As a rule, a waystation must include at least two types of Milkweed, which are the 'host' plants for Monarchs.” -American Meadows Blog

I was reluctant to get on board with the idea of the Monarch Waystation. I like civic projects that engage people with citizen science. I am an environmentalist at my core and believe the fight for one species is important and has a trickle affect that builds awareness and helps to protect other species. All of this I was aligned with, the part that was hard was the knowledge that most of this species had been decimated by chemical and GMO (genetically modified organisms) farm practices and are most likely facing extinction.  Saving Monarchs felt hopeless. It was hard for me to believe that we could do anything to save the Monarchs, so why bother?

What I came to see as I did more research and started learning from other...

“Waking up one's nature awareness is a process of sharpening all of our senses to perceive more of what's going on around us. It means discovering a sense of individual belonging in a story that's as big as Earth itself. “–David Santillo

It is easy to look around an urban green space and just see trees, park bench, breeze in the leaves, and a place for your footfalls to land. Most people wonder through parks without really seeing all that is happening before them. Now imagine the same green space from a bird’s eye view perched on the edge of a tree limb taking it all in from above. What humans feel they need from these green spaces is vastly different from what a bird needs. The bird sees a space to get food, to shelter her potential young and hide from the constant menace of predators. She is looking for all of her survival needs to be met in just a slim patch of grass and a tree.

Now imagine yourself in that same urban green space from the perspective of an ant. Each blade of grass bec...

Many people are curious about what Under The Canopy Classes are like.  Below is a description of one class I teach where we learn about bird communication. Bird Language is a wonderful way to get more engaged with the wildlife that live around us. It also makes you feel like a nature expert when you can tell your friends the difference between a mating call and a song when a bird is talking near by.

Introduction to Bird Language

We start the class at 3:30 p.m, children arrive and are welcomed under a pergola covered in Wisteria. The first twenty minutes of class are spent exploring the backyard, catching up with friends and eating a snack. This time is essential for the children to get grounded and connected to the space. They are making a connection with nature after a long school day spent mostly indoors. The games they play are often some imaginative game involving a store, a stick battle, building forts, playing on the swing or playing in the sand box. I sometimes have a planting pro...

It is easy to imagine an idyllic kids back yard. I see a huge jungle gym, a trampoline and dreamy playhouse. All of these are awesome things to facilitate environments children will be excited to play outside in. The only problems with these kinds of play structures are they are just what they are. You can play imaginative games on them, but in the end they only provide one kind of play. Designing a space that is more imagination focused requires some strategizing. Investigating the way children play outside happily for hours takes some forethought and consideration for the way humans like to live outside.

You do not necessarily want to recreate an indoor environment outside, though using some of what you learn inside will help in the outdoors. It is about reconnecting with all the elements that make an outdoor play space great such as having a spot to dig, having different terrain to traverse, and having a combination of wet and dry ingredients available. It is also about thinking like...

September 27, 2017

This summer 15 children descended on Under The Canopy for a weeklong Homestead Camp.  Homestead Camp provided space to explore the natural world, how to survive when its hot outside, how to can and preserve food, and how to engage with the community they live in, making Tulsa a more green city. In the mornings we would all gather up in the tree house for a morning meeting. We talked about our personal sustainability goals and worked on posters representing our plans to live a more green life. For inspiration we looked at other artists posters that represented the tools of green living. We then talked about how we want to live in our community. Some children decided to draw themselves taking care of animals, some drew bikes to talk about using transportation without fossil fuels. Some showed themselves cleaning up trash in their neighborhood. We had brainstorms and made the posters in steps using the art tools of wet on wet watercolor and pencil and ink tracing.

We took a midmorning brea...

The best place to be after school is outside!  At Mayo we have three unique gardens. Outdoors After School will be a chance for your children to create a beautiful environment for their community by tending to our gardens. We will construct raised beds for planting as well as learn how to watch birds, play games, stay safe and build a community of nature lovers!

Experiences of Outdoors After School At Mayo

The Courtyard Garden Patch: In the heart of our school is the Courtyard Garden patch. The children will construct raised beds using a unique permaculture method and do spring plantings.

The Mayo Food Forest: In the front of the Wilson building is The Mayo Food Forest. This will be our gathering spot for the length of the program. Children will tend to the three fruit trees growing in the forest and the plantings around them. They will learn how to create new habitat for growing food and supporting the wildlife already present.

Playing Outside: We play outside for the whole program no mat...

Create something truly unique this holiday season with your child. Join us for this family workshop using natural materials to create one of a kind ornaments that could become your next heirloom. We will be using sticks, acorns, string, seeds and felt to craft one of a kind ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree. All materials will be provided. Come prepared to craft outdoors! To knock the chill out of the air we will have hot cider to drink and cookies to enjoy.

The workshop is Saturday December 3rd 1-3 p.m. The cost is $60 per family of 4. $80 for a family 4+.

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4 weeks, Thursdays November 10th-December 8th (no class on Thanksgiving) 3:30-5:30 p.m. Ages K-5th. The backyard will be our canvas as we examine nature through the lens of the artist. We will begin by studying the work of famous Land artists. Children will construct ephemeral sculptures using only natural materials and watch over the course of the program as their art blends back into nature. We will use sticks, seeds and grasses to craft nature collages and use leaves to make unique designs and prints. Rounding out the course the children will create fairy homes, a lovely gift for any home garden.   

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Spend Saturday mornings in the wild woodlands of Oxley Nature Center with qualified, caring adults. Margaritte Arthrell-Knezek & Mary Seabourn will lead children in the Junior Coyote program. We will cultivate a child’s innate love of nature, their desire to learn, and bring them to the edge of their comfort & awareness. This nudges them into the place of awe, excitement, wonder & gratitude for all the gifts and lessons nature has to offer.  With games, stories, naturalist challenges, songs, and long walks through the woods, children connect deeply to the earth. Through the seasons they gain experience with skills such as primitive fire-making, woodland shelter-building, map & compass navigation, wild-edible gathering & preparation, wildlife tracking, sensory awareness, and bird language. Using the Coyote mentoring curriculum we guide children to a place of awareness that leads to many teachings about the self, family, and community. This program is a collaboration between Oxley Nature...

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August 16, 2018

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© 2016 by Margaritte Arthrell-Knezek. Proudly created with Wix.com

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