Editor. Note: Artist Fitz Maurice has set out to paint live at all of the US National Parks. She will be submitting her stories from the road to StuNewsLaguna from time to time.
This year give fun and smart toys that encourage the wonders of nature for the next generation
By FITZ MAURICE
Give a child the gift that encourages their personal connection with nature and the great outdoors! Most National Parks and many State Parks have fabulous gift stores that are filled with books and toys that actually teach children about animals – prehistoric and indigenous, and all the wonders of the universe. There are books that they can color while learning, toys they can play while hiking or camping out and super fun ranger hats and gear that inspire excellent role model principles in how to interact with nature.
I love buying my gifts at the park gift stores because my gifts are unique and creative, with the additional pleasure of knowing that a percentage of the money I spend in the park stores goes to benefit the parks – a winning combination!
FITZ Maurice with her niece and nephews, and their mother, in
Sequoia National Park, California
Some good examples of gifts I have given to my nieces and nephews are a compass, astronomy coloring books, live insect aquariums and furry animal hand puppets. Boys love the interactive live insect or snake aquariums. I read a few books about Sacagawea to my nieces and they fell in love with the whole Indian genre and embraced her as a courageous female role model.
Parents at first are glad when their child is excelling in the use of technology but then it seems that it so easily becomes like an addiction: keeping the child inside, and not even being social. More and more parents are telling me of their growing concern for their child because they are staring at screens day and night.
I encourage you to get your children outside. They need to play, feel free and get involved with nature with their own dirty hands and happy feet. They need the sun for vitamin D (there is an epidemic rate of vitamin D deficiency these days). They need to watch and learn about the insects and animals around them. Children need to feel in tune with the seasons and develop a healthy respect for nature’s way of maintaining its delicate eco system. How else will their generation understand the value of these precious National Parks and realize how vulnerable they are in a world where open land has disappeared?
What if the most important experience your child needs to know is how to exist outside in nature? Does your child know how to use a compass? Could they find their way home? A compass is a great gift, and then you get to show them how to use it outside. You could make a game of it by giving them a simple map that they have to navigate by using their new compass!
Could your child find water? Does your child know not to stand under a tall tree in a lightening storm? Does your child know how to deal with wildlife from a safe distance, and how to avoid snakes? Does your child know about the amazing night sky – all the stars and the constellations? It is exciting to learn astronomy. There are telescopes, coloring/sticker books, guides, videos, and I bought a scarf that I wear around my neck that has all the constellations on it, and it glows in the dark. How cool is that?
Giving the children in your life the love of nature and the great outdoors is the gift that will keep giving to them all their lives.
You could give children in your life the ultimate gift of becoming an individual member of the National Park Service and teach them to support their National Parks. They need to know how important it is to preserve nature for their generation and their children to come.
Merry Christmas from FITZ Maurice and the QUEST!
FITZ Maurice has been on a quest to paint ‘live’ in every National Park in America. Now totally committed to help promote and protect the Parks, the artist is traveling by truck and trailer to each park. Hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene, and finally setting up with portable easel and oil paints, FITZ sets out to capture in paint the wonders that make each National Park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world. To see her National Park Paintings: www.nationalparkpaintings.com