STORIES FROM THE WOODS XIII ~ Give FUN and SMART Toys !

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FITZ Maurice with her nieces and nephews and their mother – in Sequoia National Park
 
Give FUN and SMART Toys ! – 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 inspires 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 !
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 their 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
( epidemic rate of vitamin D deficiency today ! ) 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 natures way of maintaining its delicate eco system. How else will their generation understand the value of these precious National Parks and how vulnerable they are in a world were 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 ?
Give the children in your life – the love of nature and the great outdoors ! This is a gift that will keep giving to them all their lives.
Give the children in your life the ultimate gift of becoming a individual member of the National Park Service and teach them to support our National Parks. They need to know how important it is to preserve nature for their generation and their children to come !
Merry Christmas from the QUEST and FITZ Maurice !
2016 begins the fourth year that FITZ Maurice has been on the 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. Then hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene. 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.