Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kids and Deployment

Saying goodbye to my husband for months at a time is something that never gets easier for me.  For my kids, it is at least equally as difficult.  They have a fantastic father who is involved in their lives, loves to spend time with them, and is a true role model for the kind of men I hope they grow up to be.  When he is gone, it takes a definite toll on their emotions.

One of the ways I like to help them cope with the separation is through children's literature.  A former Reading Teacher, I have always enjoyed a good book and have seen the power of books in children's lives.  Military kids are no different and we have employed a variety of books to make us laugh, help us cry when we need to, and open discussions about this deployment.

With each book, I try to find a tangible reminder of the lesson learned there ... a simple craft, a letter to our Soldier, or a small gift.  I have been amazed at how my kids cherish these small tokens and hold on to them as reminders of how much their dad loves them.

Here are a few of my favorites ...
In this story, one industrious child decides to send his father a 'paper hug' to use whenever he feels lonely.  It's a great deployment book and a super-simple craft of a paper hug is a perfect addition to the next letter or care package!  See details at A Paper Hug FRG Meeting.
I loved incorporating the teddy bear theme into an FRG meeting, focused on this great book.  Boo Boo Bear's Mission is a cute true story of a teddy bear who travels to Iraq to carry a Family's love until they can be together again.  Each child then received an adorable "Battalion Buddy" from the amazing group, Operation Gratitude.  For more details, see: Potluck Picnic FRG Meeting.
There are several great "hero" themed books for military kids and we read many of them during this deployment.  I love Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin.  We planned an FRG meeting around the superhero theme, and the kids absolutely loved it.  See more here: Super Hero FRG Meeting.
I'm a Hero Too by Jenny Sokol is a great book for military kids.  One amazing FRG volunteer made superhero capes for all the kids that came to our battalion's meeting and the kids decorated hero masks to go with it.  It was an easy craft and made a big impact on the kids.  See:  Super Hero FRG Meeting for more details.
In The Wishing Tree, a little girl decides to write her feelings on yellow ribbons and keep them on a special tree that her dad can share with her upon his return from deployment.  See how we incorporated this into an FRG Meeting here:  Caution: Deployment Challenges Ahead.
The Invisible String is a wonderful story about how love always connects us.  Our hearts are connected by "an invisible string" and whenever we think about someone we love (no matter how far away they may be), the tug of love can be felt. See the simple craft we used to accompany this book at:  Kids' Craft: The Invisible String.
Night Catch is a sweet story about a boy and his dad playing a nightly game of 'catch' using the North Star.  Our kids seemed to really identify with this and there were tons of fun activities to go along with the star/constellation/catch theme.  For more details, visit: Book for Kids: Night Catch.

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