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How to Get Kids to Write to Their Deployed Parent More Often

image of a boy writing deployment newsletter

Have a reluctant writer? Want to get your child to write to their deployed parent often? With today’s technology, it is much easier for families in the military to stay in touch through email, cell phone, and even better, with FaceTime and Skype. I won’t complain having had no cell phone or email technology when my husband first deployed many moons ago.

Deployment Newsletter Pinterest Pic

Last year, my husband deployed again. As a homeschool mom of two very reluctant writers, I saw this deployment as an opportunity for them to practice their writing skills. I wanted them to stay connected with their dad between long stretches of time when communications are down. This can last weeks sometimes.

So, I came up with a deployment newsletter in an effort to make it fun and engaging for the boys. I created a template where they could fill in information (some requiring full sentences and others not) for different sections like ones you find in a newspaper. This worked so well for us that I thought I’d share it with my freebie subscribers.

pin deployment newsletter activity

What’s in the Deployment Newsletter?

The newsletter has several boxes that I assigned certain topics. The first box is for “news from home”. This is where my boys wrote about things such as losing a tooth, watching a movie, or visiting family. I placed an oval section so that one can cut and paste a ‘best’ picture of the week.  This is where the boys would place a picture of themselves or the dog. No good pictures? My boys would also cut out interesting pictures from a newspaper to put there.

image of boy writing in deployment newsletter
Jack writing to his dad using the deployment newsletter template

The next set of boxes is a comic strip panel. My boys love telling stories so this part allowed them to do that with pictures. A few times, they cut a very funny panel from the comics section of the newspaper and pasted it there. The Stats box is for scores and updates on favorite teams. My boys kept my husband updated on his favorite hockey team. Don’t follow sports? One can fill the box with the days until homecoming.

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The school news box is just that, a recount of things they learned and did in school or in our case, homeschool. The boys would share book titles they were reading or science experiments that they put together. The next box has dashes like a coupon where one can write things like 20% more hugs when he/she returns. Finally, the last box is for a personal message.

Choosing your Deployment Newsletter

I made three types of newsletters. The first one is completely blank allowing you to name your newsletter and each section of the layout items provided. The second one has some of the sections named and the third one has all the sections named. Click the pink box below to get your free templates.

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I really hope you enjoy doing this activity with your children. Check out my posts: Coping with Another Deployment and How to Create a Deployment Wall for more activities that kids can do during a deployment.

Let me know how this activity worked for your family. Ideas that I can add to the template? Let me know below in the comments section. Lastly, for military families enduring a deployment now, I wish for a quick and safe return of your loved ones.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

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How to Create a Deployment Wall While Your Loved Ones Are Away

How to Create an Amazing Deployment Wall. This post is about a military activity kids can do when missing their parent who has been deployed.
Top of Deployment Wall 3pin pic of deployment wall

I wish I had come upon this back in October. We were a few days past the halfway mark of this deployment when I found some creative pins for deployment activities. There are many versions of creating a deployment wall. After picking parts here and there, I came up with a wall that is quick and easy to put together.

How To Create an Amazing Deployment Wall Pin Picture

 

Complete Deployment Wall

Supplies I Used for Our Deployment Wall

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

If you would like to create this same wall, here are all the supplies you need (alert, some links are affiliates):

Here are pictures so that you can set everything up the same way.

Top of Deployment Wall 3
I used 3M command hooks for the countdown numbers and Scotch reusable squares to stick on tags.

 

Map Portion of Deployment Wall
I loved using Scotch’s resuable squares on this laminated map. It made moving the arrow and tag much easier tape.

 

Daddy is Here Deployment Wall Tag
Here we used our printable tags to show Daddy’s last location. Arrows are available in the free printables below.

 

PostCards on Yarn for Deployment Wall
This idea was cute but the yarn will start to sag so I suggest pinning the postcards to the map border.

 

Postcards on Map Border of Deployment Wall
This was a better option to the postcards hanging on the yarn.

 

Deployment Wall with Mommy Tag
Here is a Mommy’s Time tag if she happens to be the one deploying.

Putting It Together

I printed out all the tags and labels on colored cardstock. You can use regular colored paper but I strongly recommend using a heavier paper or cardstock for the numbers as they can wear down with use. Also, you will need to print additional sets of numbers for each hook.

We used a small flag that was given to us by a veteran some time ago for donating money to our vets. If you don’t have a small flag around the home, that’s okay. I have created a printable flag for you as well.

This took us about an hour to create and put together. It is so worth the time. The boys love removing the numbers daily.

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The Wall After Homecoming

After our homecoming day (you can read that post here), we replaced the tags and used the numbers to countdown until the last day of school.
Alternate Use for Deployment Wall

I Want to Hear From You

Let me know how your wall is going by commenting below. I would love to hear how you put yours together. If you have any suggestions that I can add to the bonus below, I will gladly update the printables.

Free Printable

If you want to create your own deployment wall, I have available free printables that also include Daddy and Mommy tags depending on who is deploying. Click below and you will receive them in your inbox shortly.

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Free Bonuses

If you have kids that are reluctant writers then check out my post on Creating a Deployment Newsletter. I have created free printables for this activity that encourages kids to write to their deployed parent often without it feeling like a chore.

Also, I mentioned some other deployment activities in my Coping with Another Deployment post. Click the link and see if you would like to try them out as well including making a kiss jar.
Thanks for stopping by!

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This post contains affiliate links.




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Coping with Another Deployment

Kiss Jar

Coping with Another Deployment

coping with another deployment pin pic

How We Are Getting Ready For Another Deployment

Not another deployment!!! Ugh!!

anchor on wood another deployment
another deployment: courtesy of cbenjasuwan @freedigitalphotos.net
Of all the deployments my husband has been on, I think this will be the hardest on the boys. It’s been 5 years since his last deployment but the kids were younger and really didn’t have a sense of time. Sure they were surprised when he came home but they carried on as if he was gone for a day. Now that they are ten years old things are different.
These past months, my husband’s ship has been engaging in several “underways” (this is when ships have to test their equipment and pass rigorous inspections before a deployment). These underways can last anywhere from a week to three weeks at a time. In a way, this has helped the boys to prepare for the “big one” but they are getting anxious knowing this deployment will be for seven months. They are thinking about their dad missing Halloween (again), Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, and Easter. But we reassure them that he will be here by their 11th birthday.

As for me, well, I’m a big girl and no longer new to this. It is never easy but we have to make the best of it. Below are some things that we (the boys and I) are planning to do to make these next seven months bearable.

How We Are Going to Cope with This Deployment

First, I created a ‘kisses’ jar. I saw this some time ago on Pinterest and apologize for not remembering the person who cameKiss Jar up with it. I didn’t have ribbons so I got a little creative and made a red, white, and blue ‘paper’ ribbon. Then I just used clipart to create the Navy emblem, anchor, and flag hearts. In the middle I taped a label stating “A Kiss Every Day for When I’m Away”. The boys helped tape everything in place. Then we counted out the number of days dad will be gone (times 2, of course) and filled the jar with all those lovely Hershey kisses. Although they are not looking forward to his leaving, they can’t wait to start having a ‘kiss’ every night.

Second, we designated one of our spare eraser boards to serve as our countdown board.

Next, I came up with an idea to create a weekly newsletter as opposed to just writing a regular letter to dad. The boys liked the idea. We worked on the layout of the “newsletter” and came up with different sections we can add, such as a ‘pic of the week’, comics, weather, local, and national news. We even plan to update him on any hockey scores he’d like to keep up with. We also know that it gets busy on the boat and taking the time to write a letter back to us when really there isn’t any news on his end is hard. So, we decided to add a section with questions that he can answer and then mail back. This way the boys get something from him in the mail.

And finally, we will most likely travel during the holidays to stay with family. It is during these times, that the boys really need their cousins to help keep their mind off of missing their dad and I need my siblings to do the same.

I know that looking at all that candy and keeping track of the days seems to serve as reminder that he is gone but I am hoping that the boys, instead, focus on how much their dad loves them and wishes that he was here with us instead. I also hope that the ‘newsletters’ help keep my husband’s spirits up and that he knows we are missing him and thinking of him always.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.