Knitting (or Crocheting) Along: Mother Bear

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.

Last winter I mentioned a cause close to my heart that I wanted to get involved in: The Mother Bear Project.  I pledged to knit a bear in honor of each of my kids.  I have my pattern, a stash of worsted weight yarn, and I”m ready to get started.

The Mother Bear Project

The Mother Bear Project is dedicated to making a difference and bringing comfort to children impacted by AIDS/HIV in emerging nations by giving them a handmade bear.  The bears are knit or crocheted and then given to the children with a tag signed by the crafter who poured his or her love into the stitches.

As a knitter, and as a mother who knows how much her own children are connected to their stuffed animals, I was immediately drawn to the project.  When my kids are sad or scared, they cuddle with their “lovies” and find comfort. Every child deserves to have a bear to love and cuddle – to find comfort.

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Written and Illustrated: Making Books With Your Children

The following post is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life.
Every so often my oldest child, almost six, will flip through a pile of papers on the lower shelf of my bedside table. “What bedtime story did you read last night?” she’ll ask.

Those papers are all books that she or her sister have made, and it stands to reason, doesn’t it? that if she chooses a few books from her bedside table to read every night, so do I. I love when she asks that question. I love how integrally we’ve made reading part of the rhythm of our home.

With their innate curiosity and creative problem-solving, children are natural storytellers. In our house, we’ve been capturing our kids’ stories and making books from them for several years. They needn’t be fancy; most of the time our tools are just some paper and crayons. And this is a project you can complete with kids of any age:

For toddlers and preschoolers

Even our earliest talkers have big ideas. When my daughters were very young, I’d interview them with a series of two-choice questions and a few open-ended ones, like this: “do you want to make a story about a princess or a monster? Okay, a monster. A girl monster or boy monster or something else? A boy monster! Does he have one head or more heads? More! How many?” And so on.

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My New Year’s Wish for You

The following is by editor Kara Fleck.

The holiday season brings with it many opportunities for saying thank you.  During this time of year, most of us make a point to show our appreciation for gifts, yes, but also for the kind acts, thoughtfulness, time, and love given to us.

I know that some of you had really a difficult year in 2011.  While I’m so thankful for our sweet baby Mia, 2011 also takes with it some events that I’m glad to see become a part of the past.  My family faced the challenges, learned a few lessons, and now we are ready to move on.

I bet some of you are, too.

I read your emails and your blogs and some of your comments here, and I know that there are people out there hurting and thankful for the fresh start of 2012. 

Many of you suffered losses, faced challenges, and found yourselves and your families in trying circumstances.   My wish is that those of you who are hurting for it, get that fresh start.

And for those of you for who 2011 was a year of great joy and happiness, I hope that 2012 finds you with double the blessings!

Gratitude

In Amanda Soule’s book The Creative Family she talks about The Gratitude Alphabet, a simple exercise where you take a large piece of paper and write down the letters of the alphabet and then think of something you are thankful for for each letter.  A little silly, yes, but as Amanda writes, it … “really does make us feel more aware of how full, loved, and blessed our lives truly are.”

In that spirit, here is my New Year’s Wish for you dear readers, as a thank you for all of the ways you have made writing here at Simple Kids such a blessing to me.

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Home for the Holidays: the Mother Bear Project

As we were planning this year’s Home for the Holidays,  it was important to all of the editors at Simple Living Media to make it about giving in many ways, not just presents and giveaways, though those are wonderful things.

We decided that we wanted to dedicate a day to shine the spotlight on some great organizations doing amazing things for others.  Each editor picked a cause near and dear to her heart and I chose the Mother Bear Project.

Make a Bear. Make a Difference.

I first learned about The Mother Bear Project through some of the knitting podcasts that I listen to.  Last fall many of the podcasters had a knit-a-long, making bears to donate to the charity and I was intrigued.

As a knitter, the act of knitting brings me comfort, and my hope is that the knitted items I make for my family and friends bring them comfort and joy, too.

But I loved the idea of knitting projects being made to bring comfort to people I don”t know, will never even meet, but who have a need that I can fulfill – a way to reach out and make a difference, one stitch at a time.  I knew I had to find out more about this organization.

The Mother Bear Project is dedicated to making a difference and bringing comfort to children impacted by AIDS/HIV in emerging nations by giving them a handmade bear.  The bears are knit or crocheted and then given to the children with a tag signed by the crafter who poured his or her love into the stitches.

As a knitter, and as a mother who knows how much her own children are connected to their stuffed animals, I was immediately drawn to the project.  When my kids are sad or scared, they cuddle with their “lovies” and find comfort. Every child deserves to have a bear to love and cuddle – to find comfort.

I can”t imagine the hardships and heartaches children impacted by AIDS and HIV face, but I only have to look at the faces of my own kids to know that I need to be involved in making a difference.

To date, the Mother Bear Project has made 69,200 bears. I would love to see Simple Kids readers push that close to the 70,000 mark – and together I think we could do it!

There are lots of ways to get involved with The Mother Bear Project, even if you can”t knit a stitch.

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Teaching The Art of Sharing

The following post is by contributor Amanda Morgan from  Not Just Cute and originally appeared in November of 2010.

All kids love sharing….as long as that means you have something to share with them! But when it comes time for these little ones to part with some valued treasure of their own, they quickly set aside their passion for equal divisions.  Here are a few reasons why sharing can be such a struggle, and some simple steps that we as parents can take to ease the way.

Children are Not Developmentally Designed to Share

Three things to remember from a developmental standpoint:

1. Young children are naturally ego-centric.

They see the whole world through the lens of their own wants and desires.  Giving something up because it makes someone else happy requires a very big mental leap.  This means that we have to gently teach them over and over to recognize and value the feelings of others.

2. Young children are  naturally seeking power.

It’s a motivating source that allows them to learn and become more proficient and independent.  If sharing is presented to them as a loss of power (“You must give something up“) rather than as an opportunity to be powerful (“You can choose what or when to share”/”You can help someone be very happy“), they will naturally resist.  Help children recognize the power in sharing.

3. Social skills are learned.

As is the case with social skills in general, children don’t naturally develop the ability to share.  Just as they don’t wake up one day knowing how to write their own name, they won’t suddenly be able to navigate the social art of sharing on their third birthday.  Be aware that sharing requires practice, which always includes mistakes along with the successes.

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